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2014-2015 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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School of Social Work (SW)

Director: Gueyara. Professors: Chung, Mulder, R., Schott; Associate Professors: Bolea, Borst, Grant, Jr., Johnson, Smith-Colton; Assistant Professors: Berlin, Edwards, Green-Smith, Hayes, Lopez-Arias, Mulder, C., Schuurman, Smith, Smith-Colton; Affiliate Professors: Gabrielse; Visiting Professors: Banghart Therrien, Imogi; Administrative Professionals: Lehker, Owens.

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to your college's section in this catalog.

The School of Social Work prepares students at the bachelor and master levels for professional social work practice and leadership roles in the development and implementation of social welfare policies, programs, and services.

The School of Social Work B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs do not award academic credit for students life experiences or previous work experiences.

Students enrolled in School of Social Work curriculum must be cognizant of the fact that past or future criminal conduct may limit or prevent placement in a field practicum agency. Because field practicum is a B.S.W. and M.S.W. curriculum imperative, the social work degree is awarded only after successful completion of all requirements. Furthermore, past or present criminal conduct may render an individual ineligible to secure a state license and the privilege to practice social work.

Mission and Goals

School of Social Work Mission
The Grand Valley State University School of Social Work is committed to preparing students at the bachelor and master levels for competent, effective and professional leadership in the development and implementation of social service delivery systems. Based on liberal arts education, our social work education is grounded in the history and purpose of the profession, and results in curriculum designed to teach social works' core knowledge, values, and skills. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to teach the licensed profession of social work, our program goal is to prepare graduates to exhibit a professional commitment to leadership in practice of social justice, service, the dignity and worth of human relationships, integrity, competency, human rights, and scientific inquiry.

At the core of the Social Work program is recognition of the vital need to prepare students to be advocates for social justice. The curriculum responds to this need by leading students to domestic and global opportunities to acquire the knowledge, values, skill, to competently and effectively engage in the practice of social justice. Themes of social justice including issues related to human rights, cultural competence, oppression, disparity, empowerment, social and political action and civic participation are incorporated into all courses.

The Bachelor of Social Work Program

Director: Bolea.

The Bachelor of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

The primary mission of the Bachelor of Social Work program flows from the School of Social Work's mission; to prepare students for competent and effective professional social work practice through social work education based upon the profession's knowledge, values, and skills. Grounded in liberal arts education and the person in environment construct, the Generalist Model is the theoretical framework that organizes the B.S.W. curriculum and guides students to acquire the professional skills necessary to attain program goals.

B.S.W. Program Goals

  • Incorporate cultural competence and advocacy to promote human rights and social and economic justice in practice
  • Promote human and social well-being
  • Use a range of prevention and intervention methods in practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
  • Identify with the social work profession and apply ethical principles and critical thinking in practice
  • Recognize, support and build upon the strengths and resiliency of all human beings
  • Engage in research-informed practice and be proactive in response to the impact of context upon professional practice
  • Show evidence of mastery of the social work program's professional core competencies
    (Council on Social Work Education, Commission on Accreditation, 2008.)

B.S.W. graduates are employed in a wide range of social service delivery systems and serve a rich variety of populations. The employment opportunities include; life consultation centers, probation and parole, mental health programs, health care organizations, children's centers, senior citizen programs, sheltered workshops, juvenile courts, protective services, programs for the developmentally disabled, and substance abuse rehabilitation programs.


All social work majors must formally apply to the School of Social Work during the first semester of the junior year and when they are enrolled in SW 317, SW 319, SW 340, SW 348. Application procedures are explicated in the first class session of SW 348 and materials must be completed and submitted by September 30.

To be eligible for consideration of candidacy, students must have

  1. Completed all freshman and sophomore course requirements in the B.S.W. curriculum.
  2. A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 (4.0 scale).
  3. Earned a minimum grade of B- (2.7) and not have repeated the following courses more than once: SW 150, PLS 102, PSY 303, PSY/ SOC 360, SOC 382 or SW 300, SOC 280 or 384, and SOC 385.
  4. Complete the application and process for candidacy for the B.S.W. degree.

Completed candidacy applications are reviewed by the School of Social Work faculty. Accepted applicants are awarded candidacy for the B.S.W. degree and are eligible for enrollment in specified third- and fourth-year professional social work courses. Applicants who are not accepted are advised and referred to pursue opportunities in other areas.


Students interested in social work as a major should complete the on line Declaration of Major form and seek advisement from their assigned academic advisor in the CCPS Undergraduate Advising Center. All social work majors should maintain regular contact with their advisors to ensure proper course enrollment and steady progress toward earning their degree.

Field Practicum

Director: Lehker
Field practicum is a significant and integral part of the students total professional training. In the fall semester of the junior year, students are required to complete SW 348 Field Practicum Laboratory. In this course students are required to complete and submit the Application for Field Practicum in Social Work. The minimum requirements for entering practicum are:

  1. An overall 2.5 GPA.
  2. A minimum B- (2.7 GPA) grade in the cognate courses required for BSW Candidacy.
  3. An overall 3.0 GPA in social work courses.
  4. Maintenance of official candidacy status.
  5. Successful completion of all first-, second-, and third-year required courses.
  6. A schedule that allows two full days of fieldwork during the fall and winter semesters.

Students commence practicum in the fall of their senior year and must follow course sequence. Students must simultaneously enroll in field practicum and field seminar. The field practicum requirement consists of a minimum of 225 clock hours per semester for two consecutive semesters in a human service agency selected to meet the students educational and professional needs and interests. These hours are accumulated at the rate of 15 hours per week for 15 weeks. All practicum students will receive and are expected to become familiar with the Manual for Field Practicum: Policies and Procedures. Elective social work practice courses and field seminars are taken in conjunction with a practicum. Students entering a practicum must arrange or provide their own transportation.

The Master of Social Work Program

Director: Borst.

The Master of Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Mission of the GVSU Master of Social Work Program

The primary mission of the Master of Social Work program is to prepare students for competent and effective professional social work practice through an education based in the profession's knowledge, values, and skills. The Advanced Generalist concentration is the framework that organizes the curriculum and prepares students to:

  • Incorporate cultural competency and advocacy to promote human rights and social and economic justice in professional practice
  • Advance the quality of social work practice in the social work profession
  • Comprehend, synthesize and apply a broad range of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary knowledge and skills
  • Assess, intervene and evaluate within human services to promote human and social well-being
  • Judiciously select professional practice behaviors to the circumstances at hand, using the discrimination learned through supervised experience and self-improvement.
  • Acquire proficiency in the social work program's professional core competencies augmented by advanced knowledge and practice behaviors specific to the Advanced Generalist Model
    (CWSE, 2008)

The Advanced Generalist Model

The Advanced Generalist Model is built on a liberal arts education that promotes the use of critical thinking skills and conscientious application of advanced practice social work knowledge, skills, values and ethics. The advanced generalist serves a dual purpose. First the model integrates the advanced practice skills concentration curriculum to equip graduates to meet the diverse demands presented by unique social service delivery system and second it provides the context for students in which the program achieves its goals.

Features of the Advanced Generalist Model are designed to:

  • Enhance the depth and breadth of practice in a multi-method, multi-level and theoretically grounded perspective
  • Refine and shape advanced practitioners through acquisition of professional competencies to assess, intervene, and evaluate within all systems and within all practice environments
  • Affirm that human problems derive from a complex interplay of psychological, social, cultural, economic, political, biological and physical forces
  • Prepare students to effectively intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
  • Expand and enhance the foundation of generalist social work core competencies with advanced knowledge and practice behaviors
  • Acquire advanced skills in leadership, collaboration, administration, advocacy, assessment, problem solving, intervention, cultural competency, communication, collaboration, community building, program evaluation, organizational management, policy analysis, and scientific inquiry

The integration of professional practice skills within the Advanced Generalist curriculum model results in mastery of social work's core competencies and advanced generalist practitioners are proficient in a wide range of interventions, skills, roles, theories, systems and settings (Jones & Pierce, 2006).

Admission and Academic Requirements

Director of Recruitment and Admissions: Owens
For general requirements, see the Admission section of the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.

Degree Seeking

Students who meet the following university requirements and the additional requirements of their chosen program are granted degree-seeking status:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  2. Submission of all required admission materials.

In addition to the requirements for admission to the university set forth above, admission to the School of Social Work is based on an assessment of prior academic preparation, personal maturity, conceptual abilities, work experience, and personal commitment to the profession of social work, its values and its ethics. All applicants for admission to the Master of Social Work Program must:

  1. Submit a complete application for admission to the School of Social Work.
  2. Enclose a non-refundable $30.00 application fee.
  3. Have official transcripts sent from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended.
  4. Have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university.
  5. Have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (calculated on the last two years of study). A limited number of applicants may be admitted with less than the minimum GPA requirement. This exception may be granted to students who have been out of school for five or more years and/or those with outstanding work experience in human services.
  6. Have a broad liberal arts background in subject areas such as the life, physical, and social sciences; values and ideas, art and humanities; history; foreign cultures and multicultural issues; and logic and mathematics.
  7. Have the minimum 18 hours in social and behavioral sciences with coursework in psychology, social work, and/or sociology.
  8. Applicants with deficiencies in liberal arts and/or behavioral and social sciences may be required to complete compensatory undergraduate work prior to reconsideration for admission.
  9. Have three letters of reference submitted by individuals who can directly and/or objectively assess the applicants qualifications for successful graduate study and professional social work practice.
  10. Prepare and submit a 23 page personal statement of career goals and background experiences, including an explanation of how the M.S.W. program at Grand Valley will help them achieve their educational and professional objectives.
  11. A one page, double-spaced essay that addresses the way in which social justice is or is not manifested in a contemporary social problem of your choice/selection. Indicate possible causes and solutions. Be creative.
  12. A resume, detailing work and volunteer experiences.

Completed applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee in the order received. However, to ensure full consideration for fall admission, applications should be received before May 1. Early application is strongly encouraged. When all materials have been received, the applicants file is reviewed by the schools Admission Committee, which makes a disposition of each completed application on a first-come, first-served basis. The committee reserves the right to require additional information it deems appropriate and necessary. The majority of students admitted to the School of Social Work will begin their studies in the fall semester. Late applicants will be admitted on the basis of remaining vacancies. Limited part-time spaces are available for January enrollment.

All applicants who meet the School of Social Work admission requirements will be invited for a personal interview prior to admission to discuss admission and further explore the program. Admissions decisions are promptly communicated in writing to each applicant. Because of limited class size the Admissions Committee may not be able to accept all qualified applicants.

Applicants denied admission have the right to appeal their denial. Written appeals should be addressed to the Director of Recruitment and Admissions. Appeals must be filed within ten days of the decision.

Field Education

Director: Edwards.
The fieldwork component of the M.S.W. program is an integral part of the students overall educational experience. It provides opportunities for the development, integration, and application of professional knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes. Placements are made in a wide variety of human service settings in the public and private sectors.

Twelve of the 60 credit hours required for the M.S.W. degree are granted for field education. The Schools practicum program is organized on the basis of concurrent model of field education. Under this model, admitted students will participate in three academic semesters of supervised, agency-based field instruction, for a minimum of 21 hours per week. Field instruction is done concurrently with classroom courses. Placements are made in affiliated agencies selected on the basis of their commitment to social work education and their willingness to provide a professional learning environment, meaningful experiences, and supportive resources consistent with the general objectives of the school and the particular needs and interests of individual students.

Prior to entering field practice each student must attend a scheduled mandatory five-hour field orientation seminar.

In order to be assigned a field placement and remain in the practicum setting, a student must:

  1. Have completed all prerequisites and other requirements for field placement.
  2. Possess and maintain the minimum 3.0 GPA.
  3. Have no more than one incomplete grade.

Students who would like a practicum placement in a school setting must take SW 650 Field Education I and SW 651 Field Education Seminar I during the winter semester. All other students will begin practicum spring/summer semester.

Advanced Standing: Full Time or Part Time

The School of Social Work recognizes superior academic performance by students who have graduated from a Council on Social Work Education accredited undergraduate social work or social welfare department or program within five years prior to enrollment in the Grand Valley State University M.S.W. Program. A minimum GPA of 3.5 in social work courses from a CSWE accredited baccalaureate program may qualify prospective students for advanced standing. Advanced Standing students are exempted from 15 hours of first-year core or foundation courses and may therefore accelerate their graduate study by completing the remaining 45 hours of degree requirements in one calendar year. The courses exempted are SW 600, SW 601, SW 603, SW 610, and SW 620. All Advanced Standing students may take a 100-item diagnostic proficiency examination in research methods. A score of 75 or higher will qualify the student for exemption from SW 690 Research Methods I. This reduces to 42 hours the degree requirements remaining for completion. Students admitted to the full time Advanced Standing program must begin their studies during the summer session and continue full time during the subsequent fall and winter semesters. Students admitted as part time Advanced Standing students may begin any semester and continue part time during the subsequent two years. The school may, in certain instances, prescribe additional coursework in areas of particular weakness or need. All Advanced Standing applicants are interviewed prior to admission.

Non-degree Seeking

Students who are not seeking a graduate degree or who have not completed all of the admissions requirements of their chosen program may be granted non-degree seeking status. A maximum of six semester credits earned at Grand Valley State University as a non-degree seeking student may be considered for transfer to degree seeking status. Enrollment as a non-degree seeking student does not guarantee formal admission to the M.S.W. program. Non-degree status students are limited to SW 600, SW 601, SW 610, and SW 620.

Changing Status from Non-degree to Degree Seeking

Students who seek a change in status must:

  1. Submit all required admission materials.
  2. Submit a degree seeking application form to the Admissions Office.
  3. All degree seeking applicants who meet the School of Social Work admission requirements will be interviewed by the Admissions Committee.

Transfer Credit

The School of Social Work has established procedures for determining the award of credit for previous academic coursework and to address the issue of redundancy. It is noted that:

  1. The maximum of 30 semester hours of transfer credit for graduate courses completed with a grade of B or better at another CSWE accredited M.S.W. program.
  2. A foundation course may be waived when the student demonstrates proficiency through examination in the specific foundation course. In this instance, the course is waived but the number of credits must be satisfied with other coursework.
  3. Transfer credits are not granted for courses completed more than five years before enrollment in the Grand Valley M.S.W. program or for courses taken toward the completion of another degree.

Program Requirements

The following programs are available:

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.