MISSION: To educate students to be competent professional social workers, and to provide leadership in the shaping of human service delivery systems worldwide. 

We welcome your interest in the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University. We offer both Bachelor and Master of Social Work degree programs. As a School of Social Work candidate, you will be challenged by a curriculum that has the accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education. You will learn from an excellent faculty, many of whom are nationally-known for their contributions in diverse areas of the social work profession. Through their lives and work in Michigan, nationally and internationally, they contribute to the community in a variety of capacities. As a School of Social Work graduate, you will join the ranks of a significant and successful contingent of helping professionals. The campus is easily accessible from highways US 131 and I-196. The campus includes a state-of-the-art library, computer facilities, bookstore, and cafe. We thank you for visiting our website. We hope you find it helpful and informative. Should you have specific questions, do not hesitate to call. We look forward to hearing from you.

Scott Berlin, Ph.D., LMSW, Director, School of Social Work
Paola Leon, Ph.D., MSW, Director, MSW Program  
Joan Borst, Ph.D., LMSW, Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment
Robin Smith-Colton, Ph. D., LMSW, Director, BSW Program


Are you interested in  a Master’s in Social Work?

The GVSU School of Social Work welcomes applicants to the Master's program. 

The GVSU MSW program will be accepting applications for Winter admission through Friday, November 6, 2020. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Borst at borstj@gvsu.edu for assistance or join an information session accessed through the link below. 

MSW Information Sessions Held Virtually

Wednesday, September 30  - 6:30-7:30 pm
Wednesday, October 14 - 12-1 pm
Wednesday, October 28 - 6:30-7:30 pm
Wednesday, November 11 - 12-1 pm
Wednesday, December 9 - 12-1 pm

Click on the Following Link to Join the Information Session

Join by Phone:
+1-571-392-7650 PIN: 913 065 1472

Community Response

Dear GVSU Social Work Community,

The faculty and staff of the School of Social Work are saddened by recent events and recognize that the events of the past week have been extremely painful and upsetting for you as well.  As we all know, our world and community are experiencing increasingly challenging times that highlight widespread social injustices.   The recent and historic protests against institutional racism within the police and criminal justice systems, the racial and social inequities in outcomes from COVID 19, immigration injustice, as well as episodes of violence in schools, churches, synagogues, community venues and at our borders, demonstrate significant disparities.  We know that social workers have a responsibility to address these issues as part of our professional values and we want to support you in that work and provide skills to achieve that goal. 

The faculty and staff of the School of Social Work are troubled by all practices of social injustice to our black communities and other marginalized communities. We recognize the death of George Floyd is one of many egregious acts that have been engraved in our consciousness, particularly over the last several years. Our voice is not silent! We live in solidarity with our students and local communities while acknowledging the state, national and global contexts more than ever. We recognize the differences in our individual lives and the privileges that are unevenly distributed. We know all people have not been treated with dignity and worth.  Many students and faculty members at Grand Valley School of Social Work are members of marginalized communities, so we experience these injustices personally when they happen.   Many of us are not immune to inhumane and intolerable prejudiced acts of oppression; neither are many of the persons that we serve as social workers. Because of ongoing inequality and social/cultural injustice, we know many people in our society still struggle with historical pain, present pain and future pain.

The School of Social Work has a strong and vital voice. Faculty and staff are engaged in the community, addressing social justice, and developing programs. The School has delivered conferences and forums to address privilege, differences and similarities. We have several programs within the university to address inequality and fairness. We respect and value each student. We urge you to engage in these often difficult conversations in your classes and are encouraging faculty members to create a platform for these discussions.  We want to provide a relevant and beneficial curriculum to prepare you well as social workers. Beginning in Fall 2020, Master of Social Work students will be required to take SW 613 Human Rights as their advanced policy course. The rationale is to better understand the systemic nature of oppression and to better prepare students for advocacy at the local, national, and global levels. If you have suggestions about how we may strengthen the curriculum, please let us know (ssw@gvsu.edu).

Also, during this academic year, the GVSU-SSW will host several events to help students gain a deeper understanding of social justice issues facing our society, skills to become change agents, and ways to create dialog in our communities.  Our first virtual town hall discussion will happen in the coming weeks. These forums will allow us the opportunity to talk and strategize on what we can do collectively to uplift not only this program, but the university and the community as a whole. We will also share links on the School’s website (gvsu.edu/ssw – click on student resources-helpful links) that will be helpful to students in being agents of change.

As social workers we emphasize our professional values of addressing social injustice and doing our part in creating change for a better, more equitable world.  As educators it is our responsibility to bring these discussions into the classroom and in co-curricular activities.  We hope that these activities will help all of our students to better understand these challenges facing our world and also help them to become the change agents that they want to become. Although our current learning environment is remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are not face to face together as most would prefer, your faculty and staff want to be accessible to you. We also recognize that COVID is causing many additional stressors in the lives of students and communities. We realize that members of the University community are feeling isolated during the past three months while under tremendous stress. We encourage you to access GVSU supports and resources and please feel free to reach out to faculty members if needed. We care about your well-being, as well as your success as social workers.

Please take care of yourselves and feel free to reach out to your faculty members for support. We are committed, as a faculty and staff, to keep striving towards social justice. Thanks.

School of Social Work Faculty & Staff

CARES Act Grant Assistance for Students

The federal government’s CARES Act has made grant assistance available to college students across the nation to assist them in dealing with the ramifications of COVID-19.   Grand Valley has been awarded federal funds and the authority to send those funds directly to students.  

We know that COVID-19 has impacted everyone in different ways and we want to see that you get the financial support you need now.  We have posted a short application that provides the opportunity for you to tell us how you’ve been impacted.  We will review each individual application as quickly as possible.  Here is the link:  www.gvsu.edu/financialaid/hardshiprequest

Thank you.  Be safe.  Your ability to continue with your educational journey is our highest priority.  We look forward to seeing you again on campus as soon as circumstances allow.

We call ourselves an engaged College because we take the skills and talents of our faculty and staff and we work on projects in the community. We help to be a voice. We see ourselves as a college and a university, but we are part of the community and not separate from the community.  - Dean George Grant, Jr.

Learn how #CCPS students ENGAGE with faculty and community, ENRICH their education by participating in learning and growing opportunities, and ENHANCE the communities they serve.  Learn more >> gvsu.edu/ccps/engage-enrich-enhance-126.htm

#EngageEnrichEnhance #CCPSGVSU #GVLakerEffect

Helpful Links


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Social Work Professor Initiates Social Justice Book Club

December 13, 2019

A monthly book club called Social Justice Begins With Me, which meets at the Grand Rapids Public Library and is a partnership between the library and Grand Valley's School of Social Work, designed for children ages 4-11 and explores social justice issues.

Civic Engagement Showcase

April 11, 2019

GVSU Civic Engagement Showcase featuring some of our MSW students, with photo featuring Erica Mickens.

CCPS Faculty and Students Assist with Disaster Relief Efforts

February 04, 2019

Radio interview with Professors Steve Smith and Quincy Williams, along with student Alyssa Gunderson on their recent trip to support disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

Water: A Human Right or Commodity?

January 10, 2019

Photo Exhibition by Social Work faculty: Dr. Paola Leon and Dr. Steven Smith

Dr. Paola Leon on WGVU Morning Show

December 03, 2018

Interview with Fulbright Scholar Dr. Paola Leon.

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Dominque Stevens, Social Work Major

Dominque Stevens shares her story about why she chose Grand Valley.

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