We appreciate your interest in the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University, where we offer both Bachelor and Master of Social Work degree programs. Our comprehensive curriculums are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Our top-of-the-line faculty consist of nationally known professors who have a diverse knowledge in the social work profession and bring local, national, and international contributions to the community.

Our School of Social Work Office, Located at the Downtown Campus

Are you interested in a Master of Social Work?

The GVSU School of Social Work welcomes applicants from any major to the Master's program.  If you have questions, please contact Dr. Borst at borstj@gvsu.edu for assistance or join an information session.

Are you looking for continuing education credits?

The School of Social Work and Center for Adult and Continuing Studies offer programs approved for Michigan social work continuing education clock hours. 


Accredited by


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

Sally Pelon, Ph. D., LMSW

Director, BSW Program

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

University Outstanding Teacher Award

Sally Pelon

Sally Pelon, Associate Professor of Social Work

Even with the disruptions of COVID-19, Associate Professor Sally Pelon is maintaining her outstanding reputation for fostering student-centered teaching and learning in the Bachelor of Social Work program. Senior BSW student Gerardo Vasquez explains that Dr. Pelon “approaches her students with poise, confidence, and a big smile, even if it’s behind a mask.” Sage Fahey, also a senior, is impressed that Dr. Pelon “finds new ways to make her online class fun and engaging. She makes me want to learn not only in general but from her teachings because I know how much she cares for all of us individually. I know I could go to her for help on an assignment or any type of advice on my career development.”

Among the courses Dr. Pelon taught last year, “Responding to Loss, Death, and Grief,” was an undergraduate social work elective that also serves as a General Education Issues course. “Building Resilience as a Social Work Practitioner” was special topic course developed and taught by Dr. Pelon. It builds the students’ capacity to utilize both internal and external resources for successful coping with challenges and stressors faced by social workers. Dr. Pelon recently wrote about this topic in “Exercising and Building Your Resilience Muscle as a New Social Worker,” which can be found in the New Social Worker magazine (Fall 2020).

One of Dr, Pelon’s stated teaching goals is to facilitate students’ investment in their own learning and to connect this learning to their developing identity as social workers. She hopes that instead of simply going through the motions of taking classes and checking off items from their academic ‘to do’ lists, that her students will come see the professional and personal relevance of what they are learning. To accomplish this, the learning environment in her courses is very important. She says, “I endeavor to learn every student’s name by the end of the second week of each semester. I incorporate into all syllabi and often specify throughout each course that professional behavior is required and kindness and respect toward one another is non-negotiable.”

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.

Bridging Community: GVSU School of Social Work