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Social Work

Overview

The BSW Program at Illinois State seeks to prepare generalist social work practitioners who act as agents of social change who in turn will promote individual and societal well-being.

Why Study Social Work?

Social Work is a helping profession with emphasis located on the relationship between the individual and his or her environment. Social workers are community troubleshooters. Through direct counseling or referral to other services they help individuals, families, and groups cope with their problems. Social workers serve a range of client systems (individuals, families, groups, communities) as they attempt to enhance social functioning. Social work is unique given its dual focus on the person and the environment.

Related Majors

Careers

Related Skills

  • Ability to manage pressure well
  • Good conflict resolving skills
  • Good listener and motivator
  • Posses the understanding of human behavior
  • Ability to lead and be a team member
  • Organizational skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Empathy for others
  • Appreciation for diversity
  • Interest in social change

Being Successful in the Field

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) prepares individuals for entry-level direct practice.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) is necessary to provide therapy and for advancement to supervisory or administrative positions.
  • Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. usually required for positions in teaching, research, and administration. Desirable for some clinical positions and private practice.
  • Complete a degree from a college or university program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Programs include practical field experience.
  • Most states require licensure, certification, or registration.
  • The field practicum is used to determine suitability for this profession and to provide exposure to various practice settings and clients.

Related Fields

Public Welfare

  • Administration and Planning
  • Case Management
  • Program Evaluation
  • Policy Setting
  • Research

Employers

  • Public welfare agencies
  • Private social service agencies

Strategies

  • Public welfare is designed to provide services and support for poor, disabled, ill, elderly, or juvenile clients.
  • Volunteer at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, battered women homes, literacy programs, or other social service agencies to get experience.

Criminal Justice/Corrections

  • Counseling/Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Probation
  • Parole
  • Youth Services
  • Victim Assistance

Employers

  • Prisons and correctional facilities
  • Courts
  • Police departments
  • Probation offices
  • Victim services organizations

Strategies

  • Social workers in corrections focus on rehabilitation of clients.
  • Obtain experience by volunteering at a corrections facility or victims program such as a rape crisis center.

School Social Work

  • Clinical Social Work
  • Pupil Personnel Services
  • Student Advocacy
  • Instruction

Employers

  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • School districts
  • Head start centers
  • Early intervention programs

Strategies

  • School systems may employ social workers to help students cope with and resolve emotional, developmental, or educational difficulties.
  • Gain experience with children at daycare centers, camps, or Scouts.

Child Welfare

  • Case Management
  • Advocacy
  • Intervention

Employers

  • Public and private child welfare agencies
  • Adoption agencies
  • Foster care organizations
  • Child daycare

Strategies

  • Child welfare social workers strive to ensure the safety and well-being of children through treatment of the whole family.
  • Volunteer at daycares, child shelters, camps, YMCA, Scouts, or other agencies that aid youth.

Gerontology

  • Advocacy/Intervention
  • Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Programming
  • Public Policy

Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Senior centers
  • Assisted living
  • Hospice

Strategies

  • Gerontology involves working with older adults, healthy or ill, and their families.
  • Get involved with programs or organizations designed for senior citizens.

Clinical

  • Counseling
  • Therapy

Employers

  • Community mental health centers
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Residential and day treatment hospitals
  • Employment assistance programs
  • Schools
  • Family service agencies
  • Private practice

Strategies

  • Clinical social workers are found in a variety of settings that provide therapeutic counseling to clients.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) is required.

Administration

  • Management
  • Policy Development
  • Planning

Employers

  • Family service agencies
  • Child welfare departments
  • Social service agencies
  • State mental health departments
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Probation departments
  • Public welfare agencies
  • Public interest groups
  • Local, state, and federal government

Strategies

  • Administrators are involved with planning, budgeting, public relations, marketing, supervising, operations management, fund raising, and other crucial responsibilities that keep an organization functioning.
  • Obtain an MSW and gain management experience.

Research and Education

  • Research
  • Teaching

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research institutes
  • Local, state and federal government
  • Advocacy organizations

Strategies

  • Research provides data and statistics important in program implementation and policy development.
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. usually required.

Occupational

  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Wellness Promotion
  • Employee Assistance
  • Organizational Development
  • Human Resources

Employers

  • Businesses
  • Corporations
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Labor unions

Strategies

Occupational social workers help employees to be more productive and satisfied.

Developmental Disabilities

Case Management
Program Planning and Evaluation
Research
Policy Development

Employers

Community residential homes
State and local agencies
Medical facilities
Schools

Strategies

  • Social workers in this area help people with disabilities to adjust and to lead productive lives.
  • Volunteer at special needs camps, daycares, schools, or hospitals to gain experience.

Health Care

  • Case Management
  • Counseling
  • Program Development
  • Administration
  • Research

Employers

Hospitals
Community health centers
Outpatient clinics
Public health programs
Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
Nursing homes
Group homes
Hospice
Veterans Administration hospitals

Strategies

  • Social workers in health care facilitate medical and emotional treatment of patients.
  • Choose volunteer settings such as hospitals, the American Red Cross, or AIDS agencies to get experience.

Community Organization

  • Program and Community Development
  • Advocacy
  • Politics
  • Education
  • Planning

Employers

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Development corporations
  • Community centers
  • Local, state, and federal government
  • Associations

Strategies

  • Social workers in this area work with existing organizations to improve conditions for specific groups, enhance quality of living, and involve community members in the political process.
  • Get involved with grassroots causes and community agencies.

Other Professions

  • Admissions Counselor
  • Adult Protective Services
  • Advocate
  • Case Worker
  • Child Care Worker
  • Children’s Services Worker
  • Clergy
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Congressional Aide
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Cottage Parent
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Demographer
  • Domestic Violence Social Worker
  • Drug Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Family Services Social Worker
  • Foster Care Caseworker
  • Fund-Raiser
  • Geriatric Case Worker
  • Geriatric Social Worker
  • Grassroots Organizer
  • Group Home Director
  • Hospice Coordinator
  • Hospital Social Worker
  • Human Services Worker
  • Intake Counselor
  • Juvenile Court Caseworker
  • Mental Health Case Manager
  • Nursing Home Social Worker
  • Peace Corps Volunteer
  • Prison Social Worker
  • Probation/Parole Officer
  • Public Health Social Worker
  • Recreation Supervisor
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • School Social Worker
  • Social Researcher
  • Social Welfare Director

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Renee Carrigan  110 Student Services Building  rdcarig@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-2200 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Judi Sevel  310 Rachel Cooper  jasevel@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3733 

New Freshmen

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

How can I prepare to major in Social Work?

If you want to become a social work major when you enroll at Illinois State, plan your high school courses well to prepare for the major.

The social work major builds on foundation skills in math, writing, science, social sciences, history and reasoning. Therefore, the more classes you can take in high school that will help you improve upon these skills, the better.

Take as much foreign language as you can. Social work is becoming very multicultural in its emphasis. For example, becoming fluent in Spanish will open many career opportunities for you. Our college, the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State requires three years of the same language in high school or two semesters at college level as a minimum requirement. Take foreign languages! Become well rounded. Take good, strong college preparatory classes in as many areas as you can. Take a lot of math, science, English, and literature. Volunteer. Work as a tutor, or at a summer camp, or any place where you can work with people.

Here is a list of examples of Bloomington/Normal area social service agencies. You may find similar agencies and organizations in your local community. Download the Volunteer Service Hours form to document your service hours.

These experiences will help you understand social services better and help you define your career goals.

If you have any questions, please contact the BSW academic advisor Jerey McKinney.

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

New Transfer

Applying to Illinois State

Admission is only available for the fall semester only.

Illinois State's preferred filing period for the fall semester is September 1-February 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Program Requirements

All Social Work majors must formally apply to the School of Social Work to continue to the professional preparation coursework within the program. The application process for continuation is a prerequisite for taking any 200 and 300 level Social Work course. In order to be formally approved for continuance to the professional preparation coursework, students are required to submit their application before enrolling in SWK 223.

To be accepted into the Baccalaureate Social Work Program a student must have satisfied the following requirements:

  • At least 30 hours of credit with a minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA
  • Completed General Education Requirements
  • Grade of C or better in all courses required for the major (including all social work pre-requisites)
  • Successfully completed a minimum of 25 pre-approved clock hours of volunteer or paid work experience (post high school graduation) in a social agency within the last two years. This requirement can be met through a broad range of experiences with populations or individuals experiencing a social problem. The list of appropriate local volunteer opportunities can serve as a guide to volunteer experiences either in Bloomington/Normal or in other communities. Download the Volunteer Service Hours form.
  • Examples of Bloomington/Normal area social service agencies.
  • Personal Essay - addressing specified qualifications
  • Demonstrated suitability for the profession proven through the personal statement. Assessment of suitability is also based on professional standards of practice as specified in the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics.

Exemptions from the grade point requirement may be made for students who demonstrate potential for academic success in Social Work. Exceptions are granted upon the recommendations of the Social Work Admission Committee and the Director or designee of the Social Work program.

Social Work Pre-requisites

One social work course:

  • SWK 170 - Introduction to Social Work

One human biology course from the following:

  • BSC 101 - Fundamental Concepts in Biology
  • BSC 145 - Human Biology
  • BSC 170 - Genetics and Society

One statistics course from the following:

  • SOC 275 - Social Statistics
  • ECO/GEO/POL/PSY 138 - Social Science Reasoning and Statistics
  • MQM 100 - Statistical Reasoning

One sociology course from the following:

  • SOC 106 - Intro to Sociology

Two psychology courses:

  • PSY 110 - Intro to Psychology
  • PSY 350 - Psychopathology

One economics course:

  • ECO 103 - Individual and Social Change

One political science courses:

  • POL 101 or POL 105 or POL 106

One anthropology course:

  • ANT 185 - Fulfills Global Study Requirement

Minimum GPA

2.50

Middle 50% GPA

2.58 - 3.18

Required Courses

AA or AS degree or IAI completed and grade of "C" or better in: (for students with 45 earned hours or more)

  • Introduction to Social Work (SWK 170)
  • Statistics (ECO/GEO/POS/PSY 138 or SOC 275 or MQM 100)
  • Human Biology (BSC 101, 145 or 170)

Recommended Courses

  • 25 hours of volunteer or paid experience
  • Foreign language: LAN 112 or higher
  • Bachelor of Science option: Additional Science/Math/Tech course of GenEd or LAN 115 or higher
  • Psychology (PSY 110 or 111)
  • Intro to Sociology (SOC 106)
  • Abnormal Psychology (PSY 350 or similar)
  • Cultures of the World (ANT 185 or fulfillment of Global Studies)
  • Politics (POL 101, 105 or 106)
  • Individual and Social Choice (ECO 103 or microeconomics or macroeconomics course equivalent)

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Jerey McKinney  Rachel Cooper 317  jlmckin@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3924 

Illinois State Students

Middle 50% GPA

2.58 - 3.18

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

September 1 - November 1, Fall Admission Only

Major Requirements

Requirements for transferring into the Social Work major include:

  • Work with University College advisor to start completing general education courses, and the pre-requisite courses to enter the Social Work program. See list of required courses below.
  • Successfully completed a minimum of 25 pre-approved clock hours of volunteer or paid work experience (post high school graduation) in a social agency within the last two years. This requirement can be met through a broad range of experiences with populations or individuals experiencing a social problem.The list of appropriate local volunteer opportunities can serve as a guide to appropriate experiences either in Bloomington/Normal or in other communities. Download the Volunteer Service Hours form.
  • Examples of Bloomington/Normal area social service agencies.
  • Personal Essay - addressing specified qualifications
  • Demonstrated suitability for the profession proven through the personal statement. Assessment of suitability is also based on professional standards of practice as specified in the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics.
  • The following course requirements before entering the BSW program sequence.

One social work course:

  • SWK 170 - Introduction to Social Work

One human biology course from the following:

  • BSC 101 - Fundamental Concepts in Biology
  • BSC 145 - Human Biology
  • BSC 170- Genetics and Society

One statistics course from the following:

  • ECO/GEO/POS/PSY 138 - Social Science Reasoning and Statistics
  • MQM 100- Statistical Reasonsing

One sociology course from the following:

  • SOA 106 –Intro to Sociology

Two psychology courses:

  • PSY 110 – Intro to Psychology
  • PSY 350 – Psychopathology

One economics course:

  • ECO 103 – Individual and Social Change

One political science course:

  • POL 101 or POL 105 or POL 106

One anthropology course:

  • ANT 185- Fulfills Global Study Requirement

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Jerey McKinney  Rachel Cooper 317  jlmckin@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3924 
2014-09-11T15:28:09.669-05:00 2014
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