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Social Work

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Through hard work and dedication, social workers advance human rights and create a more just society. 

Professionals provide assistance and resources to the most vulnerable individuals and families in our communities. They tackle problems people face in their everyday lives, such as violence, mental illness, drug abuse, racism, and poverty. 

Once you start your career, you will be able to choose the work environment that excites you. Social workers practice in a variety of settings including schools, nursing homes, government agencies, and many more. 

Why Study Social Work?

In this major and in your future social work career, you will make an impact on the world.

Our engaging curriculum and dedicated faculty prepare you to advocate for social, organizational, community, economic, and policy change. You will have all the skills and confidence needed to succeed and make people's lives better. 

We focus on a liberal arts foundation which means you get a well-rounded education. You will have expertise in social work theory, practice, and research. With such broad knowledge, you will be prepared to respond to the evolving needs of people. 

Related Skills

  • ability to manage pressure well
  • good conflict resolution 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. is 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

  • Mental health facilities and outpatient clinics
  • Community mental health centers
  • Child welfare agencies
  • Adoption programs
  • Substance use disorder treatment programs
  • Government agencies (federal, state, and local)
  • HIV/AIDS clinics and outreach programs
  • Youth services
  • Early intervention programs
  • Head Start programs
  • Intimate partner violence services
  • Senior services
  • Community-based programs
  • Advocacy agencies
  • Legal services
  • Homeless services
  • Relief services
  • Community organizing efforts
  • Services to individuals with developmental disabilities
  • Child Protective Services
  • Correctional facilities
  • Public health services
  • Public assistance agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Political office
  • Military support services
  • International organizations
  • Union organizing
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Hospice services
  • Research
  • Private practice

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Mariaton Tate  185 Student Services Building  mstate@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-2200 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Sona Chalian  310 Rachel Cooper  smchali@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3733 

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!

Prepare to major in Social Work

Get Experience with a Social Service Agency

To be formally accepted into the School of Social Work, you need to have at least 25 hours of paid or volunteer experience at an approved social service agency.

Our field placement list is a good example of the types of agencies to consider. Similar organizations are likely found in your local community.

Complete the volunteer service hours form to document your required experience.

Write a Personal Essay

Length: 1-3 pages, double-spaced

The application will ask you to submit an essay. The admissions committee will use your essay to understand your interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work.

You can use examples from your life, employment, or volunteer experience to illustrate your views and statements. Your essay will be evaluated by the content as well as the quality of your responses.

Essay Topics and Questions:

  1. Describe how social work is a good fit for you. Who or what influenced your interest in the social work profession (i.e., family, friends, clergy, social worker, teacher, volunteer/work experiences, academic experiences, personal life experience, etc.)?

  2. Identify three strengths that you possess and describe how these strengths influence your decision to pursue social work as a career.

  3. Describe what you consider to be one of the most pressing social problems facing our country today. What, in your opinion, causes this problem? What does the social work profession have to offer in order to find a solution to this problem?

Plan Your High School Courses

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

Being fluent in a foreign language is also beneficial. As social work becomes more multicultural, the field will need people who can speak and understand different languages.

Additional Requirements

Entry into the social work program and profession is also based on legal requirements. The Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act and the  National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics outline the laws around getting your license and practicing in the field.

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Applying to Illinois State

Admission is only available for the fall semester. The School of Social Work’s preferred filing period for the fall semester is September 1-February 15.

Apply early. Space is limited. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today.

Admission decisions will be released after the February 15 application deadline.

Program Requirements

To be accepted into the Bachelor of Social Work program, you must meet the School’s requirements.

Grade and Course Requirements

  • Minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA
  • At least 45 credit hours completed prior to enrollment
  • Grade of C or better in all courses required for the major, including all social work pre-requisites, prior to enrollment

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.

Experience with a Social Service Agency

If admitted, you’ll need at least 25 hours of volunteer or paid work experience in a social service agency. These hours are due by July 15 of the anticipated year you will begin taking courses in the Social Work major. 

You and the agency will need to complete the social service experience form. Submit the form with your application.

Our field placement list is a good example of the types of agencies to consider. Similar organizations are likely found in your local community.

Questions about service hours can be emailed to SocialWorkAdmissions@IllinoisState.edu.

Personal Essay

Length: 1-3 pages, double-spaced

The application will ask you to submit an essay. The admissions committee will use your essay to understand your interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work.

You can use examples from your life, employment, or volunteer experience to illustrate your views and statements. Your essay will be evaluated by the content as well as the quality of your responses.

Essay Topics and Questions:

  1. Describe how social work is a good fit for you. Who or what influenced your interest in the social work profession (i.e., family, friends, clergy, social worker, teacher, volunteer/work experiences, academic experiences, personal life experience, etc.)?

  2. Identify three strengths that you possess and describe how these strengths influence your decision to pursue social work as a career.

  3. Describe what you consider to be one of the most pressing social problems facing our country today. What, in your opinion, causes this problem? What does the social work profession have to offer in order to find a solution to this problem?

Additional Requirements

Entry into the social work program and profession is also based on legal requirements. The Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act and the  National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics  outline the laws around getting your license and practicing in the field.

Minimum GPA

2.50

Middle 50% GPA

2.78 - 3.48

Required Courses

Earn a grade C or better in the following courses.

  • Introduction to Social Work (SWK 170)

One human biology course from the following options:

  • BSC 101
  • BSC 145
  • BSC 170

One statistics course from the following options:

  • ECO/GEO/POS/PSY 138
  • SOC 275
  • MQM 100

Recommended Courses

Earn a grade C or better in the following courses.

  • ANT 185 (Cultures of the World)
  • ECO 103 (Individual and Social Choice)
  • SOC 106 (Introduction to Sociology)
  • PSY 350 (Psychopathology)

A Psychology course from one of the following options:

  • PSY 110
  • PSY 111

A Political Science course from one of the following options:

  • POL 101
  • POL 105
  • POL 106

Completing recommended courses ensures you progress through the program in a timely manner.

If you are admitted but do not have these courses, your degree completion may be extended by a semester or more.

Additional Information

Fall admissions only

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Academic Advising

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

Middle 50% GPA

2.78 - 3.48

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Application Period

September 1 - November 15, Fall Admission Only

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on My.IllinoisState.edu.

Major Requirements

Personal Essay Requirement

Length: 1-3 pages, double-spaced

The application will ask you to submit an essay. The admissions committee will use your essay to understand your interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work.

You can use examples from your life, employment, or volunteer experience to illustrate your views and statements. Your essay will be evaluated by the content as well as the quality of your responses.

Essay Topics and Questions:

  1. Describe how social work is a good fit for you. Who or what influenced your interest in the social work profession (i.e., family, friends, clergy, social worker, teacher, volunteer/work experiences, academic experiences, personal life experience, etc.)?

  2. Identify three strengths that you possess and describe how these strengths influence your decision to pursue social work as a career.

  3. Describe what you consider to be one of the most pressing social problems facing our country today. What, in your opinion, causes this problem? What does the social work profession have to offer in order to find a solution to this problem?

Experience Requirement

You’ll need at least 25 hours of volunteer or paid work experience in a social service agency. The experience must be post high school graduation and within the last two years.

Our field placement list is a good example of the types of agencies to consider. Similar organizations are likely found in your local community.

Complete the volunteer service hours form to document your required experience.

Course Requirements

  • 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/POL/PSY 138 - Social Science Reasoning and Statistics
  • MQM 100-Statistical Reasoning

One sociology course:

  • 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

Additional Requirements

Entry into the social work program and profession is also based on legal requirements. The Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act and the  National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics outline the laws around getting your license and practicing in the field.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Jerey McKinney  Rachel Cooper 317  jlmckin@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3924 
2018-01-25T08:28:27.278-06:00 2018