The St. Ambrose School of Social Work is expanding its reach and mission by launching an undergraduate dual degree program starting this fall.
The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program will prepare students for positions in casework, mental health, aging support, human services, advocacy, community organizing, and more.
"A BSW is one of the most useful and flexible degrees one can get in the human services sector," said Katie Van Blair, PhD, MSW, professor and director of the SAU School of Social Work.
The BSW will be a 32-credit hour program and offered as a dual degree. Students will choose, and earn, a second degree in one of four programs that will give them a strong liberal arts base and skills to be a better social worker: Psychology, Sociology, Theology, or Women & Gender Studies.
Van Blair said these programs challenge students to think critically, complete complex analysis, and build strong communication skills. Pair those with solid social work practice skills, and graduates are fully prepared to challenge injustice and support individuals and families.
"Our dual degree is a perfect combination of liberal arts and professional practice, which is the added value of earning a BSW from St. Ambrose vs. other BSW programs. Students will earn two degrees in four years and will be highly competitive candidates for Advanced Standing in Master of Social Work (MSW) programs around the world, including at St. Ambrose, where they can typically finish the graduate degree in one year," she said.
"This makes an MSW degree more affordable and accessible for students who work to serve the most vulnerable in society," Van Blair added.
Most students will enter the BSW program their junior year, but high-achieving high school students can apply for early placement and guaranteed a seat in the program if they meet certain qualifications during their first and second year of undergraduate studies.
The BSW will focus on generalist practice, which means students will graduate with skills to practice in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, social service agencies, and more. They will build social work practice skills that encompass an empowerment philosophy, which allows graduates to work one-on-one with clients and spark larger change in communities and organizations.
The job outlook for social workers is strong and has a faster than average growth rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), social work positions are projected to grow 15 percent between 2016-2026, and the number of healthcare social workers alone is expected to increase by 19 percent to meet the needs of an aging population and their families.
The BSW is seeking accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and will begin the process of candidacy to affirmation in May 2018, with initial accreditation anticipated in February 2021.
St. Ambrose was the first university in the U.S. to offer an MSW program with an empowerment specialization, and it is accredited by the CSWE. Twenty years later, the SAU School of Social Work boasts more than 500 graduates who are actively improving lives, communities, policy and advocating for social justice throughout the world.
If you believe that empowerment is a path for change and want to be involved in social justice and advocacy, our BSW program will teach you to address social issues with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and systems. Yes, you can have an impact and make the world a better place. BSW graduates work in human services, hospitals, schools, mental health, aging services, policy advocacy, community organizing, and so much more. Click below and learn more.