May 22, 2024  
2022-2023 General Catalog 
2022-2023 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work

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Learn more about the Department of Social Work at Valpo online.

Program Director/Assistant Professor C. Ban (co-chair); Field Director/Clinical Associate Professor B. Crumpacker Niedner; Clinical Assistant Professor R. Murray

The Department of Social Work offers the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. As sought-after human service professionals, social workers seek to promote human and community wellbeing. According to the Council on Social Work Education, (CSWE), social work is:

Guided by a person-in-environment framework, a global perspective, respect for human diversity, and knowledge based on scientific inquiry, the purpose of social work is actualized through its quest for social and economic justice, the prevention of conditions that limit human rights, the elimination of poverty, and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons, locally and globally. (CSWE, 2015, Educational Policy Accreditation Standards, p. 5)

Social Work is concerned with empowering people to develop capacities and strengths that will enhance social functioning. Our BSW graduates are prepared for generalist social work practice in a wide variety of settings. Alumni of our program are highly marketable and are employed in mental health services, schools, hospitals, elder care, churches, shelters, corrections, child welfare, public safety, government, policy, and other social service agencies. Our graduates often pursue the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree within five years of earning their BSW and are eligible to apply for advanced standing in many MSW programs. Advanced standing typically offers students who have earned a BSW the opportunity to complete their graduate degree in one year, rather than the typical two years.

Students who are interested in social work but are not pursuing a BSW degree have the option to choose from three minors: The Foundations Minor (provides practical skills for students going into a service-oriented field), the Direct Practice Minor (provides training and a skill set for students working directly with clients, especially for psychology, nursing, communication, foreign language, education and theology students) and the Policy Practice Minor (provides advocacy skills training and enables students to practice in real settings, especially for students interested in leadership, advocacy, communications and public policy). Becoming a minor involves taking 15 credits from a pre-set list of courses found at the bottom of this section and on our website at: .


The Department of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education as the sole accrediting agency for baccalaureate- and masters-level social work education in the United States.


Valparaiso University Department of Social Work (VUDSW) educates culturally-responsive, strengths-based, system-focused generalist practitioners who seek truth, pursue research-informed practice, promote well-being and equity, value human rights, and act for social justice as they lead and serve at all levels of practice.

Valparaiso University’s mission as a community of learning dedicated to excellence and grounded in the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith, prepares students to lead and serve in both church and society. Our Social Work Department mission grows out of this university mission in that we provide a rigorous and stimulating educational environment characterized by a dynamic interchange between faculty and students that promotes critical thinking, conscious use of self, and active engagement in the learning process.

The VUDSW’s mission promotes the purpose of social work as a profession, as defined by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE):

The VUDSW mission, university mission and purpose of the profession undergird our program goals and curriculum.

Our vision is to foster the creation of coherent and integrated educational learning experiences that utilize an active learner model, valuing different ways of knowing, aimed at preparing students for generalist social work practice that will:

  • address the whole person in the context of their environment;
  • be informed by an ecological/systems and strengths perspective;
  • be actively involved in advocacy, empowerment, and social change;
  • serve vulnerable and oppressed people;
  • implement culturally sensitive practice strategies; and
  • contribute meaningfully to society by valuing service, social and economic justice, the dignity and worth of each person, importance of human relationships, and integrity and competence in all areas of generalist practice.

As a values-based profession, it is critical that those who pursue an education and career in social work be aware of and ascribe to the core values of the profession as outlined above.


The purpose of the Department of Social Work is to educate and prepare students for ethical, effective, and culturally competent generalist social work practice for service in the world. The program uses a competency-based educational model and outcome performance approach to curriculum and co-curricular design to meet this purpose.

Admission Policies and Procedures for Majors and Minors

Students who wish to major or minor in social work must declare this intention with the University registrar and complete the departmental admissions process.

University-Level Process

First-year students who enter the University with a declared social work major or minor need take no further action at the University level.

Students who wish to major in social work and transfer from either another department or an exploratory major must complete the proper University-level paperwork to declare a social work major and submit it to the Office of the Registrar no later than May 1st of their sophomore year.

Students who wish to minor in social work must complete the proper University-level paperwork and submit it to the Office of the Register. Social work minors should complete University-level paperwork before the Spring of their senior year.

Department-Level Process for Majors

Both students who enter the University with social work as a declared major and students who change majors must complete the departmental admissions process no later than September 30th of their junior year. In order to have the process completed by this date, it should be initiated as soon as possible after entering the University or declaring the social work major with the University registrar.

The departmental admissions process is fully explained in the admissions materials which must be obtained from the Department of Social Work office in 112 Meier Hall. Requirements for formal admission include:

  1.  A strong desire to serve while promoting human and community well-being.
  2. A cumulative overall University grade point average of 2.000.
  3. A cumulative grade point average of 2.500 in Department of Social Work classes.
  4. Completion of all paperwork included in the admissions materials which must exhibit college-level writing skills. Should anypiece of writing submitted with the admissions application not meet faculty expectations for quality, it will be returned to the applicant for re-writing.
  5. A formal interview with a member or members of the social work faculty.

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be admitted to the department with a cumulative grade point average lower than 2.000 and/or a social work grade point average lower than 2.500. In such circumstances, a student would be admitted to the department on conditional major status and encouraged to raise their overall grade point average to 2.000 and/or their social work department grade point average to 2.500 in order to remain a social work major.

Department-Level Process for Minors

In order to meaningfully integrate minors in the social work community, minors are asked to complete admissions paperwork and interview with a faculty member as listed in requirements 4-5 above. This process is designed to help students build stronger relationships with faculty, staff and community. The social work minor is not accredited and therefore, minors are not required to meet the same academic, behavioral, or professional standards for majors, listed in requirements 1-3 above. 

Academic Progression Standards

In order to remain a social work major and progress through the program, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.000 and a social work department grade point average of 2.500. Should a student’s grade point average fall below these requirements, she/he will be placed on conditional major status and will be allowed up to December of the junior year to raise the grade point average to the required standards. Failure to reach the required grade point average after this time frame on conditional major status will result in dismissal from the major.

Should a social work major earn an F in a course in the social work major, she/he will be allowed to retake the course one time in order to earn a passing grade. Failure to earn a passing grade the second time taking a course will result in dismissal from the major.

Field Education in Social Work

Field education in social work sets our BSW graduates apart, as this experience fosters the integration of empirical and practicebased knowledge and promotes the development of professional competence. The field component is systematically designed around program educational competencies and is supervised and evaluated according to stringent criteria established by the Council on Social Work Education. Field Education consists of educationally directed internships in a variety of community settings. In order to graduate with the Bachelor of Social Work degree, social work majors are required to successfully complete two internships- a 100-hour internship in the spring semester of their junior year and a 450-hour internship over the entirety of their senior year. These internships are sequential and must be completed in conjunction with specific coursework.

Junior Internship Admission & Progression Standards

The first required field internship takes place during the spring semester of the junior year. Screening of students for admission to the field practicum begins in the fall semester of the junior year. Social work majors must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for placement in a junior internship:

  1. Successful completion of the foundation-level social work curriculum which consists of: SOCW 151 , SOCW 210 , SOCW 220 , SOCW 240 , and SOCW 260 .
  2. Current junior standing in the University.
  3. Completion of formal entry to the department (as described above).
  4. Submission of Junior Field Education Application materials which are distributed by the director of Field Education no later than the fall semester of the junior year.
  5. Approval of the social work faculty.

Should a social work major not meet these requirements prior to the beginning of the second semester of the junior year, she/he will not be eligible to begin the first required field placement. In such a case, the student will be counseled out of the major or must wait until the following spring semester to re-apply for the first required field practicum.

Students must meet the following standards in order to remain eligible to participate in the field education component of the social work major.

  1. Academic:
    1. Meet the standards for academic progression as noted above
    2. Earn at least a C+ in all practice and internship related courses (SOCW 356 , SOCW 386 , SOCW 455 , SOCW 456 , SOCW 475 , SOCW 476 , SOCW 485 , and SOCW 486 )
  2. 2. General Behavior:
    1. Behavior in internships and courses conforming to the Social Work Code of Ethics
    2. Adherence to the Valparaiso University Honor Code and its application as laid out in individual courses
    3. Adherence to federal and state laws
  3. 3. Professionalism:
    1. Demonstrate an ability to create a safe emotional environment for clients and fellow students
    2. Respect clients and fellow students, in word and action, as valuable individuals
    3. Seek to build on client and classmate strengths
    4. Seek to learn client and classmates’ vantage points and language used to describe related issues
    5. Learn and adhere to basic classroom and workplace expectations
    6. Resolve differences with clients, agency colleagues, classmates, and faculty assertively and professionally

Failure to meet these expectations will require either corrective action, dismissal from the field internship, or dismissal from the program, depending upon the nature of the problem.

Senior Internship Admission & Progression Standards

The second required field practicum is completed during both fall and spring semesters of the senior year. In order to be eligible for the senior-level practicum, social work majors must demonstrate the following:

  1. Successful completion of all required classes
  2. Satisfactory evaluation of junior field internship
  3. Completion of the Senior Field Education Application which is distributed by the director of Field Education during the spring semester of the junior year
  4. Must maintain the academic, behavioral, and professional standards outlined above.

In order to be eligible to remain in the senior-level internship for its entirety, social work majors must maintain the academic, behavioral, and professional standards outlined above.

Double Major with Social Work

Because students graduate from the Department of Social Work with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, students wishing to have a major in addition to social work must declare social work as their first major. Those who desire to enhance their learning by pursuing co-curricular plans of a double major or minor are encouraged to do so.

Study Abroad

The Department of Social Work supports students in participating in off-campus study abroad. Students making this plan of action as a means to enhance the educational experience and broaden one’s worldview should do so in the fall semester of their junior year, or sooner.


To be eligible for the Bachelor of Social Work degree, a student must complete the prescribed curricula found on the following pages. The student must also meet the academic, behavioral, and professional standards stated above and all additional requirements for graduation established by the University.

Student Organization & Honor Society

The Department of Social Work has a Student Social Work Organization (SSWO), as well as an established chapter of the Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society. SSWO provides students with the opportunity to lead and serve around their interests within the department and on campus. Additionally, as an organization, it represents the voice of the students in formulating and modifying departmental level policies affecting academic and student affairs within the program. The Iota Lambda chapter of Phi Alpha at Valparaiso recognizes students who have achieved academic excellence in the social work major. Potential members are identified as those who exemplify the characteristics of consummate social work professionals involved in the University and community.

Student Fees

Upon entry into the program, in order to support learning pertaining to the competency-based curriculum, all majors are expected to participate in several on and off-campus co-curricular educational events. These hallmark opportunities require collection of an annual fee from each student which is based on a student’s year in school and the experiences in which each student will partake for that upcoming year. These comprehensive fees cover costs pertaining to field education and required classroom activities and co-curricular events. Currently, these fees are set at $350 each year for juniors and seniors, and $90 each year for sophomores and first-year students.

Currently there are no fees for Minors. Minors and non-majors are invited to participate in social work community events, but may be asked to pay a small fee if they choose to attend events such as social work lobbying trips or as part of the Policy Practice minor curriculum in SOCW 410  and SOCW 456 . For information about the typical cost for non-majors to attend the capitol lobbying trip, please contact the Administrative Assistant for social work at 219-464-5336.

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