Health Sciences & Social Work

Social Work

Welcome to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Program at Western Illinois University. The BSW is a specialized undergraduate professional degree that prepares graduates as generalist social workers for entry-level professional employment in social service agencies. The Council on Social Work Education sets rigorous standards for students, which include formal admissions procedures, a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills, and values that must be acquired, and a practicum placement in an agency setting with professional social work supervision.

The social work profession is for individuals committed to the enhancement of human well-being and the alleviation of poverty and oppression through empowerment. Social workers seek to "make a difference" by helping individuals, groups, and communities restore and enhance their functioning through the development and implementation of social policies and programs to meet human needs, and through advocacy and social action which promotes social and economic justice. Social workers are concerned regarding any social situation that limits an individual's, group's or community's development, hampers effective functioning, or diminishes dignity and self-respect.

  Program Mission

The mission of the social work program is to prepare competent generalist social workers committed to responsible and ethical practice, and dedicated to serving as advocates for a more socially just society.

  Program Goals

The acronym CARES was created to describe the characteristics of a social worker that all students should aspire to be: Competent, Advocates, Responsible, Ethical, and Service-Oriented. Students will build on this caring attitude through course work, professional development, personal growth, community service, and the field practicum to become professional social workers.

  1. To educate students who are Competent to practice at the generalist BSW level, through a curriculum built on the ten core competencies.
  2. To instill in students their duty to be Advocates who challenge injustice and actively promote the dignity and worth of all people.
  3. To produce graduates who are Responsible professionals who act with integrity.
  4. To prepare graduates who behave in an Ethical manner, continuously conscious of the implications their actions have for their clients, coworkers, and profession.
  5. To develop Service-oriented citizens engaged in their community who contribute to finding solutions for local, regional, and global issues.

  Program Accreditation

The Social Work Program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1996. The program received re-affirmation of accreditation in 2017.

The Social Work Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). View Student Outcome Assessments.

  BSW Handbook

The BSW Handbook contains a broad range of information about the major. Current and prospective students are encouraged to download and become familiar with information in the handbook.


Getting a job after college requires experience. All social work students complete a 450-hour (15 week) practicum in a social service agency where they gain the skills to transition from student to social worker.

  Social Work Links

Please see view our social work resource page for a list of relevant links, including information about accredited programs, professional organizations, and more.

  Careers in Social Work

Interested in a career in social work? There are so many options we can’t list them all here. See the BSW Handbook page 10 for more information about possible career options.

  Admission to the Social Work Major

The Bachelor of Social Work degree is a professional degree designed to prepare graduates to work in direct practice with clients in a wide variety of social service agencies. The Council on Social Work Education, which accredits social work programs, charges each program with the responsibility of “gatekeeping” for the profession. Initially, all students entering the Social Work program are classified as Pre-Social Work majors. Enrollment in the Pre-Social Work Program does not guarantee acceptance as a candidate for the Bachelor of Social Work degree.

  Four-Year Curriculum

The curriculum for the Bachelor of Social Work degree offers liberal arts, as found in the university general education requirements, and the social work curriculum which includes a semester long practicum. This curriculum complies with the Curriculum Policy Statement of the Council on Social Work Education. Please see the University Catalog or BSW Student Handbook for more detailed information about the curriculum.

Social Work Courses
Foundation Courses (48 sh)

SW 100 (3sh) Introduction to Social Work
SW 212 (3sh) Human Behavior and the Social Environment I
SW 213 (3sh) Human Behavior and the Social Environment II
SW 312 (3sh) Social Work Research Methodology
SW 313 (3sh) Social Work Research Statistics
SW 315 (4sh) Generalist Social Work Practice I
SW 316 (3sh) Case Management
SW 325 (3sh) National Social Welfare Policy
SW 380 (3sh) Social Justice and Diversity
SW 415 (3sh) Generalist Social Work Practice II
SW 425 (3sh) Generalist Social Work Practice III
SW 440 (1sh) Pre-Practicum
SW 480 (13sh) Generalist Social Work Practicum

Electives (6 sh required)

SW 298 (3sh) Individual Studies
SW 330 (3sh) Services to Children and their Families
SW 331 (3sh) Social Work and Addictions
SW 332 (3sh) Social Work with Aging
SW 334 (3sh) Social Work, Disabilities, and Health
SW 335 (3sh) Domestic Violence and Social Work Intervention
SW 336 (3sh) Medical Social Work
SW 337 (3sh) Social Work in Rural Environments
SW 338 (3sh) Social Work and Mental Health
SW 340 (3sh) Topics in Social Workh
SW 345 (3sh) Investigations in Social Work
SW 496 (3-6sh) Senior Honors Thesis in Social Work
SW 498 (3sh) Individual Studies


1st Semester

SW 1003
SOC 100Y3
BIOL 1004
PHIL 1053
UNIV 1001

2nd Semester

POLS 1223
ENG 1803

3rd Semester

SW 2123
ENG 2803
PSY 1003

4th Semester

SW 2133
COMM 2413

5th Semester

SW 3123
SW 3253
SW 3803

6th Semester

SW 3133
SW 3154
SW 3163
SW Elective3

7th Semester

SW 4153
SW 4253
SW 4401

8th Semester

SW 48013

  Student Organizations and Student Leadership

Phi Alpha
Student Representatives: Darrian King and Rajhanae Cunningham
NASW Liaison: Tikyree Allen


Debra Allwardt, M.S.W., Ph.D., Associate Professor,
Cindy Dadello, M.S.W., BSW Program Advisor,
Katherine Perone, M.S.W., D.S.W., L.S.W., Associate Professor, Director of Field Education,
Kaycee Peterman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., Assistant Professor,
Lori Smith-Okon, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., Assistant Professor,
Karen T. Zellmann, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., Associate Professor, BSW Program Director,