The Bachelor of Social Work requires completion of 120 credits, including 46 credits in the major. The curriculum of the baccalaureate program is specifically designed to prepare students for beginning-level generalist social work practice. This practice model requires a broad base of knowledge about individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations and an appreciation of cultural diversity. General education courses provide an essential foundation for the upper-level professional curriculum and are required for admission to junior and senior social work courses.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  1. Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly
  2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
  3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
  4. Engage in diversity and difference in practice
  5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice
  6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
  7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social and environment
  8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services
  9. Respond to contexts that shape practice
  10. Engage, assess, intervene and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities

Academic policies

Transfer students

Students who transfer to VCU from another institution as social work majors are not required to complete the UNIV   111 and UNIV   112 sequence. Instead, these students must transfer three credits in writing and composition course work with a grade of C or better (approved by the program director) in lieu of UNIV   111. Students may also transfer three additional credits in writing and composition course work with a grade of C or better (approved by the program director) in lieu of UNIV   112 or complete UNIV   200 at VCU with a grade of C or better. The remaining three credits from the UNIV   111, UNIV   112 and UNIV   200 sequence requirement may be completed as general electives. This policy applies only to students who transfer to VCU after their freshman year and may not be used by students who began their studies as freshmen at VCU.

Transfer of credits from other colleges or universities or from other programs at VCU is determined on an individual basis.

Application process

Students eligible to register for upper-level social work courses need to make an appointment with their adviser to review and complete the “Application for Admission to the B.S.W. Professional Preparation Program” form. This form is available from your student success adviser. Although the B.S.W. program can be completed on a part-time basis, it cannot be completed exclusively in the evening because of field practicum requirements and the scheduling of some classes.

Course restrictions

Practice (SLWK   332, SLWK   441 and SLWK   442) and field education (SLWK   393, SLWK   494-SLWK   495) courses and the senior seminar (SLWK   499) are restricted to social work majors only. Students minoring in social welfare, or other students with permission of program director or course instructor, may take the following:

SLWK   311Social Work and Oppressed Groups3
SLWK   313Person in Society I3
SLWK   330Person in Society II3
SLWK   380Foundations of Social Work Research I3
SLWK   381Foundations of Social Work Research II3
SLWK   422Social Welfare Legislation and Services3
SLWK   431Person in Society III3

In all cases, however, prerequisites must be satisfied.

Field placements require students to spend 14 hours a week in an agency and cannot be completed on nights and weekends.

Honors in social work

Undergraduate social work majors may earn honors in social work by excelling academically and completing a research-based honors thesis under the supervision of faculty mentors. Students apply for honors in social work in the second semester of their junior year (spring or summer). To graduate with honors in social work, students must satisfy all of the following conditions:

  • Earn a 3.5 cumulative grade point average.
  • Earn a grade of A in SLWK   380 and SLWK   381 and a minimum grad of B in all other social work courses.
  • Complete six to nine credits of independent study (SLWK   492) with a minimum grade of B to propose and implement a research project under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
  • Present and successfully defend in writing and orally the findings from the research project in the form of an honors thesis to a committee of three faculty members (one of whom is the student’s mentor).

Students who meet these requirements and all other graduation requirements of the university will have honors in social work noted on their transcripts. For further information about the application process and detailed instructions for completing the honors thesis, students should contact the B.S.W. program director.

Special requirements

To complete lower-division requirements and begin the professional preparation curriculum of the B.S.W. program, students must:

  1. Complete the following specific courses (38 credits):
    ANTH   103Introduction to Anthropology3
    BIOL   101Biological Concepts3
    BIOZ   101Biological Concepts Laboratory1
    MATH   131Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics3
    PHIL from approved list3
    PSYC   101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to PsychologyIntroduction to Psychology4
    PSYC   304Life Span Developmental Psychology3
    SLWK   201Introduction to Social Work3
    SLWK   230Communication in the Helping Process3
    SOCY   101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to SociologyIntroduction to Sociology3
    UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
    UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
    UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
    Total Hours38
  2. Complete 16 additional credits from the general education requirements for a total of 54 credits to achieve junior status
  3. Achieve a minimum grade of C in UNIV   112 and UNIV   200
  4. Achieve a minimum grade of B in SLWK   201 and SLWK   230
  5. Achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
  6. Apply for admission with academic adviser to begin the professional preparation curriculum of the B. S. W. program.
  7. Agree to abide by the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics as students and emerging professionals

Other program requirements and guidelines:

  1. All 300 level SLWK prerequisite courses require a minimum grade of C before entering 400-level SLWK courses.
  2. Students must have a minimum grade of C in all required social work courses to graduate.
  3. A student who earns a grade of D or F in any required social work course may repeat the course once. If a grade of D or F is earned in the repeated course, the student will be terminated from the B.S.W. program.
  4. Credit is not given for life experiences.
  5. As a condition for graduation, students must submit in the spring term of a senior year a portfolio of selected assignments.
  6. There are additional policies that affect students’ progression in the professional degree program. Students are responsible for compliance with these policies. They are listed in the Student Policy Handbook, which is available on the School of Social Work website at socialwork.vcu.edu.

Foreign language requirement: Students who place into or are waived out of the 101 level in a foreign language must complete the 102 level in the same language. Students who place into or are waived out of the 101 and 102 level in a foreign language must complete at least one college-level foreign language course in any language. Credits earned by CLEP do not count toward the fulfillment of this requirement.

Degree requirements for Social Work, Bachelor of (B.S.W.)

General Education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Additional General Education requirements
Select one of the following:3
Any ARTH (except ARTH 360)
Music Appreciation
Any RELS
Any English literature
Any PHIL 1
Any foreign language at 200 level or above
History of Political Theory: Classical to Modern
History of Political Theory: Modern to Contemporary
The High Middle Ages
History of Christianity II
American Women's History I
American Women's History II
Any topical or honors course approved by program director
Select one of the following:3
Environmental Science
Human Biology
Principles of Nutrition
Human Sexuality
Physiological Psychology
Perception
Health Psychology
Select one of the following approved PHIL courses:3
Critical Thinking About Moral Problems
History of Ethics
Ethics and Applications
Ethics and Health Care
Critical Thinking
Logic
Select nine elective credits from HIST, POLI or ECON9
Foreign language at the 101 and 102 level (including ASL)8
Total Hours26
1

Except PHIL   201, PHIL   211, PHIL   212, PHIL   213, PHIL   214, PHIL   221, PHIL   222

Collateral requirements

ANTH   103Introduction to Anthropology3
BIOL   101
BIOZ   101
Biological Concepts
and Biological Concepts Laboratory (satisfies University Core natural/physical sciences)
4
Select one of the following (satisfies approved quantitative literacy):3
Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics
Algebra with Applications
Precalculus Mathematics
Calculus with Analytic Geometry
PSYC   101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to PsychologyIntroduction to Psychology (satisfies University Core social/behavioral sciences)4
PSYC   304Life Span Developmental Psychology3
PSYC   407Psychology of the Abnormal3
SOCY   101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to SociologyIntroduction to Sociology3
Select one of the following (satisfies University Core humanities/fine arts):3
Textual Analysis
Thinking About Thinking
Human Spirituality
Total Hours20

Major requirements

SLWK   201Introduction to Social Work3
SLWK   230Communication in the Helping Process3
SLWK   311Social Work and Oppressed Groups3
SLWK   313Person in Society I3
SLWK   330Person in Society II3
SLWK   332Social Work Practice: Fundamentals3
SLWK   380Foundations of Social Work Research I3
SLWK   381Foundations of Social Work Research II3
SLWK   393Junior Field Instruction3
SLWK   422Social Welfare Legislation and Services3
SLWK   431Person in Society III3
SLWK   441Social Work Practice I3
SLWK   442Social Work Practice II3
SLWK   494Senior Field Instruction I3
SLWK   495Senior Field Instruction II3
SLWK   499Senior Seminar (capstone)1
Total Hours46

Open electives

Select 13 open elective credits13

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
ANTH   103 Introduction to Anthropology 3
MATH   131 Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics (satisfies University Core quantitative literacy) 3
PSYC   101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to Psychology Introduction to Psychology (satisfies University Core social/behavioral sciences) 4
SOCY   101 Play VideoPlay course video for Introduction to Sociology Introduction to Sociology 3
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
 Term Hours: 16
Spring semester
BIOL   101
BIOZ   101
Biological Concepts
and Biological Concepts Laboratory
4
ENGL   215
Textual Analysis
or Human Spirituality
or Thinking About Thinking
3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
Electives from HIST, POLI or ECON 6
 Term Hours: 16
Sophomore year
Fall semester
SLWK   230 Communication in the Helping Process 3
UNIV   200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Foreign language 101 4
Elective from HIST, POLI or ECON 3
Open elective 3
 Term Hours: 16
Spring semester
PSYC   304 Life Span Developmental Psychology 3
SLWK   201 Introduction to Social Work 3
Foreign language 102 4
PHIL   201
Critical Thinking About Moral Problems
or History of Ethics
or Ethics and Applications
or Ethics and Health Care
or Critical Thinking
or Logic
3
Open elective 1
 Term Hours: 14
Junior year
Fall semester
SLWK   311 Social Work and Oppressed Groups 3
SLWK   313 Person in Society I 3
SLWK   380 Foundations of Social Work Research I 3
Additional General Education course 1 3
Open elective 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
SLWK   330 Person in Society II 3
SLWK   332 Social Work Practice: Fundamentals 3
SLWK   381 Foundations of Social Work Research II 3
SLWK   393 Junior Field Instruction 3
Open elective 3
 Term Hours: 15
Senior year
Fall semester
SLWK   422
Social Welfare Legislation and Services
or Person in Society III
3
SLWK   441 Social Work Practice I 3
SLWK   494 Senior Field Instruction I 3
BIOL   103
Environmental Science
or Human Biology
or Principles of Nutrition
or Human Sexuality
or Physiological Psychology
or Perception
or Health Psychology
3
Open elective 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
PSYC   407 Psychology of the Abnormal 3
SLWK   422
Social Welfare Legislation and Services
or Person in Society III
3
SLWK   442 Social Work Practice II 3
SLWK   495 Senior Field Instruction II 3
SLWK   499 Senior Seminar 1
 Term Hours: 13
 Total Hours: 120
1

Select one of the following: any ARTH, MHIS   243, any RELS, any English literature, any PHIL (except PHIL   201, PHIL   211, PHIL   212, PHIL   213, PHIL   214, PHIL   221, PHIL   222), any foreign language at 200 level or above, POLI   341, POLI   342,  HIST   307, HIST   336, HIST   365, HIST   366 or any topical or honors course approved by program director.

SLWK   200. Building a Just Society. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Course will introduce students to social justice issues in a local context with a focus on expanding and deepening their knowledge and skills to effect change through active engagement in the community. Course promotes an understanding and critical analysis of multiple forms of oppression in social systems and in personal experience using professional social work perspectives and theoretical frameworks. Selected reference materials and experiential learning activities are designed to enhance student understanding of what constitutes a just community and a just society. The course may be offered as service-learning.

SLWK   201. Introduction to Social Work. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Systematic overview of the social work profession. Knowledge of the nature of social work, the fields of social work practice, target populations, overview of social work methods.

SLWK   230. Communication in the Helping Process. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The study of the knowledge, skills and values of effective human communication and interpersonal relations. Includes observation, collection and description of data, verbal and nonverbal communication and the relevance of the above to social work practice. Integrates issues of human diversity in all course content. Emphasizes the demonstration and practice of communication through structured exercises.

SLWK   311. Social Work and Oppressed Groups. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Open only to majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. Examines forces leading to individual prejudice and institutional oppression. Focuses on impact of oppression. Provides students with an understanding of diversity and a general knowledge of social work strategies to alleviate oppression and to empower the oppressed.

SLWK   313. Person in Society I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ANTH/INTL   103; BIOL   101, BIOL   151 or BIOL   152; PSYC   304; and SOCY   101. Open only to majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. First of a three-semester sequence on human behavior and the social environment. Uses theoretical concepts and research findings from the behavioral sciences as background for understanding and assessing the functioning of individuals and families in their social environment. Facilitates integration of theory and research with assessment skills associated with basic social work practice. Emphasizes the social systems approach for analyzing the impact of various social problems on individual and family dynamics.

SLWK   330. Person in Society II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SLWK   313 with a minimum grade of C. Open only to majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. Second of three courses on human behavior in the social environment. Uses theoretical concepts from the behavioral sciences to understand the family and small groups as social institutions and social groups as context for human behavior over the life cycle. Designed to provide a theoretical foundation for practice with families and small groups.

SLWK   332. Social Work Practice: Fundamentals. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SLWK   313 with a minimum grade of C. Corequisite: SLWK   393. Open only to social work majors with junior status. First of three semester practice sequence. Introduces students to basic concepts and skills of beginning-level professional generalist social work practice. Emphasizes application of concepts to the concurrent fieldwork experience.

SLWK   380. Foundations of Social Work Research I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Open only to majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. First of two semester research sequence. Designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of a scientific, analytic approach to building knowledge for practice and for evaluating multilevel service delivery. Provides an overview of the research process, including problem formulation, sampling, design, measurement, data collection, data analysis and dissemination of findings. Presents ethical standards of scientific inquiry with special attention to research with vulnerable and oppressed populations.

SLWK   381. Foundations of Social Work Research II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SLWK   380 with a minimum grade of C. Open only to social work majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. The content includes a review of basic statistical univariate and bivariate descriptive and inferential tools for analyzing, interpreting and presenting data for decision-making in generalist social work practice. It also introduces methods for analysis of quantitative and qualitative data and further develops critical-thinking skills in translating empirical research findings into generalist social work practice principles.

SLWK   391. Topics in Social Work. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits. An in-depth study of a selected topic relevant for professional social work practice. See the Schedule of Classes for the specific topic to be offered each semester.

SLWK   393. Junior Field Instruction. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 credits. Prerequisite: SLWK   313 with a minimum grade of C. Corequisite: SLWK   332. Open only to majors with junior status. Fourteen hours per week (spring semester) or 20 hours per week (summer session) in a community agency under the supervision of an agency-based field instructor. Intended to facilitate student's understanding of agency structure and community context, ability to engage in professional relationships, to assess strengths, define problems, set goals and utilize beginning-level practice skills with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Promotes identification as a professional social worker.

SLWK   422. Social Welfare Legislation and Services. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: completion of SLWK   311, 313, 330, 332, 380, 381 and 393, each with a minimum grade of C. Open only to majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. Analyzes social welfare policy as related to social values, social problems and social structures. Examines frameworks for policy analysis and for evaluation of programmatic outcomes of policy, with application to contemporary social service and income maintenance policies and delivery systems. Considers the economic, political and ideological factors and processes that affect social welfare legislation, financing and implementation.

SLWK   431. Person in Society III. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: SLWK   313 with a minimum grade of C. Open only to majors or minors in social welfare with junior status or by permission of program director or course instructor. Third of three courses on human behavior in the social environment. Builds on the theoretical concepts from the behavioral sciences discussed in SLWK   230 and 313. Focus on understanding organizations and how their purposes, auspices, structure, processes and environment affect the delivery of social services to diverse groups. The community context of social services, including that of the consumer, is emphasized from an open systems theoretical perspective. Students will be expected to integrate course content with their field experience or other agency with which they are familiar. Required of all undergraduate social work majors.

SLWK   441. Social Work Practice I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: SLWK   332, 381 and 393, each with a minimum grade of C. Open only to majors with senior standing. Second of a three-semester practice sequence. Review of interviewing and problem-solving for generalist social work practice with diverse populations. Emphasis on agency structure and function, skills of engagement and problem definition, assessment, planning for intervention, and evaluation. Use of material from concurrent fieldwork practice to facilitate integration of learning.

SLWK   442. Social Work Practice II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: SLWK   441 and SLWK   494, each with a minimum grade of C. Open only to majors with senior standing. Third of a three-semester practice sequence. Emphasizes planning and implementing change with diverse populations, professional ethics, professional development, termination and evaluation of generalist social work practice. Use of case material from concurrent fieldwork practice to facilitate integration of learning.

SLWK   492. Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1, 2 or 3 lecture hours. 1, 2 or 3 credits. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, and permission of instructor. Under supervision of a faculty adviser, whose consent is required to register, study of a topic of concern to the student. Each student must present his or her findings in writing or pass an oral examination.

SLWK   494. Senior Field Instruction I. 3 Hours.

Semester course. 3 credits. Prerequisite: completion of SLWK   332, 381 and 393, each with a minimum grade of C. Corequisite: SLWK   441. Open only to majors with senior status. Fourteen hours per week in a community agency under the supervision of an agency-based field instructor. Intended to develop knowledge, values and social work practice skills appropriate to entry-level generalist practice in human service agencies.

SLWK   495. Senior Field Instruction II. 3 Hours.

Semester course. 3 credits. Prerequisite: completion of SLWK   494 with a minimum grade of C. Corequisite: SLWK   442. Open only to majors with senior status. Fourteen hours per week in a community agency under the supervision of an agency-based field instructor. Intended to develop knowledge, values and social work practice skills appropriate to entry-level generalist practice in human service agencies.

SLWK   499. Senior Seminar. 1 Hour.

Semester course. 1 credit. Corequisites: SLWK   442 and 495. Typically to be taken in the last semester of the student's senior year. This course serves as an academic culmination of the undergraduate social work program. The student will compile a portfolio of B.S.W. program academic materials, complete a professional self-assessment and resume and participate in the development of a comprehensive generalist intervention plan with regard to a specified social problem.