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BSW Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

• What are the benefits of a Social Work Degree?

Social work is a very broad field of study offering a wide variety of professional opportunities in areas such as child welfare, aging, mental health, juvenile services, domestic violence, health prevention and treatment, criminal justice, and education. The range of services social workers can provide can be found on the National Association of Social Workers website.

• I can obtain a social service or human services degree from a College nearby that isn't CSWE-accredited, isn't that basically the same thing?

A social work degree at either the baccalaureate or graduate level from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program offers students greater professional opportunities than a non-accredited degree. Students who graduate from accredited programs with a BSW are often eligible for advanced standing MSW programs, which effectively cuts a year or so off their time in a graduate program. This is especially important since the MSW is required for many jobs in the profession.

• What personal qualities should I have to be a competent social worker?

Good social workers have a concern for the problems that people, groups, and communities face, and an active interest in helping to resolve these problems; they display honesty and integrity, are capable of treating persons from diverse backgrounds with respect, communicate well with others and employ a high degree of critical thought in making professional decisions. All social workers abide by the Profession's Code of Ethics, which is developed by the National Association of Social Workers. The Code can be reviewed by visiting the NASW website at A more extensive discussion of the requisite skills qualified social workers should have is found elsewhere on this website, in the BSW Handbook.

• What academic qualifications are required for entering the Program?

Students are to have taken a full semester at a college (including community college) or university, and to have attained a minimum 2.5 GPA. All students must have attained at least a grade of C in Eng. 101 and 102 (SIUE course numbers) prior to entering the Program.

Pre-requisite Courses and Transfer Courses

• What courses do students need to take prior to entering the SIUE Program?

Other than English 101 and 102, all social work students are required to have taken the following courses prior to or shortly after entering the Social Work Program at SIUE:

  • Philosophy 106 (Critical Thinking)

  • An Introductory Speech Communication Course (Interpersonal Communication or Public Speaking)

  • Biology 111 or an introductory biology course with a strong human biology component

  • Anthropology 111b or an introductory anthropology course with strong cultural anthropology component.

  • Psychology 111 (Introduction to Psychology)

  • Psychology 206 (Social Psychology)

  • History 201 (U.S. History from 1877-present)

  • Political Science 112 or an introductory political science course

  • An introductory macro- or micro-economics course

  • A second philosophy course, preferably related to social work concerns.

It should be noted that some of these courses are specific pre-requisites for Social Work classes, and therefore should be taken prior to the semesters these major classes are offered. In addition, all students are required to meet SIUE requirements for the Lincoln Plan (general education) as well as University skills requirements, and an Interdisciplinary Studies course.

• What happens if I haven't taken some of these courses?

Interested students should contact the BSW Program Director regarding their progress in meeting outside courses, and determine a schedule for completing these courses. As stated above, while all supporting courses do not need to be completed prior to admission, as many as possible should be, especially since some are pre-requisites for required social work courses.

• I've taken a few social work courses at my college, can these be transferred?

The Program accepts social work courses only from accredited CSWE Programs. Students may be asked to submit syllabi of courses, since there is not always a good match between the transferred course and the SIUE BSW equivalent. As noted above, the primary reason that only courses from accredited programs are accepted is because these programs have a high degree of accountability.

The Program and Curriculum

• Can you tell me a bit about the SIUE BSW Program?

The Program at SIUE is fairly small in size (approximately eighty or so BSW students, and a similar number of MSW students), which allows for personal contact with professors and the students in a particular cohort. The vast majority of Social Work courses are taught by tenure-track faculty who are active researchers and have attained a Ph.D. in Social Work or a closely-related profession.

• What type of curriculum will I have once I get into the Program?

The BSW Program has a standard curriculum model that provides a generalist overview of the profession. All students take several introductory courses, four practice courses, two human behavior in the social environment classes, two policy courses, a research and a statistics class, and two field placement courses. In addition, students need to take three social work electives in specific "fields of practice" areas (e.g., child welfare, disabilities, health care).

• How are these classes provided?

Since most major courses are only offered during either the spring or fall semester, and upper-level classes are built on previous courses, students must take classes in the proper sequence. The standard sequence for students is located elsewhere on this website, and includes 3-5 social work courses for each semester during a student's junior and senior years. Failing to register for or dropping any of the courses required in a specific semester could put the student behind a full year.

• Can I take summer classes?

Many students take summer classes, either to ensure that they can graduate on time, or to lighten the load during other semesters. Summer courses, however, are not required. Students may take courses outside SUIE that can be transferred in, but must first check to make sure that the substitute course is transferable. The Program offers a very limited selection of undergraduate Social Work courses during the summer semester.

• Can I take a minor?

Social work students are not required to take a minor, and many don't. Those students who take a minor that is related to the Profession will have the three social work electives waived. Students wanting to know whether their proposed minor will be accepted should contact the BSW Program Director.

• How many hours do students need to complete in order to graduate with a BSW degree?

SIUE requires all students to have at least 124 hours in order to be eligible to graduate with an undergraduate degree. 124 hours is also the Social Work requirement. All students should monitor their own schedules in order to ensure that they will have the required number of hours and courses for graduation.

Admissions Process

• I am considering entering SIUE and declaring Social Work as a major, or currently at the University and considering declaring, what do I need to do?

Students who are not currently enrolled at SIUE must first be accepted into the University. Upon acceptance, they should notify their academic advisor of their interest in the Social Work major. The advisor will discuss their qualifications, and look over their transcripts in order to determine what pre-requisite and general education courses the student still requires. The student should also contact the BSW Program Director about his/her interest, and set up a meeting to discuss completing the Program admission process.

• I am interested in transferring into the Program, what is the process for doing this?

Most regional community colleges are aware of SIUE and Department of Social Work guidelines as well as what particular courses transfer into SIUE as pre-requisites. Students interested in transferring should contact the BSW Program or SIUE advising office for guidance. In some cases, specific course syllabi may be required in order to adequately determine whether content for a class was close enough to a required pre-requisite or (in the case of a student coming from a CSWE-accredited program) a major requirement to be accepted as a particular required course.

Matriculating Through the Program

What is the process of registering for classes once I get into the Program?

Students who have already declared their major in Social Work and completed the Department's admissions process with the BSW Director are assigned to a College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) advisor. The advisor meets with the student prior to registration, goes over their curriculum plan, sets up a schedule for the semester, and gives the student his/her PIN number, which is required for registering in the Banner system. Students then register themselves, and ensure that all holds are taken care of. Students who have difficulties with registration, or who require a waiver, should see the CAS advisor or BSW Program Director.

• What if my GPA goes below a 2.5?

Students who have GPAs under 2.5 at the end of a semester are placed on academic probation for a semester (including either spring or fall, whichever follows most closely). Students have one semester to bring their GPA over 2.5, and are required to communicate often with both their mentor and the BSW Program Director. If students do not attain the 2.5 GPA, they are removed from the Program, although they have a right to appeal this decision. Students may reapply once their GPA rises to 2.5 or above. All students must have a 2.5 GPA upon graduating from the Program.

• I know that students have both an advisor and a mentor, what is the difference between the two?

Advisors attached to the College of Arts and Sciences assist all undergraduate students with ensuring that they are taking the correct courses and developing a registration schedule. Mentors, who are faculty members in the social work department, aren't directly involved with class registration issues, but rather are to meet with students periodically to discuss issues related to the professionalization of the student, such as career goals, preparedness for the profession, and educational development. Mentors, along with the BSW Program Director, have primary responsibility for overseeing completion of student portfolios.

• What is the process of preparing for field placements, and who arranges these?

Students take two field courses, in the fall and spring of their senior year. For the vast majority of students, these will be at the same placement setting. Placements are set up during spring semester of the student's junior year, and this process is supervised by the Director of Practica. The Program has existing relationships with a wide range of agencies in the region,

• What is the Senior Assignment in the Social Work Program like?

Beginning in spring, 2011 the Senior Assignment in Social Work is a portfolio completed by the student and including both completed products (papers, assignments, etc) in the important areas of the curriculum, along with reflections about these papers and student learning in the Program. These portfolios are completed toward the end of the student's final spring semester, and they are graded on a pass/fail basis by at least two social work faculty members.

• When should I complete a Graduate Check, and what is the process for this?

Graduation checks are developed by the Registrar's Office at SIUE. A graduation check is completed in order ensure that student's have taken all required courses, and, for those courses that require a specific grade, that they have attain this grade. Students are strongly recommended to request a graduation check prior to the midpoint in their last fall semester.

• What should I do if I think I'm interested in applying for the MSW Program in the Department?

Students who are interested in exploring the MSW Program at SIUE should first check the Department website. Updated information on the MSW, requirements for admission, and application forms, are all included on the site. Students who have questions about the Program should contact the MSW Program Director. This individual's contact information is also included on the website.

What if I need clarification about any of these issues or have a question that isn't included here?

Your first point of contact is the Program's Director, Gerald (Jerry) O'Brien. His e-mail address is You may also contact Larry Kreuger, the Department Chair. His e-mail address is .

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