Why social work?

There are many reasons why social work is a good choice for your future. Social work is a challenging and rewarding profession that offers national and international career opportunities.  Social workers have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  They help people with disabilities, life-threatening illnesses, inadequate housing, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, or mental illness.  Social workers also assist people experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.  The book, 101 Careers in Social Work, is a valuable resource if you are interested in learning more about the field of Social Work and what social workers do.

If I decide that Social Work is the major for me, how do I apply?

There are three avenues in which students can apply to the School of Social Work:

  1. High school seniors can apply as a Freshman to the School of Social Work by completing the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Undergraduate Application and choosing Social Work as their major.
  2. Students who are currently enrolled in another major or classified as undeclared at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, can apply to the School of Social Work by completing our BSW application.  There is not a minimum numbers of credit hours required to apply.
  3. Transfer students can apply to the School of Social Work by completing the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Transfer Application and choosing Social Work as their major and completing our BSW application.  There is not a minimum numbers of credit hours required to apply.

What can I do with a BSW degree?

A BSW degree prepares you for generalist social work practice and advanced standing in graduate social work education.  It can also prepare you for career opportunities and graduate education in other areas such as communications, corrections, education, government, health care, human resources, law, non-profit organizations, religious studies, and public service. BSW social workers are generalists who may work as case managers, work in residential programs, provide counseling, link clients to resources, and advocate for better services and policies that reduce discrimination for vulnerable populations.  Social workers work with individuals, families, groups, and communities and provide services to all age groups (children, adolescents and adults).  Social workers are employed by advocacy programs, children and youth services, community action agencies, criminal justice organizations, developmental disability services, elderly programs, disability support agencies, domestic violence and sexual assault programs, hospitals and hospices, income assistance programs, international relief, public health agencies, schools, community mental health agencies and substance abuse programs. Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States.

What is Advanced Standing?

If a you graduate from a BSW program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you may be granted Advanced Standing status for Masters of Social Work (MSW) programs.  Advanced Standing status allows you to complete a MSW program in one year, rather than the typical two years it would take a student from another undergraduate major, like psychology, sociology, etc.  to complete a MSW program.

Is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s BSW accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)?

Yes, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s BSW program was granted CSWE accreditation in February 2013.  Not only was it accredited, but it was the first BSW program to ever be fully accredited by CSWE in only three years.  It typically takes BSW programs four years to receive full CSWE accreditation.

Will I have to complete an internship?

The internship experience is the capstone of Social Work education.  The BSW program requires you to complete an internship in an agency where you will gain hands-on experience working with clients.  The internship allows you to put into practice all of the skills that you have learned in their BSW coursework in a supportive, internship placement.  You will complete a minimum of 450 clock hours in an internship.  You will work as internships in various agencies throughout Champaign County to address real life problem situations.  As a result of these hands on learning experiences, you will be well prepared to work as a professional social worker upon graduation.

How many hours of coursework will it take me to complete a BSW degree? How many of these hours are in the area of Social Work?

Students are required to complete a minimum of 120 hours of coursework to graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with an undergraduate degree. Social Work majors are required to complete fifty hours of Social Work coursework.  Students take classes in the areas of Social Work practice, policy, research, human behavior, diversity, a plethora of topic specific courses like military social work, death and dying, aging, substance abuse, etc., and complete a semester long internship.

Is there enough flexibility in the Social Work major for me to study abroad?

Yes, many Social Work students choose to study abroad in their undergraduate careers.  We suggest that you study abroad during your junior year.  There are also month long study abroad experiences specifically tailored to Social Work students.

What is the structure of a BSW internship?

In BSW internship, you will:

  • be immersed full-time in an agency for a 30-32 hour work week for one semester.
  • have a full-time faculty member, who is specifically devoted to field education, prepare and place you in an internship, meet with you on-site to review your progress, discuss any concerns, and provide continued support.
  • participate in a seminar class that focuses on integrating your internship with social work values, ethics, and practice.
  • graduate with professional work experience.

Where will I complete my internship?

You will work closely with the School of Social Work’s field education faculty to secure an internship.  You are given the opportunity to choose an internship from a variety of social service organizations based on your interests.  The agencies we work with serve a multitude of diverse populations, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes in areas including healthcare, child welfare, extended care facilities, and community advocacy agencies. BSW students have interned in schools, healthcare organizations, mental health centers, homeless shelters, mentoring agencies, and probations departments.

What can you expect to do during an internship?

During your last semester of undergraduate studies, you will gain rich learning experiences as you are immersed in a full-time internship within a local social services agency.
Through the internship experience, you can gain great hands-on experience, which includes:

  • Assessing client and community needs
  • Obtaining social histories
  • Empowering clients, communities, and systems of all sizes
  • Contacting and using community resources
  • Offering individual, group, and family counseling under the supervision of a clinician
  • Conducting interviews with individuals, families, and stakeholders
  • Implementing intervention plans
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions
  • Keeping concise and accurate records
  • Collaborating with colleagues
  • Managing client caseloads
  • Conducting crisis interventions

Is it possible to be licensed as a social worker with a BSW degree?

Yes, if you graduate from a BSW program and work as a social worker in the field for approximately three years (usually full-time), you are eligible to take a licensing exam to become a licensed social worker (LSW).

How does a BSW degree make you more marketable than other undergraduate degrees?

When you graduate from our BSW program, you will graduate with generalist Social Work practice skills, a professional work experience, and the potential to obtain a Social Work license in the future.  You will be a competent, professional well equipped and ready to enter the world of work.

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