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Social Work

The Breakdown

Social work is integral to the fabric of a healthy and productive society.  Certainly, those in the field are driven to help underserved and at-risk communities.  If you have an altruistic bent and want to address issues of inequity, justice, mental health and the like, then social work might be a great fit for you!

The vast majority of social work programs require their students to take a combination of theoretical and practical classes.  Your coursework will introduce you to the ideas behind social welfare programs and social policy, human behavior and social research methods.  Moreover, you’ll learn about community outreach, evaluating programs, case management, advocacy and crisis intervention.  And you will likely gain hands-on experience as most programs require their undergrads to complete an internship with a social services agency. 

It’s imperative that students who major in social work have effective communication and formidable people skills.  Indeed, as a discipline, social work will require you to interact with a variety of individuals and settings.    Moreover, you will also require infinite amounts of patience and resilience.  And you should have an appreciation for (or the ability to side-step) bureaucratic red tape.    


Nuts and Bolts

As a social work major, your classes will cover topics such as: Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, Methods of Social Work Research, Social Problems: Analysis by Race, Class and Gender, Social Work Statistics, Foundations of Social Justice, Social Work Practice in Organizations and Communities, Treatment of Chemical Dependency, Death and Grief Issues, Child Abuse and Neglect, Play Therapy, Gerontology and School-based Social Services.

Decisions, Decisions

Students pursuing a degree in social work are interested in developing and maintaining healthy communities and societies.  Therefore, they are also likely to take classes in anthropology, sociology, psychology, occupational therapy, human development, criminology, education, political science, child development, art therapy, music therapy and physical therapy.

What's Next

An undergraduate degree in social work is the first step to a number of rewarding career opportunities and options.  While many students ultimately decide to earn a master’s degree in social work, most programs qualify you for many entry level positions.  Graduates can be found working within a variety of settings from schools and hospitals to child welfare agencies, group homes, drug treatment facilities and mental health centers.  They are also likely to work in hospices, foster care and adoption, criminal justice, public policy and with people who have developmental disabilities.  Depending on what avenue they pursue, social workers might focus on rehabilitation, ensuring safe environments for those who are vulnerable, providing counseling services or advocating on behalf of the needy or infirmed.  Possible job titles might ultimately include grief counselor, victim advocate, case manager, policy analyst, domestic violence counselor and clinical assessment specialist.  No matter what path you choose, as a social worker you can be sure that you’ll be doing important and necessary work. 



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Don Munce