Please update your web browser or disable Compatibility View.

Social Work

Social Work Program Director: John Yoakam

Social Work Faculty: Janelle Hinchley, Valandra, John Yoakam

Social work practice is rooted in turn-of-the-century efforts to meet the needs of the poor, of neglected and abused children, and of exploited workers and immigrant families. During that time social workers led the fight for child labor laws, more humane industrial conditions, voting rights for women and other progressive milestones.

Today, social work serves many different populations in a variety of settings. A social worker may help an elderly person adjust to an assisted living facility. A street worker may organize diversion projects for gang members. A school social worker may lead a group for pregnant teens. A county worker may intervene to save the life of an abused child. A community organizer may be the catalyst for a neighborhood's effort to rid itself of drug dealers. All social workers are joined by a common dedication to foster healthy families and communities.

The principal educational objective of the social work program is to provide students with a knowledge base and a set of skills and professional values necessary for beginning generalist practice in a wide variety of settings. The Council on Social Work Education has awarded this program full baccalaureate level accreditation. Graduation from this program allows a student to sit for the State of Minnesota Social Work Licensing Exam, baccalaureate level (Licensed Social Worker as well as the Merit Exam for county or state employment).

To be a school social worker in Minnesota requires licensure by two different regulating boards. One license is granted by the Board of Social Work and the other is granted through the State Department of Education. The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University is an approved program for school social work certification.

Graduates of this social work program are given as much as one year's credit toward a master's degree when accepted to a graduate social work program. To better understand the social work profession and our program, visit the program's web site at HTTP://


The Social Work Department is accredited by the National Council on Social Work Education through 2007. Our most recent accreditation examination, including self-study and site visit, was 1998-1999. The program was approved for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Council in the Fall of 1999. Evidence that the Social Work program is meeting its goals and objectives includes high passage rates for State of Minnesota Social Work Licensure. The program regularly surveys senior field instructors who have supervised our students. We are pleased to report that these practicing social workers rate our students very highly, and are enthusiastic about supervising our students and hiring our graduates. Finally, our program polls graduates at regular intervals. Based on this data, we can assert that 100% of students seeking a social work position upon graduation are placed in a position within three months. In 2001 the Social Work Department began using a nationally standardized assessment program which will give data on acquisition of ethical principles over time and will eventually poll social work employers about graduate performance, among other functions.

Major (67 credits)

Required Courses:
Prerequisite coursework: BIOL 112; PSYC 111; SOCI 111; SWRK 230, 250, 251. The first four courses should be taken during the student's first and second years of college. SWRK 250 and 251 should be taken fall and spring of the sophomore year.

Coursework upon acceptance to the major:
There are four sequences in the major. Students must complete all four.
Practice sequence: 343, 344 (junior year), 345 (senior year).
Policy sequence: 347 (junior year).
Research sequence: SOCI 201, SWRK 340 (junior year).
Field sequence: 349 (junior year), 390, 396, 397 (senior year).

Admission Procedures

During their first two years, pre-social work students enroll in core courses and prerequisite courses necessary for admission to the major. Students apply for admission to the social work major in the spring semester of their sophomore year. Interested students should contact the social work department or refer to the Social Work Student Handbook (available in social work faculty offices or on the social work web page) for admission materials.

Requirements for Admission to the Major:

  1. Completion of all prerequisite coursework with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 prior to final acceptance into the social work program. 
  2. A two-page essay outlining life experiences which suggest understanding of and empathy for one or more populations served by social workers. This should include two relevant volunteer or job-related experiences. 
  3. Completion of the program application form (available in the Social Work Student Handbook) and Application for Acceptance to a Major form (available from the registrar).
  4. A recent transcript.

While completion of the above requirements allows students to apply to the social work program, it does not assure admission.

Satisfactory Progress:

  1. All social work majors are expected to achieve a minimum grade of “C” in prerequisite courses and a minimum of “BC” in each required and elective social work course. All social work majors also must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.75. A student whose grades or grade point average falls below minimum standards must meet with his/her advisor to create an academic contract stating how the student will improve performance. Details of this procedure and standards for removal from the program are found in the Social Work Student Handbook.
  2. All courses in the major must be taken in sequence. Students who receive a grade lower than a “BC” in a social work course may be required to make adjustments in their program plans in order to progress in the major sequence. In some cases, students may be required to withdraw from the major.
  3. Students who violate the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics and general standards of professional social work may be required to withdraw from the major. Details of this procedure and standards are in the Social Work Student Handbook.

Special Requirements:
All senior social work majors are required to carry professional liability (malpractice) insurance during their Senior Practicum (SWRK 390). SWRK 390 Ethics and Social Work Practice substitutes for CORE 390 senior seminar for social work majors.

Minor (None)

Courses (SWRK)

230 Introduction to Social Work. (4)
Introduces pre-social work majors to the history and present structure of the profession. The American social welfare system is also covered through lecture, discussion, class activities and service projects. Introduction to areas of possible employment in the social work field. Overview of the social work curriculum. Fall and spring.

250, 251 Human Behavior in the Social Environment I, II. (4,4)
A two-semester sequence. The first semester focuses on the life span development and theories of human behavior such as the ecological, systems and strengths perspectives. These theories are used as lenses for the study of issues of relevance to social work including the effects of violence and poverty. The second semester uses a global perspective to examine oppressed populations in the United States and around the world. Prerequisites (or concurrent registration in): BIOL 112, PSYC 111, SOCI 111, SWRK 230 or permission of instructor.

271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Permission of program director is required. Consult social work program for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

300 Special Topics in Social Work. (1-4)
Topics selected in various aspects of the human service delivery system and social work methods. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

340 Research and Evaluation. (4)
Introduces students to research and evaluation principles in applied social service settings. Topics include single-system designs, quasi-experimental designs, secondary or archival data and content analysis, and program evaluation. Offered spring. Prerequisite: SOCI 201 or permission of instructor.

343, 344, 345 Social Work Generalist Practice I, II, III. (4,4,4)
A three-semester sequence in generalist social work practice. All three courses concentrate on the knowledge, values and interpersonal skills necessary for beginning social work practice. Social Work Generalist Practice I (343) introduces the student to theory and interventions related to work with individuals and families. Social Work Generalist Practice II (344) concentrates on theories and interventions which apply to groups. Students learn and practice skills in leading and facilitating groups. Social Work Generalist Practice III (345) emphasizes social action and intervention with larger systems such as communities. Students working in small groups develop community oriented projects. Social Work Generalist Practice I (343) and Social Work Generalist Practice II (344) to be taken the fall and spring of the junior year; Social Work Generalist Practice III (345) to be taken the fall of the senior year. Prerequisite: admission to the major.

347 American Social Policy. (4)
Explores our country's social and child welfare systems, with relevance to policies and programs of interest to social work practitioners. Particular focus on women and children in poverty using a feminist perspective to examine policies relevant to these populations. Emphases include adequacy, effectiveness, and consequences of policies and programs. Prerequisite: junior-senior standing or permission of instructor. Fall.

349 Junior Field Practicum. (4)
This course introduces social work students to the role of the human service professional in the community setting. Students participate in a classroom and in observational learning experience in social service agencies for 120 hours during the semester. Total immersion in the agency environment will give students a chance to expand their understanding of how human needs are met by families and the social service agencies that work with them. Students will apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in previous social work courses in their field placements. Prerequisites: 230, 250, 251. To be taken in the junior year.

371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of program director and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the program required. Consult social work program for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

380 Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.
This course is a study of sexual orientation and gender identity from the perspectives of science, religion, politics, sociology, psychology, literature and popular culture. The course also explores the impact of families and communities on the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth and adults. Social work practice with these minority populations will also be presented. Prerequisite: junior or senior status. A-F grading only. Fall.

390 Ethics and Social Work Practice. (4)
Study of ethical dilemmas in the daily practice of social work. This course satisfies CORE 390 senior seminar for social work majors. Prerequisites: social work senior, concurrent enrollment in 397. Spring.

396 Pre-Internship Laboratory. (1)
Preparation of senior practicum goals and objectives, the practicum learning contract, resume and cover letters, interviewing techniques, professional appearance, malpractice liability, state social work licensure, exploration of practicum and field instructor availability, and securing a placement. Prerequisite: social work senior. Must be taken prior to 397. Fall.

397 Senior Field Practicum. (8-12)
Three-month (400 hours) practicum in a social service agency, under supervision of a field instructor and the program field coordinator. Includes weekly integrative seminar. To be taken spring of the senior year. Prerequisite: 396.

398 Honors Senior Essay, Research or Creative Project. (4)
Required for graduation with "Distinction in Social Work." Prerequisite: HONR 396 and approval of the program director and director of the Honors Thesis program. For further information see HONR 398.