Social Work

Social Work Undergraduate Degree Program (B.S.W.)

About the Bachelor of Social Work

Develop your abilities to make a difference in the world.

If your goal is to help others and make the world a better place, the study of social work can be your pathway. In the Bachelor of Social Work degree program at PennWest California, you will learn how to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities to restore and enhance social functioning.

After completing your classes and hands-on fieldwork, you'll be well prepared to begin a fulfilling career as a social worker.

Improve the quality of life for those at risk in our region.

The fully accredited bachelor's degree program at PennWest California, a public university, is specially designed to:

  • Help social work majors focus on how to improve the quality of life for at-risk people in the nearby Mon Valley region and throughout Pennsylvania.
  • Enable social work majors to participate in a one-semester practicum in a social services or human services agency.
  • Ensure full understanding of the role of a social worker by placing you in the field for 480 hours in your last semester.
  • Encourage you to practice your interpersonal skills in our lab and be videotaped for feedback from your peers and faculty in the program.


In the field
You'll complete 480 hours of field education in one term at a social services agency or organization in the community where social services are provided. This practicum is an immediate and direct introduction to a career in social work.

In addition to required bachelor's degree program courses, recommended electives enable you to round out your major with gerontology, abnormal psychology, contemporary social problems, elements of economics and an introduction to political science.

The bachelor's degree in social work at PennWest California is one of the oldest undergraduate social work programs in Pennsylvania. It has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1976.
PennWest California social work undergraduates go on to earn their master's degrees in social work at PennWest California, University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and other top universities. elsewhere.
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Degree Benefits

PennWest California's bachelor's degree in social work prepares beginning social work practitioners to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities to:

  • Improve the quality of life for at-risk people in the surrounding Pennsylvania region and broader global society.

  • Foster social and economic justice, human rights and respect for diversity.

  • Enhance existing social services through research, continuing education and service.

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Graduate Outcomes

PennWest California social work students report they are well prepared to enter the workforce and the profession. PennWest California graduates hold career positions in a wide range of organizations in the region and throughout Pennsylvania at:

  • Washington County Children and Youth Services.
  • Veterans Administration.
  • Auberle.
  • Community Action Southwest.
  • Mon Valley Hospital.
  • American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania.
  • Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services Inc.
  • Twin Lakes Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation.
Bachelor of Social Work

Career Edge

Graduates of the PennWest California bachelor's degree in social work program are eligible for membership in the National Association of Social Workers and for advanced standing in many accredited graduate social work programs.


Phi Alpha

The Phi Alpha National Honor Society recognizes and promotes scholastic achievement in the social work program. Eligible students (3.0 GPA overall and 3.25 GPA in the social work major) are inducted in their junior or senior year.



PennWest California's Bachelor of Social Work Association gives students opportunities to do volunteer and fundraising activities, and to attend local and national social work conferences.

Bachelor of Social Work Courses and Related Programs

As an accredited bachelor's degree, the social work degree program offers all social work practice and policy courses, and general education courses.


Course Credits
General Education Courses 40
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
Social Sciences
SOC 100  Principles of Sociology
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • ENG 102  Composition II
  • Any HIS Course (U.S. History recommended)
  • Any POS Course (American Government recommended)
Special Experience/Field Work Courses 
(pre-reqs. SOW 345, 370, 405)
SOW 425  Field Education 12
SOW 435  Field Education Seminar  3
Advanced Writing Courses 6
SOW 370  Policy Practice in Social Work (majors only; pre-req. SOW 360) 3
SOW 405  Social Work Research Method (majors only; pre-req. SOW 302) 3
Pre-Candidacy Courses 12
SOW 150  Introduction to Social Work 3
SOW 201  Interviewing for the Human Services* 3
SOW 208  Diversity in a Changing World 3
SOW 215  Human Behavior and the Social Environment I: Life Course 3
Practice Intervention Courses 15
SOW 302  SW Practice with Individuals (majors only; pre-reqs. SOW 150, 201, 208, 215 and ENG 101, 102, all courses with a grade of C or higher) 3
SOW 304  SW Practice with Families (majors only; pre-req. SOW 302 with a grade of C or higher) 3
SOW 345  SW Practice with Groups (majors only; pre-req. SOW 302 with a grade of C or higher) 3
SOW 349  SW Practice with Organizations and Communities (majors only; pre-reqs. SOW 302, 304 with a grade of C or higher) 3
SOW 316  Human Behavior and the Social Environment II: Groups, Organizations and Communities  3
Social Welfare and Policy Analysis Course 3
SOW 360  Social Welfare History, Policy Analysis and Social Service Delivery (majors and minors only; pre-req. SOW 150 with a grade of C or higher for SW majors ONLY) 3
Special Interest Courses 6
Select two of the following:
  • SOW 306  SW in the Rural Environment (pre-req. SOW 150)
  • SOW 310  Trauma Informed Social Work Practice
  • SOW 330  Child Welfare
  • SOW 350  SW with the Aging (pre-req. SOW 150)
  • SOW 364  Juvenile Delinquency (pre-req. PSY 100)
  • SOW 410  SW in Mental Health
  • SOW 495  Seminar in Special Topics (Jr. or Sr. in major or permission of instructor)
Required Related Course 3
PSY 100  General Psychology 3
Related Electives 3
Any ANT, ECO, EDU, GTY, JUS, POS, PSY, SOC, SOW, WST 300-level or above course 3
Free Electives 17 or 18
Total 120

* Fulfills laboratory course requirement.

Program Notes: Students must have a grade of C (2.0) or better for pre-candidacy courses. Courses required for candidacy are ENG 101, ENG 102, SOW 150, SOW 201, SOW 208 and SOW 215. Students must apply for acceptance to candidacy before enrolling in SOW 302. All social work courses must be completed with a full C or higher.

Related Programs

Related Links

View the assessment of student outcomes and program competencies

View the BSW Student Handbook and Student Manual