Social Work FAQs
What is social work?
Social workers help to maximize and maintain individual, family, group, and community functioning. Social work has its own body of knowledge, philosophy, values and ethics. It views people holistically, as products of their biology, psychology, and environment. A social worker might work with an individual to help improve his/her functioning, might advocate to improve conditions in a community, might work on legislative lobbying efforts on behalf of a client group.
Social work offers a great variety of job opportunities and job settings. Social workers work in mental health agencies, child welfare agencies, schools, hospitals, research settings, community agencies, federal, local and state government, advocacy groups, nursing homes, employee assistance programs, colleges and universities, private practice, outpatient clinics, HMOs, group homes, and many other settings.
Bachelor level social workers are prepared for generalist practice. They might:
- Counsel rape victims, crime victims
- Work with foster families and foster children
- Provide crisis intervention services
- Provide information referrals, and coordination of resources for individuals and families to obtain resources they need or to make decisions about family members or life transitions (obtain meals on wheels so someone can live independently, help children with special needs obtain in-home tutoring or assistance with transportation)
- Work with troubled children and their families
- Work with communities or neighborhoods to assess needs and develop resources to meet those needs (help establish a playground, or community program for seniors, for instance)
- Do intake, assessment, and/or research at mental health centers.
Many employers report that they prefer to hire BSWs over applicants with other undergraduate degrees for social service jobs. BSWs bring specific professional skills, knowledge, and values to the agencies in which they work.
A BSW prepares you for graduate school in social work (many give advanced standing to students who hold BSWs), psychology, or any social science. BSWs have gone on to law school, medical school, and into many other fields.
- If you want to be prepared for a profession when you graduate, consider a BSW.
- If you want to explore whether you might like some aspect of human services as a career choice before going to graduate school, consider a BSW.
- If you want to go graduate school in social work, definitely consider a BSW.
Why social work at Chatham?
Our faculty bring a variety of professional interests and experience to their teaching. They all bring “real-life” experience working as social workers to their teaching. We also bring practicing social workers from the community to the College as guest lecturers and adjunct faculty.
With small classes, you will work closely with the social work faculty as you develop knowledge and skills in a way that is tailored to your interests and needs. Your input and involvement is very important to our program. As with all Chatham faculty, the social work faculty members are accessible, approachable, and available to students.
A BSW student at Chatham does a 12-credit field placement in her senior year, working under the supervision of a master’s level person. Our Field Director makes several visits each semester to field placements. She works closely with both the student and the field supervisor to ensure that the student develops professional knowledge and skills. During weekly seminars with the social work faculty, the field experience is integrated with classroom learning.
Preparation for professional social work practice necessitates a broad range of courses. Accreditation requirements preclude interdisciplinary majors. There is no social work minor. A student interested in the social work major is advised to meet with a member of the faculty early in her academic career to develop a course sequence plan.