Graduates of a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, holding either a bachelor's degree in social work or a bachelor of arts degree with a major in social work.
The time and costs of training non-BSW employees can be eliminated when you hire a professional with the degree of choice for your agency's positions. Sociology, psychology, and related programs offer degrees that provide generalized preparation for a number of careers. The undergraduate social work program, however, is much like a nursing program in that it offers a specialized degree that it prepares its graduates for immediate entry into direct human service professional positions. In short, baccalaureate social work is the only undergraduate major that educates students to be professional social workers.
Baccalaureate social work graduates have knowledge, skills, and a value base that has been augmented by professional social work supervision in social services. Social work's focus on the "person-in-environment" paradigm uniquely prepares BSW graduates to work effectively with individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations.
BSW graduates are employed in many different work settings under public and private auspices that may include:
BSW graduates are trained in assessment, interviewing, intake/referral, service planning, case management, crisis intervention, service provision, problem solving, program evaluation, community outreach, advocacy, research, networking.
Baccalaureate social work students, unlike many of their counterparts, have chosen a professional career path prior to graduation and demonstrated an early commitment to the specialized work and ideals that are germane to social work.
A BSW education combines liberal arts with professional social work foundation content to prepare graduates for direct services. To ensure professional standards, BSW programs must meet rigorous academic standards to gain and maintain accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). For admission to a BSW program, the competition is rigorous and students must meet formal admissions standards, such as a screening interview and a minimum grade point average.
The BSW curriculum provides a professional social work foundation that is transferable to different settings, population groups, and problem areas. This foundation includes content on:
Additionally, coursework in baccalaureate social work programs is often tailored to a school's geographic region. For example, a school situated in a rural area with a large Mexican-American population may highlight issues relevant to that client group. This tailored approach is particularly helpful to local employers looking for graduates who are knowledgeable about concerns facing that area's primary population.
Three CSWE-mandated social work content areas are basic to the BSW curriculum. The are:
Only BSW graduates are specifically trained in these three essential content areas.
In addition to foundation courses, elective courses are also available to most BSW students. These elective courses include social gerontology, child welfare, and other social problem or services areas.
Field practicums - the placement of students in agency settings - are an integral component of the BSW curriculum. Field practicums engage the social work student in supervised social work practice and provide opportunities to apply classroom learning in the field.
CSWE mandates that BSW program establish minimum standards for field supervision, and that supervisors are experienced social service agency personnel, preferably with a BSW or MSW degree. Coordination is provided by social work faculty members with MSW-degrees and a minimum of two years work experience. This formalized supervision results in consistent high standards of quality. Other undergraduate majors who have a field experience usually don't have formal, professional supervision.
BSW students must have a minimum of 400 supervised hours of field experience. Through their field practicums, BSW students refine their professional social work skills and integrate classroom course content with on-the-job experience in service provision, outreach, networking, and resource development.
Thirty-three states legally regulate baccalaureate social workers to practice social work. State regulation requires minimum competency to protect the public and regulates the use of the social work title and practice.
In 1991, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) created the Academy of Certified Baccalaureate Social Workers (ACBSW) credential to give BSWs national professional recognition. The ACBSW requires at least two years of post-BSW supervised social work experience in an agency or organizational setting. The ACBSW credential identifies the holder as a social worker who has voluntarily met enduring, uniformly high national standards for practice and maintains a high level of professional conduct.
To find out about undergraduate programs in your area that graduate BSWs, contact the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) at (703) 683-8080. They publish the Directory of Colleges and Universities with Accredited Social Work Degree Programs.
The above is taken directly from a brochure distributed by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The brochure was prepared by the NASW in cooperation with the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors and the Council on Social Work Education
To find out about the social work profession, potential BSW employees, or the ACBSW credential, contact NASW at 1-800-638-8799 for the phone number of the NASW chapter in your state.
NASW, National Association of Social Workers,
750 First Street, NE, Suite 700,
Washington, DC 20002-4241
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