Social Work

Social workers help people by looking at the challenges of their lives and environment and then work to bring about change using their strengths. The social work department works with and advocates for individuals, families, and communities to bring about empowerment and change wherever it is needed.

Overcoming challenges

Students who graduate with this major can pursue careers in:

  • Child welfare services
  • Working older adults
  • Mental health and substance abuse services
  • Healthcare
  • Working with people with disabilities
  • Criminal justice system
  • Victim services

Student Learning Outcomes

All Council on Social Work Education accredited programs measure and report student learning outcomes. BVU's social work program data is available for review.

View the assessment data

Talk to Us

We'd love to get to know you. Tell us a bit about yourself, and we'll be in touch with the scoop about BVU.

Learn the purpose and importance of a role in a social welfare agency, and more. Faculty work hard to place senior social work majors in personalized internships so students can develop the knowledge and skills that can be applied to their career.

BVU's social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This accreditation provides benefits for jobs, licensure, access to master’s programs, and requires a minimum of two internships so students can explore more than one area of practice.

The social work program is organized so that students transferring in with an associate of art degree can graduate in two years, helping students save time, money, and find a career they’re passionate about right away.

Be Valued

Demand for social workers is high

  • Social workers specialize in helping people solve problems through direct interaction and helping people find needed resources. Social workers also bring about change through developing policy, administering programs, and researching social issues.
  • Demand for social workers is high with employment projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Employment growth is driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services, will vary by specialty, and may require a master’s degree in social work.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median pay for all social workers is $46,000.

Make A Difference

Volunteer, Travel, and Promote Community

  • Student Association of Social Workers is a student-run organization focused on promoting community as well as social work knowledge, values, and skills among social work majors. Students volunteer, visit social work agencies, and sometimes travel to historic social work sites such as Hull House in Chicago
  • Phi Alpha is an invitation-only social work honorary program that promotes scholarship, values, and ethics 
  • Students Against a Violent Environment is an organization that promotes education and prevention of violence, particularly sexual assault
  • Attend Legislative Day for Social Workers in Des Moines to develop advocacy skills
  • Attend professional social work conferences that enhance knowledge and skills


  • Cherokee Mental Health Institute
  • Buena Vista Juvenile Probation
  • Head Start
  • Children’s Square USA
  • Dodge County Department of Human Services


  • AIDS Project of Central Iowa, program coordinator
  • School social worker
  • Buena Vista University, adjunct professor
  • Lutheran Services of Iowa, behavioral health intervention social worker

Graduate School

  • University of Denver
  • University of Southern California
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of North Dakota

Major in Social Work (60 credit hours)

Required support work

  • ECON 205 Principles of Microeconomics
  • PHIL 361 Racism and Sexism in American Life
  • PSCN 110 Introduction to American Government
  • PSYC 100 General Psychology or PSYC 102 The Science of Psychology
  • SCWK 100 Modern Social Problems or SOCI 101 Introduction to Sociology

3 courses from

  • BIOL 104 Cancer & Aging
  • BIOL 106 The Brain
  • BIOL 107 Human Genetics
  • BIOL 108 Human Reproduction and Development
  • BIOL 109 Ecology
  • BIOL 110 Infectious Diseases

Required courses

  • SCWK 200 Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare
  • SCWK 211 Field Observation
  • SCWK 235 Psyco-Social Dimensions of the Human Life Cycle
  • SCWK 255 Human Behavior in the Social Environment
  • SCWK 350 Social Welfare Programs and Policies
  • SCWK 380 Methods of Social Research I
  • SCWK 381 Methods of Social Research II
  • SCWK 390 Social Work Practice I
  • SCWK 410 Social Work Practice II
  • SCWK 440 Field Instruction
  • SCWK 441 Field Instruction
  • SCWK 442 Field Instruction
  • SCWK 443 Senior Seminar

1 course from

  • SCWK 351 Aging in American Society
  • SCWK 352 Child and Family Welfare


Dr.   Kathryn  McKinley

Kathryn McKinley

Associate Professor of Social Work

Ms.   Jessica  Mendel

Jessica Mendel

Assistant Professor of Social Work

How a Background in Social Work Made it Click

Andre Wagner, Class of 2010, has but an instant to capture his subjects in action. A certain emotion or reaction at just the right time and place. But not only does he use his artistic skill to create an image; he also uses his eye for reading people and situations, stemming from his lifelong dedication and empathy toward others.

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How a Background in Social Work Made it Click