Department of Social Work

College of Education and Social Work

114 W. Rosedale Avenue
Department of Social Work
Pablo Arriaza, Chairperson

The Social Work program is accredited on the baccalaureate level as a professional degree in social work by the Council on Social Work Education.

The mission of the undergraduate Social Work program is to prepare students for beginning social work practice and lifelong learning. To this end, the program teaches the knowledge, values, and skills of generalist social work, with an emphasis on self-evaluation, critical thinking, information literacy, and understanding the intersections of people and their environments. Students apply micro, mezzo, and macro frameworks for assessment and intervention through experiential learning that includes two field placements over the course of three semesters. The program prepares students to adhere to the ethical standards of social work, to advocate for social and economic justice, and to promote the strengths and well-being of diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students graduate with the core competencies appropriate to entry-level generalist social work as well as the foundation for graduate social work education.

The B.S.W. program has three phases: the first is the pre-candidacy courses along with their general education requirements; the second occurs when students formally apply for candidacy, which is the professional social work track where advanced course work and the junior field experience are completed; and the third is at the conclusion of the spring junior year when students successfully complete a competency exam and enter the senior field experience. The Bachelor of Social Work is conferred on undergraduates who complete all the academic requirements of the program and West Chester University. The B.S.W. is recognized as the first professional level of social work practice.

Goals for the B.S.W. Program

The undergraduate Social Work program goals are linked to core practice competencies as set forth in the Council on Social Work Education’s 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). With the liberal arts as its foundation, B.S.W. graduates are prepared to engage in entry-level social work practice through mastery of these ten core competencies. As such, the department’s goal is that, by completion of the program, students are prepared to:

  1. Engage in evidence-based, entry-level social work practice with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations within a multicultural society
  2. Practice according to the principles, values, and ethics that guide the social work profession
  3. Influence social policies with the goal of alleviating poverty, oppression, and social injustice as well as advocating for human rights
  4. Identify and affect the bio-psycho-social, spiritual, and cultural functioning of people
  5. Evidence practice from a culturally sensitive perspective that recognizes and appreciates diverse cultures, particularly those that differ from one’s own

The B.S.W. program has the following core competencies:

Competency 1: Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior

Competency 2: Engage diversity and difference in practice

Competency 3: Advance human rights and social and economic justice

Competency 4: Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.

Competency 5: Engage in policy practice

Competency 6: Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities

Competency 7: Assess with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities

Competency 8: Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities

Competency 9: Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities

All students must demonstrate attitudes and professional behaviors consistent with the values and ethics of professional social work and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Social Work Code of Ethics.

The B.S.W. program is based in a strong liberal arts foundation. We believe this is covered by the current University degree requirements. In addition, since our last re-accreditation, our department has reviewed the curricular requirements and received feedback from multiple constituents (students, faculty, advisory board, field supervisors) that students would benefit from taking more social work electives and/or additional coursework at the university that supports the field experience. In addition, we have added a required summer bridge reading assignment for our seniors that fulfills the original purpose of the literature requirement: to expose students to more diverse life experiences through literature. Finally, the literature requirement disadvantages our transfer students, the majority of whom do not take a literature course at their community college.

Department-Related Activities

The Social Work Club is a student organization that elects officers and sets a yearly agenda. The activities of this organization are open to all students. The honor society, Phi Alpha, is sponsored by the Department of Social Work and is the Chi Gamma Chapter of the National Social Work Honor Society. Eligibility requires an overall GPA of 3.0 and 3.25 in required social work courses. The Association of Black Social Workers is another social work organization that elects officers and sets a yearly service and program agenda. For more information, see the Student Activities and Service Organization sections of the catalog.

Department Field Placements and Volunteer Experiences

Social work students are expected to provide a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer work, approved by their advisor, as a requirement to be accepted into candidacy. During the second semester of the junior year and in both semesters of the senior year, students will be placed in various social work agencies (see partial listing of social work field placements).

Students must have completed the below with a cumulative average of 2.50 before they register to take the junior field placement in the spring semester.

SWO 200Introduction to Social Welfare3
SWO 220Introduction to Generalist Practice3
SWO 225Race Relations3
SWO 300Family Systems3
SWO 320Generalist Social Work Practice I3
SWO 332Social Welfare Policies and Services3
SWO 350Human Behavior in Social Environment I3


Students are also required to carry liability insurance coverage during the second semester of their junior and the entire senior year. Students may join NASW and become a member of a national social work organization and receive liability insurance at a reduced rate. Students need to apply for child abuse clearance and state police background check in the fall semester of their junior year prior to being matched with a field placement. Field sites may have additional requirements of students prior to the start of their field placement.

Social Work Field Placements

Below is a sampling of settings where students have been placed to fulfill their field experience requirements:

ARC of Chester County
Bucks County Children and Youth
Chester County Children, Youth, and Families
Chester County Intermediate Unit
Chester County Juvenile Probation
Chester County Office of the Aging
Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC)
County Office of Services for Older Adults
Delaware County Adult Probation and Parole
Department of Human Services
Devereux Foundation
Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County
Family Services of Chester County
Friend’s Association
Philadelphia School District
Resources for Human Development
Ronald McDonald House
Salvation Army
The Garage Community Youth Center
University of Pennsylvania Health Systems
Values Into Action
Vitas Hospice

Philadelphia Campus

The B.S.W. in Social Work is also offered at the Philadelphia campus.

Curriculums for programs offered at the alternative PASSHE Center City satellite campus in Philadelphia are equivalent to those found on WCU’s main campus. With state-of-the-art classrooms, the Center City location serves the needs of degree completers and/or adult learners who are balancing work and family obligations.

All undergraduate students are held to the academic policies and procedures outlined in the undergraduate catalog.  Students are encouraged to review departmental handbooks for program tips, suggested course sequences, and explanations of procedures. When applicable, additional policies for specific department programs may be listed below.

Policy for Social Work Majors

Majors are required to meet with their social work advisor to plan an integrative course of study, to select courses prior to scheduling, to discuss career opportunities, and to keep abreast of departmental activities. Handbooks are provided to help students be aware of requirements and procedures in the department. Social work majors should be aware of social work prerequisite courses and must see their advisor before registering for classes.

Academic Promotion Policy

Social work students must achieve a grade of C or above in required professional practice courses that include SWO 320, 321, 375, 395, 450, 451, 495, 496. Social work students that have a grade of D, F, or NG (no grade) in other required social work courses must repeat these courses and achieve a satisfactory grade before entering the junior field placement. Students must achieve an overall GPA of 2.5 in order to be accepted into candidacy and to begin their first field practicum. Students must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA in order to remain in the program and in order graduate with a B.S.W. that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Further information can be found in the student handbook and field manual that is updated annually and posted to the Department’s website.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet University requirements for admission. After successfully completing the first year of pre-candidacy social work course requirements, students may apply for candidacy for the professional social work track.

For admittance to senior field placement, students must pass the junior competency exam requirements in social work and fulfill the requirements outlined on the guidance record sheet.

In compliance with the Council on Social Work Education, the national accrediting body for social work, the program only accepts upper-division social work courses from accredited programs that correspond with West Chester University B.S.W. program sequencing. No social work credits are granted for life and work experience.

Transfer Students

Students from other colleges and universities who desire to transfer to the West Chester University baccalaureate social work program should apply through the University’s Office of Admissions, which will coordinate the credit evaluations of social work courses with the baccalaureate social work program director. Transfer students are required to make application for candidacy.

A transfer credit analysis, listing all transfer credits accepted by the University, will be sent to the Department of Social Work and also directly to the student. The B.S.W. program director may accept social work transfer credits from CSWE-accredited undergraduate social work programs.

The field practicum and seminar are concurrent courses in the WCU undergraduate social work program; therefore, they are not transferable. The policies and requirements for the field practice are explicated in the Baccalaureate Program Field Instruction Manual. All other social work courses not meeting the requirements of the program may be accepted as SWO 199 course credit hours.

Internal Transfer Students

Internal transfer students meet the same standards for the program as other students.

Note: The Department of Social Work offers courses in the summer to assist transfer students to begin as a junior when they enter West Chester University in the fall. It is crucial that all transfer students be advised by the undergraduate program chair before the first session of summer.


Greg Tully (2010)

B.A., New York University; M.S.W., Hunter College; Ph.D., New York University

Associate Professors

Pablo Arriaza (2016)

Chairperson, Undergraduate Social Work

B.S. Florida State University; M.S.W. Florida State University; Ph.D. University of Alabama

Michelle Belliveau (2006)

B.A., Earlham College; M.S.S.W., Columbia University; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Claire L. Dente (2008)

B.A., Chestnut Hill College; M.S.W., Catholic University of America; Ph.D., Temple University

Travis Sky Ingersoll (2011)

B.A., State University of New York at Buffalo; M.S.W, M.Ed., Ed.D., Widener University

Assistant Professor

Susan Wysor Nguema (2016)

B.S.W., La Salle University; M.S., University of Pennsylvania; M.S.W., Temple University


SWO 199. Transfer Credits. 1-10 Credits.

Transfer Credits.
Repeatable for Credit.

SWO 200. Introduction to Social Welfare. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the social work profession, this course emphasizes the historical, economic, political and philosophical foundations of the social welfare system in the United States, social policy, and social services. It introduces a framework for the critical analysis of social welfare policy from a system perspective.

SWO 220. Introduction to Generalist Practice. 3 Credits.

In this course, students are introduced to the knowledge base, values and skills of the social work profession that guides practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and societal systems.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

SWO 225. Race Relations. 3 Credits.

The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race, ethnicity and culture. By integrating findings from history, political science, sociology, and social work, students are introduced to cultural differences as they affect family life, the development of law, and the nature and magnitude of racism in our society. The overarching goal of this course is to encourage the student to embark on the process of becoming culturally competent.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement, Interdisciplinary Requirement.

SWO 300. Family Systems. 3 Credits.

This course is an introduction to the family from a systems theory perspective. The course includes discussion of historical and contemporary definitions of the family, types of families, the social function of families, and an overview of the family life cycle. Particular attention is paid to diversity in order to highlight variations in family forms and styles along the lines of race, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation.
Gen Ed Attribute: Writing Emphasis.
Distance education offering may be available.
Typically offered in Summer.

SWO 320. Generalist Social Work Practice I. 3 Credits.

Students apply their knowledge of the strengths and ecological perspectives to the processes of engagement, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation and termination for social work practice with individuals and families. Social Work majors only.
Pre / Co requisites: SWO 320 requires a corequisite or prerequisite of SWO 220 with a minimum of C or better.

SWO 321. Generalist Social Work Practice II. 3 Credits.

Students apply their knowledge of the strengths and ecological perspectives to the processes of engagement, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation and termination for social work practice with groups, organizations and communities. Social Work majors only.
Pre / Co requisites: SWO 321 requires a prerequisite of SWO 320 with a minimum grade of C or better.

SWO 332. Social Welfare Policies and Services. 3 Credits.

This course introduces students to policy analysis. A main focus is an examination of how the US Government supports or inhibits social and economic justice through social welfare, social security social policy, and social services.

SWO 350. Human Behavior in Social Environment I. 3 Credits.

This course examines the life cycle from pre-natal development through young adulthood with an emphasis on micro and mezzo theories of human behavior from a strengths and ecological systems perspective. The course is designed to provide the theoretical foundation that informs the knowledge and skill bases of the generalist social work practitioner.

SWO 351. Human Behavior and the Social Environment II. 3 Credits.

This course examines the life cycle from middle adulthood through older adulthood and death and dying with an emphasis on mezzo and macro theories of human behavior from a strengths and ecological systems perspective.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement, Writing Emphasis.

SWO 375. Field Experience I. 6 Credits.

Junior-year field experience for the social work major in an approved setting and under the supervision of an approved field instructor. Social Work majors only.

SWO 395. Junior Seminar. 3 Credits.

The integration of knowledge, values, and skills within the theoretical framework of generalist social work practice. This course is the beginning foundation for students to examine ways social work theory and values are integrated into the reality of practice.
Pre / Co requisites: SWO 395 requires corequisite of SWO 375 with a minimum grade of C or better.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Repeatable for Credit.

SWO 410. Independent Studies in Social Work. 1-3 Credits.

Special research projects or practices in social work.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Typically offered in Fall, Spring & Summer.
Repeatable for Credit.

SWO 421. Mental Health & Social Work. 3 Credits.

This course introduces students to the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Specific practice skills for social work practice, the range of mental health services, and relevant social policies are covered.

SWO 423. Child Welfare Practice And Policy. 3 Credits.

Emphasis is placed on assessment of and understanding child abuse and neglect, the long term effects of child maltreatment, how to engage families in which child maltreatment is an identified issue, the child protective service system and relevant policies.

SWO 431. Methods Of Social Inquiry. 3 Credits.

The course introduces students to qualitative and quantitative research, ethical and cultural issues in research, and fosters critical thinking in evaluating existing research. Students learn how to conduct a research project and the skills of social work practice evaluation.
Pre / Co requisites: SWO 431 requires prerequisites of SWO 200, SWO 220, SWO 225, and SWO 300.
Typically offered in Fall.

SWO 432. Advanced Policy Practice. 3 Credits.

The relationship between social policy and social work practice is strengthened as students are taught the concept of policy practice or how to develop, influence and implement social policy in their social work practice everyday.

SWO 450. Field Experience II. 6 Credits.

Senior field experience for the social work major in an approved setting and under the supervision of an approved field instructor. Senior social work majors only.
Repeatable for Credit.

SWO 451. Field Experience III. 6 Credits.

Senior field experience for the social work major in an approved setting and under the supervision of an approved field instructor. Senior social work majors only.
Repeatable for Credit.

SWO 490. Topical Seminar In Social Work. 3 Credits.

This course is a one-week intensive cultural immersion experience that will include a field trip to two reservations of the Great Sioux Nation.
Repeatable for Credit.

SWO 491. Sexuality Concepts for Social Workers. 3 Credits.

Human sexuality is one of the basic foundations for life. From before birth, individuals are sexed, gendered and bombarded with messages about who they are, who they should be and how they are expected to behave. In adult life, whether individuals choose to date, to partner or to remain single; to have children, to adopt or to create other forms of family, sexuality is one of the central and organizing components of the human experience. In this course, human sexuality is explored in three separate sections from a biopsychosocial perspective. The first of these units addresses an overview of sexuality information and functioning. The second examines psychosocial issues, as they exist within sexuality. Lastly, the manifestations of human sexuality as they occur within the Social Work and human services context are investigated.
Gen Ed Attribute: Writing Emphasis.

SWO 495. Social Work Senior Seminar I. 3 Credits.

Integration of field and classroom experiences in discussing the application of the generalist model to the helping process. Emphasis is on all levels of practice (individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social Work majors only.
Pre / Co requisites: SWO 495 requires a prerequisite of SWO 395 and a corequisite of SWO 450.
Gen Ed Attribute: Writing Emphasis.

SWO 496. Social Work Senior Seminar II. 3 Credits.

Integration of field and classroom experiences in discussing the application of the generalist model to the helping process. Emphasis is on advocacy and social justice. Social work majors only.
Pre / Co requisites: SWO 496 requires a prerequisite of SWO 495 and a corequisite of SWO 451.