Jul 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Work

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Beth Massaro, Associate Dean



Associate Professor: Monica Leisey, Chairperson

Professors: Felix Amato, Jeff R. Driskell, Lisa M. Johnson, Michael Melendez, Yvonne Ruiz, Elspeth Slayter, Shelley A. Steenrod

Associate Professors: Jonathan M. Lukens, Rebecca Mirick

Assistant Professors: Kristin Erbetta, Zoe Kessler, Mbita Mbao, Lamont Simmons, Katherine Walbam

Director of  Field Education: Molly Hogan-Fowler

Faculty Emeriti

Professors: Carol G. Deanow, Sarah Greenberg, Christopher Hudson, Robert McAndrewsCheryl Springer

Associate Professors: Theresa Bouthot, Mary Byrne


Program Offered

Bachelor of Social Work  

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Social work  


Programs in Social Work

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree provides a balanced mixture of liberal arts courses with a concentration in the behavioral and social sciences. In addition to completing the required courses in the major, students spend a minimum of 425 hours doing field work in a Social Work agency during their senior year. The curriculum provides an in-depth knowledge of Social Work values and ethics, methods, skills and practice areas, equipping students with entry level Social Work competencies in a variety of helping settings and for entrance to graduate Social Work programs. Upon receiving their BSW degree, graduates are eligible to take the exam for licensure at the Licensed Social Workers (LSW) level from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The primary objective of the BSW Program is to prepare students as generalist practitioners for beginning practice in Social Work. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

BSW Program Mission Statement

Mission: Teaching for transformation, we prepare generalist social workers who are grounded in the values and ethics of the profession to be proficient in professional social work practice and serve as catalysts for social change in a diverse world.

We strive to provide an excellent generalist foundation for baccalaureate students in the knowledge necessary for beginning professional practice and to enable them to learn about and rehearse the skills necessary for that practice. Central to the mission of the program is to ground all students in the values and ethics of the profession and in the fundamentals of equity-minded practice, social, racial, economic, and environmental justice, non-discrimination and openness to other cultures. The professional curriculum builds on a rigorous and comprehensive liberal arts general education curriculum. Courses in the Social Work major address professional knowledge, skills and values, building to a substantive senior field education experience that emphasizes professional attitudes and behaviors.

Our program is student-centered. In recognition of the needs of many of the students served, the program is committed to both academic rigor and to providing a range of supports for students as they complete their baccalaureate degree. The program strives for inclusivity and welcomes a diverse student body and fosters an atmosphere of openness, collegiality and respect between students and faculty.

The Bachelor of Social Work consists of 54 credit hours of Social Work courses in the behavioral and social sciences; 35 credit hours of distribution courses in the humanities, natural sciences/mathematics and social sciences; 22 credit hours of support courses and a minimum of 9 credit hours of free electives.  The signature pedagogy of the Bachelor of Social Work is Field Education which requires a minimum of 425 hours in a supervised, community-based field practicum.

BSW Program:

Students are typically accepted into the BSW Program in one of three ways: freshman admission; transfer from a community or other college; or change of major.  A BSW student will first enter the social work program, then will apply for Professional Readiness. If approved for Professional Readiness, the student will advance to the first practice course and then, if a B- minimum is earned in this practice course, to field education and advanced practice courses. The Professional Readiness process is outlined below.

STEP 1: A student is accepted into the major via one of three routes: (1) freshman admission to Salem State University, with social work as a chosen major; (2) the change of major process; or (3) transfer from another two- or four-year institution. Students must have a 2.7 GPA or higher to be accepted into the social work program through change of majors or transfer.

STEP 2: The student must have completed, or have received BSW program-approved transfer equivalency or chairperson approved substitution for, SWK 101, SWK 103, SWK 200 (or SWK 510), SWK 261, and SWK 270.  Students must earn a 2.7 average in these five courses.  At the same point, the student must have completed, or have transfer equivalency for 45 total SSU credits, including at least 30 credits of SSU core curriculum credits and 6 credits in cognate disciplines.

STEP 3: When Steps 1 and 2 are satisfied, the student may make application for Professional Readiness to continue in the major and advance to the first practice course.  Students can submit materials to advance to the practice courses during the academic year in either the fall or spring semester.  The student will submit:

  1. An Application Form
  2. A Personal Statement addressing these 4 topics: 1) reason for choosing social work as a major and career, 2) assessment of personal strengths and challenges, 3) assessment of life experience and their integration with career choice, and 4) assessment of personal values and their alignment with NASW’s Code of Ethics. The personal statement must be typed, double-spaced with 12-point font and 1-inch margins, and a maximum of 2 pages.
  3. Instructor review by at least two instructors for the first five social work courses (SWK 101, SWK 103, SWK 200 or SWK 510, SWK 261 or SWK 270).
  4. Evidence of at least a 2.7 Salem State University overall GPA, a minimum 2.7 average among BSW courses taken to date, and a grade of at least a C in every social work course taken to date (or transferred into SSU) social work program.

STEP 4: The BSW faculty will consider the data in A through D, above.  The BSW faculty will look for evidence of solid written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills, as determined by faculty input and student writing. The BSW faculty will also glean from those sources evidence of emotional maturity and stability sufficient to safely and effectively practice social work, as articulated in the SSU School of Social Work’s Professional Standards (See Departmental website).

STEP 5: Once the packet of material is complete and reviewed, the BSW Program will inform applicants about their acceptance status into the professional sequence. The status could be:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Conditional Acceptance (with specific written reasons for the decision and criteria for full acceptance, with clear timelines on meeting those criteria). At the end of that timeline, the BSW Program will send the student a new Announcement of Status.
  3. Rejection

STEP 6: A rejected student may re-apply to the practice sequence if and when factors in the rejection have been ameliorated unless the student’s application was rejected for reasons that warrant withdrawal from the major (e.g., twice failing a course).

Once a student has successfully completed the Professional Readiness Process, the student takes SWK305. If the student completes this course with a minimum of a B- and will have no more than 12 credits to complete their degree at the end of their field placement experience, the student can interview to enter field placement for the fall and spring of senior year. SWK401 and SWK402 must be taken concurrently with field education.

A grade of a B- is required for SWK305, SWK401, SWK402, SWK406, and SWK407. Social Work majors and pre-majors must earn a grade of C or higher in all other Social Work courses and social work support courses. A student may repeat a Social Work course only once. A second grade below the required minimum grade in the same course mandates withdrawal from the Social Work major. Field Education I and II (SWK 404/SWK 405) and Field Education Seminar I and II (SWK 406/SWK 407) are co-requisites. In order to successfully pass one course a student must pass the other. Therefore, a student must earn a B- or better in Field Seminar I and a “P” in Field Work I in order to continue into Field Work II and Field Seminar II. If a student does not earn a B- or better in Field Seminar I and a “P” in Field Work I, then the student must retake both Field Work I and Field Seminar I. A second grade of lower than a B- in Field Seminar and/or a grade of “P” in Field Work I mandates that a student withdraw from the Social Work major. If a student does not earn a B- or better in Field Seminar II and a “P” in Field Work II then the student must retake both Field Work II and Field Seminar II, after retaking Field Education I and Field Seminar I. In other words, the student must begin the field education process again. A second grade of lower than a B- in Field Seminar and/ or grade of “P” in Field Work II mandates that a student withdraw from the Social Work major.

In the interview for field, the student’s readiness for assignment to a field placement will be assessed by their level of maturity and responsibility and their commitment to the values and ethics of the field of Social Work as ascertained in consultation with their academic advisor. The student should consult and comply with the BSW Program Handbook and BSW Field Education Handbook. Because of the nature of professional Social Work practice, the School of Social Work has different expectations than non-professional programs. The standards are linked to students’ abilities to become effective Social Work professionals and are provided to clarify expectations and procedures regarding concerns about academic and field education performance. The ultimate goal of the Standards is to help students have a successful experience at the School of Social Work. Students will be asked to abide by the School’s Professional Standards for Social Work Education and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics.

Additional Information

Students who have had considerable volunteer and/or employment experience in the social services should consult with the BSW Program Coordinator whether they are eligible for enrollment in the course, SWK 510 Directed Study in the Generalist Approach (3 credit hours) rather than SWK 200 Social Service Volunteer Practicum. SWK 510 provides students with the opportunity to reflect on and analyze their prior experience and learning through the lens of social work knowledge, skills, and values.   

Salem State University School of Social Work does not grant social work course credit for life experience or previous work experience per the Council on Social Work Education accreditation standards.

For a Minor in Social Work

Please consult the Social Work Minor section of this catalog for minor requirements.

The School of Social Work Program Handbook issued to all departmental majors contains details on all aspects of the BSW program.

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