Social work is distinguished by a tradition of concern for people and their interactions with society. Social work professionals are community problem solvers who intervene in organizational settings, communities, social service agencies, groups, individuals, and families with goals of enhancing well-being and promoting social and economic justice. Most social workers are employed in fields such as child welfare and family services, mental health, medical social work, school social work, corrections, community organization, or advocacy.

The Social Work curriculum focuses on the practical application of social work principles, policies, and practices within human rights and social justice perspectives. Students acquire a professional social work foundation transferable to different settings, population groups, and problem areas. Attention is devoted to understanding the social welfare system in the U.S., and working with individuals, families, and communities to affect desired change. Several practical experiences are required. Students work with an agency participant throughout their sophomore year, and then as seniors, participate in a social work agency internship. The curriculum also includes a strong liberal arts base in social science research and statistics, arts, humanities, social science, and natural sciences.

CSU students are admitted to the School of Social Work (SSW) when they declare Social Work as a major. Two professional organizations, The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Accreditation (CSWE) guide social work practice and education. The NASW develops the Code of Ethics for practicing social workers. The CSWE accredits bachelors and masters social work educational programs in the United States. The BSW program is accredited by CSWE.

Learning Outcomes

Graduating seniors will have demonstrated:

  • Skills in conceptualizing and applying knowledge of social welfare policy and services, a systems perspective, theory, community resources, and community policy-making processes and practices.
  • Knowledge and mastery of the foundation competencies as required by the CSWE for accreditation of the BSW degree.
  • An understanding of the social work code of ethics including mastery of skills in maintaining client confidentiality, establishing professional boundaries, and resolving ethical dilemmas that are presented in case situations.

Potential Occupations

Social Work graduates are employed in a variety of settings including welfare agencies, schools, hospitals, clinics, institutions, community centers, public health, corrections, and group homes. Entry-level job opportunities are plentiful. Graduates should be willing to work with people of all ages and in a multitude of circumstances and settings. Opportunities to work with older adults are especially prevalent. Internships are required. Graduates of the BSW program are eligible to apply for advanced standing in MSW social work programs.

Some examples of career opportunities include, but are not limited to: child welfare worker, adolescent group home counselor, crisis counselor, child protection worker, adult protection worker, geriatric social worker, case manager, nursing home administrator, medical social service counselor, community outreach coordinator, youth program counselor, home health worker, occupational social services worker, foster parent consultant, probation officer, client advocate, victim-witness program counselor, program manager, substance abuse counselor, domestic violence counselor, or adoption worker.

Progression in the Major

Progression in the Major in the SSW is guided by standards required by both NASW and CSWE to ensure compliance with accreditation standards and that SSW students meet nationally recognized ethical requirements for their profession.

The NASW Code of Ethics requires that social workers act ethically in their work with clients. It also requires that social workers take action when their colleagues are not acting competently or ethically. The CSWE requires that social work programs describe the procedures for informing students of the program’s criteria for evaluating students’ academic and professional performance and that the program have policies and procedures for terminating students’ enrollment in the social work program for reasons of academic and professional performance. 

To meet the requirements of these professional governing bodies, the SSW has developed this Progression in the Major procedure. Progression in the Major is a time in a student’s academic career when faculty and students can review each student’s character and fitness for the profession of social work. Prior to enrolling in the 300 level practice courses (SOWK 340, SOWK 341, SOWK 342), students must apply for Progression in the Major. Approval of the Progression in the Major application is a prerequisite for enrollment in SOWK 340. Generally students who have 60 or more credits must apply for progression in order to graduate in the following four semesters. The application for Progression in the Major will be distributed in SOWK 286A and SOWK 286B.

As a professional program, academic performance and fitness to proceed in the SSW program requires a minimum grade point average, completion of required course work, and behaviors appropriate to the performance of social work. Problems in student performance may be addressed with the student at any time in the student’s academic career in the SSW.

Student Expectations for Progression:

  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.500 in SOWK course work; a grade of C- or better in all SOWK coursework; 2.000 in overall university course work; 2.000 in All University Core Curriculum (AUCC) course work.
  • Demonstrate conduct that complies with the CSU Student Code of Conduct.
  • Demonstrate conduct that adheres to the NASW Code of Ethics and social work values in interactions with faculty, peers, the community, organizations and clients.
  • Remain free of criminal convictions while enrolled in the SSW and CSU.
  • Refrain from substance use that interferes with the performance of responsibilities to clients and agencies and/or interferes with classroom performance.
  • Demonstrate behavior that prioritizes the welfare of those to whom the student has a responsibility such as clients and coworkers.
  • Refrain from any behaviors that cause harm to clients, including romantic or sexual relationships.
  • Demonstrate respect for all persons and appreciation for race, age, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
  • Demonstrate sound judgment, both in work with clients and in regard to oneself, such as seeking professional help for physical and emotional problems that interfere with professional functioning.
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity in work with client systems and in the classroom.

Review Process

Concerns regarding a student’s application for progression will be reported to the Director of the BSW Program. Concerns may be identified during the Progression in the Major application review process or at any time before or after progression. Progression applications will be reviewed by the Director of the BSW Program. Concerns regarding any of the foregoing student expectations will be addressed by the BSW Director directly with the student and the student’s advisor. Major concerns regarding the student’s ability to proceed in the program will be reviewed by the Director of the BSW program with the administrative team of the SSW, including but not limited to the Director of the SSW. A meeting will then be scheduled for review of the concerns with the student, faculty member(s) involved, the Director of the BSW Program and the Director of SSW. Review of concerns may result in one or more of the following resolutions, through the Director of SSW:

  • Dismissal or resolution of the expressed concerns.
  • A probationary period which includes a remediation contract with the student to address concerns that will be monitored by the BSW Program Director or designated faculty.
  • Dismissal of the student from the Social Work major.
  • A report to the CSU Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services, in the event the concerns include possible violations of the Student Conduct Code.

Students may appeal these decisions using established university and SSW procedures.

Practicum and Internship

Students directly apply classroom knowledge, skills, and social work values through a six-credit supervised practicum, SOWK 286A and SOWK 286B, in the sophomore year. In this practicum, students are matched with community agencies which require background checks before placement.

In the senior year, students fulfill a 10-credit field placement in a social work agency or program in a community setting. Field placement agencies generally require background checks also, Examples of available field placements include child and public welfare programs; hospitals, homeless and women’s shelters, rehabilitation and mental health agencies, schools, adolescent residential care, geriatric centers, and correction programs. In their field placement and under supervision, students have the opportunity to demonstrate the required CSWE competencies.

Effective Fall 2017

A grade of C- (2.000) or above is required in each SOWK course required for the major; a 2.500 overall GPA in all SOWK courses is required for the major.

CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)1A3
HDFS 101Individual and Family Development (GT-SS3)3C3
PSY 100General Psychology (GT-SS3)3C3
SOWK 150Introduction to Social Work 3
Select one course from the following: 3-4
Human Origins and Variation (GT-SC2)3A 
Humans and Other Animals (GT-SC2)3A 
Principles of Animal Biology (GT-SC2)3A 
Attributes of Living Systems (GT-SC1)3A 
Select one from the following: 3
General Sociology (GT-SS3)3C 
Social Problems (GT-SS3)3C 
Elective 5-6
 Total Credits 30
SOWK 120Academic and Career Success 1
SOWK 233Human Behavior in the Social Environment 3
SOWK 286APracticum I 3
SOWK 286BPracticum II 3
Select one course from the following: 2-3
Food and Nutrition in Health  
Survey of Human Nutrition  
Health and Wellness  
The Microbial World  
Bioethics and Society  
Psychology of Human Sexuality  
Arts and Humanities3B3
Biological and Physical Sciences23A3-4
Global and Cultural Awareness3E3
Historical Perspectives3D3
Electives 2-3
 Total Credits 31
SOWK 300Research in Applied Professions 3
SOWK 330Human Diversity Practice Issues 3
SOWK 340Generalist Practice-Individuals and Families 3
SOWK 341Generalist Practice-Small Groups 3
Arts and Humanities (see list below) 3
Advanced Writing23
Arts and Humanities3B3
Electives 9
 Total Credits 30
SOWK 342Generalist Practice-Organizations/Communities4B3
SOWK 410Social Welfare Policy4A3
SOWK 488Field Placement 10
SOWK 492Seminar4C3
Upper-Division Social and Behavioral Sciences (See list below) 6
Electives3 4
 Total Credits 29
 Program Total Credits: 120

Arts and Humanities List (Select 3 credits with approval of advisor)

gened:arts-humanities:Arts and Humanities (additional AUCC 3B course not taken previously) 3
ETST 205Ethnicity and the Media (GT-SS3)3
ETST 234/E 234Introduction to Native American Literature3
ETST 239/E 239Introduction to Chicano Literature3
ETST 240Native American Cultural Experience (GT-AH2)3
ETST 320Ethnicity and Film: Asian-American Experience3
ETST 354Black Cinema and Media3
ETST 413Queer Creative Expressions3
ETST 425Indigenous Film and Video3
ETST 430Latina/o Creative Expression3
ETST 438/E 438Native American Literature3
ETST 454/SPCM 454Chicanx Film and Video3
JTC 316Multiculturalism and the Media3
L*** XXX 3

Upper-Division Social and Behavioral Sciences List (Select 6 credits with approval of advisor)

ETST 300Queer Studies and Women of Color3
ETST 310African-American Studies3
ETST 324Asian-Pacific Americans and the Law3
ETST 332Contemporary Chicanx Issues3
ETST 352/SOWK 352Indigenous Women, Children, and Tribes3
ETST 364/HIST 364Asian American Social Movements, 1945-Present3
ETST 365Global Environmental Justice Movements3
ETST 370Caribbean Identities3
ETST 371The Modern Caribbean3
ETST 404Race Formation in the United States3
ETST 405Ethnicity, Class, and Gender in the U.S.3
ETST 410African American Periods and Personalities3
ETST 411Black Feminism(s)3
ETST 412Africa and African Diaspora3
ETST 414/ANTH 414Development in Indian Country3
ETST 432Latinx Routes to Empowerment3
ETST 444/SOC 444Federal Indian Law and Policy3

MATH 101 is recommended.


At least one of the courses must be a human or animal biology course.


Select enough elective credits to bring the program to a minimum of 120 credits, of which at least 42 must be upper-division (300- to 400-level). 

Distinctive Requirements for Degree Program:
A grade of C- (2.000) or above is required in each SOWK course required for the major; a 2.500 overall GPA in all SOWK courses is required for the major. MATH 101 recommended.

Semester 1CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one course from the following:   3-4
Human Origins and Variation (GT-SC2)  3A 
Humans and Other Animals (GT-SC2)  3A 
Principles of Animal Biology (GT-SC2)  3A 
Attributes of Living Systems (GT-SC1)  3A 
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)  1A3
PSY 100General Psychology (GT-SS3) X3C3
Select one course from the following:   3
General Sociology (GT-SS3) X3C 
Social Problems (GT-SS3) X3C 
Elective   3
 Total Credits   15-16
Semester 2CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
HDFS 101Individual and Family Development (GT-SS3) X3C3
SOWK 150Introduction to Social Work X 3
ECON or POLS Course   3
MathematicsX 1B3
Elective   2-3
CO 150, PSY 100, and SOC 100 or SOC 105 must be completed by the end of Semester 2.X   
 Total Credits   14-15
Semester 3CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
SOWK 120Academic and Career Success   1
SOWK 233Human Behavior in the Social EnvironmentX  3
SOWK 286APracticum I X 3
Arts and Humanities  3B3
Biological and Physical Sciences  3A3-4
Global and Cultural Awareness  3E3
 Total Credits   16-17
Semester 4CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one course from the following:   2-3
Food and Nutrition in Health    
Survey of Human Nutrition    
Health and Wellness    
The Microbial World    
Bioethics and Society    
Psychology of Human Sexuality    
SOWK 286BPracticum IIX  3
STAT***   3
Historical Perspectives  3D3
Electives   2-3
Progression to Major is strongly recommended by the end of Semester 4. X  
 Total Credits   15
Semester 5CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
SOWK 330Human Diversity Practice Issues X 3
SOWK 340Generalist Practice-Individuals and FamiliesX  3
Arts and Humanities  3B3
Electives   6
SOWK 150, SOWK 233, SOWK 286A must be completed by the end of Semester 5.X   
Progression to Major must be completed by the end of Semester 5.X   
 Total Credits   15
Semester 6CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
SOWK 300Research in Applied Professions X 3
SOWK 341Generalist Practice-Small GroupsX  3
Advanced Writing  23
Elective   3
Arts and Humanities (See Department List on Major Requirements tab)   3
SOWK 286B, SOWK 330 must be completed by the end of Semester 6. X   
 Total Credits   15
Semester 7CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
SOWK 342Generalist Practice-Organizations/CommunitiesX 4B3
SOWK 410Social Welfare PolicyX 4A3
Upper-Division Social and Behavioral Sciences (See Department List on Major Requirements Tab)   6
Elective   4
SOWK 300 must be completed by the end of Semester 7.X   
 Total Credits   16
Semester 8CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
SOWK 488Field PlacementX  10
SOWK 492SeminarX 4C3
The benchmark courses for the 8th semester are the remaining courses in the entire program of study.X   
 Total Credits   13
 Program Total Credits:   120