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Social Work Major

The social work major consists of 54 semester hours – 48 hours in social work and 6 hours in advisor consent electives. Consistent with the program’s emphasis on a liberal arts foundation, during the freshman and sophomore years, students will typically take courses in English, speech, political science, economics, biology, sociology, psychology, statistics, western civilization, and the humanities. These courses will also fulfill Colonnade (general education) requirements.

View WKU Undergraduate Catalog



The BSW program requires that some courses be completed before admission to the program. For complete application procedures and guidelines, visit the BSW Admissions page.


The following courses are prerequisites for the Social Work Major:

  • SWRK 101 (Must earn a "C" or better)
  • ENG 100
  • Statistics (SWRK 344, MATH 183, SOCL 300; or Statistics in another discipline at WKU; or STA 220 at KCTCS)
  • PSY or PSYS 100/220
  • PS 110
  • SOCL 100 or AGRI 108
  • ECON 150, ECON 202, or ECON 203
  • BIOL 113, BIOL 120 or BIOL 131

All prerequisites must be completed before starting the Major; with the following exceptions:

Statistics can be completed in the first semester of the Major.


Required Courses 

Expand the area below to view all of the required courses in the Social Work major.

SWRK 101
Foundations of Human Services

Starting with the basic principles, concepts and a historical perspective, the course will examine problems addressed by diverse social service programs and explore their activities.

SWRK 301
Social Work Practice for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Prerequisite: SWRK 101 and restricted to social work majors and minors. Explores how students' personal identity and experiences shape views of social, economic, and environmental justice issues affecting marginalized populations. Focuses on building upon this understanding to begin to develop cultural competence in preparation for social work practice with vulnerable client systems.

SWRK 330
Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Prerequisites: None. The social, natural, and behavioral sciences are used to examine human behavior across the life span, especially as influenced by ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. Colonnade K-SY

SWRK 345
Social Work Research Methods

Prerequisites: SWRK 378 and 379. An introduction to concepts, research design, and program evaluation in social work research. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills in utilizing research information in social work practice.

SWRK 357
Case Management

Prerequisites: None. This course introduces students to the fundamental aspects of case management (service coordination), including common case management roles, processes, responsibilities, and employment challenges. Major content areas include: case management roles (including advocate, broker, resource coordinator), the roles and responsibilities of the multidisciplinary team (including nurses, social worker, physicians, and other disciplines), case management with special populations (forensic, geriatric, children, diverse populations), and the responsibilities of a case manager working in health care and mental health settings. Students will be introduced to the employment challenges of case management (types of programs that hire case managers, workforce retention issues, expectations of case manager, and job satisfaction). Students will develop familiarity with how case managers and clients interface with individual, group and family systems. Students will develop knowledge of case management ethics and explore common ethical dilemmas and boundaries issues that confront case managers.

SWRK 375
Social Work Practice I

Prerequisites:SWRK 330, restricted to social work majors. Corequisite: OR SWRK 330. Emphasizes development of knowledge, values, and skills necessary for effective interventions with individuals and families. Course content will be examined from an ecological social systems perspective that emphasizes empowerment and cultural competency.

SWRK 378
Social Work Practice II

Prerequisites: SWRK 330 and SWRK 375. The second of three practice classes that equip students with theory and skills for effective generalist social work practice with groups.

SWRK 379
Introduction to Social Work Communication Skills

Prerequisites: SWRK 330 and SWRK 375. Study and practice of interviewing individuals, families, and groups. The skill of relationship building as it relates to both micro and macro practice of social work is emphasized.

SWRK 381
Social Work Practice III

Prerequisites: SWRK 378 and SWRK 379. The third of three practice classes that equip students with theory and skills for effective generalist social work practice with organizations and communities.

SWRK 395
Social Welfare Policy and Issues

Prerequisites: SWRK 345 and SWRK 381. An understanding of the historical perspectives of social welfare policies as they affect current policy issues. Includes examination of the processes of policy formulation. Models of policy analysis assist students in identifying, and their impact on citizens representing a diversity of backgrounds.

SWRK 480
Social Work Field Practicum I

Prerequisites: SWRK 378, 379, field director approval and senior standing. Corequisite: SWRK 481. Social Work practice experience in a social agency.

SWRK 481
Social Work Field Seminar I

Prerequisites: SWRK 378, 379, and admission to the field internship, and senior standing. Corequisites: SWRK 480. Integration of the knowledge, skills, values, and experiences gained in the internship.

SWRK 482
Social Work Field Practicum II

Prerequisites: SWRK 480/481. Corequisite: SWRK 483. Continued social work practice experience in a social service agency.

SWRK 483
Social Work Field Seminar II

Prerequisites: SWRK 480/481. Corequisites: SWRK 482. Integrates the knowledge, skills, values, and experiences gained during the second semester of the internship.



In addition to the required courses, two SWRK electives and two  advisor consent electives (typically at the 300-and 400-level) must be completed. These electives must be approved by the advisor. Please see the list of all courses for SWRK-elective options.

SWRK 270
Mental Health and Social Policy
A survey Course of the mental health delivery system in the United States. Services and issues will be discussed.
SWRK 300
Diversity and Social Welfare
Prerequisite: 21 hours of Foundations and Explorations Courses or junior status. This course engages students in the analysis of the nature and impact of economics, political and social ideologies, and cultural forces that shape the development of social welfare policies impacting diverse populations in the United States and abroad. The course emphasizes comparative approaches to the analysis of welfare policies influencing service delivery locally and globally.  Policies covered include those that address: poverty, public assistance, health and behavioral health care, criminal justice, child welfare, food insecurity, and homelessness. Specific attention will be paid to the implications of social welfare policies for economic, environmental, and social justice issues and their impact on marginalized populations. Colonnade K-LG
SWRK 305
Environmental Justice

Prerequisite: 21 hours of Foundations and Explorations Courses or junior status. Relationships between the environment and inequity with regard to race/ethnicity and social class are explored by introducing key theories, policies and intervention skills related to environmental justice.  Colonnade K-SY

SWRK 311
Understanding Intergenerational Trauma

Prerequisite: None. Clinicians and researchers have become increasingly aware that the effects of trauma suffered by one generation have physical and psychological effects on their descendants. These consequences manifest in higher rates of physical illness, mental health issues, addiction disorders, and the breakdown of family and community structures. This course introduces students to the concepts associated with intergenerational trauma. Emphasis is placed on resilience, multicultural issues, and systems factors. Course objectives are achieved using experiential exercises, class discussions, didactic presentations, podcasts, and/or films, which encourage students to develop skills in critical thinking. 

SWRK 324
Opiod Epidemic

Prerequisite: None. Prepares students to recognize the repercussions of opioid addiction, address root causes of the crisis, and review federal, state, and local policies aimed at reducing opioid use. The role of the social environment, implications of culture, access, and policy regarding substance abuse services are applied to opioid-related issues. 

SWRK 325
Social Work and Women in Society
Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor. This course will provide an analysis of women's status and position within our society, based on the premise that women's experiences emerge from society's political, social, and economic structures. Content areas emphasized include women and social change, violence, poverty, men, and feminist change strategies.
SWRK 326
Services for Older Americans
Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor. This course focuses on individual and societal aspects of aging with emphasis on programs, resources and services to meet with the social tasks of later life.
SWRK 356
Services for Juvenile Offenders
Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor. The nature and extent of delinquency, structure, and function of the juvenile court will be stressed. Emphasis will be on the provision of services to the juvenile offenders and their families.
SWRK 433
Ethical Issues in Social Work
Prerequisites: SWRK 101 or permission of instructor. An examination of professional ethics and common ethical dilemmas in social work. Models of ethical decision making are applied in case vignettes.
SWRK 436
Services to Children
Prerequisite: Junior standing or consent of instructor. A survey of institutional and community services with focus on principles of social services for children and their families.
SWRK 437
Military Social Work
Prerequisite: None. This course is designed to increase knowledge and competence in the area of social work services delivered to military personnel, Veterans and their families. Knowledge, values and skills required to work with the special population will be covered, along with evidence-based interventions that would be best suited for this area of social work practice.
SWRK 438
Understanding Trauma

Prerequisite: SWRK 101 or PSY 100 or PSYS 100. Comprehensive exploration of trauma with a focus on understanding trauma events, symptoms, theoretical practices and assessment relevant to social services and mental health.  

SWRK 450
Child Maltreatment
Prerequisite: Junior standing. Comprehensive introduction to child abuse and neglect from a social work perspective. The extent to the problem, effects on children, treatment issues, social worker's role, and advocacy on behalf of individuals and families are explored. This course is the first of two specific course requirements for the Public Child Welfare Certification Program available through WKU and the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children.
SWRK 451
Child Maltreatment Intervention
Prerequisites: SWRK 375 and 450. Second of two specific course requirements for the Public Child Welfare Certification Program available through WKU and the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children. Covers various practice skills and treatment interventions related to social work with abused neglected children and their families. Students will have several opportunities to develop their own skills through a variety of teaching methods.
SWRK 490
Selected Topics in Social Work
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. This course permits in-depth examination of selected topics in social work. The specific topics vary. May be repeated with different topics.
SWRK 495 and 496
Independent Direct Study
Prerequisites: Junior standing and consent of director. Available to students who wish to conduct individual, intensive reading and research in a specific area of social work, in close cooperation with supervising faculty. Approval required prior to enrollment.



Life or Work Experience

Consistent with the expectations of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation's (COA) Handbook of Accreditation Standards and Procedures (2015, p. 15), the WKU BSW program does not grant academic credit for life or work experience.


Course Sequence

The following rotation describes the classes that entering social work majors must take during each of their four semesters in the major. The sequence includes the core required courses as well as twelve hours of electives within the major. Students are encouraged to work with their advisor to select these electives.

First Year Course Sequence

Fall Semester

  • SWRK 301: Social Work Practice for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • SWRK 330: Human Behavior in the Social Environment 
  • SWRK 375: Social Work Practice I

Spring Semester

  • SWRK 357: Case Management
  • SWRK 378: Social Work Practice II
  • SWRK 379: Introduction to Social Work Communication Skills


Second Year Course Sequence

Fall Semester

  • SWRK 345: Social Work Research Methods
  • SWRK 381: Social Work Practice III
  • SWRK 480 & 481: Social Work Field Practicum and Seminar I

Spring Semester

  • SWRK 395: Social Welfare Policy & Issues
  • SWRK 482 & 483: Social Work Field Practicum and Seminar II


Note: The sequence of SWRK courses must be taken in the order presented. 


Continued Retention in the Social Work Program

Students must earn a "C" or better in any course used for the Social Work Major. Students receiving a grade of “D” or lower in any course used for the social work major will be required to repeat the course and may not be able to proceed in the Major until the course is passed. Because the courses must be completed in sequence and are only offered in the semesters listed, this may mean that a student must sit out of some of the required courses for a semester. This could potentially delay a student completing the Major by an academic year.

Continued retention is further contingent upon upholding the principles of the NASW Code of Ethics, being able to demonstrate an understanding of social work knowledge, values, and skills, and completing any corrective actions recommended by the BSW Program.  For further details, see BSW Student Handbook.





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 Last Modified 9/29/23