Bachelor of Science in Social Work | Spalding University Catalog

Bachelor of Science in Social Work

Our nationally accredited Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) degree prepares students for generalist social work practice in an entry-level social work position, the first professional level recognized by the National Association of Social Workers. Graduates are eligible to sit for the professional licensure exam in Kentucky, Indiana, and other states at the baccalaureate level (LSW license in Kentucky and LBSW in Indiana). Out-of-state students and students intending to practice outside of Kentucky and Indiana are strongly encouraged to check the professional licensure requirements for their U.S. state or territory in the Bachelor of Science in Social Work Professional Licensure Disclosure (

The BSSW Program provides the essential foundation of knowledge, values, and skills for professional social work practice, which is then reinforced by professional experience, agency in-service training, and/or graduate social work education. With a suitable grade point average and positive recommendations from faculty and practicum supervisor, BSSW graduates may qualify for advanced standing admission to most accredited master’s-level social work programs in the United States.

Degree Requirements
The BSSW degree is a 120-credit hour undergraduate degree. All BSSW majors complete Spalding University's foundation curriculum requirements (University Studies), which encompass 49 credit hours of coursework in communications, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, religious studies, and social sciences. Transfer students who have completed an Associate’s degree may be eligible for block transfer of those credits (see below for details). 

Students also complete at least 18 elective credit hours. Electives in social work and related fields such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, and environmental studies are highly recommended. Spalding University offers a variety of 18-credit-hour minors, and students can use elective credits to meet those requirements.

The social work curriculum consists of 53 credit hours of coursework, which includes one 3-credit hour social work elective and a two-semester practicum. Students typically complete these courses over four semesters starting in their junior year.

BSSW Program Admission Requirements
Some social work courses are open to non-majors (as part of a minor or as electives). However, formal admission to the School of Social Work is required before students can proceed to advanced social work practice courses and complete the degree. Students typically apply for admission to the BSSW Program during the first six-week session of their junior year while they are enrolled in SW 208: Cornerstone. Required forms and guidelines are provided during the course and the instructor orients students to the BSSW Program and its admission process.

A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.50 (and if applicable, a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 in social work courses) is required for admission.  Students with a GPA below these thresholds may be considered in the context of extenuating circumstances that are explained in the application essay and interview with a member of the Admissions Committee. The BSSW Transitions Program (see below) may be an option.

The BSSW Admissions Committee includes four full-time and/or adjunct undergraduate social work faculty. Committee members consider the prospective student’s total profile.  They review the following materials to inform their decisions:

  1. Application form
  2. Signed agreement to abide by the NASW Code of Ethics and the School of Social Work Code of Conduct.
  3. Two recommendation forms completed by work or volunteer experience supervisors and/or faculty outside of the School of Social Work (these must be received in the School of Social Work prior to action by the BSSW Admission Committee).
  4. A brief essay discussing the applicant’s reasons for choosing a social work major.
  5. An interview with a member of the BSSW Admissions Committee.

BSSW Transitions Program
The BSSW Transitions Program is a bridge program for students who have completed at least 50 credit hours of undergraduate coursework with a cumulative overall and/or social work GPA below the required minimum for admission to the School of Social Work (at least 2.50 overall GPA and 2.75 social work GPA). The program offers academic support during the first semester of the junior year. Participants can delay application for admission to the BSSW Program for one semester and continue to make progress toward earning a BSSW degree by taking social work courses that are open to all undergraduate students. Participants whose GPAs meet admission requirements by the end of the first semester apply for admission at the beginning of the second semester of the junior year. Those who do not qualify for admission may still be able to count social work courses as general electives for another degree and may have enough credits for a Minor in Social Work. With tailored academic support and resources, encouragement, and accountability, many students successfully transition into the BSSW Program.

Transfer of Credits
The BSSW Program welcomes students who transfer to Spalding University. Transfer students can bring in up to 90 credit hours from another accredited institution. Transfer students with an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree may be considered to have completed the baccalaureate University Studies requirements (“block transfer eligibility”) if they meet conditions specified by Spalding University including completion of at least 30 unduplicated University Studies credit hours and at least one course in each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences; and natural sciences/mathematics.  The fulfillment of the University Studies requirements under this policy is not a waiver of the 120 earned credit hour graduation requirement. The Director of University Studies evaluates transcripts for University Studies transfer credit in consultation with discipline chairs.

Core social work courses must be completed at Spalding University or another CSWE-accredited BSSW program, and transfer students must complete at least one-half of the credits for their major (and if applicable, their minor) at Spalding University. The last 30 credit hours must be earned at Spalding University.

The School of Social Work accepts transfer of credit for a social work course only if (1) the course was completed at a CSWE-accredited BSSW program, (2) the student earned a grade of C or better in the course, and (3) documentation by catalog or syllabus establishes equivalent content and rigor. Spalding University School of Social Work grants no academic credit for life or work experience.

To promote a smooth transition from one institution of higher education to another, and to prevent duplication of course content, Spalding University has written articulation agreements establishing equivalencies among institutions.

Student learning assessment measures include small and large system role plays, critical analysis of case situations and ethical dilemmas, written narratives, videotaped skill demonstrations, self-assessment, papers and other written assignments, and quizzes and exams. Criteria for assessment in each social work course are in the course syllabus.

As an important part of the BSSW curriculum, BSSW students enroll in a practicum in a community agency, enabling them to integrate theory and practice in a supervised learning environment. In practicum, assessment is a mutually supportive process between the Agency Field Instructor, the Faculty Field Liaison, and the student. The BSSW Program uses the behavioral indicators CSWE has specified for each of nine social work competencies to assess social work students’ mastery of social work knowledge, values, and skills. These behavioral indicators are the basis for midterm and final evaluation of student progress in practicum.

BSSW students complete a two-semester practicum in one of the region's many social service agencies under the supervision of an approved Agency Field Instructor. The School of Social Work's Director of Field Education matches students with agencies whose experiences and resources best meet the learning needs of the individual student. A Faculty Field Liaison facilitates a concurrent seminar course to ensure that students integrate practical experience with classroom learning.

Retention in the BSSW Program: Academic Criteria
Students must earn a C or better in social work practice courses. Earning lower than a grade of C requires repeating the course. Academic progress is reviewed at the end of each six-week session. During the first semester of the junior year, students earning a C or lower in any course are advised of their academic risk and offered academic support for improving their GPA.

For satisfactory academic progress in the BSSW Program, students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.50 and a social work GPA of at least 2.75. Effective at the end of the third six-week session of BSSW courses (or 10 credit hours of graded BSSW coursework, whichever is greater), students dropping below either GPA threshold will begin an academic probation process. This process reflects the BSSW Program’s commitment to offer students support for and guidance through difficulties they face, particularly when there is a risk that these could jeopardize their academic success.

The student has up to three six-week sessions to raise the overall cumulative GPA to at least 2.50 and the social work GPA to at least 2.75. During this time, the student will create and implement an academic success plan with their faculty advisor or an academic coach. The probation process ends once the student has raised their GPA(s) to the required level. To ensure continued success after the academic probation process ends, the student will check in with their faculty advisor or academic coach at least twice per six-week session for the following two sessions.

If the student does not meet the GPA requirements by the end of the third six-week session, dismissal from the BSSW Program will result. If this were to occur, the student would not be eligible to enroll in BSSW Program classes for one year, after which they could reapply for admission.

Past students’ experiences show that early and prompt consultation with advisors and other mentors contributes heavily to academic growth and success. A list of resources that may be helpful is available at We highly recommend academic success coaching through the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity.

Once admitted to the BSSW Program, students will have three years to earn their BSSW degree. Students who do not do so will have to reapply for admission to the program and complete the degree program based on the requirements at the time of readmission.

Public Child Welfare Certification Program
Spalding University is one of several universities in Kentucky in a consortium designed to prepare BSSW graduates for child welfare positions with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), Department for Community Based Services (CHFS). The goal of this program is to fill the ranks of child welfare workers with the most competent and well-trained workers who can provide high quality services immediately upon employment. The Cabinet has partnered with the universities to offer BSSW juniors and seniors the social work academic program in conjunction with the Cabinet’s child welfare training curriculum prior to graduation.

Full-time sophomores and juniors may apply for the program for three or four semesters of participation (minimum of three semesters required). Eligibility criteria include a cumulative social work GPA of 3.0 or better and an overall cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better. PCWCP participants receive a grant to apply toward tuition as well as an individual stipend.

PCWCP participants take two elective child welfare courses as part of their undergraduate curriculum. The first course focuses on the nature of child abuse and neglect. In the second course, students learn and demonstrate social work interventions to protect vulnerable children. PCWCP participants complete the BSSW practicum at CHFS in a child welfare placement. Other special activities, protection and permanency training sessions, and retreats are incorporated into the experience. Upon successful completion of the BSSW degree and PCWCP requirements, the participant interviews for and accepts employment with CHFS in a child welfare position for a period of at least two years.

Ongoing statewide and national research shows the impact of the CHFS Public Child Welfare Certification Program in enhancing the quality of services provided to at-risk families and children. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the number of professionally trained social workers committing themselves to this public practice career.

Volunteers of America Mid-States Scholars Program

Volunteers of America Mid-States (VOA) is a nonprofit agency with services that include addiction recovery programs. VOA is committed to offering the highest level of clinical services to its clients, including hiring and developing qualified therapists. To address a regional shortage of addiction recovery specialists, VOA helps students with the cost of completing a BSSW degree in exchange for a commitment to accept employment with VOA upon graduating. To be eligible for this competitive opportunity, students must maintain a 3.0 or better social work GPA, have an interest in specializing in behavioral health or alcohol and drug counseling, and complete their practicum at VOA. Students minoring in addiction studies are preferred. Students apply for this program concurrently with interviewing for a practicum placement.

BSSW Scholarships

The School of Social Work offers scholarships to students admitted to the BSSW Program:

  • Ann Gordon Brigham Scholarship: Awarded to BSSW seniors who have completed at least 90 credit hours, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and have financial need (preference to minority and Pell-eligible students).
  • J.E. and Betty Jinks Scholarship: Awarded to BSSW seniors who have completed at least 90 credit hours, have a GPA of 3.0 or better, and have financial need.
  • Koo Social Work Scholarship: Awarded to BSSW juniors and seniors who have financial need.
  • World Changer Scholarship: Awarded to BSSW juniors and seniors who have unmet financial need and have made efforts to secure all available resources.

BSSW Awards and Honors

  • Field Practicum Student of the Year. Each year, one undergraduate and one graduate student in the School of Social Work receive this award for noteworthy performance and/or accomplishments in their practicum placement.
  • M. Truehart Titzl Outstanding BSSW Award. This award recognizes an outstanding graduating senior in social work for excellence in academics and potential for significant contributions to the social work profession. The award is named after M. Trueheart Titzl, founder and former chair of the School of Social Work.
  • Social Justice Award. A graduating senior receives this award for courage and exemplary work in advocacy and community organizing.
  • Transformational Learner Award. This award honors a graduating senior who thrived and grew through the social work educational process, showing significant transformation throughout this journey.

Minors Through the School of Social Work

BSSW with a Minor in Health Science
This minor requires 18 credit hours in combination with courses required for the BSSW degree.  Requirements for the minor include:

  • SW 230: Interdisciplinary Social Change
  • HS 300: Survey of Health Professions
  • HS 301: Medical Terminology
  • HS 320: Physical Health and Wellness
  • HS 325: Psychosocial Health and Wellness
  • HS 410: Healthcare Leadership

Minor in Addiction Studies
This minor is open to all undergraduate students.  It requires 18 credit hours, consisting of the following:

Required Courses (12 credit hours)

  • SW 330: Right, Wrong, and It Depends: Applied Ethics for Helping Professionals (3 credit hours)
  • SW 410: Trauma and Addiction (3 credit hours)
  • SW 420: Addictions in Society (3 credit hours)
  • SW 435/535: Counseling and Addictions (3 credit hours)

Addiction Studies Electives (6 credit hours, chosen from the list below)

  • SW 385: Social Justice Perspectives on HIV and AIDS (3 credit hours)
  • SW 400: Spirituality and Addiction (3 credit hours)
  • SW 405: Psychopharmacology
  • SW 430: Co-Occurring Disorders in Addiction (3 credit hours)
  • SW 440/540: Systems in Addiction (3 credit hours)
  • SW 460: Addiction in Context (3 credit hours)
  • Any addiction-related continuing education courses offered by the School of Social Work for academic (elective) credit (typically 1 credit hour per course)

Minor in Social Work
This minor is open to undergraduates pursuing majors other than social work. It requires 18 credit hours, consisting of the following:

  • SW 204: Introduction to Social (Justice) Work: Supporting Growth and Change in Any Setting (3 credit hours)
  • SW 230 Interdisciplinary Social Change (3 credit hours)
  • SW 310: Oppression and Privilege (3 credit hours)
  • SW 346: Womb to Tomb: Exploring the Human Experience from Birth to Death (3 credit hours)
  • SW 341: Microskills for Professional Helpers: Social Work Practice with Individuals (3 credit hours)
  • Social Work Elective (3 credit hours)

Program Sheets
Bachelor of Science in Social Work
Bachelor of Science in Social Work: Minor in Addiction Studies
Bachelor of Science in Social Work: Minor in Health Science
Double Major: Bachelor of Science in Social Work/Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Addiction Studies Minor
Social Work Minor