Social Work Major (M)


To prepare graduates for baccalaureate level, generalist, Social Work practice, within the context of faith, service and social justice.

The context of faith is important in the Department of Social Work. From a perspective of faith, we are able to draw energy and determination in teaching, and helping our students develop strong, competent Social Work skills that will provide a foundation for helping others. It reminds us (students and faculty) that our talents, abilities, and resources are all gifts from God that are to be used in the spirit of love, generosity, and forgiveness.

Our faith-based context also directs the manner in which we provide service to our clients. It means that Social Work students and faculty will utilize the expected professional practice knowledge and skills of the Social Work profession in their work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and governments. Our faith serves as a lens through which we see our Social Work education as a layer established upon Christian knowledge and values.  It is a lens through which we see the world, our careers, vocation, and the special calling we have to reach out as Christian Social Workers to those who need help.

The idea of possibility relates both to our work as Social Workers and in our commitment to social justice. The concept of possibility reminds us that there are a myriad of opportunities in the Social Work profession. As students and faculty we have the chance to discern the best fit for our talents and skills. Likewise, in the pursuit of social justice, we help our clients reach for the possibilities in their lives, and as Social Workers we confront the barriers that might prevent our clients from reaching the possibilities that fit their skills and abilities.

History of Social Work at Concordia University 

Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) was founded in 1881 as a school of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). Over the course of the next century, CUW moved from Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee, to property on 31st street, and finally to the former campus of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Mequon, Wisconsin.

For approximately eight decades, Concordia offered high school and the first two years of a liberal arts college program providing "classical, technical, and religious instruction to young men and students who desire to prepare themselves for the ministry of the Lutheran Church." In the 1960's and early 1970's, a lay ministry program was incorporated in the curriculum along with co-educational programs for those interested in becoming teachers, deaconesses, or Social Workers in the Lutheran Church. In 1978, Concordia became a 4-year accredited college providing education in teacher education, nursing, medical assistant, Social Work, and engineering. It was at this time that the current Social Work Program began as a cooperative effort with the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

After officially becoming a university on August 27, 1989, the decision was made to establish an independent Social Work program at CUW. On June 16, 1997, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) granted initial accreditation for a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program at CUW. The program has grown and remained fully accredited since that time.

The Social Work Program at Concordia University is housed within the School of Health Professions (SHP) and is designed for undergraduates, leading to a Bachelor of Social Work Degree (BSW).  There are currently four program areas including:

  • A traditional BSW program on the Mequon (CUW) campus
  • A traditional BSW program on the Ann Arbor (CUAA) campus
  • An online accelerated BSW program
  • An online Master of Social Work (MSW) program


The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) provides accreditation for Social Work programs at the bachelor and graduate level of education. Graduating from an accredited program is important for BSW students. An accredited program offers BSW graduates the opportunity to request advanced standing for an MSW degree in any University. The BSW program at CUW has been fully accredited by CSWE since 1997.

Social Work Values

  • Service
  • Social justice
  • Dignity and worth of the person
  • Importance of human relationships
  • Integrity
  • Competence

Generalist Practice

All Social Work programs educate students in Generalist Practice. Generalist practice provides students with a social work professional foundation knowledge base. Undergraduate students receive this knowledge base during the junior and senior year. Graduate students receive this knowledge base at a somewhat advanced level during the first year of their graduate program.

Definition of Generalist Practice

Generalist Social Work practitioners work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations in a variety of Social Work and host settings. Generalist practitioners view clients and client systems from a strengths perspective in order to recognize, support, and build upon the innate capabilities of all human beings. They use a professional problem solving process to engage, assess, broker services, advocate, counsel, educate, and organize with and on behalf of clients and client systems. Generalist practitioners engage in community and organizational development.  Additionally, they evaluate service outcomes in order to improve the provision and quality of services most appropriate to client needs.

Application Process

Students may declare a Social Work major as an arriving freshman or anytime while in good standing at Concordia University. They cannot enroll into upper level Social Work courses or begin a field placement until they have completed the application process to Upper Division Status and have been officially accepted by the BSW Program Director.

Students interested in the Social Work major should complete the two introductory Social Work courses, SW 225 Social Work & Social Welfare and SW 235 Introduction to Child Welfare, the prerequisites, Math 205 Statistics, and the core curriculum prior to beginning the upper level (300/400) Social Work courses. For traditional students, the upper-level courses start the fall semester of their junior year, so the requirements above should be completed by the end of the sophomore year. Students in the online accelerated program must complete the core and prerequisites before beginning the Upper Division courses.

This planning is necessary so students can matriculate through the program and take courses in sequence beginning with the Junior year, and graduate at the completion of the Senior year. Completing the core by the end of the sophomore year is strongly recommended.

Field Education

Students begin the field instruction sequence in the first semester of the senior year, and spend both fall and spring semesters of the senior year in one field placement. During both semesters, a student will spend an average of 14-16 hours per week at the placement agency, for a total of at least 400 clock hours of field instruction. Students make a commitment to remain with the agency for two semesters, until the end of the academic year.  During the spring semester, traditional students must remain in their field placement until at least May 1st.

Service Learning and IPE Hour Requirements

Social Work students will complete the Service Learning and IPE requirements:

  • Twenty (20) hours of Service Learning activities
  • Twenty (20) hours of IPE activities. Eight (8) IPE hours will be completed junior and senior year with the mandatory case discussions.

Service learning and IPE have multiple functions. 1) Provide unique experiences that prepare you for the field internship; 2) Provide experiences that build your résumé and strengthen your competitiveness for employment; 3) Increase confidence in your ability to be a Social Worker; 4) Fulfill the Christian mission of developing in mind, body and spirit for service to Christ in the church and the world.

Service Learning

Service learning is an opportunity for students to become involved with the Social Work community through a social service organization, learning first-hand some of the ins and outs of Social Work practice. Service learning is required because it gives students an opportunity to interact with a professional agency and gain insight into the work that Social Workers do. This insight helps students narrow down the area of Social Work for an internship. Students may begin accumulating service-learning hours when they become a CUW freshman. They must complete the hours before beginning their senior year, and their internship. It is advised that students complete the service learning hours freshmen and sophomore years, so that they can work on completing IPE hours junior and senior years.

 Service Learning activities can include a variety of volunteer activities geared towards students’ interests. Students can volunteer with homeless shelters, food pantries, Habitat for Humanity, social service agencies and other organizations that help disadvantaged populations. Students may also participate in a mission trip through their church or through CUWAA, be a camp counselor, bible school teacher, tutor, or find another option not listed. Although many options exist for Service Learning activities, students should double check with the Department of Social Work if they are unsure an activity will count.

Interprofessional Education (IPE)

Interprofessional Education (IPE) is essential for students preparing for careers in the health and social care fields, as well as healthcare administration. IPE gives Social Work students an opportunity to expand their education and learn how Social Workers interface with other health care professionals, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician’s assistants, pharmacists, nurses and more. Students obtain IPE experience by attending mandatory case discussion events junior and senior years, and through other activities coordinated by the School of Health Professions.

Social Work Program Core Competencies

  • Competency 1:  Demonstrate Ethical & Professional Behavior.
  • Competency 2:  Advance Human Rights and Social, Racial, Economic & Environmental Justice.
  • Competency 3:  Engage Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) in Practice.
  • Competency 4:  Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice.
  • Competency 5:  Engage in Policy Practice.
  • Competency 6:  Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities.
  • Competency 7:  Assess 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.

Social Work Program Goals

The goals of the CUW/CUAA Social Work Program are to:

  1. Prepare students for professional generalist practice.
  2. Prepare students who have developed the behaviors associated with the nine (9) competencies established by CSWE.
  3. Encourage students to draw on the foundations of Christianity in faith, service, and social justice, and to provide leadership in the provision of service and solidarity for all persons, especially marginalized or oppressed groups.
  4. Develop students with strong practice skills built on the knowledge base of the profession. 
  5. Support students in their understanding of and ability to apply the NASW Code of Ethics when practicing, and in their understanding of the relationship between the code of ethics and Christianity.
  6. Prepare students who can apply research and/or evidence-based practice in practice settings, and in evaluating the effectiveness of practice and programs.


Core Requirements 145
Major Requirements45
Electives / Minor - A Minor is required (Min 18 credits)30
Minor: Required
Total Hours120

For transfer students, please see the Advanced Transfer Core.

Major Requirements 

Required Core Courses
Statistics I (Counts as university core) 1
Required Courses
All required Social Work (SW) courses require a grade of B- or better
SW 225Social Work & Social Welfare3
SW 235Introduction to Child Welfare3
SW 306Social Welfare Policy and Programs3
SW 310Research Methods I3
SW 346Human Behavior in the Social Environment I3
SW 347Human Behavior in the Social Environment II3
SW 410Research Methods II3
SW 490Senior Integrative Seminar3
SW 327Field Education I3
SW 427Field Education II3
SW 328Field Seminar I3
SW 428Field Seminar II3
SW 326Skills & Methods of Social Work Practice I3
SW 426Skills & Methods of Social Work Practice II3
SW 436Skills & Methods of Social Work Practice III3
Total Hours45

Must receive a "C" or better

Program Admission

Declaring Social Work as a Major

Students cannot enroll in upper division Social Work courses (SW 300 or SW 400 level) or begin a field placement until they have completed the application (below) and been accepted into the upper division program.

Prior to official acceptance into Upper Division Status, students are expected to take the two introductory social work courses, SW 225 (Social Work & Social Welfare) and SW 235 (Introduction to Child Welfare) during their freshman and sophomore years.  Students also need to have completed Math 205 (Statistics I). 

Complete an Application for Admission into Upper Division Status in the Social Work Major. A completed application includes:

  • Completion of Application for Admission Form
  • Completion of a Personal Narrative
  • Submission of Current Academic Transcript and spring class schedule
  • Interview with the Director of the Social Work Program and/or Social Work Admissions Committee. 

Application materials are due the first Friday in February of the sophomore year. Upper Division classes will begin the fall semester of junior year and will take four semesters to complete.