Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Curriculum

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Social workers do much more than help people in need. They are advocates for the vulnerable and marginalized; passionate professionals who speak up for those who have no voice; tireless champions who research and provide answers to lift the underserved.

By guiding individuals and groups toward services that can minimize the struggles of everyday life, social workers can shine the spotlight on crucial issues in a community that may otherwise be ignored. This can lead to action that can bring about social and socioeconomic change.

For individuals who want to make a positive impact on society, becoming a social worker can be an immensely rewarding career. Success in the role takes more than a heart to help others — it requires a set of skills and knowledge to provide people with the targeted service and care they need to thrive. A career as a social worker begins by enrolling in an online Bachelor of Social Work program.

Social Work Core Courses (24 Credit Hours)

SWRK 101Introduction to Social Work: Professionalism and Ethics3 Credits
SWRK 102Human Behavior in Context: Social Work Theories3 Credits
SWRK 201Social, Economic & Environmental Justice: Advancing Human Rights3 Credits
SWRK 202Professional Practice: Boundaries, Ethics, Legalities and Self Care in the Field3 Credits
SWRK 300Cultural Competency Practice: Diversity3 Credits
SWRK 301Policies and Policy Reform: The Laws of Change3 Credits
SWRK 302Research: What Do the Numbers Really Mean?3 Credits
SWRK 303Financial Social Work: Asset Management and Education3 Credits

Social Work Practice Courses (12 Credit Hours)

SWRK 310Social Work Practice: Engagement3 Credits
SWRK 320Social Work Practice: Assessment3 Credits
SWRK 330Social Work Practice: Interventions3 Credits
SWRK 340Social Work Practice: Evaluation3 Credits

Social Work Field Education (18 Credit Hours)

SWRK 401Social Work Application: Trends in the Field3 Credits
SWRK 402Capstone: Nine Competencies3 Credits
SWRK 470Field Placement I3 Credits
SWRK 480Field Experience II3 Credits

Pre-reqs are not listed here, for more information, please visit the course section of our catalog, or connect with an enrollment advisor to talk through curriculum details. 

Professional licensure and certification regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Students are encouraged to visit the Association of Social Work Boards for the state in which they intend to practice to verify specific licensure requirements which include ensuring the program of interest meets the licensure requirements prior to enrolling. Students may visit the professional licensure page or reach out to our team of enrollment advisors for guidance.

To ensure the best possible educational experience for our students, we may update our curriculum to reflect emerging and changing employer and industry trends. Undergraduate programs and certificates are designed to be taken at a part-time pace. Please speak to your advisor for more details.

All Bachelor’s in Social Work students will need to purchase and obtain Tevera as it’s essential in a majority of courses and a requirement for program completion. 

The Bachelor’s in Social Work degree is not available to students living in American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S Virgin Islands. Completion of all required coursework is not possible, which will prevent graduation and earning of the degree. This applies to all students regardless of address when they began the Bachelor’s in Social Work program. Graduation with the Bachelor’s in Social Work is not possible after moving to, relocating to, or while living in the above locations.

The Social Work program is seeking accreditation through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program is currently in the Candidacy phase of the accreditation process (see for more information about the accreditation process).

The Social Work program does not grant social work course credit for life experience or previous work experience. 

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Social Work Defined

The fundamental goal of social work is to help individuals cope with issues that disrupt daily living. These challenges cover a wide range of social or socioeconomic issues, such as unemployment, child welfare, substance abuse, mental health, and public education. Social workers meet this objective by connecting people and families to community services that are designed to provide aid.

Social work also functions beyond these person-to-person relationships. Social workers research and detect underserved community issues, such as homelessness or public healthcare deficiencies. Once these are identified, they advocate to create or improve services that are designed to combat the issues.

While social work serves as the bridge that brings people and services together, effective social work requires a deep knowledge of essential, multifaceted concepts such as human behavior, social welfare policy, population diversity, and ethics. In light of this, the best way to launch a career as a social worker is to gain an undergraduate education, such as the one offered through Maryville University’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree.

In addition to helping build skills and expertise, a BSW can prepare students to pursue advanced education in the field, such as a master’s degree in social work (MSW). This advanced degree can serve as a springboard to other career opportunities, such as clinical social work.

Skills Gained with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Degree

A BSW enables students to build the knowledge base to understand the broad impact that effective social work has on a community. Just as importantly, it helps students cultivate several core competencies to apply their knowledge toward real-life situations. This may include developing and executing strategies that can help vulnerable individuals overcome a wide range of challenges, such as unemployment, long-term care for a loved one, or access to child care services.

For instance, a BSW can help students develop strong interpersonal skills. It’s imperative for social workers to understand how to approach each individual as a unique personality with unique needs, so that solid client relationships may be forged.

A BSW can also help individuals develop solid critical thinking and organizational skills. Critical thinking is vital because it helps social workers make clear decisions regarding an individual’s service strategy.

Social workers have caseloads with numerous clients who are dealing with situations pertaining to sudden economic crises, like the loss of a job, instances of child endangerment or abuse, healthcare concerns, and more. Strong organizational skills enable social work professionals to keep each client’s information complete and easily accessible, which makes it possible to more efficiently and effectively connect individuals with the services they need.

Finally, a BSW degree can help students develop strong emotional intelligence. This enables social workers to cultivate an optimal level of empathy for their clients, which can foster a sense of trust. Emotional intelligence can also enable social workers to step away from their caseload when their workday is over. This form of self-care is becoming increasingly important in the social work field, as it protects professionals from experiencing burnout, which is an emerging and unfortunate trend.

Common Courses in the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Curriculum

A BSW curriculum, such as the one offered through Maryville University’s Bachelor of Social Work, is commonly designed to cultivate specific competencies. The online Bachelor of Social Work curriculum at Maryville University enables students to develop vital insight into critical social work concepts and strategies.

Courses offered in Maryville’s BSW curriculum include the following.

  • Human Behavior in Context: Social Work Theories — This core course explores various social work theories relating to human behavior in different social environments, breaking down how behavior relates to culture, identity, and relationships.
  • Cultural Competency Practice: Diversity: Students enrolled in this core course examine how demographic elements such as age, ethnicity, gender, and spirituality help forge identity in a societal context.
  • Research: What Do the Numbers Really Mean?: This core course explores how essential research methods are explored from a human rights perspective to understand the process between scientific research and the field to help social workers develop effective social work strategies.
  • Social Work Practice Courses: These courses guide students through the theories and practice elements behind a social work case. They are divided into four course components:
  • Engagement: This component highlights theories and practices concerning the importance of building relationships and rapport with individuals.
  • Assessment: Theories and practices surrounding the determination of potential client needs are emphasized in this component.
  • Interventions: This component breaks down the theories and practices regarding the role that elements such as diversity and cultural competence play in establishing intercession strategies.
  • Evaluation: With an emphasis on lifelong learning and practice improvement, this component focuses on evaluation analysis from a social work generalist perspective.

A Career That Makes a Substantial Difference

Social work is about change. It could mean large scale change; creating a paradigm shift in the way a community handles social issues such as homelessness or public health. On a more intimate level, change could translate to helping a struggling family obtain the services to overcome the challenges that are holding them down. Either way, social work can have a lasting, positive impact on society — making it one of the most rewarding careers an individual can pursue.

Discover how Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Social Work program can help prepare you to pursue this life-changing career.

Recommended Reading

A Guide to Children’s Mental Health

Multicultural Counseling: Types, Strategies, and Techniques

What are Social Justice Issues?


Houston Chronicle, What Does a Social Worker Do?

Houston Chronicle, What Is Critical Thinking in Social Work?

National Association of Social Workers, Advocacy

National Association of Social Workers, Types of Social Work

National Association of Social Workers, Why Choose the Social Work Profession?

National Education Association, Diversity Toolkit: Social Justice

Psychology Today, 3 Ways to Explain Human Behavior

Social Work Policy Institute, Research

Social Work Today, Case Management at the Intersection of Social Work and Health Care

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Workers