Social Work Major or Minor

The Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) or minor in Social Work is a service-oriented degree program. Students prepare to become successful professionals in a meaningful career. Professors teach and model how to live a life of Christian service as an expression of their faith.



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Mission Statement:

“The Social Work Program at Olivet Nazarene University is dedicated to providing a liberal arts education from an ecological and global perspective that is grounded in integrity and ethics, is missional is service, and exemplifies excellence and competence in generalist practice.  Social Work faculty and students seek to enhance social well-being through the use of empirically-based practice, exploration of diversity, and pursuit of social and economic justice.”

Recognized Excellence

The Social Work Program at Olivet is fully accredited through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This is crucial for two reasons:

  1. We prepare students for professional licensure. Our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree meets the educational requirements for licensure as a generalist practitioner in all 50 U.S. states. With their BSW degree, ONU graduates can apply for this licensure in the state where they will practice.
  2. We prepare students for abbreviated advanced degree programs. Students with a qualifying GPA can apply for advanced standing in any Master of Social Work (MSW) program across the U.S. These programs are typically 12-18 months in length instead of traditional MSW programs, which can be two years or more.

View program outcomes here.

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Vocational Discernment

There are myriad career options for BSW graduates. We help students discern their specific calling as professional social workers. It can be helpful to think of careers in social work in three ways:

  • Social workers can serve specific at-risk people groups. BSW graduates can work with children in foster care, survivors of human trafficking or intimate partner violence, older adults, people with disabilities, people struggling with homelessness or substance abuse, and more.
  • Social workers can work in different practice locations. They can be found in hospitals, schools, residential treatment facilities, group homes, international settings, counseling offices, and more.
  • Social workers are involved at different levels. They can work with people one-on-one, with groups, or with families. They can also administrate nonprofit agencies or advocate for policy change at the local, state, or national level.



Where Do Social Workers Serve?

  • Foster care & adoption agencies
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Hospitals*
  • Schools*
  • Nursing homes & assisted living facilities
  • Residential facilities for individuals with disabilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Jails & prisons
  • Community counseling centers
  • Substance abuse treatment centers
  • Private practice*
  • Immigrant & refugee resettlement agencies
  • U.S. military*

*Typically requires a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree

Graduates walking towards Centennial Chapel

Graduate School Success

Our graduates excel after leaving Olivet. About 98% of our alumni find employment as social workers and/or they are accepted into Master of Social Work (MSW) programs immediately after graduating. Graduate programs welcome our alumni because they are well-prepared for this next step.

What Makes Our Program Unique?

  • ONU faculty believe that social work is God’s work. We are Christ’s hands and feet, helping meet people’s needs – both tangible (helping people access things like food and shelter) and intangible (helping people improve their mental health and their relationships with others).
  • We encourage students to draw on their faith for their inspiration in practice and their regular self-care. We help students think through ethical dilemmas they may face in the field – and what their responses may be.
  • As a medium-sized program, we’re large enough that students get to know many peers – some of whom have very different experiences than their own.
  • We’re also small enough that Social Work faculty know students by name – and we really care about them. We offer one-on-one academic advising, and we check in with students regularly to see how they are doing.
  • Diakonia, our student-led club, helps form community among our majors by hosting on-campus social events and off-campus service projects.
  • In our core Practice courses, students have the opportunity to practice the skills and techniques they’re learning in class.
  • Students role-play with peers to practice one-on-one counseling skills and facilitate mock family therapy or support group sessions.
  • Students also practice conducting real-life community needs assessments and advocating for important policy changes.
  • Students are required to complete 30 hours of mentoring at-risk youth in a local elementary or middle school during their very first course.
  • Students must also complete three 20-hour blocks serving at-risk populations of their choice while they go through core courses.
  • Students complete one 450-hour internship before graduating. This field placement can be near ONU, at home, or abroad.
  • This much hands-on experience equips students with the skills and confidence they will need after graduation.

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