Bachelor of Social Work


If you believe that empowerment is a path for change and seek to be a force within social justice, gain the skills and confidence to address social issues on all levels in our BSW program. Yes, you can make an impact, spark transformation, and move your community forward.

BSW graduates work in human services, hospitals, schools, mental health, aging services, policy advocacy, community organizing, and so much more.

BSW Student Handbook (pdf)


Ambrose Advantages

  • Focus on Social Justice & Empowerment
  • Seamless Dual Degree Program
  • Hundreds of Fieldwork Opportunities

students in classroom

SAU professor

students in classroom

As a Social Work major, you'll gain skills to work in diverse settings, whether serving clients one-on-one or acting as a change agent in your community. Best of all, you earn not one degree, but two, and can qualify for our advanced standing MSW program. You'll save a year of time and tuition.

Read our BSW Fact Sheet (pdf)


Bee the Difference

We make an impact on campus and in the community. In 2018, more than 600 students took part in Bee the Difference Day and helped 120 campus neighbors get their yards ready for winter. It is work, fun – and so rewarding.


More Information on the Bachelor of Social Work Program

What will I learn?

St. Ambrose has a strong tradition of preparing holistic social workers grounded in liberal arts and social justice traditions to enrich lives, empower others, and advocate for a just society. Through that generalist lens, the BSW program cultivates the desire to change society at multiple levels by equipping students with knowledge, skills, and values indicative of ethical social work practice.

In our 32-credit hour program, you'll gain skills to practice in hospitals, schools, social service agencies, clinical settings, and more.

You'll learn about human behavior, social welfare policy, research, social work ethics, diverse populations, and more. You'll build skills based on the empowerment philosophy which allows you to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

You'll explore your interests and discover your strengths within this diverse field. All students complete a culminating experience and internship. You get apply what you've learned in the classroom and continue to build your skills during 400 hours of fieldwork.

The BSW Dual Degree program allows you to earn a second degree in Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies. These programs challenge you to think critically, complete complex analysis, and build strong communication skills. They complement and connect to your social work education so you become a better practitioner. Click on each program to see the degree plan.

What makes the BSW program unique?
  • At SAU, you'll gain a wider foundation of knowledge, perspective and breath of skills. We created our program so you earn a BSW and a second degree in Psychology, WGS, or Sociology.
  • You may be eligible for early acceptance into our BSW program. Most SAU students will formally enter the program during their junior year, but if you meet certain academic qualifications, you can start your first year on campus with guaranteed placement in the program. Contact an admissions representative for more information. 
  • Get involved on campus or in the community, now. We have more than 80 student clubs and organizations, and many of those focus on human rights, community action, and diversity. Our Campus Ministry programs are open to all students, no matter your religious affiliation, and you can take part in activities that promote social justice. 
  • We have community connections with more than 400 regional agencies and organizations. Our Director of Field Education will help coordinate a placement that fits your goals.
  • Throughout the year, SAU hosts community presentations, events, town hall meetings, and other activities on topics that are closely tied to social justice. You can attend many of these events for free. 
  • Your BSW could lead to advanced standing in our accredited MSW program, which means you could earn your graduate degree in one year, instead of two. That makes your education more accelerated and affordable.
  • If service is included in your future plans, we one of few universities in Iowa offering Peace Corps Prep, a program that can make you a stronger candidate for volunteer positions within the Peace Corps or other service programs. Most students can earn the certificate – awarded by the Peace Corps – without taking extra courses. Talk to your advisor if you're interested.
What are some potential career outcomes?

A BSW degree is one of the most useful and flexible degrees for many careers aimed toward helping others. It prepares you for direct-service positions in casework, mental health, aging service support, and community advocacy and organizing.

The job outlook for social workers is strong and has a faster than average growth rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work positions are projected to grow 16% between 2016-2026, and the number of healthcare social workers alone is expected to increase by 20% to meet the needs of the aging population and their families.

More than 70% of BSW students continue their education at some point, and this degree can provide an accelerated pathway to an MSW.

St. Ambrose was the first university in the U.S. to offer an accredited MSW program with an empowerment specialization. Twenty years later, we boast more than 500 graduates who are actively improving lives, communities, policy and advocating for social justice.

What are SAU School of Social Work Alumni doing today?

St. Ambrose was the first university in the U.S. to offer an accredited MSW program with an empowerment specialization. In our BSW program, you'll build skills based on the empowerment philosophy, which can be a powerful tool whether you are working one-on-one with a client or to embolden community-wide change. Our School of Social Work alumni value our focus on empowerment.

Jennifer Pielak '18 MSW says she expanded her skills and confidence in our classrooms and during field placements. Today she is an adult clinical therapist at Transitions Mental Health Services, in Moline, Ill. Watch this video about Jennifer.

Shannon Werhane '16 MSW says her education was about personal discovery, finding her niche, and how she can have the biggest impact. She is a clinical therapist at Transitions Mental Health Services, in Moline, Ill. Watch this video about Shannon.

Stephany (Robinson) Schroeder '08, LCSW, is a powerful advocate for veterans and their caregivers. Her holistic and empowering approach to behavioral healthcare earned her a high honor from the Association of VA (Veteran Affairs) Social Workers. Read Stephany's story.

Faculty

Katie Van Blair, PhD, Professor and Director, SAU School of Social Work

Wafa Alhajri, PhD, Asst. Professor
Johny Augustine, PhD, Professor
Kyle Bennett, PhD, Asst. Professor
Jennifer Boedeker, MSW, Director of Field Education and Clinical Asst. Professor
Lisa Fortner, Online Program Coordinator 
Jennifer Green, Administrative Assistant
Christie Kostichek, Administrative Assistant
Kathryn Lally, Clinical Instructor
Kristi Law, PhD, Assoc. Professor, BSW Director
Chris Martin, PhD, Assoc. Professor and Admissions Coordinator
Andrew Repp, PhD, Asst. Professor

Professors Emeriti
Pamela Long, ACSW, LISW, LCSW, Professor Emerita
Michael Jerin, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Michael O'Melia, MSW, Professor Emeritus

Adjunct Instructors
Kayla Behrens, LMSW, Case Management-Social Worker, Unity Point
Tesha Dobling, LMSW, Linn County Mental Health/Development Disability Central Point Coordination
Chelsey Haley, LMSW, BSBA, Black Hawk Area Special Education District
Lauren Gil Hayes, LMSW, Director of Supportive Services, The Project of the Quad Cities
Breann Hirst, LMSW, Family Therapist, Youth Service Bureau
Anne M. McNelis, LCSW, Director of Clinical Services, Transitions Mental Health Services
Angela Moody, MSW, Retired CEO, Arrowhead Youth and Family Services
Melanie Rice, MSW, School Social Worker, Geneseo Community School District #228
Nicholas Swanson, LMSW, School Social Worker, Mississippi Bend AEA
Gary E. Weinstein, LCSW, CEO, Transitions Mental Health Services

Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Social Work (32 Credit Hours)

The School of Social Work is in the process of developing a Bachelor of Social Work program. Admittance of juniors into the program began in the Fall 2019 semester.

We are now accepting applications for the Fall cohort. Any current or transferring student with at least 45 credit hours may apply.

Once you are admitted to the BSW program, you'll start taking classes toward the BSW in your junior year. Courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

Required

Fall term, junior year:

  • SWK 320 Human Behavior in the Social Environment I
  • SWK 330 Generalist Practice I: Interpersonal Practice Skills with Individuals
  • SWK 360 Diversity

Spring term, junior year:

  • SWK 310 Social Welfare and Policy
  • SWK 325 Human Behavior in Social Environment II
  • SWK 333 Generalist Practice II: Empowering Processes with Families and Groups

Fall term, senior year:

  • WI-SWK 340 Social Work Research
  • SWK 400 Field Instruction I (~200 hours per semester in field agency placement arranged by SSW)
  • SWK 402 Field Seminar I, 1 credit

Spring term, senior year:

  • SWK 336 Generalist Practice III: Transformative Practice with Organizations and Communities
  • SWK 401 Field Instruction II (~200 hours per semester in same field agency)
  • SWK 403 Field Seminar II, 1 credit

Total credit hours: 32 

Dual Degree – Plan to Graduate

BSW and Psychology

Psychology is one of three majors you can pair with your Bachelor of Social Work degree.

This is the suggested Plan to Graduate in four years with a BSW degree and a major in Psychology. This plan assumes you haven't satisfied the foreign language requirement (three years of foreign language in high school). 

Read course descriptions in the online catalog

First Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
KIN 149 Wellness Concepts 1 STAT 213 Applied Statistics Reasoning for the Sciences 3
MATH 171 Elem. Functions 3 THEO/PHIL 100/200 3
Foreign Language 101 3 Foreign Language 102 3
PSYC 105 3 IL 101 Information Literacy 1
THEO/PHIL 3 Humanities 3
ENGL 101 Composition 3 COMM 129, 132, 203, 228, or 329 3
Total 16 Total 16

Sophomore Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOL 101+Lab 4 PSYC 324 Abnormal Psychology 3
PSYC 215 Research Methods 3 Humanities 3
PSYC Social/Developmental Psychology 3 Elective 3
PSCI 101 American Government 3 PSYC - any 3
SWK 201 Intro to Social Work 3 THEO/PHIL/Catholic Studies/Peace & Justice 3
Total 16 Total 15

Junior Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
WI-PSYC 342 Theories of Counseling 3 SWK 325 HBSE II 3
SWK 330 Generalist Practice I 3 SWK 333 Generalist Practice II 3
Creative Arts 3 THEO/PHIL/Catholic Studies/Peace & Justice 300-Level 3
SWK 360 Diversity 3 PSYC Bio-Psych 3
SWK 320 HBSE I: Birth to Adolescence 3 SWK 310 Social Welfare and Policy 3
Total 15 Total 15

Senior Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
SWK 400 Field Instruction I 3 SWK 336 Generalist Practice III 3
SWK 402 Field Seminar I 1 SWK 401 Field Instruction II 3
WI-SWK 340 Social Work Research 3 SWK 403 Field Seminar II 1
PSYC 300-level 3 PSYC 300-level 3
KIN Activity 1 Elective 3
Elective 3
Total 14 Total 13 

Total Credits: 118

WI=writing intensive

BSW and Sociology

Sociology is one of three majors you can pair with your Bachelor of Social Work degree.

This is the suggested Plan to Graduate in four years with a BSW degree with a major in Sociology. This plan assumes you haven't satisfied the foreign language requirement (three years of foreign language in high school). 

First Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
KIN 149 Wellness Concepts 1 SOC 220 Self and Society 3
MATH 171 Elem. Functions 3 Humanities 3
Foreign Language 101 3 Foreign Language 102 3
SOC 101 Intro to Sociology 3 IL 101 Info Lit 1
THEO/PHIL 100-200 3 PSCI American Gov't 3
ENGL 101 Composition 3 COMM 129, 132, 203, 228, or 329 3
Total 16 Total 16

Sophomore Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOL 101+Lab Principles of Biology 4 SOC 430+Lab Data Analysis in Social Research 3
SOC 200 Research Methods 3 Humanities 3
SOC 260 Social Organization 3 SOC Elective 3
SWK 201 Intro to Social Work 3 SOC 340 Race and Ethnicity 3
THEO/PHIL 100-200 3 THEO/PHIL/Catholic Studies/Peace & Justice 3
Total 16 Total 15

Junior Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
Elective 3 SWK 310 Social Welfare and Policy 3
SWK 330 Generalist Practice I: Individuals 3 SWK 333 Generalist Practice II 3
Creative Arts 3 THEO/PHIL/Cath Studies/Peace & Justice 300-Level 3
SWK 360 Diversity 3 SOC Elective 3
SWK 320 HBSE I: Birth to Adolescence 3 SWK 325 HBSE II: Families and Groups 3
Total 15 Total 15

Senior Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
SWK 400 Field Instruction I 3 SWK 336 Generalist Practice III 3
SWK 402 Field Seminar I 1 SWK 401 Field Instruction II 3
WI-SWK 340 Social Work Research  3 SWK 403 Field Seminar II 1
WI-SOC 301 Sociological Theory 3 WI-SOC 407 Seminar 3
KIN Activity 1 Elective 3
Elective 3
Total 14 Total 13 

Total Credits: 121

WI=writing intensive

BSW and Women and Gender Studies

Women and Gender Studies is one of three majors you can pair with your Bachelor of Social Work degree.

This is the suggested Plan to Graduate in four years with a BSW degree with a major in Women and Gender Studies. This plan assumes you haven't satisfied the foreign language requirement (three years of foreign language in high school). 

First Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
KIN 149 Wellness Concepts 1 SOC 101 Intro to Sociology 3
MATH 171 Elementary Functions 3 PHIL/THEO 100-200 3
Foreign Language 101 3 Foreign Language 102 3
WGS 201 Cross-Cultural Intro to WGS 3 COMM 203 Interpersonal Communications= 3
New Student Seminar 1 IL Information Literacy 1
ENGL 101 Composition 3 PSCI 101 American Gov't 3
THEO/PHIL 100-200 3
Total 17 Total 16

Sophomore Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOL 101+L Principles of Biology 4 SOC 430+Lab Data Analysis in Social Research 3
SOC 200 Research Methods 3 ENGL 222 Women's Literature 3
KIN 273 Women's Health Issues 3 SOC 323 Marriage and Family 3
SWK 201 Intro to Social Work 3 WGS 310 Topics 3
THEO/PHIL 100-200 3 THEO/PHIL/Cath Studies/Peace & Justice 300-level 3
Total 16 Total 15

Junior Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
WGS 325 Feminist Theory 3 SWK 310 Social Welfare & Policy 3
SWK 330 Generalist Practice I 3 SWK 333 Generalist Practice II 3
Creative Arts 3 SWK 325 HBSE II 3
SWK 360 Diversity 3 WGS 330 Practicum 1
SWK 320 HBSE I: Birth to Adolescence 3 ENGL 223 Minority Voices 3
KIN Activity 1
Total 15 Total 16

Senior Year

FallCreditsSpringCredits
SWK 400 Field Instruction I 3 SWK 336 Generalist Practice III 3
SWK 402 Field Seminar I 1 SWK 401 Field Instruction II 3
Elective 3 SWK 403 Field Seminar II 1
WI-WGS 405 Seminar 3 WGS 340 Women and Madness 3
WI-SWK 340 Social Work Research 3 Elective 3
THEO 324 Women Theologians 3
Total 13 Total 16

Total Credits: 120

WI=writing intensive

Social Work Scholarships

Father Dawson Scholarship

Established in honor of the dedication and passion that Fr. Dawson had for social justice.

This scholarship will be awarded to one student who will be entering their second year of the St. Ambrose BSW Program and is a one-time award of $2,000.

Application Deadline: April 15
Award Announcement: May 1

Click here to apply for the Fr. Dawson Scholarship

Scholarships and Grants

First-Year

St. Ambrose offers excellent scholarships and grants, work-study and other financial aid options! Full-time students may be eligible based upon your strong academic performance in college, your talent in fine arts or athletics or your demonstrated financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code for the FAFSA is 001889.

First-Year Scholarships and Institutional Aid 2022-2023

There is no need to apply for the scholarships or grants below; students automatically are eligible if they meet specific criteria. The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using unweighted high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Please note, while St. Ambrose University has a test-optional admissions policy, standardized test scores are required for both admission to specific programs and/or eligibility for top academic scholarships. Scholarships and grants are renewable for four years of undergraduate study. 

Your scholarship will automatically renew each year of your undergraduate studies - up to four years - as long as you maintain satisfactory progress toward an undergraduate degree, achieve certain GPA requirements (see below), and remain a full-time student. 

Download helpful PDFs of this information here: First-Year Iowa Resident or First-Year Out of State Resident


IOWA RESIDENTS LIVING ON CAMPUS

Iowa Resident On Campus Merit-Based Scholarships

Trustee Scholar
Criteria: unweighted 3.9 GPA and minimum 29 ACT or 1340 SAT score. Must maintain 3.25 cumulative GPA in successive years.
Award: $25,000/year and invited to compete for an Ambrose Scholar full-tuition award

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score (optional)
Award: $15,000-$21,000/year

University Grant
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score (optional)
Award: $13,000/year

Iowa Resident On Campus Additional Institutional Aid

Ambrose Advantage
Criteria: Iowa resident, Federal Pell Grant eligible, 2022 high school graduate, min. unweighted GPA 2.5, admitted to SAU, and FAFSA filed by Mar. 15. To remain eligible in subsequent years, students must maintain 2.5 GPA and qualify for the Federal Pell Grant.
Award: Full tuition

Athletic Scholarships
Criteria: performance and ability
Award: varies

Fine Arts Scholarships
Criteria: performance and ability in music, art and theatre
Award: varies

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate
Award: $1,000/year

Minority Scholarship
Criteria: ethnically diverse student, FAFSA required
Award: $500-$1,000/year

Catholic Traditions Scholarship
Criteria: graduate from Catholic high school
Award: $2,000/year

Menke Parish Scholarship
Criteria: Diocese of Davenport parishioner, additional application required
Award: $1,000/year



IOWA RESIDENTS LIVING OFF CAMPUS

Iowa Resident Off Campus Merit-Based Scholarships

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score (optional)
Award: $13,000-$16,000/year

University Grants
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $11,000/year

Iowa Resident Off Campus Additional Institutional Scholarships

Ambrose Advantage
Criteria: Iowa resident, Federal Pell Grant eligible, 2022 high school graduate, min. unweighted GPA 2.5, admitted to SAU, and FAFSA filed by Mar. 15. To remain eligible in subsequent years, students must maintain 2.5 GPA and qualify for the Federal Pell Grant.
Award: Full tuition

Athletic Scholarships
Criteria: performance and ability
Award: varies

Fine Arts Scholarships
Criteria: performance and ability in music, art and theatre
Award: varies

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate
Award: $500/year

Minority Scholarship
Criteria: ethnically diverse student, FAFSA required
Award: $500-$1,000/year

Catholic Traditions Scholarship
Criteria: graduate from Catholic high school
Award: $2,000/year



OUT OF STATE RESIDENTS LIVING ON CAMPUS

Out of State On Campus Merit-Based Scholarships

Trustee Scholar
Criteria: unweighted 3.9 GPA and minimum 29 ACT or 1340 SAT score. Must maintain 3.25 cumulative GPA in successive years.
Award: $25,000/year and invited to compete for an Ambrose Scholar full-tuition award

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score (optional)
Award: $17,000-$23,000/year

University Grant
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score (optional)
Award: $13,000/year

Out of State On Campus Additional Institutional Aid

Athletic Scholarships
Critieria: performance and ability
Award: varies

Fine Arts Scholarships
Critieria: performance and ability in music, art and theatre
Award: varies

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate
Award: $1,000/year

Minority Scholarship
Criteria: ethnically diverse student, FAFSA required
Award: $500-$1,000/year

Catholic Traditions Scholarship
Criteria: graduate from Catholic high school
Award: $2,000/year

Menke Parish Scholarship
Criteria: Diocese of Davenport parishioner, additional application required
Award: $1,000/year



OUT OF STATE RESIDENTS LIVING OFF CAMPUS

Out of State Off Campus Merit-Based Scholarships

Academic Scholarships
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score (optional)
Award: $14,000-$17,000/year

University Grants
Criteria: based on unweighted GPA and ACT/SAT score
Award: $11,000/year

Out of State Off Campus Additional Institutional Scholarships

Athletic Scholarships
Criteria: performance and ability
Award: varies

Fine Arts Scholarships
Criteria: performance and ability in music, art and theatre
Award: varies

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarships
Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate
Award: $500/year

Minority Scholarship
Criteria: ethnically diverse student, FAFSA required
Award: $500/year

Catholic Traditions Scholarship
Criteria: graduate from Catholic high school
Award: $2,000/year

State and Federal Grants, Work Study

Grants are money that you don't repay, and they can come from government or private sources. SAU receives all financial aid funds directly - including loans and grants - then applies them to your account: once in the fall term and once in the spring term. Grants can be used to cover your tuition, books, and housing costs. You must apply for grants each academic year. If you have any loan funds in excess of your costs, you may receive a refund. If you are a first-time borrower, there is a 30-day hold on your first disbursement. For all of these grants, you must complete the Free Application Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1.


Iowa Tuition Grant
To be eligible for the Iowa Tuition Grant, you must be a resident of Iowa as defined by the State Board of Regents and currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an undergraduate degree program at an eligible Iowa college or university (SAU is eligible). Iowa College Aid administers need-based college financial aid for Iowans, such as the Iowa Tuition Grant. FAFSA deadline is July 1.
Award: $6,800

Federal Pell Grant
Awarded to students of the highest need based on how much your family can contribute to your education. The U.S. Department of Education sets a Expected Family Contribution (EFC) threshold. Then, when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it computes where you land within that threshold and determines if you qualify for the grant and for how much.
Award: $6,345 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
To qualify, you must file a FAFSA by the priority deadline of March 15 and you must qualify for a Pell Grant. This grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students who have submitted all required documents for review and in time for the review to be complete. If you are eligible for a Pell Grant or SEOG, the awards will appear on your financial aid award letter. Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study
Criteria: based on financial need. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
Award: $1,850

Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant 
Provides aid to students intending to teach in a high-need field at a school that serves low-income families (as determined by the U.S. Department of Education or a state education agency). Review criteria and all details here.
Award: up to $4,000

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Bee Central where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.


Josh Breeden '21


Josh's high school experience – combined with a military tour in Iraq – showed him the many ways people use differences as weapons. Josh sought an education that teaches him how to bring people together and move the world forward. He found it at St. Ambrose. "Not everyone who walks this earth has shoes to put their feet into, and that is one of the important lessons social justice has to teach us. I was wondering how I could help the world be a better place and social work came into frame. It was one of the best gateways I could find."

Read Josh's Story
Lupe Nache Vital mobile cutout image Lupe Nache Vital Cutout Image

Lupe Nache Vital

B.A. in Social Work and Spanish,Class of 2021


Social justice is tied to action, and our BSW students experience learning. Lupe will spend 400 hours on-site at community agencies and organizations, working with, and advocating for, clients. It is an experience that will elevate her confidence and amplify the impact she makes in the world.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info

Contact


Kristi Law, PhD

Bachelor of Social Work
Hayes Hall 334
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803
563-333-5889
LawKristiL@sau.edu

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