Social Work Major

Learn what it takes to be a social worker at one of the top Christian universities in the Pacific Northwest.

Looking for a career that affords you the opportunity to serve others? Interested in studying and working with diverse populations in a variety of social settings? If so, George Fox University’s nationally accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program may be the right fit for you.

Our social work major prepares you to work in a wide range of public and private social work and social welfare settings. Upon graduation, you will have the knowledge, skills and value base to succeed in fields ranging from health care and child welfare to ministry and criminal justice.

All social work majors are required to work in the field, so you’ll get hands-on experience under the direction of experts. Our experienced faculty will teach you to focus on the unique needs of individuals, enabling you to link social research with real-world social work practice. What further distinguishes our program is the fact we offer a Christian college environment that encourages not only academic – but spiritual – growth.


Request more information about the social work major at George Fox University or schedule a visit to begin your education at Oregon's Christian university, ranked as one of the top Christian colleges in the nation by Forbes.

Jobs, Internships and Graduate School

George Fox social work majors travel all over the world serving others.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for social workers is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for mental health and substance abuse workers is projected to grow by 19 percent, while healthcare social workers should grow by 20 percent. Other strong growth areas include work with the elderly, families and children, while employment opportunities in rural areas should be especially plentiful.

  • Asset Development Housing, CASA of Oregon
  • Ethiopia Adoption Case Manger, All God’s Children International
  • Foster Care Certification Specialist, Oregon Department of Human Services
  • Case Manager, Vista Hospice
  • Case Manager, Community Action Resource Program
  • Counselor, CODA (substance abuse)
  • Mental Health Specialist, Rossiter Elementary
  • Child Protective Services, Oregon Department of Human Services
  • Residential Treatment, Cal Farley Therapeutic Ranch
  • Parenting Educator, Coordinated Council for Children in Crisis
  • Supervisor of Affordable Housing, HARSCH Properties
  • University of Southern California
  • Baylor University
  • Roberts Wesleyan University
  • University of Denver
  • Dominican University
  • Portland State University
  • Walla Walla University
  • Monmouth University
  • Home Plate (drop in center for homeless youth), Hillsboro, Ore.
  • All God’s Children Adoptions, Portland, Ore.
  • Gateway Center for Domestic Abuse, Portland, Ore.
  • Great Expectations (teen pregnancy), Newberg, Ore.
  • Juliette’s House Child Abuse Resource Center, McMinnville, Ore.
  • Parkside Residential Mental Health Treatment, McMinnville, Ore.
  • Reconnecting Children with Families, Beaverton, Ore.
  • West Women’s Shelter, Portland, Ore.
  • Morrison Child and Family Services, Portland, Ore.
  • Salvation Army Veteran’s Services, Beaverton, Ore.
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Major Requirements

Complete the following:

An introduction to the scientific study of human behavior. Major topics include the biological bases of behavior, sensation, perception, thinking, learning, memory, development, emotion, motivation, personality, social interaction, and abnormal behavior. Prerequisite to most other psychology courses.
An introduction to the study of society, including the study of the shared relationships that create social organization and social processes of society. Required for sociology majors and for admission into the social work major.
This course serves as an introduction to the philosophy, historical development and current practices of the social work profession. Specifically, the knowledge base, values, skills, practices, settings, educational and career opportunities of the profession will be examined. Emphasis is placed on developing awareness of the scope of the profession using a scientific, analytic approach to service delivery and evaluation; relating generalist social work practice to social welfare systems; economic and social justice; and work with diverse, oppressed and at-risk populations. This course includes community service opportunities and/or social service agency tours. This course is required for those majoring in social work and must be taken prior to entrance into the major.
This course will introduce students to writing for professional social work practice. Course content will cover APA style, research writing, social work recording and documentation, and other forms of professional social work writing. The intent of this course is to prepare student for future coursework, field placement, and social work practice through the strengthening of students' writing competency.
This course introduces students to issues of diversity and difference in preparation for culturally competent social work practice. Students will learn about vulnerable and marginalized groups and the environmental systems which impact them. Special attention is given to issues of intersectionality, bias, discrimination, power and privilege, and oppression. Students will explore their own personal identity and how their views, beliefs, values and behaviors may support or hinder future social work practice with diverse populations.
This course provides and seeks to apply a basic framework for creating and organizing knowledge of human behavior during the lifespan. Social systems, human development theories, and strengths approaches are critically examined to foster understanding of individual, family, group, organizational, and community behaviors and the impact of the larger environment on these systems. Special attention is given to the impact of human diversity, discrimination, and oppression on the ability of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to reach or maintain optimal health and well-being. Required for majors. Prerequisites: PSYC 150 General Psychology and SOCI 150 Principles of Sociology or permission of instructor.
This course introduces human rights and social justice concepts in the context of social work history, values, ethics, and practice. Related concepts of oppression, power, privilege, and inequity will also be covered. Prerequisites: Formal admission to the social work program or a declared minor in social welfare.
Applied statistics for the social and behavioral sciences. Emphasis is placed on statistical logic and decision making. Recommended for the sophomore or junior year. Required for sociology and social work majors. (Identical to SOCI 340.) Prerequisites: SOCI 150 Principles of Sociology and high school algebra.
This theory-based course develops knowledge and skill for the application of various social work practice theories in working with children, individuals, families and groups. Furthermore, this course assists the students in necessary self-exploration as it relates to future ethical social work practice. Prerequisites: PSYC 150 General Psychology, SOCI 150 Principles of Sociology, SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Work, and formal admission into the social work program.
A study of generalist social work practice with individuals. Microlevel theory, skills, and interviewing techniques are applied to generalist social work. The course will cover theory and techniques of person-centered case management that are specifically applicable to work with individuals. A prerequisite for Field Experience/Practicum I (SWRK 475). Required for majors. Additional course fee is required. Prerequisites: PSYC 150 General Psychology, SOCI 150 Principles of Sociology, SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Welfare, declared social work majors only, and formal admission into the social work program.
A study of mezzo-level generalist social work practice with families and groups. Attention is given to a systems framework of generalist social work practice, with a particular focus upon assessment and development of appropriate intervention strategies. A prerequisite for SWRK 476 Field Experience/Practicum II. Required for majors. Prerequisite: SWRK 391 Social Work Practice I and declared social work majors only.
An overview of generalist social work methods practiced with organizations and communities. Attention is given to assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of macro-level systems. Additional course fee required. A prerequisite for SWRK 477 Field Experience/Practicum III. Required for majors. This class is open to declared social work majors only. Prerequisite: SWRK 392 Social Work Practice II.
This course focuses on substance abuse and mental health within American society, with a special emphasis on the connection to the criminal justice system. Students will learn about the major DSM-V mental disorders and treatment for mental illness. Substance addiction, treatment, and the social impact drugs on society will be examined. An overview of current issues involving mentally impaired persons in the U.S. criminal justice system will also be explored. Prerequisites: SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Work, SWRK 331 Human Behavior in the Social Environment, and SWRK 391 Social Work Practice I or declared minor in criminal justice.
This course provides basic knowledge about research methods as it applies to social work practice. This course is designed to survey the basic processes of research methodology as practiced in the social sciences. Topics include research design, problem formulation, measurement, sampling, data analysis, and ethics in research. This course introduces the theory and application of basic social scientific research techniques, including qualitative and quantitative methods, data collection and statistical thinking. Topics specific to social work research such as agency-based research, program evaluation, outcomes evaluation and single-subject design will be emphasized. The use of research as one tool in the professional repertoire of skills available to the social work generalist and evaluation of practice are emphasized. This course is designed to increase students' ability to read for understanding, critically evaluate, and better utilize the social work research literature. At the same time it is designed to prepare students to begin work on the senior research paper/project. Finally, this course demonstrates the need for and encourages the use of research in social work practice.
This course proves an in-depth analysis of how human needs and values are translated into social policy on community, national and international levels. Special attention is given to the ways in which values and power interests influence the creation of social policy. Emphasis is placed on the history of social welfare and related policies, the process of policy formation and analysis, and impact of policy on at-risk populations. Implications for generalist social work practice and services will be explored through a variety of class activities. Required for social work majors. Additional course fee is required. Prerequisites: SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Welfare and SWRK 475 Field Experience/Practicum I, or the instructor's permission.
The first course of the field experience/practicum sequence will emphasize micropractice concepts and address orientation to the agency environment; student roles and responsibilities; agency roles and responsibilities; confidentiality issues; nature and process of supervision; establishing goals and objectives; models of integrating classroom learning with the field practicum; person-in-environment; interviewing techniques; identification of research and policy issues; work with special populations and injustices; process recordings; research methods in the agency; and ethical conduct/NASW code of ethics. Required for majors. Recommended spring of the junior year. Additional course fee required. Prerequisites: SWRK 391 Social Work Practice I and declared social work majors only.
Ideally, SWRK 476 and 477 will occur in a full-year practicum during the student's senior year. The second course in the field experience/practicum sequence will build upon knowledge and experience acquired in SWRK 475 and emphasize mezzo-practice concepts. Course topics will include work with small groups, families; integrating research and evaluation methods in the field experience/practicum; agency evaluation and analysis; referral processes; work with special populations/injustices; ethical dilemmas; ethical conduct/NASW code of ethics; agency recording process; and development of a student portfolio of practicum projects and skills. Required for majors. Additional course fee required. Prerequisites: SWRK 475 Field Experience/Practicum I, SWRK 392 Social Work Practice II and declared social work majors only.
Ideally, SWRK 476 and 477 will occur in a full-year practicum during the student's senior year. The third course in the field experience/practicum sequence will provide further depth and integration of theory, classroom learning, and experience within the student's field experience/practicum, building on concepts developed in SWRK 476 and emphasizing macropractice concepts. Additional topics will include work with agency boards, communities, governmental systems; implementation of a research project in the agency; community analysis; termination with clients and the agency; addressing social inequities in the student's field experience/practicum; work with special populations and injustices; policy issues; and ethical conduct/NASW code of ethics. Required for majors. Additional course fee required. Prerequisites: SWRK 476 Field Experience/Practicum II and declared social work majors only.
This course focuses on consolidating substantive knowledge regarding (1) social welfare policy and services, (2) human behavior in the social environment, (3) the structure and function of communities and human service organizations, (4) methods of inducing change across the micro-, mezzo, and macro-levels of human experience, (5) methods of scientific inquiry necessary to assess human potential, problems, and the effectiveness or outcomes of professional interventions, (6) the professional presentation of “self” as a social worker, (7) the integration or interaction of various psycho-social theories with faith and learning, and (8) professional applications of the NASW Code of Ethics. Prerequisite: SWRK 392 Social Work Practice II.

Choose two of the following:

6 hours required
This course will provide an overview of the different types of violence that occur within family systems. Attention will be given to the intersection of diverse identities and violence, factors with society that contribute to violence, and societal responses to violence within society. Prerequisites: PSYC 150, SOCI 150 or SWRK 210 and at least sophomore level status or instructor permission.
This course will introduce students to multidisciplinary approaches to death, loss, and grief in the context of the biopsychosocialspiritual model. Topics will include the human response to loss throughout the lifespan, societal responses to dying and death, ethical issues related to dying and death, suicide, and advanced planning for death and dying. Prerequisites: PSYC 150 or SOCI 150 and at least sophomore level status or instructor permission.
Basic principles of child welfare, with emphasis upon the services for families and children needing various types of support. Focus is on developing a knowledge and understanding of child welfare and supportive services. Prerequisite: SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Work or permission of instructor.
This course provides a general introduction to the study of aging, older people and their adaptation to a rapidly changing world from a social work perspective. It examines a wide variety of physical, cognitive and psycho-social changes that occur as one ages, how these factors influence interaction with social/physical environments, and how the older person is, in turn, affected by these interactions. Social work perspectives, values and interventions with this population will be emphasized. Prerequisite: SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Work and formal admission to the social work program.
A special-interest class that addresses a relevant subject in the field of social work. Previous and projected subjects include, but are not limited to, administration and community planning; cognitive and behavioral theories; crisis and trauma recovery; current issues in social work; medical and mental health services; systemic and ecologic theories; social policy; and treating addictive behaviors. Prerequisite: SWRK 180 Introduction to Social Welfare.

Student Experiences

Alycia Smith

“The BSW program at George Fox University is excellently preparing me for an entry-level position in the social work field. In addition to the knowledge attained through classroom discussions and assignments over the last several years of my education, the required 500 hours of field experience provides opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge in actual agency settings. With this experience, I am a more competitive job candidate and prepared to transition from student to social worker.”

- Alycia Smith

Anna Moreshead

“GFU’s social work program gave me the opportunity to apply the skills and theories we were learning in the classroom directly to my internship sites. Having practiced these skills, I developed a readiness and confidence to take with me into a broad range of direct service settings. My classes and internships humbled me as I realized that my education was less about me and more about the clients I am now serving.”

- Anna Moreshead

Points of Distinction

  • Nationally accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Graduates with a BSW degree may complete a Masters in Social Work in one year.
  • Students leave school with two internships on their resume (500 hours).
  • Students are trained to work with a wide variety of populations.
  • Students are prepared to work in both faith-based and private or public agencies.

Why George Fox?

Christ-centered community

Our faith influences everything we do here, from the way our professors teach to the way we relate to one another and serve in the community.

Global opportunities

More than half of George Fox undergraduate students study abroad, ranking George Fox among the nation's leaders in study abroad participation (U.S. News & World Report).

Small classes

Our 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio means you'll get to know your professors on a personal level.

National recognition

George Fox University is a Christian university classified by U.S. News & World Report as a first-tier national university, and Forbes ranks George Fox among the highest Christian colleges in the country.

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