New Social Work degree to fill community needs

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In the wake of BYU closing their undergraduate Social Work program and amidst legislative budget cuts to programs that hire social workers, it might seem an odd time for UVU to begin offering a bachelor’s degree in that area.

Dr. Lars Eggertsen, however, believes that now is the opportune moment.

“We wanted to be able to service Utah County and other surrounding counties in providing qualified social service workers,” said Eggertsen, an assistant professor of Behavioral Science who is set to be the program director for the new Bachelor of Social Work degree. “There was a huge need in the community and we had several community agencies talk to us and encourage us to get a program up and running.”

Student interest will not be an obstacle. A desire to enter the field is seen with the nearly 400 students who are currently studying Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Social Work.

But having a diploma that features Social Work, not Behavioral Science, is a boon that might make all the difference in obtaining employment or further education.

In order to acquire a Social Service Worker license, students must graduate from an accredited program. This same accreditation also allows students to receive advanced standing in master’s programs, which significantly speeds up the process of obtaining advanced degrees.   The university recently applied for accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education and Eggertsen is confident the school will receive acceptance.

Currently, the school has an appropriate number of faculty to handle the first cohort of 50 students, who will begin the program in the fall of 2012.  One of the reasons BYU cited for closing their program, however, was the difficulty in obtaining qualified faculty. Eggertsen believes that the same situation need not apply to this university.

“There are well-qualified Ph.D.s in Social Work that would be very attracted to UVU because of its engaged focus, diverse student body and unique university mission,” Eggertsen said.

As for job availability, a pressing concern in this economic climate, where there’s a will – and an accredited program – there’s a way.

“Utah, as well as other states, heavily utilizes social workers at the bachelor’s level,” Eggertsen said. “One of the benefits that I see in Social Work is that if the economy is doing poorly, there is still a need for social workers.”

What potential Social Work majors should know

Requirements to apply:
• A GPA of 2.5 or higher
• Prerequisites include Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare (SW 1010)
• Previous social work-related experience, both volunteer and paid, is heavily considered.

Most or all general education courses should be completed before entering the program.

Applications available: Fall 2011

Applications due: January 2012

Notifications about acceptance
status: March 2012

Program begins: Fall 2012

The first cohort will include 50 students.

All future cohorts will also begin during fall semesters.

Although the Social Work emphasis of the Behavioral Science degree is no longer available, additional sections of classes are being added in order to ensure that students currently in the program will be able to graduate.