Social Work

"The purpose of the social work profession is to promote human and community well-being. Guided by a person and environment construct, a global perspective, respect for human diversity, and knowledge based on scientific inquiry, social work's purpose is to actualize through its quest for social and economic justice, the prevention of conditions that limit human rights, the elimination of poverty, and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons." (CSWE, EPAS, 2008)

The social work program at Northwestern prepares students in the generalist perspective for entry-level professional positions and for advanced graduate training in social work. The generalist perspective means that social workers are trained in a holistic interactionist paradigm for work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Social workers work within a distinct value orientation including service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific inquiry.

As a social work student at Northwestern College, you’ll be equipped for the profession through a curriculum of courses in social work theory and practice built on a broad foundation in the liberal arts and in the social and behavioral sciences. The signature pedagogy for social work is the field practicum experience in a professional setting. "The intent of the field education is to connect the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical world of the practice setting." (CSWE, EPAS, 2008) The course requirements of the social work program are extensive due to the broad spectrum of knowledge required to become an effective social work practitioner. Northwestern’s social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (since 1986).

The social work faculty is committed to the preparation of graduates who have integrated their faith into all areas of their life: competent professionals, whose integrity is centered in Christ-like compassion and whose spiritual strength enables them to enter with confidence the varied contexts of human need.

Social work department homepage

Social work core courses
(30 Hours Voluntary Experience)
SWK 140 - Introduction to Social Work
This course presents a history of the social work profession and social work practice. It incorporates the major fields of social work and the concepts and theories needed to understand the social, cultural, political, ethical and religious context that provides the ecological framework of social work practice, and it enables a thorough understanding of at-risk populations and of the problems which social work must address. Included are visits to agencies and guest lectures by social workers from the field. A central concern is the Christian's individual and collective responsibility for the health and welfare of fellow human beings.(4 credits)
SWK 210 - Direct Helping Skills
This course is designed to help students develop basic interviewing skills and techniques in the area of social work. This course will provide foundational skills in interviewing so that students can work effectively with individuals, families and groups from all diverse populations. Different techniques of interviewing and theoretical principles of interviewing will be investigated. Students will increase their practical skills through the use of an interactive learning environment and through intensive use of video feedback and role playing. Prerequisites: PSY111 or SWK140 or SOC101. (2 credits)
SWK 220WI - Qualitative Research
The course prepares students to engage in qualitative inquiry and researchdesigns, including narrative research, phenomenology, grounded theory, casestudy, participatory action research, focus groups, and ethnography.Comparative analysis of approaches, paradigmatic controversies, and mixedmodel designs are discussed. The course reviews strategies of inquiry,sampling methods, data collection, and analysis. Students will learnconventions of qualitative research writing in the field of social work.Prerequisites: SOC101, PSY111, SWK210 and PSY215. (3 credits)
SWK 231 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE)
HBSE focuses on interaction between an individual's development and the functioning of groups, organizations and communities. This course is the foundation course in the human behavior and the social environment sequence to prepare baccalaureate students for general practice. It utilizes the person-in-the-environment perspective to integrate theoretical knowledge and research from the human, biological, psychological and social sciences in understanding human behavior. Human development across the life span within the context of the influence of ethnicity, race, culture, gender, social class, age, sexual orientation and disability is specifically addressed in an attempt to understand human behavior. Prerequisites: PSY111, SWK140, SOC101, or permission of instructor. (4 credits)
SWK 232 - Diverse Populations and Social Justice
Examines theoretical foundations for understanding dynamics of social inequity, privilege, and oppression; focus on diversity and on populations at risk due to racism, sexism and classism; self-assessment of students' racial and cultural heritage as it shapes their attitudes and biases toward different cultural and racial groups; emphasis on helping students become culturally competent social workers who are grounded in their faith and who identify with the profession's respect for diversity and commitment to social and economic justice. Open to non-majors. Prerequisites: PSY111, SWK231, SOC101, or permission of instructor. (4 credits)
SWK 360 - Social Policy and Social Work Advocacy
Examines social policy development and the political process, with special attention to the poor and disadvantaged. This course will assist students in acquiring skills to see the inadequacies, gaps and inequities in social policies in the past and present and help them develop critical thinking and advocacy skills, plus a commitment to change. (3 credits)
SWK 370 - Individual/Family Theory & Practice
This course examines therapeutic theories and models of directed practice with individuals and family systems. Emphasis is on etiology, diagnosis, and assessment with the application of psychosocial history, treatment plans, crisis intervention plans, and use of diagnostic tools, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (current edition). The course reviews evidence-based research for generalist practice with diverse population groups. Prerequisites: PSY215, SWK140 and 231. (4 credits)
SWK 376 - Group Theory and Practice
Develops a framework for how people groups form, group development formation, group leadership skills, theoretical approaches to group work, and ethical considerations in group work, including diversity issues. Students will be involved in an interactive group lab and service-learning group project. Prerequisite: SWK370. Open only to Social Work majors. (3 credits)
SWK 386 - Community Theory and Practice
Examines generalist Social Work practice theories and skills with organizations and communities. Students will develop competencies related to larger system practice, such as networking, community needs assessment, organizational theory and dynamics, larger system planned change processes, program evaluation, social action, community planning, grant writing, and supervision. Prerequisite: SWK370. Open only to Social work majors. (4 credits)
SWK 416 - Fundamental Issues in Social Work
The intent of this course is to introduce students to the philosophical issues related to social work practice. Areas of study include a critical analysis of the profession's role in society, and the relationships between social work values, its ethical guidelines, its knowledge base and research, and its practice skills. The course concludes with an analysis of the ethical and non-ethical issues facing practitioners and the various approaches to resolving ethical dilemmas.Prerequisite: SWK 370. Open only to Social Work majors. (3 credits)
SWK 418 - Social Work Professional Seminar
This course is designed to complement the student's field placement and provide a forum in which to discuss field experiences-work assignments, problems, and ethical and non-ethical issues. The goal for this course is to help students make systematic associations between theory and practice in working with different population groups in various work settings.Prerequisites: SWK370, 376, and 386.(2 credits)
SWK 419 - Social Work Practicum
This is a field course which gives students the opportunity to practice generalist social work skills in a professional setting. The field sites are diverse, ranging from child and family services to mental health, community development and school social work. Emphasis is placed on introducing students to diverse ethnic, racial, sex and age-related group lifestyles and orientations.Prerequisites: SWK370, 376 and 386.(10 credits)

Cognate requirements

ECO 101 - Survey of Economics
This is an introductory course in economics which will cover both microeconomics and macroeconomics topics. The course will explore economic institutions, how they came to be, how they have changed over time, and how the government modifies them.(4 credits)
PSC 101SS - American National Government
(4 credits)(IGE option under Self and Society) A broad survey of the major political and governmental institutions in the United States, this course examines how citizens attempt to influence their government and how the government responds. The course also develops the foundations for a biblical perspective on the role of government and the task of citizens.
PSY 100SS - Exploring Psychology
(4 credits)(IGE option under Self and Society) In this course students learnhow, using methodologies such asobservation, survey and experimentation, psychological science exploresthe causes and consequences of human action. An overview of majorfindings from the field of psychology such as biological bases ofbehavior, learning and memory, motivation and emotion, human development,personality, intelligence, psychopathology and therapy, the effect ofothers on individuals will be discussed and students will be encouragedto apply this knowledge to their own views and actions. Students willconsider why the integration of faith and science in understanding humansis important and will explore ways of accomplishing this integration.
PSY 215 - Research Design and Introductory Statistics
This course acquaints the student with basic empirical research techniques in the behavioral sciences including political science, psychology, social work and sociology. The course aims to enable the student to function as a conductor and a consumer of behavioral science research. Techniques include: observation, questionnaire and survey, interview, single-subject designs, qualitative research, and experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies. Topics include: descriptive and basic inferential statistics, sampling methods and research ethics. Prerequisites: PSY111, SOC101, PSC101, or PSC105, and fulfillment of the general education math requirement. (4 credits)
SOC 101SS - Principles of Sociology
(4 credits)(IGE option under Self and Society) An introduction tosociology, its major concepts, tools and perspectives. This courseprovides an understanding of societies; of culture; of major socialinstitutions such as the family, religion and education; of socialinequality; and of social change.
Choose one course
BIO 102SN - Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology
(4 credits)(IGE option under Science and the Natural World) An introduction to the structure and function of the human body. Note: Includes 1 1/2 hours of lab per week. Does not count toward a biology major or minor. A fee is associated with this course (
BIO 150SN - Brain and Behavior: The Mind's Machine
A fee is associated with this course(

Total credits required: 70


SWK418 and 419 must be taken together during the second semester of the senior year and ordinarily will constitute a full load for that semester. These courses will usually be taken at Northwestern College. SWK370, 376, 386, 416, 418, and 419 are courses open only to social work majors.