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Social Work

You want to change the world – so here’s how.

From the Mexico border to inner-city Chicago, from rural Kansas to Bogotá, Colombia, Bethel College social work graduates are making a difference.

Is social justice important to you? Do you want to work with people to help them solve their problems? Social work could be the career for you.

Good social workers:

  • have strong listening skills
  • work well with many kinds of people
  • want to help people find social and economic justice

When you study social work at Bethel College, you’ll learn and develop these and other skills – or perhaps improve on what you already have.

The whole person

At Bethel College, small class sizes mean personalized attention, and

  • mentoring from faculty and alumni with broad contacts and experience
  • great internship opportunities and field placements

Real-world experience

One unusual aspect of Bethel’s social work program is Social Change: Social Justice, a class taught in Mexico every other year. This travel course

  • examines issues of economics, racial and cultural diversity, human rights, religion and immigration
  • gives you a chance to meet and talk with local people in their homes and through social-service agency and development projects
  • takes you to sites that reflect the riches of Mexican art and culture
  • is associated with the nonprofit organization QUEST Mexico

As a social worker, you can change the world – helping one person, one family at a time.

Want to talk more with faculty and current students? Schedule a campus visit.

You’ll build on a top liberal arts foundation that prepares you to be the kind of social worker employers want. Graduating in social work is just the first step toward a career with countless options. Apply today!

The social work program at Bethel College is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.


Admission to social work

In order to major in social work, you must be admitted to the program. This normally occurs by the junior year for transfer students. Liberal arts courses and additional courses in the social sciences form the foundation for the social work major. You are eligible to be admitted to the social work major when you meet the following:

  1. General education basic communication and lower level distribution requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree (Bethel College catalog).
  2. Completion of these courses in the social sciences: ECON 211, SSC222, PSY211. (One of these courses may also fulfill a general education requirement.)
  3. A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5.

Application for admission to the social work major requires completing an application and submitting three references. Admission to the social work program will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Evidence through interview, references and autobiographical material that the student has a system of values consistent with the Code of Ethics of the social work profession.
  2. Evidence through past academic work that the student has the aptitude to pursue the social work major.
  3. Evidence from academic records and the application process that the student is capable of effective verbal and written communication.
  4. Evidence through interview, references and autobiographical material that the student has the emotional maturity and stability needed for compassionate and effective social work.

Transferring to Bethel for a social work degree

If you're interested in transferring from a community college or two-year private college, you are welcome at Bethel. You can prepare for entry into the social work program during your first two years of college, making it possible to transfer to Bethel and complete the social work degree in a minimum of two years. If you expect to transfer for the social work major, you are encouraged to contact the director of social work education as early as possible in your college career to be advised about admission requirements. You will also be advised about the ideal curriculum choices at the two-year college to articulate with the social work program at Bethel.

Preparation for a social work education at Bethel

The liberal arts are an important foundation upon which a social work degree is built. Successful completion of a program of liberal studies is the best preparation for the social work major. Competence in oral and written communication is crucial for successful completion of the social work major as are skills and abilities to think analytically and synthesize information from a variety of sources.

Specific courses, when taken along with a community college liberal studies program, will prepare the transferring student for entry into the social work program at Bethel College. They are:

  • General Psychology
  • Principles of Sociology
  • Life-Span Development or Developmental Psychology
  • Introduction to Economics
  • Statistics

In addition, many two-year colleges offer a social work course that introduces students to the social welfare institution and to social work. When approved by the faculty of Bethel College’s social work program, this course will fulfill the requirements for a course usually taken during the first year in the social work major at Bethel. Students in the two-year college should contact the director of social work education at Bethel to be certain that the course has been approved to meet a requirement for social work at Bethel. The Bethel registrar makes final decisions regarding transfer of credits for courses taken outside Bethel, and about articulation with general education requirements at Bethel.


The community is a laboratory for social education, so instruction occurs in the field as well as the classroom. As a junior and senior, you’ll serve internships with licensed social workers in settings such as hospitals, mental health facilities, schools, nursing homes and social service agencies. In addition, you’ll experience social work through lab exercises.

Recent internship examples are:

  • St. Francis Community Services, Newton
  • Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, Newton and Wichita
  • USD 373, Newton Public Schools
  • Communities in Schools, Wichita
  • Department of Children and Family Services, Newton
  • DCF Missing and Exploited Children’s Unit, Wichita
  • New Moms, Inc., Chicago
  • Mirror, Inc. (addictions treatment), Newton
  • Valley Hope (addictions treatment), Moundridge and Wichita
  • Promise Regional Medical Center, Hutchinson
  • Good Neighbor Ministries, Wichita
  • Sunflower Community Action, Wichita
  • Good Shepherd Hospice, Newton
  • Friendship Place/Mary House, Washington, D.C.
  • Presbyterian Manor (retirement), Newton
  • Asbury Park (retirement), Newton
  • Harvey County Domestic Violence Shelter, Newton
  • Offender Victim Ministries, Newton
  • Kidron-Bethel Village/Bluestem Communities (retirement), North Newton
  • Sedgwick County Juvenile Justice Authority, Wichita
  • Harvey County Homeless Shelter, Newton
  • Catholic Charities Hispanic Social Services, Wichita
  • COMCARE of Sedgwick County (mental health), Wichita
  • Wichita Children’s Home

Study Abroad

As part of Bethel’s cross-cultural learning emphasis, you’ll have the option to spend time in Mexico under the direction of Bethel’s social work faculty. There, you’ll examine issues related to economics, diversity, human rights, religion and immigration. Students are exposed to the riches of Mexican art, culture and archeology. Bethel works with QUEST Mexico, a nonprofit organization devoted to creating social justice and peace through transformative, experiential education.

A degree in social work from Bethel College is a generalist degree, qualifying you for licensure and entry into a wide range of positions. Social work is perhaps the most versatile of the human services degrees.

Post-graduate careers include:

  • Mental health and developmental disabilities
  • Community organizing
  • Private family and child welfare organizations
  • Corrections with juvenile offenders and adult probation and parole
  • Medical social work in hospitals
  • Geriatric social work
  • Mediation and conflict management
  • Substance abuse treatment programs
  • AIDS assistance programs
  • Hospice social work

Bethel College Baccalaureate Social Work Program Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes AY 2018-2019 CSWE

Form AS4 – For public posting

Last completed on 07/06/20

Competency Competency Benchmark (%) Percentage of Students Achieving Benchmark
    Aggregate of All Program Options (n=12) Program Option #1 (Bethel College) (n=12) Program Option #2 (identify location/delivery method) n = (Number of students) Program Option #3 (identify location/delivery method) n = (Number of students)
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior 85% 89.7% 89.7%    
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice 85% 98% 98%    
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice 85% 95% 95%    
Competency 4: Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice 85% 95% 95%    
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice 85% 100% 100%    
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 85% 100% 100%    
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 85% 100% 100%    
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 85% 100% 100%    
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 85% 97% 97%    
Any Additional Competency(ies) Developed by the Program 85% 100% 100%    

Notable Alumni

Section in process.

Satisfactory progress in the social work major

To graduate with the Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree, you must meet the requirements for satisfactory progress in the program, including earning a minimum of a C grade in each social work course and maintaining an overall 2.5 GPA. Complete information about other satisfactory progress requirements and about program policies and procedures are set forth in the Student Handbook of the Social Work Department. Students may review the handbook at any time and will receive a personal copy when they are formally admitted to the program.

Four-year curriculum plan

Liberal Arts Foundation

Study in the liberal arts is the foundation for the social work major. During the first two years (before admission to the social work program), you should complete the general education basic communication and lower-level distribution requirements set forth for all Bethel College students in the academic catalog. Upper-level general education requirements are completed in the junior or senior year.

Bio-Psychosocial Foundation

The following required courses provide a foundation in human biology and the behavioral and social sciences. They may also meet some distribution requirements for general education.

Year 1
Fall semester SWK220 Introduction to Social Work and the Social Welfare Institution (Policy I)
Spring semester ECON211 Principles of Macroeconomics OR SSC201 Principles of Political Science
  PSY211 General Psychology
Year 2
Fall semester SSC222 Principles of Sociology
Spring semester PSY251 Life-Span Development
  Above courses are prerequisites for SWK355.
  MAT300 Applied Statistics (may also be taken in fall semester of 3rd year)

Elective: A minimum of one additional course in the social sciences

Social Work Courses

The following courses are offered by the social work department and are required for the major. Together they make up a total of 40 credit hours.

Pre-professional course
Fall semester SWK220 Introduction to Social Work and the Social Welfare Institution (Policy I) (May be taken year 1-3)
Year 3
Fall semester SWK310 Skills for Human Service Work
  SWK355 Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Spring semester SWK312 Research Methods for Social Work
  SWK360 Assessment of Human Systems (Practice I)
  SWK420 Social Welfare Policy Analysis (Policy II) (may also be taken in spring semester of year 4)
Fall or spring semester SWK372 Field Experience
May Term SWK364 Social Change: Social Justice (on campus or in Mexico)
Year 4
Fall semester SWK460 Intervention in Human Systems (Practice II)
  SWK481 Pre-practice Seminar I
Spring semester SWK482 Pre-practice Seminar II (Senior Thesis)
Fall/interterm/spring SWK472 Field Instruction
Major requirements:
59 hours

For course descriptions, see the academic catalog.

Social work may not be taken as a minor — instead, see the Human Services option.

Nancy Banman

Associate professor of social work / Field coordinator

Jennifer Chappell Deckert

Associate professor of social work / Program director

Jason Greever

Adjunct instructor of social work

Elissa Harris

Program manager for social work and teacher education

Christy Schunn

Adjunct instructor of social work

Percy Turner

Adjunct Instructor of Social Work

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.