If you want a career focused on helping people across the lifespan—and you love solving problems, connecting with diverse people, and making the world a better place—then a career in social work is right for you.
Our social work major combines liberal arts and professional social work coursework to help you develop the knowledge, values, and skills you need for this demanding but very rewarding profession.
As one of the most widely-recognized degrees in the country, a major in social work prepares you for immediate entry into professional human-service positions and makes you eligible to take entry-level Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) licensing exams in all 50 states and the 10 Canadian provinces.
Our program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Learn more.
Our students graduate with a mastery of nine practice competencies.
Among other objectives, you will learn:
- how to engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- how to use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to build relationships with clients in a variety of settings
- how to assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
- how to critically evaluate and apply the theories of human behavior and the social environment
- the knowledge and skills to intervene to alleviate problems
- the skills to evaluate how policies might affect social problems and the knowledge to change policies or create new ones to address problems
The mission of the Department of Social Work at Ball State University is two-fold:
- Our mission is to prepare competent and compassionate generalist practitioners who think critically, are committed to ethical social work practice, and meeting the needs of a changing world.
- Our mission is to function as a resource center for program development by providing consultation, research support, and professional services in collaboration with local and state human service communities.
Our curriculum will prepare you to sit for your licensing exam, which is needed to be licensed to practice in your state of employment. Licensing protects the public by ensuring that you are competent and prepared to provide these services.
Each state has its own license regulating body. The level/type of license required in your state depends on your state's licensing law.
You can find out about your state's licensing requirements and examinations by visiting the Association of Social Work Boards' Website. For licensing information in Indiana, contact the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.
What It’s Like to Major in Social Work at Ball State
All of our course offerings are available each semester, making your path to a degree flexible and convenient. In addition, our robust online courses and lineup of summer offerings help you build a course of study that is right for you.
Our teaching-focused faculty are experienced professionals in the world of social work.
In the Social Work Department, our faculty take time to get to know you and learn about your career goals. Our faculty of experienced social workers bring knowledge to life in and out of the classroom. Our professors have earned advanced degrees in social work and have worked as administrators, geriatric social workers, school social workers, child welfare workers, clinical social workers, community organizers, policy planners, and medical social workers.
Our department works closely with social service agencies to provide quality internships for all of our students. During your senior year, you’ll log over 400 hours in a real social-services agency in a role that’s the equivalent experience of a full-time job. You may also have the option of returning to your home community to complete the internship requirement.
Our major is the oldest accredited undergraduate program in social work in Indiana.
To earn a bachelor of social work degree, you must complete the University Core Curriculum, a series of required classes and electives in social work, and a series of electives in diversity, social science, women’s and gender studies, among other requirements.
A few of the classes you will take include:
- Introduction to Social Work
- Human Behavior in the Social Environment I
- Social Work Practice I with Field Experience
- Social Welfare Policy and Programs II
- Practicum in Social Work
For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Course Catalog.
The four-year program is our standard program for the bachelor of social work degree. If you are an incoming freshman who declares social work as a major, you should have no trouble finishing the degree in four years.
You'll work closely with an advisor from the department to ensure timely completion of all degree requirements.
Our four-year program will give you room to complete a minor in a related discipline. Common minors for our students include:
If you are interested in a fast-track approach, you can finish your degree in three years instead of four.
The three-year program requires you to remain focused on your studies year-round, as you will need to take classes during the summer session(s).
If you choose to do a three-year program, you will work closely with your advisors to create a structured academic plan.
In the social work program, you complete a field practicum, or internship, in the last semester of your senior year. Some agencies require interns to be at least 21 years old. Please consider the possibility of an age requirement when you are deciding on the three-year or four-year program. Some students who are under 21 when completing their internship do not secure their first-choice practicum location.
Along with our traditional bachelor of social work program, you may pursue a specialization in child welfare through Ball State. The program is a collaboration among the Indiana Department of Child Services and universities around the state. Learn more.
One of the best ways for you to learn about, appreciate, and successfully start your profession is to work directly for an agency. You will do just that through a required practicum (or internship), which we will help facilitate. Learn more
What Can You Do with a Degree in Social Work?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth rate for social workers is 15%—much faster than the national average. Because our focus is on diverse populations, social workers thrive in a variety of sectors, including hospitals, schools, juvenile and adult corrections, domestic violence shelters, and more. Social workers also work in private and public organizations.
Here are other examples of places to find employment:
- adolescent group homes
- adoption agencies
- case management agencies
- child welfare agencies
- day care centers
- developmental centers for persons with disabilities
- family service agencies
- food and clothing banks
- foster care agencies
- home health care
- job training programs
- juvenile and adult corrections
- mental health centers
- neighborhood and community centers
- nursing homes
- police departments
- public health agencies
- public support agencies
- rehabilitation centers
- senior services
- shelters for domestic violence victims
- shelters for the homeless
- substance abuse agencies
- youth centers
Paying for Your Education
On top of the dozens of funding options offered through Ball State’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, our department awards scholarships to our own students. Find a scholarship.
Ready to Apply?
Admission to Ball State is selective, and we carefully evaluate all application on an individual basis. Applying for admission is easy. Use our convenient, comprehensive, and secure online application.
Want to Learn More?
The best way to get a true feel for Ball State is to spend some time here, so we encourage you and your family to schedule a campus visit. Take a tour, attend an information session, meet with a professor in our area, and ask plenty of questions. Or if you’d rather speak to someone directly by phone or email, please feel free to contact us.