Social Work, B.A.

Program Overview

Are you known for your compassion and service? Are you passionate about social justice and making the world a better place? Are you curious about diversity, where it comes from, and how it impacts people? Social work can combine your passion for people with your desire to serve, and help you meet the emotional, physical, economic, and social needs of others.

A Bachelor of Arts in Social Work prepares professionals who are motivated to gracefully serve others as an expression of their faith. A unique blend of theory and action-oriented classes will help you develop skills to promote social and economic justice, empower diverse populations, and understand human interactions in social and cultural environments. From sociology, psychology, biology, and economic theory to specialized knowledge in child welfare, policy, race and ethnicity, or human behavior, you’ll be equipped to implement social work practices within systems of all sizes.

Headshot of Lindsay Gumm

Student Profile

Lindsay (Harlin) Gumm

Lindsay Gumm is a clinical social worker at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. Her work changes daily, depending on patients’ needs. She works with patients and their families to coordinate access to resources and programs, facilitate safe hospital discharges and provide supportive counseling.

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As a PLNU social work major, you will complete 400 internship hours of hands-on practice in the community. Each internship practicum is tailored to your interests and passions and serves as a bridge between classroom learning and professional life. Internships provide the opportunity to apply skills and test theories and principles under the care and supervision of an experienced social worker. As you learn, you will create a professional portfolio, resume, and credentials that demonstrate what you believe and how you want to serve. This combination of professional development alongside personalized and intentional learning opportunities will equip you to confidently step into employment or graduate school.

PLNU's social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which emphasizes service-oriented, evidence-based learning that prepares students for professional practice. CSWE accreditation gives you the opportunity for advanced standing in master of social work (MSW) programs. Having advanced standing leverages your bachelor’s degree in social work, and allows you to earn an MSW in about one year. To view PLNU's CSWE annual report, please use this link.

Students in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Family Sciences apply their passions in unique and deeper contexts by engaging in student ministries, networking events, and the Center for Justice & Reconciliation. 

Ladder Against a Fence

Across All Barriers: Choosing Risk & Vulnerability Over Differences

The world has never been an easy place but choosing risk and vulnerability over differences can create change.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Social Work, B.A. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Major Map

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Are you ready to take the next step to begin your PLNU journey? Whether you’re a high school senior, college transfer student, or international student, find out what we’re looking for in our applicants and how you can apply.

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Student Support

For most students, the transition into college life is one full of adjustments. There is the excitement of newfound freedoms, but also some uncertainty as you begin to make choices and take responsibility for your own future. 

At PLNU, we’re committed to supporting you — academically, professionally, spiritually, personally — so that you may be successful both in your time as a student and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Student Support

Career Opportunities

The vocation of social work is about caring for, curing, or changing the world to make it a better place. PLNU social work graduates are people who serve a variety of social structures, function competently in their professions, bring innovative thoughts into great cultural dilemmas, and possess an inner drive to discover truth and permeate everything they do with compassion and hope.

Depending on your specific interests, you may pursue a social work career in:

  • Child, youth, and family services (including adoption and foster care)
  • Education
  • Counseling 
  • Medical and public health
  • Drug rehabilitation
  • Organizational and community development
  • Human trafficking and domestic violence intervention
  • Legislation and politics
  • Human rights and international affairs

What can you do with a social work degree?

PLNU alumni have gone on to work as social and community service managers, community and social service specialists, office managers and administrative supervisors, and mental health and substance abuse social workers. Examples of organizations where social work alumni hold positions would be: New Alternatives Incorporated, Alpha Project for the Homeless, Arizona Public Service Company, and Autism Tree Project Foundation, among others.

The following are examples of positions that PLNU social work alumni currently hold:

Healthcare Social Workers

2020 Median annual salary $71,000

Healthcare social workers primarily work with individuals and families to provide them with psychosocial support for illnesses, diseases, healthcare barriers, and other health related issues. Healthcare social workers often organize and refer caregivers, education opportunities, and counseling to clients and their families.

What it takes to be a healthcare social worker: 

  • Decision making
  • Empathy 
  • Active listening 
  • Communication
  • Social perceptiveness and open-mindedness

Social and Human Service Assistants

2020 Median annual salary $35,960

Social and human service assistants work with clients to determine what type of aid (psychological, medical, financial, addiction recovery, etc.) they need and then help acquire said aid through research and finding services and benefits that can provide your client with said assistance. Social and human service assistants often work alongside social workers to develop and coordinate programs and treatment plans to provide clients with what they need.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

2020 Median annual salary $47,660

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors work with, treat, and advise, people who struggle with alcoholism, drug addiction, or other mental and behavioral problems.

Their primary responsibilities are developing and recommending treatment plans to clients and helping clients with creating routines that facilitate positive lifestyles to recover from their addiction. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors also work with clients' families to inform them about addiction or behavior disorders so they’re better equipped to help aid in the recovery journey. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors also sometimes refer clients to other services and resources like support groups and employment assistance services. 

What it takes to be a substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor:

  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening skills
  • Patience
  • Speaking skills

Alumni listed the following skills as the top strengths they acquired as a social work student at PLNU: 

  • Mentorship
  • Case management
  • Fundraising
  • Mental health awareness 
  • Program development
  • Crisis intervention
  • Event planning

Social Work as a Meaningful, Lifelong Skill: 

With a versatile skill set, altruistic hearts, and a love of doing good, those who dedicate themselves to a social work degree at PLNU are thoroughly prepared to enter the workforce and make a positive impression anywhere they go. 

Many positions relating to social work are listed in the U.S. News & World Report 100 Best Jobs. Majoring in social work at PLNU is an excellent choice for anyone who desires to make a positive impact on others and hopes to spread the love of Christ.

Apply to PLNU today or get connected with one of our counselors for additional support and answers to any questions you may have.