Become a Pillar of Hope: NJCU Introduces the Bachelor of Social Work


Joy Akeju, Contributing Writer

Are you an empath with dreams of helping people reach their fullest potential? Are you fascinated by the intricacies of the human mind and itching to learn more about the values of different cultures? If so, a career in social work might be worth exploring.

This school year, NJCU now offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). The Department of Sociology and Anthropology created this program specifically to train students for entry-level social work in various specialties.

Elissa Bonilla, a BSW student, said “This is the degree that will help me progress my career that is already related to social services.”

“The BSW program will provide opportunities for students and graduates to contribute to the betterment of the community and apply what they learn to address social problems locally, nationally, and globally,” said Professor William Westerman.

What is Social Work?

Many students who are considering a career in human services are currently majoring in psychology, sociology, anthropology, or political science. The job market for these majors is extremely diverse, with a lot of different interconnected career paths. However, those who care the most about supporting people in need on a more personal level would benefit from pursuing a more specialized education.

Professor Jennifer A. Pax, director of the BSW program, said the definition of social work from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) isThe professional activity of helping individuals, families, groups or communities enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning or creating societal conditions favorable to that goal.”

What exactly does that mean? One common example of a career in social work is a school counselor. Many of us have memories of reaching out to a school counselor for advice, emotional support or other types of assistance with personal. This is an extremely rewarding career as you may end up being a source of hope and comfort for kids and teenagers going through tough times.

Pax said, “The Bachelor of Social Work program at NJCU is a great opportunity for students to develop skills that increase their preparedness for work in social and human services settings. There are many positions that require and/or prefer.”

The Bachelor of Social Work program at NJCU is a great opportunity for students to develop skills that increase their preparedness for work in social and human services settings. There are many positions that require and/or prefer.”

— Profesor Jennifer A. Pax

Another possible area of interest is becoming a marriage or family counselor. These professions usually involve applying learned practices to help people improve their relationships. Depending on the profession, these types of social workers may also diagnose and assign treatments for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders

Another broad field within social work is rehabilitation. This involves helping people overcome mental or physical disabilities, substance abuse or traumatic experiences. Social workers in this field pay special attention to the needs of each client to help them attain a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Social workers are also employed in homeless shelters, or as adoption specialists, behavioral health assistants, crisis teams, client advocates, and more.

What the B.S.W Program Has to Offer

Pax said the BSW program will also significantly boost employment opportunities. The most prevalent advantage the BSW program provides is the skills enrolled students gain which will prepare them for many different careers.

For example, the New Jersey Department of Child Protection & Permanency will prioritize those who have a BSW degree over those who do not.

Students who graduate with a BSW are also eligible to apply for certification from the New Jersey Board of Social Work Examiners, the licensing board under the state’s Division of Law.

The Department of Labor’s Bureau for Labor Statistics predicted 16 percent growth in jobs for social workers from 2016 to 2026.

Pax said, “The BSW degree can save students time and money. As a BSW recipient, students can apply to master’s in social work (MSW) programs as an advanced standing student and skip the foundation/first year of the MSW program.”

Desiree Boyles, a BSW student, said, “I transferred from Hudson County Community College to NJCU to pursue my BSW degree. I am thrilled to be able to earn my BSW near my home.”

How to Join and Participate in the Program

Students must be approved by the BSW program faculty to declare their major in social work and permitted to apply on a rolling basis. The application process involves completing a form and essay that is reviewed by social work faculty.

There are several application requirements students must meet in order to be considered for the BS program. This includes the following: 1) grade point average of 2.75; 2) resume; and 3) essay introducing oneself and motivations for majoring in social work, readiness to accept the rigorous internship requirement. Additionally, transfer students will be assessed individually based on comparable courses and credits completed, and comparable learning outcomes.

The courses for this program will be taken in the students’ junior and senior years for a total of 48 major credits, which are listed on the BSW page in the NJCU academic catalog. Students will have to maintain a BSW Major GPA of 3.0 or higher, and each course in the program may be taken no more than twice.

“Students will have an opportunity to engage in meaningful community service while building their work experience through a rigorous internship component built into the BSW curriculum,” said Pax.