Put your values into practice with a career in Social Work.
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
You’ll advance human rights for marginalized communities, one person at a time. Our graduates work in public health, substance abuse, child welfare, education, mental health and other settings where they help people lead healthier, more meaningful lives.
Prepare to work with diverse groups and understand how race, class, gender, sexuality and disability shape people’s experiences and opportunities. Study with professors doing real-world research about issues like human trafficking, immigration detention and LGBTQ youth in foster care. You’ll learn professional ethics that will guide you through difficult decisions, as well as strategies for taking care of yourself while you help other people.
As a senior, you’ll complete an intensive field internship at a social justice-focused organization, where you’ll develop your professional skills and learn from experienced mentors. Our students have interned at agencies including Integral Care, SAFE, Communities in Schools, Con Mi MADRE, Girls Empowerment Network, Family Eldercare, the UT School of Law immigration law clinic, and LifeWorks, which serves runaway and homeless youth and young people aging out of foster care.
Because the St. Edward’s Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which requires this extended internship, you will get credit for having completed a field placement if you pursue an accelerated Master of Social Work degree. You’ll get a head start on your career and graduate with the skills and values that will help you succeed.
What do our graduates do?
Social Work majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.
- Social workers at Integral Care, Communities in Schools, Jolt, Austin Independent School District, Lifeworks and Con Mi Madre
- Licensed social workers — which include LBSW, LMSW and LCSW — for private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies
- Serving with the Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Mercy Corps
- English Teaching Assistant in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program
- Graduate students at Washington University, Columbia University, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston
The Classroom and Beyond
Social work is a major that prepares you to facilitate positive change in society. Outside-the-classroom experiences at St. Edward’s show you how to translate concepts like social justice and wellbeing into concrete action.
You’ll get out into the field right away. Your Introduction to Social Work course requires 40 hours of service learning, where you’re volunteering for course credit at an organization connected to your major. This is your chance to give back while observing, listening, and understanding what social work looks like in practice.
Your senior year, you’ll complete an intensive, 430-hour internship in the community. This is an opportunity to get hands-on experience in a dimension of social work that particularly interests you. You’ll choose an organization that matches your interests and take on real-world responsibilities, supervised by a practicing social worker. St. Edward’s students recently have interned with:
- The Austin Sobering Center
- Girls Empowerment Network
- Refugee Services of Texas
- Texas Criminal Justice Coalition
At your internship, you’ll experience the realities of social work, including the challenges of working with different personalities and the fact that change takes time. You’ll also interact with social workers and other professionals in the field, which gives you an opportunity to build your network. These connections sometimes result in job offers.
More information can be found in the Field Education Program Manual.
St. Edward’s offers many other opportunities to meet people from different backgrounds, apply what you’ve learned in class, and be of service.
Study abroad immerses you in unfamiliar settings and cultivates understanding of people from other cultures.
Service Break Experiences, offered through Campus Ministry, give you the chance to travel to another community, volunteer and learn about local life while living simply.
Campus Ministry’s S.E.R.V.E. Austin is a structured service program that meets weekly for an entire semester. You’ll help a nonprofit with specific tasks while learning about an issue like senior care, immigration, education, youth development or homelessness.
These experiences help you apply the theory you’ve discussed in class, come face to face with ethical dilemmas and become better prepared to address them.
Faculty interact closely with students through classes, advising sessions, fieldwork and program events. Professors have a diversity of research interests and all share a passion for the field of social work and helping students succeed.
"I value bridging the classroom and the social work field, guiding students through their internships and bringing insights from my time in practice into the classroom. I see students come alive when they have opportunities to see how what they learned in classes plays out in real world practice."
Natalie Beck, DSW, LCSW-S, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Director of Field Education
"I am inspired by the opportunity to learn and work alongside students, faculty, and the broader community in generating understanding and action around global-minded social justice initiatives, particularly those related to violence against women, forced migration, human trafficking, and the detention of immigrant women and children fleeing violence."
– Laurie Cook Heffron, PhD, LMSW, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Social Work Program Director
"I view social work education as a collaboration and partnership with my students. I constantly remind students that in a few short years they will be my colleagues in the community combating issues of social injustice and inequality."
– Adam McCormick, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work
Social Work Degree Requirements & Application
This major is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). In order to meet accreditation standards, students are required to apply for and undertake a social work field internship, demonstrate competencies in 9 core areas, complete a portfolio, and participate in an exit interview prior to graduation. Please see the Social Work Major Degree Plan and the Social Work Program Student Handbook for additional information, or contact Social Work Program Director Laurie Cook Heffron, PhD, LMSW at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Application for Admission is required before proceeding to upper-division social work courses. Applications must be submitted to the program director on or before October 1 in Fall and February 1 in Spring. The application, self-assessment form, and Code of Conduct are available as a pdf here. You can also download it as a word document here.
Outside the Classroom & Field Education
Students majoring in Social Work can explore career paths and practical application of their studies through internships, supervised field placements, and interactions with the greater Austin community. Consult the Field Education Program Manual for additional information.
Internships and Supervised Field Placements
The Baccalaureate Practicum/ Internship will further provide each student with opportunities to:
- Continuously develop self-awareness during intervention
- Enhance the strengths and well being of others
- Help others identify and address their own opportunities for self improvement
- Work toward the improving environmental conditions that have a negative affect on others
- Communicating in language appropriate for the profession of social work
- Critical assessment, implementation, and evaluation of agency policies and procedures within NASW ethical guidelines
- Field Learning Experiences
Students will experience two semesters of supervised field placement, where they will have the following practice opportunities:
- Learn about a specialized body of knowledge unique to the placement setting, client population, and issues addressed
- Purposeful interviewing techniques
- Professional growth in developing accountability in terms of time, record keeping, and writing reports
- Participating in the casework process
- Facilitating or co-facilitating group(s)
- Working effectively with diverse clients
- Interaction with other social workers
- Gathering information about the agency
- Appropriate use of various services and resources within the agency and community
- Identifying gaps or limitations in the placement agency's services in relation to client needs
- Studying and following agency policy and procedures at the placement agency and potentially influencing policy and/or procedures at the agency
- Systematic self-evaluation
Social Work Program Assessment Reports
Social Welfare Minor
Offered through the Social Work Program, the Minor in Social Welfare provides students a foundation in social welfare, focusing on social justice, human behavior and development, diversity and cultural competence. Students will learn about the history of the U.S. social welfare system, the theories of behavior used to support various social programs, and how issues of race, social class and gender intersect in the social welfare system.
Requirements for a Minor in Social Welfare:
Continuing Education Opportunities
The St. Edward's University Social Work Program periodically offers continuing education workshops for community practitioners.
Find additional information about and registration for the July 17th CEU event here.
SEU to You
Assistant Professor of Social Work Laurie Cook Heffron explores the safety net in the United States and the network of policies and programs that aim to prevent poverty in her Spring 2020 course.