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Program Admission

Academics / Departments & Programs / Social Work / Academics / Program Admission

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Social Work degree (BSW) are required to apply to the program by May 1 of their sophomore year. There is no limit on the number of students we admit to the program; however, students need to meet the admission criteria described below.

Admissions Criteria

  1. Applicants must have earned a minimum of 35 semester hours of credit, and have either completed or be currently enrolled in PSYC-151, SOC-151, and SOWK-240. Please note that BIOL 115 and SOWK 250 should also be prioritized, as they are pre-requisites for upper-level social work courses; however, they are no longer a pre-requisite for program admission
  2. Applicants must have an overall GPA of at least 2.5 and a minimum grade of C- in each of the courses specified in item #1 above. (It should be noted that the 2.5 GPA is also a retention standard in the program, as well as receiving a minimum grade of C in all social work courses).
  3. Applicants must have completed at least 50 hours (note the temporary policy change above) of social work type volunteer or paid service and submit a Letter of Reference from the person who supervised you during this volunteer or paid service. It is the applicant's responsibility to give the supervisor the link to complete the Letter(s) of Reference Form. The supervisor completes the form and submits it online. It is sent directly to the social work program director.
    • If you have not completed the 50 hours of service you should still apply to the Program. You will be asked to submit a plan for completion of your hours and you may be conditionally admitted at that time. It then becomes your responsibility to complete such service as well as have an appropriate supervisor submit a Letter of Reference Form to the Program Director by September 1.
    • Two different volunteer or paid service experiences may be combined to satisfy the 50 required hours. In this situation a supervisor from each experience needs to complete the Letter of Reference Form.
    • Examples of agencies or organizations that are pre-approved may be found here.
    • If you have questions about what type of employment or volunteer service would fulfill this requirement, please reach out to the Program Director. If you choose something that is not on the pre-approved list, it is a good idea to seek prior approval before completing your hours.
  4. Applicants must submit a written Personal Statement which includes information about their commitment to social work as a vocation, along with their strengths and areas for development as a potential professional social worker.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Calvin University BSW Program has made a temporary policy change to its program admission criteria. This policy change will apply for those who applied in May 2020 and those who intend to apply at the end of the 2020–2021 academic year, or May 1, 2021.

Instead of requiring 50 hours of social work-related volunteering or work experience for program admission, the requirement is as follows:

  1. 30 total hours required
  2. 20 in-person hours required
  3. 10 remote hours accepted

The Social Work department has compiled a list of in-person and remote volunteer opportunities which can be found here.

In-person and remote volunteer opportunities can also be found through Calvin's Service-Learning Center.

Application Process

Applications to our BSW program are due on May 1 of your sophomore year. The application should include the 1) application that you as a student submit, and 2) the references for your hours (make sure to request this from your supervisor prior to the May 1 deadline and their reference will get submitted directly to the social work program).

Prior to beginning the online Program Application, compose your personal statement so that you are able to cut & paste it into the form.

Your personal statement

The statement should range from 720–1250 words, being sure to answer the following questions:
  1. How did you become interested in social work? This may include a description of important personal experiences such as volunteer work, work experience, community involvement, etc.
  2. What social justice issues are of particular concern to you? Why?
  3. At this point in your preparation as a professional social worker, describe the type of social work you imagine practicing.
  4. What are your personal strengths and limitations in relationship to your development as a social worker?

Please find the links to the admission forms here:

BSW Application for Admission
Letter(s) of Reference
(email this link to the supervisor(s) who will provide a reference)


Admissions decisions

Decisions about admission to the program are made by the Social Work Program Committee (SWPC) comprised of social work faculty and two BSW students who serve on the SWPC. These decisions will be communicated to students by early June.

In some cases, a student will be admitted conditionally, given that they meet all admission criteria by the start of their junior year.

For more information about the BSW program at Calvin, download and view the 2019–2020 handbook or the 2020–2021 handbook.

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