Questions and Answers

What do social workers do?

There are numerous definitions of social work explaining its fundamental mission. One of these definitions is adopted by the NASW Board of Directors: "Social work is the professional activity of helping individuals, groups, or communities to enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and to create societal conditions favorable to their goals" (Morales and Sheafor, 1995, p. 39). This definition clearly identifies the profession's dual focus on person and environment. For more information visit the NASW website at:

Tell me about social work education at Southern Adventist University.

The BSW social work program has been in existence at Southern Adventist University since the 1980s. During the Fall semester of 2009, the Department of Social Work and Family Studies became the School of Social Work as the faculty worked to develop a new MSW program. The first MSW classes began in August 2010 with an enrollment of 51 students.  

The School of Social Work is designed to advance inclusive and innovative education that impacts not only Tennessee but our world today and for eternity. The MSW program prepares practitioners in a Christian learning environment for excellence and leadership across systems and in advanced autonomous social work practice. You can find the School of Social Work at Southern at the top of the beautiful campus in Collegedale, TN in Daniells Hall. 

Is the GRE required?

We do not require the GRE test for admission into the MSW program.

How diverse is your school and student body?

During a recent CSWE site visit, the site visitor had to say this about Southern's Social Work Program in regards to diversity: "The program works hard to be a leader in the area of diversity, contributing greatly to the campus context related to diversity, in hiring practices, teaching methods, student recruitment and campus activities that often get their start through members of the program’s suggestions in committees, etc. Experiences that will enhance experience with diversity of all types are carefully chosen for the students, and student interests related to diversity are creatively encouraged."

Do you offer services to students with disabilities?

Yes, disability services are offered to accepted students of Southern Adventist University. Any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations must call Disability Support Services at 423-236-2574 or stop by Lynn Wood Hall, room 137 to arrange a confidential appointment with the Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) before or during the first week of classes. For more details, visit the Disability Support Services Website. 

What is the unique mission of social work at Southern Adventist University?

The unique mission of Southern Adventist University School of Social Work is to advance inclusive and innovative education that impacts our world today and for eternity. The Master of Social Work (MSW) program aims to prepare practitioners in a Christian learning environment for excellence and leadership in advanced autonomous social work practice.

The goals of the MSW program are directly related to the mission statement of Southern as both entities declare and practice commitment to Christ, intellectual and personal development, professional development and commitment, and service to the church and the community.

I am finishing my undergraduate degree this year, so my transcript doesn’t include my final courses. Do I have to wait to apply?

No. We recommend that you apply now and include an official transcript from your university/college. We will render a conditional admission decision. Please send us a second official transcript that indicates your final grades and your conferred degree as soon as it becomes available.

Can I still apply to the MSW if my undergraduate GPA is below 3.0?

Yes. We look at the quality of the entire application in addition to your GPA. If your GPA is 3.0, we encourage you to write about your undergraduate academic circumstances in your personal statement. You might also consider taking courses as a non-matriculated (non-degree) student to display readiness for graduate work. You may have to enter the program on probationary status, but you should still apply. 

If I do not have any social work experience, will my application be considered?

You may be considered for admission without social work experience, but we strongly suggest that you begin a volunteer experience before or during the application process. Since this is a professional school and degree, we want all of our students to be cognizant of the field.

How soon will I know whether I am accepted into the program?

Applicants are notified of their acceptance status via email three to four weeks after all application materials are submitted to the School of Social Work.

How much time am I allowed to complete the MSW program?

The time limit for completing the program will be four years for full-time students and up to six years for part-time students.

If I don’t get accepted when can I reapply? 

In the event an applicant is not granted admission to the program, he or she may reapply the following academic year.

Can I transfer graduate credits into the MSW program?

Students/applicants wishing to transfer to the Southern MSW program from another accredited college or university must follow the same application procedure for program acceptance as other students. Transfer graduate students must complete 75% of their degree at Southern. Any exceptions must be petitioned to the Graduate Council. Transfer grades must be “B” or higher. Southern does not transfer “P” grades. 

Can I transfer credits from another social work program?

If the student would like to transfer credit for a core social work course it must be from a CSWE accredited program to be considered. 

What is the role of my faculty adviser?

Academic advising provides meetings with students to ensure successful completion of degree requirements and promotes student development through discussion of abilities and appropriate personal and occupational choices. The academic faculty adviser is viewed as the student’s resource person available to explore personal and professional goals, as well as aiding in academic planning and course selection related to the major. Students are assigned a full-time faculty adviser upon admission into the MSW program. While the adviser is a guide and resource person, final responsibility for meeting the academic requirements to complete a major and degree program rests with the student.

How do I progress in the MSW program?

The termination policy of the School of Social Work is designed to ensure that individuals who do not meet the expectations for advanced social work do not graduate with a MSW. Students may be terminated from the social work degree program for both academic and non-academic causes. Students are expected to abide by program policies for retention and progression. Students who violate these policies and/or breach our social work code of ethics are subject to review for termination. To terminate a student from the major is a serious decision that is made collectively by the social work faculty. The program retains the right to dismiss students, if necessary, from the social work program following due process and program policy.

In order to remain in the social work program, the university’s standards for retention must be met and sustained. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative overall grade point average. If the student receives a grade below a B in a core social work course, a review of the student’s progress will be made by the student’s faculty adviser and/or social work faculty and program director. Since the program’s mission is to ensure that all students meet behavioral indicators for each competency and practice behavior, the student may be asked to do additional remediation work in the area or to repeat the course before continuing in the program.

Although a student’s academic performance may be satisfactory, it may become necessary, due to unsatisfactory professional aptitude, attitude and/or performance, to advise a student to reconsider his or her preference for social work. The basis for such a decision may be any of the following:

Failure in field education could be grounds for dismissal from the program, subject to review by the social work faculty. Personal problems reflected through their work can significantly prevent the student from functioning effectively in a professional social work education program. For example, ineffective functioning may take the form of being chronically tardy or absent from field education, sleeping while at the field agency, erratic behaviors and inappropriate client practitioner interaction, demonstrating any substance use/abuse-related behaviors in the field, or the failure to abide by the ethical codes of the social work profession. For example, students are dismissed from the social work program for any emotional, physical, or sexual abuse of clients or colleagues. Similarly, students must not participate in any discriminatory behaviors in the classroom and/or field. Any breach of ethics and/or inappropriate boundary maintenance could result in dismissal from the program. 

What are the computer requirements for the MSW program?

You will need access to a computer with Microsoft Office and high-speed internet in order to access and complete course materials and teamwork online in eClass.

Does the MSW program offer Graduate Assistantships?

Yes. If you are interested in applying for a GA position you may request an application from Tricia Foster at If a student obtains a Graduate Assistantship in the School of Social Work, the student will work 16-20 hours per week. More specific details regarding this program may be obtained upon completion of the application. There are a limited number of positions available, and not all applicants are guaranteed acceptance. Students will be informed before the school year about their applications. 

Other work study opportunities may also exist on campus, so you may want to check with the Human Resources at 

What resources are available to improve my writing skills?

The School of Social Work requires that all writing assignments (research papers, book reports, article summaries, etc.) adhere to the APA style as outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed). For more help, reference the McKee Library website here.

Social work students experiencing writing difficulties are advised to seek assistance at the Writing Center in McKee Library. The Writing Center can be reached at 423.236.2384.

In addition, all papers will be submitted to Turn-It-In, a plagiarism prevention site that instantly identifies papers containing unoriginal material. See the Student Handbook and course syllabus for details relative to consequences of plagiarism.