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Applied Sociology and Social Work

sociology students


FUTURE LEADERS? MAKING A DIFFERENCE? HELPING OTHERS?  HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE? This is the program for you.  Mercyhurst University Applied Sociology and Social Work Department provides students with the knowledge and skills to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through the study of applied sociology or social work

If you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in law, business, education, health/medicine or allied social work, a foundation in applied sociology will provide you with a strong understanding of how the world works. While sociology offers you theories and a global perspective on how the social world operates, you may instead want to work directly with people to address issues such as chemical dependency, mental health, child development, poverty, quality of life for older adults, healthy youth development, and community building. With a degree in social work, you will receive hands-on education needed to be effective in working with individuals, groups, communities and for systemic change.

Courses such as contemporary social problems, diversity of society, social research, human behavior in the social environment, and policy prepare students to be advocates for social justice and to work with people of all ages from diverse populations. That, combined with a liberal arts core, ensures that our students leave with the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively to ensure opportunity for all to fulfill their aspirations.


The social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program provides students with a curriculum that encompasses the areas of human diversity, populations at risk, human behavior and social environment, social and economic justice, social work research, social welfare and social policy, social work values and social work skills and practice. It's a curriculum of theory combined with practice, giving students first-hand experience with populations often served by social workers.

Major(s) Social Work Major
  Applied Sociology Major
Minor(s) Gender Studies
  Social Welfare
  Sociology Minor
Concentration(s) Criminology Concentration

Ready to begin your journey in social work or applied sociology?  Apply online today -- it's free and getting your application started takes only a few brief minutes.  Interested students may also consult the course catalog for more information.  As a liberal arts institution, all undergraduate students complete Mercyhurst's core curriculum

Social Work

The Social Work Program is dedicated to preparing competent generalist social work practitioners who are well-grounded in the values and ethics of the social work profession. The program is driven by the college mission that calls for students to be "socially merciful…globally responsible ….compassionately hospitable….intellectually creative…reflectively aware…ambassadors of service". Coupled with critical thinking, values and ethics, the program seeks to provide the knowledge base, and competencies required for students to practice in a diverse society. The program strives to lay a foundation that enables students to assist individuals, families, groups and communities in their pursuit of well-being. The program is committed to teaching students about the role we must play in working toward creating a more just society that embraces human diversity and provides for the basic needs of all.


  • Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly
  • Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
  • Apply critical thinking to inform & communicate professional judgments
  • Engage diversity and difference in practice
  • Advance human rights and social and economic justice
  • Engage in research-informed and practice-informed research
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment
  • Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services
  • Respond to contexts that shape practice
  • Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities


Applied Sociology

The Applied Sociology program provides students with a hands-on experience on how to utilize necessary research skills to better understand human behaviors and the dynamics of our global society. Our curriculum is based on liberal arts and strives to enhance students' critical thinking skills through a strong foundation of theory and research. A degree in applied sociology affords a strong foundation for graduate education, and opens the doors to a wide range of career paths such as law, social services, public policy, business, and communication.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical background of the field of applied sociology
  • Understand the importance of different types of scientific research, be able to formulate research questions, and demonstrate an understanding of data collection and data analysis
  • Demonstrate the ability to recognize social problems and their impact on human behavior and well-being
  • Demonstrate skills in critically thinking and ethical decision making through academic discourse

The Social Work Program has developed relationships with many nonprofits in the Erie region where students have completed their internship experience. These organizations and agencies are listed below. We work with students to ensure they are placed an agency that meets their interests.

The following is a list of regional businesses and non-profits where some of our students have held internships:

AseraCare Hospice
Brevillier Village       
Crime Victims Center
Erie Home For Children/Adults
Erie Together

Erie Housing Authority
UPMC/Hamot Medical Center

Harborcreek Youth Services
HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital           

Lakeshore Community Services
Multicultural Resource Center
Northwest Rural AIDS Alliance
Mental Health Assoc. of Erie Co.
Mercy Center for Women

Millcreek Community Hospital
Perseus House
Safe Harbor Behavioral Health

Sarah Reed Children’s Center/Residential
Sarah Reed Children’s Center/School
Sarah Reed Retirement Center
St. Benedicts Education Center

Saint Martin Center
St. Mary’s Home at Asbury Ridge
St. Mary’s Home of Erie
St. Vincent’s Health Center
Esper Treatment Center
Family Services
Perseus Charter School For Excellence       
Stairways Behavioral Health
Erie School District
Family Services
Lakeland Area Hospice
Community Health Net
Office of Children and Youth
GECAC/aging only





Bora Pajo
Assistant Professor
Office: Preston 121
Phone: (814) 824-2331

Laura Lewis
Faculty field advisor, associate professor of sociology and social work
Office: Preston 108
Phone: (814) 824-2359