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Sociology and Social Work

mercyhurst sociology and social work student


Mercyhurst University Social Work and Sociology Department provides students with the academic and hands-on experience needed to develop into future leaders who make a difference in the world. Mercyhurst will provide you with the knowledge and skills to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities through the study of 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 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 systemic change.

Courses such as contemporary social problems, diversity of society, research, human behavior and the social environment and policy prepare to be advocates for social justice and to work with people of all ages and 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 achieve meaningful, productive lives.



Mercyhurst University’s Baccalaureate Social Work Program has been fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1980. Our most recent accreditation process was successfully completed in October 2011, and our accreditation has been reaffirmed through June 2019. As a requirement of CSWE, as well as an internal evaluation of our social work program, we complete yearly assessments to determine how successful our students are at demonstrating the EPAS competency standards (Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards). View our most recent assessment results, which reports the competency benchmarks established for Mercyhurst Universities Student Learning Outcomes.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a nonprofit national association representing more than 2,500 individual members, as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education. Founded in 1952, this partnership of educational and professional institutions, social welfare agencies, and private citizens is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in this country.

Visit CSWE's website.

About CSWE Accreditation

CSWE's Commission on Accreditation (COA) is responsible for developing accreditation standards that define competent preparation and ensuring that social work programs meet them. In accordance with the requirements of CSWE's recognition body, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the CSWE Office of Social Work Accreditation (OSWA) administers a multistep accreditation process that involves program self-studies, site visits, and COA reviews.


Careers & Job Outlook

Social Work Major 

Sociology Major 

A social work degree from Mercyhurst University is a professional degree that prepares students to work

in any number of fields upon graduation. 

Students who continue on to graduate school, which is the case for a majority of social work alumni, continually indicate how well prepared they are to excel in their graduate studies.  The foundation courses they take at the undergraduate level also allow them to enroll in graduate school as advanced standing students.

Examples of areas with career paths for social workers include:

  • Children's Services
  • Health Care
  • Social Welfare Research
  • Community Development
  • Mental Health
  • Public Health
  • Residential Treatment
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Aging Services
  • School Systems
  • Public Welfare
  • Substance Abuse
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Consumer advocate
  • National and international sustainability initiatives
Graduates holding a degree in sociology will be well prepared to continue their sociology education at the graduate level, should they want to become professors, researchers or applied sociologists.

The degree also provides a strong liberal arts foundation for entry-level positions in business, social service, and government, as well as for professions that require further study, such as law, education, medicine, social work, and counseling.

Examples of career paths include:

  • Consumer advocate
  • Environment protection analyst
  • Regional crime prevention coordinator
  • Drug policy adviser
  • Law reform researcher
  • Customs/Immigration Analyst
  • Community corrections coordinator
  • Lobbyist/Civil Liberties Advocate
  • Paralegal/Legal Assistant
  • Victim Service Worker
  • Youth Justice Worker
  • Research Assistant/Analyst
  • Family Court Counselor
  • Social Service Worker
  • Marketing Specialist
Employment of social workers is expected to increase by 22 percent* by 2016, which is much faster than the average for most other occupations. Professional social workers are the nation’s largest group of mental health services providers.  Additional information about careers in social worker is available at
The employment outlook for the occupations listed above, as well as similar professions are expected to grow between 15-28 percent* by 2010. Go to http// for additional information regarding careers in sociology.


*Employment outlook statistics are provided by The U.S. Department of Labor.

For information on the nature of social work, training, advancement, job outlook and earnings visit the U.S. Department of Labor.



Mercyhurst's Sociology and Social Work Department publishes alumni newsletters annually to share updates and stories about it's alumni, current students and faculty.  Click on a newsletter below to open as a pdf:

2013 Newsletter

2012 Newletter

The social work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which requires our program to provide 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
  Sociology Major
Minor(s) Gerontology
  Social Welfare
  Sociology Minor
Concentration(s) Criminology Concentration

Ready to begin your journey in social work or 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



The Sociology program provides students with the necessary skills to 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 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 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

Social Work

  • Advocate for client access to the services of social work
  • Practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development
  • Attend to professional roles and boundaries
  • Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication
  • Engage in career-long learning
  • Use supervision and consultation
  • Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice
  • Make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work Statement of Principles
  • Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts
  • Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions
  • Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom
  • Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation
  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • Recognize the extent to which a culture's structures and values may opposes, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power
  • Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups
  • Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences
  • View themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants
  • Understand (sic: "can identify and articulate") the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
  • Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice
  • Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice
  • Use practice experiences to inform scientific inquiry
  • Use research evidence to inform practice
  • Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation
  • Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment
  • Analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being
  • Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action
  • Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services
  • Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services
  • Substantively & affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • Use empathy and other interpersonal skills
  • Develop mutually agreed-upon focus of work & desired outcomes
  • Collect, organize, and interpret client data
  • Assess client strengths and limitations
  • Develop mutually agreed-upon intervention goals & objectives
  • Select appropriate intervention strategies
  • Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals
  • Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities
  • Help clients resolve problems
  • Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients
  • Facilitate transitions and endings
  • Social workers critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions



  • Demonstrate effective critical thinking and analysis between the relationship of social problems and environment
  • Demonstrate the ability to appropriately apply key theoretical frameworks of sociology
  • Demonstrate the process of ethical decision making
  • Be able to identify different types of scientific research and formulate research questions
  • Demonstrate skill of data collection, and data analysis
  • Demonstrate effective written communication utilizing appropriate APA format

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:



1. AseraCare Hospice

2. Brevillier Village       
5416 East Lake Road
Erie PA 16511

3. Crime Victims Center
Paul Lukach
125 West 18th Street
Erie PA 16501
(814) 455-9414

4. Erie Home For Children/Adults
Project First Step
Tina Ferraro
Special Projects Coordinator
226 East 27th Street
Erie, PA 16504
459-9253 x 124

5. Erie Together
Laura Lewis
501 E. 38th Street
Erie, PA 16546

6. Erie Housing Authority
Sherry Kinen, MSW
Program Manager
Franklin Terrace
730 Tacoma Road
Erie, PA 16511

7. UPMC/Hamot Medical Center
Mary Jane Brown
201 State Street
Erie, PA 16501

8. Harborcreek Youth Services
John Petulla
5172 Iroquios Ave
Harborcreek, PA 16421

9. HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital           
Dawn Duran
143 East Second Street
Erie, PA 16507
878-1206, 878 1304, 384 1304

10. Lakeshore Community Services
Jenn Rinderle
1352 West 26th Street
Erie, PA 16508

11. Multicultural Resource Center
Al Turner
554 East 10th St.
Erie, PA 16503
(814) 455-0212

12. Northwest Rural AIDS Alliance
15870 Route 322 STE2
Clarian, PA 16214
814 764 6066 #109

13. Mental Health Assoc. of Erie Co.
Bill Grove
1101 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16506

14. Mercy Center for Women
Chris Tombaugh/Melissa Thompson
139 East 27th Street
Erie, PA 16504

15. Millcreek Community Hospital
Mandi Runski
Director of Social Services
5515 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16509

16. Perseus House
Suzanne Jackson
32 W. 26th St.
Erie Pa, 16508

17. Perseus House
Florence Crittenden Home
Lisa Tomez
643 East 6th Street
Erie, PA 16501

18. Safe Harbor Behavioral Health
Mandy Fauble
Crisis Intervention
1330 West 26th Street
Erie, PA 16508

19. Safe Harbor Behavioral Health
Crisis Residential Unit
Vickie Merski
West 12 Street
Erie, PA 16508

20. Safe Net
PO Box 1436
Erie, PA 16512

21. Sarah Reed Children’s

Dayle Anderson
2445 West 34th Street
Erie, PA 16506

22. Sarah Reed Children’s Center/School
Tracey Sampson
310 East 10th Street
Erie, PA 16501

23. Sarah Reed Retirement Center
Jeannie Espey—Social Services
227 West 22nd Street
Erie, PA 16502

24. St. Benedicts Education Center
Sister Vladimirof
330 East 10th Street
Erie, PA 452-4072

25. Saint Martin Center
Margie Olszewski/David Gonzales
1701 Parade Street
Erie, PA 16503

26. St. Mary’s Home at Asbury Ridge
Peggy Rodak/Pamela Neal
4855 West Ridge Road
Erie, PA 16506

27. St. Mary’s Home of Erie
Sue Perry
607 East 26th Street
Erie, PA 16504

28. St. Vincent’s Health Center
Jessicca Bickel/Kristen Bruschi
262 West 25th St.
Erie, PA 16550

29. Esper Treatment Center
Carol Trohoske
25 West 18th Street
Erie, PA 16501
449-1336 or 459-0817

30. Family Services
Diane Murphy/Adoption
5100 Peach Street
Erie, PA 16509

31. Perseus Charter School For Excellence      
Nick Viglione
480-5909 480 5914 #237
32. Stairways Behavioral Health
Christine Caleo-Nickson
2185 w. 8th St

33. Erie School District
Danny Jones

34. Family Services
Doug Pontzer
866 4634
Adam Miller 866 4508

35. Lakeland Area Hospice
Sherron Brinker
838-0511 or 490 3905

36. Community Health Net
1202 State Street
Erie, PA 16501
455- 7222 ex. 278

37. Office of Children and Youth
Tiffany Titus
154 West 9th Street
Erie, PA 16501

38. GECAC/aging only
18 W 9th Street
Erie, PA 16501
459-4581 x 439
Carol Rodgers – x 570
Roxanne Pereles – x 516

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

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

Peggy Black Ph.D. Department Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Work Office: Preston 111 Phone: (814) 824-2453

Peter Benekos Ph.D. Professor of Criminal Justice Office: Preston 115 Phone: (814) 824-2328