Make a difference helping others.

Mercyhurst University’s degree in social work provides students with the opportunity to pursue their desire to make a positive difference in the world by supporting others and advocating for social change. Students explore value-based and ethical issues and build a strong foundation of knowledge and skills that effectively prepare them for advanced degrees and a broad array of social work careers. Some of the growing career paths available include school counselors, working in the medical arena, schools, criminal justice, mental health, child welfare, gerontology, chemical dependency, residential settings, and services for  veterans.  The social work major, accredited by the Council of Social Work Education, offers students the opportunity to gain “advanced standing” in graduate schools; thereby reducing the amount of time required to complete a Master of Social Work degree.

Fast Facts

  • Our curriculum gives students a foundation in human diversity, populations at risk, human behavior and social environments, social and economic justice, social work research, social welfare and policy, and social work values, skills, and practice.

  • Social work students recently produced a documentary film titled, “Let It Begin with Me: Putting an End to Youth Violence in Erie” to encourage unity and dialogue in the face of violence in our community

  • The social work senior seminar is an opportunity for students to discuss the challenges of their internship as well as the ethics, theory, research, and policy involved

  • Mercyhurst’s social work program is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education.

  • Studying social work combines theory with practice, giving students first-hand experience with populations often served by social workers.

State Authorization

This program may fulfill a portion of the requirements leading to licensure within this field. Please visit the State Authorization webpage to review the requirements for licensure by state or program.

A 24-credit social welfare minor is offered for students wishing to enhance their chosen degree program in gaining a holistic and hands-on approach to many of the injustices and societal complexities in our world today. Students in this program must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA in minor courses. The course requirements for the social welfare minor include:

  • SOC 101: Contemporary Social Problems
  • SOC 204: Diversity, Oppression, and Social Justice
  • SOCW 220: Human Behavior and The Social Environment I
  • SOCW 304: Social Welfare Analysis
  • SOCW 307: Social Work Practice I
  • Two Social Work/Sociology electives
  • Two pre-approved cognate courses

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

Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 12% by 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services but will vary by specialization (according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics).


Contact Us

Elizabeth Sanders, MSSA
Chair, Department of Applied Sociology/Social Work
Office: Preston 108
Phone: 814-824-2693