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AlaskaX: Introduction to Social Work

This course is an introduction to the profession of social work and the human services delivery system. It examines the historical development of social work focusing on the knowledge, values, and skills that characterize the social worker. This course will orient the learner to the context for social work and focus on the foundational frameworks of the profession.

Introduction to Social Work
6 weeks
4–6 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

There is one session available:

After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Dec 8

About this course

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Social work is an exciting field and a marketable profession, and there are many different types of social work careers and areas of social work research. Social workers make a positive difference in the lives of individuals every day in many different ways. This course will introduce learners to the profession of social work and the human services delivery system. Social work practice settings from a micro, mezzo, and macro level will be explored, such as mental health and clinical social work, child welfare, substance abuse, older adults, poverty, criminal justice, and more.

Learners will examine the historical development of the social work profession focusing on the knowledge, values and skills that characterize the social worker. Students will be oriented to the context for social work practice and the foundational frameworks of the profession, including the strengths perspective, the socio-ecological model, and the biopsychosocial framework. Learners will also be introduced to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and how to utilize the code to navigate ethical dilemmas and decision-making processes.

In this online course, learners will explore the concepts of social and economic justice and examine the characteristics of social injustice implicit in racism, classism, sexism, and gender orientation. The impact of social injustice is not always the same for people of color, women, or LGBTQ+ people. This course provides many opportunities to explore your own beliefs about diversity and social justice. Even though this is an asynchronous and self-paced course and not in-person, it is important to emphasize that the course should always be a safe environment that respects differences of opinion and recognizes that each of us is on our own journey in understanding diversity and communicating across cultures.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated programs:
  • Associated skills: Research, Decision Making, Mental Health, Clinical Social Work, Child Welfare, Social Work, Communications, Substance Abuse, Human Services, Social Justice

What you'll learn

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  • Gain an understanding of what a social worker is and does.
  • Gain an understanding of the importance of the NASW Code of Ethics to the profession of social work.
  • Define power, privilege, oppression, and intersectionality.
  • Summarize common theories, frameworks, and perspectives in the social work profession.
  • Describe the different levels of practice; micro, mezzo, macro.
  • Week 1: What is Social Work?
  • Week 2: Social Work Values and Ethics
  • Week 3: Theoretical Frameworks that guide practice
  • Week 4: Cultural competency
  • Week 5: Anti-racism
  • Week 6: Social Work Practice Settings

Frequently Asked Questions

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What kind of degrees can I get in Social Work?

There are two types of social work degree programs: you can get a bachelor’s degree (BSW) and/or a master’s degree (MSW) from institutions accredited through the Council on Social Work Education. Admission requirements vary based on the institution.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers an online Bachelor of Social Work but does not currently have a Master of Social Work program. (Please note that this edX course, and the social work courses that are part of AlaskaX Professional Certificates, are not part of the UAF BSW program, and are not CSWE-accredited courses.)

How long does it take to become a social worker?

There is no set timeline for obtaining a social work degree, and the length of a social work program depends on many factors, including the specific number of credit hours an institution requires — including field placements or practicums, whether a social work student is full-time or part-time, if a student has advanced standing for MSW programs, etc.

Many areas of social work also require you to be licensed as either a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Licensure involves passing an exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), and social workers must engage in continuing education in order to keep their license active.

What can I do as a social worker?

Many things! Not all social workers choose to work in healthcare or social services, and some choose to be generalists rather than focusing on specialization. This edX course is an introduction to different areas of social work practice, allowing you to gain a better understanding of the different areas of social work practice.

This course is part of Introduction to Social Work Professional Certificate Program

Learn more 
Expert instruction
2 skill-building courses
Progress at your own speed
3 months
4 - 6 hours per week

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