As COVID-19 disrupts Albertans’ lives, MRU announces four-year Bachelor of Social Work degree

March 16, 2021

On International Social Work Day, Mount Royal University celebrates the role of social work in society by proudly announcing a new four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). This degree is purposefully designed to serve communities, particularly in the midst of the social upheaval caused by COVID-19.

“Social work education has been an important part of Mount Royal for more than 60 years and we are excited to bring this degree opportunity to students,” said Dr. Stephen Price, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Health, Community and Education. “The Faculty of Health, Community and Education encompasses a wide range of disciplines but at the heart of them all is a desire to help people, families and communities.”

The new BSW grew out of MRU’s two-year social work diploma which saw an average of 6.5 applicants for every one seat between 2015 and 2019. It was approved by the Government of Alberta and awarded pre-accreditation from the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. The degree is unique in that it permits direct entry to a four-year degree program, an option that does not currently exist in Alberta.

“During these difficult times, social workers are more important than ever to help Albertans come through the pandemic,” said the Honourable Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Calgary-Bow. “This unique Bachelor of Social Work degree at Mount Royal University fits well within the aims of skills for jobs training and will make sure that our students have access to a current and modern  program that will equip them with the tools needed in the complex social settings of today.”

Another feature of the new BSW is that it will be the first program in Alberta to offer a child intervention concentration, joining B.C. and Ontario who have similar concentrations.

“Social workers play such an important role in the lives of children and youth,” said the Honourable Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Calgary-Shaw. “This degree program will provide new pathways for students and prepare them with both the knowledge and practical skills to do this important work.”

The BSW was built in consultation with the government, the program advisory committee, non-government organizations, students and alumni.

“Social workers are essential workers and this pandemic has demonstrated that social workers are positioned to help develop and strengthen connections between people. The BSW is something our employment community and our students have all asked for,” said Dr. Yasmin Dean, PhD., chair of the Department of Child Studies and Social Work at MRU.

Krista Andrews graduated from MRU in 2008 with the social work diploma and now supervises and provides support and leadership to a team of social workers.

“There is a saying amongst social workers that you don’t pick social work, social work picks you. I believe this is true for me,” said Andrews. “I learned that words matter, that policies can help or hinder, that social justice, social action and community development are the foundation of what we do and that advocacy is sometimes the toughest and most fulfilling part of the role.”

In the new BSW, courses in social work practice, theory, policy and research are grounded within contemporary theory, including decolonization, Indigenous ways of knowing, anti-oppressive practice and strengths perspectives. The BSW will prepare students for practice with individuals, children, families, groups and communities in complex social settings. The degree allows students to participate in practical learning right away.

Tim Hilton, a current MRU social work diploma student, hopes to enroll in the BSW himself, pursue a master’s degree and work as a forensic social worker for a few years before teaching in a university setting. He says many of the attributes of MRU as a whole also make it an excellent place to study social work.

“At MRU, the faculty know who you are,” says Hilton, “You’re not a number and you’re not another unfamiliar face. They believe in you, in your education and in your future.”

For further information, please contact:

Peter Glenn, Senior Media Relations Officer