LACEY, Wash. – The Saint Martin’s University Bachelor of Social Work Program has been ranked as one of the country’s best by College Choice, an independent online publication that helps students and their families find the right college.
Under College Choice’s student-based ranking system, the Saint Martin’s program was rated 31st in a field of 511 accredited BSW programs nationwide.
“I was very, very happy to hear the news of our BSW Program being ranked in the upper 6 percent of the nation’s programs,” said Prof. Katya Shkurkin, Ph.D., MSW, ACSW, LCSW, director of the University’s social work program. “The program fulfills both our Saint Martin’s values and our vision in the world: Well-educated, values-based professionals who are grounded in a desire for social justice and action to correct injustices. It is a profession full of caring people who are ‘called to serve’.”
The Saint Martin’s Bachelor of Social Work Program has an interdisciplinary foundation within a Benedictine Catholic liberal arts tradition and is accredited by both the national Council of Social Work Education and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The University also offers a minor in social work.
Shkurkin says the program draws a great many caring students, and through a program built on rigorous standards, helps them develop the professionalism, leadership, ethics training and critical thinking skills necessary to make a positive impact in the lives of those they will work to help.
The first cohort of social work students graduated from the young program in 2012-2013. The program is rooted in the University’s respected 34-year-old Community Services Program, first led by Norma Shelan, M.S.W., now a Saint Martin’s professor emeritus. Shkurkin, a professor at the University for 17 years, became director of the community services program eight years ago, then director of the Social Work Program, which she established.
The program’s Director of Field Work, Dr. Tam Dinh, Ph.D., MSW, began with the new program in 2012, and has been integral in the development of the new curriculum, accreditation and cohort-style program. Prof. Sherri Gherson, MSW, LCSW, a local clinical social worker in palliative care, and Dr. Ronald San Nicolas, Ph.D., LCSW, MSW, a specialist in mental health, have both contributed as adjunct faculty, and make this a truly in-depth and broadly-based program.
Shkurkin said the University’s program is distinctive in that students are required to accrue 600 hours or more of internship experience at government agencies, local shelters and other social service settings. That is 150 hours above the average requirement of BSW program at other schools, and gives students an advantage both in the job market and in their application to graduate programs in social work.
The Saint Martin’s program also has a strong emphasis on cultural competency and diversity, is active in supporting veterans and teaches trauma-informed treatment. Shkurkin said she considers the program an excellent fit for students transferring from state community colleges with a direct transfer agreement; those coming in from VA vocational rehabilitation; non-traditionally aged students; and students seeking a profession that can be flexible as their interests grow and develop. It is grounded in the University’s Benedictine values, which Shkurkin called “a natural extension of social work values.”
Smaller class sizes enable faculty members to work closely with students to prepare them for various challenges they will meet in the field. “There are nineteen BSW students enrolled in the junior cohort and fourteen in the senior cohort. We expect that all of them will complete their goals and graduate on time.”
About half of Saint Martin’s BSW graduates continue their education at a graduate school, Shkurkin said. “We are proud of them. Each one is ‘One of ours’. Their accomplishments, in addition to the strength of this program, are what has brought us this honored ranking. “
Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,243 undergraduate students and 277 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 242 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.
For additional information:
Katya V. Shkurkin, PhD, MSW, ACSW, LCSW
Director of Social Work and Community
Interim Media Relations Manager