Educating a diverse population in the liberal arts

For personal, professional and global responsibility

In the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame

Select Page

Notre Dame College will be offering its first social work class this spring and is expected to introduce a new bachelor’s degree program in the subject area in 2021-2022.

The new course for spring 2021 will introduce students to basic social work generalist practice. The class leads into the College’s anticipated new Bachelor of Science in Social Work program, which is scheduled to be available onsite and online. The degree has been approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and is pending approval from the Higher Learning Commission.

“We wanted to create a program that gives students more hands-on, personal experience in what to expect when they do social work,” said Antoinette Willis, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at the College. “Our program will teach students to meet clients where they are, to get to know and help address their specific needs, rather than just make decisions based on paperwork.”

Only two other institutions in the area offer undergraduate social work programs, and both are limited in the number of students they can accept, Willis said. Notre Dame’s social work courses are housed in the College’s Division of Science and Mathematics under the Department of Psychology.

Willis, who is developing the four-year social work curriculum, will teach the course during the spring 2021 semester. More courses are being offered in the fall 2021. She has worked in children and family services for nearly 20 years and has conducted in-depth research with youth involved in the emancipation process.

Students who successfully complete the proposed Notre Dame B.S.S.W. degree will be prepared to take social work licensing exams as well as to work with clinicians and move forward into their master degree to become independently licensed. While not all social work positions require licensure, most employers offer higher salaries for those with the credential, according to Willis.

Notre Dame’s anticipated program also is expected to feature a senior capstone, in which students will work directly with licensed professionals to gain real-world experience in the profession prior to graduation.

Social Work Careers

Careers in social work range from case managers to therapists and may serve children, adults, families or communities. Social workers are employed in a variety of settings, including schools, child welfare agencies, human service organizations, hospitals, community development corporations, mental health clinics and private practices, among others.

The field is expected to grow faster than average, and the median salary for social workers is more than $50,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to Willis, social work is a preferred profession for many because the career path allows students interested in clinical care to become licensed to work with clients faster than psychology majors. Social work also is a “helping career” option for those who may not have an affinity for the clinical or medical facets of related fields, she said.

Entry-Level Courses

The basic generalist practice course will highlight the differences between the disciplines of social work, sociology and psychology and present options in training that can lead to different kinds of employment. This course will open the doors to understanding what social work is about and the guiding principles of working for and advocating on behalf of clients.

Willis said social work involves the application of social welfare policies, advocacy, therapeutics, clinical aspects and resources to encourage and empower clients personally and in their communities. Sociology is more anthropological and environmental, and psychology tends to focus on the mind and body. Social work incorporates both fields on an individual and community level but can deal with how businesses and organizations are impacted, as well.

Additional social work courses for fall 2021 are expected to focus on social work ethics and social welfare policy.

New students interested in social work study at Notre Dame can request admissions information online. Current students can register for the two spring courses beginning in November. Email

September 2020


About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or