Social workers help people find ways of living more satisfying and productive lives through counseling, group work, community organizing, advocacy, and social action.  An ever-expanding spectrum of human service agencies and organizations rely on the unique skills of professionally-trained social workers. Wartburg social work graduates are employed in such varied areas as child protective services, programs for older adults, substance abuse treatment, hospitals, mental health, juvenile and adult corrections, community programs serving people with disabilities, and social service program administration. Wartburg offers both a major in social work and a minor in social welfare.

A Pre-professional Training Program

  • The curriculum is designed to help students acquire essential professional social work skills through on-campus courses and agency-based field instruction.
  • All faculty are experienced social workers with professional backgrounds and credentials.
  • Much of the curriculum is project-based, enabling students to learn by doing, with a strong emphasis on community service.

Program Goals

The Social Work Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education to grant the baccalaureate-level social work degree.  Grounded in the institutional mission of preparing students for lives of service and leadership as a spirited expression of their faith and learning, it develops graduates who are prepared for beginning generalist social work practice or graduate school entry at the advanced level.  The social work program and its curriculum are based on the conviction that every person is worthy of respect and dignity and that these ideals cannot be achieved without a deep and active commitment to social justice.  Ultimately the program strives to develop competent, proficient practitioners who reflect the ideals of a liberal arts education and the knowledge, values, and skills of the social work profession.

Instill in students an appreciation for the community as an essential context for professional practice.

Develop graduates with the vision, skills, and appreciation for advocacy to assume positions of professional and community leadership.

Equip students with an appreciation for professional ethics and the skills needed to apply ethical principles consistently in everyday practice.

Enable students to seek and skillfully use resources and research methods that enhance quality professional practice and service delivery.

Develop students who do not merely tolerate human differences, but view diversity as a strength and vital element of social life.


Wartburg education students are heavily involved in campus life. Below are a some of the organizations education majors tend to join.

Social Work Club 
Open to all Wartburg students, the Social Work Club provides opportunities to socialize, learn about social work careers, explore issues of interest to social workers, and participate in campus and community service activities.  

Holiday Shoppe
For more than 20 years, social work students have sponsored this holiday tradition that provides donated Christmas gifts to the children of families receiving public assistance in Bremer County.  Throughout the fall term students raise funds, collect donations, recruit volunteers, and work with the IA Department of Human Services to identify and invite eligible families.  During two days each December, families come to “shop” for gifts at Waverly’s Redeemer Lutheran Church that include new toys, books, clothing, and toiletry items.  The Shoppe teaches students how to organize a major community event and puts smiles on the faces of hundreds of children each year.

NASW Legislative Day
Each February, third-year social work students travel to Des Moines at the invitation of the National Association of Social Workers to join with participants from other colleges and universities to speak directly to state legislators about bills and laws related to social work and social welfare.  This event underscores the importance of advocacy and social justice in the lives of social workers and the people we serve.

May Term and Work Opportunities in Alaska
Through a long partnership with Hope Community Resources, Inc., Alaska’s largest provider of support services to people experiencing disabilities, the Social Work Department sponsors a bi-annual May Term course, GM 270: Exploration and Service Learning in Alaska that takes students to Anchorage and surrounding areas to learn about the philosophy of inclusion, assist Hope, Inc. staff and associates, work with Native Alaskans, and explore the rich culture and natural beauty of the area.

Phi Alpha Honor Society
Wartburg’s chapter of the national Phi Alpha Honor Society recognizes superior academic achievement among social work students and promotes humanitarian goals and ideals.  Eligible students are formally inducted to Phi Alpha each spring.

With so many activities including athletics, student government, musical groups, and campus ministry, students have the opportunity to develop leadership skills and to participate in service-learning activities.

Admission and Professional Planning

Admission to the Social Work Major
Students apply to formally enter the program at the end of the second year at Wartburg College.   Those who transfer to Wartburg as third or fourth-year students complete one term before applying.  Criteria for admission to the program include:

  • Third-year standing
  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00
  • A grade of C- or higher in each course required for the social work major and in EN112: Intermediate Composition.
  • Satisfactory completion of SW 181: Beginning Field Experience
  • Demonstration of professional comportment (integrity, work habits, professional conduct)
  • Submission of an application for admission to the major and required attachments.

Professional Support & Networking
The program’s strong connection to the professional community is reinforced through a National Social Work Advisory Board, consisting of social workers, agency executives, and professional leaders from across the country.  It enjoys a vibrant, supportive relationship with the National Association of Social Workers and its Iowa chapter.

Graduate SchoolsWhile Wartburg social work graduates have been accepted at graduate schools throughout the U.S., most wishing to receive a Master of Social Work degree have attended:

Alumni Outcomes

Wartburg graduates find satisfying jobs and are admitted into top graduate and professional schools. Wartburg alumni can be found in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 foreign countries. Below is only a sample of the types of positions Wartburg graduates from the Social Work Department have had in the past.

Sample of Alumni Positions from the Past Five Years:

  • ER Social Worker, University of IA Hospitals & Clinics, IA City
  • Domestic Violence Counselor, Cedar Valley Friends of the Family, Waverly
  • Youth Health Educator, Allen Hospital Together for Youth, Waterloo
  • Substance Abuse Counselor, Pathways Behavioral Services, Waterloo
  • Juvenile Court Services Officer, Denver, Colo.
  • Executive Director, Kentucky NASW, Lexington, Ky.
  • Social Worker, Black Hawk-Grundy Community Mental Health, Waterloo

Sample of Alumni Positions from the Past 15 Years:

  • Family Therapist (private practice), Aurora, Colo.
  • Director of Social Work Field Education, St. Ambrose University, Davenport
  • Social Worker, Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids
  • Social Worker, Cedar Valley Hospice, Waterloo
  • Child Protective Services Social Worker,  IA Dept. of Human Services, Des Moines


Students gain real world experience throughout their coursework and are well prepared for their future careers.

Faculty mentors are practitioners as well as educators. WORTH IT.


Tammy Faux

Professor of Social Work

Jenna Haglund

Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Work

A. Lynn Peters

Associate Professor of Social Work