Social Services

The social services major at Earlham prepares ethical, culturally sensitive individuals who are prepared to thrive in a variety of careers in counseling, social work, human resources and other fields. Throughout the major, you will gain a deep understanding of how people and social systems affect one another. You will gain policy skills and knowledge and graduate equipped to make meaningful change in the world.

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growth in overall employment of social workers is projected from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, specialized areas of social services such as mental health and substance abuse, healthcare, and child, family and school social services are projected to grow 17 percent, 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively, between 2019 to 2029.

A degree in social services will prepare you for a variety of potential career paths, including social work, school and career counseling, marriage and family therapy, and human resources.

Thoughtful learning and practical experience

The social services major at Earlham combines the study of society and systems with hands-on, practical experiences in social services settings. In your first and second years, you will be introduced to the fields of social work, psychology and sociology. You’ll experience a service-learning placement in a facility serving adults with mental illness or cognitive disorders. In your third and fourth years, you will learn counseling skills, including a practicum at a local agency in your senior year.


In your classes, you will learn ethically grounded, culturally competent approaches to problem-solving. You will have the flexibility to pursue your interests in your upper-level competency courses. Students interested in health might take “Racism in Public Health.” Students interested in child welfare might take “Foster Care in the U.S.” Students interested in working with disabled populations might take “Disabilities Studies.” We offer a wide range of courses not available at most colleges, including “Religion & Culture of Hip Hop” and “Cradle & Grave,” among others.
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Hands-on experience

Practical experiences are woven into the social services major, and you’ll complete an internship practicum before graduation.

Learn more about internship practicum

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Experienced faculty

Our faculty come from a range of disciplines, including psychology and sociology/anthropology. We also have a practicing professional partner on staff, so you’ll get a firsthand look at careers in social services.

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Our faculty

We bring a diverse set of perspectives from a number of fields to help you understand individuals, groups and social systems.

Program details

Social services majors take a variety of courses in social services, psychology and sociology/anthropology, as well as other disciplines, providing you with a breadth of knowledge and a grounding in ethical practices.

As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which students cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects every student to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.

As part of their general education, students complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, students meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.

Learn more about general education at Earlham.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in social services, you must complete the following courses, in addition to general education requirements:

Complete nine required courses (29-30 credits):

If you intend to pursue an MSW, you should take BIOL 112 Cells, Genes and Inheritance as one of your natural science courses.

  • SOSV 101 Introduction to Social Work 
  • PSYC 115 Introduction to Psychological Perspectives OR PSYC 116 Behavior, Health Care and Society 
  • SOAN 118 Inequalities, Power and Society
  • PSYC 220 Adult Psychopathology
  • PSYC 230 Human Development
  • PSYC 374 Introduction to Counseling
  • SOAN 345 Social Research Methods
  • SOSV 463 Field Study Internship
  • SOSV 488 Senior Capstone

Complete four competency courses:

Complete at least 2 of the competency courses at the 300-level. Competency courses must be taken across at least two departments.

  • Engage diversity and difference in practice (one of the following courses):
    • AAAS 230/REL 230 History of African American Religious Experience
    • AAAS 299/REL 299 Religion & Culture of Hip Hop
    • AAAS 305/HIST 305 History of New Orleans
    • AAAS 309/ENG 209/REL 209 Prophetic Black Women
    • AAAS 354 The Black Middle Class
    • EDUC 302 Disabilities Studies
    • HIST 141 History of California
    • HIST 204/JWST 204/REL 204 The New Promised Land
    • POLS 303/PAGS 303/REL 303 Human Rights in the Muslim World
    • PSYC 362 Cross-Cultural Psychology
    • PSYC 368 Human Sexuality
    • SOAN 355 Social Construction of Aging
    • SOAN 365 Women’s Gender & Sexuality
    • SPAN 346 Hispanic Cultures in the U.S. (topic varies & is taught in Spanish)
  • Advance human rights & social, economic, & environmental justice (one of the following courses):
    • AAAS 330/PAGS 330/REL 330 Mass Incarceration & Moral Vision
    • AAAS 356/HIST 356 The Civil Rights Movement
    • ENSU 141 Environment, Society, & Sustainability
    • ENSU 323 Environmental Ethics
    • HIST 351/PAGS 351 Workplace Justice
    • PSYC 356 Psychology of Prejudice
    • SPAN 202 Spanish for Social Justice (topic varies & is taught in Spanish)
  • Engage in policy practice (one of the following courses):
    • AAAS 340/PSYC 340 Racism & Public Health
    • EDUC 101 Introduction to Population Health
    • ENSU 322/POLS 322 Climate Policy
    • HIST 306/PAGS 306 History of Union Organizing
    • PHIL 363/ENSU 363 Bioethics
    • POLS 121 Introduction to American Politics & Policy
    • SOAN 333/PAGS 333 Medical Anthropology & Global Health
    • SOAN 335 Health, Medicine, & Society
  • Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, & communities (one of the following courses):
    • MGMT 342 Leadership & Dealing with Difference
    • PAGS 343/MGMT 343 Conflict Resolution
    • PSYC 210 Social Psychology
    • PSYC 366 Cradle & Grave
    • PSYC 378 Psychoactive Drugs & Behavior
    • SOAN 140 Urban Sociology

Total requirement: 13 courses (41-46 credits)

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

The social services major will prepare you for jobs and graduate/professional programs in social services, public health, counseling, human resources and many other professions. You will be equipped to understand societal and organizational structures and work in ethical ways to support the people living and working within these structures.

If you’re considering a career in social work, counseling, public health, human resources or another area that works with people and systems, the social services major could be the right fit for you. Social services majors are passionate about helping others and working to provide ethical, socially responsible services to their communities.

Next steps

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.