Social Welfare (B.A. / B.S.) and Social Work (BSW)

Program Overview

The School of Social Work offers two majors: social welfare and social work. These majors prepare the student for further academic study or for employment in selected human service arenas.


The undergraduate curriculum provides an education in the social and behavioral sciences and their application to human problems. Majors in social welfare and social work receive a liberal arts education that prepares them to be informed citizens involved in human services or social welfare problems and policies.


Curriculum and Major Requirements

Please see the L&S Undergraduate Catalog for curriculum and major requirements details.


Check out the Social Science Concentration in the Undergraduate Catalog to view the approved Social Science Concentration Courses for Social Welfare majors and BSW students.


Please also review the School of Social Work's MSW & BSW Student Rights and Responsibilities.


About the Majors

Social Welfare Major

The social welfare major offers an overview of pressing, current social problems. Majors take courses in a variety of social sciences to enable them to view social welfare in its broad social, economic, and political contexts.

Undergraduate Requirements At-A-Glance (jpg)


All undergraduate students in good standing are eligible to enter the Social Welfare major. Sophomores should be enrolled in or have taken SW 205 and/or SW 206 to declare the major, see the L&S Undergraduate Catalog.


BSW Program

The Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) Program prepares students as beginning-level professional social workers. The curriculum objectives of the program are found below in the section on Professional Foundation Objectives. Typically, there are approximately 30-35 students in the program who have excellent grades and who met the eligibility criteria below. To be admitted to the BSW Program:

  • have completed Social Work 205 & 206
  • have completed or concurrent enrollment in an approved statistics class
  • be second-semester juniors (71 credits completed at the time of application)
  • have a minimum 2.5 overall GPA from all colleges attended
  • BSW students complete a year-long social work internship as part of the program. Visit our Field Education for BSW Students site for information about Field Units and Field Education.


BSW Generalist Practice Competencies

At the conclusion of the BSW Program we expect students have achieved the following competencies through practice behaviors learned in classroom and field experiences; all of which are derived from social work knowledge, values and skills.

  1. Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession’s history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession’s enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth
    • advocate for client access to the services of social work
    • practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development
    • attend to professional roles and behaviors
    • demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication
    • engage in career-long learning
    • use supervision and consultation
  2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practiceSocial workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decision-making. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards, and relevant law.
    • recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice
    • make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work
    • tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts
    • apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions
  3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information.
    • distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom
    • identify and evaluate models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation
    • use effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues
  4. Engage diversity and difference in practice.Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person=s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim.
    • recognize the extent to which a culture's structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power
    • gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups
    • recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experience
    • view themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants
  5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice.Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice.
    • understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
    • advocate for human rights and social and economic justice
    • engage in practices that advance social and economic justice
  6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge.
    • use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry
    • use research evidence to inform practice
  7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course; the range of socialsystems in which people live; and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development.
    • utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation
    • critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment
  8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice. Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services; the role of policy in service delivery; and the role of practice in policy development.
    • analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being
    • collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action
  9. Respond to contexts that shape practice.Social workers are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively.
    • continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services
    • provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services
  10. Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances; evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating, and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.
    1. Engagement
      • substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
      • use empathy and other interpersonal skills
      • develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work with desired outcomes
    2. Assessment
      • collect, organize, and interpret client data
      • assess client strengths and limitations
      • develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives
      • select appropriate intervention strategies
    3. Intervention
      • initiate actions to achieve organizational goals
      • implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities
      • help clients resolve problems
      • negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients
      • facilitate transitions and endings
    4. Evaluation
      • critically analyze, monitor and evaluate interventions

Last edited by portier on Wednesday, April 01, 2015 | Printer Friendly Version