Social Work

A student looks up from writing notes during class.


The next decade will see significant growth in the need for professionally trained social workers. We know that the scarcity of affordable housing, a growing older adult population, and the many implications of income inequality will place increasing demands on our communities—necessitating smart, innovative, and skilled social work interventions. Thus, if you are considering a career in social work, you’ve come at the right time—we are going to need you.


At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, there is a rich mix of students from various backgrounds, lifestyles, and traditions that results in a diverse context for gaining the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for social work practice and fighting for social justice. The profession of social work is guided by a set of key values that include service, social justice, respecting the dignity and worth of every individual, holding the importance of human relationships as central, integrity, and competence in practice. A degree in social work is highly respected, valuable, malleable, and offers prospects for a lifetime of opportunities in social service, government, and grassroots organizations. 

The School of Social Work offers an undergraduate degree in social work as well as a master’s in social work that may be completed in a one-year, two-year, or three-year program. Our programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The baccalaureate curriculum and the first year of the MSW curriculum are based upon competencies necessary for social work practice at the foundation level. The second year of the MSW curriculum prepares students for advanced social work practice. Faculty members assess students’ progress in acquiring those competencies throughout their coursework, including all practicums. For more information, please refer to the undergraduate and graduate Social Work Student Handbooks on the School of Social Work website.

Practicum education is known as the signature pedagogy for social work, and along with integrated coursework, provides students the practice skills and professional behaviors needed to be competent and prepared to enter the workforce. Practicum is a requirement to graduate with a social work degree. Students are placed as interns in regional social service programs where they are provided opportunities to integrate social work knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to life situations experienced by clients in social service agencies. Students develop practice skills that reflect social work core competencies, values, and ethics. Successful completion of a practicum requires a personal and professional commitment to these values and ethics that are the cornerstone of the social work profession.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the next decade will see a 16% increase in employment opportunities for social workers. Specifically, there will be a 14% growth in child, family, and school social work positions, a 20% growth in health care and medical social work positions, and a 19% growth in mental health and substance abuse positions.

For variety, few professions can compare with social work. While social workers are employed as lobbyists, administrators, and policymakers, they frequently choose to work directly with individuals, families, and groups of people who experience challenges that are economically, politically, and socially based. Social work is unique in its dedication to working with people who are economically disadvantaged. Among the settings that employ social workers are schools, hospitals, behavioral health clinics, private counseling services, addiction treatment centers, job training programs, adult and child social services, in-home services for older adults or persons with physical and health challenges, social welfare agencies, adult corrections, and juvenile probation.