Guests listen to the panel speakers

Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW)

At the University of St. Thomas, social work is seen as a critical part of health & well-being for individuals, communities and society. Social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the U.S. We prepare you to become a licensed professional, equipped to work in direct practice with children or adults, groups and organizations, or as an advocate for policies to advance the common good. Our graduates are committed to social justice and to helping people make positive changes in their lives.

Why Study Social Work at St. Thomas? 

With an increase in jobs estimated at 16 percent or higher in the field over the next decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), social work offers vast career opportunities. Health care social work, along with mental health and substance abuse social work are among the fastest growing areas, while opportunities to work with children, families and schools are also growing faster than average. With a bachelor’s degree in social work, you can begin work upon graduation or enter a master of social work (MSW) program as an “advanced standing” student, and save a year of time and investment achieving your MSW.

With our bachelor’s degree in social work, you’ll be prepared to work with diverse populations across a wide variety of settings such as schools, health systems, correction centers and social services agencies including child welfare agencies. You will gain real-world practice experience during 600 hours of fieldwork (internships), and graduate prepared to take the bachelors-level social work licensure exam in any state.

Program Overview

  • Course Requirements
  • Four-Year Plan
  • Degrees Awarded
  • Accelerate Your Path to a Master’s Degree
  • Scholarships Overview
  • You will integrate theory, research and fieldwork to prepare for generalist social work practice. The major consists of 12 courses (44 credits) along with four supporting courses (16 credits) in psychology, sociology and biology. Through coursework, you will develop knowledge and skills in social welfare policy and advocacy, community outreach, communication and interviewing, group work skills, case management and basic counseling, research, and strengths-based intervention and support for individuals, families and communities.
    Social work faculty will work with you to plan a program that meets your needs and allows you to explore your interests. Early advising is especially important if you are considering a co-major degree, a minor, or a study abroad experience. Our four-year degree planning guide provides an overview of course sequencing. You will take some social work courses prior to admission to the major in the spring of your junior year.
    Bachelor of social work graduates interested in advanced social work practice, including providing mental health counseling, clinical services, program management and public policy, can earn a master’s degree in one year instead of two by entering most master of social work (MSW) degree programs with “advanced standing.” High-achieving juniors interested in clinical social work can apply for accelerated admission to the St. Thomas MSW and enjoy a seamless transition to graduate school.

    There is a strong need for social workers equipped to work with our increasingly diverse, aging, and undeserved communities throughout our region. The following financial resources are available to qualifying social work students:

    • Minority Scholarship: The School of Social Work is committed to diversifying the profession and offers Social Work Minority Undergraduate Student Scholarships to qualifying social work majors.
      • State and federal loan forgiveness/repayment programs: Some social work careers qualify for federal and state loan forgiveness and repayment programs for public service or health service professionals. 

    Course Requirements

    You will integrate theory, research and fieldwork to prepare for generalist social work practice. The major consists of 12 courses (44 credits) along with four supporting courses (16 credits) in psychology, sociology and biology. Through coursework, you will develop knowledge and skills in social welfare policy and advocacy, community outreach, communication and interviewing, group work skills, case management and basic counseling, research, and strengths-based intervention and support for individuals, families and communities.

    Four-Year Plan

    Social work faculty will work with you to plan a program that meets your needs and allows you to explore your interests. Early advising is especially important if you are considering a co-major degree, a minor, or a study abroad experience. Our four-year degree planning guide provides an overview of course sequencing. You will take some social work courses prior to admission to the major in the spring of your junior year.

    Accelerate Your Path to a Master’s Degree

    Bachelor of social work graduates interested in advanced social work practice, including providing mental health counseling, clinical services, program management and public policy, can earn a master’s degree in one year instead of two by entering most master of social work (MSW) degree programs with “advanced standing.” High-achieving juniors interested in clinical social work can apply for accelerated admission to the St. Thomas MSW and enjoy a seamless transition to graduate school.

    Scholarships Overview

    There is a strong need for social workers equipped to work with our increasingly diverse, aging, and undeserved communities throughout our region. The following financial resources are available to qualifying social work students:

    • Minority Scholarship: The School of Social Work is committed to diversifying the profession and offers Social Work Minority Undergraduate Student Scholarships to qualifying social work majors.
      • State and federal loan forgiveness/repayment programs: Some social work careers qualify for federal and state loan forgiveness and repayment programs for public service or health service professionals. 
    A social worker speaking to people.

    Career Paths

    • Child welfare and family social work
    • Healthcare and medical social work
    • Gero-social work (practice with older adults)
    • Mental & behavioral health
    • Addiction and recovery
    • School social work
    • Advocacy, community organizing and social administration
    • Mental health counseling or therapy (requires master’s degree)

    Quick Facts

    100%
    of social work majors gain real-world practice experience during 600 hours of field education (internships).
    90+%
    Our graduates' average pass rate on the state licensing exam
    18+%

    higher median earnings can be expected in the Twin Cities metro area than the national average.

    (EMSI Q2 2017 data)

    Field Education: Real-World Experience

    The Grounding of the Social Work Profession

    Liberal Arts

    A liberal arts focus on critical inquiry, problem solving and communication skills are essential elements of the social work curriculum. Prerequisites include coursework in sociology, psychology, and human biology.

    Applied Research and Continuing Education

    Grounded in applied research and continuing education, Social work is not a static discipline. You will participate in continuing education throughout your career to maintain professional licensure.
    Lindsey Erdmann, '17 School of Social Work alumna, talks about how the program prepared for working in the field.

    Make a Difference in Others' Lives

    BSW students are prepared for licensure and equipped for generalist social work practice to restore and enhance the social functioning of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities; and to promote a more just society. Field education in agency settings is a critical component of your social work education.