Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

"If you're looking for a career with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction, and an abundance of options, consider social work.  Social workers are people who care about people, who want to make things better, who want to relieve suffering, who want their work to make a difference." (National Association of Social Workers, NASW)

This major prepares graduates for generalist social work practice and licensure, and for graduate study. The School of Social Work recognizes two goals of generalist social work practice:

  1. To restore and enhance the social functioning of systems of all sizes (individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities); and
  2. To promote a more just society

Learn more about generalist social work practice

Make a difference

The need for social workers is growing. Employment in social work is expected to grow by more than 20% in the next decade, faster than average for all occupations. Health reform and demographic trends such as the aging population, increasing numbers of military and veterans, and growth of immigrant and refugee populations are driving above-average growth of social work practice. The need for child, family and school social workers is expected to remain strong, with an expected 15% employment increase, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social disparities in income, employment, housing, health, education and more continue to grow, creating greater need for professionals who are committed to helping people function the best they can in their environment and to promoting social justice.

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Prepare yourself for real-world practice

BSW students gain real-world work experience by completing at least one-third of their total school time in field placement under the supervision of agency-based field instructors (200 hours as juniors and 400 hours as seniors).  Field education is considered the heart of social work education and students frequently describe their placements as "transformational" experiences. The School of Social Work partners with more than 60 agencies in Minnesota and western Wisconsin to provide BSW students the opportunity to work with individuals, families and groups. Students also gain exposure to important issues at the policy level.

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Our faculty are recognized scholars, researchers and practitioners. The School of Social Work includes 18 St. Thomas faculty who are committed to student development through mentoring relationships, community engagement and teaching excellence. They are recognized experts in areas such as child welfare, policy advocacy, medical social work, school social work, social justice, mental health treatment and more.

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The social work curriculum promotes critical thinking and reflective practice. The major integrates theory, research and fieldwork with liberal arts core requirements. Students are challenged to integrate foundational coursework such as psychology, philosophy, biology, sociology and ethics with applied coursework in social work practice. Our strong research curriculum ensures students are guided by evidence and prepared to contribute to the growing body of social work knowledge.

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Social justice is a core value embraced in the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).  The School of Social Work has integrated Catholic Social Teaching with the NASW Code of Ethics to develop Social Work for Social Justice: Ten Principles. This integration acknowledges the universality of these principles across faith traditions and provides a framework for strengthening the way in which we educate for service and justice.

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  • Our BSW program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1975.
  • The pass rate for our graduates taking the LSW licensure exam for the first time is consistently well-above the national average.
  • The School's "Social Work for Social Justice: Ten Principles" has been adopted by numerous social work education programs across the United States.
  • The School of Social Work has more than 3,500 graduates, creating a life-long professional network of undergraduate and graduate-level alumni.