BSW Program FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by students about the St. Thomas BSW program.  If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.

Social workers practice in various different settings to respond to social & personal issues and concerns. Social workers work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and society on issues surrounding poverty, child welfare, family relationships, health care, immigration, crime, aging, and various other social issues. Social workers may work with individuals and families to address personal struggles (micro). They may work with groups and organizations to create better systems to respond to social problems and concerns (mezzo). They may also work on larger systems change, engaging society and political systems to larger, lasting change (macro). BSW social workers learn the knowledge, values and skills to work on all of these levels. 

Learn more about Careers in Social Work


Social work is a professional degree that educates the practitioner to think holistically and from a strengths perspective. Social workers think about the individual, family, community, culture and society and how all of these systems interact with one another to construct the identified concerns and the ultimate solutions. It is the social worker’s assessment of how these systems interact and where the strengths in that interaction exist that serves as the basis for identifying the concerns and the plan for change. All of this is also done in collaboration with the client system. Social workers never “do to” a client system but “engage with” that client to collaboratively create the solutions to the identified problem. 

Learn more by viewing the School of Social Work's Integrative Model of Generalist Social Work Practice

Whether you are 100% sure you want to be a social work major or your just thinking about it, the best place to start the conversation is with a BSW faculty member.

If you would like to meet with a social work faculty member to discuss the major or the profession, please email us at or call the main office number: 651.962.5800

Declaring the major is easy: Pick up a “Major Field Declaration Form” from the front Social Work office (201 Summit Classroom Building) or from the Registrar’s office. Complete it and bring it to the front Social Work office for a signature and processing. Social Work students at St. Thomas will receive a BA in social work at graduation.  

Yes, you can co-major in social work and another major. The coursework program plan for the social work major is fairly prescriptive, requiring courses to be taken in a particular order through junior and senior year. If you are interested in co-majoring in social work, you should work through a program plan with your advisor or a social work faculty member. Paths to some of the most popular co-majors have been developed and can be viewed on the Minors & Co-Majors web page»

If you would like to meet with a faculty member at St. Thomas to discuss options for co-majors, please email us at or call the main office number: 651.962.5800.

Social work majors complete a formal admission to the major process in the spring of their junior year. Admission to the major occurs after students have taken some social work course work so that faculty can more fairly assess the students’ aptitude and motivation for a career in social work. This is a gatekeeping process not a process to limit the number of students accepted because of a limited number of seats in the program. All students who display the aptitude and motivation for a career in social work will be accepted. The application process involves the student meeting with their advisor to review their completed application, transcripts, and junior mid-term field evaluation.  

Learn more about Admission to the Major

Field is the “heart of social work education.” A field placement is a learning experience in which students gain hands-on professional social work practice. Students participate in two field placements, one their junior year (200 hours) and a second their senior year (400) hours. Students are matched with a field placement at a social service agency where they are able to apply their learning to engage, assess, intervene, evaluate and end with diverse client systems. Concurrently, students are enrolled in an integrative field seminar during which they share knowledge and experiences about social service agencies, discuss issues and topics related to social work, and complete assignments that bring the connections between theory and practice to life. 

Learn more about Undergraduate Field Education

The process to obtain a field placement is carefully organized and coordinated by the BSW Field Education program. The process follows an employment model with students preparing application materials which the BSW program provides to prospective placements.  Students complete pre-placement interviews and then the BSW program matches students with an organization based on fit, level of learning and practice interests.  A wide range of practice settings are available for BSW field placements. Students will be oriented to the field placement process at the beginning of the semester and will receive guidance on each step of the process. Students should not contact any agencies prior to this orientation.

Additional detailed information about the placement process can be found here: Placement Process

A good first class to take is Introduction to Social Work (SOWK 281). This class provides you with an overview of the profession of social work along with an introduction to the knowledge, values and skills taught in the major. Other important classes to take in your first or sophomore years would include General Psychology (PSYC 111), Introduction to Sociology (SOCI 100), Human Biology (BIOL 105 or 106), and Lifespan Developmental Psychology (PSYC 202). These courses are the supporting or pre-requisites for the social work course work.  Learn more about the courses  in the Social Work Major»

If you have any questions or would like to speak witha faculty advisor, please email us at or call the main office number: 651.962.5800 to arrange a meeting.

BSW students are actively involved in many of the BSW faculties’ research projects. Research in the BSW program includes projects on foster care, child welfare & disabilities, domestic violence organizations, and the immigration experience of the Hmong community. There is funding on both campuses to support you in working with faculty and completing research. The best place to start is to talk with a faculty member who is completing research in an area that interests you. Faculty interests

Yes, you can be a social work major and study abroad. Studying abroad provides you with a critical understanding of another culture, important learning for social work majors. Given our curriculum you would need to study abroad prior to your Senior year and if studying abroad Junior year, you can only be abroad one semester. A great study abroad opportunity is the Social Work in a Latin American context program. This program takes place in Cuernavaca, Mexico in the spring of your Junior year. Because it is sponsored by St. Kate’s and St. Thomas, you would take most of your regular spring social work courses in Mexico.

Learn more about this study abroad program 

No, an individual needs a master's or a doctoral degree to do therapy. Social workers with a BSW can provide counseling, which is short-term and focused on the challenges of daily living. Clinical MSW’s can provide therapy, which is more long-term and can focus on the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. However, a BSW is a great degree and first step towards achieving a clinical MSW and to becoming a therapist.

Students with a BSW degree can enter an MSW program as "Advanced Standing" and complete the Master in Social Work degree in as little as one year.  For our BSW students who plan to go into therapy, we have an Accelerated MSW Admissions process for the St. Thomas MSW in clinical social work practice.

The Accelerated MSW Admissions Process is for current Junior BSW majors. This process provides students with acceptance into the St. Thomas MSW program in their Junior year rather than their Senior year, streamlines the admissions process, and waives the application fee.  To apply, students must meet established criteria and complete the Accelerated Admission Application. In this application, students state their intent to apply for the MSW program, indicate their desired program track AS1, AS2, or AS3 (weekday/evening or Hybrid , and include their current transcript showing successful completion of all allied/supporting coursework for the social work major.  

Learn more about the Accelerated MSW Admissions process»