Bachelor of Social Work Program

The School of Social Welfare provides the education and experience necessary for a career in social work. By helping shape students’ capacity for caring, the school prepares social workers to carry out the unique purposes of the profession — to develop human potential, to promote individual well-being, and to bring about a more just society.

Social work is a major professional discipline in the broad institution of social welfare. The term social welfare denotes the dimensions of society concerned with human needs: health, education, economic security, housing, and mental health.

The undergraduate program of the KU School of Social Welfare prepares graduates for beginning generalist social work practice. The program defines generalist practice as maintaining focus on the interface between systems (i.e., individual, family, groups, organizations, and communities), with particular emphasis on

  • The strengths inherent in these systems.
  • The need to understand the role of gender, age, race/ethnicity, class, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and culture in all phases of the social work process.
  • The promotion of social and economic justice for those disenfranchised on the basis of the attributes listed above.
  • The assumption of a critical perspective regarding different ways of knowing.

Beginning generalist practice uses multilevel methodology, depending on the needs of the client system, and incorporates a knowledge, value, and skill base that is transferable between and among diverse contexts and locations.

The B.S.W. program is offered on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

B.S.W. Edwards Campus Program

The B.S.W. Edwards program is designed as a degree completion program for students who are completing or who have completed an associate's degree and are interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree. Students in the B.S.W. Edwards program take the upper-level social work courses required for the B.S.W. with professors and instructors at the Edwards campus. For more information, contact the Edwards campus at 913-897-8400.


While Deciding on a Major

Early advising is recommended for undergraduates interested in social work. Pre-social work students (both KU and transfer) are encouraged to meet with an advisor from the school during each enrollment period.

From Another College

For undergraduates who plan to transfer to KU but currently attend another college, advising is available by phone or email. The school works closely with counselors from all Kansas colleges.

Once Admitted

Once a student is admitted to the School of Social Welfare, academic advisors are available to assist students in the enrollment process, filling out enrollment forms and other academic program requirements. Students consult with their academic advisor before enrollment each semester and have their advising hold removed.  In addition, a member of the School’s faculty is assigned as professional/career advisor to assist with career matters.

For more information on B.S.W. advising, review the student handbook .

Beginning in the fall semester, 4 semesters are necessary to complete professional social work courses required for the B.S.W. degree.

Certificate Programs

Undergraduate Experiential Learning Certificate Programs

The university offers several experiential learning certificate programs that work well with the undergraduate social work major. Students who complete an engaged learning certificate program receive a notation of it on their transcripts. Learn more about certificate programs.

Undergraduate Admission to KU

First-year students enter the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and complete 3 semesters of work (36 credit hours) before applying to the B.S.W. program. Visit the Office of Admissions for information about admission to KU. Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for information about international admissions.

Undergraduate Admission to the School of Social Welfare

Admission Requirements

  • Completion of 36 hours of course work, including college algebra and English composition I and II.
  • A minimum grade-point average of 2.5.
  • Submission of completed application including an essay answering 3 questions, a résumé, and 3 reference forms.  
  • Online KU application (transfer students).

Grade-Point Average

Evaluation of transcripts submitted as part of the application for admission includes computation of grade-point average for all work completed. This admission grade-point average is adjusted to include only courses that transfer. A student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 and a 2.5 in social work required courses.

Admission Process

Students are admitted for fall semester only. The application deadline is February 1 for continuing KU students and June 15 for transfer students.  No applications will be considered after June 15. 

Learn more about the admission process.

Bachelor of Social Work Degree Requirements

Primary responsibility for meeting graduation requirements rests with the student.

  • A minimum of 120 credit hours of course work, including 12 credit hours of field practicum. At least 30 hours must be taken in residence.
  • A 2.5 minimum grade-point average for all classroom work.
  • A 2.5 minimum grade-point average in required social work courses.
  • Successful completion of field practicum.
  • Recommendation by the faculty of the school to the chancellor and the Kansas Board of Regents that the degree be granted.


Professional Socialization (6)
SW 220Social Work, Social Welfare and U.S. Society3
SW 623Seminar in Professional Issues3
Students prepare for the responsibilities of social work, involving professional functioning, knowledge and use of professional ethics, values, attitudes, and skills. Students analyze their values critically to develop a unified personal and professional framework. Students develop their professional commitment to a code of ethics and understanding of social work to govern their professional behavior.
Human Behavior and the Social Environment (6)
SW 530Human Behavior in the Social Environment3
SW 532Community and Organizational Dynamics and Human Behavior3
Students acquire a knowledge and understanding of individual, group, community, institutional, and cultural dynamics and behavior. Students become familiar with concepts, theories, and empirical findings that enable them to practice effectively as professional social workers.
Research (6)
SW 540Fundamentals of Social Work Research3
SW 541Social Work Research Seminar3
Students achieve a command of fundamental social work research. A knowledge of the scientific method is acquired and applied to current research. Students learn to apply critical thinking to the professional literature.
Social Work Practice (21)
SW 510Fundamentals of Social Work Practice3
SW 555Diversity, Oppression, and Social Justice: Culturally Competent Social Work3
SW 560Study Abroad Topics: _____3
SW 610Social Work Practice Seminar I3
SW 612Social Work Practice Seminar II3
SW 630Topics in Social Work Practice: Antisocial, Aggressive Behavior in Childhood and Early Adolescence1.5
SW 631Topics in Social Work Practice: Intimate Partner Violence1.5
SW 632Topics in Social Work Practice: Substance Abuse and Social Work Practice1.5
SW 633Topics in Social Work Practice: Crisis Intervention1.5
Students acquire knowledge and skills needed for effective social work practice. The accumulated knowledge and understanding of the social work curriculum come together in the practice courses.
Social Policy (6)
SW 620Social Policies and Program Analysis3
SW 621Social Policy Analysis and Advocacy3
Students develop the capacity for critical analysis of social problems, policies, and programs. Students analyze social work practice to understand the effect of policy on direct service. Basic policy analysis skills acquired in the first course are applied in specified areas of practice, applying analytical skills to problems, policies, and programs.
Study Abroad (3)
SW 560Study Abroad Topics: _____3
Students get exposure to international aspects of social welfare in countries such as Costa Rica, South Korea, India, and Ireland. An elective course that meets general education credit hour requirements.

Field Practicum (SW 601)

The field education office works with community agencies throughout Kansas and western Missouri to provide field practicum opportunities for students. Students are placed in these agencies through a collaborative process among the field education office, the student, and the agency. The field education office is responsible for ensuring that all field placements are able to provide the appropriate learning opportunities for students and that qualified field instructors will be available to the student.

Learn more about field education.

Required Hours for Field Practicum

Students with 9 or more remaining elective or general education requirement credit hours in the fall of the senior year must complete these hours before beginning field placement. Students who are completing these hours may take SW 620, SW 621, and the mini-courses, but they cannot enroll in SW 610, SW 612, or SW 623

Liberal Arts Prerequisites for a broad base of understanding

Learn more about the B.S.W. curriculum and liberal arts prerequisites.

Critical Reading and Writing
Literature (One of the following or any 200-level course or above excluding Children's Literature)
Topics in Reading and Writing: _____
Introduction to Fiction
Introduction to Poetry
Introduction to the Drama
Speech Communications
Speaker-Audience Communication
PHIL 149 does NOT count
Exemption - written verification of two semesters of high school speech/debate with grade of B or better
College Algebra
U.S. CULTURAL STUDIES (one of the following)
The Black Experience in the U.S. Since Emancipation
Introduction to American Studies
American Identities
Religion in American Society
American Society
Studies in: _____
History of the United States Through the Civil War
History of the United States After the Civil War
The Supreme Court and Religious Issues in the United States
History of American Women--Colonial Times to 1870
History of American Women--1870 to Present
Contemporary America, 1941-Present
Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to U.S. Politics
Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
Religion in American Society
Social Problems and American Values
HUM 204Western Civilization I3
HUM 205Western Civilization II3
Introduction to Africa
Introduction to African-American Studies
Introduction to African History
The Black Experience in the Americas
African Traditional Religion and Thought
Haiti: Culture and Identity
Modern Africa
Introduction to African Literature
Africa's Human Geographies
Introduction to the Languages of Africa
West African Art
Women and Islam
Muslim Women's Autobiography
Language and Society in Africa
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
The Varieties of Human Experience
The Third World: Anthropological Approaches
Myth, Legend, and Folk Beliefs in East Asia
Peoples of Southeast Asia
The Peoples of China
Peoples and Cultures of the Pacific
Religion, Power, and Sexuality in Arab Societies
North American Indians
The Anthropology of Gender: Female, Male, and Beyond
Introduction to Intercultural Communication
Living Religions of the East
Studies In: _____
Religion in China
Religion in Japan
Chinese Thought
Eastern Civilizations
Introduction to Asian Art
Special Study in Asian Art Before 1900: _____
Special Study in Islamic Art, 14th-17th Century: _____
Modern and Contemporary African Art
Japanese Prints
Buddhist Art of Korea
Ceramics of Korea
Modern Korean Art and Culture
Art and Culture of Japan
Art and Culture of China
Art and Culture of Korea
West African Art
Modern and Contemporary Visual Arts of Japan
History of East Asia
Colonial Latin America
Modern Latin America
Introduction to West African History
Indigenous Peoples of North America
Topics in: _____
Must have intercultural studies focus.
The Middle East After World War II
Early American Indian History
History of the American Indian
Biography of a City: _____
Latin American Culture and Society
Language and Society in Latin America
Introduction to Comparative Politics
Introduction to International Politics
Introduction to Russian Culture
Introduction to Slavic Folklore
Comparative Societies
Cross-Cultural Sociology
Topics in Social Welfare: _____
Study Abroad Topics: _____
Religion in India
Women in Contemporary African Literature
Studies in: _____
Must have intercultural studies focus.
Introduction to Child Behavior and Development
Child Development
BIOLOGY (one of the following)
Principles of Biology
and Principles of Biology Laboratory
Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Introductory Economics
Introduction to U.S. Politics (also meets US Cultural requirement)
General Psychology
Elements of Sociology

Requirements for the Major in Social Work

Preprofessional course (3)
SW 220Social Work, Social Welfare and U.S. Society3
The School of Social Welfare requires students to take SW 220 before entering senior-level classes.
SW 5303SW 5103
SW 5403SW 5323
SW 5553SW 5413
 9 9
SW 6016SW 6016
SW 6103SW 6123
SW 6203SW 6213
Select two of the following:3SW 6233
 15 15
Total Hours: 48