Join thousands of UWM social work students who have gone on to improve policies, solve vital social issues, and become strong voices for thoughtful social change in our society.
With knowledge grounded in the liberal arts, undergraduate students learn to examine social problems in cultural, historical, and current political contexts; learn to see elements of social problems from multiple perspectives; and learn how to understand social problems in a changing world through a systematic framework.
Students are trained to encourage change among individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. By the time they graduate, they are solidly prepared for a very wide range of meaningful careers at the local, state, and national levels.
BSSW Program Mission and Goals
The mission of the UWM BSSW Program is to prepare generalist social work practitioners who can promote positive change through social work practice, advocacy, education, and leadership.
The goals of the BSSW Program are to prepare:
highly skilled generalist practitioners to work in a variety of ecological levels, including with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and governments;
ethical practitioners guided by the principles and values of the social work profession, including dignity and worth of the person, and importance of human relationships;
culturally competent social workers who promote and advocate for social justice and human rights;
social workers who engage in critical thinking and actively apply research evidence to practice, policy, advocacy, education, and leadership; and
social workers who competently address the human service needs in the state of Wisconsin and the region.
How to Apply
Applications for the Social Work major will only be accepted in the following periods: September 1 – October 1, February 1 – March 1, and May 1 – June 1.
You must apply to the major in order to begin your Field Placement. Field Placement has a separate application that can be found on the BSW Field Program webpage.
Follow the steps below to apply for the Social Work major
The Admissions Committee will only consider complete applications.
STEP 1: Review all information below about the requirements to be admitted to the major. All requirements must be met at the time of applying (i.e., you may not have any requirements in progress at the time of applying).
Completed English and Math proficiency requirements
Junior standing (58+ credits)
At least one full-time semester or equivalent at UWM
A cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, including all transfer work
Completed 75 hours of approved volunteer or paid work experience in the human services field (must be experience from after high school and within two years of applying to the major).
STEP 3: Email your completed online application to the Admissions Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org (may be emailed in either Microsoft Word or PDF format). In the subject line of your email, please type your full name and student ID number. Completed applications include a completed Application Form and typed Personal Statement. Completed applications will only be accepted via email.
STEP 4: You will be notified via email regarding your admission to the major.
Transfers: Upon admission, the UWM Registrar’s Office will evaluate and apply a student’s previous coursework (allow two to four weeks for this process). A student who transfers from a campus within the UW System or the Wisconsin Technical College System can transfer up to 72 credits toward a degree in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Students transferring from a school within the UW System or the Wisconsin Technical College System can learn how credits may transfer by using the Online Transfer Wizard. Students transferring from other two- or four-year colleges can evaluate transfer equivalencies by visiting UWM’s Transfer Equivalency Database in the Registrar’s Office. As soon as they are admitted, transfer students should meet with a Social Work Department academic advisor to review transfer course equivalencies, discuss program requirements, and create an academic plan for coming semesters.
Social Work Field Education
BSSW students at UWM complete two semesters of field work, where they hone skills necessary for beginning social work practice including interviewing, observation recording, group dynamics, problem solving, and decision making.
Students work with the Social Work Field Education Office to choose from hundreds of affiliated sites that represent the full spectrum of the field, working, for example, with children in foster care, older adults, the homeless individuals with alcohol and other drug issues, or victims of violence. View field placements
Study abroad Students can earn credits while studying in South Africa, Austria, or Costa Rica. Through classwork and field visits, students compare social welfare policies in their host country with those in the United States.
Curriculum and Degree Requirements
The Social Work major consists of 42 credits and includes courses in human behavior, social welfare policy, social work methods, social welfare research and cultural diversity. Seniors complete two consecutive semesters of field work at a single agency. The undergraduate social work major includes a preprofessional component. Social work intended majors spend their first two years building a liberal arts foundation and fulfilling proficiency requirements. In addition to satisfying the liberal arts foundation requirements, the student must earn a minimum of 69 credits in social work or Helen Bader School of Social Welfare courses and social sciences. A student can take courses in criminal justice and have them count toward the major as elective credit.
View sample 4-year plan
SOC WRK 105: Orientation for Social Welfare Students