Social work classroom with instructor (white male) walking around tables helping students with their work.

Earn your social work degree at UW-Milwaukee and help create change in Wisconsin and beyond. Join thousands of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 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. They learn to see elements of social problems from multiple perspectives and how to understand social problems in a changing world through a systematic framework.

The social work degree program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Program Type


Program Format

On Campus

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Encourage Change

We train students to encourage change among individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.

The Social Work Department partners with hundreds of sites throughout Wisconsin to provide hands-on experience where a student’s educational knowledge is integrated with social work practice. By the time they graduate, students are solidly prepared for a range of meaningful careers at local, state and national levels.

Two female social work students (Latina and white) sitting at tables chatting with laptops in front of a tall window with a lot of light.
Bachelor of Social Work student Dariliss found her place on campus in the student-led social work association.

The mission of our 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 Bachelor of Social Work 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
  • Social workers who competently address the human service needs in the state of Wisconsin and the region

Social work degree students complete 21 credits of general education requirements, 55 credits in the social work major (46 credits of mandatory courses and 9 credits of elective courses), and 44 credits of general electives.

The social work major includes courses in human behavior, case management, ethics and values, social welfare policy, social work practice, social welfare research and cultural diversity.

A student can take courses in criminal justice and have them count toward the major as elective credit.

Seniors complete two consecutive semesters of field work at a single agency. A minimum of 120 credits are required for graduation. Some courses may be taken online or partially online.

  • Completion of 48 credits
  • Completion of Social Work 100, 250, and 306
  • A cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, including all transfer work

Social Work Field Education

BSW 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, homeless individuals with alcohol and other drug issues, or victims of violence.

Transfer Students

Upon admission, the UWM Registrar’s Office will evaluate and apply a student’s previous coursework. (Please 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 Transfer Wisconsin.

As soon as they are admitted, and the UWM Registrar’s Office has completed the transfer credit evaluation process, students should meet with an academic advisor to review transfer course equivalencies, discuss social work degree program requirements, and create an academic plan for coming semesters.

  • Social Work 100: Introduction to Social Work, 3 credits
  • Social Work 250: Human Behavior and the Social Environment, 3 credits
  • Social Work 260: Case Management in Social Work, 3 credits
  • Social Work 270: Advocacy and Empowerment, 3 credits
  • Social Work 306: Introduction to Social Welfare Policy, 3 credits
  • Social Work 308: Social Work Values and Ethics, 3 credits
  • Social Work 310: Social Work Practice I, 3 credits
  • Social Work 410: Social Work Practice II, 3 credits
  • Social Work 421: Field Education I, 5 credits
  • Social Work 422: Field Education II, 5 credits
  • Social Work 427: Social Work Practice III, 3 credits
  • Social Work 604: Social Systems and Social Work Practice, 3 credits
  • Social Work 662: Methods for Social Welfare Research, 3 credits
  • Social Work 665: Cultural Diversity and Social Work, 3 credits

Curriculum and degree requirements for students who began prior to Fall 2020 (PDF)

Sample 4-year Plan (for students beginning in Fall 2020 or after)

First Year

Semester 1

Social Work 1003
Social Work 1051
Psychology 1013
English 102 (if needed)3
Math 105 (if needed)3
GER Humanities3

Semester 2

Social Work 2503
Communication 1033
GER Social Science3
GER Natural Science3
General Elective3

Second Year

Semester 1

Social Work 2603
Social Work 2703
GER Natural Science Lab3
GER Arts3
General Elective3

Semester 2

Social Work 3063
Social Work Elective3
General Elective3
General Elective3
General Elective3

Third Year

Semester 1

Social Work 3083
Social Work Elective3
General Elective3
General Elective3
General Elective3

Semester 2

Social Work 3103
Social Work Elective3
General Elective3
General Elective3
General Elective3

Fourth Year

Semester 1

Social Work 4215
Social Work 4103
Social Work 6043
Social Work 6653

Semester 2

Social Work 4225
Social Work 4273
Social Work 6623
General Elective3
General Elective1
  • Senior Lecturer, Social Work
  • BSW Program Coordinator, Social Work
  • Academic Advisor, Student Services
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