Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

Earning a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is an essential step toward becoming a licensed social worker -- a rapidly growing profession that helps promote and protect the welfare of people and communities.

What can I do with a BSW?

The overarching goal of the Bachelor of Social Work degree is to prepare students for beginning generalist practice in Social Work.

In terms of skills, BSW graduates are able to:

  • Identify as a professional social worker and conduct themselves accordingly
  • Apply Social Work ethical principles to guide professional practice
  • Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
  • Engage diversity and difference in practice
  • Advance human rights and social and economic justice
  • Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment
  • Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective Social Work services
  • Respond to contexts that shape practice
  • Engage, assess, intervene and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities

As of 2016, there were 682,100 social workers in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that 109,700 new Social Work jobs will appear between 2016 and 2026, growing the profession by a faster-than-average rate of 16 percent nationally.  

BSW graduates must pass a licensing exam before they qualify for most Social Work positions. BSW graduates may also work toward becoming a clinical social worker, which requires a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and two years of post-master's experience in a supervised clinical setting.

What do Social Work majors study?

The University's Bachelor of Social Work curriculum gives students a rich overview of subjects that inform modern social work practice, such as social work research, micro and mezzo systems, human development and social welfare history. Additional BSW requirements may include courses such as cultural anthropology, sociology and microeconomics.

All BSW students at the University must complete a professional sequence that encompasses a series of classes tied to a 450-hour internship at a social service agency. These classes in conjunction with the internship are designed to provide the professional socialization, knowledge, values and skills needed for entry-level Social Work practice. Students may apply to the professional sequence during the winter of their junior year. 

Students entering the professional sequence are expected to be ready to engage with clients, to practice within the boundaries and scope of the profession and to behave in manners congruent with the profession's values and ethics. While this sequence of classes and internship may be completed in one full-time or two part-time academic years, it is designed to be a culminating experience during the student's senior year. 

Students who meet the following requirements may apply for admission to the professional sequence:

  1. Complete all of the University and Departmental Core requirements, with the exception of capstone and social work elective courses, by the conclusion of the spring semester of the year they apply
  2. Maintain an overall grade-point average of 2.5 or higher (exceptions may occasionally be considered for students who do not meet the GPA requirement, but in the professional judgment of the faculty demonstrate exceptional potential for Social Work through strong community service and/or leadership experiences)
  3. Complete SW 101, SW 250, SW 310, and SW 321 with a grade of C or higher in each course; and have completed or enrolled in SW 311
  4. Submit formal applications to: a) The University of Nevada, Reno (applicable for students transferring to the University), and b) The School of Social Work
  5. Submit responses to essay questions as found on the third page of the BSW program application
  6. Submit two professional references (must use BSW recommendation form)
  7. Submit a current copy of an University Academic Requirement Report (ARR), Course History and if applicable, Transfer Credit Report (all documents listed found in MyNEVADA)

BSW Program Application

BSW Program Recommendation Form

BSW State Licensing Board Requirements

The application deadline for admission to the professional sequence is Jan. 15 (for the following fall semester).  Should Jan. 15 fall on a weekend or holiday, all completed application packets must be received by the School of Social Work office by the end of business (5:00 p.m. P.S.T.) the last weekday before Jan. 15. Admission decisions occur during spring semester and students accepted into the major begin 400-level Social Work courses the following fall semester.

In collaboration with Great Basin College (GBC), the University of Nevada's School of Social Work also offers a 3 + 1 program for students who reside in rural Nevada and wish to pursue a BSW degree. Through this program, students are able to complete the equivalent of the first three years of academic study at GBC and their final year through the University.

Students in this program will be able to complete most of the University and Departmental Core through GBC. Upon being accepted to the University of Nevada, Reno, and the professional sequence, students will complete their final coursework -- no less than 32 credits -- through the University. The professional sequence courses will be offered via a combination of online courses, face-to-face weekend labs and field internships.

Why choose this BSW?

The University's School of Social Work focuses on the development and delivery of evidence-informed practices, programs and policies. It prepares Bachelor of Social Work graduates to draw upon a wide array of intervention strategies based on empirical, theoretical and experiential knowledge.

In addition, the School of Social Work emphasizes recognizing strengths, honoring diversity and challenging injustices, all with an eye toward the unique characteristics of Nevada. This reflects the importance of critically understanding the historical, cultural, economic, political and social contexts that inform social work practice, policy and research.