BSW student handbook
Table of Contents
University of Nevada, Reno Community
The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) is one of eight institutions within the Nevada System of Higher Education. The University system was established in 1864, the year of the state’s admission into the Union, but because of the state’s small population, it wasn’t able to offer courses until ten years later. The first classes were offered by the University in 1874 in Elko as one of the rare preparatory schools in the intermountain region. In 1885, the University was moved to Reno to be near the center of the state’s population. It has flourished since its first year of formal college-level study in 1887.
A constitutionally established land grant university, UNR emphasizes those programs and activities that best serve the needs of the state, region, and nation. UNR seeks to provide broad access to higher education irrespective of wealth or social status; to educate the professional cadres of an industrial, increasingly urban society; and to strengthen democracy by assuring the welfare and social status of all.
Approximately 21,000 students currently attend UNR. While the majority of students are undergraduates, the University has a sizable graduate student population of approximately 3,100. Students come from all over the state of Nevada to attend UNR. Additionally, UNR’s reputation attracts many students from throughout the United States and the world.
UNR offers 80 bachelor degree programs, 69 master degree programs, 43 doctoral degree programs, and boasts 9 major academic units. UNR is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.
UNR’s School of Social Work is housed within the Division of Health Sciences (DHS).
The University of Nevada, Reno is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, creed, national origin, veteran status, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation in any program or activity it operates.
Campus and surrounding area
The University is an integral part of the thriving Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. The 290-acre campus of rolling hills features a blend of ivy-covered buildings, sweeping lawns, and functional, progressive architecture. The campus is located less than one mile from downtown Reno, and offers a spectacular view of the surrounding community and nearby mountains.
Reno is situated prominently in an attractive natural setting. Bounded on the west by the majestic Sierra Nevada range and on the east by the rolling basin range, Reno benefits from a comfortable climate. Marked by generally cool and dry weather, the area is a haven for those who love the four seasons. The area provides endless opportunities for outdoor recreational activities, including skiing, hiking, boating, fishing, camping, kayaking, and biking. Additionally, the area attracts nationally renowned performers and offers several museums.
This listing is a sample of resources available to students at UNR.
Associated Students of the University of Nevada
The Associated Students of the University of Nevada, (ASUN) is made up of every undergraduate student at the University of Nevada and provides a vehicle, through elected officials, to voice student concerns. (From the ASUN website). 775-784-6589
Pack Rides provides prompt, courteous, safety escorts to the students, faculty and staff of the University of Nevada, Reno. Rides may be requested online or by phone. 775-742-6806
Fitness and Recreational Sports provides several options for recreation and fitness. The E.L Wiegand Fitness Center includes more than 108,000 square feet with three basketball gymnasiums, areas for weightlifting, cardio training, mind-body training and an indoor running track. The Lombardi Recreation Center includes a lap pool, dive tank and racquetball courts. Campus Recreation and Wellness also provides students with intramural sporting opportunities, outdoor recreation opportunities, yoga and aerobics classes, and much more. Additionally, Campus Recreation has equipment available for rent. (Adapted from the Campus Recreation website) 775-784-1225
The Center provides programs and services to support the academic and social success of students through advisement, leadership development, counseling and intercultural programming. The Center houses a conference room and computer lab. Some of the services we offer are: assistance understanding financial aid requirements, collaboration with academic faculty, community outreach, diversity workshops for students, multilingual professional and student staff, small library of culturally relevant resource materials, and student organization development and support. For more information please stop by the Center in the Joe Crowley Student Union. (Taken from the UNR Student Handbook) 775-784-4936
Counseling Services is the primary counseling office for students at the University of Nevada, Reno. Counselors are either licensed psychologists, social workers, substance abuse counselors, or marriage and family therapists, or trainees under supervision. All counseling sessions are confidential, and counseling records are available only to the student and the counselor. Consultation/Training to faculty on dealing with distressed students is also available. These services are partially supported by a counseling fee paid by students. All information and services are confidential. Counseling services offers: individual and group counseling, consultation and urgent care and testing services. Testing Services schedules and administers those national and institutional tests (GRE Subject tests, LSAT, PRAXIS, Miller Analogies), which are required for admission to undergraduate and graduate programs and professional schools. The office also serves as an intermediate facilitator for other universities to provide special testing arrangements for their students. For more information, visit Counseling Services, located in the Pennington Student Achievement Center, Suite 420 or visit the website listed above. (Taken from the UNR Student Handbook) 775-784-4648
The DRC was created to meet the unique educational needs of Undergraduate and Graduate level students with disabilities. The staff at the DRC is available to provide these students with sensitive and individualized assistance at the student's request. The DRC is dedicated to providing a coordinated program of support services that are not furnished by other university offices or outside organizations. The DRC assists students in negotiating disability related barriers and strives to improve access and opportunity. This enables all levels of students with disabilities to become integrated into campus life, and become more successful undergraduate or graduate students while maximizing their independence. Their services are free of charge. (From the DRC website) 775- 784-6000 (TTD: 327-5131)
Financial Aid and Scholarships
The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Services administers federal, State and institutional grants, employment, loans, and scholarships. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be submitted each year by February 1 for maximum consideration for all financial aid programs for the next academic year. The annual deadline for scholarships is also February 1. (Taken from the UNR Student Handbook) 775-784-4046
Online collections of magazines, newspapers, journal articles, books, microfilms, video tapes, audio CDs and computer labs are among the many services available at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and the four science libraries. Information about library hours is available at any circulation desk, by calling 775-784-4636 or by visiting the University Libraries website. (Taken from the UNR Student Handbook)
Mediation and Student Advocacy Services
Student Advocacy Services provides assistance to students in addressing conflict between faculty, administrators, and other students on campus. The assistance is provided in two ways: 1. through mediation services which provide an impartial third party to promote resolution of the conflict between the two parties; and 2. through student advocacy services in which an administrator assists students in resolving conflicts with university departments, in following the appropriate procedures to handle an appeal or request for special assistance, and in promoting a fair process or resolution on behalf of the student. Students seeking assistance are encouraged to visit with the administrator about the concern and discuss which of the two services best fits their needs. Both mediation and advocacy activities are carried out on a confidential basis for the student. (Taken from the UNR Student Handbook) 775-784-4388
If you accidentally lock your keys in your car, or find that the car has a dead battery, a tire is flat or that the car has no gas the Parking and Transportation Services Department will do its best to help you. There is no charge for their services. 775-784-4654
Office of International Students & Scholars
The Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) provides the following assistance to International Students: Admission to UNR; transition into living in the United States; understanding policies, procedures, and regulation relating to visa status; understanding university policies, procedures, and resources; understanding federal laws which relate to international students; and intercultural training and understanding. (Adapted from the OISS website) 775-784-6874
Office of the Associate Vice President for Student Success Services
Student Academic Support Services offers a variety of programs to assist students to succeed academically. Tutoring Center, Counseling Services, Trio scholars, McNair Scholars, The Center For Student Cultural Diversity, Tutoring Center, Upward Bound. 775-784-6307
The Student Health Center provides services for students, faculty and staff at UNR, TMCC, and WNCC. The center offers special healthcare for men and women, sports medicine for amateur athletes, dermatology services, psychological and counseling services. (From the Student Health Center website) 775-784-6598
The Transfer Center is a centralized resource for prospective transfer students needing information on admissions procedures, bachelor degree requirements, transferability of course work and system transfer agreements. Currently enrolled undergraduates with transfer work may also contact the center with questions concerning their Transfer Credit Evaluation or Request for Core Curriculum Review of Additional Transfer Courses. 775-784-4700
Introduction to Social Work
Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people’s lives. Social workers enhance the fit between people’s needs and capabilities and the demands and resources of their environments. A variety of strategies are used to accomplish this goal. Social workers assist people in dealing with their relationships and solving personal and family problems. Social workers help clients identify their strengths and concerns, consider effective solutions, and find reliable resources. Social workers typically consult and counsel clients and link them with needed services. Often, they refer clients to specialists in services such as debt counseling, elder care, public assistance, or alcohol or drug rehabilitation. Social workers may review eligibility requirements, help fill out forms and applications, visit clients on a regular basis, and provide support during crises. Finally, social workers, through community organizing, program development, and political advocacy, strive to enhance environments to be socially and economically just for all people.
Social work demands a great deal from its practitioners. Social workers must be mature, emotionally healthy, and capable of coping with job-related stress. Social workers must be able to handle responsibility, work independently, and maintain good working relationships with clients and coworkers. Also required is a high level of skill in communication (i.e., reading, writing, and speaking). People who are conscientious, empathetic, caring, dedicated, and passionate will do well within the profession.
Careers in social work
For sheer variety, few occupations can match social work, which offers the broadest range of opportunities and settings. Social workers are found in public agencies, private businesses, hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, private practices, police departments, courts, and countless other interesting workplaces.
Traditionally, social workers have been strongly represented in the following:
- Aging/Gerontology - Child welfare
- Family services - Homeless services
- Healthcare - Mental health
- Public welfare - Schools
- Disabilities programs - Corrections
- Employee assistance - Private practice
- Community organization - Politics
- Administration - Research
A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common minimum educational requirement to qualify for a job as a social worker. While educational opportunities and foci are shaped by regional contexts, national accrediting standards issued by the Council on Social Work Education ensure that graduates of BSW programs nationwide are competent in the same generalist practice behaviors. The bachelor’s degree prepares graduates for generalist practice, whereas the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree prepares recipients for more advanced practice.
Many social service positions within Nevada and throughout the United States require a social work license. Licensure establishes and enforces professional standards for social work practice. It helps to ensure that clients of social workers receive competent and ethical care. Each state has its own licensing body, with distinct rules and regulations governing the issuing of licenses. Within the Nevada, the Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Work issues social work licenses.
Within Nevada, there are three separate licenses. Graduates from the BSW program are eligible for the LSW (Licensed Social Worker). This license is required for all positions in the State of Nevada with the job title of “social worker.” Additionally, the State of Nevada provides two licenses for advanced social work practice. Both of these licenses require an MSW degree and post-MSW supervised practice experience.
Applicants eligible for the LSW may take the licensing exam when enrolled in the last semester of their social work degree program; however, a license cannot be issued before official transcripts are received. Students should be aware that the examination and licensing process may take several weeks/months to complete. If you need a license application or information related to social work licensing or social work practice, please contact:
State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers
4600 Kietzke Lane, C-121
Reno, Nevada 89502
After receiving a BSW degree, many social workers eventually decide to continue their education in an MSW program. Although most MSW degrees require the equivalent of two full-time years of study, some graduate programs provide an accelerated course of study for applicants who have a BSW. Accelerated courses of study are generally referred to as “advanced standing” programs and can typically be completed within one year. At UNR, students who are accepted into an advanced standing program bypass the foundation content of the MSW program and move directly into the concentration curriculum.
In Nevada, there is a second post-MSW license that enables social workers to practice independently. Social workers who obtain an LISW (Licensed Independent Social Worker) can provide referrals and support, but not clinical services, to clients and families. For example, a social worker with an LISW might assist clients who are caring for aging parents to improve their level of coping and well-being. Each of these licenses (LISW and LCSW) requires completion of 3,000 supervised postgraduate social work hours and a satisfactory score on an exam.
Please visit the Board of Examiners for Social Workers website for additional information about social work licensure requirements in Nevada.
For information about career opportunities in social work and voluntary credentials for social workers, contact:
- National Association of Social Workers (NASW), 750 First St. NE., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20002-4241.
For a listing of accredited social work programs or to order a Directory of Colleges and Universities with Accredited Social Work Degree Programs for a nominal charge, contact:
- Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), 1725 Duke St., Suite 500, Alexandria, VA 22314-3457.
Information on licensing requirements and testing procedures for each State may be obtained from State licensing authorities, or from:
- Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), 400 South Ridge Pkwy., Suite B, Culpeper, VA 22701.
BSW Program - Generalist Practice
The School’s focus on the development and delivering of evidence-informed practices, programs & policies underscores the importance of preparing BSW graduates who are able to draw upon a wide array of intervention strategies based on empirical, theoretical, and experiential knowledge. In so doing, it echoes the profession’s attention to knowledge based on scientific inquiry. In addition, the School’s emphasis on recognizing strengths, honoring diversity, and challenging injustices with an eye toward the unique characteristics of Nevada in the context of a global society, reflects the importance the profession places on critically understanding the historical, cultural, economic, political and social contexts that inform social work practice, policy & research.
- School of Social Work Mission. To educate, train and nurture competent, committed, compassionate and diverse social work leaders who advance the social justice mission of social work through their leadership in research, public policy, academics and clinical practice at local, national and global levels.
- BSW Program Mission. The mission of the BSW Program is to educate competent generalist social workers who challenge injustice and who are able to effectively and compassionately intervene at all system levels with diverse client groups.
Flowing from the mission of the School, the mission of the BSW program is to prepare competent generalist social workers who challenge injustice and who are able to effectively and compassionately intervene with diverse individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations. Underpinning this mission statement is a definition of generalist practice that is grounded in the liberal arts and the person-in-environment perspective, as well as the purpose and values of the profession. Accordingly, effective, compassionate generalist social workers are viewed as competently using a range of prevention and intervention strategies to enhance social functioning at all system levels. They are guided by a deep understanding of human behavior and the environments within which people live. They identify as professionals who act with integrity and intervene within the scope of practice for which they have been trained. They believe in the dignity and worth of each person and intentionally help clients identify their unique capacities and strengths. They recognize the important role relationship plays in fostering client development and change. Ethical principles, evidence, and critical thinking guide their interventions. They confront unjust practices, protocols and circumstances, promote human rights, and participate in social and political actions that eliminate oppressive conditions such as poverty. Importantly, generalist practice is also viewed as encompassing the nine core social work competencies and their associated practice behaviors (EPAS, 2022). By conceptualizing generalist practice in these ways, the BSW program’s mission is consistent with the profession’s purpose to promote individual and community well-being, through the pursuit of justice, human rights, the elimination of poverty, and enhanced quality of life. It likewise resonates with the profession’s core values of service, integrity, dignity & respect, social justice, competence, human rights, relationship, and scientific inquiry.
The goals of the BSW program flow from the School and BSW program missions and reflect the profession’s core competencies as articulated by CSWE (EPAS, 2022). The goals guiding the BSW Program are to prepare entry-level social work practitioners who:
- Challenge social and economic injustice and promote social well-being and human rights;
- Integrate social work values and ethics into all professional endeavors
- Critically utilize research to inform assessments, prevention strategies and interventions;
- Critically apply knowledge of cultural, organizational, community, spiritual, social, psychological, and biological functioning as well as strengths, resiliency and systems of oppression to understand and assess client systems;
- Conduct themselves as professionals, able to communicate effectively, reflect upon practice, and engage in continuous learning; and
- Effectively apply the planned changed process in interventions with diverse client systems (individuals, couples, families, groups, communities, organizations, policy-making bodies and society).
Students in the School of Social Work begin their journey as pre-majors in social work as they work through the pre-professional coursework. Social work students may apply to the professional sequence mid-way through their junior year to become a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) student as opposed to a pre-major. The professional sequence encompasses a series of classes tied to a 450-hour internship in 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. An emphasis on professional practice distinguishes the professional sequence from the other required and elective social work classes. 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.
Declaration as a social work major
- Successful admission to the Bachelor of Social Work program
- Completion of all of the University and Departmental Requirements (excluding Silver Core requirements encompassed by the professional sequence)
- Completion of at least 90 credits at the conclusion of the spring semester
- A GPA of 2.5 overall (or in the last 30 credits). Faculty may occasionally consider an exception for students who do not meet the 2.5 GPA requirement but who, in the professional judgment of the faculty, demonstrate a strong commitment to and potential for the social work profession as evidenced by extraordinary achievements and leadership
- Completion of SW 101, SW 250, SW 310, SW 311, SW 321, and SW 351 with a grade of “C” or higher
Admission to the professional sequence is competitive and selective. To apply to the professional sequence, students must complete an application by the posted deadline. These applications will be evaluated by the School of Social Work’s Admissions Committee. The Admissions Committee will evaluate the professional potential of each applicant to ensure that each student accepted into the professional sequence is prepared to enter field. Application materials as well as the applicants’ performance and interactions within social work classes will be considered. Students interested in applying to the professional sequence who meet the aforementioned requirements should submit the following materials to the School of Social Work by January 15 at 5:00 PM PST. In the event that January 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, the application will be due on the last business day prior to January 15th by 5:00 PM PST.
- Completed application (available online)
- Four essays (the topics of which are on the application)
- Two recommendation forms completed by professional references
- Copies of all unofficial transcripts
Application packets are reviewed by the Faculty Admissions Committee, and admissions decisions are finalized during the spring semester. Students who are accepted into the professional sequence may begin taking required 400-level social work courses. Admission materials are available online at the School of Social Work website.
BSW Program competencies
In accordance with the School of Social Work’s mission, the BSW Program seeks to facilitate the development of competent generalist social workers. Upon completion of the BSW degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, students should meet each of the following nine competencies outlined by the Council on Social Work Education.
Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant policies, laws, and regulations that may affect practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand that ethics are informed by principles of human rights and apply them toward realizing social, racial, economic, and environmental justice in their practice. Social workers understand frameworks of ethical decision making and apply principles of critical thinking to those frameworks in practice, research, and policy arenas. Social workers recognize and manage personal values and the distinction between personal and professional values. Social workers understand how their evolving worldview, personal experiences, and affective reactions influence their professional judgment and behavior.
Social workers take measures to care for themselves professionally and personally, understanding that self-care is paramount for competent and ethical social work practice. Social workers use rights-based, antiracist, and anti-oppressive lenses to understand and critique the profession’s history, mission, roles, and responsibilities and recognize historical and current contexts of oppression in shaping institutions and social work. Social workers understand the role of other professionals when engaged in interprofessional practice. Social workers recognize the importance of lifelong learning and are committed to continually updating their skills to ensure relevant and effective practice. Social workers understand digital technology and the ethical use of technology in social work practice.
- make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics within the profession as appropriate to the context
- demonstrate professional behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication
- use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes; and
- use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior.
Social workers understand that every person regardless of position in society has fundamental human rights. Social workers are knowledgeable about the global intersecting and ongoing injustices throughout history that result in oppression and racism, including social work’s role and response. Social workers critically evaluate the distribution of power and privilege in society in order to promote social, racial, economic, and environmental justice by reducing inequities and ensuring dignity and respect for all. Social workers advocate for and engage in strategies to eliminate oppressive structural barriers to ensure that social resources, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably and that civil, political, economic, social, and cultural human rights are protected.
- advocate for human rights at the individual, family, group, organizational, and community system levels; and
- engage in practices that advance human rights to promote social, racial, economic, and environmental justice
Social workers understand how racism and oppression shape human experiences and how these two constructs influence practice at the individual, family, group, organizational, and community levels and in policy and research. Social workers understand the pervasive impact of White supremacy and privilege and use their knowledge, awareness, and skills to engage in anti-racist practice. Social workers understand how diversity and intersectionality shape human experiences and identity development and affect equity and inclusion.
The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of factors including but not limited to age, caste, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, generational status, immigration status, legal status, marital status, political ideology, race, nationality, religion and spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. Social workers understand that this intersectionality means that a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege and power. Social workers understand the societal and historical roots of social and racial injustices and the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination. Social workers understand cultural humility and recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values, including social, economic, political, racial, technological, and cultural exclusions, may create privilege and power, resulting in systemic oppression.
- demonstrate anti-racist and anti-oppressive social work practice at the individual, family, group, organizational, community, research, and policy levels; and
- demonstrate cultural humility by applying critical reflection, self-awareness, and self-regulation to manage the influence of bias, power, privilege, and values in working with clients and constituencies, acknowledging them as experts of their own lived experiences.
Social workers use ethical, culturally informed, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive approaches in conducting research and building knowledge. Social workers use research to inform their practice decision-making and articulate how their practice experience informs research and evaluation decisions. Social workers critically evaluate and critique current, empirically sound research to inform decisions pertaining to practice, policy, and programs. Social workers understand the inherent bias in research and evaluate design, analysis, and interpretation using an anti-racist and anti-oppressive perspective.
Social workers know how to access, critique, and synthesize the current literature to develop appropriate research questions and hypotheses. Social workers demonstrate knowledge and skills regarding qualitative and quantitative research methods and analysis, and they interpret data derived from these methods. Social workers demonstrate knowledge about methods to assess reliability and validity in social work research. Social workers can articulate and share research findings in ways that are usable to a variety of clients and constituencies. Social workers understand the value of evidence derived from interprofessional and diverse research methods, approaches, and sources.
- apply research findings to inform and improve practice, policy, and programs; and
- identify ethical, culturally informed, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive strategies that address inherent biases for use in quantitative and qualitative research methods to advance the purposes of social work.
Social workers identify social policy at the local, state, federal, and global level that affects wellbeing, human rights and justice, service delivery, and access to social services. Social workers recognize the historical, social, racial, cultural, economic, organizational, environmental, and global influences that affect social policy. Social workers understand and critique the history and current structures of social policies and services and the role of policy in service delivery through rights-based, anti-oppressive, and anti-racist lenses. Social workers influence policy formulation, analysis, implementation, and evaluation within their practice settings with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers actively engage in and advocate for anti-racist and anti-oppressive policy practice to effect change in those settings.
- use social justice, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive lenses to assess how social welfare policies affect the delivery of and access to social services; and
- apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.
Social workers understand that engagement is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with and on behalf of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers value the importance of human relationships. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and person-in-environment and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to facilitate engagement with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Social workers are self-reflective and understand how bias, power, and privilege as well as their personal values and personal experiences may affect their ability to engage effectively with diverse clients and constituencies. Social workers use the principles of interprofessional collaboration to facilitate engagement with clients, constituencies, and other professionals as appropriate.
- apply knowledge of human behavior and person-in-environment, as well as interprofessional conceptual frameworks, to engage with clients and constituencies; and
- use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to engage in culturally responsive practice with clients and constituencies.
Social workers understand that assessment is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and person-in-environment, as well as interprofessional conceptual frameworks, and they critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in culturally responsive assessment with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Assessment involves a collaborative process of defining presenting challenges and identifying strengths with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to develop a mutually agreed-upon plan. Social workers recognize the implications of the larger practice context in the assessment process and use interprofessional collaboration in this process. Social workers are self-reflective and understand how bias, power, privilege, and their personal values and experiences may affect their assessment and decision-making.
- apply theories of human behavior and person-in-environment, as well as other culturally responsive and interprofessional conceptual frameworks, when assessing clients and constituencies; and
- demonstrate respect for client self-determination during the assessment process by collaborating with clients and constituencies in developing a mutually agreed-upon plan.
Social workers understand that intervention is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice. Social workers understand theories of human behavior, person-in-environment, and other interprofessional conceptual frameworks, and they critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in selecting culturally responsive interventions with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand methods of identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-informed interventions and participate in interprofessional collaboration to achieve client and constituency goals. Social workers facilitate effective transitions and endings.
- engage with clients and constituencies to critically choose and implement culturally responsive, evidence-informed interventions to achieve client and constituency goals; and
- incorporate culturally responsive methods to negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of clients and constituencies.
Social workers understand that evaluation is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with and on behalf of diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers evaluate processes and outcomes to increase practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness. Social workers apply anti-racist and anti-oppressive perspectives in evaluating outcomes. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and person-in-environment, as well as interprofessional conceptual frameworks, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in evaluating outcomes. Social workers use qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating outcomes and practice effectiveness.
- select and use culturally responsive methods for evaluation of outcomes; and
- critically analyze outcomes and apply evaluation findings to improve practice effectiveness with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Scholarships and financial aid information
You will find information on the School of Social Work scholarships available for students listed below and in the social work scholarships section of the website. For more information on general university scholarships/financial aid please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid & Scholarships.
- Barbara West Larsen Scholarship
- Heather Morsberger Memorial Scholarship
- John and Louise Semenza Family
- Kris Tower Memorial Scholarship
- National Association of Social Workers Scholarship
- School of Social Work Diversity Scholarship
Note: To apply for Social Work specific scholarships students must complete the University’s Scholarship Application found in the Supplemental Forms on My Nevada by the priority deadline posted by Financial Aid.
The School of Social Work provides advising for all pre-major and Bachelor of social work students. It is very important that social work pre-majors or students in the pre-professional sequence contact the School of Social Work’s Advising Office once each semester. During these meetings, the advisor and student typically review the student’s academic work, discuss areas of weakness and strengths (e.g., writing skills), explore volunteer experiences, field practicum interests, graduation requirements, and scholarships, as well as employment and career opportunities. Beyond this, students are encouraged to see their advisors when academic guidance or support is needed.
Advisement should be viewed as a collaborative process between the advisor and the student. Ultimately, however, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that he or she is progressing satisfactorily towards completion of the BSW degree. Students can enhance their advisement experience by following the suggestions listed below.
- Make an appointment with the academic advisor prior to your registration date. Class schedules are typically released in October for the upcoming spring semester and Wintermester and in March for the upcoming fall and summer semesters.
- Prepare a list of questions before meeting with your advisor. This will help ensure that you have the answers you need when you leave.
- Don’t go to your advisor unprepared. You should have an idea of which classes you would like to take for the upcoming semester.
- Remember to bring a current copy of your UNR Academic Advisement Report (AAR).
- Bring a completed BSW Curriculum Plan (Appendix A) to the appointment. The BSW Curriculum.
- Plan form can be downloaded from our School of Social Work website.
Complete a BSW Advising Worksheet (Appendices C & D) during your initial visit with your advisor.
- Remember to bring a copy of the worksheet during subsequent advising sessions.
- Be on time for your appointment. If something comes up and you will not be able to attend your advising appointment, call to reschedule.
- Be sure to register on your assigned date and time for each semester. Remember that the longer you wait to register, the higher the risk that the courses you need will be full.
- Pay your fees on time. If you do not pay your fees by the due date, you will be dropped from your courses.
If you have any questions or concerns about anything related to school we encourage you to talk to your faculty advisor. Resources may exist which may not be familiar to you. You will find a list of commonly used campus services at the end of this handbook.
Students must apply for graduation by the deadline of the semester they wish to graduate (March 1st for Spring, June 1st for Summer, and October 1st for Fall). Requirements for graduation with a BSW degree include completion of at least 120 credits with an overall grade-point average of 2.0 or higher, completion of University and major requirements and completion of all required social work courses (including the 6 credits of social work electives) with a “C” grade or higher in each course. (Please note that a grade of “B-” or higher in all undergraduate social work classes is required for admission to the Advanced Standing MSW Program.) Students within 12 credits of the requirements may apply to participate in a commencement ceremony outside of their official graduation term through the Office of Admissions and Records.
UNR/Great Basin College 3 + 1 Collaborative BSW Program
In collaboration with Great Basin College (GBC), the UNR School of Social Work has developed a 3 + 1 program for students interested in pursuing a BSW degree who reside in rural Nevada. Through this program, students complete the equivalent of the first three years of academic study at GBC, with dual enrollment at UNR in their sixth semester and their final year as social work majors at UNR. Students in this program complete most of the University and Departmental core through GBC. After being accepted to UNR and the professional sequence of the BSW major, students complete their final coursework through UNR (no less than 30 upper-division credits). Social work major courses will be delivered to students in the GBC service region through a variety of distance education modalities.
Students who are interested in the UNR/GBC 3 + 1 Collaborative BSW Program should follow the same sequencing of courses as do pre-major students enrolled at UNR. Please refer to the BSW Curriculum Plan and the Transfer Agreement; University of Nevada, Reno and Great Basin College Bachelor of Social.
Students attending GBC may obtain academic advising from the Great BasinCollege Admission & Career Center or through emailing the School of Social Work. Students who participate in the UNR/GBC 3 + 1 program are considered valuable members of the School of Social Work community. As such, all UNR/GBC 3 + 1 social work pre-majors and majors are encouraged to participate in the Undergraduate Student Social Work Association (USSWA). Students who are interested in participating in USSWA should contact Brenda Silva at the email address noted above.
There are numerous local social work organizations in which students are encouraged to become involved. These organizations include but certainly are not limited to, the Undergraduate Student Social Work Association, (USSWA), Phi Alpha Honor Society, FUSED, The UNR School of Social Work Alumni Chapter, Social Work Student Advisory Council, and the Nevada Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Each of these organizations is discussed briefly below.
The Undergraduate Student Social Work Association
The Undergraduate Student Social Work Association (USSWA) serves as the principle student group for undergraduates within the School of Social Work. As such, the USSWA performs an important function in promoting student input into curriculum and program issues. The USSWA elects a student representative to attend School Meetings. Within this forum, their representative shares information, initiates discussion of student concerns and takes policy and curriculum decisions back to the students for consideration and feedback. The purpose of USSWA is to serve and help undergraduate social work students by: 1) promoting information exchange; 2) fostering student-faculty interactions; and, 3) providing another means through which students can give input on curriculum and other programmatic issues.
Why join USSWA?
- It’s a great way to network with other social work students.
- The group often has guest speakers at meetings to address topics of interest, like preparing for licensure or applying for graduate school.
- It’s a way of joining with other students in planning activities that help people in our community.
- It provides students a formal voice within the School of Social Work.
- It’s an avenue for staying informed about School events, programs, and activities.
Any student who is either a social work major or pre-major at the University of Nevada, Reno, or who expresses an interest in the goals, values and activities of social work, is eligible for membership. The cost to join is $5.00 per semester (scholarships can be awarded based on financial need).
USSWA holds regular meetings for which dates and times are posted on the bulletin board outside the School of Social Work office, located on the fifth floor of the Ansari Business Building. There is also a suggestion envelope on this board to facilitate communication between students, the Association, and faculty.
Social Work Student Advisory Council
The Social Work Student Advisory Committee serves to honor the voices of all students to bridge the connection between the students, faculty, and our Dean to assist in further developing our school. The committee members will act as a voice for their fellow students. Working with the Dean, they will identify areas of improvement within the School of Social Work and collaborate to identify and apply solutions. Please email the Student Advisory Council for more information.
FUSED is comprised of students who want to actively participate in social change. It is a non-partisan group that focuses its efforts on educating people on the impact they have in our political system. FUSED is open to all majors and graduate students in good standing.
Social Work Alumni Chapter
The Social Work Alumni Association offers graduates the opportunity to give back to, maintain connections and identify more closely with the School and University. Additionally, the Social Work Alumni Association provides a forum for alumni to network with professionals and advance the common goals of the profession. The mission of the Association is to unite graduates, faculty, and students of the UNR School of Social Work to maximize impact on social welfare policy, identify community needs, strengthen the community, and provide opportunities for continuing education and collaborative research. Students or graduates who are interested in joining the Social Work Alumni Association should call the School of Social Work at (775) 784-6542 or email SSWAC.
National Association of Social Workers, Nevada Chapter
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is a national organization that supports high standards of social work practice with over 150,000 members from 56 chapters in the United States and abroad. The organization offers a number of benefits to its members including:
- Publications, conferences, and workshops
- Professional standards
- Professional action
- Membership services, including group insurance, professional liability insurance, job postings, and travel services
Students enrolled in an accredited program of social work education are eligible to join NASW at a discounted rate. If you are interested in NASW, contact the Nevada Chapter offices.
NASW Nevada Chapter
8867 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 202 Las Vegas, NV 89147
NASW Nevada Chapter email
NASW Nevada Chapter website
The BSW curriculum is a coherent sequence of coursework that builds upon a liberal arts foundation. This foundation includes the mandatory University Core Requirements as well as the departmental requirements. These courses provide the theoretical knowledge upon which social work students will draw in their major courses.
The social work curriculum itself is divided into two sequences: the pre-professional sequence and the professional sequence. The pre-professional sequence is comprised of those classes that may be taken prior to application to the professional sequence and field. These courses are designed to provide introductory knowledge, skills and values necessary for later practice as well as to provide students an opportunity to explore the social work major prior to applying to the professional sequence. The professional sequence includes classes conceptually and practically tied to the field practicum. These courses provide instruction in practice and research methods. Due to the direct linkage to field practicum, students must apply and be accepted into the professional sequence prior to enrolling in these classes.
Social work courses are designed to complement and build upon one another and therefore cannot be taken out of sequence. For example, SW 420 provides students with foundation practice skills for working with individuals. Students must therefore take SW 420 concurrent with their field placement (SW 480) so that they have the opportunity to implement and practice these skills and knowledge in their work with clients.
As is noted in above, students must complete 120 credits in order to graduate. Approximately 21-24 of those credits are free electives, meaning that students may take classes of their choice. Although social work majors are not required to have a minor, they are encouraged to talk with their faculty advisor regarding the wisdom of applying these free credits to a minor that reflects their career interests (e.g., gerontology, addictions training, women’s studies, etc.).
It is the policy of the School of Social Work to grant credit for social work undergraduate courses successfully completed at other CSWE accredited institutions providing those courses have been approved for transferability by the University’s Transfer Center and are found to cover content that is comparable to that covered within a course, or courses, at UNR. A request to substitute transfer credits for a course required as part of UNR’s BSW program is initiated by the student by completing a Curriculum Change Form. Students must submit course documentation (i.e., course syllabi, bibliography, and assignments) for each course for which transfer credit is sought to the BSW Program Coordinator. Upon receiving approval, the Coordinator for Academic Success or Academic Advisor submits a Request for Substitution/Waiver of College and Major Requirements Form with the office of Admissions and Records.
The University of Nevada, Reno allows a maximum of 60 approved transfer credits from two-year institutions to be applied toward an undergraduate degree; and a maximum of 90 approved transfer credits from four-year institutions to be applied toward an undergraduate degree. UNR has written transfer agreements with area colleges and universities in which transfer policies are clearly described and can be accessed at the Transfer to Nevada website.
University Core Curriculum
Check your catalog year for the recommended schedule at catalog.unr.edu
CO1 – Composition & Communication
- ENG 102 (3 credits) is traditionally used for this requirement though students may take any approved CO1 course.
CO2 – Quantitative Reasoning
- MATH 120 (3 credits) is traditionally used for this requirement though students may take any approved CO2 math course.
CO3 – Critical Analysis & Use of Information
- ENG 102 (3 credits) is traditionally used for this requirement though students may take any approved CO1 course. Primary Areas of Focused Inquiry
CO4/CO4L – Physical & Natural Phenomena
- Two courses must be taken for the CO4 requirement – one with a lab (CO4L) and one without (CO4). Depending on which courses students select, this requirement can be 6-7 credits.
CO5 – History & Culture
- Two courses must be taken for the CO5 requirement. Traditionally, it is recommended that students take CH 203 (3 credits) and one other CH course for a total of 6 credits.
CO6 – Cultures, Societies, & Individuals
- SOC 101 (3 credits), counted in the major credits
CO7 – Artistic Composition, Interpretation, & Expression
- Students may choose any course or a series of courses that are designated as CO7 (3 credits)
CO8 – Constitution
- Students must fulfill this requirement by taking a course or series of courses that covers both the U.S. constitution and Nevada constitution. Traditionally it is recommended that students take CH 203 (3 credits) as it also counts as a CO5. Advanced Ares of Focused Inquiry
CO9 - Science, Technology, & Society
- SW 440 (3 credits), counted in the major requirements
CO10 – Diversity & Equity
- Students can choose any course designated as a CO10 as long as it is outside of SW (3 credits)
CO11 – Global Contexts
- SW 351 (3 credits), counted in the major credits
CO12 – Ethics
- SW 420 (3 credits), counted in the major credits Integrative Experience
CO13 - Capstone Integration & Synthesis
- Students may choose any course designated as a CO13. Look at specific catalog year for in residence requirements
CO14 – Application
- SW 480 (6 credits), counted in the major credits
Total credits: 27-33
- SOC 101 - 3 credits
- PSY101 – 3credits
- PSY 341 – 3 credits
- HDFS 201 – 3 credits
- Additional Diversity & Equity course outside of SW (CO10) – 3 credits
Total credits: 15
Social Work courses
- SW 101 – 3 credits
- SW 250 – 3 credits
- SW 310 – 3 credits
- SW 311 – 3 credits
- SW 321 – 3 credits
- SW 351 – 3 credits
- SW 420 – 3 credits
- SW 421 – 3 credits
- SW 424 – 3 credits
- SW 427 – 3 credits
- SW 440 – 3 credits
- SW 441 – 3 credits
- SW 480 – 6 credits
- SW 481 – 6 credits
- SW Electives – 6 credits
Total credits: 54
Students must complete 120 credits to graduate (18-24 credits of general electives)
Social Work Field Practicum
The social work field practicum is completed during the student's senior year (90 or more credits completed) and after being admitted into the professional sequence. The field practicum provides the opportunity for students to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom in an actual social work practice setting.
The field practicum consists of two 6-credit courses (SW 480 and SW 481) for a total of 12 semester credits. Each course entails the completion of a minimum of 225 agency/community-based clock hours. SW 480 and SW 481 also involve student attendance at a weekly integrative seminar with their faculty field liaison.
Students will work directly with the School of Social Work Field Education Program Coordinator to determine field placement. Please visit the Field Practicum Program website for all practicum-related instructions, manuals, and forms. Students are not permitted to contact agencies directly to discuss field practicum. Please refer to the BSW Field Education Program Manual for details regarding the placement process.
School of Social Work policies
Given the centrality of professionalism to the practice of social work, the School of Social Work believes that professional integrity and behavior should begin as early as the first social work course. Due to the emphasis placed upon professional integrity and behavior, the School has established a set of policies that govern academic performance. These policies are uniform across programs and sequences. Underlying all of these policies are standards for behaviors that either guide conduct at UNR or guide the practice of social work. Students should be familiar with the following standards:
- University of Nevada Reno, Student Code of Conduct
- National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics
- International Federation of Social Workers Statement of Ethical Principles
CSWE’s core competencies and practice behaviors
In accordance with CSWE accreditation standards, academic credit for life experience and previous work experience is not given under any circumstance.
The School of Social Work adheres to the University of Nevada, Reno Academic Standards Policy for Students concerning issues of academic integrity. Please see the UNR website for a complete description, definitions and policies regarding class conduct and academic dishonesty.
Accommodation for students with disabilities
Students who require additional support due to disabling conditions should discuss their needs with their instructors at the start of each semester. Accommodations for all reasonable requests will be made for documented disabling conditions. In addition, students are encouraged to contact the University Disability Resource Center at (775) 784-6000 to access a range of supportive services.
The faculty of the School of Social Work believes that classroom attendance and participation are critical aspects of professional socialization. Students are responsible for assisting in the creation of a learning environment that promotes such socialization. To do so, students should assume responsibility for their own learning and be engaged within the course room. It is expected for students to log into the online classroom a minimum of three times a week to be successfully engaged. Attendance and participation will be part of grading, as determined by the course instructor. Opportunities for make-up assignments are determined at the discretion of individual instructors.
Confidentiality of case material outside of an agency
NASW Code of Ethics requirements regarding confidentiality of client information extend to the use of confidential information from field work in classes, seminars and in student assignments. Students may not divulge client, collateral or collegial information, disguising all names, demographic information and any case details that might identify a client or co-worker. Client files and records should never be removed from the agency for any purpose.
The programs of the UNR School of Social Work are conducted without discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, creed, ethnic or national origin, disability, political orientation, or sexual orientation. This policy applies to the baccalaureate and master’s programs, the field education program, and all admission, employment, and financial aid decisions.
In its description of the Social Work major, the University of Nevada, Reno catalog states that:
“The admission and retention of students in the program is subject to the professional judgment of the social work faculty.”
Retention in the MSW Program at UNR is based on student performance in two general areas: academics and adherence to professional values and standards of behavior. Retention in the social work major requires students and maintain a 3.0 (B) overall grade point average—with a letter grade of “C” or higher in each of the graduate course, including the required 3 credits of electives. Additionally, students must adhere to the academic and professional standards outlined in the University's Student Handbook for Student Code of Conduct, the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, and the State Board of Examiners for Social Workers Standards of Practice.
Remediation and termination policy
The School of Social Work adheres to the Dismissal Policy for Undergraduate Specialized Programs that applies to specific types of programs at the University.
Social work course descriptions
For course descriptions check your catalog year for the recommended schedule at catalog.unr.edu.