The School of Social Work offers two undergraduate programs: the bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.) degree with a major in social welfare; and the bachelor of social work (BSW) degree. Those who are interested in the professional social work degree (BSW) begin by declaring the social welfare major, applying to the BSW program in their junior year and, if accepted, changing their major to the BSW for their senior year.

Regardless of  program of interest, students begin their course of study by taking SOC WORK 205 Introduction to the Field of Social Work and SOC WORK 206 Introduction to Social Policy in either the freshman or sophomore year. Students can declare the social welfare major as early as the freshman year as long as they are enrolled in SOC WORK 205 and/or SOC WORK 206 and meet the L&S requirement of a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. More typically, students declare the major in the sophomore year while in or having competed SOC WORK 205 and/or SOC WORK 206. To declare the major, students should make an appointment and meet with one of the two social work academic advisors at the School of Social Work.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

Social Welfare Policy and Services

Complete the following two courses:
SOC WORK 205 Introduction to the Field of Social Work4
SOC WORK 206 Introduction to Social Policy4

Social Science Concentration

Select two intermediate- or advanced-level courses (I or A) from one of the following social science departments.1
Note: Completion of an elementary-level course may be a prerequisite to being able to take an I or A course.

Afro-American Studies

AFROAMER 302 Undergraduate Studies in Afro-American History3
AFROAMER/​HISTORY  321 Afro-American History Since 19003-4
AFROAMER/​GEN&WS  323 Gender, Race and Class: Women in U.S. History3
AFROAMER/​GEN&WS  333 Black Feminisms3
AFROAMER/​HISTORY  347 The Caribbean and its Diasporas3
AFROAMER/​HISTORY  393 Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction, 1848-18773-4
AFROAMER/ASIAN AM 443 Mutual Perceptions of Racial Minorities3
AFROAMER/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  523 Race, American Medicine and Public Health3
AFROAMER/ED POL 567 History of African American Education3
AFROAMER 631 Colloquium in Afro-American History3
AFROAMER 671 Selected Topics in Afro-American History3
AFROAMER 673 Selected Topics in Afro-American Society3

American Indian Studies

AMER IND/​ANTHRO  314 Indians of North America3
AMER IND/​ANTHRO  353 Indians of the Western Great Lakes3
AMER IND/​LSC  444 Native American Environmental Issues and the Media3
AMER IND 450 Issues in American Indian Studies3
AMER IND/​HISTORY  490 American Indian History3-4
AMER IND/​HDFS  522 American Indian Families3
AMER IND/​C&E SOC/​SOC  578 Poverty and Place3


ANTHRO 300 Cultural Anthropology: Theory and Ethnography3
ANTHRO/​AMER IND  314 Indians of North America3
ANTHRO 321 The Emergence of Human Culture3
ANTHRO 330 Topics in Ethnology3-4
ANTHRO/​RELIG ST  343 Anthropology of Religion3-4
ANTHRO 350 Political Anthropology3-4
ANTHRO/​AMER IND  353 Indians of the Western Great Lakes3
ANTHRO 365 Medical Anthropology3
ANTHRO/​GEN&WS  443 Anthropology by Women3
ANTHRO 448 Anthropology of Law3
ANTHRO 477 Anthropology, Environment, and Development3
ANTHRO 545 Psychological Anthropology3
ANTHRO/​ED POL  570 Anthropology and Education3

Asian American Studies

ASIAN AM/​SOC  220 Ethnic Movements in the United States3-4
ASIAN AM 240 Topics in Asian American Studies3
ASIAN AM/​HISTORY/​LCA  246 Southeast Asian Refugees of the "Cold" War4
ASIAN AM/​E A STDS/​HISTORY  276 Chinese Migrations since 15003-4
ASIAN AM/​AFROAMER  443 Mutual Perceptions of Racial Minorities3

Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

CHICLA/​POLI SCI  231 Politics in Multi-Cultural Societies3-4
CHICLA/​GEN&WS/​HISTORY  245 Chicana and Latina History3
CHICLA 301 Chicana/o and Latina/o History3
CHICLA/​POLI SCI  302 Mexican-American Politics3-4
CHICLA 330 Topics in Chicano/a Studies3-4
CHICLA/​GEN&WS  332 Latinas: Self Identity and Social Change3
CHICLA/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  422 Latino History and Politics3
CHICLA/​HISTORY  435 Colony, Nation, and Minority: The Puerto Ricans' World3
CHICLA/​SOC  470 Sociodemographic Analysis of Mexican Migration3


ECON/​FINANCE  300 Introduction to Finance3
ECON 301 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory4
ECON 302 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory4
ECON/​A A E/​REAL EST/​URB R PL  306 The Real Estate Process3
ECON 311 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory - Advanced Treatment3
ECON 312 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory - Advanced Treatment3
ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
ECON 364 Survey of International Economics3-4
ECON 390 Contemporary Economic Issues3
ECON/​REAL EST/​URB R PL  420 Urban and Regional Economics3
ECON 441 Analytical Public Finance3-4
ECON 448 Human Resources and Economic Growth3-4
ECON/​ENVIR ST/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  449 Government and Natural Resources3-4
ECON 450 Wages and the Labor Market3-4
ECON 467 International Industrial Organizations3-4
ECON/​A A E  474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas3
ECON 475 Economics of Growth3-4
ECON 508 Wealth and Income3
ECON 521 Game Theory and Economic Analysis3-4
ECON 522 Law and Economics3-4
ECON/​PHILOS  524 Philosophy and Economics3
ECON/​A A E/​F&W ECOL  531 Natural Resource Economics3
ECON/​POP HLTH/​PUB AFFR  548 The Economics of Health Care3-4
ECON 623 Population Economics3-4
ECON/​REAL EST/​URB R PL  641 Housing Economics and Policy3
ECON/​SOC  663 Population and Society3

Gender and Women's Studies

GEN&WS/​C&E SOC/​SOC  215 Gender and Work in Rural America3
GEN&WS/​CHICLA/​HISTORY  245 Chicana and Latina History3
GEN&WS 320 Special Topics in Gender, Women and Society1-3
GEN&WS/​AFROAMER  323 Gender, Race and Class: Women in U.S. History3
GEN&WS 331 Topics in Gender/Class/Race/Ethnicity (Social Sciences)3
GEN&WS/​CHICLA  332 Latinas: Self Identity and Social Change3
GEN&WS/​AFROAMER  333 Black Feminisms3
GEN&WS 340 Topics in LGBTQ Sexuality3
GEN&WS 342 Transgender Studies3-4
GEN&WS/​HISTORY  353 Women and Gender in the U.S. to 18703-4
GEN&WS/​HISTORY  354 Women and Gender in the U.S. Since 18703-4
GEN&WS/​HISTORY  392 Women and Gender in Modern Europe3-4
GEN&WS 420 Women in Cross-Societal Perspective3
GEN&WS 424 Women's International Human Rights3
GEN&WS 426 Women and Grassroots Politics Across the Globe3
GEN&WS 427 Global Feminisms3
GEN&WS 441 Contemporary Feminist Theories3
GEN&WS/​ANTHRO  443 Anthropology by Women3
GEN&WS/​SOC  477 Feminism and Sociological Theory3
GEN&WS/​HISTORY  519 Sexuality, Modernity and Social Change3
GEN&WS/​PSYCH  522 Psychology of Women and Gender3
GEN&WS 534 Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction: Public Health Perspectives3
GEN&WS/​INTL ST  535 Women's Global Health and Human Rights3
GEN&WS/​HIST SCI  537 Childbirth in the United States3
GEN&WS 547 Theorizing Intersectionality3
GEN&WS/​SOC  611 Gender, Science and Technology3

Political Science

POLI SCI 205 Introduction to State Government3-4
POLI SCI 206 Introduction to Political Psychology3-4
POLI SCI 207 Introduction to Afro-American Politics3-4
POLI SCI/​LEGAL ST  217 Law, Politics and Society3-4
POLI SCI/​CHICLA  231 Politics in Multi-Cultural Societies3-4
POLI SCI 272 Introduction to Public Policy3-4
POLI SCI/​CHICLA  302 Mexican-American Politics3-4
POLI SCI 304 The Political Economy of Race in the United States3-4
POLI SCI 305 Elections and Voting Behavior3-4
POLI SCI 308 Public Administration3-4
POLI SCI 309 Civil Liberties in the United States3-4
POLI SCI 311 United States Congress3-4
POLI SCI 314 Criminal Law and Justice3-4
POLI SCI 354 International Institutions and World Order3-4
POLI SCI 348 Analysis of International Relations3-4
POLI SCI 350 International Political Economy3-4
POLI SCI 351 Politics of the World Economy3-4
POLI SCI 353 The Third World in the International System3-4
POLI SCI 356 Principles of International Law3-4
POLI SCI 405 State Government and Public Policy3-4
POLI SCI 408 The American Presidency3-4
POLI SCI 409 American Parties and Politics3-4
POLI SCI 410 Citizenship, Democracy, and Difference4
The American Constitution : Powers and Structures of Government
and The American Constitution: Rights and Civil Liberties
POLI SCI 416 Community Power and Grass Roots Politics3
POLI SCI 417 The American Judicial System3-4
POLI SCI/​CHICLA/​HISTORY  422 Latino History and Politics3
POLI SCI/​GEN&WS  429 Gender and Politics in Comparative Perspective3-4
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  431 Contentious Politics3-4
POLI SCI 432 Comparative Legal Institutions3-4
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  434 The Politics of Human Rights3-4
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  439 The Comparative Study of Genocide3-4
POLI SCI/​GEN&WS  469 Women and Politics3-4
POLI SCI 470 The First Amendment3-4
POLI SCI 507 Health Policy and Health Politics3-4
POLI SCI 510 Politics of Government Regulation3-4
POLI SCI 514 Interest Group Politics3-4
POLI SCI 515 Public Opinion3-4
POLI SCI 516 Political Communications3-4
POLI SCI 561 Radical Political Theory3-4
POLI SCI 654 Politics of Revolution3-4


PSYCH 311 Issues in Psychology1-4
PSYCH 403 Psychology of Personality3
PSYCH/​SOC  453 Human Sexuality4
PSYCH 405 Abnormal Psychology3-4
PSYCH 408 Psychology of Human Emotions3
PSYCH 413 Language, Mind, and Brain3
PSYCH 414 Cognitive Psychology3
PSYCH/​SOC  456 Introductory Social Psychology3-4
PSYCH 460 Child Development3-4
PSYCH 464 Adult Development and Aging3
PSYCH 501 Depth Topic in Social Science (when topic is appropriate)4
PSYCH 502 Cognitive Development4
PSYCH 503 Social Development4
PSYCH 508 Psychology of Human Emotions: From Biology to Culture4
PSYCH 511 Behavior Pathology: Neuroses3
PSYCH 512 Behavior Pathology-Psychoses3
PSYCH/​GEN&WS  522 Psychology of Women and Gender3
PSYCH 526 The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives4
PSYCH 428 Introduction to Cultural Psychology3-4
PSYCH 607 Introduction to Clinical Psychology3


SOC 181 Honors Introductory Seminar-The Sociological Enterprise3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC  210 Survey of Sociology3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC  211 The Sociological Enterprise3
SOC/​C&E SOC/​GEN&WS  215 Gender and Work in Rural America3
SOC/​ASIAN AM  220 Ethnic Movements in the United States3-4
SOC 250 Organizations and Society3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC/​POP HLTH  380 Contemporary Population Problems for Honors3
SOC 421 Processes of Deviant Behavior3-4
SOC 441 Criminology3-4
SOC 446 Juvenile Delinquency3-4
SOC/​PSYCH  453 Human Sexuality4
SOC/​PSYCH  456 Introductory Social Psychology3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC  475 Classical Sociological Theory3
SOC/​GEN&WS  477 Feminism and Sociological Theory3
SOC 496 Topics in Sociology1-3
SOC 531 Sociology of Medicine3
SOC/​C&E SOC  532 Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society3
SOC/​C&E SOC  533 Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities3
SOC 535 Talk and Social Interaction3
SOC/​C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
SOC/​C&E SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
SOC 543 Collective Behavior3
SOC/​C&E SOC  573 Community Organization and Change3
SOC 575 Sociological Perspectives on the Life Course and Aging3
SOC/​AMER IND/​C&E SOC  578 Poverty and Place3
SOC/​C&E SOC  610 Knowledge and Society3
SOC/​GEN&WS  611 Gender, Science and Technology3
SOC/​C&E SOC/​URB R PL  617 Community Development3
SOC 621 Class, State and Ideology: an Introduction to Marxist Social Science3
SOC/​C&E SOC  622 Advanced Topics in Critical Sociology3
SOC/​C&E SOC  623 Gender, Society, and Politics3
SOC/​C&E SOC  630 Sociology of Developing Societies/Third World3
SOC 632 Sociology of Organizations3-4
SOC 633 Social Stratification3
SOC 640 Sociology of the Family3
SOC/​LAW/​LEGAL ST  641 Sociology of Law3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC/​URB R PL  645 Modern American Communities3
SOC/​ED POL  648 Sociology of Education3
SOC/​C&E SOC  650 Sociology of Agriculture3
SOC/​C&E SOC  655 Microfoundations of Economic Sociology3
SOC/​ECON  663 Population and Society3
SOC/​HISTORY  670 Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in America Since 18903-4
SOC 678 Sociology of Persecution3

Human behavior & the social environment

Complete the following two courses:
SOC WORK 457 Human Behavior and the Environment (junior year, spring semester)3
SOC WORK 640 Social Work with Ethnic and Racial Groups (junior year, fall semester) 23

Electives in social welfare

Complete two intermediate- or advanced-level Social Work courses. 3

Statistics and Research

Select one of the following statistics courses:
STAT 301 Introduction to Statistical Methods 43
STAT 371 Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences 53
SOC/​C&E SOC  360 Statistics for Sociologists I4
PSYCH 210 Basic Statistics for Psychology3
Select one of the following research courses:
SOC WORK 650 Methods of Social Work Research3
SOC/​C&E SOC  357 Methods of Sociological Inquiry3-4
PSYCH 225 Research Methods4

Social welfare majors are encouraged to gain social service experience through volunteer work. See the social work advisors or contact the Morgridge Center for Public Service, 263-2432, for information on volunteering.

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all SOC WORK courses and courses counting toward the major
2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits taken in residence1
15 credits in SOC WORK, taken on campus

1SOC WORK courses that are designated as Intermediate or Advanced and PSYCH 225 and SOC/​C&E SOC  357 count as upper level in this major

Honors in the Major

Students may apply for admission to Honors in the Social Welfare Major in consultation with the Social Welfare undergraduate advisor before beginning the Senior Honors Thesis. Students must make arrangements with a faculty member to sponsor their research project before admission will be granted.

Honors in the Social Welfare Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Social Welfare, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.400 GPA for all SOC WORK courses, and all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete SOC WORK 650 Methods of Social Work Research
  • Complete one SOC WORK elective related to Senior Honors Thesis research topic
  • Complete SOC WORK 579 Special Topics in Social Work concurrently with SOC WORK 681 Senior Honors Thesis
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in SOC WORK 681 Senior Honors Thesis and SOC WORK 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits, with a grade of B or better
  • Present thesis results at a department colloquium.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. Identify foundational aspects of the US social welfare system and the history of the social work profession.

2. Recognize human differences and how social welfare systems interact with these differences to shape opportunities and outcomes for individuals, groups, and communities.

3. Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate research with respect to its relevance, quality, and utility for addressing social welfare issues.

4. Synthesize and communicate knowledge relevant to social welfare issues.

5. Practice self-awareness of one’s values, beliefs, and biases regarding the causes and consequences of social welfare issues.

6. Connect awareness of self, systems and social welfare knowledge to promote human dignity and justice.


Students interested in either the social welfare major or bachelor of social work meet with the social work advisors to discuss degree requirements; career opportunities; complete the major declaration; and confer on student issues and concerns. Advisors are an excellent resource for information about campus and community services. Students should see an advisor at least once each semester to review academic progress. Advising appointments are made through the school's website or by calling 608-263-3660. Social work faculty members are available for advice about coursework, research, and the social work profession in general.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Professors: Lawrence M. Berger, MSW, Ph.D.; Aaron Brower, MSW, Ph.D.; Maria Cancian Ph.D.; Jan Steven Greenberg, MSSW, Ph.D.; Betty J. Kramer,  MSSW, Ph.D.; Katherine Magnuson, Ph.D.; Marsha Mailick, Ph.D.; Daniel R. Meyer, MSW, Ph.D.; Stephanie A. Robert, MSW, Ph.D.; Tracy Schroepfer, MSW, Ph.D., Kristen Shook Slack, A.M., Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Marah A. Curtis, MSW, Ph.D.; Tally Moses, MSW, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Lauren Bishop-Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.; Pajarita Charles, MPA, MSW, Ph.D.; Lara Gerassi, MSW, Ph.D.; Alejandra Ros Pilarz, Ph.D.;  Yang Sao Xiong, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professor: Audrey Conn, MSSW, APSW; Ellen Smith, MSSW

Clinical Assistant Professors: Laura Dresser, MSW, Ph.D.; Amanda Ngola, MSW, LCSW; Lynette Studer, MSSW, Ph.D.;  Angela Willits, MSW, LCSW