Social work's special contribution rests on an established body of knowledge, values, and skills pertinent to understanding human relationships and the interaction between people as individuals, in families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Undergraduates in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work receive a liberal arts education in the social and behavioral sciences and their application to human problems that prepares them to be informed citizens involved in human services or social welfare problems and policies. Students take courses in a variety of social sciences to enable them to view social welfare in its broad social, economic, and political contexts.

Social work courses offer a theoretical understanding of social problems and an introduction to practice methods used by social workers. The curriculum covers such areas as aging, family and child welfare, poverty, mental health, developmental disabilities, alcohol and drug abuse, diversity, race and ethnicity, criminal justice, oppression and social, economic and environmental justice, and at-risk populations.


The mission of the UW–Madison Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work is to enhance human well-being and promote human rights and social and economic justice for people who are disadvantaged to achieve an equitable, healthy, and productive society. The school aims to:

  • Create, advance, strengthen, and integrate interdisciplinary knowledge for students and the profession through research, scholarship, teaching, and practice.
  • Educate students to become highly-skilled, culturally-competent and ethical practitioners who will provide effective leadership for the profession of social work within the State of Wisconsin, nationally, and internationally.
  • Promote change at levels ranging from the individual to national and international policy, including empowering communities and populations that are disadvantaged and developing humane service delivery systems.
  • Create and disseminate knowledge regarding the prevention and amelioration of social problems.


The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work offers a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree or a bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.) degree with a major in social welfare. The BSW and the social welfare major prepare students for further academic study or for employment in selected human service arenas. The social welfare major offers an overview of current social problems.


BSW students and social welfare majors often choose the following certificate programs: American Indian studies, business, criminal justice, gender and women's studies, global health, LGBTQ+ studies, and religious studies. More details about certificates are available in this Guide.

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. To declare the major, students should make an appointment and meet with one of the social welfare 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 Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science 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.


Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a 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 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
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 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison


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

Complete a minimum of 32 credits, to be attained via the requirements detailed below.

Social Welfare Policy & Services

Complete both:
SOC WORK 205 4
SOC WORK 206 4

Social Science Concentration

Complete two Intermediate or Advanced level courses from one of the following social science concentration areas:1

Afro-American Studies

AFROAMER 321 3-4
AFROAMER 393 3-4

American Indian Studies

AMER IND 306 3
AMER IND 314 3
AMER IND 345 3
AMER IND 353 3
AMER IND 444 3
AMER IND 450 3
AMER IND 490 3-4
AMER IND 522 3
AMER IND 578 3


ANTHRO 300 3
ANTHRO 314 3
ANTHRO 321 3
ANTHRO 343 3-4
ANTHRO 345 3
ANTHRO 348 3-4
ANTHRO 350 3-4
ANTHRO 353 3
ANTHRO 365 3
ANTHRO 443 3
ANTHRO 448 3
ANTHRO 477 3
ANTHRO 545 3
ANTHRO 570 3

Asian American Studies

ASIAN AM 220 3-4
ASIAN AM 246 4
ASIAN AM 276 3-4
ASIAN AM 443 3

Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

CHICLA 231 3-4
CHICLA 245 3
CHICLA 301 3
CHICLA 302 3-4
CHICLA 315 3
CHICLA 321 3
CHICLA 331 3
CHICLA 332 3
CHICLA 355 3
CHICLA 422 3
CHICLA 435 3
CHICLA 440 3-4
CHICLA 443 3-4
CHICLA 470 3
CHICLA 501 3
CHICLA 525 3


ECON 300 3
ECON 301 4
ECON 302 4
ECON 305 3-4
ECON 306 3
ECON 311 3
ECON 312 3
ECON 343 3-4
ECON 355 3-4
ECON 364 3-4
ECON 370 3
ECON 420 3
ECON 441 3-4
ECON 448 3-4
ECON 449 3-4
ECON 450 3-4
ECON 466 3-4
ECON 467 3-4
ECON 474 3
ECON 475 3-4
ECON 508 3
ECON 521 3-4
ECON 522 3-4
ECON 524 3
ECON 531 3
ECON 548 3-4
ECON 623 3-4
ECON 641 3
ECON 663 3
ECON 671 3

Gender and Women's Studies

GEN&WS 215 3
GEN&WS 245 3
GEN&WS 323 3
GEN&WS 326 3
GEN&WS 332 3
GEN&WS 333 3
GEN&WS 342 3-4
GEN&WS 353 3-4
GEN&WS 354 3-4
GEN&WS 420 3
GEN&WS 422 3
GEN&WS 424 3
GEN&WS 425 3
GEN&WS 426 3
GEN&WS 429 3-4
GEN&WS 441 3
GEN&WS 443 3
GEN&WS 446 3
GEN&WS 469 3-4
GEN&WS 477 3
GEN&WS 519 3
GEN&WS 522 3
GEN&WS 534 3
GEN&WS 535 3
GEN&WS 536 3
GEN&WS 537 3
GEN&WS 547 3
GEN&WS 560 3
GEN&WS 611 3

Political Science

POLI SCI 217 3-4
POLI SCI 231 3-4
POLI SCI 272 3-4
POLI SCI 302 3-4
POLI SCI 305 3-4
POLI SCI 309 3-4
POLI SCI 311 3-4
POLI SCI 314 3-4
POLI SCI 330 3
POLI SCI 335 3
POLI SCI 347 3
POLI SCI 348 3-4
POLI SCI 350 3-4
POLI SCI 351 3-4
POLI SCI 354 3-4
POLI SCI 355 3
POLI SCI 356 3-4
POLI SCI 359 3-4
POLI SCI 408 3-4
POLI SCI 410 4
POLI SCI 411 4
POLI SCI 412 4
POLI SCI 414 3
POLI SCI 415 3
POLI SCI 416 3
POLI SCI 417 3-4
POLI SCI 421 3-4
POLI SCI 422 3
POLI SCI 429 3-4
POLI SCI 431 3-4
POLI SCI 432 3-4
POLI SCI 434 3-4
POLI SCI 439 3-4
POLI SCI 449 3-4
POLI SCI 469 3-4
POLI SCI 470 3-4
POLI SCI 510 3-4
POLI SCI 511 3-4
POLI SCI 514 3-4
POLI SCI 516 3-4
POLI SCI 561 3-4


PSYCH 401 3
PSYCH 403 3
PSYCH 405 3-4
PSYCH 413 3
PSYCH 414 3
PSYCH 428 3-4
PSYCH 453 4
PSYCH 456 3-4
PSYCH 460 3-4
PSYCH 464 3
PSYCH 502 4
PSYCH 503 4
PSYCH 508 4
PSYCH 510 4
PSYCH 513 4
PSYCH 522 3
PSYCH 525 4
PSYCH 526 4
PSYCH 532 4
PSYCH 607 3


SOC 181 3-4
SOC 210 3-4
SOC 211 3
SOC 220 3-4
SOC 340 3-4
SOC 341 3
SOC 421 3-4
SOC 422 3
SOC 425 3
SOC 440 3-4
SOC 441 3-4
SOC 443 3-4
SOC 446 3-4
SOC 453 4
SOC 456 3-4
SOC 470 3
SOC 475 3
SOC 476 3
SOC 477 3
SOC 533 3
SOC 535 3
SOC 540 3
SOC 541 3
SOC 543 3
SOC 573 3
SOC 575 3
SOC 578 3
SOC 611 3
SOC 617 3
SOC 621 3
SOC 623 3
SOC 624 3
SOC 626 3
SOC 630 3
SOC 632 3-4
SOC 633 3
SOC 640 3
SOC 641 3-4
SOC 645 3
SOC 648 3
SOC 650 3
SOC 652 3
SOC 655 3
SOC 663 3
SOC 670 3-4
SOC 676 3
SOC 678 3

Human behavior & the social environment

Complete both:
SOC WORK 457 (junior year, spring semester)3
SOC WORK 640 (junior year, fall semester)3

Statistics & Research

Complete one course from:3-4
STAT 301
or STAT 371
or PSYCH 210
or SOC 360
Complete one course from:3-4
or PSYCH 225
or SOC 357
Total Credits6-8

Electives in social welfare

Complete two Intermediate or Advanced level SOC WORK courses. Not all courses in the list below are offered in each semester or year.


Residence and quality of work

  • 2.000 GPA in all SOC WORK and all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits taken in residence3
  • 15 credits in SOC WORK, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Honors in the Major

Students may apply for admission to Honors in the 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 Major Requirements

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

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.400 GPA for all SOC WORK and all major courses
  • Complete SOC WORK 650
  • Complete one SOC WORK elective from the elective list related to Senior Honors Thesis research topic
  • Complete SOC WORK 579 concurrently with SOC WORK 681
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in SOC WORK 681 and SOC WORK 682, 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.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

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.

Students wishing to apply to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program must do so in Spring of Junior year.

Communication A3Ethnic Studies3-4
Quantitative Reasoning A3-4Literature Breadth4
Biological Science Breadth3Physical Science Breadth3
Foreign Language (if needed)4Foreign Language (if needed)4
 14 14
SOC WORK 205 (can be taken Freshman or Sophomore year)4SOC WORK 206 (can be taken Freshman or Sophomore year)4
Humanities Breadth4Communication B4
Literature Breadth4Science Breadth3-4
INTER-LS 21011 
 16 15
STAT 301, STAT 371, PSYCH 210, or SOC 3603SOC WORK elective (I/A-level)3-4
Social Science Concentration course23-4Social Science Concentration course23-4
Electives (I/A-level)6I/A COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if B.S.)3-4
 16 15
SOC WORK elective (I/A-level)3-4SOC WORK 6503
Electives (I/A-level)12SOC WORK elective (I/A-level)3-4
 Electives (I/A-level)8
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Note: SOC WORK 100 is a pre-major elective course that can be taken in the first year, if offered; it is not required for the major.


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). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

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. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.

Professors: Lawrence M. Berger, MSW, Ph.D.; Marah H. Curtis, MSW, Ph.D.; Betty J. Kramer,  MSSW, Ph.D.; Katherine Magnuson, Ph.D.; Daniel R. Meyer, MSW, Ph.D.; Stephanie A. Robert, MSW, Ph.D. (School director); Tracy Schroepfer, MSW, Ph.D., Kristen Slack, A.M., Ph.D.

Associate Professors: Tally Moses, MSW, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors: Lauren Bishop, Ph.D.; Pajarita Charles, MPA, MSW, Ph.D.; Lara Gerassi, MSW, Ph.D.; Jooyoung Kong, MSW, Ph.D.; Jessica Pac, Ph.D.; Alejandra Ros Pilarz, Ph.D.;  Tova Walsh, MSW, Ph.D.; Yang Sao Xiong, Ph.D.

Clinical Associate Professors: Audrey Conn, MSSW, APSW; Alice Egan, 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

A complete list of all faculty and staff in the school is available on the School of Social Work Directory.