Close-up of the School of Social Work building

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. The Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) Program prepares students as beginning-level professional social workers.

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. 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, substance use disorders, diversity, race and ethnicity, criminal justice, oppression, and social, economic, and environmental justice, and at-risk populations.

BSW Program Mission and Goals

The School's main undergraduate Guide page provides a broader overview of the School and its mission.

Guided by the core values of the social work profession and grounded in the generalist practice framework, the BSW program's mission is to provide social work education that will nurture competent, ethical entry-level social work professionals committed to scientific inquiry, evidence-based practice, respect for human diversity, the promotion of human and community well-being, human rights, and social, economic and environmental justice. Read more about the BSW Program Mission and Goals.

Certificate Programs

Students in the social welfare major and BSW program often choose from a variety of certificate programs available. Common certificates include African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Business, Chicano/a and Latino/a Studies, Criminal Justice Certificate, Gender & Women Studies, Global Health, LGBTQ Studies, South Asian Studies, and South East Asian Studies, among others.

MSW Advanced Standing

BSW students may be considered for advanced standing if they apply and are accepted to one of the MSW Programs. Advanced standing qualifies a student to exempt out of all or part of their generalist year. For more information, please refer to the Prospective Graduate Students page on the School of Social Work website.

How to Get in

Students enter the Bachelor of Social Work program by first declaring the Social Welfare major. Later, if a student applies to and is accepted into the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, their degree program is changed to BSW. In the late fall/early spring of the junior year, students apply for admission to the BSW program for their senior year.

Students in the BSW program must be in the College of Letters & Science. Applicants may be enrolled in another School or College, but must transfer to Letters & Sciences if they are accepted into the BSW program and choose to pursue the degree.

Declaring the Social Welfare Major

See the Social Welfare How to Get In page for information about declaring the Social Welfare major. This must be done prior to applying to the BSW Program.

Admission to the BSW Program

In the spring of the junior year, students who meet the following eligibility criteria may apply for admission to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program:

  • SOC WORK 205 and SOC WORK 206 completed;
  • Declared in the Social Welfare major;
  • Statistics completed (or concurrent enrollment)1;
  • Second-semester junior status (minimum of 71 credits completed); and
  • Minimum of 2.500 cumulative GPA from all colleges attended2.

Admission to the Bachelor of Social Work program is based on assessment of the applicant's background, preparation and experience for practice in the field of social work. Approximately 45 students are admitted to the BSW program each year. Applicants must refer to the School of Social Work BSW Application website to apply, for deadline information, and further application instructions.



Refer to the Statistics and Research list in the Requirements tab for eligible statistics courses.


Only grades from all post-secondary institutions that have transferred credits to UW-Madison are reviewed. The credits earned at UW-Madison and those transferred to UW-Madison will be computed into the minimum 2.500 GPA required for admission using the GPA calculation method found on the back of each institution’s transcript. See admissions instructions for more details about including transcripts.

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 Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

The Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work is a professional school within the College of Letters & Sciences (L&S). The College confers the BSW degree.

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The BSW is a special degree program; it is not considered a major. The BSW degree is not available to students who intend to earn a degree outside the College of Letters & Science.

Bachelor of Social Work Degree Requirements

Mathematics Complete the University General Education Requirements for Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A) and Quantitative Reasoning B (QR-B) coursework. Students complete Quantitative Reasoning B within the requirements of the BSW degree program.
Language Complete either:
• the fourth unit of one language; or
• the complete the third unit of one language and the second unit of one additional language.
Breadth in the Degree Complete:
• 12 credits of Humanities, including at least 6 credits of Literature breadth; and
• 12 credits of Social Science breadth; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science breadth, which must include one 3+ credit course in Biological Science breadth and one 3+ credit course in Physical Science breadth.
Ethnic Studies Complete at least 6 credits of coursework with the Ethnic Studies designation.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Gain admission to and complete the Bachelor of Social Work degree program.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience Complete both:
• 30 credits in residence, overall; and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison

Requirements for the Program

Complete a minimum of 47 credits, to be attained via the requirements detailed below.

Social Welfare Policy & Services

Complete both:
SOC WORK 205 Introduction to the Field of Social Work4
SOC WORK 206 Introduction to Social Policy4

Social Science Concentration1

Complete two Intermediate or Advanced level courses and at least 6 total credits from one of the following social science concentration areas:

African American Studies

AFROAMER 303 Blacks, Film, and Society3
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/​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

American Indian and Indigenous Studies

AMER IND/​ENVIR ST  306 Indigenous Peoples and the Environment3
AMER IND/​ANTHRO  314 Indians of North America3
AMER IND/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  345 Caring for Nature in Native North America3
AMER IND/​GEOG  410 Critical Indigenous Ecological Knowledges3
AMER IND 450 Issues in American Indian Studies3
AMER IND/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/RELIG ST 343 Anthropology of Religion3-4
ANTHRO 345 Family, Kin and Community in Anthropological Perspective3
ANTHRO 348 Economic Anthropology3-4
ANTHRO 350 Political Anthropology3-4
ANTHRO/GEN&WS 443 Anthropology by Women3
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 441 Hmong American Social Movements in the 20th and 21st Centuries3
ASIAN AM 540 Special Topics3

Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

CHICLA/POLI SCI 231 Politics in Multi-Cultural Societies3-4
CHICLA 301 Chicana/o and Latina/o History3
CHICLA/​POLI SCI  302 Mexican-American Politics3-4
CHICLA 315 Racial Formation and Whiteness3
CHICLA/​CURRIC  321 Chicano/Latino Educational Justice3
CHICLA 330 Topics in Chicano/a Studies3-4
CHICLA/GEN&WS 332 Latinas: Self Identity and Social Change3
CHICLA/​HISTORY/​LACIS/​POLI SCI  355 Labor in the Americas: US & Mexico in Comparative & Historical Perspective3
CHICLA/​LEGAL ST/​SOC  440 Ethnicity, Race, and Justice3-4
CHICLA/​LEGAL ST/​SOC  443 Immigration, Crime, and Enforcement3-4
CHICLA/​SOC  470 Sociodemographic Analysis of Mexican Migration3
CHICLA 501 Chican@ and Latin@ Social Movements in the U.S.3
CHICLA/​COUN PSY  525 Dimensions of Latin@ Mental Health Services3


ECON/​FINANCE  300 Introduction to Finance3
ECON 301 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory4
ECON 302 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory4
ECON/​HIST SCI  305 Development of Economic Thought3-4
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 330 Money and Banking4
ECON/A A E/ENVIR ST 343 Environmental Economics3-4
ECON 355 The Economics of Growing-up and Getting Old3-4
ECON 370 Economics of Poverty and Inequality3
ECON 390 Contemporary Economic Issues3
ECON/URB R PL 420 Urban and Regional Economics3
ECON 441 Analytical Public Finance3-4
ECON/POLI SCI 449 Government and Natural Resources3-4
ECON 450 Wages and the Labor Market3-4
ECON 461 International Macroeconomics3-4
ECON/​A A E/​INTL BUS  462 Latin American Economic Development3
ECON 464 International Trade3-4
ECON/​HISTORY  466 The American Economy Since 18653-4
ECON 467 International Industrial Organizations3-4
ECON/A A E/ECON 474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas3
ECON 475 Economics of Growth3-4
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/SOC 663 Population and Society3
ECON/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  671 Energy Economics3

Gender and Women's Studies

GEN&WS/​CHICLA/​GEOG  308 Latinx Feminisms: Women's Lives, Work, and Activism3
GEN&WS 320 Special Topics in Gender, Women and Society3
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 344 Bi/Pan/Asexuality: Community & Representation3
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/​COM ARTS  418 Gender, Sexuality, and the Media3
GEN&WS 420 Women in Cross-Societal Perspective3
GEN&WS/​LEGAL ST  422 Women and the Law3
GEN&WS 423 The Female Body in the World: Gender and Contemporary Body Politics in Cross Cultural Perspective3
GEN&WS/​LEGAL ST/​SOC  425 Crime, Gender and Justice3
GEN&WS/​POLI SCI  429 Gender and Politics in Comparative Perspective3-4
GEN&WS 441 Contemporary Feminist Theories3
GEN&WS/ANTHRO 443 Anthropology by Women3
GEN&WS 446 Queer of Color Critique3
GEN&WS/​POLI SCI  469 Women and Politics3-4
GEN&WS/HISTORY 519 Sexuality, Modernity and Social Change3
GEN&WS/PSYCH 522 Psychology of Women and Gender3
GEN&WS 523 Framing Fatness: Gender, Size, Constructing Health3
GEN&WS 534 Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction: Public Health Perspectives3
GEN&WS/INTL ST 535 Women's Global Health and Human Rights3
GEN&WS 536 Queering Sexuality Education3
GEN&WS/​HIST SCI  537 Childbirth in the United States3
GEN&WS 539 Special Topics in Gender and Health3
GEN&WS 546 Feminist Theories and Masculinities3
GEN&WS 547 Theorizing Intersectionality3
GEN&WS/​ED POL  560 Gender and Education3
GEN&WS/​SOC  611 Gender, Science and Technology3

Political Science

POLI SCI 205 Introduction to State Government3-4
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 311 United States Congress3-4
POLI SCI 314 Criminal Law and Justice3-4
POLI SCI 330 Political Economy of Development3
POLI SCI 335 Social Identities3
POLI SCI 338 The Civil-Military Paradox in U.S. Politics and Society3
POLI SCI 343 Theories of International Security3-4
POLI SCI 345 Conflict Resolution3-4
POLI SCI 347 Terrorism3
POLI SCI 348 Analysis of International Relations3-4
POLI SCI 350 International Political Economy3-4
POLI SCI 354 International Institutions and World Order3-4
POLI SCI/​CHICLA/​HISTORY/​LACIS  355 Labor in the Americas: US & Mexico in Comparative & Historical Perspective3
POLI SCI 356 Principles of International Law3-4
POLI SCI 359 American Foreign Policy3-4
POLI SCI 405 State Government and Public Policy3-4
POLI SCI 408 The American Presidency3-4
POLI SCI 411 The American Constitution : Powers and Structures of Government4
POLI SCI 412 The American Constitution: Rights and Civil Liberties4
POLI SCI 414 The Supreme Court as a Political Institution3
POLI SCI 416 Community Power and Grass Roots Politics3
POLI SCI 417 The American Judicial System3-4
POLI SCI/​PUB AFFR  419 Administrative Law3-4
POLI SCI/​GEN&WS  429 Gender and Politics in Comparative Perspective3-4
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  431 Contentious Politics3-4
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  434 The Politics of Human Rights3-4
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  439 The Comparative Study of Genocide3-4
POLI SCI/​ECON/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  449 Government and Natural Resources3-4
POLI SCI 461 Interdisciplinary Seminar in Political Economy, Philosophy, & Politics3
POLI SCI 463 Deception and Politics4
POLI SCI/​GEN&WS  469 Women and Politics3-4
POLI SCI 470 The First Amendment3-4
POLI SCI 511 Campaign Finance3-4
POLI SCI 515 Public Opinion3-4
POLI SCI 601 Proseminar: Topics in Political Science3


PSYCH 311 Issues in Psychology3-4
PSYCH 401 Psychology, Law, and Social Policy3
PSYCH 403 Psychology of Personality3
PSYCH 405 Adult Psychopathology3-4
PSYCH 413 Language, Mind, and Brain3
PSYCH 414 Cognitive Psychology3
PSYCH/​SOC  453 Human Sexuality4
PSYCH 456 Social Psychology3-4
PSYCH 460 Child Development3-4
PSYCH 464 Adult Development and Aging3
PSYCH 502 Cognitive Development4
PSYCH 503 Social Development4
PSYCH 508 Psychology of Human Emotions: From Biology to Culture4
PSYCH 510 Critical Issues in Child Psychopathology4
PSYCH 513 Hormones, Brain, and Behavior4
PSYCH 521 The Structure of Human Thought: Concepts, Language and Culture4
PSYCH/​GEN&WS  522 Psychology of Women and Gender3
PSYCH 525 Cognition in Health and Society4
PSYCH 526 The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives4
PSYCH 528 Cultural Psychology4
PSYCH 532 Psychological Effects of the Internet4
PSYCH 607 Introduction to Psychotherapy3


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/​ASIAN AM  220 Ethnic Movements in the United States3-4
SOC/​A A E/​C&E SOC  340 Issues in Food Systems3-4
SOC/​C&E SOC  341 Labor in Global Food Systems3
SOC/​C&E SOC  343 Sociology of Health and Medicine3
SOC 421 Processes of Deviant Behavior3-4
SOC/​SOC WORK  422 Social Issues in Aging3
SOC/​ILS/​JEWISH  423 Modern Jewish Thought3
SOC/​GEN&WS/​LEGAL ST  425 Crime, Gender and Justice3
SOC/​CHICLA/​LEGAL ST  440 Ethnicity, Race, and Justice3-4
SOC 441 Criminology3-4
SOC/​CHICLA/​LEGAL ST  443 Immigration, Crime, and Enforcement3-4
SOC 444 Social Psychology: A Sociological Perspective3-4
SOC 446 Juvenile Delinquency3-4
SOC/​PSYCH  453 Human Sexuality4
SOC/​CHICLA  470 Sociodemographic Analysis of Mexican Migration3
SOC/​C&E SOC  475 Classical Sociological Theory3
SOC 476 Contemporary Sociological Theory3
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/​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 624 Political Sociology3
SOC 626 Social Movements3
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/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  652 Sociology of Economic Institutions3
SOC/​ECON  663 Population and Society3
SOC/HISTORY 670 Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in America Since 18903-4
SOC/​C&E SOC  676 Applied Demography: Planning and Policy3

Human Behavior & the Social Environment

Complete all:
SOC WORK 457 Human Behavior and the Environment3
SOC WORK 612 Psychopathology in Generalist Social Work Practice2
SOC WORK 640 Diversity, Oppression and Social Justice in Social Work3

Social Work Practice Sequence5

Complete all:
SOC WORK 400 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar I 2,54
SOC WORK 401 Field Practice and Integrative Seminar II 2,54
SOC WORK 441 Generalist Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups3
SOC WORK 442 Generalist Practice with Communities and Organizations2

Statistics and Research

Complete one course from:3-4
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Basic Statistics for Psychology
Statistics for Sociologists I
Complete one course from:3-4
Methods of Social Work Research
Research Methods
Methods of Sociological Inquiry
Total Credits6-8


Complete two Intermediate or Advanced level SOC WORK courses and at least 6 total credits of Social Work electives. Not all courses in the list below are offered in each semester or year.

List of Social Work Elective Courses

SOC WORK 375 Contemporary Issues in Social Welfare3
SOC WORK 420 Poverty and Social Welfare3
SOC WORK/​SOC  422 Social Issues in Aging3
SOC WORK 453 Substance Use Disorders3
SOC WORK 454 Small Groups in Social Work Practice3
SOC WORK 462 Child Welfare3
SOC WORK 575 Community Development in Social Welfare3
SOC WORK 578 Homelessness: A Service Learning Course4
SOC WORK 623 Interpersonal Violence3
SOC WORK 624 Social Work with the Small Group3
SOC WORK 626 Social Work with the Community3
SOC WORK 627 Sex Trafficking and Sex Trading2
SOC WORK/​AMER IND  636 Social Work in American Indian Communities: The Indian Child Welfare Act3
SOC WORK 639 Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Individuals and Social Welfare3
SOC WORK 642 Social Work and Adolescents3
SOC WORK 643 Social Work and Delinquency3
SOC WORK 644 Issues in Developmental Disabilities3
SOC WORK 646 Child Abuse and Neglect2
SOC WORK 648 Palliative and End-of-Life Care Social Work Practice2
SOC WORK 656 Family Practice in Foster and Kinship Care3
SOC WORK 659 International Aspects of Social Work3
SOC WORK 661 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 662 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 663 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 664 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 665 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 672 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 673 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 674 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 675 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 676 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 679 Topics in Contemporary Social Welfare2-3
SOC WORK 691 Senior Thesis 32
SOC WORK 692 Senior Thesis 32
SOC WORK 699 Directed Study 62-3

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all SOC WORK courses and all major courses
  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence4
  • 15 credits in SOC WORK, taken on campus



Social Science Concentration courses listed are a selected list of eligible courses. Consult with a Social Work advisor for other exceptions or additions to the list.


BSW students take two semesters (16 hours per week—256 hours/semester) of field education during their senior year (SOC WORK 400 fall semester, SOC WORK 401 spring semester).


Students with an interest in a particular area of study may develop a plan of independent work with the assistance of an interested Social Work faculty member. They may obtain information about instructors and their areas of interest from the School of Social Work website. Consent of instructor is required for the noted course offerings in independent work.


 PSYCH 225, SOC/​C&E SOC  357STAT 301STAT 371, PSYCH 210SOC/​C&E SOC  360, and all SOC WORK courses designated as Intermediate or Advanced count as upper-level in the major.


Please refer to the Advising and Careers tab for more information on field education placements.


No more than 3 credits of SOC WORK 699 Directed Study may be used toward fulfillment of this requirement.

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.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Articulate and demonstrate foundational ethical and professional behavior
  2. Identify the historical foundations of the US social welfare system and the social work profession.
  3. Recognize and engage in foundational practices to advance human rights and social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.
  4. Demonstrate foundational knowledge, critical reflection, and analytic skills that inform anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice.
  5. Demonstrate a foundational understanding and ability to use research to inform practice and to use practice experiences to inform research.
  6. Describe and demonstrate foundational policy practice skills.
  7. Describe and demonstrate foundational knowledge and skills in engaging, assessing, intervening, and evaluating practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Four-Year Plan

This Four-Year Plan is only one way a student may complete an L&S degree with this major. Many factors can affect student degree planning, including placement scores, credit for transferred courses, credits earned by examination, and individual scholarly interests. In addition, many students have commitments (e.g., athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, work and volunteer experiences) that necessitate they adjust their plans accordingly. Informed students engage in their own unique Wisconsin Experience by consulting their academic advisors, Guide, DARS, and Course Search & Enroll for assistance making and adjusting their plan.

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

First Year
Communication A3Ethnic Studies3-4
Quantitative Reasoning A3-4Literature Breadth4
Biological Science Breadth3Physical Science Breadth3
Language (if needed)4Language (if needed)4
 14 14
Second Year
Humanities Breadth4Communication B4
Literature Breadth4Science Breadth3
INTER-LS 21011 
 16 16
Third Year
SOC WORK 640 (fall-only)23SOC WORK 457 (spring only)3
Social Science Concentration23-4STAT 301, 371, PSYCH 210, or SOC 360 (also meets Quantitative Reasoning B)3-4
Science Breadth3SOC WORK elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3-4
Electives (Intermediate/Advanced-level)6Social Science Concentration23-4
 Elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3
 15 15
Fourth Year
SOC WORK 400 (fall only)4SOC WORK 401 (spring only)4
SOC WORK 441 (fall only)3SOC WORK 612 (spring only)32
SOC WORK 442 (fall only)2SOC WORK 650 (spring only)33
Electives (Intermediate/Advanced-level)6SOC WORK elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3-4
 Elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)2-3
 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.


The College encourages students to take INTER-LS 210 in their second year (or anytime); it is recommended but not required.


SOC WORK 640 counts towards the BSW ethnic studies requirement, providing three of the six credits needed.


SOC WORK 612 and SOC WORK 650 are often available in the summer. Check with an Advisor regarding availability and how summer courses might fit into your schedule.

Three-Year Plan

This Sample Three-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 three-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests.

Three-year plans may vary considerably from student to student, depending on their individual preparation and circumstances. Students interested in graduating in three years should meet with an advisor as early as possible to discuss feasibility, appropriate course sequencing, post-graduation plans (careers, graduate school, etc.), and opportunities they might forgo in pursuit of a three-year graduation plan.

Departmental Expectations

Students planning to graduate within three years from the Bachelor of Social Work program should enter the University with a minimum of 30 advanced standing credits, and have satisfied the following requirements with course credit or via placement examination:

  • Communication Part A
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A
  • 18 combined credits of Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Science coursework
  • 3-4 units of language

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

First Year
Social Science Concentration course3-4Social Science Concentration course3-4
Biological Science Breadth3Humanities Breadth3
Literature Breadth3Literature Breadth3
Language (if interested in retroactive credit or to reach 4 units)3Physical Science Breadth3
 16 16
Second Year
STAT 301, 371, PSYCH 210, or SOC 360 (also meets Quantitative Reasoning B)3SOC WORK 650 (spring only)23
SOC WORK 640 (fall only)13SOC WORK 457 (spring only)3
SOC WORK elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3Humanities Breadth3
Communication B3Science Breadth3
Science Breadth (if not taking STAT 301 or 371)3Elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3-4
 15 15
Third Year
SOC WORK 400 (fall only)4SOC WORK 401 (spring only)4
SOC WORK 441 (fall only)3SOC WORK 612 (spring only)22
SOC WORK 442 (fall only)2Ethnic Studies3
Elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3-4SOC WORK Elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)3-4
Elective2-4Elective (Intermediate/Advanced-level)2
 14 14
Total Credits 90

SOC WORK 640 counts towards the BSW ethnic studies requirement, providing three of the six credits needed.


SOC WORK 612 and SOC WORK 650 are often available in the summer. Check with an Advisor regarding availability and how summer courses might fit into your schedule.

Advising and Careers

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 Starfish for current students, or by calling 608-263-3660. Social work faculty members are available for advice about coursework, research, and the social work profession in general.

BSW Ethnic Studies Requirement

The BSW degree program requires six ethnic studies credits. The BSW degree's minimum 47 credits assumes that three credits of the six-credit ethnic studies degree requirement will be met through SOC WORK 640, with the other three credits met as part of the Social Work electives, the Social Science Concentration, or other electives.

Field Education

The director of field education makes final unit placement decisions and field instructors make final agency-placement decisions.

The types of agencies working with the field education program are varied. Field units are organized around a social problem area or a field of practice. Each unit has a range of field placement agencies and settings appropriate to its theme. The emphasis for undergraduate placements is on applying the knowledge and skills of generalist social work practice with systems of all sizes. The focus is on learning and applying analytic and intervention skills within an ethically based, problem-focused approach.

Social work students should be advised that the Wisconsin Caregiver Law requires a Wisconsin background check (Caregiver Check and Wisconsin Criminal History) for all potential field-education students prior to the field placement. More information regarding this process is available at Field Education on the social work website.

For more information about field units, the agencies they work with, and field course expectations see the Field Education Handbook. Field unit availability may vary from year to year.

L&S Career Resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.


Professors: Lawrence M. Berger, MSW, PhD; Marah H. Curtis, MSW, PhD; Katherine Magnuson, PhD; Stephanie A. Robert, MSW, PhD (School Director)

Associate Professors: Lauren Bishop, PhD; Tally Moses, MSW, PhD; Tova Walsh, MSW, PhD; Marci Ybarra, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professors: Pajarita Charles, MPA, MSW, PhD; Lara Gerassi, MSW, PhD; LB Klein, MSW, PhD; Jooyoung Kong, MSW, PhD; Jessica Pac, PhD; Alejandra Ros Pilarz, PhD; Tawandra Rowell-Cunsolo, PhD

Clinical Professors: Audrey Conn, MSSW, APSW; Ellen Smith, MSSW

Clinical Associate Professors: Laura Dresser, MSW, PhD; Alice Egan, MSSW, APSW; Amanda Ngola, MSW, LCSW; Lynette Studer, MSSW, PhD; Angela Willits, MSW, LCSW

Clinical Assistant Professors: Jaime Goldberg, MSW, LCSW, PhD; Amanda Zuehlke, MSW, LCSW

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


Exam Pass Rates

Association of Social Work Boards BSW exam pass rates.

Many students pursuing a BSW will go on to earn a Master in Social Work, which does not require taking the bachelor's level exam. As such, the number of students taking the exam is not high enough, making it easy to identify individual results. Thus, no data is available from ASWB for UW-Madison attempts in years when the number of students taking the exam is low.

Year of Exam UW-Madison Graduates: All Attempts National: All Attempts  
2022 100 No Data
2021 No Data 61
2020 100 61
2019 No data 60
2018 100 61
Year of Exam UW-Madison Graduates: First Attempt National: First Attempt  
2022 100 65
2021 No Data 69
2020 100 69
2019 No Data 67
2018 100 69

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education (via 34 CFR Part 668) requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure. The expectation is that institutions will determine whether each applicable academic program meets state professional licensure requirements and provide a general disclosure of such on an official university website.

Professional licensure requirements vary from state-to-state and can change year-to-year; they are established in a variety of state statutes, regulations, rules, and policies; and they center on a range of educational requirements, including degree type, specialized accreditation, total credits, specific courses, and examinations.  

UW-Madison has taken reasonable efforts to determine whether this program satisfies the educational requirements for certification/licensure in states where prospective and enrolled students are located and is disclosing that information as follows.

Disclaimer: This information is based on the most recent annual review of state agency certification/licensure data and is subject to change. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with the individual/office listed in the Contact Information box on this page and with the applicable state agency for specific information.

The requirements of this program meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

Illinois, Wisconsin

The requirements of this program do not meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

Not applicable

Updated: 1 June 2024


Council on Social Work Education

Accreditation status: Accredited. Next accreditation review: 2028.