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The School of Social Welfare

The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare offers the only comprehensive program in social work in Kansas: the professional degrees of

KU's School of Social Welfare is an excellent place to pursue your interests in professional social work education. It is the oldest school of social welfare in the state and the only one to offer degree preparation from undergraduate through doctoral degrees in social work.

Social work education began at KU in 1937. The Master of Social Work program, established in Lawrence and at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City in 1946, has been continuously accredited since 1948. The Bachelor of Social Work degree has been awarded since 1971. In 1974, the B.S.W. program became one of the first in the nation to receive accredited status. The Council on Social Work Education, the accrediting body for social work education, most recently reaccredited the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs in 2010. The doctoral program admitted its first students in 1981.

KU’s Master of Social Work program ranked 11th among U.S. national public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” rankings for 2009. The School of Social Welfare is recognized internationally as an innovator in social work theory development and in research that makes positive contributions to our communities.

The school is housed on KU’s Lawrence campus in Twente Hall, named for nationally renowned social work educator Esther Twente, who chaired the social work department from 1946 to 1957. The school also offers the complete M.S.W. program at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, and an on-site 2+2 B.S.W. degree-completion program at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

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Undergraduate Programs

The undergraduate program prepares graduates for generalist social work practice. The program defines generalist practice as maintaining focus on the interface between systems — individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

The B.S.W. program also is offered at Kansas City Kansas Community College as a 2+2 degree-completion program. If you are interested, contact the program coordinator at 913-288-7304 to make an appointment.

University Honors Program

The school encourages qualified undergraduates to participate in the University Honors Program.

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Mission and Themes

Mission

The threefold mission of the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare is to educate students at the B.S.W., M.S.W., and Ph.D. levels, to conduct scholarly inquiry that contributes to the knowledge base of the profession, and to provide leadership in formulating social policy and developing service delivery strategies and systems.

In the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs, students learn generalist and advanced-level social work practice methods and skills that advance the empowerment and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. At the Ph.D. level, students are equipped with the necessary skills for critical inquiry and scholarship to become leaders in the social work profession in academic, research, and public policy realms.

Guiding Principles and Themes

The KU School of Social Welfare is committed to practicing educational approaches and conducting scholarship that directly and explicitly enhance the connection of theory and concepts to the needs of clients and the demands of everyday practice. This commitment flows from the values and ethical principles of the profession and is enriched by our commitment to these 4 themes:

  • A focus on people's strengths
  • An understanding of human diversity
  • The promotion of social and economic justice
  • The development of a critical perspective

Strengths: A perspective that recognizes, mobilizes, and supports the inherent strengths of individuals, families, neighborhoods, organizations, and communities to discover and develop their own and communal resources and assets in their struggle for a better quality of life.

Diversity: Understanding, valuing, and engaging the broad range of differences and commonalities that are brought to the interaction among social workers, clients, and the social environment and that reflect clients' culture, ethnicity, race, geography, gender, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and physical and mental abilities — particularly when those differences are the cause for discrimination.

Social and Economic Justice: A commitment to promoting fairness, equality of power, and equity of resources based on a complex understanding of the effects of economic, political, and social structures on people's life chances, particularly related to economic inequality and the allocation of necessary social resources.

Critical Perspective: The capacity to engage in a deliberate and continuing examination of the assumptions underlying the theories, methods, and approaches used by social work in understanding and responding to human needs.

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The Programs

At the University of Kansas, students have the opportunity to prepare for professional careers in social work at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The curriculum is carefully laid out to bring students from the introductory level through advanced study in clinical social work practice or social work administrative and advocacy practice. Under the umbrella of a practice orientation, the programs are structured to support the essential themes of the school, which focus on people’s strengths, celebrate human diversity, promote social and economic justice, and provide a critical perspective.

Classroom work is one half of professional preparation; field placements are the other half. Placements in social service agencies offer students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom. B.S.W. and M.S.W. students spend time in practicum settings throughout the region. Our students provide more than 220,000 hours of service to underserved populations through practicum experiences.

Professional and Community Education

To help our graduates and other professionals maintain proficiency in practice skills and to expand their capacities, the school offers a wide range of courses and workshops through the Professional and Community Education Program.

These offerings are designed specifically for the practicing professional. Courses are developed in conjunction with the local human services community. They range from management skills to sophisticated clinical strategies. Evening and weekend classes are offered with a variety of credit and noncredit options. For information on the program and its offerings, please contact the program director, KU Edwards Campus, (913) 897-8554.

Student Profile

The School of Social Welfare currently has more than 500 students, approximately 150 in the B.S.W. program, 350 in the master’s program, and 40 in the Ph.D. program. More than 275 students are enrolled in field practicum settings that reflect the range of practice of professional social work. Many students enter social work as a second career after an extended period away from school.

Student Handbook

During orientation, students who are admitted to degree-seeking status receive a student handbook containing full descriptions of policies and other details. The student handbook is available online.

Student Participation

Students are encouraged to participate in school governance, serving in the school’s standing committees (program committees: B.S.W., M.S.W., Ph.D.; faculty search). Students serve as representatives to faculty meetings.

Professional Membership

Students are eligible for membership in the professional organization, the National Association of Social Workers.

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The Profession

Through the long history of the profession, social workers have understood the desperation of the homeless, the despair of the poor, the ostracism suffered by the mentally ill, the pain of those who are abused and neglected, and the humiliation endured by victims of discrimination. By carrying out this special commitment to helping vulnerable groups and individuals, social workers believe that society as a whole is strengthened. At the same time, social workers celebrate differences among people and believe that respecting those differences — whether of race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age — enriches the quality of life for all.

Purpose and Objectives of Social Work

Social work is a vital, evolving profession that changes with the world in which we live. The purpose of social work is to promote or restore a mutually beneficial interaction between individuals and society in order to improve the quality of life for everyone. Social workers hold the following beliefs:

  • The environment (social, physical, organizational) should provide the opportunity and resources for the maximum realization of the potential and aspirations of all individuals, and should provide for their common human needs and for the alleviation of distress and suffering.
  • Individuals should contribute as effectively as they can to their own well-being and to the social welfare of others in their immediate environment, as well as to the collective society.
  • Transactions between individuals and others in their environment should enhance the dignity, individuality, and self-determination of everyone. People should be treated humanely and fairly.

Social workers focus on person-and-environment interaction. To carry out their purpose, they work with people to achieve the following objectives:

  • Help people increase their competence and problem-solving abilities.
  • Help people obtain resources.
  • Make organizations responsive to people.
  • Facilitate interaction between individuals and others in their environment.
  • Influence interactions between organizations and institutions.
  • Influence social and environmental policy.

Social workers are educated to provide services to individuals, families, groups, and communities; to develop, administer, and evaluate programs and organizations; and to participate in policy formulation and planning at the local, state, and national levels.

NASW Code of Ethics

As a guide to professional conduct, the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers represents the fundamental values of the profession. The National Association of Social Workers is the largest organization of professional social workers in the world, with a membership of 166,000.

The Code of Ethics identifies 6 values that inform the following principles:

  • Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.
  • Social workers challenge social injustice.
  • Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
  • Social workers recognize the central importance of human relations.
  • Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner.
  • Social workers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise.

View the entire Code of Ethics or request a copy.

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Resources

Area Research Offices

The school supports research and policy development in a number of key areas, providing leadership and resources at the local, state, and national levels:

  • Office of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health.
  • Office of Aging and Long-Term Care.
  • Office of Adult Mental Health.
  • Office for Research on Spiritual Development in Social Work.

Social Welfare Alumni Society

The Alumni Society, an affiliate of the KU Alumni Association, keeps graduates connected with the school and its programs. Each year, the society sponsors Social Work Day, a conference that brings alumni together for educational programs and social events. The school’s programs are strengthened by the support of its alumni. More than 4,000 social welfare alumni practice in the United States and abroad.

The School’s Advisory Board

The Advisory Board of the School of Social Welfare is composed of individuals from the professional social work and business communities and from the community at large. The board links the school with its constituencies, informs diverse audiences about the school’s mission and programs, collaborates with faculty and students in carrying out special projects, and connects the school with resources essential to its goals. The Advisory Board plays a vital role in enhancing the school’s educational mission.

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Faculty

The faculty’s scholarly interests, as reflected in teaching, research, and publications, span a wide range, including health, mental health, child welfare, adult and juvenile justice, gerontology, multiculturalism, women’s issues, history of social work, public policy analysis, homelessness, gender equity, and social administration.

School of Social Welfare faculty members hold doctoral degrees in social work, social welfare, psychology, and other fields. In addition, outstanding social work practitioners serve as part-time classroom instructors, and 280 social work practitioners serve as practicum instructors.

Faculty members serve the public interest and the profession of social work as consultants and board members in professional and citizens’ organizations.

Go to the top of the page top

The School of Social Welfare

The University of Kansas School of Social Welfare offers the only comprehensive program in social work in Kansas: the professional degrees of

KU's School of Social Welfare is an excellent place to pursue your interests in professional social work education. It is the oldest school of social welfare in the state and the only one to offer degree preparation from undergraduate through doctoral degrees in social work.

Social work education began at KU in 1937. The Master of Social Work program, established in Lawrence and at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City in 1946, has been continuously accredited since 1948. The Bachelor of Social Work degree has been awarded since 1971. In 1974, the B.S.W. program became one of the first in the nation to receive accredited status. The Council on Social Work Education, the accrediting body for social work education, most recently reaccredited the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs in 2010. The doctoral program admitted its first students in 1981.

KU’s Master of Social Work program ranked 11th among U.S. national public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” rankings for 2009. The School of Social Welfare is recognized internationally as an innovator in social work theory development and in research that makes positive contributions to our communities.

The school is housed on KU’s Lawrence campus in Twente Hall, named for nationally renowned social work educator Esther Twente, who chaired the social work department from 1946 to 1957. The school also offers the complete M.S.W. program at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, and an on-site 2+2 B.S.W. degree-completion program at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

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Graduate Programs

The Master of Social Work program, established in Lawrence and at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City in 1946, has been continuously accredited since 1948. KU’s M.S.W. program ranked 11th among U.S. national public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” rankings for 2009.

The doctoral program admitted its first students in 1981. It prepares students to be leaders of the profession through advanced research, scholarship, and teaching.

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Mission and Themes

Mission

The threefold mission of the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare is to educate students at the B.S.W., M.S.W., and Ph.D. levels, to conduct scholarly inquiry that contributes to the knowledge base of the profession, and to provide leadership in formulating social policy and developing service delivery strategies and systems.

In the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs, students learn generalist and advanced-level social work practice methods and skills that advance the empowerment and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. At the Ph.D. level, students are equipped with the necessary skills for critical inquiry and scholarship to become leaders in the social work profession in academic, research, and public policy realms.

Guiding Principles and Themes

The KU School of Social Welfare is committed to practicing educational approaches and conducting scholarship that directly and explicitly enhance the connection of theory and concepts to the needs of clients and the demands of everyday practice. This commitment flows from the values and ethical principles of the profession and is enriched by our commitment to these 4 themes:

  • A focus on people's strengths
  • An understanding of human diversity
  • The promotion of social and economic justice
  • The development of a critical perspective

Strengths: A perspective that recognizes, mobilizes, and supports the inherent strengths of individuals, families, neighborhoods, organizations, and communities to discover and develop their own and communal resources and assets in their struggle for a better quality of life.

Diversity: Understanding, valuing, and engaging the broad range of differences and commonalities that are brought to the interaction among social workers, clients, and the social environment and that reflect clients' culture, ethnicity, race, geography, gender, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and physical and mental abilities — particularly when those differences are the cause for discrimination.

Social and Economic Justice: A commitment to promoting fairness, equality of power, and equity of resources based on a complex understanding of the effects of economic, political, and social structures on people's life chances, particularly related to economic inequality and the allocation of necessary social resources.

Critical Perspective: The capacity to engage in a deliberate and continuing examination of the assumptions underlying the theories, methods, and approaches used by social work in understanding and responding to human needs.

Go to the top of the page top

The Programs

At the University of Kansas, students have the opportunity to prepare for professional careers in social work at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The curriculum is carefully laid out to bring students from the introductory level through advanced study in clinical social work practice or social work administrative and advocacy practice. Under the umbrella of a practice orientation, the programs are structured to support the essential themes of the school, which focus on people’s strengths, celebrate human diversity, promote social and economic justice, and provide a critical perspective.

Classroom work is one half of professional preparation; field placements are the other half. Placements in social service agencies offer students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom. B.S.W. and M.S.W. students spend time in practicum settings throughout the region. Our students provide more than 220,000 hours of service to underserved populations through practicum experiences.

Professional and Community Education

To help our graduates and other professionals maintain proficiency in practice skills and to expand their capacities, the school offers a wide range of courses and workshops through the Professional and Community Education Program.

These offerings are designed specifically for the practicing professional. Courses are developed in conjunction with the local human services community. They range from management skills to sophisticated clinical strategies. Evening and weekend classes are offered with a variety of credit and noncredit options. For information on the program and its offerings, please contact the program director, KU Edwards Campus, (913) 897-8554.

Student Profile

The School of Social Welfare currently has more than 500 students, approximately 150 in the B.S.W. program, 350 in the master’s program, and 40 in the Ph.D. program. More than 275 students are enrolled in field practicum settings that reflect the range of practice of professional social work. Many students enter social work as a second career after an extended period away from school.

Student Handbook

During orientation, students who are admitted to degree-seeking status receive a student handbook containing full descriptions of policies and other details. The student handbook is available online.

Student Participation

Students are encouraged to participate in school governance, serving in the school’s standing committees (program committees: B.S.W., M.S.W., Ph.D.; faculty search). Students serve as representatives to faculty meetings.

Professional Membership

Students are eligible for membership in the professional organization, the National Association of Social Workers.

Go to the top of the page top

The Profession

Through the long history of the profession, social workers have understood the desperation of the homeless, the despair of the poor, the ostracism suffered by the mentally ill, the pain of those who are abused and neglected, and the humiliation endured by victims of discrimination. By carrying out this special commitment to helping vulnerable groups and individuals, social workers believe that society as a whole is strengthened. At the same time, social workers celebrate differences among people and believe that respecting those differences — whether of race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age — enriches the quality of life for all.

Purpose and Objectives of Social Work

Social work is a vital, evolving profession that changes with the world in which we live. The purpose of social work is to promote or restore a mutually beneficial interaction between individuals and society in order to improve the quality of life for everyone. Social workers hold the following beliefs:

  • The environment (social, physical, organizational) should provide the opportunity and resources for the maximum realization of the potential and aspirations of all individuals, and should provide for their common human needs and for the alleviation of distress and suffering.
  • Individuals should contribute as effectively as they can to their own well-being and to the social welfare of others in their immediate environment, as well as to the collective society.
  • Transactions between individuals and others in their environment should enhance the dignity, individuality, and self-determination of everyone. People should be treated humanely and fairly.

Social workers focus on person-and-environment interaction. To carry out their purpose, they work with people to achieve the following objectives:

  • Help people increase their competence and problem-solving abilities.
  • Help people obtain resources.
  • Make organizations responsive to people.
  • Facilitate interaction between individuals and others in their environment.
  • Influence interactions between organizations and institutions.
  • Influence social and environmental policy.

Social workers are educated to provide services to individuals, families, groups, and communities; to develop, administer, and evaluate programs and organizations; and to participate in policy formulation and planning at the local, state, and national levels.

NASW Code of Ethics

As a guide to professional conduct, the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers represents the fundamental values of the profession. The National Association of Social Workers is the largest organization of professional social workers in the world, with a membership of 166,000.

The Code of Ethics identifies 6 values that inform the following principles:

  • Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.
  • Social workers challenge social injustice.
  • Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
  • Social workers recognize the central importance of human relations.
  • Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner.
  • Social workers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise.

View the entire Code of Ethics or request a copy.

Go to the top of the page top

Resources

Area Research Offices

The school supports research and policy development in a number of key areas, providing leadership and resources at the local, state, and national levels:

  • Office of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health.
  • Office of Aging and Long-Term Care.
  • Office of Adult Mental Health.
  • Office for Research on Spiritual Development in Social Work.

Social Welfare Alumni Society

The Alumni Society, an affiliate of the KU Alumni Association, keeps graduates connected with the school and its programs. Each year, the society sponsors Social Work Day, a conference that brings alumni together for educational programs and social events. The school’s programs are strengthened by the support of its alumni. More than 4,000 social welfare alumni practice in the United States and abroad.

The School’s Advisory Board

The Advisory Board of the School of Social Welfare is composed of individuals from the professional social work and business communities and from the community at large. The board links the school with its constituencies, informs diverse audiences about the school’s mission and programs, collaborates with faculty and students in carrying out special projects, and connects the school with resources essential to its goals. The Advisory Board plays a vital role in enhancing the school’s educational mission.

Go to the top of the page top

Faculty

The faculty’s scholarly interests, as reflected in teaching, research, and publications, span a wide range, including health, mental health, child welfare, adult and juvenile justice, gerontology, multiculturalism, women’s issues, history of social work, public policy analysis, homelessness, gender equity, and social administration.

School of Social Welfare faculty members hold doctoral degrees in social work, social welfare, psychology, and other fields. In addition, outstanding social work practitioners serve as part-time classroom instructors, and 280 social work practitioners serve as practicum instructors.

Faculty members serve the public interest and the profession of social work as consultants and board members in professional and citizens’ organizations.

Go to the top of the page top

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.