Earn a BA in Social Work

A BA in Social Work prepares you for a helping career with purpose and the skills to work at many different levels — individuals, families, organizations, and communities. A social work degree opens doors to jobs in mental health agencies, crisis centers, schools, child and family services, hospitals, governmental agencies, neighborhood and community centers, substance use disorder programs, correctional facilities, and so many more. Your BA degree in social work will prepare you to be a helping professional who can:

  • listen to clients, help assess needs, and connect clients with resources
  • help build new programs to meet client and community needs
  • engage in social justice efforts to help empower marginalized groups

Your BA in Social Work also prepares you for Advanced Standing graduate study in social work.  

Visit Pre-Requisites below to view the criteria to enroll in the professional core social work courses.

After all criteria is met, you must submit a signed Professional Social Work Agreement form to affirm your intent and agreement to continue into the professional core social work courses. This form asks you to share your professional goals/interests and also includes an affirmation of expectations in the professional coursework, which will explain the evaluation of Core Competencies, and academic and professional behavior expectations.

More information available on the Admissions webpage.

Hear from our students:

image of Olivia Van Fosson-Roelfs

Olivia Van Fosson-Roelfs

BA student in two-year program, Social Work Student Association Event Coordinator

Why did you select the Iowa BA program? 

I selected the Iowa BA program because I wanted to be able to expand my understanding of social work and get the amazing opportunities provided within this community. The BA program also sets students up for great opportunities for upper-level schooling, and real-life experience! 

How do you juggle school/work/family obligations? 

I am an extremely busy individual, so I have learned to juggle all my obligations by communication and having everything planned out well ahead. This gives me time to prepare and allow for the possible change's life throws our way! 

What is a unique experience/opportunity you've had in the program? 

A unique opportunity for me in the program has been being selected as part of the executive team for the Social Work Student Association as only a first year in the program on the two-year track. I have already built so many communications with faculty and have found a community within this program—something so important for career paths in social work. 

Social Work Course Requirements

The following criteria will be published in the UI catalog during June 2024.

You can register for the professional core social work courses when you've successfully completed the following three prerequisite courses with a C or above:

  • SSW1022 Social Justice and Social Welfare in the U.S. or approved Intro to Social Work course - 3 s.h
  • PSY:1001 Elementary Psychology or transfer equivalent - 3 s.h.
  • SOC:1010 Introduction to Sociology or transfer equivalent - 3 s.h.

    and meet these requirements:
  • 2.0 G.P.A. minimum overall
  • Completion of 45 s.h. or more
  • Submits a signed Professional Social Work Agreement form (signed after criteria is met).

The Bachelor of Arts with a major in social work requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including at least 56 s.h. of work for the major (a minimum of 35-38 s.h. in social work courses, 9 s.h. in cognate areas, and 12 s.h. of electives (a minimum of 6 s.h. in social work courses; the remaining 6 s.h. in social work or in another approved department).

Professional core social work courses are:

  • SSW:3840 Human Behavior in the Social Environment - 4 s.h.
  • SSW:3841 Fundamentals of Social Work Practice - 3 s.h.
  • SSW:3842 Interpersonal Skills Laboratory - 2 s.h.
  • SSW:3844 Introduction to Social Work Research - 4 s.h.
  • SSW:3845 Social Work Processes - 4 s.h.
  • SSW:3847 Discrimination, Oppression, and Diversity - 3 s.h.
  • SSW:4189 BA Generalist Practicum Seminar - 1 s.h.
  • SSW:4193 BA Generalist Practicum - 8-11 s.h.
  • SSW:4843 Social Welfare Policy and Practice - 3 s.h.

    The following courses are required to graduate with B.A. in Social Work.  They can be taken prior or after starting the professional core courses. 

  • 12 s.h. of electives (6 s.h. in SSW; the remaining 6 s.h. in SSW or in another approved discipline)

    Cognate course
  • POLI:1100 Intro to American Politics or transfer equivalent - 3 s.h.
  • Submits a signed Professional Social Work Agreement form (signed after criteria is met).

During this transition year (fall 2023 - spring 2024), you select Social Work Interest when applying to the University of Iowa.  The School of Social Work will assist to add/change your major to social work after the signed Agreement form is received.

After spring 2024, you will be able to declare a social work major or transfer in as a social work major at the time of admission to the UI, or at any point after admission.

We ask you to spend the first 45-60 s.h. completing gen ed, world language requirements and the criteria to enroll in the professional core social work courses.  The professional core social work courses are very structured, sequenced and start in fall semester; typically, of your junior year.

The professional core social work courses can be completed in 2 years (start as a junior) or in 1 year (start as a senior) over 3 semesters - fall, spring, and summer.  

Questions?  contact ssw-admissions@uiowa.edu

For more information, please contact:

Alison Oliver

Alison Oliver, M.S.W.

Associate Professor of Instruction
BA Program Director

You can also reach us by emailing ssw-admissions@uiowa.edu or calling 319-335-1250.