Social Work

Be an Advocate for Social Justice

The Bachelor of Science with a major in Social Work from Union Institute & University prepares you for generalist practice with individuals, groups, communities, and organizations.

Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), our degree program applies a real-world approach and on-the-job training experience through a combination of online & field practicum. You’ll form close mentoring relationships with experienced social work faculty and practitioners and gain an in-depth understanding of the clinical processes, generalist methods, and interventions used in public and private sector, community-based organizations.

Union’s flexible, distance learning program is designed to match your needs and schedule. Learn anytime, anywhere, without interrupting your daily life and obligations.


Careers for B.S. Graduates with a Social Work Major

Our graduates work in a variety of environments:

  • Social services
  • Child welfare
  • Health
  • Youth and education
  • Medical
  • Mental health
  • Addictions
  • Long-term care
  • Corrections
  • Juvenile justice

Program Benefits

  • Transfer credits from accredited colleges and universities to accelerate degree completion.
  • Experience a flexible, convenient course delivery format that matches your scheduling needs as a distance learning student.
  • Professional advising from licensed social work program faculty who guide, mentor, coach, and counsel students from the beginning of their online degree program through graduation.
  • Attain training experience through completion of social work field practicum near your current location.
  • Build connections with licensed, experienced social work faculty and field practitioners.
  • Apply leadership skills for professional generalist social work practice and advocacy.
  • Explore career options in a variety of professional practice settings.


  • Express and interpret ideas clearly using a variety of written, oral, and/or visual forms.
  • Use different modes of disciplinary and interdisciplinary inquiry to explore ideas and issues from multiple perspectives.
  • Express ethical and social implications in social, professional, artistic, and/or scholarly practice.
  • Articulate a perspective on power in the world and in the global community.


The purpose of licensing and certification in social work is to assist the public through identification of standards for the safe professional practice of social work. Each jurisdiction defines by law what is required for each level of social work licensure (Association of Social Worker Boards). To qualify for licensure, students must pass the Bachelor’s Examination. In most states, students will need to establish eligibility before registering for the social work licensing examination. Students are encouraged to contact their respective state board for applicable social work licensure and application requirements.

For information about social work licensure, view the Association of Social Worker Boards.


Union Institute & University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. The Bachelor of Science major in Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). According to CSWE policy, students admitted to the social work major since the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year (which began July 1, 2011) will be considered as having graduated from an accredited social work program.


Union Institute & University’s degree in social work empowers students to apply professional knowledge, skills, ethics, and values for generalist social work practice with an emphasis on social justice and social change. A social work education emphasizes core competencies related to human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, multicultural social work, human diversity, social and economic justice, social work ethical standards, strengths-based practice, and research.

Major goals are:

  • To prepare students for professional generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and institutions.
  • To prepare students who emulate the social work profession’s identity through practice behaviors and commitment to service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific inquiry.
  • To prepare ethically-grounded students who apply critical thinking, cultural competence standards, and respect for human diversity to advocate for social, economic and health justice, equality, and human and community well-being.
  • To prepare students who demonstrate knowledge of research-informed practice, including evidence-based prevention, intervention, policy action, and strengths-based methods for individual, family, social, and global change.
  • To prepare students who achieve personal and professional empowerment leading to a lifetime of leadership and service in the social work profession.
  • To prepare students for advancement to graduate education, licensure, or related certification for specialized practice.


Admissions Process

Step 1

Prospective applicants who meet eligibility criteria for admission to the university will be admitted with pre-social work status. The pre-social work major status does not lead to a UI&U degree. Pre-social work majors must successfully complete the requirements for admission into the social work major or select another UI&U major that leads to an undergraduate degree.

Students enrolled under the pre-social work status are invited to apply for admission to the bachelor of science degree with a major in social work following successful completion in the pre-professional social work courses: SOW 101 Introduction to Social Work and SOW 425 Social Welfare Policy and Issues. Provided approval by the SOW Chair, pre-social work students may enroll in the two prerequisite SOW courses and one to two other SOW courses in the same session/term and be eligible for financial aid.

Pre-social work students and social work majors are considered social work students and are under the auspices of the department of social work. For pre-social work students who register for one to two other SOW courses prior to acceptance to the social work program, admission to the social work major remains subject to the social work admission committee review and approval of the application materials, including release of the criminal background report. There is no guarantee that students registering for additional SOW courses prior to acceptance to the program will be admitted to the professional social work major.

Step 2

Pre-social work students who demonstrate satisfactory academic progress will be invited to apply for admission to the social work major.

Admissions Criteria

The UI&U Bachelor of Science Social Work Admission Committee will evaluate all applications for admission to the major. Pre-social work majors are expected to meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstration of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) by the end of the term preceding application to the social work program.
  • Completion of the 36-credit hour minimum general education requirement, including statistics and human biology.
  • Completion of pre-professional social work courses (Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare Policy and Issues) with a grade of C or better.
  • Documentation of an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.50 or better.
  • Ability to do college-level course work as demonstrated by prior transcripted course work from previously attended colleges or universities or related experience.
  • Evidence of college-level writing ability.
    Computer capabilities to access the required electronic communications services on a regular basis.
  • Submission of the criminal background statement.
  • Submission of the personal awareness memorandum of understanding.
  • Submission of the pre-employment inquiry release authorizing release of criminal background information.
  • Demonstration of suitability for the responsibilities and social work value base as evidenced through submission of the professional interest essay.


Formal application to the social work program requires submission of a complete application packet. Application materials will be mailed to the student’s home address at least 30 days prior to completion of the general education and pre-professional social work courses. Admission decisions will be conditional pending notice of satisfactory completion of all prerequisites. The admission application packet includes an application cover sheet, professional interest essay, personal awareness statement, pre-employment inquiry release, and criminal background statement.

Core Curriculum

The social work degree program curriculum models the national Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (2008) published by the Council on Social Work Education. For students interested in pursuing graduate study, the curriculum satisfies the educational requirements for admission to full- or part-time master’s degree programs in social work.

The Union Institute & University Bachelor of Science Major in Social Work Program does not grant social work course credit for life experience or previous work experience.

General Education Courses

View a complete list of curriculum requirements.

Major Core Courses

The Social Work program requires a minimum of 48 credits in the major.

4 credits unless noted otherwise.

  • SOW 101* Introduction to Social Work
  • SOW 425* Social Welfare Policy and Issues
  • SOW 322 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I and II (16 weeks)
  • SOW 323 Generalist Practice I: Social Work Practice with Individuals
  • SOW 324 Generalist Practice II: Social Work Practice with Families
  • SOW 345 Generalist Practice III: Social Work Practice: Communities and Organizations
  • SOW 327 Ethical Issues in Social Work
  • SOW 329 Multicultural Issues in Social Work
  • SOW 370 Research Methods in Social Work I
  • SOW 450 Social Welfare Policy Analysis
  • SOW 470 Research Methods in Social Work II

*SOW 101 and SOW 425 are pre-professional courses. These may be accepted in transfer only if taken through a CSWE-accredited program.

View core course descriptions.

Required General Education Courses

  • GBIO 225 From Healthy to Ill and Vaccines to Epidemics (3 cr.)
  • GSTA 221 Statistics for the Professional (3 cr.)
  • GPSY 120 Essential Topics of Psychology (3 cr.)
  • GSOC 101 Understanding Our Social World (3 cr.)


  • SOW 190 Special Topics (1-4 cr.)
  • SOW 490 Advanced Special Topics (1-4 cr.)

View electives descriptions.

Culminating Graduation Requirement

Social Work Field Practicum – Students will demonstrate the core competencies through completion of a minimum of 400 hours of field education with concurrent enrollment in SOW 489: Field Integrative Seminar. The field practicum complies with CSWE accreditation standards for baccalaureate programs and includes the following courses:

  • SOW 487 Social Work Field Practicum I (4 cr.)
  • SOW 488 Social Work Field Practicum II (4 cr.)
  • SOW 489 Social Work Field Integrative Seminar (2 or 4 cr.)

The culminating graduation requirement is met by satisfactory completion of one of the following options:

  • Complete field practicum courses, SOW 487 and SOW 488, within a single semester (16 weeks), attend field placement assignment for a minimum of 25 hours per week, and maintain concurrent enrollment in SOW 489.OREnroll in field practicum courses during 2 consecutive semesters, participate in field placement for a minimum of 12.5 hours per week, and maintain concurrent enrollment in SOW 489 for 2 consecutive semesters.