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School of Social Work students smile during a voter registration event

School of Social Work

Undergraduate Studies

Undergraduate Studies in the School of Social Work

Rooted in educational justice and community engagement, we prepare generalist social workers committed to professional ethics and values, service, social justice and human rights with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. As a social work student, you will learn to integrate theory, research and fieldwork with the university's liberal arts core requirements and prepare yourself for social work practice. At the completion of your Social Work major, you will be eligible to sit for the bachelor's-level social work licensure exam in any state.

Where You'll Learn:

On the St. Thomas St. Paul campus and in the community.

When to Start:

As early as your first semester; students may start as late as fall of junior year.


School of Social Work

Phone Number
(651) 962-5800
of College of Health undergraduates have an experiential learning experience
of College of Health graduates employed or in graduate school within 6 months of graduation

Undergraduate Studies

BA in Social Work

This major will prepare you for generalist social work practice and licensure, and for graduate study. The School of Social Work recognizes two goals of generalist social work practice:

  • To restore and enhance the social functioning of systems of all sizes (individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities)
  • To promote diversity, equity and inclusion in a more just society

Social Welfare Minor

Explore social work and social and human services as a complement to your chosen major. The minor does not prepare students for licensure as a social worker and is not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Social Welfare Minor

Social Work Co-Majors

Social work is a perfect pairing for many complementary disciplines. Work with your adviser to explore options to pair social work with any number of other degrees. Co-majors include:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Criminal Justice

Social Work Major Requirements

As a social work student, you will learn to integrate theory, research and fieldwork with the university’s liberal arts core requirements and prepare yourself for social work practice grounded in the core competencies and practice behaviors of generalist social work. At the completion of your degree, you will be eligible to sit for the bachelor's-level social work licensure exam in any state.

The major consists of 12 courses (44 credits) that are required for the major along with four supporting courses (16 credits). Social majors are required to complete two field placements: one during their junior year and 400 hours during their senior year. It is important that social work courses be taken in the order they are presented below.

Students should take these courses during their first and second years:

  • BIOL 105: Biology of Women or BIOL 106: Human Biology*
  • PSYC 111: General Psychology
  • PSYC 202: Lifespan Development Psychology*
  • SOCI 100: Introduction to Sociology
*These two courses are prerequisites for SOWK 240: People and Environment: Theories of Behavior, Justice and Impact.

  • SOWK 181: Introduction to Social Work

This course is a prerequisite for all Social Work coursework or must be taken concurrently with second course taken in the major.

  • SOWK 240: People and Environment: Theories of Behavior, Justice and Impact†
  • SOWK 291: Anatomy of Violence* (elective option)
  • SOWK 292: Loss, Grief, Resilience and Transformation (elective option)
  • SOWK 297: Dying in America (elective option)

*This course is only offered in the fall.
†This course is only offered in the spring.

  • SOWK 355: Communication and Interview Skills*
  • SOWK 375: Junior Fieldwork
  • SOWK 385: Groupwork†

*This course is only offered in the fall.
†This course is only offered in the spring.

It is recommended that students take these courses junior or senior year, but they can be taken sophomore year:

  • SOWK 380: Social Work Research†
  • SOWK 391: Social Policy for Social Change*

*This course is only offered in the fall.
†This course is only offered in the spring.

  • SOWK 401: Small Client Systems
  • SOWK 405: Senior Fieldwork

  • SOWK 402: Large Client Systems
  • SOWK 406: Senior Fieldwork

Following our mission to the top

National Leader

School of Social Work graduation

Education for the common good

The School of Social Work

Our BA in Social Work program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1975. The pass rate for our graduates taking the LSW licensure exam for the first time is consistently well-above the national average, and the school's "Social Work for Social Justice: Ten Principles" has been adopted by numerous social work education programs across the United States.

The School of Social Work has more than 3,500 graduates, creating a life-long professional network of undergraduate and graduate-level alumni.

Unique Opportunities for Undergrads

Students in our Social Work program are offered many ways to learn, places to grow and ways to succeed at St. Thomas and beyond.

Accelerated MSW Admissions Process

The School of Social Work offers an Accelerated MSW Admissions Process for current junior BSW majors, providing a seamless transition to graduate study in clinical social work practice. Contact your adviser to learn more.

Study Abroad

St. Thomas offers two study abroad opportunities unique to social work students in Botswana and in Mexico. Students gain significant experience working cross-culturally while learning about their host country's rich history and culture.

Student-Faculty Research Opportunities

Students pursuing their BA in Social Work are actively involved in many collaborative research projects. Examples of research in the program include projects on foster care, child welfare and disabilities, domestic violence organizations, and the immigration experience of the Hmong community.

Social work student talks to another student about voting.

Putting learning into practice

Two Years of Field Placement Opportunities

Many of our students refer to their field placements as "transformational" experiences as they prepare to step into the social work profession. Our students gain invaluable work experience under the supervision of agency-based field instructors their junior and senior years.

Field Education


The School of Social Work faculty are committed to student development through mentoring relationships, community engagement and teaching excellence. Our faculty are recognized scholars, researchers, and practitioners.

Melissa Lundquist

Dr. Melissa Lundquist

Dr. Melissa Lundquist is an experienced social worker and faculty member. She specializes in grief and loss, resilience, and strengthening families living with cancer. She is committed to international and global learning opportunities in social work education.

Ande Nesmith

Dr. Ande Nesmith

Dr. Ande Nesmith is the director of the School of Social Work. She does research on environmental justice and sustainability in social work practice, as well as supporting children and youth who are in the foster care system. Dr. Nesmith recently completed a Fulbright studying the foster care system in the Czech Republic.

Eva Solomonson

Eva Solomonson

Eva Solomonson is the BSW field director. Her social work experience has been with individuals and families with immigrant and refugee backgrounds. Dr. Solomonson has expertise in working with people who have experienced trauma, and with diversity, equity, and inclusion in social work practice.



The University of St. Thomas social work program was first accredited as a joint program (with St. Catherine University) in 1975 from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Since that time, the School of Social Work successfully obtained reaffirmation of accreditation through 2019. After the dissolution of the joint program, the St. Thomas BA in Social Work and Master of Social Work programs earned independent accreditation in 2019.

BA in Social Work: Assessment of Student Learning Summaries

2012: St. Kate's-St. Thomas
2013: St. Kate's-St. Thomas
2014: St. Kate's-St. Thomas
2015: St. Kate's-St. Thomas
2017: St. Kate's-St. Thomas
2018-19: St. Thomas
2019-20: St. Thomas
2020-21: St. Thomas

Licensure Disclosure

Social work is a licensed profession. Each state's licensing body establishes its own rules and regulations for getting and maintaining social work licensure in that state. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides the licensing examinations required. There are four ASWB tests: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Social work students should check with the licensing body in each state in which they plan to practice social work to make sure they are clear about the licensing requirements in that state. ASWB maintains complete contact information for every licensing board on their webpage of social work regulatory boards.

Please review the University of St. Thomas' professional licensure disclosure for the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work.