Undergraduate Program Social Work

Students and faculty having a discussion

Social Work Bachelor's Degree Overview

Social work is an academic discipline and a practice profession. Social workers envision an economically, socially, and racially just world in which resources and opportunities are more equitably distributed. Social workers engage in critical analyses of power relations, aim to dismantle inequitable social structures, and work in solidarity with groups that experience poverty, oppression, and exploitation. Social workers assist individuals, families, groups, and communities to achieve their goals, while also working toward macro-level, policy, and institutional change.

If you want to assist others, serve your communities, and work toward social change, a bachelor’s degree in Social Work at PSU could be your path to a meaningful career in social work, human services, and other health and education fields.

We Offer:

  • A transformative experience that unlocks student potential by building self-confidence and honoring students’ identities, experiences, life stages, and backgrounds.
  • A field placement in a community agency that builds practical, hands-on skills for real-world impact.
  • Classes that challenge students to learn new perspectives and to become effective agents of social change.
  • A cohort model that promotes peer learning and mutual support.Post-baccalaureate paths to MSW Advanced Standing programs.
  • A choice between fully online or in-person program delivery.
  • Postbaccalaureate paths to graduate education.
  • Job preparation for direct practice employment in a wide variety of federal, state, local, and non-profit organizations and agencies.
  • Academic preparation for top social work and social science graduate programs nationally and internationally.

In addition to being admitted to PSU, students must apply separately to the Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) program. The BSW program only admits students once a year for fall term. We encourage you to start planning your application to the program in your sophomore year. Review the BSW admissions information.

Degree Details


Social Work Bachelor's Degree: Why PSU?

  • Accreditation: Our program is the only publicly funded Bachelor of Social Work program in the state that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, social work’s governing body. You can earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Social Work.
  • Access: PSU is an access institution. Programs like Four Years Free and Transfers Finish Free allow first-generation college students to achieve their dream of a college education, a great career, and a promising future. We have strong relationships with Oregon’s community colleges, and our advisors can help answer your questions about preparing for the major.
  • Flexibility: The BSW Online option offers you the opportunity to stay in your community and get your degree by taking 100% of your courses online.
  • Hands-On Training: We offer a wide range of hands-on opportunities for you to learn from social workers who are active in the field. Our field team works to place BSW students in community agencies and organizations for their senior year field placement.
  • Multiple Paths to Success: The BSW Program at Portland State University combines theory with practical, hands-on experience which prepares undergraduate students for careers in social work and related fields and for future graduate studies.
  • Prestige: You’ll graduate from one of the nation’s top social work schools as ranked by US News & World Report and be taught by world-class faculty with deep community engagement and expertise in all major social work and social service fields.
  • Racial Equity and Social Justice: Our program is committed to centering critical self reflection, racial equity, and social and economic justice. We encourage our students to be active citizens and practitioners who embody these values.
  • Support: We are committed to your success! We offer scholarships at all degree levels, and our majors are supported by a Student Inclusion Coordinator, a unique role that connects our majors with a range of financial, housing, legal, and emotional supports — both community and campus-based.

What can I do with a bachelor's degree in Social Work?

Our program provides you the foundation to build a career path aligned with your passion.

A bachelor's degree in Social Work can lead to work in the following areas:

  • Advocacy/Activism, Anti-Poverty, Anti-Racism, Anti-ViolenceAddictions/Treatment
  • Aging
  • Child Welfare
  • Community-Based Organizing
  • Corrections
  • Disability/Critical Disability/Neurodiversity
  • Domestic/Interpersonal Violence
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Immigration 
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Mental and Behavioral Health
  • Policy
  • Research
  • Restorative Justice
  • School Social Work
  • Self-Sufficiency
  • Youth Work

A BSW also qualifies you to apply to Advanced Standing MSW programs across the country. In an advanced standing program, you can obtain an MSW in as little as 15 months. Recent graduates from our program have been accepted to graduate or continuing education programs at Portland State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Fordham University, the University of Washington, and other universities throughout the world.

Featured Courses

  • SW 301U Introduction to Social Work
  • SW 339 Introduction to Oppression and Privilege
  • SW 340 Advocacy for Policy Change
  • SW 341 Social Justice Practice
  • SW 350 Human Behavior Through the Lifespan
  • SW 351/430/431 Social Work Practice I, II, III
  • SW 400 Field Seminar
  • SW 450/451 Social Research and Evaluation I, II

Featured Electives

  • SW 384U Addictions and Recovery: Impact on Families and Communities
  • SW 320U Introduction to Child Welfare
  • SW 410 Special Topics
  • SW 416 Motivational Interviewing

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 2011.