Social workers are employed in many settings, from public welfare agencies to health organizations to schools and research institutions to community programs. They're involved in counseling, managing human services, analyzing social welfare policy, community organization and development, teaching, client advocacy, social and political research, and other pursuits.
Why Study at Iowa?
Iowa’s School of Social Work has a tradition of innovation in social work education, research, public service, and activism. Its undergraduate program will prepare you for social work practice with individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities and give you a foundation for graduate education in social work and for lifelong learning. It also will prepare you for active engagement with issues of social justice, oppression, and social welfare at local, state, regional, national, and global levels.
About 90 undergraduates major in social work. You'll study with students from diverse backgrounds and cultural perspectives. You'll also have access to a high level of faculty expertise due to the school's location at a major research university.
As a social work student, you may choose to participate in one of several service learning opportunities, in which you'll apply social work knowledge, skills, and values as you encounter people who live in dramatically different environments, come from very different cultures, and in some cases, speak a different language.
Service learning programs complement classroom instruction. They have included trips to cities in the United States and to Mexico and El Salvador.
You'll also have the option to complement your major by earning one of the university's many interdisciplinary certificates. Two of them—the Certificate in Aging Studies and the Certificate in Critical Cultural Competence—are administered by the School of Social Work.
Course work for students in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program in social work includes:
- Introduction to Social Work
- Field Experience Seminar
- Field Experience
- Seven or more additional social work courses
- Human Biology
- Introduction to American Politics
- Elementary Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology Principles
- A course in anthropology, economics, or statistics
- Four or more courses in an approved concentration area, such as aging studies, anthropology, business, critical cultural competence, economics, education, psychology, or sociology
See Social Work in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.
Minor in Social Work
Admission to the social work major is competitive; you must apply and be admitted. As an entering first-year student, you'll declare a social work interest as your major for advising assignments and course selection.
To apply to the degree program, you'll need to have a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.50, and you must earn a grade of C or higher in Introduction to Social Work or a comparable course approved by the School of Social Work. You also must submit a completed application form and a personal statement. If your GPA is lower than 2.50, you still may be considered if you demonstrate potential in other areas. To learn more about admission, contact the School of Social Work.
Admission Requirements Tabs
The School of Social Work helps sponsor workshops and conferences that students may attend. One example is a recent conference on racial disparities in Iowa’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
The school also sponsors the annual Latino Conference, which explores the changing demographics and dynamics of Iowa’s Latino community and the responsiveness of policymakers, business leaders, and community-based organizations to the fastest growing population in the state.
The annual Creative Writing Seminar for Social Workers is designed for social work educators and practitioners who are interested in using creative writing as a professional tool.
The Student Social Work Association provides the school with committee representatives and organizes social and service-oriented events.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
The National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice is located at the School of Social Work. The center specializes in areas such as child welfare, mental health, juvenile justice, community action, job training programs, county extension, and Head Start. It provides technical assistance, staff training, research and evaluation, and library research on family-based programs and issues to public and private human service agencies in states, counties, and communities across the United States.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
The social work major will prepare you for employment in social service areas such as public welfare, child welfare, group services, mental health, elderly services, and corrections. Many graduates continue with advanced study in social work or related physical and mental health professions.
The School of Social Work offers numerous scholarships to its students based on academics, community service, research, and diversity. The Jean H. Winter Scholarship, awards $1,500 to a junior in social work who is an Iowa resident. The H. Wayne and Donna J. Johnson Award for Social Work Undergraduate Students provides a $500 scholarship.
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences declaring an interest in social work as your major to receive specialized advising.