Social workers are employed in many settings, from public welfare agencies to health organizations to schools and research institutions to community programs. They are 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 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. You will gain a solid foundation for graduate education in social work and for lifelong learning.

The social work major also will prepare you for active engagement with issues of social justice, oppression, and social welfare at the 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 and have included trips to cities in the United States, Mexico, and India. 

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

Admission to the social work major is selective and a limited number of students are admitted to the major each year. As an entering first-year student, you'll declare a social work interest as your major for advising assignments and course selection. See School of Social Work Undergraduate Admissions Process for details. 


Social Work (in Iowa City only)
Social Work
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
  Selective Admission
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. 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, mental health, elderly services, group services, and corrections. Many graduates continue with advanced study in social work or related physical and mental health professions.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100  study abroad  programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities

The school sponsors the annual Latinx 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 service-oriented and social events.


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The School of Social Work offers several scholarships to its students based on academics, community service, research, and diversity. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Course Work

Course work for social work majors includes:

  • Social Justice and Social Welfare in the United States or 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
  • Two elective social work courses and two electives in an approved area such as aging studies, anthropology, business, critical cultural competence, economics, education, psychology, or sociology. Or, students may elect to take six additional elective credits in social work, for a total of 12 elective hours in social work. 

In addition to course work for the major, students must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

You may complement this major by earning one of the university's many certificates. The Certificate in Aging and Longevity Studies and the Certificate in Critical Cultural Competence are administered by the School of Social Work.

See Social Work in the UI General Catalog to learn about required course work for the major or minor and graduating with honors.