College of Social Work


Social Work

B.S.W in Social Work

Program Purpose

The B.S.W. Program subscribes to the mission statement of the social profession as adopted by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW): "The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients (Social Work Speaks 2000-2003, p.335)." Specifically, the mission of the B.S.W. program is to prepare graduates for entry-level, generalist professional practice and to contribute to achievements of both the University of Utah and the College of Social Work missions and visions. This occurs within the context of the core values of the college and of the communities that we serve. Generalist practice is a model that reflects the diversity inherent in B.S.W. level practice. It is the application of an eclectic knowledge base, professional values, and a wide range of skills to target any size system for change within the context of three primary processes: micro, mezzo, and macro. Generalist practice involves working within an organizational structure and doing so under supervision. It requires the assumption of a wide range of professional roles, and involves the application of critical thinking skills to the problem -solving process. The academic purpose of the BSW Program is to educate and train the professional social workers, at the undergraduate level, to become the agents of change working on behalf of society and their fellow human beings. More specifically, the BSW Program seeks to establish mutually respectful and supportive relationships with marginalized communities (e.g., indigenous and aboriginal communities, refugee and immigrant communities, rural communities) to assist in the development of community leaders and programs needed to achieve social justice and improve the human condition of all community members. Learning Outcomes The B.S.W. Program uses a competency-based approach to educating our students. Competency-based education is an outcome performance approach to curriculum design. Our competencies are measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills. The goal of the outcome approach is to demonstrate the integration and application of the competencies in practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The ten core competencies are listed below [EP 2.1.1–EP 2.1.10(d)], followed by a description of characteristic knowledge, values, skills, and the resulting practice behaviors that are used to operationalize the curriculum and assessment methods.

Learning Outcomes

  • Educational Policy 2.1.1—Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.

    Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession’s history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession’s enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • advocate for client access to the services of social work;

    • practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development;

    • attend to professional roles and boundaries;

    • demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication;

    • engage in career-long learning; and

    • use supervision and consultation.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.2—Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.

    Social workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decision-making. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards, and relevant law. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice;

    • make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (1.) , and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles (2.) ;

    • tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts; and

    • apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions.

    1. National Association of Social Workers (approved 1996, revised 1999). Code of Ethics for Social Workers. Washington, DC: NASW.

    2. International Federation of Social Workers and International Association of Schools of Social Work. (2004). Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from http://www.ifsw.org

  • Educational Policy 2.1.3—Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.

    Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom;

    • analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation; and

    • demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.4—Engage diversity and difference in practice.

    Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power;

    • gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups;

    • recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences; and

    • view themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.5—Advance human rights and social and economic justice.

    Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination;

    • advocate for human rights and social and economic justice; and

    • engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.6—Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.

    Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry and

    • use research evidence to inform practice.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.7—Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.

    Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course; the range of social systems in which people live; and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation; and

    • critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.8—Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.

    Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice. Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services; the role of policy in service delivery; and the role of practice in policy development. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being; and

    • collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.9—Respond to contexts that shape practice.

    Social workers are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively. B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services; and

    • provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services.

  • Educational Policy 2.1.10(a)–(d)—Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

    Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances; evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating, and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.

    Educational Policy 2.1.10(a)—Engagement

    B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities;

    • use empathy and other interpersonal skills; and

    • develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes.

    Educational Policy 2.1.10(b)—Assessment

    B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • collect, organize, and interpret client data;

    • assess client strengths and limitations;

    • develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives; and

    • select appropriate intervention strategies.

    Educational Policy 2.1.10(c)—Intervention

    B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to:

    • initiate actions to achieve organizational goals;

    • implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities;

    • help clients resolve problems;

    • negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients; and

    • facilitate transitions and endings.

    Educational Policy 2.1.10(d)—Evaluation

    B.S.W. Program graduates will be able to critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions.