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Social Work

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus, Lima, Marion, Mansfield, Newark

College: Social Work

Please note: Transfer students are able to apply for our online Bachelor of Science in Social Work.

Social work is a profession for those with a passion to help others. Social work practice consists of the professional application of social work values, principles and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; providing counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; and participating in relevant legislative processes. 

The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic and cultural institutions; and of the interaction of these factors. Many social workers specialize in serving a particular population or working in a specific setting, such as hospitals, schools, private practices, correctional facilities, community mental health agencies and substance abuse treatment centers.

Upon admission to the university, students pursuing social work will begin as a pre-major social work student and receive departmental advising to assist in course work selection appropriate to students’ interests and the admission requirements for the social work major.

Students can declare the social work major after meeting the following requirements:

  • Completion of social work pre-major courses
  • A minimum of a 2.0 cumulative point-hour ratio and a minimum of a 2.0 pre-major point-hour ratio after completion of the required pre-major courses

Students who plan to pursue their graduate degree in social work may complete both the bachelor's and master's programs in five years by opting in to the 4+1 BSSW/MSW Program. The 4+1 Program allows students to apply for admission to both programs at once. Acceptance into the 4+1 Program is contingent upon admission to the Columbus campus as a new first year student.
Students who have completed a majority of General Education requirements and meet certain criteria may declare the Career Acceleration Plan, which allows selected students to complete required major courses for the social work degree in three semesters. However, if all GE courses and social work electives are not completed prior to admission to CAP, additional semesters may be needed to complete the social work degree.

Pre-major social work requirements

  •  Introduction to Psychology
  •  Introduction to Sociology
  •  Introduction to Social Welfare
  •  Introduction to Social Work
  •  Lifespan Development
  •  Race, Ethnicity and Gender Diversity GE
  •  Social Work Survey or equivalent
  •  Writing and Information Literacy GE

Remaining GE courses required for graduation

  •  Citizenship for a Diverse and Just World theme
  •  Historical and Cultural Studies
  •  Launch and Reflection seminars
  •  Literary, Visual and Performing Arts
  •  Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning
  •  Natural Sciences
  •  Second theme

Students who want to prepare for the global work environment by gaining cross-cultural learning and an expanded worldview have the opportunity to examine social issues, human rights, health and mental health abroad. 

Further, through the Global Option in Social Work, students will have the opportunity to examine global issues in social work through course work, research, education abroad, and advocacy and service work with vulnerable groups in other parts of the world, as well as immigrants and refugees in your own community.

The College of Social Work integrates a field placement component (an internship) during the senior year. The field placement provides students the opportunity to integrate classroom knowledge into the practice setting. Through this learning process, students gain skills and expertise needed for a successful career in social work.

The College of Social Work Honors Program invites outstanding undergraduate students to challenge themselves intellectually, professionally and personally. Through our various honors components, students engage in in-depth classroom study, conduct independent research, create and implement social change projects, develop leadership skills, and reflect critically upon their values and the learning process. The Honors Program seeks to enhance creative thinking and critical inquiry skills and develop dynamic leaders who are prepared to meaningfully engage with issues of social, economic and environmental justice.

A student may enter the College of Social Work Honors Program in the following ways: as an incoming freshman, as a second semester (or higher) pre-social work major, as a junior officially admitted into the major, and as a first-semester transfer student.

Social work students interested in augmenting their course work with research experience may pursue an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member. Students receive credit for research experience through Social Work 4193: Individual Studies.

Social work students may participate in College of Social Work organizations such as the Social Work Student Association, MWANAFUNZI, Out in Social Work and the Social Welfare Action Alliance. 

Students who pursue a degree in social work have a broad range of career possibilities. Graduates are prepared to work in careers such as aging and gerontology, child and family welfare, developmental disabilities, domestic violence, health care, homelessness, justice and corrections, international social work, mental health, policy and planning, school social work, and substance abuse treatment. Social workers are administrators, therapists, community organizers, educators,and researchers. They work with a diverse population, helping people in large cities and in small communities. 

Many students use the undergraduate social work major as preparation for graduate school in social work. Students who have undergraduate degrees in social work can apply for one-year accelerated master of social work programs. An MSW degree prepares students for advanced practice and is necessary to provide mental health counseling in most states.

Some students use the undergraduate social work major as preparation for various other graduate and professional programs including business, law, medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy and public health.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for social workers employed in the United States is $50,000.

Graduates of the social work program will:
  • use social work values and ethics to guide professional practice.
  • apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment to guide practice at multiple levels.
  • possess knowledge and skills for working effectively with diverse and vulnerable populations.
  • analyze social policy; promote social, economic and environmental well-being; and challenge injustice.
  • employ empirical evidence to inform, evaluate and improve practice.
  • develop a professional identity, with a commitment to life-long learning.

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Licensing requirements

States legally regulate the practice of social work to protect the public and control the use of the social work title and practice. Each state defines by law what is required for each level of social work license. Graduates of Ohio State’s social work program are well prepared for the bachelor’s level licensure exam, routinely exceeding the national average first-time pass rate.

Both Ohio State’s BSSW and MSW programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. 

Interested in a career in health care?

Check out the Health Care Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a health care career.