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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Jul 23, 2024
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

School of Social Work


The School of Social Work was founded in September 1938 as successor to the Division of Social Work in the Department of Sociology. The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) program was accredited in 1973 and has been continuously reaffirmed since that time.

The mission of the School of Social Work is to advance knowledge and to apply that knowledge for the fulfillment of human potential through the prevention and amelioration of social problems. The school is committed to promoting the values of social and economic justice. Recognizing the complexities of contemporary society, the school dedicates itself through its educational, research, and public service activities to advocating for a society that respects the dignity and achievement of all individuals, families, and communities.

In furtherance of its mission, the School of Social Work strives to

  • Educate professional social workers with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to engage in culturally competent practice with diverse populations and communities; to critically analyze personal, familial, and environmental factors affecting practice settings and practice techniques; and to advocate for those who confront barriers to maximizing the achievement of their fullest potential.
  • Engage in scholarly activities that contribute to professional knowledge about complex social problems and innovative approaches to ameliorate those problems.
  • Provide service to local, national, and international communities through the development of and participation in collaborations with social agencies, community-based organizations, government, and foundations.

The BASW Program prepares its graduates to engage in entry-level generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, communities, and/or organizations within a multicultural society. Professional practice settings for entry-level generalist practitioners include child welfare, family preservation, mental retardation and mental health, drug and alcohol, juvenile justice, aging, shelters for battered women, homeless shelters, community food banks, neighborhood citizen organizations, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers, among many others. Since 2001, the BASW Program has offered the Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates (CWEB) program as an educational opportunity for undergraduate social work majors to prepare for employment in one of Pennsylvania’s 67 public child welfare agencies.

The BASW Program is offered as an upper-division (i.e., junior and senior years only) academic major, underscoring the program’s commitment to a strong liberal arts base. Learn more about degree requirements, full- and part-time enrollment options and class schedule, and field education for BASW students.

The Social Work Minor is open to undergraduate students throughout the university (see minor requirements)

The Goals of BASW Program are to prepare students to competently engage in generalist social work practice.

As such, it is our goal that by completion of the program, students will be prepared to:

  1. Use their liberal arts foundation and their understanding of bio-psycho-social-spiritual-cultural development to engage in evidence-based generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations within a multicultural society (EP 2.1.1, EP 2.1.3, EP 2.1.4, EP 2.1.6, EP 2.1.7, EP 2.1.8, EP, 2.1.9, EP 2.1.10).
  2. Practice according to the principles, values, and ethics that guide the social work profession (EP 2.1.1, E.P.2.1.2).
  3. Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice. (EP 2.1.3, EP 2.1.4, EP 2.1.5, EP 2.1.8, EP 2.1.9).
  4. Continue formal education in either graduate social work education or other graduate disciplines (EP 2.1.1).

The BASW Program Faculty have defined “generalist practice” as:

The application of knowledge, values, and skills of the general method of problem-solving, which spans the processes of engagement, data collection, assessment, intervention, evaluation, and termination. Preparation in the general method focuses on the application of the method to client/consumer systems of various sizes (individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations). Key to this problem-solving approach is its applicability to multi-cultural contexts, focusing on the strengths inherent in clients/consumers’ and systems. The ethics and values of the social work profession anchor this practice.

The BASW Program has also identified a number of more specific and measurable objectives that allow us to document progress toward attaining our goals. We expect graduates from the BASW Program to practice in a manner consistent with social work traditions, values, and ethics, as expressed in the NASW Code of Ethics.

Contact Information

University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work Office of Admissions
Room 2110 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Fax: 412-624-6323

Special Opportunities

The Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates (CWEB) Program provides an educational opportunity for students interested in public child welfare services. Qualified students who are enrolled as social work majors may receive substantial financial support in return for a contractual obligation to accept employment in a Pennsylvania public child welfare agency following completion of their social work degree. Students interested in the program should contact Dr. Cynthia Bradley-King, CWEB Coordinator, School of Social Work at or 412-624-2830.

The Behavioral Health Case Management Program is a certificate available to Social Work and Psychology majors, that leads to possible employment opportunities in a fast paced behavioral health service sector. To read more about the career opportunities available to graduates who hold this certificate please visit the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) web page.

More information about the program is available on the web and by contacting the Director of the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work Program, Keith J. Caldwell, MSW at or 412-648-9441

Admission Requirements

For admission to the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program (BASW), a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Completion of 60 transferable credits from an accredited undergraduate institution and/or completion of an accredited associate degree program.
  • A minimum of 2.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale.

The distribution of liberal arts credits should be as follows:

  1. Humanities-9 credits
  2. Natural Sciences-9 credits
  3. Social Sciences-9 credits
  4. Other courses (preferably a computer skills course and courses in the humanities and behavioral and social sciences)-33 credits

Credits awarded from the College Level Examination Program [CLEP] by the College of General Studies are counted toward the 60 credits. Academic and field education credits are not granted in the BASW program for life, volunteer, or employment experience.

Application Procedures

Students may apply for the fall term or spring term. Students currently enrolled within the University of Pittsburgh system should submit applications and all credentials to the School of Social Work Office of Admissions. Students applying from outside the University of Pittsburgh should send all application materials and credentials directly to the University Office of Admissions and Financial Aid (see Pittsburgh campus Freshman Admissions for address). The Undergraduate program in the School of Social Work has a ROLLING ADMISSIONS POLICY. There is no specific deadline for submitting applications.

  • The application fee of $45 (only if applying from another institution; current University of Pittsburgh students do not have to pay this fee).
  • A complete transcript from the registrar of each college attended. If course work is still in progress at the time the application is filed, the student should request a supplemental transcript at the end of each term. Although a decision for acceptance may be made while academic work is still in progress, an up-to-date transcript must be received before the applicant can register for course work. Persons seeking a transfer to the University of Pittsburgh from another college or university must also submit a high school transcript or its equivalent.
  • A three-part typewritten statement (of no more than eight pages) discussing the following concerns in depth:
    1. the influence in the student’s life experience that made him/her select social work as a profession,
    2. what the student believes social work education can contribute to his/her professional competence, and
    3. what the student believes to be one of the most important contemporary social issues and why.
  • The application supplement sheet, which requests information on the student’s employment background, a list of the names and addresses of the people who will be completing reference forms on the applicant’s behalf, and academic credit requirement questions.
  • Three letters of reference. Required references include college advisors, an instructor at the college level, and the current (or last) employer/volunteer supervisor. Applicants should send the blank reference forms received with the application materials to each of the reference persons. The School of Social Work admissions office will periodically notify the applicant of the status of the application materials, and the applicant will be expected to follow through with each reference to ensure receipt of the letter. Reference persons should mail the completed form directly to the School of Social Work Office of Admissions.

Other Supporting Application Materials

The School of Social Work does not require the submission of scores from an examination for admission consideration. However, applicants wishing to submit such exam scores or other materials (publications, major papers, etc.) in support of their application may do so. In no instance will an applicant not submitting these be penalized in determining acceptance for the program.

Admission Interviews

Interviews may be initiated by the admissions personnel of the School of Social Work. Applicants who feel they would like to discuss special circumstances surrounding their applications are encouraged to seek admission interviews. The interview, if requested, should be scheduled after all application materials have been received. Usually, decisions on applications for admission are made without an interview.

Grading Standards Policy for the BASW Program

This policy covers the following areas in regard to grading:

Good Academic Standing

In order to remain in good academic standing and to graduate from the BASW program, all students must

  • Obtain a grade of C- or better in all courses required for the major (including Practicum 1 and 2),
  • Maintain a minimum 2.50 on a 4.00 scale in their social work major
  • Conform to the standards of professional conduct as specified in the NASW Code of Ethics (see below), and
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00 on a 4.00 scale.


The program honors those students whose academic performance (cumulative GPA) places them in the upper two percent of their graduating class. These students are considered for honors recognition at the annual Honors Convocation conducted by the University in the spring of each year. BASW majors are also eligible for membership in Phi Alpha, the National Social Work Honor Society, if they have completed their social work major with a social work GPA of 3.85 or higher.

Bachelor of Philosophy Degree

In the spirit of intellectual curiosity envisioned by the Board of Trustees and the University Honors College when the Bachelor of Philosophy degree (BPhil) was created, the BPhil creates the opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in research and scholarly work toward a more rigorous baccalaureate degree traditionally reserved for the graduate level. In combination with the University Honors College requirements it, “preserves an element of intellectual scope, ever the distinctive feature of American undergraduate education (A. Stewart).” This degree is offered jointly between the University Honors College and the School of Social Work.

BASW majors who meet the University Honors College (UHC) eligibility requirements and who are interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in social work should make an appointment with the BASW Program Director to review criteria and process for the degree.

The BASW student will be referred to the University Honors College Web site to review the Bachelor of Philosophy degree requirements.

The requirements to participate in the UHC are as follows:

  • Maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher in BASW major in the School of Social Work and a 3.25 GPA or higher overall at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Transfer students must have an incoming GPA of 3.25 or higher and maintain a 3.25 GPA in BASW major course work offered through the School of Social Work as well as a 3.25 GPA or higher overall at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • In unusual circumstances, a student who shows exceptional promise but does not meet the above requirements may be accepted to BPhil candidacy as recommended by the BASW Program Director to the School of Social Work Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and determined by the UHC advising staff.

Based upon a BASW student’s area of interest, a thesis advisor will be assigned by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The BASW Program Director and the student’s advisor will meet with the student to draft a program of study/curriculum plan. Assignment of an advisor is contingent upon faculty availability and willingness to serve.

General degree requirements are:

  • Fulfill the BASW degree requirements with a minimum 3.25 GPA.
  • Complete the social work general education requirements with a minimum 3.25 GPA. This includes 24 credits in the social and behavioral sciences; minimum of 3 credits in Africana studies; minimum of 3 credits in English composition; minimum 3 credits in human biology and a minimum of 3 credits in statistics.
  • Enroll in one course in each of the following areas, selecting one as an area of specialization, with a minimum of 12 credits and grades corresponding to a 3.25 GPA or higher: Africana studies; anthropology; economics; global studies; political science; psychology; sociology; urban studies; women’s studies.
  • In all of the above coursework, a prospective BPhil student is encouraged to enroll in an UHC section of the course, if available. Overall GPA requirements remain the same for these courses.

The prospective BPhil student will make an appointment with the UHC advising staff regarding Honors College qualifications for degree candidacy.

The prospective BPhil student will complete the BASW degree requirements listed above as well as complete independent research culminating in the production of an original undergraduate thesis.

If all of the degree requirements are met, a single degree, the Bachelor of Philosophy degree with a major in social work, will be conferred jointly by the School of Social Work and the University Honors College.

For additional details on this degree program, please contact the School of Social Work or the Honors College.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics

Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct. The code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve. The NASW Code of Ethics serves six purposes:

  1. The code identifies core values on which social work’s mission is based.
  2. The code summarizes broad ethical principles that reflect the profession’s core values and establishes a set of specific ethical standards that should be used to guide social work practice.
  3. The code is designed to help social workers identify relevant considerations when conflicting professional obligations or ethical uncertainties arise.
  4. The code provides ethical standards to which the general public can hold the social work profession accountable.
  5. The code socializes practitioners new to the field to social work’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards.
  6. The code articulates standards that the social work profession itself can use to assess whether social workers have engaged in unethical conduct. NASW has formal procedures to adjudicate ethics complaints filed against its members. In subscribing to this code, social workers are required to cooperate in its implementation, participate in NASW adjudication proceedings, and abide by any NASW disciplinary rulings or sanctions based on it.

The code offers a set of values, principles, and standards to guide decision making and conduct when ethical issues arise. It does not provide a set of rules that prescribe how social workers should act in all situations. Specific applications of the code must take into account the context in which it is being considered and the possibility of conflicts among the code’s values, principles, and standards. Ethical responsibilities flow from all human relationships, from the personal and familial to the social and professional. Social work students are required to comply with the NASW Code of Ethics. Copies can be obtained from the NASW Web page at

Statute of Limitations

There is a seven-year limitation on the earning of the BASW degree with the seven-year period beginning from the date of entry into the program. Under the following extenuating circumstances, the advisor may recommend an extension of time to the program director and the associate dean:

  • Extended illness of the student,
  • Involuntary mobilization into a U.S. military unit,
  • Death of a close family member,
  • Extended personal emergency, or
  • Academic probation in the last term of the student’s program.

Undergraduate Advising

When admitted, new BASW majors are assigned an advisor by the BASW program director (students completing the social work minor maintain the academic advisor in their current college or school). Incoming BASW majors meet their assigned faculty advisor at the school’s orientation, which is held prior to the start of fall semester. Incoming students are then encouraged to make an appointment with their faculty advisor during the first three to four weeks of the term. Each advisor will work with his or her advisee to clarify educational options, answer questions about the BASW Program, and discuss career opportunities. When students enroll for Practicum Seminar I and the concurrent Practicum Seminar and Lab I, the seminar and lab instructor in the section the student chooses becomes his or her faculty advisor for the remainder of their enrollment in the program. Faculty advisors should be the first point of contact for any or all of the following:

  • Registration including add/drop, leaves of absence, and withdrawals; Clarification of all academic policies and procedures (i.e., grading policies, graduation requirements, directed study);
  • Discussions regarding academic expectations and performance;
  • Information about other departments and/or programs in the School of Social Work or the University of Pittsburgh;
  • Planning of the student’s educational program in accordance with his or her career interests.

Phi Alpha National Honor Society

Mu Omicron Chapter

Phi Alpha Honor Society was created to provide a closer bond between social work students and the profession in order to promote humanitarian goals and ideals. With the motto, “Through knowledge-the challenge to serve,” Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work. Founded in 1960, Phi Alpha Honor Society currently has more than 110 chapters nationwide.

School of Social Work Faculty

Ralph L. Bangs, Associate Director, Center on Race and Social Problems, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Cynthia K. Bradley-King, Field Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator, Child Welfare Education For Baccalaureates Program, PhD, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Helen Cahalane, Academic Coordinator, Child Welfare Education for Leadership (CWEL); Clinical Assistant Professor, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Keith Caldwell, Assistant Professor, Basw Program Director, MSW, University of Pittsburgh

Lynn Coghill, Assistant Professor, MSW Program Director, MSW, University of Pittsburgh

James A. Cox, Jr.

Valire Carr Copeland, Associate Professor, Director, PhD Program, School of Social Work, Graduate School of Public Health, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Larry Davis, Dean, School of Social Work; Donald M. Henderson Professor, PhD, University of Michigan

Caroline Donohue, Agency Coordinator, Child Welfare Education for Leadership (CWEL); Clinical Assistant Professor, MSW, University of Pittsburgh

Shawn M. Eack

Stephanie Eckstrom, Program Coordinator, Pitt-Bradford MSW Program, MSW, University of Maryland At Baltimore

Rafael J. Engel, Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, PhD, University of Wisconsin

Rachel A. Fusco, Assistant Professor, PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Sara Goodkind, Assistant Professor, PhD, University of Michigan

Catherine Greeno, Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Research, Social Work, Department of Psychiatry, PhD, Stanford University

Lovie J. Jackson

Gary F. Koeske, Professor, PhD, Northwestern University

Lambert Maguire Jr., Professor, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, PhD, University of Michigan

Aaron R. Mann, Associate Professor, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Beth Mulvaney

Christina Newhill, Professor, PhD, University of California at Berkeley

Marlo Perry

Laura Perry-Thompson, MSW Program Director, Upj, MSW and MEd, University of Pittsburgh

Helen Petracchi, Associate Professor; Director, PhD, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Mary Elizabeth Rautkis, Research Assistant Professor, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Daniel Rosen, Associate Professor, PhD, University of Michigan

Jeffrey Shook, Associate Professor, PhD, University of Michigan

Tracy Soska, Director, Continuing Education and Cosa Director, MSW, University of Pittsburgh

Fengyan Tang, Associate Professor, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis

John Wallace, Associate Professor, PhD, University of Michigan

Liz Winter, Clinical Assistant Professor and Academic Coordinator, Child Welfare Education for Leadership, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Hidenori Yamatani, Professor, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

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