The School of Social Work, successor to the Division of Social Work in the Department of Sociology of the University, was founded in September 1918. The school shares with the University a commitment to the advancement and application of knowledge. Students in Pitt’s School of Social Work learn the knowledge, skills, and values to engage in culturally competent practice with diverse populations and communities. They learn to critically analyze personal, familial, and environmental factors affecting practice settings and practice techniques, and to advocate for those who confront barriers to fulfilling their potential.
The school’s students and faculty members also engage in scholarly activities that contribute to professional knowledge about complex social problems and innovative approaches to ameliorate those problems. In addition, school students, alumni, and personnel serve local, national, and international communities by developing and participating in collaborations with social agencies, community-based organizations, government, and foundations.
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 school offers a full continuum of social work educational programs at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels (as well as a continuing education program for practicing social workers). The school’s bachelor’s and master’s programs in social work are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and graduates are eligible for full membership in the National Association of Social Workers.
The School of Social Work offers the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. MSW students may combine their degree work with course work leading to a certificate. In addition, the School of Social Work has joint and cooperative degree options with other schools in the University as well as external institutions. The degree options include:
Master of Social Work
- Skill Concentrations (one is required)
- Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups
- Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA)
- Direct Practice Certificate Programs
- Gerontology Certificate
- Home and School Visitor/School Social Worker Certificate
- Children Youth and Families Certificate
- Mental Health Certificate
- Integrated Healthcare Certificate
- Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA) Certificate Programs:
- Human Services Management Certificate
Doctor of Philosophy
Joint and Cooperative Degrees
- Master of Social Work/Master of Divinity
- Master of Social Work/Master of Public Administration
- Master of Social Work/Master of Public and International Affairs
- Master of Social Work/Master of International Development
- Master of Social Work/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work
- Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health
- Master of Social Work/Juris Doctorate
- Master of Social Work/Certificate of Advanced Study in Teaching
- Master of Social Work/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work
- Master of Public Health/Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work
Specific details regarding course requirements are described in this bulletin and on the School of Social Work Web site and in the Student Handbook.
Admission to the MSW and PhD programs is for fall term (September) only. Applicants seeking full-time or part-time admission should submit the application far in advance of their expected entry into the program; all application materials are due no later than April 30 for the MSW program and December 31 for the PhD program of the year in which entry is expected. Applications are reviewed only upon receipt of all required materials. Application forms are available from:
School of Social Work
Office of Admissions
2104 Cathedral Of Learning
Online applications are accepted via the MSW or PhD sections of our website located at http://www.socialwork.pitt.edu
For more specifics on admissions requirements for the MSW or the PhD, consult the description of the relevant degree program.
Admission of Students from Other Countries
The School of Social Work welcomes applications from students in other countries whose credentials meet the requirements and the standards of the School of Social Work and the Office of lnternational Services of the University.
MSW and PhD applicants from other countries must apply directly to the School of Social Work. Applicants must submit the completed application form, additional required forms, and other required materials in English. Additional University of Pittsburgh application procedures for international students are described at www.umc.pitt.edu/bulletins/graduate/application.htm. Other information and assistance for international students can be found online at www.ois.pitt.edu/intladmissions.html.
For MSW applicants only: International students who hold a baccalaureate degree in social work from a program that is not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and who are interested in obtaining advanced standing credit must submit their transcript to the council for a determination of equivalency. Further Information can be found online at www.cswe.org.
Students interested in financial assistance to meet tuition and/or living costs should direct inquiries to both the Office of Admissions of the School of Social Work and the University’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.
Students should be advised that limited resources often preclude any one funding source from granting awards that meet total financial needs. As a result, students are strongly encouraged to seek financial aid packages consisting of partial awards (including loans and scholarships) from a variety of sources, including the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in Alumni Hall (412-624-PITT) and the School of Social Work Financial Aid Sources, Office of Admissions, Room 2104 Cathedral of Learning (412-624-6302; http://www.socialwork.pitt.edu/admissions-aid/financial-aid . See also the University-wide information on Financial Aid.
Applications for financial assistance are accepted only after an admissions decision has been made. Awards are made for a one-year period. New applications are required for each succeeding period.
The School of Social Work’s expectations for student and faculty conduct are described in school policies and embody the standards of professional social work. Students in the School of Social Work are required to adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics.
Academic Review Policy
The school maintains an academic review policy that applies to all degree students in the school and that seeks to ensure academic standards of achievement (i.e., satisfactory performance in the field, satisfactory grades for academic course work, and reasonable rates of progress toward completion of degree requirements). The policy statement on academic review appears in the Student Handbook.
Academic Integrity Policy
The school also has an academic integrity policy that applies to all students and faculty members in the school and seeks to ensure that students and faculty members respect the ethical standards expected of them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. The policy statement on academic integrity appears in the School of Social Work Student Handbook.
Statute of Limitations for School of Social Work Degrees and Leaves of Absence
There is a four-year limitation on the earning of the MSW degree. The four-year period is counted from the date of entry into the program for four full academic calendar years. Under extenuating circumstances (listed below), an advisor can recommend an extension of time to the MSW program director and the associate dean for academic affairs. If approved, the period of extension and the conditions for completing the program will be recorded in the student’s folder, with a copy sent to the student. Extenuating circumstances include the following:
- extended illness of the student,
- extended personal emergency,
- involuntary mobilization into a U.S. military unit, and
- death of a close family member.
Under special conditions, MSW students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of one full academic year may be granted to master’s students. A student wishing to take a leave of absence must submit in advance to the MSW program director a written request that indicates the length and rationale for the leave. The MSW program director and the associate dean for academic affairs will review the request. If approved, the time of the leave will not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.
There is an eight-year statute of limitations for the completion of the PhD for students who enter with an MSW and who are not pursuing an MPH. There is a 10-year statute of limitations for students in the MSW/PhD program or the MPH/PhD program. Course work and the comprehensive examinations should be completed within three years and the dissertation within five. Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate for the PhD may apply for an extension of the statute of limitations. Requests for an extension of the statute of limitations must be submitted to the doctoral program director and must be approved by the doctoral committee and the dean. The request must be accompanied by a program assessment of the work required of the student to complete the degree and evidence of the extenuating circumstances leading to the requested extension. Students who request an extension of the statute of limitations must demonstrate proper preparation for the completion of all current degree requirements.
Under special conditions, doctoral students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of two academic calendar years may be granted to doctoral students. A student wishing to take a leave of absence must submit in advance to the doctoral program director a written request that indicates the length and rationale for the leave. The doctoral program director and the associate dean for academic affairs will review the request. If approved, the time of the leave will not count against the total time allowed for the degree being sought by the student. Readmission following an approved leave of absence is a formality.
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 can be viewed online at www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/default.asp.
Students are assigned a faculty advisor at the beginning of the student’s matriculation into the MSW or PhD program. Students in the MSW program are assigned an advisor from among the faculty and professional staff. The assignment is made by the MSW program director and remains in effect until changed after a request by an advisor or advisee, as indicated by field assignment or program change, or due to a change in the advisor’s assignment.
Special Academic Opportunities
The school offers several academic resources and programs for its students, as detailed below:
Student Participation on School Committees
Students have opportunities to participate in the governance of the School of Social Work by serving on school committees. Information about the purposes and functions of the committees is distributed during the beginning of each fall term. Through the Office of the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, students can volunteer to serve on committees and become full members of those committees.
Student Executive Council (SEC)
All degree students in the School of Social Work comprise the membership of the student organization that elects the Student Executive Council. The council concerns itself with student life and serves as a liaison with the administration and faculty.
The Student Executive Council relies heavily on student participation and it endeavors to be of service to the student body. Activities include the publication of a student newsletter, the development of discussion sessions around critical social issues, the provision of opportunities for social action, the participation in planning for orientation, and the planning of a variety of social events.
In addition, SEC members, representing the student body, are appointed to serve in the following organizations and/or committees: Black Action Society; Student Chapter, NASW; Student Chapter, NABSW; Alumni Association (Liaison); BASW Club; and Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA).
The Buhl Library of Social Work is a special collection of books, journals, and other resource materials specifically focused on social work. The Buhl Library is located on the first floor of Hillman Library and is staffed by a full-time social work librarian. Additionally, students at the School of Social Work have full access to the wide range of services provided by the University of Pittsburgh library system.
Program and course Offerings
Master of Social Work Program
Go to information for Master of Social Work Program.
- Social Work - Community, Organization, and Social Action Concentration, Community Organization Track, MSW
- Social Work - Community, Organization, and Social Action Concentration, MSW
- Social Work - Community, Organization, and Social Action Concentration, Social Administration Track, MSW
- Social Work - Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups Concentration, MSW
- Social Work, MSW
Doctorate in Social Work Program
Go to information for Doctorate in Social Work Program.
Cooperative Degrees Program
Go to information for Cooperative Degrees Program.