School of Social Work

Undergraduate Program

Admission Process

  • The Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in social work (B.A.) requires completion of two years of a foreign language (American Sign Language is accepted).
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree (B.A.S.W.) does not require a foreign language.

  • Admission to undergraduate program

Interested? Please contact Michele Thornton, BA/BASW Coordinator:  mdt@uakron.edu or 330-972-8195.


Consistent with the mission of the University of Akron and the College of Health Professions, the mission of the undergraduate social work program is to prepare students for competent and effective generalist practice.  


  1. Prepare students to integrate the knowledge, values, and skills of the social work profession for competent and effective generalist practice with diverse client systems in various practice settings.
  2. Prepare students to identify the strengths and abilities of diverse client systems to foster empowerment toward social justice and systemic well-being.
  3. Prepare students to utilize theoretically-based social work research, knowledge, and critical thinking skills for effective and ethical social work practice.

Generalist Practice

Generalist practice is grounded in the liberal arts and the person and environment construct. To promote human and social well-being, generalist practitioners use a range of prevention and intervention methods in their practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

  • The generalist practitioner identifies with the social work profession and applies ethical principles and critical thinking in practice.
  • Generalist practitioners incorporate diversity in their practice and advocate for human rights and social and economic justice.
  • Generalist practitioners recognize, support, and build on the strengths and resiliency of all human beings.
  • Generalist practitioners engage in research-informed practice and are proactive in responding to the impact of context on professional practice.  (see CSWE Educational Policy B2.2)

Commitment to Diversity

The School of Social Work is committed to diversity—including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.  (see CSWE Educational Policy B3.1)

This commitment builds upon The University of Akron's Vision 2020, which identifies key Strategic Pathways to Success, including The Akron Experience:  Academic & Inclusive Excellence, which states:  "We will achieve academic and inclusive excellence through a commitment to enhance diversity in all academic programs and create targeted learning pathways that result in a remarkable university experience for each student.  So-called traditional and non-traditional students, included working adults and veterans, will have a comprehensive and transformative learning experience through focused and deliberate programming..."

The School of Social Work's undergraduate program reflects this commitment in our learning environment including:

  • our curriculum;
  • the selection of field education settings and their clientele;
  • the composition of our field advisory committee;
  • educational and social resources;
  • resource allocation;
  • program leadership;
  • special programs;
  • research and other initiatives; and
  • the demographic make-up of our faculty, staff, and student.

Core Competencies and Practice Behaviors

BSW practice incorporates all ten core competencies. The social work major at the University of Akron is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Competency 2.1.1Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly 
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners function as social work professionals who:

  • 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

Competency 2.1.2 – Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners engage in ethical decision making via applying NASW Code of Ethics and practice within the laws of the State of Ohio. They:

  • 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 Work Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Social Work Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles;
  • Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts; and
  • Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions.

Competency 2.1.3 – Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners can discern social work principles and interventions and apply critical thinking based on principles of logic and scientific reasoning. They:

  • 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 work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues.

Competency 2.1.4 – Engage diversity and differences in practice
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners utilize critical consciousness to recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of differences in shaping life experiences. They:  

  • 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.

Competency 2.1.5 – Advance human rights and social and economic justice
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners recognize how individuals are marginalized based on differences and work towards eliminating injustice. They:

  • Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination;
  • Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice;
  • Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.

Competency 2.1.6 – Engage in research-informed practice and practice informed research
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners understand the value of documentation that leads to evidence-based practice. They:

  • Use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry, and
  • Use research evidence to inform practice.

Competency 2.1.7 – Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners utilize theoretical concepts of development of individuals over the life span and understand the impact of life transitions, as well as the consequences of contexts in which client systems exist. They:

  • Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation, and
  • Critique and apply knowledge to understand persons and environment.

Competency 2.1.8 – Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to
                                       deliver effective social work services
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners understand how the federal, international, and specifically Ohio Revised Code governs the function of agency-based practice and engage in policy practice. They:

  • Analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being; and
  • Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

Competency 2.1.9 – Respond to contexts that shape practice 
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners develop an appreciation and understanding of the nature of and uniqueness of service delivery in urban, suburban, and rural areas. They:  

  • Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, and scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services;
  • Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services.

 2.1.10 (a-d) Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups,
                         organizations, and communities

At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners utilize a variety of strategies to engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate client systems in all cultural dimensions.   

Competency 2.1.10(a) – Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities 
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners utilize knowledge, skills, and values to engageclients in an effective manner that creates and maintains clients’ participation in the problemsolving process. They: 

  • 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.

Competency 2.1.10(b) – Assess with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities 
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners utilize the problem solving process to facilitate the clients sharing appropriate information relative to their human condition. They:

  • Collect, organize, and interpret client data;
  • Assess client strengths and limitations;
  • Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives; and
  • Select appropriate intervention strategies.

Competency 2.1.10(c) – Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners utilize unconditional positive regard in prevention and intervention with clients in a collaborative process. They:

  • 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.

Competency 2.1.10(d) – Evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
At the bachelor level, generalist practitioners build evidence-based practice through evaluating clients’ goal attainment and the outcome of the intervention. They:

  • Social workers critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions.


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