UMBC logo
Undergraduate Catalog 2013

Social Work


View Faculty Details


Carolyn Knight

Associate Professors

James Bembry
Joshua Okundaye
Laura Ting
Shelly Wiechelt

Assistant Professors

Jayshree Jani
Marcela Mellinger

Shady Grove Program

Jeanette Hoover
Kathleen Leiser
Katherine Morris

Associate Dean & Professor

Carolyn Tice

Assistant Dean for Field Education

Adrienne Ekas-Mueting

Professors Emeriti

Gust Mitchell
Betsy Vourlekis

Courses in this program are listed under SOWK.

The social work major prepares students for generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups and communities at the beginning level. Students learn a range of skills and helping techniques that enable them to intervene effectively in addressing social problems.

UMBC's Social Work Program, the baccalaureate component of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, meets the highest professional standards. The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a national organization founded to promote and improve the quality of education in social work.

  • CSWE uses the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) to accredit baccalaureate social work programs.  EPAS supports academic excellence by establishing thresholds for professional competence.
  • EPAS describes four features of an integrated curriculum design: (1) program missions and goals; (2) explicit curriculum; (3) implicit curriculum; and (4) assessment.

Based on this accreditation, students are assured that the quality of education at UMBC meets national standards and prepares them for employment at the bachelor's level, for graduate study and for meeting the various state licensing and employment requirements for social work practice. Social work students and graduates are also eligible for membership in the National Association of Social Workers. Graduates qualify to take the state examination to become licensed social work associates in Maryland, and they are qualified for examination in all other states that license baccalaureate practice.

Career and Academic Paths

Graduates of the Social Work Program succeed in the job market, as well as in graduate school. Alumni are employed in various human service positions with federal, state and local governments, as well as with non-profit agencies, corporations, health care organizations and hospitals. The undergraduate social work major at UMBC is the baccalaureate component of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. As such, students completing the social work major at UMBC may be eligible for consideration for advanced standing in the master’s degree program of the School of Social Work. Completion of the accredited program at UMBC also qualifies graduates for consideration for admission to all accredited master’s degree social work programs in the United States.

Academic Advising

Students enrolled in the social work major are assigned a faculty advisor from the program. Students are encouraged to contact their advisor early in their educational experience and every semester thereafter to plan and monitor their course of study. Advisors in the program are also available to meet with students who anticipate majoring in social work to plan prerequisite courses.

Major Program

Social work builds on and is integrated with a liberal arts base that includes knowledge in the humanities and the social, behavioral and biological sciences. The course of study in social work at UMBC includes: technology in social work, social work practice methods, social welfare policy and services, human behavior and the social environment, statistics and social research and participation in direct services through an intensive field education placement in a community-based social service department or agency.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree Core courses:

  • SOWK 240 Information Technology in Social Work [3]
  • SOWK 260 Introduction to Social Welfare, Social Policy and Social Work I [3]
  • SOWK 360 Social Welfare, Social Policy and Social Work II [3]
  • SOWK 388 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I [3]
  • SOWK 389 Human Behavior and the Social Environment II [3]
  • SOWK 397 Social Work Methods I: Introduction to Practice [3]
  • SOWK 470* Social Work Research [3]
  • SOWK 480 Field Instruction I [6]
  • SOWK 481 Social Work Methods II: A Generalist Approach to Practice [3]
  • SOWK 482 Field Instruction II [6]
  • SOWK 483 Social Work Methods III: Selected Intervention Strategies Research and Evaluation [3]
  • SOWK Elective 300- to 400-level social work course [3]

* A list of approved equivalent courses is available in the program office.

The following are additional requirements for completion of the social work major:

1. Completion of the following courses:

  • Human Biology*
  • PSYC 100
  • ECON or POLI
  • SOCY 101
  • STAT 121*

* A list of approved equivalent courses is available in the program office.

2.  A second area of concentration of at least 18 credit hours, such as another major, or a minor. At least six credits of the area of concentration must be upper-level.

Note: The minor in social welfare cannot be used in conjunction with the social work major.

3. Recommendation of the faculty to complete the required field and methods courses (SOWK 480, 481, 482, 483).

4. Completion of the general university requirements and other degree requirements.

Field Requirement

The required field education experience is 16 hours per week and is taken throughout the senior year. It begins in the fall semester and continues during winter session and spring semester. Student participation in the field during the winter session does not require additional payment of fees or tuition. The Social Work Program does not arrange evening and weekend field placements. Field education is taken on a P/F basis. Admission to field education is at the recommendation of the faculty. To be considered for a field placement, students must have an overall GPA of at least 2.5, must have completed SOWK 260, 388 and 397 with a grade of C or better in each course, and must have approval of the faculty. All students registering for field education must participate in a university-arranged professional liability insurance plan for which they are billed separately by the university. The cost of travel to and from the field agencies and health insurance are additional student expenses.

Minor in Social Welfare

The minor in social welfare provides the student with a comprehensive background of study in social welfare in the United States; its relationship to the market economy; and the historical, political and cultural factors that shape its course. The minor also offers the opportunity to explore, in depth, some of the challenging issues confronting society in the alleviation of poverty and the delivery of health and welfare services to families and children, older people and individuals with mental and physical challenges. This knowledge will be of particular importance to students planning careers in government, the private sector, law and health. To earn a minor in social welfare, students must complete the following 18 credits of course work with a grade of C or better in all courses to be applied to the minor. Courses are divided as follows:

A. Core requirements [9]

  • SOWK 260 Introduction to Social Welfare, Social Policy and Social Work I [3]
  • SOWK 360 Social Welfare, Social Policy and Social Work II [3]
  • SOWK 388 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I [3]

B. Any of the following courses [9]

  • SOWK 200 Social Issues-Social Action [3]
  • SOWK 240 Information Technology in Social Work [3]
  • SOWK 311 Introduction to Field Experience in Social Work [3]
  • SOWK 386 Strengthening Family Structure [3]
  • SOWK 387 Policies, Programs and Services for Children [3]
  • SOWK 389 Human Behavior and the Social Environment II [3]
  • SOWK 371 Social Work Practice in Aging [3]
  • SOWK 372 Social Work and Health Care [3]
  • SOWK 373 Demystifying the DSM: A Social Work Perspective [3]
  • SOWK 374(C) Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees [3]
  • SOWK 377 Women and Social Policy [3]
  • SOWK 390 Special Topics in Social Welfare [3]
  • SOWK 395 Addictive Behavior Patterns [3]
  • SOWK 470 Social Work Research [3]
  • SOWK 499 Independent Study [1-3]

Honors Program

Students may choose to take honors courses in social work through the Honors College.

Evening and Part Time Options

All core courses, with the exception of the senior field education courses, can be taken in the late afternoon or evening on a space-available basis. In addition, the design of the program allows students to complete their course work on a part-time basis. Field education (SOWK 480/482) must be taken during the work week. The program does not arrange evening and weekend field placements.

Special Opportunities

The Social Work Program offers educational and community-based opportunities including:

A. Educational

  • SOWK 240: Information Technology in Social Work [3] is regularly offered online and in hybrid format.
  • SOWK 260: Introduction to Social Welfare, Social Policy and Social Work I [3] is regularly offered in hybrid format.
  • SOWK 360: Introduction to Social Welfare, Social Policy and Social Work II [3] is regularly offered in hybrid format.
  • SOWK 389: Human Behavior in the Social Environment II [3] is regularly offered in hybrid format.
  • SOWK 373: Demystifying the DSM: A Social Work Perspective [3] is regularly offered in hybrid format.
  • SOWK 374 (C): Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees [3] is regularly offered in hybrid format and fulfills one culture GEP requirement.

B. Community-Based

  • SOWK 200: Social Issues: Social Action [3]
  • SOWK 299: Independent Study  [1-3]
  • SOWK 311: Introduction to Field Experience in Social Work [3]
  • SOWK 480 and 481 Field Education [6]
  • SOWK 499: Independent Study  [1-3] 

The Universities at Shady Grove

UMBC offers the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, MD. Students can complete the last two years of the program at this suburban Washington location. Because only upper-level courses are offered, students must have completed most General Education Program requirements (GEPs) and lower-level major requirements. Prospective students are invited to make an appointment with the Shady Grove program director to review their previous courses.

Student Organizations

THE SOCIAL WORK STUDENT ASSOCIATION:  SWSA is the student organization of social work majors at UMBC. The SWSA works to introduce its members to the profession, promote social work through community activities and provide majors with the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns. It also provides them with information and resources related to their educational experience and career planning. Membership is open to all majors. Activities of the SWSA have included food drives, community volunteer activities, career planning conferences, newsletters and student socials. Information on the SWSA is available through the program or on the program’s web site:

HONOR SOCIETY: The Social Work Program has established a chapter of Phi Alpha, the social work national honor society. 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. At present, there are approximately 400 chapters of the honor society in schools nationwide. Students are eligible to join if they have: declared social work as their major; achieved sophomore status; completed nine semester hours of required social work courses; and achieved an overall GPA of 3.0 and a 3.25 GPA in required or elective social work courses. Interested students may obtain an application from the program or from the program's web site: