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UAB’s Department of Social Work taught me how to deliver evidence-based social work practice with a diverse population, educated me on how to advocate for vulnerable groups, and instilled in me the social work ethics and values to apply to everyday practice.

– Savannah Henderson, ’19

Because the Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) is a professional degree, you must successfully complete a formal application process to advance from UAB's core curriculum to the BSSW professional curriculum. Be sure to work with your academic advisor at UAB every semester to ensure that you fulfill the program's application requirements.

Eligibility Criteria

If you wish to declare social work as a major, you may formally apply for admission to the professional program upon meeting the following criteria:

  • Substantial completion of the core curriculum requirements with a grade of C or better in each course;
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.25 or higher; and
  • Completion of SW: 100, SW: 200, SW: 207, and SW: 222 with a cumulative average of 2.5 or better (students may apply while enrolled in these courses but will not be fully accepted into the program until final grades have been posted and verified).

How to Apply

Applications for BSSW Professional Program are accepted twice during the academic year, during the Fall (September) and Spring semesters (February). Accepting applications during these semesters and months allows time to notify students of acceptance in time for registration for the following semester.

Students must self-initiate the process. Students who see their CAS Social Work Academic Advisor each semester are in the best position to know when it is time for them to apply for the professional program. Notices regarding the application dates will be emailed to all social work students each semester.

Students who would like to apply to the BSSW Professional Program need to complete these steps:

  1. Students must make an appointment to meet with their assigned academic advisor in the CAS Advising Office to verify academic eligibility as described above. In addition, CAS Academic Advisor will provide each applicant with information about how to apply to the professional program. The CAS Academic Advisor will also complete the Curriculum for Social Work Majors Checklist (PDF) with each student.
  2. During February and September, students should submit their applications via the University's learning management system, Canvas. Students enrolled in SW 222/SW22L will be automatically enrolled in the non-academic course that includes the application. Other students may request access by contacting the BSSW Program Director.
  3. The application includes the following parts: a student information form; a completed copy of the student’s Curriculum for Social Work Majors Checklist (completed by the CAS academic advisor); classroom comportment completed by social work instructors from SW 100, SW 200, SW 207, and SW 222/222L; and four written essay questions.
  4. Late applications are not accepted. Students are encouraged to plan ahead to meet the application steps and deadlines.
  5. Please note that procedures governing reasonable accommodations for students who have disabilities follow those prescribed by UAB's Disability Support Services Office for classroom participation and test-taking. Any student who requests a reasonable accommodation needs to notify the Program Director to make arrangements.

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Review Process

The process for evaluating applications to the professional social work program involves:

  1. assessment of the intellectual ability of students, as demonstrated by check sheet;
  2. academic advisor’s review form;
  3. the faculty assessment of applicants’ classroom comportment, as demonstrated by the Faculty Observation forms;  and
  4. writing skills and level of pre-professional self-awareness, as demonstrated by a student’s written essays.
  • A satisfactory level of writing skills includes the overall ability to use correct grammar, construct complete sentences, spell correctly and demonstrate proficiency with basic technical aspects in writing.

    *Please note: Students are not being asked to reveal any information regarding past or present treatment related to any disability. Also note that students are not being asked to reveal any past traumatic experience (see www.uab.edu/titleix/). All faculty members are responsible reporters of incidents related to Title IX. Title IX states:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    Title IX was created in 1972 with a focus on equal funding for men’s and women’s athletics. Broadened in 2011 to include Interpersonal Violence (stalking, dating/domestic violence, etc.) and Sexual Misconduct (sexual assault, unwanted sexual contact, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment).

    *Please note: All procedures governing reasonable accommodations for students who have disabilities follow those prescribed by UAB's Disability Support Services Office for classroom participation and test taking. Any student who requests a reasonable accommodation needs to notify the program director so that arrangements can be made.

  • Self-awareness is a skill that enables the social worker to reflect upon his or her professional “use of self" in the process of helping others. It is a skill which develops over time. At this stage in students’ academic careers, social work faculty members expect that students should be able to demonstrate abilities to reflect on their strengths and limitations, to examine their own feelings, personal values and personal histories and to recognize when these feelings and values may interfere with their effectiveness in the helping process.

    *Please note: Students are not being asked to reveal any information regarding past or present treatment for psychological, emotional, or physical disorders. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits requests for such information. Instead, students are expected to consider their own personal and medical histories as it relates to their ability to meet generally accepted standards of professional conduct, adherence to professional values and ethics, and interpersonal skills necessary to form and maintain effective professional helping relationships.

    A minimally satisfactory level of self-awareness requires that the student expresses his or her thoughtful consideration of aspects involved in examining one's own personal values, feelings, and history to assess personal/professional value conflicts, potential to do harm to self and others, and personal congruence with the NASW Code of Ethics.

  • Social work faculty who teach foundation courses will complete a Faculty Observation form. The form consists of faculty’s observations of the students’ attendance patterns, punctuality, timely completion of assignments, and ability to grasp course material. Faculty will also identify any other performance-related concerns as part of the process. Students are expected to progressively, steadily, and continually develop and exhibit behaviors indicative of good work habits. The goal of these forms is provide the Department of Social Work with a record of a student’s ability to demonstrate professional behavior in the classroom.

Decision-Making for Applications to the Professional Social Work Program

  1. The Program Director reviews application forms and checklists. The Academic Advisor reviews forms to make sure that they are complete.
  2. Faculty members individually review the materials in each applicant’s essays. Two faculty members independently review the same essays. If two reviews are not congruent, the Program Director will provide the third review, and this disposition of this final review will be accepted.
  3. The Program Director compiles the results from the Faculty Observation Forms and reviews of essays (assessed in writing skills and self-awareness).
  4. The BSSW Program Committee members, including the Program Director, meet and discuss applications if there is an inconsistent review among faculty members. At this time, all application materials (e.g., Faculty Observation Forms, essays, etc.) will be reviewed by the BSSW Program Committee members, and they will make final decisions.
  5. The Program Director will notify the students regarding their acceptance status.

In accordance with the social work profession’s value for social justice and its value for inclusiveness and in concert with UAB’s Academic Equal Opportunity Policy, applicants to the professional program are considered regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability unrelated to program performance, disabled veteran status, or Vietnam-era status.

Additionally, applicants are not discriminated against due to sexual orientation, political orientation, or creed.

Admission Status

There are three options available for admission status:

  • “Fully accepted” status means that a student met all criteria successfully and fully. There is no cap on enrollment; therefore, no student is denied acceptance if he or she meets all criteria successfully. In order to be “fully accepted,” all of the following must be fulfilled:

    • Both overall GPA and social work GPA meet the criteria;
    • All foundation courses (SW 100, SW 200, SW 203, and SW 222) have been completed with a C or better;
    • A positive pattern of professional behavior as demonstrated by classroom comportment;
    • Reviews on written assessment are unanimous and positive.
  • Students who are currently enrolled in the required SW foundation courses (SW 100, SW 200, SW 203, and/or SW 222) automatically receive this status until course grades are posted. Applicants waiting for grades to be posted may be cleared to register for SW 300 level courses. However, applicants’ grades will be checked at the end of the semester, and if they did not pass any of these courses listed above with a C or better, they will be deferred and removed from SW 300 level courses.

    This status may also indicate the BSSW Program Committee's need for clarifying information to make an accurate determination. The student will be contacted and informed that an interview with the Chair and/or Program Director is required prior to final status determination. In this situation, the outcome of the interview is expected to result in either "fully accepted" or "deferred" status.

  • One or more of the specified criteria (as delineated and explicated above) have not been met sufficiently to get accepted to the program. To move beyond the deferred status, the student must re-apply and be found to satisfactorily meet the standards for "Fully Accepted." A student may apply for major only twice.

    An applicant notified of deferred status is strongly encouraged to meet with the Chair and/or Program Director and academic advisor to devise a plan that will address students’ preparedness. For instance, a student may need to take additional courses to prepare academically for satisfactory completion of the social work curriculum (e.g. English composition courses may be helpful to improve a student’s writing skills). In another case, a student may need to ameliorate life circumstances or resolve emotional/psychological issues that may interfere with learning and professional use-of-self. In that case, a student may elect to work on personal issues and then reapply for acceptance into the professional program. Another scenario is that a student may have insufficient life experience to assess accurately his or her own aptitude for practice and therefore may benefit from volunteering in a social work setting to make an informed choice about social work as a vocation. In some instances, the faculty-student collaboration may determine that the student can best realize a career goal by choosing a major that more closely aligns with his or her strengths. A deferred student should also meet with his/her academic advisor to plan and register for appropriate courses.

Notification Procedure

The students will receive an email indicating the status of their application at the end of October for the Fall semester and at the end of March for the Spring semester. The Academic Advisor will also be notified of the students’ application status.

The Student Handbook

A detailed description of the application process can be found in the Student Handbook (PDF).

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Major Information

If you are a current student and wish to change your major, be sure to speak with your current advisor(s). Find your advisor(s) listed on your student profile page when you log in to BlazerNET.

Then you can change your major on BlazerNET. Find more information here.

Attributer.io Fields

UAB’s Department of Social Work taught me how to deliver evidence-based social work practice with a diverse population, educated me on how to advocate for vulnerable groups, and instilled in me the social work ethics and values to apply to everyday practice.

– Savannah Henderson, ’19