In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Baccalaureate Social Workers

  • Introduction
  • Social Work Education
  • Earlier Works
  • Child Welfare
  • Gerontology
  • Health
  • Juvenile and Criminal Justice
  • Mental Health
  • Poverty
  • Substance Abuse
  • Diversity
  • Domestic Violence
  • Foster Care and Adoption
  • Human Trafficking
  • International Social Work

Social Work Baccalaureate Social Workers
Larry Williams, Scott Elliott
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 April 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 June 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0071


Baccalaureate social workers serve on the frontlines of social work, providing culturally competent levels of care that ensure dignity and respect, as they evaluate and advocate for quality services for their clients. Today, baccalaureate social work (BSW) students are prepared to address the needs of individuals, families, communities, and organizations. BSW education continues to prepare students for traditionally held roles in child welfare, domestic violence, foster care and adoption, poverty, mental health, and substance abuse. A variety of new issues confront social work education in the 21st century. BSW education embraces this and addresses the need for increased involvement and advocacy in arenas such as juvenile justice/criminal justice, human trafficking, international social work, gerontology, and health. BSW education prepares students to face challenges and paradigm shifts in today’s ever-evolving society. Students are challenged to face their own biases and overcome them. On entering the workforce, BSW students must be adept to meeting the needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and a growing Latino population. A global view regarding practice is reinforced in BSW education, as evidenced by study abroad programs and addressing global issues that impact modern society. Thus, now more than ever, BSW-level students are prepared to meet the challenges that face them.

Social Work Education

Because education is the foundation upon which the social work profession is built, many researchers have dedicated their time to examining and exploring social work education models. Cohen 2011 provides information for educators by discussing the debate between design-based practice (DBP) and evidence-based practice (EBP). The relationship between teacher’s self-efficacy and their referral of culturally and linguistically diverse students is examined in Chu 2011. An important part of social work curriculum involves ethical decision making. Dolgoff, et al. 2012 addresses this by discussing specific ethical decisions within social work practice and education. Icard, et al. 1996 explores the importance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in preserving the black self-help traditions and promoting social justice. Coyle, et al. 2011 reviews admission standards in baccalaureate social work (BSW) programs designed to ensure academic success, characteristics consistent with student success in field education, and diversity in admission. See also Gibbs and Blakely 2000 and Grayson 2011.

  • Chu, Szu-Yin. 2011. Teacher perceptions of their efficacy for special education referral of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Education 132.1: 3–14.

    This review examines the relationship between perceptions of teacher efficacy and special education referrals. Teachers with low self-efficacy scores were more likely to refer culturally and linguistically diverse students to special education programs. A valuable resource for social work educators.

  • Cohen, Burton J. 2011. Design-based practice: A new perspective for social work. Social Work 56.4: 337–346.

    DOI: 10.1093/sw/56.4.337

    Major contribution in the debate on the merits of EBP versus DBP in social work. EBP is based on the assumption that all knowledge is verifiable. However, proponents of DBP argue that knowledge is derived from experience, which includes building rapport, empathy, and communication skills, and that this is a more relevant approach to professional social work practice.

  • Coyle, James P., Irene M. Carter, and Leslie R. Donald. 2011. BSW programs admission practices: Is there an empirical support for what we do? Journal of Teaching in Social Work 31.5: 538–551.

    DOI: 10.1080/08841233.2011.615277

    This important article presents an overview of the BSW admission criteria used in many universities to ensure academic competence, identify personal learning characteristics, and create success in field education. Includes guidelines to promote diversity in admissions to BSW programs. Useful for BSW educators and administrators.

  • Dolgoff, Ralph, Donna Harrington, and Frank M. Loewenberg. 2012. Ethical decisions for social work practice. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

    Textbook for social work education that gives a broad yet in-depth look at the ethical considerations in social work practice. Presents guidelines for making ethical decisions while using current and relevant issues to demonstrate ethical decision-making skills.

  • Gibbs, Patty, and Eleanor Blakely. 2000. Gatekeeping in BSW programs. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

    This book addresses the issue of gatekeeping by including contributions from various social work professionals. It examines a broad range of issues associated with the responsibility of educators to restrict and limit access to the social work profession.

  • Grayson, John. 2011. Organising, educating, and training: Varieties of activist learning in left social movements in Sheffield (UK). Studies in the Education of Adults 43.2: 197–215.

    This article emphasizes activist research in working within an antideportation social movement, based on sixteen interviews with both experienced and less experienced activists in 2009 and 2011. The article presents some valuable information on the connection between organizing and educating, and on the importance of revising theories in politics and history.

  • Icard, Larry, Margaret Spearmon, and Anita Curry-Jackson. 1996. BSW programs in black colleges: Building on the strength of tradition. Journal of Social Work Education 32.2: 1–14.

    Timely article on the importance of BSW social work programs in HBCU. Black colleges serve as a cornerstone for preserving the black self-help traditions, promoting social justice, developing black leaders, and providing educational opportunities for African Americans.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.