School of Social Work

Educating for Change

Mission Statement

The Boston University School of Social Work (BUSSW) is committed to education that furthers social and economic justice in the urban environment. The School strives to incorporate this commitment into its programs and activities, particularly concerning the empowerment of all oppressed groups. BUSSW recognizes the ever-changing demands on the profession and strives to meet them through the highest quality of teaching, scholarship, research, practice, and political action.

About Us

BUSSW’s aim is to educate professional social workers who will become leaders in a complex, diverse, and multicultural society, and possess the knowledge and skills necessary to address the needs and potentials of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The School offers an integrated program of study, including clinical and macro social work methods. It emphasizes the engagement of personal and community strengths as fundamental to the understanding, treatment, and prevention of individual and social problems.

Our School specializes in educating and training master’s and doctoral students for social work in urban environments. Our faculty are in the forefront of practice, research, and training with diverse populations in such areas as:

  • Aging
  • Disability
  • Substance abuse
  • Children and adolescents
  • Mental health
  • Public health social work
  • Trauma
  • Refugees and immigrants
  • Suicide prevention
  • Military social work
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Hoarding

Students take advanced coursework to develop and deepen their competence according to their special interests and talents, and specialize in a single method of social work:

  • Clinical Social Work Practice (with individuals, families, and groups)
  • Macro Social Work Practice (community organizing, human service management, and social planning)

Facility and Programs

The Boston University School of Social Work is located on BU’s Charles River Campus in Boston, with off-campus, part-time weekend program sites in northeastern Massachusetts (Chelmsford) and southeastern Massachusetts (Fall River and Barnstable/Cape Cod), and a part-time online program available to individuals throughout the United States.

Our MSW students have an opportunity to develop excellent practice skills at all system levels in a range of social justice settings in Boston and throughout the United States. After taking basic foundation courses, students choose electives of interest to acquire special knowledge and skills related to working with vulnerable populations. These include children and adults who have experienced serious trauma, those in the child welfare system, adolescents transitioning to adulthood, family caregivers, older adults and their families, immigrants and refugees, and many others.

Students learn skills for practice with those experiencing substance abuse and serious physical and mental health problems. Specialized practice skills include family systems, cognitive-behavioral, and psychodynamic methods, as well as macro practice skills relevant to communities and organizations, including human service management. Recent employment surveys tell us that our graduates are primarily employed in the fields of health, child welfare, and family services, and a number of our clinical MSW graduates maintain private practices.

Our Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Sociology and Social Work is designed primarily for master’s-level social work professionals who wish to prepare themselves for careers in research, academia, public policy, and related leadership positions. The program includes three semesters of coursework to gain skills in quantitative and qualitative research, social science theory, and specialized knowledge in areas selected by the student. Following coursework, students take qualifying exams and other preparatory steps leading to their dissertation. Graduates of the doctoral program have obtained positions in universities, research centers, and nonprofit and governmental agencies both in the United States and abroad.

Urban Practice Is Our Priority

Many faculty and administrators are actively involved in urban social work practice, consultation, research, and scholarship. The School provides fertile ground both for those with a long-standing interest in the urban environment and for those new to the field who wish to explore the dynamic realm of urban social work practice.

Diversity in Student Population

BUSSW ’s composition reflects the changing face of the urban environment and attracts students with diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds; students with disabilities; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students; and students of various ages and life experience.

A particular emphasis is placed on the recruitment of ALANA students (African Americans/Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans). Scholarships earmarked for ALANA students have provided important support for this effort.

There is also a special scholarship for students with disabilities—the Wendy Carol Byers Memorial Scholarship. To assist with its recruitment programs for students with disabilities, all of the School’s sites are wheelchair accessible. The staff also works closely with the Boston University Disability Services Office to provide appropriate support for students.


Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), one of six nationally recognized accrediting agencies. In addition, the MSW degree program at the Boston University School of Social Work is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).