Headquartered at IUPUI
Locations on 8 IU Campuses

Indiana University Bachelor of Social Work

The Indiana University School of Social Work is dedicated to educating students to be effective and knowledgeable professional social workers prepared for practice in the twenty-first century.  Social Work practitioners are committed to the alleviation of poverty, oppression, and discrimination.  The school is dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life for all people, particularly the citizens of Indiana, and to the advancement of just social, political, and economic conditions through excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.  Within the context of a diverse, multicultural, urbanized, global and technologically oriented society, the school prepares social workers who will shape solutions to a wide range of interpersonal and social problems by developing and using knowledge critically as they uphold the traditions, values, and ethics of the social work profession.

Statement of Values

The BSW Program is committed to

  • High standards for educational delivery and achievement
  • The core values of the profession
    • service
    • social justice
    • dignity and worth of the person
    • importance of human relationships
    • integrity
    • competence
  • Diversity among students, faculty, and staff
  • Development, dissemination, and assessment of effective practices

Educational Goals

Indiana University School of Social Work Baccalaureate Program has set forth five educational goals as follows:

  1. Prepare graduates for generalist social work practice within a global context.
  2. Prepare graduates with a broad liberal arts foundation that emphasizes the development of critical thinking.
  3. Prepare graduates to serve vulnerable people and to promote social and economic justice.
  4. Prepare graduates with a foundation for lifelong learning, including graduate education.
  5. Prepare graduates to integrate technological advancements in their practice.

Following a minimum of two years post-graduate supervised social work practice experience, BSW graduates of Indiana University are eligible to apply for legal licensure by the State of Indiana.  Upon receipt of a complete application and a passing score on a standardized examination, the Indiana State Health Professions Bureau designates the BSW graduate a Licensed Social Worker (LSW).  You can visit the Bureau at www.in.gov/pla/.

The IUSSW BSW curriculum combines liberal arts with professional social work foundation content to prepare graduates for direct service.  Students complete two supervised field practicums, working more than 560 clock hours in human service organizations.

Educational Objectives

Upon completion of the Baccalaureate Social Work Program, graduates will be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge of the person-in environment perspective and strengths perspective of human development and social systems (e.g., families, groups, organizations, communities, societies, and global systems) and the factors (e.g., biological, psychological, sociological, spiritual, economic, political, cultural) that direct, enhance, or impede human development and social functioning.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of human diversity and the experiences and needs of vulnerable groups. These groups include, but are not limited to, groups distinguished by race, class, ethnicity, culture, family structure, gender, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, religion, spirituality, physical and mental ability, and national origin.
  3. Apply strategies of advocacy and social change and related skills to enhance the well being of vulnerable groups. These groups may include people of color, women, gay men and lesbian women, as well as persons distinguished by class, ethnicity, culture, family structure, marital status, sex, gender, age, religion, spirituality, physical or mental ability, and national origin.
  4. Analyze social welfare as a social institution including its history and relationship to social work.
  5. Analyze the basic dynamics in the development and operation of social welfare policy, service delivery systems, and organizations and the skills needed to impact policy processes in practice.
  6. Analyze the impact of social policies on client systems, workers, and agencies.
  7. Analyze social work as an evolving profession-its functions, its knowledge and value base, the dynamics of its helping process, and its intervention models.
  8. Demonstrate commitment to promote economic and social justice to the democratic and humanistic principles and concerns of social welfare and social work.
  9. Demonstrate commitment to social work values, principles, and to the professional code of ethics.
  10. Apply the knowledge, skills, and values of generalist social work practice in working with individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities within a diverse and global society.
  11. Apply the social work helping process including collection and analysis of pertinent data, setting appropriate service objectives, developing and implementing a plan for meeting such objectives, and evaluating service outcomes.
  12. Function effectively within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems and, where appropriate, seek support necessary for organizational change.
  13. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in both written and oral forms with diverse client populations, colleagues, and members of the community.
  14. Demonstrate commitment to the spirit of inquiry including the ability to evaluate research studies, apply research findings, and evaluate ones own practice and that of other relevant systems.
  15. Demonstrate the ability for disciplined and ethical use of self in professional relations.
  16. Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice.
  17. Use supervision appropriate to generalist practice.
  18. Use information technology to enhance effective generalist social work practice.
  19. Demonstrate commitment to one's own continuing education and life long learning for professional development.

The above mentioned educational objectives emphasize the BSW program commitment to a number of themes including:


Values and ethics

  • Human Diversity
  • Competent social work practice
  • Social and economic justice
  • Person-in-environment
  • Strengths perspective
  • Critical thinking

Definition of Generalist Practice

The social work literature provides many definitions of generalist practice. One of the definitions that has been helpful to the conceptualization of the curriculum is the one developed by Louise C. Johnson in early 1980s and later revised as follows:

A generalist practice is that in which the client and worker together assess the need in all of its complexity and develop a plan for responding to that need.  A strategy is chosen from a repertoire of responses appropriate for work with individuals, families, groups, agencies, and communities.  The unit of attention is chosen by considering the system needing to be changed.  The plan is carried out and evaluated. (Johnson & Yance, 2001)

The definition provided by Suppes and Wells (2009) highlights the breadth of generalist practice:

A professional social worker who engages in a planned change process- discovering, utilizing, and making connections to arrive at unique, responsive solutions involving individual persons, families, groups, organizational systems, and communities. Generalist social workers view clients and client systems from a strengths perspective to build upon the innate capabilities existing in all human beings. They respect and value human diversity. Generalists seek to prevent as well as to resolve problems. Generalist social work practice is guided by the NASW Code of Ethics. It is committed to improving the well being of individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations and furthering the goals of social justice (p. 7).

The National Association of Social Workers states:

Generalist social work practitioners work with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations in a variety of social work and host settings. Generalist practitioners view clients and client systems from a strengths perspective in order to recognize, support, and build upon the innate capabilities of all human beings. They use a professional problem solving process to engage, assess, broker services, advocate, counsel, educate, and organize with and on behalf of client and client systems.  In addition, generalist practitioners engage in community and organizational development.  Finally, generalist practitioners evaluate service outcomes in order to continually improve the provision and quality of services most appropriate to client needs.

Generalist social work practice is guided by the NASW Code of Ethics and is committed to improving the well being of individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations and furthering the goals of social justice.

Approved by the Board of Directors, 2006. Retrieved from www.bpdonline.org/ on May 21, 2009.

BSW Fields of Practice

BSW graduates are prepared to work effectively with individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations in a variety of settings.  Graduates are employed in both public and private agencies. They provide both direct and indirect services to individuals, families and groups, and are often involved in organizational planning and management.  Some of the settings in which they may be employed include:

  • advocacy programs
  • aging services
  • businesses and industry   
  • child and adult day care centers
  • children and youth services
  • churches
  • community action agencies
  • community crisis centers
  • correctional facilities
  • criminal justice agencies
  • disability service agencies
  • domestic violence programs
  • employee assistance programs
  • head start programs
  • home care agencies
  • homeless shelters
  • hospices
  • hospitals/clinics
  • income maintenance programs
  • legal services agencies
  • mental health services
  • neighborhood coalition programs
  • nursing homes
  • public health agencies
  • residential treatment programs
  • schools
  • substance abuse programs
  • training/vocational centers
  • vocational rehabilitation agencies
  • voluntary associations