Three students studying in a UAlbany Downtown Campus courtyard.

Bachelor of Science in
Social Welfare

Becoming a Social Welfare Major at UAlbany

The undergraduate social welfare program at the University at Albany is designed for outstanding students who want to pursue careers in which they can improve social conditions and enact social justice. 

Current UAlbany students must submit applications for admission to the social welfare major during February of your sophomore year. If you're admitted, you can start taking advanced social welfare courses in the fall of your junior year.

Admitted students are selected based on their application essay, grade point average, social welfare and/or human service experience, academic and/or professional references, performance in elementary base courses, and the number of general education courses completed at the time of application. Application deadline is March 15. Late applications will only be reviewed if seats are available. Many prospective students gain human service experience by taking a course in our Community and Public Service Program.

Can I transfer to UAlbany's social welfare program from another school?

Yes! If you plan to transfer to UAlbany from another school, first apply for admission to the University, then submit your application for admission to the undergraduate social work program. Do this in February of the year in which you seek fall admission. 

For more information, contact Jildyz Urbaeva at [email protected].

Program of Study


Social Welfare Elementary Base (15-16 credits)

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology or Social Problems
  • American Politics
  • Social Welfare in the U.S.
  • Human Biology (choose one): General Biological Sciences, Nutrition, General Biology: Molecular and Cell Biology, Human Population Biology, Human Population Genetics, Physical Growth and Development


Social Welfare Advanced Base (15 credits)

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Social Psychology 
  • Perspectives on Globalization or World Cities: Geographies of Globalization
  • Elementary Statistics (choose one): Elementary Statistics, Statistical Methods in Psychology, Statistics for Sociologists, Introduction to Statistics in Criminal Justice
  • Elective

Core Requirements (32 credits)

  • Social Work Practice I and II
  • Social Work Practice III and IV
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Introduction to Research Methods in Social Welfare
  • Field Instruction in Social Welfare I and II
  • Integrative Field Seminar
  • Organization and Community Theory
  • Introduction to Social Policy Analysis
Core Course Descriptions
Social Work Practice I and II

Learn about the roles of social work in helping processes of engagement and assessment with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities, and the effects of oppression and injustice when intervening with populations at risk.

Human Behavior and Social Environment

Discover the biological, psychological, social, and environmental influences on human behavior within individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Special attention is given to the elderly, women, people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Research Methods in Social Welfare

Gather and analyze information presented in professional journals, learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of your own practice, and think critically about how to use scientific evidence to ameliorate social problems and improve social work practice.

Social Work Practice III and IV

Learn social work and professional skills in intervention, evaluation and termination with diverse clients.

Field Instruction in Social Welfare I and II

Apply, integrate and extend the social work practice theory learned in the classroom at an internship in a social welfare agency. 

Integrative Field Seminar

Compare practice experiences, integrate classroom learning with practice, and increase critical thinking skills.

Organizational and Community Theory

Study the practice of social work among oppressed populations and within communities and organizations.

Introduction to Social Policy Analysis

Examine the strengths, limitations, and alternatives to governmental intervention in social welfare and study the differential impact of social welfare policies on at-risk and oppressed groups.

Social Welfare Electives

Work with your advisor to choose elective courses of interest that address gender, ethnic, racial, or religious issues which differ from those you may encounter based on your own background.

Gain Knowledge and Field Experience

Study the Practice of Social Work 

In your initial coursework for the social welfare major, you study the generalist intervention model of social work in a systems framework, and gain an understanding of the ways that oppression and injustice affect at-risk populations.

As you move through the program, you learn how to professionally engage with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities through the phases of engagement, intervention, evaluation, and termination with your client(s) and client systems.

By the end of your senior year, you will be fully prepared to practice social work in a variety of settings, including government agencies, nonprofit agencies, hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, mental health agencies and substance use agencies.

Three students walking in the UAlbany Science Library atrium.
Group of college students

Develop Skills through Internship 

During your final year in the program, you complete a structured internship, 16 hours a week with an agency that provides social work learning opportunities with clients and client systems. The two-semester field education practicum enables you to develop valuable, practical skills in a supportive and supervised setting. Sites used for the field practicum are varied. They include public and voluntary agencies, such as children and family services, health care, aging, mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, and schools.

By the end of your field placement, you’ll know how to apply what you’ve learned in ways that lead to positive outcomes with real clients and client systems.

Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Option

You can save time and money by beginning your graduate degree coursework while still enrolled as an undergraduate student. Up to 12 academic credits, billed at the undergraduate rate, will count towards both degrees – so you’ll complete your combined program in only 5 years and spend less than you would if you completed each program separately. 

Combine your Social Welfare degree with the MS in Information Science program. This ALA-accredited master's program covers a broad range of interdisciplinary topics related to library science, information processing, information management and data analysis.

UAlbany graduate at Commencement

Social Welfare Studies Minor

The Social Welfare Studies Minor compliments study in a variety of fields for which a broader perspective on human development, the structure and development of social systems, and the impact of both on individuals, families and communities are relevant. You will be required to complete at least one Community and Public Service course giving you agency based experience in an area of interest. Students in Community and Public Service courses complete volunteer work hours at a public or nonprofit organization in the community, and complete reflection and other written assignments related to the service experience.

Students majoring in Human Development, Sociology, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and Education may find the Social Welfare Studies minor relevant. If you're interested in careers in health care, journalism and communications, and politics you will also find the courses particularly helpful to your long-term career interests.

Required Courses (18 credits)

  • Community and Public Service Program     
  • American Social Welfare System     
  • Human Development Life Cycle OR Life Span Development*     
  • Organizational and Community Theory (prerequisite RSSW 210)    
  • Introductory Research Methods in Social Welfare OR Introduction to Social Research**     
  • Introduction to Social Policy Analysis (prerequisite RSSW 408)

*Students majoring in Human Development who complete Life Span Development in the major may substitute RSSW 390 for the human development course in the social welfare studies minor.

**Students majoring in Sociology who complete Introduction to Social Research in the major may substitute RSSW 390 for the Research Methods course in the social welfare studies minor.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

Bachelor of Science
  • Understand the history and structure of social work as a profession and social work roles.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to personal growth including the professional use of self.
  • Identify as a professional social worker, including understanding and applying the profession’s values and ethics, and committing to continuing their professional growth and development.
  • Understand the processes of critical thinking and apply critical thinking in beginning professional practice.
  • Use communication skills differentially and appropriately with a variety of client populations, colleagues, and members of the community in such activities as verbal interaction, interviewing, and report writing.
  • Examine and apply knowledge of human diversity that reflects an approach to practice that is both culturally sensitive and responsive.
  • Understand the theories and mechanisms of oppression, discrimination and power, and apply the strategies and skills of change that advance human rights and social and economic justice.
  • Understand and apply qualitative and quantitative research methods including defining the research problem, developing and testing hypotheses, sampling, ethics of research, reliability and validity, logic of causal inference, basic data analysis, clinical research, and program evaluation.
  • Understand the impact of information technology and how it relates to social work practice.
  • Understand and apply bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of normal growth and development, and use theoretical frameworks to understand the interactions among individuals and between individuals and social systems.
  • Understand and apply bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects of non-normative behavior, including psychopathology and the DSM, and the interactions among individuals and between individuals and social systems.
  • Understand and apply knowledge of clinical and non-clinical group dynamics.
  • Understand and apply knowledge of the behavior of larger social systems (groups, organizations, and communities).
  • Understand and carry out non-clinical social work roles (e.g., broker, advocate), including engaging in policy practice, at a beginning level.
  • Understand and apply knowledge of social welfare policy: History of social welfare, policy process and value choices, content of basic social welfare programs (e.g., TANF, SSI, Social Security); understand the organization of social welfare as an institution; carry out policy analysis at a beginning level.
  • Understand and apply theories of organizations and how they work and relate to the community; organizational context of practice; organizational change; social psychology of organizational behavior; and administrative and supervisory practice.
  • Develop skills in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services and human environments.
  • Understand beginning social work practice within a global perspective.
  • Understand and carry out evidence-based practice at a beginning level in all phases of the helping process (engagement, assessment, intervention, termination, and evaluation) with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.
  • Understand and apply at beginning level theories of social work (e.g. psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, systems, ecological, task-centered, problem-solving, feminist, strengths).

What Makes The University at Albany Great

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Living-Learning Communities

Live and take classes with other incoming freshmen who share your personal interests, passions or intended academic major.

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Study Abroad

Become a global citizen: international experience is crucial to success in business, education, research, and public policy.

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Undergraduate Research

Research, scholarship, and creative activities at the University at Albany is an option for all students, across all academic disciplines. You will be able to learn more about a specific academic field or career path all while building a long-lasting mentoring relationship with a faculty member or principal investigator.

Explore Minors

Build competency in a passion or strengthen your resume.

A minor consists of 18–24 graduation credits which must include a minimum of 9 graduation credits of advanced coursework at or above the 300 level. Most undergraduate degrees require completing a minor and it has to have a different title from your major.

Full List of Minors
  • Acting
  • Africana Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art
  • Art History
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Bioethics
  • Biology
  • Broadcast Meteorology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese Studies
  • Cognitive Science
  • Communication (Fully Online Option)
  • Computer Science
  • Creative Writing
  • Criminal Justice Studies (Fully Online Option)
  • Cybersecurity (Fully Online Option)
  • Documentary Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Economics
  • Educational Studies
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Electronics
  • Film Studies
  • Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (Fully Online Option)
  • English
  • Forensic Science
  • French
  • Game Design and Development
  • Geographic Information Science
  • Geography
  • Globalization Studies
  • Hebrew
  • History (Fully Online Option)
  • Informatics (Fully Online Option)
  • Instrumental Performance
  • International Studies
  • Italian
  • Japanese Studies
  • Journalism (Fully Online Option)
  • Judaic Studies
  • Korean Studies
  • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Law and Philosophy
  • Leadership
  • Legal Studies
  • LGBTQ Studies
  • Library and Information Science
  • Linguistics
  • Machine Learning
  • Mathematics
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Music
  • Musical Performance
  • Musical Theatre
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Portuguese
  • Pre-Education
  • Psychology (Fully Online Option)
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Religious Studies
  • Russian
  • Russian and Eastern European Studies
  • Social Welfare Studies
  • Sociology (Fully Online Option)
  • Spanish
  • Statistics
  • Sustainability
  • Theatre
  • Theatrical Design/Technology
  • Urban Studies and Planning
  • U.S. Latino Studies
  • Vocal Performance
  • Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies