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The social work program prepares students to become social workers who are committed to strengthening community life for diverse individuals, families and organizations while promoting social justice through advocacy and action. The social work program equips graduates with the knowledge, values and skills needed for the development of professional ethics and competence. The program prepares graduates to work effectively in a broad spectrum of social service settings that address poverty, multiple forms of oppression, social injustice and other human rights violations. The program also prepares students for graduate study in social work.

In addition to lecture and class discussion, the social work program utilizes a variety of teaching strategies, including case-based and experiential approaches to enhance learning. Students are exposed to issues and organizations at local, state, and national levels through policy forums, conferences, interviews and service-learning. All majors use the interviewing labs for case simulations and interviewing to develop their practice skills. The department offers minors in family studies, gerontology and nonprofit Studies.

Degrees Offered





Family Studies


Nonprofit Studies

Declaring the Major

New Freshmen and Transfer Students
Students should declare the Social Work major when they register for orientation.

Currently Enrolled Major Changers 
Students should complete the major change process in MyMadison, and then make an appointment with the Department Head, in HBS 2086. to complete the process.  You must meet, discuss the expectations of this professional degree and complete paperwork before the change of major is complete.

Admission to the Major

Students who have declared the social work major and completed SOWK 287 and SOWK 288 are eligible to be fully admitted to the BSW program. To be admitted, students must submit an application, personal statement and three references. Students are evaluated on their demonstration of community service and life experiences, academic performance, communication skills, work related skills, ability to work with others, motivation, professional value orientation and career plans. Applications and other advising documents can be found on the Department of Social Work website.

Unconditional Admission
Unconditional admission to Social Work is given to students with a cumulative GPA of 2.0, no single grade lower than a "C" (2.0) in SOWK 287 and SOWK 288 and completion of the 20 hours of community service-learning required in SOWK 287. In their application narrative, students must demonstrate the above criteria through their references and service-learning.

Conditional Admission
Students who do not meet the above requirements or whose application does not demonstrate the criteria discussed may be admitted conditionally with a contract specifying activities and objectives that must be met prior to their full admission into the program.

Progressing in the Major

Once students have been fully admitted to the major, they must also meet requirements for continuation in the major. These requirements are outlined in the Social Work Handbook available at:

The major is a part of the Department of Social Work, an academic unit within the College of Health and Behavioral Studies.

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Career Planning

A successful career and a meaningful life is what it’s all about. Whether it’s an internship, a great first job or a top graduate school appointment, JMU Dukes make their dreams ignite. You will, too.

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