Undergraduate Program Overview

Students showing off research to Director of the School
Students talking with the School Director

The University of Maine has offered undergraduate education in social work and social welfare since the early 1950’s. In 1972, UM began offering the Bachelor’s in Social Work degree, with the initial accreditation of the program in 1979.  The BSW Program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1979. The BSW has grown to an average enrollment of over 135 undergraduate students. The BSW program features:

  • Small, individualized classes
  • A nationally recognized faculty with expertise in social work with children and families, mental health, healthcare, aging, poverty, international social work, school social work, and persons with disabilities.
  • Excellent opportunities for student involvement in School service activities and governance through the Social Work Student Organization.
  • Recognition of academic excellence through the Eta Zeta Chapter of Phi Alpha, the Social Work Honor Society.
  • A diverse student group representing many ages, interests, and backgrounds.
  • Courses offered on the Orono Campus and at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

Important Information about the BSW Program found in the links below:

Apply to the Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW)

BSW Program Guide 2024

NASW Code of Ethics -revised

Accreditation. The BSW program of the School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Each BSW graduate is qualified to take the examination for certification as a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Maine and in other states that license baccalaureate social workers.

Curriculum. The UM School of Social Work educates social workers from a generalist perspective of social work practice. The undergraduate curriculum in Social Work builds upon a solid liberal arts foundation with courses in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policies and issues, social work research, social work practice, and field instruction. BSW Program Guide.

Field Practicum. During the junior and senior years, students complete field experiences and internships in agencies such as child protective services, medical social work, geriatric social work, community mental health, teen parent programs, and community services. The field practica are an integral part of the BSW education program and provide each student with the opportunity to apply classroom learning to “hands on” social work practice.

BSW Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average class size at the School of Social Work? 

-The average class size typically depends on the course, but on average classes in the School of Social Work are smaller than other programs at UMaine. Typically there are no more than 30 students per class, and the seminar that accompanies the senior year field placement typically has fewer than 15 students.

What degrees are offered at the undergraduate level at the School of Social Work?

-The undergraduate degree offered is a Bachelor of Social Work degree (BSW)

Are social work professors and instructors easy to talk to?

-Yes! The faculty in the School of Social Work want their students to succeed and are approachable and open to hearing students’ questions and concerns.

How can I connect with other students in the social work major?

-There is a student organization through the School of Social Work, the Student Social Work Organization. The SSWO works on community service projects and is made up of students who are in a variety of majors across UMaine.

What is the capstone experience for the BSW degree?

-During the senior year of the BSW program students are placed in a year long field experience where they can put their social work skills to practice. There are a variety of agencies that offer student field experiences in the greater Bangor area and throughout the state of Maine!

-What continued education options are available? 

-Anyone who completes a BSW degree, within the past seven years, is eligible to apply for the Advanced Standing track for the Master’s of Social Work program at UMaine or other MSW programs that offer an advanced standing option. At UM, this is a 46-credit program. Advanced standing students can complete their MSW in as little as one year full time or two years part time.

What are the core courses of the BSW program?

-The full course catalog and descriptions can be accessed here: https://umaine.edu/socialwork/undergraduate-programs/undergraduate-course-descriptions/ 

What can I do with a BSW degree?

-The BSW degree is incredibly versatile. Here is a list of just some of the experiences that our students have gone on to:

-Case Management

-Law school

-Behavioral Health Professional

-Psychiatric Technician

-Licensed Social Worker

-Adoption Advocate

-School Social Work

-Getting a Masters Degree in Social Work

-Getting a Doctorate Degree in Social Work

-Domestic Violence Prevention Educator

-Medical Social Work

-Among many others!

FIELD Frequently Asked Questions

What is a field education? Why is field education so important in social work? 

Field Education is considered the signature pedagogy of social work. The Council on Social Work Education says, “Signature pedagogies are elements of instruction and of socialization that teach future practitioners the fundamental dimensions of professional work in the discipline – to think, to perform, and to act ethically and with integrity (2015).” Field education at the University of Maine School of Social Work provides students with an opportunity to assimilate, integrate, apply, and connect conceptual knowledge, theories and constructs that they have learned in the classroom to generalist and advanced generalist social work practice in the field. The goal of field education is to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate the Core Competencies and behaviors in a social work agency under the supervision of an experienced social worker.

What can I expect during a field practicum?

Field practicum experiences vary widely as there are many different types of social work and social work agencies. All field practicum are arranged in agencies that support the values and mission of social work practice and meet accepted practice standards for the type of setting. Each field placement provides students a range of activities appropriate to the student’s level of social work practice. Students are assigned a Field Instructor by the agency. A Field Instructor is a professional social worker who meets the criteria outlined by the School of Social Work, and provides the student direct instruction, social work supervision, and evaluation and feedback on the student’s progress. Students also attend a required field seminar class concurrently during their field practicum. A Field Seminar is an academic, credit bearing class and included in the student’s plan of study.

How many field practicum do I complete? How many hours are required? 

All 2-Year Campus, 4-year Campus, and 3-Year Online-Blended MSW students complete two field practicia, for a total minimum of 900 hours.  The Generalist Field Practicum is a minimum of 400 hours completed over two semesters (approximately 14-16 hours per week). The Specialization Field Practicum is a minimum of 500 hours, completed over two semesters (approximately 18-20 hours per week ) or as intensive, full-time experience in one additional summer semester at the end of their program of study (approximately 38-40 hours per week).

Students with a BSW degree matriculated as Advanced Standing Students to any MSW program must demonstrate the successful completion of a minimum of 400 hours of field education in their BSW program. Advanced standing students then complete the Specialization Field Practicum for a minimum of 500 hours over two semesters (approximately 18-20 hours per week ) or as intensive, full-time experience in one additional summer semester at the end of their program of study (approximately 38-40 hours per week).

BSW students complete the BSW Generalist Field Practicum in their senior year. The BSW Generalist Field practicum is a minimum of 400 hours over two semesters (approximately 14-16 hours per week).

How do I obtain a field practicum? What choices do I have? 

All students must complete an application to enter the field practicum sequence. Next, students meet individually with a Field Coordinator from the School of Social Work field team to assess their readiness to enter a field practicum and to determine their individual learning needs.  A field agency will be identified and determined by the Field Coordinator in collaboration with the student. The Field Coordinator reaches out to the agency.  Students should plan to complete a successful interview with an agency and any screening process required by the agency before the practicum is confirmed.  Every effort is made to place students in agencies convenient to their home communities, although this is not always possible. The Field Team makes all final placement decisions and assignments.

If I work full time, am I able to complete a field practicum during the evening or on the weekend? 

Most field practicum are available during traditional Monday – Friday business hours. While there may be some opportunities to complete work during the evenings or on the weekends during the field practicum, the School of Social Work is not able to guarantee that a practicum can be secured during non-business hours.

What about COVID -19? Are there fully remote field practicums available? 

In-person field practicum experiences are the standard in social work education. The School of of Social Work has worked with all agencies and students to ensure any in-person field experience follows all University of Maine, State of Maine CDC and Agency Guidance to maximize safety. During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been some opportunities to complete field practicum entirely remotely or through use of technology to accommodate the health and safety needs of the students, clients, and agency staff. It is not expected that this will continue to be the practice post COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact the field department for the most current COVID-19 information.

May I waive a practicum or receive credit for my work or life experience? 

The Council on Social Work Education does not allow schools of social work to waive a field practicum or give credit for current or previous employment or life experiences.

Am I able to complete my practicum at an agency where I work? 

Under special circumstances, a student may engage in a field practicum at the same agency as the work site, providing that the field instructor is different from the work supervisor and that the field placement activities are distinct from tasks performed as a part of the student’s employment. Furthermore, students must demonstrate the employment-based setting provides opportunities for the student to engage as a learner and fulfill field education requirements.

May I complete my field practicum early by working more hours or take my field practicum at different times then listed in the program of study for my program?

Students may always complete more hours than the minimum required, however they must be in the field practicum during the entirety of the academic semester or semesters. Field practicum are not able to be taken out of sequence of the student’s program of study.

Will I be paid for my field practicum? 

In recognition of the financial difficulties that students may encounter, the School of Social Work will consider stipend placements when possible and available. Stipend field practicum are funded by agencies or specific grant opportunities and can vary widely from year to year. Field Practicum must be structured so that the student is receiving a stipend, but is not being paid for service delivery.  The payment of a stipend must in no way place employment expectations or requirements that result from the remuneration on the student.

Who should I contact if I have more questions? 

Please contact the University of Maine Field Director, Leah Maxwell, at 207-581-2389 or leah.maxwell@maine.edu. You may also visit our field website at https://umaine.edu/socialwork/field/

Career Opportunities

Employment. Many opportunities for social workers are available in Maine and throughout the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the next ten years the number of social work jobs is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations. BSW graduates are employed in public settings such as the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and in private, non-profit organizations – youth-serving agencies, nursing homes, day care centers, hospitals, adoption agencies, community centers, and mental health programs.

Graduates work with people of all ages and with a wide variety of problems and issues: children, elders, families, persons with mental illness, children living in foster care, families receiving hospice care.

Graduate Study.  BSW graduates qualify for “advanced standing” in the Master of Social Work program of the University of Maine and at many graduate programs of Social Work nationwide. In most programs, admission to “advanced standing” means that the student may complete the MSW program in less than the traditional two years. The BSW degree is also good preparation for graduate study in psychology, human development, family studies, counselor education, criminal justice, law, and public administration.

This program will prepare students to be eligible for licensure within the State of Maine. Visit the UMS State Authorization & Licensure page to learn more about the licensure requirements in other states and territories, in addition to the contact information needed to inquire further into the licensure requirements associated with this program. Questions should be directed to Ann Hartman at ann.hartman@maine.edu.