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Kent School Information


The Kent School of Social Work seeks to prepare well-qualified social workers who practice from a strong professional value base to serve the metropolitan mission of the University. Our graduates promote social justice through their practices with diverse client systems.

In the context of a research institution, Kent School is committed to knowledge development that informs social work practice, recognizing the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to solve complex social problems.


Founded in: 1936

Enrollment: 550 - 600

National/State rankings:

  • There are over 225 accredited graduate programs in the US, and the Kent School is ranked 37th by US News and World Report.
  • Rated the top social work program in Kentucky by US News and world Report.
  • Rated 28th among all public university programs by US News and World Report.
  • Rated 8th among all social work programs in the US by Graduate Programs LLC, a website ranking based solely on student survey response.


  • Both the BSW and MSSW degrees are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • The MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy) program is accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education
  • Accreditation

Noteworthy programs based on national recognition, uniqueness or other criteria:

  • The only endowed chair nationally in Oncology Social Work – The Renato LaRocca Chair in Oncology Social Work, currently held by Dr. Karen Kayser
  • The only accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Program in the country that is integrated into an accredited social work education program.
  • Dual degree programs in Ministry, Law, Pan-African Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Bioethics.
  • One of the fastest growing social work programs in the country in regards to federal funding for external research - $15 million in total research funding portfolio, with more than half from federal sources.
  • A highly ranked fully online MSSW program.

Community Service:

  • Kent School Faculty serve on 50 to 75 community boards and committees each year.
  • Annually, more than 300 students provide over 135,000 hours of service to about 6,000 Kentucky residents, valued at more than $2.5 million.

Student Honors:

  • Students have won a number of statewide and National awards, particularly those in the field of gerontology.  At University Commencements, Kent School students have been honored with a disproportionately high number of graduation honors, often more than any other academic unit.  Several doctoral students have been awarded grants by the American Cancer Society to complete their doctoral research in cancer.  Most recently, one doctoral student was awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Doris Duke Foundation and another honored for her leadership by the Council on Social Work Education as the top doctoral student in the country.

Prominent alumni:

  • Dr. Diana Garland, Professor and Dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor University has been honored by many national organizations for her work related to social work, ministry, and families.
  • Dr. Betty Kramer, Professor of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison has been honored numerous times nationally for her work in the field of aging, particularly in regards to end-of-life research
  • John Rabun, Jr. is cofounder and current Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Missing and Exploited Center.
  • Helen Cloud Austin has been honored twice by the National Association of Social Workers; first as the National Social Worker of the Year and later as a Social Work Pioneer. She was inducted into the San Antonio Hall of Fame for her contributions to women in the state of Texas.
  • Prominent Alumni (.pdf)


  • Dean Terry Singer currently has been a dean longer than any other dean of social work in the country – presently in year 30; 17 of which have been at UofL. (as of 2013-2014)

What makes our school special:

The Kent School of Social Work prepares students to work in a society with complex social problems and needs. Rapidly becoming one of the top research social work programs in the country, the School is able to provide current research information in the preparation of its students for work with individuals, families, and communities.


The Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work has its roots in Louisville, Kentucky beginning with social welfare activity in the early 1900s. In December 1918, the Welfare League of Louisville began offering courses in social services, in conjunction with the Louisville Free Public Library, the Louisville Conference of social Workers and other interested groups. Students who successfully completed four semesters of social work courses and fieldwork each received a Certificate of Social Services through the auspices of the University of Louisville's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. From 1923 to 1926, the Louisville School of Social Work offered coursework and field work at the baccalaureate level, and these courses were incorporated within the University's Sociology Department of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1930, Professor Margaret K. Strong joined the Sociology faculty, chaired that faculty from 1931 to 1936, and in 1936 became the first Chair of the newly established Graduate Division of Administration. From 1930 until 1936, Dr. Strong, University of Louisville President Raymond A. Kent, and many members of the professional social workers in the community worked to secure accreditation that came in May 1937 from the American Association of Schools of Social Work.

Since the fall of 1936, the University of Louisville continuously has offered graduate level courses in social work education. Following President Kent's death in 1943, the school was renamed the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work in 1944 to honor his efforts in the development of the School. From 1936 until 1983, the Kent school was an autonomous school within the University, reporting directly to the University Provost. In 1983, the School became a component of the newly formed College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA). With a reorganization in 1991-1992, the Kent School was configured into the College of Health and Social Services. A Marriage and Family Therapy certification program was added in 1994, and in 1997, the Kent School of Social Work once again became an autonomous school reporting to the Provost. Also in 1997, the School began its doctoral program that is a collaborative effort with the University of Kentucky.

For more than 60 years, the Kent School of Social Work has undergone many transformations, but during that time, it has always maintained a close working relationship with the practice community and the region's human service needs. Excellent ties with the Cabinet for Families and Children, Juvenile Justice, Family Courts, Seven Counties Mental Health System, and many other community and state agencies continue to provide the Kent School of Social Work with many avenues of reciprocity. In these relationships, field placements provide rich opportunities for student learning; contracts enable faculty to engage active scholarship while providing service to the region and state; and graduates go on to these agencies after finishing their education to become the workers and future field supervisors for the next students.

Overview of Kent School Degree Programs and Admissions Requirements

Comprehensive Overview  (PDF) Please note: The recommended browsers for optimum viewing of this file are updated versions of Google Chrome or Internet Explorer.”

Kent School Program Contacts

BSW Program502.852.8039
MSSW Program502.852.6402
MSSW Online Program502.627.0856
PhD Program502.852.3931
MSSW Practicum502.852.3934
BSW Practicum502.852.6137

FAX (Oppenheimer)

FAX (Patterson)

FAX (Shelby)

FAX (Brigman)





Oppenheimer Hall Address:

2217 South Third St.

Louisville, KY 40292

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