About Us

What makes Kent School special?


Mission Statement: The Kent School of Social Work addresses complex social problems through education, research and service to create a just and better world.

Founded in 1936, 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

National/State Rankings

  • There are over 262 accredited graduate programs in the US, and the Kent School is ranked 44th by US News and World Report.
  • Rated the No.1 social work program in Kentucky by US News and World Report.
  • Ranked in the top 17% of social work programs in the nation by US News and World Report.
  • Rated 3rd in the country for its MSSW online program by Social Work Degree Guide.


  • The only endowed chair nationally in Oncology Social Work – The Renato LaRocca Chair in Oncology Social Work, currently held by Dr. Karen Kayser.
  • One of only two accredited Couples 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 - $20 million in total research funding portfolio, with most funding from federal sources.

Community Service

  • Kent School Faculty serve on 50 to 75 community boards and committees each year.
  • Annually, approximately 300 MSSW students and 60 BSW students provide over 135,000 hours of service, including service to 6,000 Kentucky residents. This contributed service is valued at more than $4 million.

Prominent Alumni

  • 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 co-founder 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.
  • Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale, has more than thirty years of experience leading learning-based interventions in over forty-eight countries, across six continents. She designs global diversity and inclusion strategic initiatives, leads workshops, seminars, and leadership develop programs. Additionally, she provides executive coaching, team development, and cultural change management programs for multinational, Fortune 500, mid-sized organizations, government agencies and educational institutions. 

Student Highlights

All 2018 Spring BSW student graduates received Latin Honors (3.5 GPA and above), with five students receiving Summa Cum Laude Honors, Doctoral students have been funded by the American Cancer Society and the Doris Duke Fellowship and have been recognized for their leadership and dissertation research at commencement with the Houchens Prize, Stevenson Award and Binford Memorial Award from the Graduate School.