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Online Bachelor of Social Work

The online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is designed for students looking to gain a foundational understanding of social justice issues and enter the social work practice.

Offered by the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science at the University of Louisville, this program focuses on the skills and knowledge related to the impact of social work on families, institutions and communities. By emphasizing social justice dynamics, as well as critical analysis, planning and implementation skills, this program educates and empowers you to effectively advocate on behalf of marginalized individuals, become an agent of change and help others live safer, healthier lives.

New Opportunity: CW-PREP Program

Are you passionate about the welfare of children and families? The Child Welfare - Prepare, Retain, Engage, and Partner (CW-PREP) Program is now accepting applications. Created in partnership with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the CW-PREP will award students with 2 years’ worth of tuition and a stipend in exchange for 2 years of post-graduation employment with the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS)—plus a $50k starting salary!

Both full-time online and on-campus Bachelor of Social Work students accepted or going into the Upper Division (junior and senior years) are eligible to apply. You must be based in Kentucky.


How Much Will I Pay?

Tuition & Aid    

Additional costs may include:

  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • NASW Membership
  • SONIA Practicum Fee

Online BSW Highlights

  • Learn to analyze, plan and enact effective interventions in response to complex social justice issues.
  • Gain real world, hands-on experience through service learning and practicum opportunities.
  • Specialize your social work education with an optional track in Drug and Alcohol Counseling.*
  • Learn on your own time with 100% online classes and 24/7 access to learning tools.
  • Transfer up to 60 hours from a community college and up to 90 hours from an accredited 4-year college.
  • Take your education even further—your BSW will qualify you to enter the Master of Science in Social Work online program at UofL with Advanced Standing (only 30 credit hours)!

*Special scholarship opportunities are available to Kentucky students enrolling in this track.



Complete your degree on your own time through fully online coursework and learning tools.

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Transfer in previous credits and complete core requirements (60 credits) at UofL.

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Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science is rated the No.1 social work program in Kentucky by US News and World Report.

Online learning video -Bachelor of Social Work

"Social work is about being an agent of change, and so most of the people who come to our program are the people who see things that they feel like need to be changed and want to take an active role in being a part of that."


What Will I Learn as an Online BSW Student?

The expertise you’ll develop as an online BSW student enables you to become an advocate for individuals and communities. You’ll develop a deeper understanding of social justice dynamics, critical thinking, issues impacting human welfare and best practices within the field. Specific knowledge gained from the program includes:

  • Contextual understanding of social welfare policy and its history in the U.S.
  • How to practice social work with people who have suffered oppression such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism and ableism at the individual, community and institutional levels of society
  • Comprehensive understanding of the interrelationship between problem conceptualization, policy options and their impact on social work practice and clients

What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Social Work?

Career opportunities available to Bachelor of Social Work graduates include:

  • Clinical social work or licensed clinical social work
  • Child and family social worker
  • School social worker
  • Healthcare social worker
  • Mental health social worker
  • Substance abuse social worker

The social work occupation is expected to grow 13% nationwide between 2019-2029, which is much faster than the average national occupation growth rate, and have a median annual salary of $51,760 (bls.gov).

Where Can I Work with a Bachelor of Social Work?

Social Work graduates are equipped with a critical perspective that allows them to address community issues in a variety of settings including:

  • Public School Systems
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Government Agencies
  • Charitable Organizations
  • Non-Profits
  • Police Departments
  • Courts


Online BSW Application Deadlines

Application Deadline Term Start Date
August 1 Fall August
December 1 Spring January
April 1 Summer May/June

Applicants are encouraged to work on and submit their complete application well in advance of the preferred deadline, as obtaining transcripts, test scores and other materials may take more time. Applications submitted or completed after the preferred deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis for the next available start/term.

All applicants are admitted first to the Lower Division, and can apply for any of the above terms. Once admitted, those eligible for the Upper Division then complete a second application directly reviewed and managed by the Kent School. Upper Division cohorts start in fall terms only.

How to Apply for the Online BSW Program

  1. Complete undergraduate application
  2. Submit $30 non-refundable application fee
  3. Submit official transcripts for all college credits earned at an accredited institution*
  4. Submit official high school transcript or General Education Development (GED) test scores – required for applicants with less than 24 transferable credit hours


Online BSW for Transfer Students

Applicants with 24 or more transferable hours:

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher to be admitted in good standing

Applicants with less than 24 transferrable credit hours:

  • Graduation from an accredited high school OR successful completion GED
  • Composite ACT/SAT score of 20/1030 or higher
  • High School GPA and/or College GPA of 2.5 or higher

No ACT/SAT? Test-optional Admissions Requirements involve a comprehensive review of high school transcript (GPA of 2.5 minimum), including grades and courses particularly college preparatory courses. A personal statement may be required and requested during the admissions review process

Transfer Credit

  • Complete the transfer credit pre-evaluation to get an idea of how many credits you'll be able to transfer in toward your UofL bachelor's degree, and visit our General Transfer Student page for more details.
  • Transfer students who have earned an Associates of Arts or Associates of Science (AA and AS) degrees from KCTCS satisfy UofL’s Cardinal Core.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Additional coursework may be required for admission to the BSW’s Upper Division. Entry into the Upper Division is only possible in fall semesters and is only available to students first admitted to UofL’s Lower Division. Learn more about eligibility for Upper Division or review the Upper Division application checklist here.

For more information on the admission and application process, please contact our Online Enrollment Services team at 800.871.8635 or by email at online@louisville.edu.

Start Your Application

Additional Programs Available from the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work and Family Science

Founded in 1936, the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work and Family Science 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 Kent School is able to provide current research information in the preparation of its students for work with individuals, families and communities. The Kent School offers the 100% online BSW as well as an online MS in Social Work and an online Doctor of Social Work.

Online BSW Courses

The online Bachelor of Social Work is a 120 credit hours program comprised of 37 credit hours GenEd (Cardinal Core), 23 credit hours Lower Division General Electives and supporting requirements, and 60 credit hours in core courses.

Cardinal Core Area of Study Hours
Skills Skills Written Communication (WC) 6
Oral Communication (OC) 3
Quantitative Reasoning (QR) 3
Disciplinary Perspectives Arts & Humanities (AH) 6
Social & Behavioral Sciences (SB) 6 (3 hours must be in Historical Perspective-SBH)
Natural Sciences (S, SL) 7 (including 1 hr. lab)
Diversity U.S. Diversity (D1) 3*
Global Diversity (D2) 3*
Total Cardinal Core Credit Hours 37
Lower Division General Electives
(may be a combination of college courses)
Supporting Requirements
(complete prior to enrolling in the Upper Division)

*Diversity requirements can be met by taking courses in other Cardinal Core categories that also carry the D1 or D2 designation. This requirement, therefore, does not add hours to the total Cardinal Core Program.

Course List Hours
SW 201 ** Introduction to Social Work 3
SW 301 Human Behavior & Social Environment I 3
SW 302 Social Welfare Institutions, Policies & Service 3
SW 303 General Practice I 3
SW 304 General Practice II 3
SW 307 Social Justice Practice 3
SW 319 Human Behavior & Social Environment II 3
SW 322 Issues in Policy & Service Delivery 3
SW 405 General Practice III 3
SW 426 Introduction to Social Work Research 3
SW 470 Practicum I 3
SW 472 Practicum Seminar & Lab I 3
SW 406 General Practice IV 3
SW 471 Practicum II 3
SW 473 Practicum Seminar & Lab II 3
BSW Upper Division Electives * (Please see advisor for approval of courses) 15

*Drug and Alcohol Counseling track requires the following electives with a practicum in a substance use treatment setting:

  • SW 361 Special Issues in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • SW 362 Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders
  • SW 415 Mental Health
  • SW 460 Motivation and Change

**SW 201 Introduction to Social Work: If you took this course prior to enrollment in the upper division, you must take another 3 credit hour course to fulfill the minimum of 120 credit hours required for graduation.


Online BSW Course Descriptions

Online BSW Team

    Online BSW FAQs

    • I work full-time. Can I have a practicum in the evenings and/or weekends?
      Think of the social work practicum as you would a medical resident’s internship; you must study under the guidance of someone with the credentials you are seeking. Thus, you must be supervised in your practicum by a social worker with a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, and a minimum of two years of post-masters experience.

      Most social workers work Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. You may need to flex your work schedule to adapt some time for the practicum during the weekdays. On occasion, a social worker may have an evening or weekend program, such as a group counseling session or an educational program, but this may be only once a week or even once a month for maybe two hours.

      You may want to explore with your employer the possibilities of moving some of your work activities into the evenings and weekends, so you will have some day hours reserved for the practicum. You may also explore the option of shifting to 80% time, keeping your full employee benefits, but working only four days a week and saving the fifth day for the practicum. Additionally, you may want to consider shifting to part-time work during the period you are taking your practicum. During the practicum, students work 16 hours weekly at the placement site for a total of 225 hours each Fall and Spring semester and 450 hours total for the academic year.
    • I plan on getting a new job. Can my new job count as my practicum?
      An employee and a student have two different roles and obligations and expectations. As an employee, you are required to satisfy the work expectations of the employer. As a practicum student, you are in an academic course with requirements to satisfy the educational expectations in the syllabus and those of your practicum faculty.

      As a student, you need time to reflect on your practice experiences, perhaps to use some different approaches in your practice than is the custom at the employment site, to challenge some of the accepted practices at your job, and to carry a learner’s size workload. Accreditation also requires that these two roles be clearly separated. If you are employed a minimum of six months or completed your employer’s probation period by the start of the Fall semester, then you may also wish to explore the possibility of doing an Employment Approved Practicum. The guidelines for this option are available on the Field Education Program Webpage.
    • I have several years of social services experience. Can I get credit for that and waive the practicum requirement?
      Accreditation standards require that social work programs may not grant course credit for life experience or previous work experience. In a practicum, students will be supervised by someone with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from an accredited program and with a minimum of two years of post-master’s experience. This promotes the student’s identity with the profession of social work and encourages the development of values, social work ethics, and the approaches used by this profession.

      Work experiences of students may or may not have had such supervision guidance and may not have readily allowed for the student as employee to take time during the work day to reflect on the organization’s practice methods, or to challenge some of the current practices, or to be granted the opportunities to attempt new ways of interventions. All of these are expectations in the practicum when the student can indulge in a learner’s stance to practice under the mentorship of a qualified educational supervisor.
    • Can I do my practicum in the summer?
      The practicum and the practice courses are co-requisites and must be taken concurrently. These courses are offered only during the Fall and Spring semesters. The practicum is a two consecutive semesters course, and so taking one part in the Spring and finishing the following Fall semester is not possible.
    • Can I get paid for my practicum?
      It is extremely rare to get paid for a practicum. Very few agencies have extra monies available to pay students and those that do are usually advanced practicum sites. Even then, the funds may not be available in any given year due to the economy and changing funding streams. Students may consult with the UofL Financial Aid office to inquire about financial resources. Students may also consult with the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science admissions office to inquire about scholarships.
    • How do I go about getting a practicum? Am I responsible to find my own placement?
      Upon admission, new students - who intend to start practicum in their first semester - must complete and submit a practicum application.

      You will collaborate with an assigned Field Coordinator to discuss your areas of interest and to settle on several possible placements. A formal referral letter emailed instructing you to complete an interview with a site and to arrive at a mutual agreement between you and the agency. As students complete their prospective practicum site interviews and a match is confirmed by the student and the agency, then placement spots are filled. Other students must select among the remaining agencies still available for their practicum.
    • I am a student in the fully online program, how does this practicum work?
      The requirements for practicum remain the same for students participating in the fully online program just as for the students in the on-campus program. Students will be placed in a human service organization in a location close to where the student lives. The student will collaborate with a field coordinator in identifying potential practicum settings near the student’s residence.

      The student, the agency field instructor, and the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science field faculty will meet for all the same scheduled sessions (initial visit, mid-term and final evaluations for each semester) as for the on-campus students, except the meetings will be conducted via videoconferencing. The student and agency field instructor will need to arrange for use of a computer with a camera, mic, and internet connection for those scheduled videoconferences. The practicum orientation for online students is conducted online by their Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science field faculty.
    • Can I meet with my faculty advisor to help me plan my practicum and other classes?
      It is always advisable to consult with your faculty advisor about your career plans and your choice of electives offered within the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science curriculum.

      Once you have narrowed down your focus area for your studies, then it is most helpful to consult with a field education coordinator for available agency sites specific to your interest. You will meet with your faculty advisor at the new student orientation and will retain that advisor throughout your time at the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science. Prior to the new student orientation, you are welcome to explore your interests with any faculty member at the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science. You must follow exactly the course listing and sequence of the classes as they are listed on the curriculum plan you chose when you accepted admission to the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science.
    • Can I start the practicum early, during the summer, to spread out my hours and ease my schedule during the semester when I am taking all of the other classes?
      The practicum is an academic course, earning academic credit and a grade, just as all the other courses in the curriculum leading to a degree. Thus, the practicum begins with other courses at the start of the semester. Some agencies, particularly medical settings, require students to complete an orientation to their organization prior to beginning the practicum. This usually is 2-4 days long and is routinely scheduled by the organization at set monthly intervals. In such circumstances, students are permitted to attend their agency orientation prior to the start of the semester and can count those hours towards the total hours required for the semester practicum. Students should first inform their practicum faculty about such required orientations. After completion of the early, required agency orientation, students then wait until the start of the Fall semester to continue in the practicum.
    • When is the practicum class scheduled? It is listed as “TBA” on the class schedule.
      All weekly hours of the practicum are spent in the placement agency. “TBA” represents the assigned placement site.
    • Are there field seminars for this practicum?
      Students do attend practicum seminar and lab courses is a corequisite course with the practicum course. The seminar course meets online and provides students opportunities to integrate the theories and the practice of social work and learn about the client populations, social issues and services of other social work sites.
    • I know a really good private therapist with whom I would like to study. Can I do my practicum with this person?
      The BSW Practicum is a generalist practicum designed to facilitate the development of foundation social work competencies. Clinical services and therapy skills are developed at the Master’s degree level of social work practice.
    • There are no social workers at the agency I am interested in, but some very good supervisors with degrees in other disciplines. Can one of them supervise me in my practicum?
      Accreditation requires that students be supervised by someone with a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, with a minimum of two years post-master’s experience. This ensures that students are taught using the values and ethics and practices of the social work profession.

      It is helpful for students to be in an interdisciplinary practicum as this provides opportunities for input from various disciplines, and highlights in a way that compares the contributions which each professional discipline makes to the services provided.

      Think of your doctor and the internship he/she underwent under the guidance of an MD. Would you want your doctor to have been taught by an RN nurse, or a DMD dentist? It is the same for professional social workers whose code of ethics is different than other disciplines; and social work values and approaches to working with people are different than other disciplines.
    • I have a lot of interests. Can I have a different practicum site for each semester?
      The two-semester consecutive placement in the same setting provides for students to complete an orientation within their practicum site during the first part of the first semester. Then, students begin progressively assuming greater responsibilities in their role and developing their skills and stretching their knowledge. Remaining with one agency over the course of eight months also exposes students to a deeper experience in the “life” of an organization. There are different “seasons” in an organization, (i.e. when grant deadlines are looming, special activities around holidays, fund-raising events, fiscal year budget processes, etc.) that are an important component of the student’s learning.

      Completing only one semester with 225 in one agency does not allow enough time for students to move significantly past the orientation phase in their skill development. Some specializations within the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science program may involve a component of rotation in the practicum.
    • Money is very tight for me right now. Do I have to buy insurance for my practicum?
      We live in a litigious society and the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science wants you to be protected in your practicum. You are free to purchase liability protection from any company you choose. We particularly recommend the Assurance Services Inc. (ASI), which is aligned with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and offers a deeply discounted policy to social work students. You are required to be a member of NASW (student rate is $48 annually) to be eligible to obtain your insurance from the ASI (student rate is $15 annually).

      Students who decided not to join the NASW are eligible to purchase liability insurance for the nonmember student rate - $25.

      For more information on joining NASW go to: www.socialworkers.org. For more information on insurance from ASI go to: http://www.naswassurance.org/pli/students.php.

      You should be aware that if you have a felony conviction in your background you may be denied coverage by the ASI. Should that happen, they will refer you to other companies where you may inquire about purchasing liability protection. Also, if you are employed in a social service capacity, you will have to show proof of liability protection for your work before the ASI will provide you protection as a student. You will need to speak with the Human Resource office at your employment site to obtain a copy of your proof of professional liability protection for your job. Be sure to plan ahead to have time to resolve all possible issues prior to the start of the practicum.

      Remember, you must join NASW and you must also apply separately for the malpractice insurance. Just joining NASW is not enough. Membership in NASW does not automatically give you professional liability coverage. These are two separate organizations and require separate applications and separate payments. You must do both.

      Students who do not provide proof of malpractice insurance coverage to the practicum office prior to the first day of classes will not be allowed to start their practicum
    • Which level of insurance coverage do you recommend I get?
      If you are selecting a medical setting for your practicum, you will be expected to carry the highest level of protection available. Otherwise, you are free to choose any level of coverage that you wish, just as you do for your car insurance, health insurance, etc. You must provide proof of professional malpractice insurance to the practicum office prior to the first day of the semester you begin practicum. You are free to get malpractice protection from any company you want, and we recommend getting it from the NASW Assurance Services Inc. (see contact info in the practicum packet on acceptance from the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science), through membership in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-ASI).

      If you are employed in a social service capacity already, you will have to provide proof of your professional liability protection for your employment before you will be granted a student policy for the practicum, so contact your Human Resources office to obtain a copy of that before applying for the student policy. If you have a personal history of felony convictions, you may need to seek coverage from other insurance companies and the ASI can refer you to other resources; be prepared to pay a little higher premium for that protection.
    • When will I know I have an approved practicum?
      When you have completed your interview for your prospective placement, you should confirm with the agency field instructor, you want to do your practicum at that site. If the agency field instructor agrees to accept you as a student, both you and the agency field instructor should accept the placement. The Field Education Office will confirm the placement with both the student and the agency field instructor.
    • Is there an orientation for my practicum?
      Yes, the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science provides a practicum orientation which is conducted online the first week of the semester students begin practicum. The orientation is mandatory. Student not completing the orientation will not be allowed to proceed in practicum.
    • How should I dress for my practicum?
      Students should dress in business casual attire unless otherwise instructed by your agency field instructor. This means you should not wear denim, or see-through clothing, no mini- skirts or backless shirts, no low-rider slacks that show underclothing, no flip flops, and no jogging suits or tennis shoes.
    • When can I register for my practicum course?
      After you are accepted by the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science, you may register for the practicum course the same as you do for all your other courses. Remember, you must re-register each semester (Fall and Spring) for each course as listed on your curriculum plan.
    • Is the practicum considered part of the practice course?
      The practicum course, the seminar and lab course, and the practice course are self-standing courses; each is a separate academic course, with separate faculty, and earning separate academic credit. The curriculum is designed to promote the integration of theories taught in the classroom with real-life practice. The practicum provides the opportunities to do that simultaneously, while learning the various social work theories. Therefore, it is important for students to be sure to register for all three courses each semester.
    • I have no prior experience in social work, how do I write my resume?
      In social work, all life experiences count. Your resume should reflect the depth and breadth of your paid and volunteer experiences. And remember, you are not limited to one or two pages for the length of your resume as in the business world. Do remember to give a copy of your resume to each agency supervisor with whom you interview for a prospective practicum.

      If you have any additional questions not answered on this FAQ, please visit the Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work & Family Science’s practicum page on their website for more information.