Welcome to the University of Portland Dorothy Day Social Work Program (SWP). The SWP offers a bachelor of arts degree in social work, accredited by The Council on Social Work Education. However, the SWP is more than a major. In many ways it is a community of service and learning within the larger University community. As for curriculum content, the SWP offers what most closely resembles a hybrid of sociology and psychology courses and thus it is fittingly housed in the Department of Sociology and Social Work along with the discipline of sociology.

The SWP is accredited by the national social work accrediting body, the Council on Social Work Education. This means the SWP meets or exceeds national standards for social work education, and graduates of our program are eligible for advanced standing in graduate master's of social work programs across the country. Thus, graduates of our program can complete a graduate degree in social work in one year instead of the usual two. This also means that the SWP curriculum reflects a first year graduate curriculum in social work education. Students take an array of courses that prepare them for entry level social work positions and for what is termed a BSW in the social community. The state of Oregon has joined most other states in recognizing the BSW as a certified professional degree. Students take courses in social justice, social research, cultural diversity, human behavior, social policy, and interviewing and counseling.

The SWP has a special commitment to social justice and diversity. This commitment is met through course content in all of the required courses but also in electives and non-classroom experiences — internships, research with faculty, service projects, and study abroad offerings.

Students in the SWP also enjoy social opportunities such as Social Work Club functions that include attendance at professional seminars, sponsoring guest speakers on campus, and community service activities. Through the regularly-scheduled club meetings, students have a direct means of sharing their thoughts about the curriculum and program and participating in its design.

Students can also participate in a national honor society for social work students. The Phi Alpha Society provides a closer bond among students of social work and promotes humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work.

In short, we are proud to offer an educational experience that includes:

  • small class sizes
  • a broad curriculum
  • a wide variety of internships and research opportunities
  • field practica
  • eligibility for advanced standing in MSW programs

You are invited to explore the SWP and all it has to offer. The faculty and students are happy to answer any questions you might have about the wonderful opportunities that the major and the profession offer.


Alice Gates, PhD
Professor and Director, Dorothy Day Social Work Program