Social Work

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Social Work Overview

Chatham’s Bachelor of Social Work BSW degree is a professional major built upon a liberal arts foundation that prepares you for professional social work practice or graduate studies in social work and related fields. As part of our accredited social work curriculum, you will learn how to connect individuals, families, groups, and communities with services to help them function successfully.

I am so thankful that I chose Chatham for my BSW. My professors made all the difference—they were encouraging yet challenged me and clearly care about their students. They believed in me even before I began to believe in myself. The support I received at Chatham propelled me towards success quicker than I could have imagined.

— DANI WILSON ‘12, MSW, executive director, Our Clubhouse

Explore the Social Work Degree:

  • You’ll obtain academic and career guidance every step of the way from advisors who are faculty with real world experience as practicing social workers.
  • You can choose to enhance your studies with a minor in criminology, psychology, social service administration, or other minors that are of interest to you. You may also want to consider one of our social work certificates in Forensic Social Work or Environmental Social Work.
  • Students are immersed in a caring, supportive learning environment that integrates global understanding, sustainability, gender and identity, and civic engagement into all majors.
  • All students complete a capstone seminar that channels the knowledge they’ve accumulated into a discipline-specific project under close faculty guidance.

SWK351: Interviewing and Assessment with Individuals

This course introduces generalist social work practice, including its philosophy, domains, and values. The role of the practitioner and an overview of the helping process provide the foundation for the study and practice of basic interviewing skills.

SKW201W: Human Behavior in the Social Environment

This course examines the development of individuals, couples, and families from birth to adolescence within the framework of social work research and theory. Also explored are systems that influence gender, race, ethnicity, social, and economic influences within the context of families, groups, organizations, institutions, and communities.

SWK322W: Social Welfare: Women and Policy

This course is designed to examine current issues and policies that impact the lives of women and to explore methods of creating or modifying policies. This course will utilize a comparative policy framework to explore the strengths and weaknesses of current interventions regarding their promotion of social and economic justice.

View Full Curriculum

Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty
Photo of Melissa Bell
Associate Professor, Social Work Program Director
Photo of a professor leaning over a student working on a laptop and wearing black headphones in a computer lab.

Practical Experience

During senior year, your field placement will give you a closely supervised, hands-on experience that connects classroom learning with real-world, on-the-ground social work. You will complete 500 hours of field placement work by the time you graduate.

Photo of smiling Chatham University students working at Eden Hall Farm in the field removing weeds.

Join the Club

Students can join Chatham’s social work club, SWIRL (Social Work is Real Life) as a complement to their education. The club provides opportunities to participate in activities at Chatham and in the Pittsburgh community and to attend local and regional social work conferences.

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High Rankings

Chatham's BSW is ranked #15 on's list of "The 40 Best Bachelor's in Social Work Degree Programs."

Photo of a gold statue of Justice, a blindfolded woman holding scales and a sword, with a gavel beside it

Certificate in Forensic Social Work

The certificate in Forensic Social Work equips students with social work knowledge and skills within the contexts of the American criminal justice, mental health and child welfare systems. The program fosters graduates committed to social justice who can become change makers with their organizations, communities, and in society at large. It requires 18 credits to complete, including an internship and capstone.

Photo of Chatham University graduate students harvesting the agroecology garden on Eden Hall Campus

Certificate in Environmental Social Work

The certificate in Environmental Social Work offered by Chatham University is a multi-disciplinary certificate designed to equip students with social work principles within the context of environmental justice, food access, and sustainability. The certificate is intended for students who are interested in exploring environmental justice in social work.  It does not prepare a student for professional social work practice. Instead, it can be used to understand environmental justice and the value of sustainability to social work. The program is open to undergraduate students and requires 18 credits to complete.

Graphic of human profile made up of multicolored puzzle pieces.

Social Work Program Director Melissa Bell interviewed for Social Work Advocates Magazine

Dr. Melissa Bell was interviewed regarding a book she cowrote called Reproductive Decision Making: Acting to Help Clients, published by NASW Press. The book provides social services professionals with tools and strategies, real-world research, policy practice and case examples to facilitate discussions of reproductive decision making with clients.

The Maggie Hobbs Social Work Award

Shaelah Pepperman, seen here with Social Work Program Director Dr. Melissa Bell, accepted the Maggie Hobbs Award for the 2022-2023 academic year. The Maggie Hobbs Social Work Award is an annual monetary award given to a full-time senior majoring in social work based on academic accomplishments; demonstration of social work skills, values, and ethics; and contributions to the social work program, the discipline of social work, and the Chatham community. Madeline Morse, not in attendance, also received the award for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Condemning the Dobbs Decision

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) issued statements condemning the decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Decision is the first time in history that the Supreme Court has taken away a fundamental right and abandons nearly 50 years of precedent. 

Do you have questions?

We make it easy to get in touch:

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412-419-3772 (standard text/SMS rates will apply)

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