Course Catalog

School of Social Work (BSW)


Katherine Novick Nolan, Associate Professor of Practice and Director, BSW Program
Eugenia Knight, Associate Professor of Practice and Director of Field Education, BSW Program
Renada Goldberg, Assistant Professor
Paul R. Gould, Assistant Professor
Lydia Ogden, Assistant Professor
Nora Rushford, Associate Professor of Practice


The Simmons University BSW Program’s Mission is to prepare baccalaureate-level students for professional generalist social work practice and lifelong professional and personal learning. Consistent with the mission and vision of Simmons University, the School of Social Work, and professional social work tradition, the Program seeks to develop competent, ethical practitioners who are attuned to the values of the social work profession, embrace a professional social work identity, value diversity, and seek social justice through effective advocacy and social change efforts.

Competency-Based Curriculum Model: Combining Classroom Learning and Field Education

In alignment with the Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, the Simmons BSW Program utilizes a competency-based educational model that combines classroom learning with field education. Within this model, students are provided opportunities to gradually master the knowledge, values, and skills necessary for effective, competent, ethical social work practice. BSW students integrate the College’s liberal arts foundation with required social work courses which focus on the fundamentals of professional generalist social work, including human behavior in the social environment, social welfare history, policy analysis, advocacy, practice methods, social science research, diversity and cultural competence, and critical thinking and writing. Of equal importance to the course-work component of the curriculum, BSW students receive formal field training which connects and reinforces classroom learning with the social work practice setting. Supporting and advancing student’s learning and growth, the BSW Program curriculum includes service-learning requirements and formal, supervised field placements in the junior (100 hours) and senior years (425 hours). Field placements occur in a variety of social service settings, serving various populations of people in need who are facing complex problems and circumstances. The synergistic integration of classroom and field work allows Simmons College BSW graduates to develop competency in the key areas of generalist social work practice, readying them for the workforce, graduate level study, and LSW licensure.

Learning Outcomes

Social Work education courses are designed in accordance with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Educational Policies & Accreditation Standards (EPAS) and utilize a competency-based approach to course design and student assessment. Competency- based education rests upon a shared view of the nature of competence in professional practice. Social work competence is the ability to integrate and apply social work knowledge, values, and skills to practice situations in a purposeful, intentional, and professional manner to promote human and community well- being. EPAS recognizes a holistic view of competence; that is, the demonstration of competence is informed by knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes that include the social worker’s critical thinking, affective reactions, and exercise of judgment in regard to unique practice situations. Overall professional competence is multi-dimensional and composed of interrelated competencies. An individual social worker’s competence is seen as developmental and dynamic, changing over time in relation to continuous learning. In 2015 EPAS, social work practice competence consists of nine interrelated competencies and component behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes.

Departmental Honors

Honors in Social Work: To become a candidate for honors in social work, a student must have a GPA of 3.67 in social work and complete a social work Capstone project that is, based on the assessment of the social work faculty, considered exemplary and worthy of honors distinction.

Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society

In 2013, the Simmons College BSW Program established a chapter of the Phi Alpha national social work honor society. The purpose of Phi Alpha is to create a sense of community among social work students, reward those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement, and create a space where students can share social justice goals and ideals as well as participate in community service outreach. In order to be considered for Phi Alpha membership, students must be an officially declared social work major, be at least a junior, have earned at least 16 credits in social work courses, have achieved an overall GPA of at least 3.0, and have achieved a GPA of at least 3.5 in required social work courses. Students inducted into Phi Alpha complete community-based service as part of their membership.