The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Master of Social Work program received full accreditation this March from the Council on Social Work Education. The new program has at least 70 current students enrolled and continues to grow, providing an innovative option for students interested in “making a difference.”
“We started with a dream of creating a unique program, one that combines the best evidence with state-of-the-art teaching,” said David Pollio, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Social Work. “Accreditation from the national body is a sign that we have succeeded in turning that dream into a reality.”
The UAB Master of Social Work program is focused on health and behavioral health. Students are taught clinical practice using cutting-edge educational techniques, including standardized patients, service-based learning, interprofessional activities, and extensive internships with community partners.
Last year, faculty led a group of students on a study abroad trip to Kenya, an opportunity being repeated this semester. Opportunities for international field placements and study abroad classes to different locations will be offered over the next several years.
“Growing our research and graduate education is one of the five initiatives in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Strategic Plan,” said Robert Palazzo, Ph.D., dean of the college. “The accreditation of our Master of Social Work — one of our innovative professional graduate degrees — is an important step in ensuring the success of this rapidly growing program. Achieving accreditation represents significant work on the part of the department. Their investment will pay off as we recruit and retain the best students and faculty members to UAB.”
UAB’s Bachelor of Science in Social Work program complements its master’s program. With 260 students enrolled, it is one of the largest in Alabama for undergraduate studies. Graduates with a BSW are employed in a variety of professional roles. Many take advantage of the advanced standing program and enroll in the master’s program.
Small, face-to-face classroom formats offered in the master’s program give students opportunities to get to know their professors personally, and internship opportunities at organizations with longstanding relationships with the department allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet their individual goals.
“Our mission is simple,” Pollio said. “We aim to train the best social workers. And accreditation is an important step in achieving this goal.”