Earn your bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) at the University of Montana

Engage in a broad range of research and practice that’s making a difference in Montana and beyond. Our graduates share a passion and commitment to empowering individuals, families and communities, and promoting a more just society.

As a social work major, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of systemic poverty, racism, and other inequalities. You’ll also gain extensive, real-world, professional training — our social work majors spend 450 hours working directly in the field.

In addition to offering the degree for social work at our main campus in Missoula, Montana, we offer a 2+2 distance program that allows you to earn your bachelor’s degree while staying in your home community. The Montana AHEC Scholars Program offers more opportunities for health professions students to gain hands-on training, work in rural and underserved communities, and network with other students and professionals.


hours working directly in the field under the supervision of a social worker


Start your degree at your local college and complete your bachelor’s in social work at UM online with our 2+2 program


average salary of UM alumni with a bachelor’s in social work

Other degree options for social work at UM

2+2 Bachelor of Social Work

Master of Social Work

Minor in Gerontology

Minor in Human and Family Development

Minor in International Development Studies

Licensed Addiction Counseling Program

Minor in Global Public Health Minor

What can you do with a social work degree?

Social work is a fast-growing field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is projected to grow 13% over the next decade — more than twice the average for all occupations. That means that earning your degree to be a social worker can be an excellent path to long-term job security.

Social workers pursue careers in a variety of settings. Many are employed by schools and hospitals. Others work with community organizations, healthcare facilities, or government agencies.

Our graduates have the skills to work effectively and ethically with individuals, groups, families, organizations, and communities — opening a wide range of career options depending on your interests. Most of all, this highly rewarding career is an opportunity to serve your community, assist vulnerable populations and make a real difference every day.

What degree do you need to be a social worker?

To become a licensed bachelor’s social worker, you’ll need to first earn your bachelor’s degree. While licensure is not required in all states to provide social work services, most employers prefer licensed candidates (criteria for licensure will also vary depending on the state in which you live).

With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be ready for entry-level social work jobs, such as community outreach coordinators and case managers. To become a licensed clinical social worker, you’ll need to earn your master’s degree in social work.

Social work jobs

• Social worker

• Community health worker

• Medical social worker

• Community advocate

• Case manager

• Licensed bachelor’s social worker

• School social worker

• Mental health professional

• Nonprofit program director

Social work salaries

Social worker salaries vary depending on education, experience, and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for social workers nationally is $51,760 per year. The estimated annual earnings of graduates of UM’s bachelor’s in social work is $54,140. Other average social worker salaries for Montana are as follows:

  • Child, family, and school social workers: $41,550
  • Healthcare social workers: $51,900
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $38,820

Video: 2+2 Bachelor of Social Work Program at UM

Earn your bachelor’s degree in social work while staying in your home community with our 2+2 program.

Experiential learning in the social work major

Real-world learning opportunities make UM one of the best colleges for social work majors. Our students spend 450 hours working directly in the field under the supervision of a social worker — an average of 15 hours/week over two semesters. Opportunities include working with local community agencies, engaging in the legislative process, simulation practice with interprofessional education, and more.

Undergraduate research for social work majors

Collaborate with faculty and graduate students on groundbreaking research that’s shaping the future of social work. Research specialization areas in our program include:

  • Trauma-informed approaches and interventions
  • Social justice
  • Community organizing
  • Substance use disorders and recovery
  • Children and family workforce development

Career development in the social work program

At UM, we want to do more than help you succeed in your academic life: We want to help you hit the ground running in your career after you graduate. Whether you plan to pursue your master’s in social work or enter the workforce upon completing your bachelor’s degree, our program will give you the chance to build your professional network and make valuable career connections.

Many students find job opportunities through the extensive field-based training opportunities built into our program — with community organizations, health care providers, and other potential employers.

Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development

Find out how we're working to keep our communities healthy through training, research, and public policy advocacy. The Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development (CCFWD) works to improve the lives of children and families in Montana, with a special focus on families involved with the child welfare system. Every semester, social work students intern at CCFWD conducting community-based evaluation research. Learn more about how we’re making a difference.

Social work degree requirements

Our social work bachelor’s program is based on a generalist practice model that addresses social issues at multiple levels using a variety of theoretical frameworks. Coursework for the program explores topics such as human behavior and social environments, cultural humility in social work practice, childhood development, trauma-informed interventions, social gerontology and social work in a global context.

View all requirements for the bachelor’s degree in social work.