Social Work major

The roots of the profession of social work can be traced back to the Midwest and to Jane Addams, known as the founder of social work. As the Settlement House Movement organizer in the late 1800s in Chicago, Addams led the way in advocating for child welfare, child labor laws, juvenile court system, women's right to vote, public health, as well as work safety and fair wage laws. Her work earned her a Nobel Peace Prize and inspired the advancement of generations of social workers. This profession has empowered social justice and social change action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities and beyond.

Social workers continue to be in strong demand today, and this demand is projected to grow in the Milwaukee area, the state of Wisconsin, and the United States.

Do you want to work to open doors of access and opportunity for individuals to communities in greatest need? Do you want to be part of a change that addresses social injustice, oppression, and discrimination while inspiring hope, social justice, and equality for all? Do you want to help people, families, and communities cope  with barriers and foster change for the advancement of human and community well-being? A degree in social work from Alverno College will prepare you for generalist social work practice that is client-centered, ethics-grounded, evidence-based, strengths-developed, trauma informed-focused, human rights-minded, culturally-respected, and future-driven.

The Alverno edge

Alverno is internationally known for its unique abilities-based curriculum, which will help you become a strong communicator, leader, critical thinker and problem-solver – all knowledge, skills, strengths, and values prized by social work employers. The Council on Social Work Education, the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States, requires programs to teach and assess for nine (9) social work competencies that align well with the eight (8) Alverno abilities.

Social justice in social work program mission 

Dedicated to educational advancement and community engagement, we prepare generalist social workers committed to professional ethics and values, service, strengths, social justice, and human rights. 

The mission of the Social Work Department is to provide an engaging and enriching learning environment that supports life-long learning as students and future professionals demonstrate competency in their knowledge, values, skills, and strengths of generalist social work education. 

At Alverno, you will learn via classroom discussions, hands-on experiences, role plays, expert guest speakers, tours of agency/organizations, interviewing social work professionals, and many other learning and professional development opportunities.  This supports the Franciscan values that Alverno was founded on – inclusiveness, respect, generosity, and service.

The support you need to succeed

Alverno’s 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and small class sizes ensure you’ll develop meaningful first-name relationships with your professors. That personal connection allows professors to guide you toward meaningful electives and internships that will help you reach your personal and career goals. Plus, at a women’s college, it’s not about equal opportunity but every opportunity. Research shows women’s colleges attract women who are more interested in being intellectually engaged, more likely to go on to graduate school, and more likely to be leaders in their fields.

Field work for the social work major

You will complete two internships at community agencies/organizations which will be designed to give you hands-on learning experiences about the holistic world of social work and human service practice. Field education (internship) placements include positions serving populations in need, including children and their families, elderly, persons with developmental and other disabilities, juvenile and adult offenders, and individuals facing mental health challenges. In partnership, Alverno’s Internship Office, which is connected to more than 2,000 partner sites, and the social work field coordinator can help you find meaningful, professional opportunities to advance your career goals.


Social worker licensure

Licensure is granted to graduates of accredited programs who apply and pass a national examination developed by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and the state examination developed by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). You can start the licensure process six months before your graduation date.


Alverno is working to obtain baccalaureate program accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which requires institutions to fulfill strict procedures and practices. The multi-step accreditation process involves program self-studies, on-campus site visits, and reviews by CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation. This accreditation process takes three years, and we anticipate being fully accredited by May 2021.



For general questions about applying to Alverno, transferring credits from other colleges, and touring campus, please contact the admissions office.