Three social work students on their laptops in the classroom.

Social Work

Help people in need, connect individuals with resources and make a difference in your community as a social worker. USD's social work program will prepare you with the skills and real-world experience you need to change lives.

Why Study Social Work?

As a social work major at USD, you will gain the knowledge and skills you need for professional practice and graduate study in social work. You will learn to help clients and communities cope with external factors by connecting them with resources and advocating for their well-being. Our program takes a person-centered approach; we recognize the importance of understanding people's unique needs, offering personalized support and working toward empowerment. 

We also provide you with a strong foundation in professional ethics based on the values of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, which will inform your practice tomorrow and your experience today. We've embedded real-world experience into your program through field education, giving you an opportunity to apply what you've learned in the practice setting. At USD, you'll learn from accredited, licensed and expert social workers as you prepare to be an advocate for individuals and communities who are facing barriers to their well-being.

You have the passion to make a difference. Become the supporter and leader that individuals and communities need by studying social work at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Social Work (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Through our accredited program, you'll gain the ethical and evidence-based foundation you need to improve people's lives. A combination of classroom experience and field education will prepare you to become a responsive, multi-talented social worker who can address a variety of needs ranging from individual services to policy and community development.

Social Work: Child Welfare (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Your bachelor's degree in social work will equip you with the skills and experiences you need to improve lives and make a difference in a wide variety of settings. You can choose to add a specialization in child welfare, which will uniquely prepare you to work with children in need. Examples of classes you'll take through this specialization include Trauma Practice with Children and Social Work and Child Welfare.

Program Details






Start Your Application Today

This undergraduate program utilizes a specialized CAS online application to complete the admissions process. Applicants are responsible for verification or receipt of all documents to SocialWorkCAS and the undergraduate school. 

Applicants must complete the Centralized Application Service for Social Work (SocialWorkCAS) online application.  To learn more about this program's application process, requirements and program deadlines, visit SocialWorkCAS.

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of Social Work. You may be interested in joining the National Association of Social Workers, Sigma Theta Phi Honor Society or Social Work Club to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Explore Student Organizations

A unique part of your USD education is access to undergraduate research opportunities. As a social work student at USD, you will have the chance to explore your interests and conduct innovative research with the support of professors who care about your success. Grants and travel funding are available through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The Department of Social Work offers a number of opportunities for students like you to learn from experts beyond our campus and network with peers. Here are some examples of the conferences, trainings and trips that enhance your education:

  • Division of Behavioral Health Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Training
  • Division of Child Protection Mandatory Reporting
  • Interprofessional Education Training Day
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network Certificate
  • South Dakota Helpline Trainings: Youth Mental Health First Aid
  • Welcome Table 
  • National Association of Social Workers - South Dakota chapter's annual conference

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in social work.
A counselor working with two students.

Social Work

Our department offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, preparing students to be empathetic, trustworthy and capable social workers. Our faculty bring years of social work experience to the classroom and to their research, and they work to build and improve the field as they develop our future leaders here at USD.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Social Work. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in social disparities, systematic policy analysis, rural health, telemedicine intervention, interventions affecting vulnerable populations in the criminal justice and welfare systems, clinical license supervision and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kelly Bass

Kelly Bass

Chair-Social Work
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tallie Cassanova

Tallie Cassanova

Instructor, BSSW Prog Dir
Bio Image for Faculty Member Alexa Gauer

Alexa Gauer



Bio Image for Faculty Member Chabli Hodge

Chabli Hodge

Instructor, BSSW Field Education Director
Bio Image for Faculty Member Natalie Lecy

Natalie Lecy

Assistant Professor


Clinical work, RCT research, mindfulness.

Surprisingly Affordable

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Undergraduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees. 

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.

Alum success story

Success story Dawn Marie Johnson smiling.
My first experience having an Indigenous woman in my academic career was my advisor and Social Work 101 professor at USD. Inspired by their powerful presence and history of positive community-wide impact, I majored in social work. I was accepted into advanced standings for the Master's level program six years later. Through my BSW and MSW, I had the best support from faculty who I now consider great friends.

Dawn Marie Johnson

M.S. Social Work '20
B.S. Social Work '12
CTE and Community Outreach Coordinator, Sioux Falls School District
Sioux Falls, SD

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