The Catholic University of America

Aug. 3, 2009

National Catholic School of Social Service to Begin Offering Bachelor's Degree

Starting this fall, Catholic University students will be able to enroll in an undergraduate program offering a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

The program will be offered by the National Catholic School of Social Service, making NCSSS the eighth school awarding baccalaureate degrees at Catholic University. It joins architecture and planning, arts and sciences, engineering, music, nursing, philosophy and professional studies as a school offering undergraduate degrees.

Since its founding in 1918, NCSSS has been a graduate school of social work. It is currently one of 12 CUA schools offering graduate or professional degrees.

"NCSSS is unique among social work programs across the country in that it offers undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees," said James Zabora, dean of NCSSS.

Until now, social work students have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree through CUA's School of Arts and Sciences or the Metropolitan School of Professional Studies. Social work has been one of almost 60 undergraduate majors offered by arts and sciences.

The additional designation as an undergraduate degree program will create a greater professional identity among the approximately 50 undergraduate social work students, said Lynn Milgram Mayer, assistant professor and chair of the Undergraduate Social Work Program. "This will help undergraduate social work majors identify with being social workers and with the profession of social work because they will graduate with the professional degree."

A B.S.W. is considered the professional undergraduate degree for social workers, although not required for all social work employment. "We think the B.S.W. will be a benefit for our graduates as they market themselves for jobs," Mayer said.

As a result of the B.S.W. offering, NCSSS predicts growth in the number of undergraduate students. "So many of the students who come to Catholic University on the undergraduate level are drawn to service and drawn to issues of social justice that we'll get more students interested in social work and get more students interested early in their college career," Mayer said.

Beginning in fall 2010, all freshmen social work students will be enrolled through NCSSS. Until then, the undergraduate program will be in transition.

Freshmen entering CUA in August will be enrolled through the School of Arts and Sciences and given the choice of transferring to the new undergraduate school in the spring. Sophomores and upperclassmen will be given the option of transferring this fall. Because of CUA's liberal arts tradition, Mayer predicted some current students would choose to complete their degrees in arts and sciences.

NCSSS anticipates conferring the first B.S.W. degrees in spring 2010.

CUA's social work programs are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which suggested the creation of the undergraduate school during a review in 2007. Through the years, CUA students also have voiced an interest in a B.S.W. offering.

MEDIA: For more information, call Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.