Social Work


Develop the skills you need to make a difference in people's lives. Empower those you serve through a career in social work.

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Why Study Social Work?

There is a growing need for social workers, both nationally and in the state of Iowa. Recent national and world events have had profound implications for individuals, families, and communities.

Social work is a profession devoted to helping people thrive in their environment. Social workers provide direct services in homes and workplaces. They help people through social service organizations. They also strive for policy change to improve social conditions.

Why Study Social Work at Luther?

Luther’s social work major will prepare you for generalist social work practice. Our liberal arts foundation, which instructs you across disciplines, will equip you for complex interprofessional practice settings.

Luther’s social work faculty are supportive and encouraging. You will work with them under a shared purpose: to make a difference in people’s lives.

Majoring in social work will prepare you to work ethically and professionally with individuals, groups, and communities, and to be an advocate for justice. You’ll enter the field with strong interpersonal, team work, and critical thinking skills.

Program Highlights


Get professional work experience beyond the classroom walls by completing an internship. Luther social work majors have a variety of options in the United States and abroad.

Accredited Advantage

Luther’s social work major is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Completing a social work major at Luther College makes you eligible for “advanced standing” in most Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. This means that you can receive credit for up to a year’s worth of graduate school coursework, saving you time and money.

Student Organizations

Expand your professional network by joining the Social Work Association, the Social Work Advisory Board, or the Lambda Theta Chapter of the Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society.

What You’ll Learn

As a Luther social work major, you’ll get the skills needed to begin as an entry-level generalist social worker. You’ll also be ready to pursue master’s degree programs in social work.

Your education will span nine areas of emphasis:

  • Social work values and ethics
  • Human diversity
  • Social and economic justice
  • Populations at risk
  • Social welfare policy and services
  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Social work research
  • Social work practice
  • Field practicum

These areas do not necessarily represent specific courses. They cover the skills and knowledge you will develop to provide effective social services.

Field Experience and Practicum Requirements

You will complete two hands-on internships that will bookend your social work major. Your initial field experience takes place at the beginning of the major. It will involve at least 100 hours of job-shadowing a social worker in the field.

The second practicum occurs during your final semester in the major. Practicum locations have included Decorah, Denver, Chicago, Rochester, or Minneapolis. You must complete at least 400 hours working in an organization, gaining experience at the individual, family, group, organization, and community levels.


Careers and Outcomes

Luther social work graduates are prepared for lifelong learning. Within a year of graduation, 93 percent of our graduates are seeking advanced degrees or are employed.

Career Fields

  • Child welfare, juvenile justice, and youth services
  • Community organizing
  • Domestic violence and corrections
  • Health and mental healthcare
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Refugee and immigrant services
  • School social work and out-of-school activities
  • Senior and disability services

Advanced Graduate Study

Many Luther social work majors go on to pursue a Master in Social Work (MSW) degree. Some go to graduate school after several years of professional practice, and others go immediately after graduating from Luther. Graduating with a social work major from Luther can save you up to a year of MSW tuition and coursework. Our program will make you eligible for advanced standing in most MSW programs.

Grace head shot; she wears glasses and a head band in her hair.
What I like about Luther’s social work program is the amount of field experience it offers. Luther prioritizes real-word experience, and the courses are focused on applying the coursework in practice.
Grace Lawrence ’24
Social work major
Read about Grace's internship
I tried to use my education not only to benefit people in the US but also to make it something I can carry into the world to be useful.
Peilla Ishimwe '21
Social Work Major

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