History and Mission

As one of the nation’s oldest academic social work programs, the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR) is part of a College with a long-standing, well respected dedication to both scholarship and social responsibility. The School’s philosophy and practice reflect the College’s Quaker roots, its historical concern for oppressed or marginalized groups, and a corresponding commitment to transforming the world for the better. We believe that human wellbeing, democracy, and human rights cannot flourish in the midst of dramatic economic disparities, and we encourage students to discover ways to address the issue of unequal opportunity. We also believe that, as social workers and thoughtful citizens of the world, our graduates must understand and approach problems from more than one perspective. Whether students specialize in clinical or community practice, they are encouraged to understand and value the interrelationships among the different kinds of professional social work.

The School provides a learning environment that is supportive and intellectually rigorous, encouraging critical and creative thinking and the expression of social work values through education in the classroom and the field, focused research, and active civic engagement in collaboration with community organizations and the College as a whole. In addition, the School promotes faculty scholarship and community service activities that further expand and refine social work knowledge and the development of service delivery systems, providing leadership in professional practice, policy, and research.

The mission of our GSSWSR is to prepare students to work with diverse groups across disciplinary and professional boundaries, and to flexibly apply their knowledge and skills across a wide range of settings for Social Work practice, education, and research. We value a critical understanding of social responsibility and purposeful, reasoned, and imaginative action in pursuit of a just and democratic world. Through its MSS and Ph.D. degree programs and continuing professional education, our School and MSS program in particular, purposefully educates Social Workers for advanced agency-based practice, independent practice, and leadership positions in the human services field. Through its courses and field-based learning, we prepare students to place their work within theoretical frameworks that support activities of assessment, intervention and evaluation, and stress facility with knowledge, skills and values. Our School expects students to think conceptually, act ethically, and systematically process socially just practice. To that end, we develop and execute a master’s level education with an explicit and implicit curriculum that addresses 21st Century societal issues with the goal of evidencing the nexus of theory and practice informed by an understanding of the diversity of the human experience. Through masters concentrations in both micro and macro-direct Social Work practice and in our doctoral program, we continue to embrace and incorporate the College’s liberal arts education and its contributions in addressing human needs, as we also create and sustain mutually beneficial and transformative partnerships locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.