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Social Work Undergraduate Program

The McMaster School of Social Work aims to provide the environment and learning resources for students to prepare themselves for the general practice of Social Work. Study is based on a search for the principles of social justice. Preparation for the general practice of Social Work requires the development of competence in effecting change in a variety of situations affecting individuals, families, groups, organizations or communities in the broader society based on a knowledge of social structure, human behaviour, social welfare services, and social work methods.

The McMaster School of Social Work strives to:

  • support and prepare students for critical, skilled and ethical practices in a wide variety of social and community services and contexts;
  • support and prepare students for critical self-reflection as both professionals and citizens;
  • foster education and research engaged in partnership with a wide range of diverse communities, locally and beyond;
  • foster scholarship that responds to changing dynamics of inequality and to the restructuring of public services;
  • reflect emerging scholarship in social work, social policy and related fields

Our Social Work Programs place emphasis on the social structuring of individual and community problems and on social work’s commitment to enhancing social justice and challenging oppression.

Honours BSW

Normally, students admitted to the Honours B.S.W. Program will require up to three years after admission to complete the program. The program is also offered on a part-time basis. 

Honours BSW Program

Critical Practice in Child Welfare Pathway

Preparing for Critical Practice in Child Welfare (PCPCW) emphasizes knowledge, skills and attitudes that underpin child welfare work, and nurtures student attitudes and critical thinking abilities by drawing on current research and best practice from around the world, including Indigenous approaches to child welfare.

Child Welfare Pathways BSW

Indigenous Pathways through the BSW Programs

The McMaster School of Social Work has a broad mission to structure social work education, research and practice in pursuit of social justice and collective welfare. This includes a desire to focus on Indigenous experiences, knowledge and approaches towards disrupting colonialism. To this end, the School is identifying Indigenous Pathways through the BSW program.

Indigenous Pathways BSW

BSW (Post Degree) 

Students admitted to the B.S.W. (Post Degree) Program normally will require two academic years and one summer after admission to complete the program on a full-time basis.  The program is also offered on a part-time basis.  

BSW Post Degree

Field Education

We have over 100 community partners who help us provide social work education to approximately 140 McMaster social work students per year. Students are placed in community agencies throughout the Hamilton, Halton, Brant, Niagara and Haldimand-Norfolk area.


Our program is accredited as an undergraduate university-level degree program by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. You will be eligible for membership in the Ontario Association of Social Workers both as a student and upon graduation. Also upon graduation, you will be eligible to join the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.


Objectives of the Program:

The objectives are to provide opportunities for students to develop:

  • an understanding of human behaviour and how it is shaped by the social and cultural context;
  • an understanding of how social structures benefit and disadvantage various segments of society;
  • an understanding of social work interventions and how they are shaped by the personal, social, cultural, and institutional context;
  • a critical analysis of social welfare institutions and their history, organization, uses, and limitations;
  • a critical awareness of the role of social work in the development, maintenance, and resolution of social and personal troubles;
  • interventive skills related to individuals, groups, families, community and policy;
  • interpersonal and organizational skills;
  • analytic and research skills;
  • writing and communication skills.
photo of Sarah Adjekum

Sarah Adjekum

PhD Student

Mental Health Crisis Worker at Hamilton’s Good Shepherd Barrett Centre, providing support to adults experiencing distress or mental health crises via a crisis hotline and short-term bed-stay program

“Our primary aim is to empower our guests and give them the tools they need to have control over their lives. They are incredibly resilient; often having a secure safety net can prevent them from falling into crisis again. I am intimately aware of structural barriers that can impede positive life outcomes and passionate about eradicating these barriers and empowering individuals to realize their full potential.”

photo of Amberlynn Palmer

Amberlynn Palmer

BA Sociology, BSW2014

Youth at Risk Development Program Worker at the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington and Area

Youth at Risk Development Program Worker at the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington and Area

“My work is always changing and unpredictable, which challenges me to think and respond differently every day. I use the theory I learned in my program, my experience from placements and my critical thinking skills to creatively address barriers at-risk youth experience, while emphasizing the importance of community. Respect and dignity are core values in my line of work.”