Why Social Work?

What is social work and why should I study it?

Social Work stock photo

Social work is an academic discipline and a practice-based profession concerned with meeting the basic needs of individuals, families, groups, communities, organizations, and society as a whole to enhance their individual and collective well-being. It is a profession in which trained professionals are devoted to helping vulnerable people and communities work through challenges they face in everyday life.

Social Work not only provides a platform to make tangible differences in people's lives but also offers a deep understanding of human behavior, social systems, and policies. This field enables individuals to work towards social justice and equity, making a direct impact on communities.



CSWE Accreditation



UAF's social work degree program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education’s Board of Accreditation. 




What can you do with a degree in social work?

As a social worker you can work in a variety of fields and with large or small populations. You can work in administration, research, or policy. You can work with elders. You can work in child welfare or family social work; school social work; community or advocacy social work. You can work in the criminal justice or corrections system or as a disability social worker; medical social work, hospice or palliative care; mental health; military or veterans; substance abuse; public health. You can work as an environmental social worker; occupational social worker, or political social worker;

 There are various levels of social work practice as well. Micro-level, working with individuals; mezzo-level, working with small groups, or macro social work, working with communities or at the state or local level.


Social Work

Some careers social work majors go on to pursue are...


... and more!


The versatility of a Social Work degree is reflected in the plethora of career avenues it opens up. From clinical practice to policy advocacy, social work graduates find opportunities in government agencies, non-profits, educational institutions, and private practices. Moreover, the demand for social workers is projected to grow, especially in areas like mental health and substance abuse.



Alaska has the highest concentration of jobs for child, family and school social workers of any state in the nation. It is also one of the top states for jobs for mental health and substance abuse social workers.

  Universal Skills
Social Work education hones essential soft skills like empathy, active listening, and critical thinking which are invaluable in any profession. These skills foster effective communication, problem-solving, and a genuine understanding of human experiences.


Social Work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks



Delivery methods

Distance Delivery Education

  • Enables students from across the United States to earn their B.A. in social work from their home communities.
  • Classes are conducted primarily through online web platforms, replicating the reality of practice in bush Alaska. 

Cohort Model

  • Specific to rural Alaska students who are either working in or have experience with the social service field.
  • Students come to Fairbanks for first week, as well as final three days of each semester to receive intensive classroom instruction. The rest is completed through audio conferences.
  • Rural students to form bonds and build an educational support network with fellow classmates, while receiving course instruction not only from the university instructor, but an Alaska Native Elder as well.
  • Incorporates both western and traditional approaches to learning.
  • “Growing our own” practitioners--meaning, instead of having a revolving door of well-intentioned practitioners in and out of rural Alaska in a year or less, we are “growing our own” practitioners from the rural communities themselves, who know the community intimately and are committed to staying.

Participation in the Cohort delivery program is determined through an application process. Please reach out to the department for more information.


Students on a laptop

The bachelor’s in social work curriculum includes a liberal arts base, with foundation requirements in the behavioral sciences, and sequences in social policy and services, practice methods and in field education. A major emphasis is preparing students for beginning social work practice with rural and Alaska Native populations. All majors in social work are also required to complete a 400-hour senior practicum experience.


  Social Work is available fully online!
The flexibility of online learning can be a significant advantage, allowing students to manage their studies alongside other commitments. It's advantageous to highlight the support and resources available to online students to ensure a robust learning experience. Online students are able to study at the in-state tuition rate which is significantly lower than many competitors.



The UAF Social Work program gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in their field of study through many unique opportunities. Students often choose to participate in our clubs, through the Critical Social Worker podcast, or by taking part in the AK-CAST Victims Service internships. The department also offers practicum support regardless of where students are located.


How can I get involved?

Engaging with organizations like the Organization of Student Social Workers, Phi Alpha Honor Society, or the National Association of Social Workers provides networking opportunities, professional development, and a sense of community among like-minded individuals.



Social Work Faculty

The focus on rural social work practice and Indigenous communities distinguishes UAF’s program from others. This unique focus, coupled with a student-centered, trauma-informed approach, provides a rich, culturally relevant learning environment.

Our faculty lead with specialized backgrounds and many years of experience that provide a supportive, healing centered, diverse experience in the classroom.