We’ve been leading social work education for more than a century.

Founded in 1917, the School of Social Work stands as the first school of its kind in the South, as well as one of two programs in Virginia (and only 56 nationwide) to offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the discipline. Ours is one of the largest accredited, comprehensive social work programs in the U.S. 

Through an innovative curriculum, diverse field experiences, and ambitious and proactive research priorities, the School of Social Work informs the leaders of today and prepares the leaders of tomorrow. Learn more about what makes VCU a great choice for the more than 1,100 students enrolled in the School of Social Work.


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Founded in 1917 as the Richmond School of Social Economy, the first social work program in the South

Dean Angell’s welcome

Beth AngellAs dean of the VCU School of Social Work, I have the great privilege of leading a dynamic school dedicated to excellence in educating social workers and developing cutting-edge knowledge to change society. Ours is the South’s oldest social work program – founded in 1917 – and consistently ranked among the nation’s best over the past two decades. U.S. News and World Report currently ranks us No. 25 on its list of best graduate schools for social work. 

We are one of only 56 schools in the nation to offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in social work. A VCU degree – or degrees, as many of our B.S.W. graduates continue with us and earn their M.S.W. – provides the foundation and skills for our alumni to make a difference by improving the lives of individuals, families and communities in a variety of work settings. 

Master's-level students can specialize in micro-social work with a clinical practice focus, or in macro-social work centered around administration, policy and planning practice. Irrespective of their specialization, students obtain the knowledge and skills to engage in social and racial justice advocacy. Our Ph.D. students represent the next generation of social work faculty and researchers, generating, implementing and communicating knowledge to advance social justice, improve human well-being and ameliorate social problems.

Our faculty are a diverse body of educators  and researchers working to dismantle inequitable systems, empower individuals and communities, and promote caring solutions to practical, pressing issues in our society. Our adjunct faculty and field instructors, many of whom are alumni, bring real-world experience into the classroom and internships as they teach and mentor our students. Our student success team are staff dedicated to advising, listening, engaging and holistically supporting our students in the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs.

As a first-generation college student myself, I am proud that many in our programs also represent the first in their families to attend college. Other students are changing careers, and many of our undergraduate students join us as transfers.”

Our school is striving to be an epicenter for equity, committed to anti-racist practice approaches, and also deeply embedded in supporting our community. With a century of history in Richmond, we are deeply ingrained in the fabric of the city through research partnerships, service projects and student internship placements. 

Whether they are learning in person or online, our students derive a sense of community by building relationships with their peers. VCU students are passionate advocates for community causes and issues around equity and social justice, themes that resonate regardless of location. We expect students will bring a passion and hunger for change to our engaging academic environment, where they will learn the skills needed to effect that change. We challenge our students to think critically and to draw on evidence-based methods of addressing the problems that affect marginalized populations locally, nationally and globally.

Ultimately, our VCU social work graduates are professionals who step up for their communities, speak up when it’s time for hard truths and conversations, and stand up to confront inequity in all its forms. We welcome you to join their ranks.

Beth Angell, Ph.D.
Dean and professor
VCU School of Social Work

Our mission

The mission of the VCU School of Social Work is to prepare professional social workers as practitioners, scholars and leaders; to generate research and scholarship for advancing knowledge and practice; and to contribute to the local, state, national, international and professional communities to improve quality of life.

Guided by the principle of promoting social and economic justice in a diverse and multicultural society, our programs focus on service to and empowerment of people who experience oppression or vulnerability due to inadequate or inequitable distribution of personal, social or institutional resources.

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