Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare

Berkeley Social Welfare’s undergraduate major offers Berkeley undergraduate students a broad-based introduction to America’s social welfare problems and social policies within a social science context.

Since 1942 Berkeley Social Welfare has offered the undergraduate major in Social Welfare leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree, under the auspices of the College of Letters and Science ("L&S").

The Social Welfare undergraduate major is a designated “group major” grounded in the liberal arts, rather than specialized training in the profession of social work. Students who successfully complete the major program are awarded the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.

Berkeley Social Welfare’s undergraduate major reflects our goal to provide Berkeley undergraduate students with a broad-based introduction to America’s social welfare problems and social policies within a social science context. The curriculum, as reflected in the core major courses, focuses both on the history and institutions of social work as a field of activity and on the welfare state as a collective enterprise addressing human need. Students gain knowledge of organized networks of public and private social services, and the basic practice methods associated with the social work profession. In doing so, students acquire the knowledge needed to understand, address, and actively participate in the amelioration of critical social problems in American Society.

Social Welfare is a popular major, and prerequisites and enrollment controls for required courses are in place to manage student demand. Students interested in declaring the Social Welfare major should:

  • Thoroughly explore the Social Welfare field as a major, and become familiar with the curriculum and its required sequence.
  • Complete the prerequisite entry requirements as soon as possible.
  • Be aware of priority deadlines to declare the major, and file the Petition to Declare a Major as soon as all of the prerequisites have been completed.

Please see our online Undergraduate Major Student Handbook for complete information on requirements and resources for Social Welfare majors.

Social Welfare Major Advising

Our Undergraduate Advising Office is located in the Social Welfare Student Services Office in 101 Haviland Hall. Questions and requests for advising appointments should be sent by email to swundergrad@berkeley.edu.

For the most up-to-date information regarding major advising appointment options and availability, please visit Social Welfare Advising and Student Services. Please note we do not make same-day appointments.

Summer 2022 Undergraduate Advising

Advising for Summer 2022 is available by appointment only.  

Please email swundergrad@berkeley.edu to set one up! 
For appointments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, students will have the option of a virtual or in person meeting.  On Mondays, appointments will be virtual.  If you are coming in for an in person appointment, please check in using the QR code in 101 Haviland, and I will be with you as soon as I am able.  

How to Declare the Major: Non-Transfer Students

The next opportunity to submit a petition to declare Social Welfare as your major will be Fall 2022. The petition submission period will begin Tuesday, September 6th at 10am, and will close Tuesday, September 27th at 4pm. This does NOT Apply to transfer students. If you are a transfer starting in Fall 2022, please see the next section for how to petition to declare as a transfer student.

Social Welfare is a high-demand/impacted major, which means there are specific eligibility requirements that must be met without exception in order to declare the Social Welfare major. Students must meet the following requirements to be considered:

  • Have completed all prerequisite entry requirements (see below) with a letter grade of C or better.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.0.
  • Have accrued less than 80 cumulative units, including work in-progress. *Please note that we do not count transfer units in this total.

Students are eligible to submit the Petition to Declare e-Form (Google Form) after they have completed all of the prerequisite entry requirements and received a letter grade for each course. Petitions must include unofficial transcripts and a 4-year program plan indicating how the applicant intends to complete the major requirements by their expected graduation date. For assistance with program planning, please make plans to meet with a major adviser. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

How to Declare the Major: Transfer Students

For transfer students, eligibility to declare a major begins and ends before their second semester at UC Berkeley; thus, all transfer students must declare before their second semester.

Fall 2022 Transfer Students

Welcome to UC Berkeley! As noted in your acceptance letter, you have been admitted to the College of Letters and Science, and not to a specific major. Social Welfare is considered one of the College’s impacted, or “high-demand” majors, meaning that there are restrictions on the number of students who can be declared each academic year.  In order to best position yourself to declare Social Welfare as your major, it’s important that you complete the following steps as soon as possible.  For Fall 2022, there are 2 application cycles, so please carefully read the eligibility requirements to see which cycle is appropriate for you.

If you are an incoming transfer student who intended to declare social welfare and/or had the prerequisites completed prior to the Fall 2022 semester:

  1. Review the major requirements and complete the 2-year program plan: You may download a sample plan [Word doc] to use as a template for your own, submitting an exact replica if you’d like. This step is requested by the department to ensure that students are aware of the requirements; it is not a binding contract and you are welcome to make changes at a later time.
  2. Complete the Petition to Declare e-Form when it opens: You will upload your 2-year program plan as well as unofficial transcripts.

The first petition submission period will open on Friday, June 24th at 4pm and will close on Friday, August 1st at 4pm. Students will be notified of their status no later than Thursday, August 18th.

If you are a transfer student in your first semester at Berkeley, and will have the prerequisites completed before your second semester:

  1. Review the major requirements and complete the 2-year program plan: You may download a sample plan [Word doc] to use as a template for your own, submitting an exact replica if you’d like. This step is requested by the department to ensure that students are aware of the requirements; it is not a binding contract and you are welcome to make changes at a later time.
  2. Complete the Petition to Declare e-Form when it opens: You will upload your 2-year program plan as well as unofficial transcripts.

The petition submission period will open on Friday, December 16th, 2022 at 4pm and will close on Friday, January 6th, 2023 at 4pm. Students will be notified of their status no later than Wednesday, January 18th.

Please note that transfer students must have completed all prerequisites for the major prior to applying to the major.  For more information, please read the Declare or Change Major FAQ on the L&S Advising website. As noted, it is highly recommended that you spend some time researching a non-restricted major as an back-up and have an alternative program plan in mind.

Enrollment Rules for Social Welfare Majors

The following enrollment rules are in effect for Social Welfare undergraduate majors and courses:

  1. Students must be declared in the major in order to enroll in the core classes. Social Welfare majors should plan to begin taking the core classes the semester after they are declared.
  2. Social Welfare majors must begin the core series by taking Social Welfare 110. Students may take core classes concurrently if offered during the same semester, with the exception of 110 and 112. Seats in SOC WEL 112 are reserved for students who have completed SOC WEL 110.
  3. Currently, core classes are offered on the following schedule:
    • SOC WEL 110: Fall and Spring
    • SOC WEL 112: Fall and Spring
    • SOC WEL 114: Fall and Spring
    • SOC WEL Elective: At least social welfare elective is offered each term; offerings typically vary by term. For current class schedules and course descriptions, please consult the Berkeley Academic Guide.
  4. Courses from the Master List of Approved BASW Electives may be taken before being officially declared in the major. Please note, most of the departments from the elective list reserve seats for majors only during Phase I. Questions about enrollment in specific courses from this list should be directed to the major adviser(s) in those offering departments.

Apply to the Senior Honors Thesis Program

The online application to participate in the Honors Thesis Program during the 2022-2023 academic year is now closed.

Social Welfare 2022 Honors Thesis Program Application [Google Form]

For complete information on eligibility for the Senior Honors Program and how the thesis works, please see the Undergraduate Major Student Handbook > Senior Honors Program.

Social Welfare Special Studies Course Proposals & Deadlines

Social Welfare special studies courses include SOC WEL 97/197, Field Studies in Social Welfare; SOC WEL 98/198, Group Study in Social Welfare and DeCal courses; and SOC WEL 199, Supervised Independent Study and Research.

For Special Studies courses policies, procedures and instructions for submitting course proposals, please see the Undergraduate Major Student Handbook > Special Studies section.

Special Studies Course Proposal Deadlines

CourseFall 2022 DeadlineSpring 2023 Deadline
97/197 June 1, 2022 Oct. 7, 2022
98/198 June 1, 2022 Oct. 7, 2022
199 Sep. 2, 2022 Jan. 27, 2023

Special Studies Course Proposal Forms