Our History

Niles Carpenter came to UB in 1924 as head of the Sociology Department. He wasn’t expecting additional responsibilities, but Carpenter went right to work when asked to start a school of social work.

Within two years, the university was offering courses in social work. These additions to the curriculum served as a precursor to the Association of Schools of Social Work’s (AASSW) approval of the SSW’s first certificate program in 1934. Two years later, UB offered a second post-graduate year of social work education.

On this page:

Continued growth

The modern face of the school reflects its progressive creation and vision:

  • More than 500 graduate students now study in a broad array of programs, including full and part time MSW and PhD programs, as well as dual degree programs leading to JD/MSW, MBA/MSW, MPH/MSW or BA/MSW degrees.

Among our other highlights:

  • The MSW program recently began accepting online students, expanding the school's reach to encompass more communities across the country.
  • The JD/MSW program, established in 1987, is available to advanced-standing students.
  • The BA/MSW program is available to eligible UB undergraduates.
  • Since the creation of the PhD in Social Welfare program in 1994, it has averaged annually 25 students with 90 percent of graduates in faculty research positions.

Community commitment

The comprehensive degree program offerings are reinforced by the school’s commitment to expand community-based research. 

To achieve this, the school:

  • merged the Center for Research on Urban Social Work Practice (CRUSWP) and the Research Center for Children and Youth (RCCY) in 2005 to form the Buffalo Center for Social Research (BCSR), housed in Parker Hall on South Campus.
  • established the Program Evaluation Center (PEC) that same year and the Center for the Study and Prevention of School Violence in 2007
  • pursued valuable international research relationships. Between August 2009 and February 2010, a cohort of UB SSW faculty visited Amrita University in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, to explore a formal research partnership.
    • After signing a memorandum of understanding in May 2010, the UB/Amrita Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (UBARI) was established to “initiate, encourage, support, and conduct interdisciplinary joint research in the social and behavioral sciences as it relates to identified areas of need, such as HIV/AIDS, trauma, extreme events and disaster management, community development, mental health and alcohol abuse.

Trauma-informed human rights perspectives

With the school adopting a trauma-informed human rights perspectives in social work education, policy and practice, the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC), established in January 2012, has quickly become an integral part of the school.

By adding these lenses to current methods, social work students can:

  • increase their knowledge base
  • heighten their awareness of trauma-informed care
  • gain a deeper understanding of both issues and clients

In 2009, the school marked the 75th anniversary of its first AASSW accreditation and maintains its full accreditation status with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

With its ranking among the top 20 percent of social work programs in the nation and ever-expanding community outreach and real-world impact, the school is prepared for its next reaffirmation review by CSWE in 2019.