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 social work courses. These curriculum additions were a precursor to the Association of Schools of Social Work (AASSW) approving the school's first certificate program in 1934. Two years later, UB offered a second post-graduate year of social work education.

Continued growth

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

  • More than 700 graduate students now study in a broad array of programs, including a full- and part-time Master of Social Work (MSW), Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and PhD programs, as well as dual degree programs leading to JD/MSW, MBA/MSW, MPH/MSW or BA/MSW degrees.

Additional highlights:

  • In 2019, the UB School of Social Work admitted its first cohort for the all-online DSW program — the first DSW program in SUNY and the region. The DSW educates students to use implementation science strategies to translate research into best practice interventions while identifying barriers and enablers of effective treatment. 
  • In 2013, the MSW program began offering an all-online education and accepting online students, empowering more people from a wider geography to access our faculty and curriculum.
  • 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 25 students annually, with 90% of graduates attaining faculty research positions.
faculty and staff, 1961.

Social Work faculty and staff, 1961

Community commitment

The school's comprehensive degree program offerings are reinforced by our commitment to broaden community-based research. 

To achieve this, the school has taken several important steps. These include:

  • Forming the Buffalo Center for Social Research (BCSR) in 2005 by merging the former Center for Research on Urban Social Work Practice and the Research Center for Children and Youth. BCSR is now located in the school’s future home, Parker Hall on UB’s South Campus.
  • Establishing the Program Evaluation Center in 2005.
  • Creating the Center for the Study and Prevention of School Violence in 2007.
  • Formalizing the UB/Amrita Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (UBARI) in 2010 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.” The effort began the previous year, when a cohort of faculty visited Amrita University in India to explore such a partnership, with the goal of strengthening invaluable international research relationships.

Trauma-informed and human rights perspectives

In 2009, the school officially adopted trauma-informed and human rights perspectives in social work education, policy and practice. Our Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC), established in January 2012, has quickly become an integral part of studying and disseminating those perspectives.

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 initial AASSW accreditation.

Today, we maintain our full accreditation status with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). With a ranking among the top 10% of social work programs in the nation, ever-expanding community outreach and real-world impact, the school is prepared for its next reaffirmation review by CSWE in 2026.