GSSWSR building

History and Mission

As one of the nation’s oldest academic social work programs, the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR) is part of a college with a long-standing, well respected dedication to both scholarship and social responsibility. 

Program Mission Statement

Reflecting the core purpose, values, and ethics of the social work profession, the mission of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research is to strengthen the social fabric of society by training and preparing a dynamic, diverse, and culturally responsive workforce that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and anti-racism.

As a school, we are committed to social, economic, racial and environmental justice, trauma-awareness, and the development and implementation of anti-racist and anti-oppressive models of teaching and practice. GSSWSR's philosophy and practice reflect the larger college’s Quaker roots, its historical concern for oppressed and marginalized groups, and a commitment to transforming the world for the better.

We prepare students to apply person-in-environment and strengths perspectives to promote the well-being and human rights of diverse individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. Students in our program learn about innovative, research informed approaches to practice in current and emerging contexts.

Our generalist and advanced specialization courses prepare students to work across disciplinary boundaries and apply their knowledge and skills across a wide range of settings. Within the context of a liberal arts college, and intricately connected to the city of Philadelphia, we are committed to critical thinking in education, and to community-based research that contributes to more just and effective systems of care at the local, national, and international levels. 

Program Goals  

  • Students understand and apply social work ethics to decision making in practice across systems levels. 
  • Students understand, apply, and evaluate the knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive/affective processes for constructive and culturally responsive social work practice.   
  • Students understand and apply skills and strategies to promote inclusion, equity, and social, racial, environmental, and economic justice.   
  • To create and sustain a learning environment that is challenging, interdisciplinary, and supportive.  
  • Students understand and analyze the dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression, and apply this understanding to affirmative and trauma-informed models of practice across systems levels.  
  • Students engage in critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration as key tools for addressing complex social issues.
  • To foster a critical awareness of diversity and the social and cultural forces that impact individuals, families, organizations, and communities on a local, national, and global level.
  • Students understand and can engage in, and evaluate, ethical research-informed practice and the use of evidence informed approaches to increase the effectiveness of practice across systems levels.