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University of Otago
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Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

This course is available


Level of Study

Bachelor's Degree


4 years

Next start date

Expected Feb 2025


University of Otago


The Social Work programme at the University of Otago offers two main qualifications designed for different career stages of professional social workers:

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is designed for students wishing to obtain a first qualification in Social Work that qualifies them to apply for registration as social workers in New Zealand.

The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is designed for mid-career social workers who are already registered but wish to undertake further professional development in a more focused area of professional practice.

Possible into the BSW programme via one of two pathways:

Students can undertake a four-year undergraduate programme by first enrolling as Social Work Pre-professional students (under the BA programme) and then applying for possible into the third-year stage of the BSW programme (the Social Work Pre-professional years count as the first two years of a four-year BSW programme).

If students have already completed another bachelor’s degree majoring in a relevant subject such as Psychology or Sociology (other options may be suitable), they can apply for admission directly into the third-year stage of the BSW programme.

Entry criteria

a. Admission to the programme shall be determined by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) on the advice of the Social Work Admissions Committee.

b. To be admitted to the programme at the Third Stage, an applicant must have passed papers worth 234 points from the First and Second Stages as specified in the schedule of papers for the degree, or have completed the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Science (majoring in Psychology), or Bachelor of Education Studies, or have completed a degree at another tertiary education institution (in the same, or similar, subject areas) and have taken an approved course in Maori language and tikanga.

c. Candidates will be selected on the basis of their academic record, personal suitability and proven experience in the social services. The Social Work Admissions Committee must be satisfied that applicants meet the requirements of the Social Work Registration Act 2003.

d. All applicants whose primary language is not English, Maori or New Zealand Sign Language must demonstrate either:

i. an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 7.0 in the academic band (with no band score lower than 7.0), or

ii. a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Internet-based test (iBT) score of 95 or higher with a writing score of 22.

These tests must have been completed in one sitting within the previous two years, and evidence must be provided by way of certified results.

Note: Admission to and enrolment in the programme are subject to safety checking of students for suitability to work with children, as required under the Children's Act 2014.

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