Welcome from the Dean

Welcome to the Columbia School of Social Work. Please explore our School’s website in depth to learn more about our longstanding commitment to social justice, human rights, and excellence through diversity.

Our Mission Is Social Justice.
With 120 years of accomplishment behind us and with eyes fixed firmly on the future, the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW) seeks to maximize human well-being and ensure that all can reach their full potential. Cutting edge education, rigorous research, and an abiding dedication to social justice form the pillars undergirding all that we do. Our approach is rooted in the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our faculty, staff, and students commit themselves to eradicating injustice, alleviating suffering, combating racism, rectifying systemic inequities, and promoting full and fair access to opportunity in all sectors and strata of society.

Our Education Is Rigorous.
Our educational programs are nationally recognized for their breadth, depth, and rigor. Unlike most schools of social work, our Master’s degree candidates have the ability to specialize in wide-ranging areas of application, including clinical practice, policy, advocacy, and social enterprise administration. Our doctoral program emphasizes advanced study in a broad variety of topic areas, encompassing assessment of health interventions, comparative analysis of social welfare programs, and the use of social media data to prevent violence. Talented students at both the Master’s and doctoral levels have the opportunity to participate in active research studies, working side-by-side with experienced investigators, learning how to critically evaluate the evidence and draw valid conclusions on questions of consequence. In all our programs, leadership skills are honed, so that our graduates emerge with the power to persuade and create positive change in the myriad environments in which they work.

Our Research Is Innovative and Relevant.
The CSSW research portfolio is vast and varied, funded by sources ranging from private foundations to the National Institutes of Health, enabling our faculty to pursue research that is ethical, novel, and relevant. CSSW research touches on challenges ranging from opioid addiction, to child poverty, to the spread of HIV, to the consequences of racism in healthcare. Further, the diversity of our research teams ensures that the School’s research portfolio is informed by multiple perspectives and experiences, representative of our communities and the populations that we serve. Our view is global, recognizing that worldwide systems are increasingly interconnected, and lessons learned in one part of the world can inform our strategy in others. Our approach to discovery is highly interdisciplinary, because tackling society’s most complex challenges requires nothing less. We insist upon the highest standards of investigation to identify which programs and interventions are effective, and which are not. CSSW is a leader in establishing the strongest evidence base for action and policy.

Our Community Is Diverse and Creative.
The CSSW community is characterized by individuals from diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and experiences; by receptivity to new ideas and approaches; by the freedom to question “accepted wisdom”; by an openness to respectful disagreement and dialogue; and by mutual esteem and support. We are fully committed to these principles, as they are pre-conditions for creativity and successful collaboration. We are a vibrant community that is always seeking new members with a demonstrated commitment to social justice, unbridled curiosity, and wide-ranging perspectives and expertise, so that we can pursue better systems and better science for a better society. If you want to make waves, join us. If you want to move mountains, join us. If you want to change lives through empowerment, join us. We are waiting to welcome you.

Melissa D. Begg
Dean & Professor
Columbia School of Social Work