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School of Social Work

School of Social Work Welcome, Mission & History

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Mission  |  History 

Welcome from Director Dr. Jerome Kolbo

Jerome Kolbo

Social work is one of the most vital and fastest-growing professions in America and in the world today. As our society continues to experience unprecedented change, social workers are on the front lines of helping individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to respond effectively to new social, economic, personal and interpersonal demands.

Social workers function in a wide variety of capacities and settings--child protection workers in public agencies; family therapists in private practice; discharge planners in hospitals; policy analysts in advocacy organizations; entry-level practitioners; and chief executive officers in social service agencies. The prospects for an exciting and rewarding career in social work are excellent, if you aspire to make a difference in the lives of "real people."

At The University of Southern Mississippi School of Social Work, we are proud to offer both the bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. The master's program is offered in three scheduling formats: full time (two years), part time (three years) and Advanced Standing (BSWs only). We prepare undergraduates for generalist social work practice and for graduate school.

Our graduate students are prepared for relational practice. This program provides students with the wide spectrum of conceptual and practical tools they need to address complex, multidimensional problems in virtually any social context. All our graduates complete a rigorous curriculum rich in classroom and field work experiences. The undergraduate and graduate programs are offered at both the Southern Miss Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.

We provide our students with a welcoming and stimulating environment. A total of 13 faculty and five administrative staff members come to know students as individual through face-to-face courses and educational experiences offering them just the right blend of challenge and support needed to form committed and capable professional social workers.

Meet our Faculty


As the Director of the School of Social Work, I am pleased to share the following inclusion, diversity, and equity statement crafted under the leadership of Dr. Curtis Davis and the STRIDE Team. Our statement was recently adopted by the faculty and staff of the School. We view our statement as a driving force for elevating conversations within and outside the university setting, re-imagining both our implicit and explicit curriculum, and generating meaningful education and training initiatives. 

I encourage you to review our statement and share with others. This is who we are. This reflects our position and our expectations.

STRIDE Statment

Black Lives Matter

Mission Statement

The USM School of Social Work develops and communicates social work knowledge and skills consistent with the values and ethics of the profession.  We are inspired by a vision of social justice and advocacy for the well-being of all people.  Our graduates produce dynamic solutions for personal, interpersonal, and systemic challenges with particular attention to the needs of people who are poor, oppressed, and underserved. (Adopted 2.14.2020)


Goals and Objectives

Derived from the School mission are the following program goals. The faculty believes that the School’s goals and objectives were logically derived from its stated mission above.  

We prepare students for competent, ethical, and culturally informed social work practice.  

  • We deliver a dynamic, integrated competency-based curriculum.  
  • We infuse opportunities across the curriculum for students to demonstrate mastery of social work knowledge, skills, and values.  
  • We promote a professional social work identity.  

We advance knowledge relevant to social work practice and social welfare.  

  • We engage faculty, staff, and students in research and scholarship.  
  • We pursue and secure external funding to support research and program activities.  
  • We translate research findings and critical inquiry into scholarly products that inform practice, policy, and social service delivery.  

We inspire realization of human potential.  

  • We promote healthy human growth and development.  
  • We develop dynamic strategies and actions to address oppressive social conditions.  
  • We model leadership and advocacy for social change. 

(Adopted February 2020)


School of Social Work History 

The School of Social Work offers both the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees. The MSW program started in 1974. A part-time program began at Southern Miss' Gulf Park campus in 1996, and a part-time program was operated in Tupelo from 1997 to 2003.


The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the national association representing social work education in the United States, accredits the School of Social Work’s BSW and MSW programs. The BSW program achieved initial accreditation in 1996, and has been continuously accredited since that time, including the on-site program at the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in fall 2005. The MSW program has been continuously accredited since 1976.


Directors of the school have included:

  • Jerome Kolbo, 2019-Present
  • Tim Rehner, 2008-2019
  • Michael Forster, 2000-2008
  • Earlie Washington, 1992-2000
  • Beulah Compton, 1988-1992
  • Shirley Jones, 1977-1987
  • Lester Glick, 1974-1976

College Affiliation

The school is part of the College of Education and Human Sciences, one of four academic colleges at The University of Southern Mississippi. The college was newly formed in summer 2018 as part of a university-wide academic reorganization. 


Contact Us

School of Social Work

250 Joseph Greene Hall (JGH)

Campus Hattiesburg

Campus Map



Contact Us

School of Social Work

320 Hardy Hall (HH)

Campus Gulf Park

Campus Map