In addition to UK’s Lexington campus, students can also receive their Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) at the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) located in Hazard, KY. The BASW program was brought to the Center in 2013 after a workforce analysis identified a significant need for greater access to social work undergraduate education in the Hazard area. The curriculum and student learning outcomes established for the Hazard campus are the same as those employed in the Lexington campus BASW program. The partnership between UK’s CERH and the College of Social Work (CoSW) provides an educational opportunity to those seeking a profession rooted in service to others and focused on social justice, while staying close to home. Hazard students complete their general education and pre-major (61 credit hours) requirements with the Kentucky Community & Technical College System and then transfer to UK to complete their full-major BASW classes. New student cohorts are accepted into the BASW program in Hazard each fall. Students have access to exceptional resources to encourage their academic excellence including advanced technology, state of the art ITV classrooms, an on-site IT department, and contemporary student study areas. Additionally, student support services staff are available to advise students throughout their time in the program as well as provide them with tips and techniques to promote their success. As part of our efforts to encourage student success, each fall students participate in a CERH orientation which allows all of the Center students to get to know one another as well as familiarize themselves with the other academic disciplines at the Hazard campus. In conjunction with the opportunity to get to know one another, students are privy to note-taking tips and study strategies as well as a student and faculty panel. When asked about the BASW program at the Southeast campus, Mary Reffitt, BASW graduate in 2016 stated, “The faculty and staff at the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health are so supportive! I am excited to begin the next chapter in my life with confidence that I have the best education I could have received anywhere.” In 2014, the Rural Health Ambassador (RHA) program was established for all of the students at the Center. The ambassador program gives students an opportunity to give back to their community, plan and participate in social events, and serve others.
Once College of Social Work students complete their BASW, those meeting program requirements, can transition into the Master of Social Work (MSW) program also offered at the UK CERH. The MSW program is tailored to non-traditional students working full-time; subsequently, classes are offered in a hybrid model with limited class meetings in the evening.
Both the BASW and MSW programs allow non-traditional students to obtain a degree from the University of Kentucky without having to travel to Lexington. If not for the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health, many rural Kentuckians would not have an opportunity to pursue higher education nor would there be as many social workers in southeast Kentucky.