In 1921, the regents of the University approved a formal Curriculum in Social Work which was offered by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. In 1935, graduate level social work education began at U-M within the Institute of the Health and Health Sciences. Only sixteen students completed the Master of Arts in social work degree offered by the institute. In 1936, the first master’s of social work degree (MSW) was offered by the Institute of Public and Social Administration (later to become the Institute of Social Work in 1946). From 1936 to 1951, a total of 348 MSW degrees were granted.
In 1951, the School of Social Work was established to offer a professional educational program on the graduate level leading to advanced degrees, and the program moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor, with Fedele F. Fauri acting as Dean until 1970. The School was first located in a small house on Washington and Thayer, before moving into the Frieze Building where it remained until 1998 when the school moved to a new dedicated building on the corner of South and East University. During the School of Social Work’s first year 91 full-time and 96 part-time students were enrolled. Today the School averages around 650 enrolled MSW students and 80 enrolled doctoral students. In 1952 the Council on Social Work Education was formed, and the National Association of Social Workers was formed in 1955. In 1957, the Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Social Science was created. In 1965, Congress enacted Medicare and Medicaid, and established the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In the past 15 years, the School has ranked either the #1 or #2 school of social work by U.S. News & World Report and ranked in the top three schools of social work for the past 30 years.