School of Social Work

Message from the Dean

Welcome to the Whitney M. Young Jr., School of Social Work (WMYJSSW) at Clark Atlanta University (CAU).

We prepare students to address complex Human and social issues that confronts today’s society. Using the Afro-centric perspective, which is grounded in the African ethos, “I am because we are” our students work to achieve social justice for the poor, oppressed, people of color, and other marginalized groups. If you believe in culturally diverse practice and social justice for all, I hope you will consider the Whitney M. Young Jr., School of Social Work.

At the WMYJSSW you will find opportunities to engage with diverse student body and faulty that will inspire you to learn and grow. We are located in metropolitan Atlanta, nestled within the Atlanta University Center (AUC), the largest configuration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the world. Our faculty includes a diverse group of scholars that are actively engaged in cutting edge research to address complex culturally diverse human and social issues locally, nationally, and globally. Their practice and research experience undergirds our long-standing commitment to social justice.

Our WMYJSSW offers a BSW, MSW, and PhD program: we offer an innovation, enriched curriculum that reflects current and future practice needs. Our environment is supportive yet challenging and encourages intellectual curiosity from our students and faculty, a like. Our curriculum offers a range of social work courses and diverse field education sites, community service opportunities, and collaborative partnerships with Morehouse School of Medicine and CAUs Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development. Our BSW program offers a rigorous generalist practice program that prepares Students for entry level social work practice. Our MSW program offers an Advance Direct Practice concentration with foci in Child and Family and Health / Mental Health. Our MSW students are also engaged in rigorous research opportunities via completion of a thesis or conceptual paper.

At the WMYJSSW, we are committed to addressing complex human and social issues that confronts society using an Afro-centric perspective that emphasizes social justice for African Americans and other marginalized groups. Now more than ever, social workers are needed to challenge injustices and work to alleviate human and social issues to affect positive change. I invite you to join us in this effort.

Warm regards,

Jenny Jones, Ph.D.,
Dean and Professor

Contact School of Social Work

Phone Number: 404-880-8549
Thayer Hall Clark Atlanta University James P. Brawley Drive, S.W. Atlanta, GA 30314


Founded in 1920, the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work is the nation’s first accredited school of social work at a historically black college or university (HBCU), and the first to be accredited in the State of Georgia. The school is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and has maintained its accreditation since 1952.

The School utilizes an Afrocentric, autonomous social work practice model to prepare culturally competent practitioners capable of intervening and working with systems of all sizes and resolving problems that particularly affect African American children, families, and males within the context of family and community. 

The curriculum is built on a liberal arts base and is guided by humanistic values.  Graduates are prepared to recognize and impact social and economic injustice issues at the local, regional, national, and international levels.

About Whitney Moore Young Jr.

Whitney Moore Young Jr. was a noted civil rights pioneer, social worker and statesman who served as the first dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University, now known as Clark Atlanta University (CAU).

Young was one of the organizers of the historic March on Washington (1963) as well as an important advisor to U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon. He pushed for federal aid to cities, proposing a domestic “Marshall Plan” and was widely recognized as the coauthor of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.  He served as Executive Director of the National Urban League (1961-1971), president of the National Conference on Social Welfare in 1965 and president of NASW in 1969.

At the age of 33 Young was named Dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University. He was the first to hold the title of dean in the school’s history and served from 1954 to 1961. During his tenure as dean, Young supported alumni in their boycott of the Georgia Conference of Social Welfare, which had a poor record of placing African Americans in good jobs. At the same time, he joined the NAACP and rose to become its state president. Young also played a lead role in getting CSWE to adopt an accreditation standard on non-discrimination.

Born in Kentucky in 1921. Young earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kentucky State University. From 1942-1944, while serving in the U.S. Army, he studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After his discharge from the military, Young returned from overseas and went on to earn his MSW from the University of Minnesota. He then began to work with the Urban League in Minnesota, later became executive secretary of the Urban League in Omaha, Nebraska. During his ten-year tenure as Executive Director of the National Urban League (1961-1971), Young transformed the organization into a leader in the civil rights movement.

Throughout his career, Young received many honorary degrees and awards —including the Medal of Freedom (1969), presented by President Lyndon Johnson—for his outstanding civil rights accomplishments. A prominent lecturer and author of several books, Young completed his first full-length book, “To Be Equal,” in 1964. A second, “Beyond Racism,” was published in 1969. Young was also honored in 1981 by the United States Postal Service on a postage stamp issued as part of its ongoing Black Heritage series. 

In 2000, Clark Atlanta University renamed its school of social work after Young in honor of his years of service to the university and to the social work profession.

School of Social Work News
Academic Programs

The Afrocentric Perspective

The Afrocentric Perspective is a culturally grounded social work practice-based model that affirms, codifies, and integrates common cultural experiences, values, and interpretations that cut across people of African descent. 

The Perspective encompasses the intersectionality of race, and other societal factors such as gender, ethnicity, social class, ability status and sexual orientation.  Further, the Perspective acknowledges African cultural resiliency as a foundation to help social work practitioners solve pressing social problems that diminish human potential and preclude positive social change. 

Thus, Afrocentric social work practice as a pedagogy imbedded within the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work Programs, endeavors to prepare our students to address specific psychological, social, spiritual, and economic problems experienced by people of African descent and to address problems confronted by all people.

  • The combination and utilization of cultural sensitivity and cultural competence in social work practice.
  • The examination of how two or more social constructions of oppression and/or privilege intersect to shape people’s social environment and cumulative lived experiences.
  • In social work practice this area of assessment and intervention seeks to understand a client’s sense of self, sense of meaning and purpose, in an attempt to offer solutions to better manage life challenges.
Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requires all programs to measure and report student learning outcomes. Students are assessed on their mastery of the practice behaviors that represent competencies that comprise the accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education. These competencies are dimensions of social work practice which all social workers are expected to acquire during their professional training.

School of Social Work Events

Annual Hooding Ceremony

Join us in celebrating a proud tradition of excellence at the Annual Hooding Ceremony for the Clark Atlanta University School of Social Work, home to The Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work – Georgia’s pioneering institution in the field. Established as the first school of social work in the state, we have been shaping compassionate and dedicated social work professionals for generations.

The Hooding Ceremony symbolizes the transition from student to professional, as each graduate is adorned with their academic hood, a traditional rite of passage signifying their readiness to embark on a meaningful career in social work.