Family violence content in baccalaureate and master's level social work programs

Lynette M. Renner, Molly C. Driessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary: Scholars continue to call for social work students to be better prepared in the areas of family violence. In this study, we gathered information on the inclusion of intimate partner violence (IPV), child maltreatment, and elder abuse content in accredited baccalaureate and master's level social work programs across the United States. A survey invitation was sent to 538 baccalaureate and 306 master's level social work program directors in the summer of 2020. The final sample consisted of program directors representing 177 baccalaureate and 79 master's level social work programs. Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Findings: Data revealed that 12.43% of baccalaureate social work programs had a course on elder abuse, 25.42% had a course specific to IPV, and 60.45% had a course focused on child maltreatment; however, few programs required these courses. Master's program directors reported that 6.33% of their programs had a course on elder abuse, 34.18% on IPV, and 46.84% on child maltreatment; yet only three programs required a course on child maltreatment and none required courses on IPV or elder abuse. Applications: Social workers will likely work with client systems who experience family violence and it is critical that social work programs look for ways to improve the quantity and quality of family violence content into their curricula. It is also important for state licensing boards to require content on family violence at the initial and renewal stages. These educational efforts will enhance the knowledge and abilities of the social work workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-264
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • Social work
  • child abuse
  • domestic violence
  • elder abuse
  • family violence
  • social work education


Dive into the research topics of 'Family violence content in baccalaureate and master's level social work programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this