Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

Community Service-Learning for Bachelor of Social Work


Community Service Learning (CSL) is a required course for Bachelor of Social Work students during their junior year and includes a two-quarter service-learning commitment with a non-profit, community-based or public sector organization. These experiences are designed to prepare students for the more intensive professional practicum by developing professional skills and helping them identify an area of interest within the field.

CSL presents students with a unique opportunity to develop a better understanding of why one might choose social work as a field of study, and it is an opportunity for students to explore the world of social services in a hands-on way.  In addition, CSL provides undergraduate students with a valuable opportunity to bridge classroom content with “in-the-field” experiences.


  • Friday, October 13: Deadline for community partners to submit positions via EXPO
  • Monday, November 13 to Friday, November 17: Students register for CSL placements via EXPO
  • Friday, December 15: Students should have completed orientation and talked with their site supervisor to draft a learning contract
  • Week of January 2: Students begin regular weekly commitment (4-6 hours) with organization
  • Week of May 28: Last week of student commitment to organization.

As students engage in service-learning, they will hone their critical thinking skills, advocate for diversity and multiculturalism in support of social justice, while deliberating upon the political, historical and cultural context of social work practice. Students will have the opportunity to learn from community-based social services professionals and the communities they are working within. For many BASW students, the CSL internship is their first experience working in a social service setting.  Accordingly, it is a chance for students to explore areas of interest in the social work field and possible career paths.  CSL opportunities can encompass a broad range of service work including:

  • Direct work with individuals
  • Direct work with groups
  • Community building/community organizing
  • Policy/advocacy
  • Social services administrative work

Hosting CSL students

CSL students are expected to complete 4-6 hours each week during Winter and Spring Quarters (a minimum of 80 hours between December and June). Community partners are asked to propose CSL opportunities in October, students select positions in November, and are expected to complete orientation and have a draft learning contract complete by the end Autumn Quarter (mid-December). Students and community partners should plan for regular shifts to begin in January.

When developing a project or position title and description, keep in mind that:

  • Service-learning students choose their placement from a wide array of opportunities submitted by organizations.  A clear and thorough position description will help students make the best placement choice.
  • Focused projects with clear expectations, visible outcomes, and a plan for developing skills over time keep students on track, interested and motivated throughout their commitment!

Access EXPO, the Carlson Center’s online system, to submit a position. 

CSL Position Examples

DCF 1.0