The School's history began in 1924, when Dr. Niles Carpenter arrived at the University to head the Sociology Department. He reported that "shortly after coming to Buffalo, I was asked to meet with a group of social workers and was given to understand that I was expected forthwith to start a School of Social Work, which was, to say the least, a surprise to me."
Despite Dr. Carpenter's initial astonishment, social work courses were added to the curriculum in 1926, and a certificate program was approved by the AASSW in 1934. Two years later, a second post-graduate year of social work education was added, leading to a Master of Social Services degree, and the School of Social Work was formally established with Dr. Niles Carpenter as its dean.
In 2009, the School marked the 75th anniversary of its first accreditation by the American Association of Schools of Social Work. The School has continuously maintained its full accreditation status with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The next reaffirmation review by CSWE is scheduled for the year 2019.
In recent years, the School has expanded its programs and enrollment and added several research centers. Over 500 students now study in a range of programs: Full- and part-time M.S.W. programs are available for both regular and advanced-standing students. The dual-degree JD/MSW program, begun in 1987, is now open to advanced-standing students. In 2000, the School added a BA/MSW combined degree program for eligible U.B. undergraduates. The Ph.D. Program in Social Welfare, begun in 1994, averages 25 students yearly and had 20 graduates by 2007 – 90% in faculty research positions.
The School of Social Work’s commitment to expand community-based research resulted in the establishment of the Center for Research on Urban Social Work Practice (CRUSWP) and the Research Center for Children and Youth (RCCY). In 2005, these Centers merged to form the Buffalo Center for Social Research (BCSR) that is housed in Parker Hall on the South Campus. That year under the auspices of the BSCR the Program Evaluation Center (PEC) was established, and in 2007 the Center for the Study and Prevention of School Violence was added.
In Parker Hall, also on the South Campus, the School has located centers for professional outreach and development. These include the UB Institute for Nonprofit Agencies, a collaboration with the UB School of Management working to strengthen the infra-structure of community based agencies; the School of Social Work/ Office of Mental Health Consortium; and the Office of Social Work Continuing Education.