Social work has come to be regarded as a profession during the past 60 years, so that training at the tertiary level is now the only qualification accepted for admission to the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). This requirement for formal, in-depth training has accompanied developments in the biological, psychological and social sciences and the increasing complexity of industrial society. The emergence of "social" work has, in fact, been universally associated with the rapid and seeming unabated growth of industrial society.
In Australia in the last half of the 20th century, developments in social work as a profession were rapid, including the provision of undergraduate social work education in several university departments of social work. The University of Sydney has the nation's longest tradition of producing graduates in social work, celebrating 70 years in 2010.
Tertiary training courses vary but undergraduate qualifications require at least four years' full-time study. At the undergraduate level, the University offers the Bachelor of Social Work course.
From 2011, the University will also offer a two-year full-time course for graduates of other disciplines who have extensive work experience in the human-services field and are seeking a qualification in social work. Completion of this course will result in the award of a Master of Social Work (Qualifying).
At the postgraduate level, the University offers a wide range of coursework study options (including master's degrees, graduate diplomas ans graduate certificates) and research degrees in social work (PhD, Doctor of Social Work and Master of Philosophy).