United States Social Work Graduate Schools
Many social work graduate schools offer on campus graduate certificates, Masters in Social Work (MSW), Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and PhD in Social Work programming options. There are a variety of program formats, including full-time, part-time and dual degree social work graduate programs to consider, and several features to look for in a graduate school for social work.
Social Work Graduate Schools: Assessing Your Options
As of October 2016, in the United States, there were 250 accredited social work graduate schools offering Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited MSW programs.[i] That is quite a few options.
Choosing the ‘right’ social work grad school on a subjective basis plays an important part of shaping current and future social workers for meeting the needs of individuals and communities. In addition to the commitment of your time and finances, there are a few details to contemplate that may make your ultimate choice in social work school one that aligns with your career goals. These are, broadly;
- Choosing a social work graduate program
- Identifying unique features of a graduate school for social work
- Finding CSWE-accredited social work graduate schools
- Location; searching for social work schools in a specific area
Choosing an On-Campus Social Work Graduate Program
Ultimately, not all accredited graduate social work schools offer all the different programing options. Think about whether you are looking for an MSW program, a DSW program, a PhD in Social Work or a graduate certificate.
DID YOU KNOW?
When asked about their education level, 92% of healthcare social workers responded they had a Master’s degree, 4% a Post-Master’s certificate, 4% a Post-Baccalaureate certificate[ii]
An on-campus Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program typically involves a one to two-year program. Time to completion varies. For undergraduates with a Bachelor of Social Work earned in a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, entering as an advanced standing student may be an option, and may cut down on the length.
Those with a related undergraduate degree (e.g. Bachelor of Human Services, Bachelor of Psychology) may have to make up the foundational classes. If your interest is in direct practice as a clinical social worker, social justice and policy or administrative social work careers the MSW degree is one of the requirements.
DSW | PhD in Social Work
Social work doctoral studies include the research-focused PhD in Social Work and the clinically-focused Doctor of Social Work (DSW). While time to completion varies, it might take about four years to complete a doctorate degree. Doctoral social work students are typically prepared to take on leadership positions (e.g. College Social Work Professor, BSW Program Coordinator[iii]) within the field. At this academic level, students may focus on advancing the profession by conducting scholarly research on human development, counselling techniques, social policy, public administration, community development, or social program assessment.
Social Work Graduate Certificates
If you are looking to add onto existing credentials, several graduate social worker schools offer on-campus graduate certificates. Aside from continued professional development, social work graduate certificates may offer you transferrable credits to an MSW program. You might wish to consider this option in your search.
Identifying Unique Features of a Graduate School for Social Work
Aside from deciding on a social work graduate degree, there are a few things to research and assess when it comes to deciding on a social work graduate school. Here are a few things to consider;
- Licensure: Does the program prepare for LSW licensure? As a prospective MSW student, you may want to look for exam pass rates;
- Partnerships: What partnerships does a graduate social work school offer? Fieldwork is a necessary component of a MSW program. Find out whether your prospective grad school has partnerships for fieldwork in the vicinity or does it extend through other states and communities;
- Social Work Research: Look for innovative research or a curriculum that meets your needs. Some programs offer students the opportunity to choose a concentration (e.g. children and families) and an area of specialization (e.g. teen pregnancy, truancy, foster care);
- Scheduling: Flexibility of scheduling may be important to you. Some social work grad schools may offer part-time, full-time, dual-degree or hybrid formats. Courses may meet evenings, weekends or other times, and this must work with your level of commitment.
- Mission: What issues does the school tackle (mission)? Some social work graduate schools may emphasize issues related to HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, juvenile delinquency, hospice services and palliative care, veterans, violence against women, child welfare, elder abuse, or poverty. Ultimately, you need to feel connected to your social work school and what they stand for.
- Reputation: Speaking to alumni, social work professionals, and student services is one way to learn more about a social work grad school.
Find CSWE-Accredited Social Work Graduate Programs
It is very important that prospective social work graduate students attend CSWE accredited schools of social work. Why? If you graduate from a non-accredited school of social work, you may not be qualified to become licensed as a social worker. Some schools may claim to be accredited by other organizations, or may not be accredited at all. To double check accreditation of a social work graduate school or program, visit the Council on Social Work Education website.
Find Social Work Graduate Schools by Location
Use our on-page navigation to find on campus social work graduate programs by location. Whether you are interested in earning your degree locally or abroad, search for graduate social work schools in a specific city, state or country.
Why Consider Campus Social Work Graduate Programs?
Students might gravitate to choosing social work graduate schools with on-campus programs over online study for several reasons.
- Interaction: Real classrooms offer hands-on learning where you not only get to interact with classmates, but also with your professors in real-time. This might help you build the communication skills so intrinsic to the social work profession. Collaboration is usually part of a social worker’s tasks; what better way to perfect this ability than in graduate school?
- Time Management: Another important skill it might help you build and transfer into the workplace is the ability to manage your time. The discipline of getting to class is a valuable lesson. If you do intend to have your own social work private practice (one of the things a graduate degree in Social Work qualifies you to potentially do), you might benefit from keeping regular commitments and a consistent schedule.
- Access: Studying for your social worker graduate degree on campus gives you access to libraries, laboratories, student support services and other resources.
- Expanded Program Choices: You may find that social work graduate schools with campus programs offer a broader choice of courses than their distance-learning counterparts.
- Cohort Model: Some graduate schools for social work are based on the cohort model which means you enter a program with others, and progress through your studies with these classmates. If you learn well in a social learning setting this may be a good option for you.
Find a List of Social Work Graduate Schools
Choose the social work degree level (Masters, Doctorate, Certificate), or go straight to searching for social work graduate schools by location. From there, it is easy to request info. Reach out to a few prospective schools then filter by your preferences.
sources[i] cswe.org/Accreditation.aspx |[ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1022.00 |[iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1113.00
- Halifax, NSHalifax, NS
- London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
Goldsmiths, University of London
- York, United KingdomYork, United Kingdom
University of Bradford
The University of Bradford is proud of its reputation for making students from other countries feel welcome. We start the moment you arrive, if not be...
- York, United Kingdom
- New York City, NYNew York City, NY
City University Of New York, The Graduate Center
- Madison, WIMadison, WI
University of Wisconsin - Madison
The School of Social Work is consistently at the forefront of developing a conceptual understanding of social work practice and policy, and of producing research in important social problem areas. Faculty commitment to advancing social work practice...
- Sacramento, CASacramento, CA
California State University, Sacramento
- Winnipeg, MBWinnipeg, MB
University of Manitoba
MSW program structure with a common core Ph.D. program develops skills for research and teaching...
- Chapel Hill, NCChapel Hill, NC
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Athens, GAAthens, GA
University of Georgia
The MSW program at Georgia is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and our school is ranked in the top 25% of social work graduate...
- Buffalo, NYBuffalo, NY
University at Buffalo
The PhD in Social Welfare focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to critical social problems.
- Eltham, United KingdomEltham, United Kingdom
University of Greenwich
- Lexington, KYLexington, KY
University of Kentucky
- London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
University of Westminster
This course uses a combination of modules focusing on reflective practice, group and organisational understanding, and policy developments, in which l...
- London, United Kingdom
- Park Forest, ILPark Forest, IL
Governors State University
The proposed graduate degree program in Social Work (Master in Social Work- M.S.W.
- Binghamton, NYBinghamton, NY
Binghamton University (S.U.N.Y.)
Our Social Work grad program prepares students for making a change in the lives of those suffering from injustice of all kinds...
- Chester, PAChester, PA
Widener UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 14, 2019
The Master of Social Work program is designed to prepare social workers for agency-based clinical social work practice with individuals, families, and...
- Fairfax, VAFairfax, VA
George Mason UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 22, 2019
Master of Social Work, Social Work and Conflict Analysis and Resolution Dual Degree, MSW and grad cert program in gerontology...
- Kingston Upon Thames, United KingdomKingston Upon Thames, United Kingdom
- Quebec, QCQuebec, QC
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
University of California - Berkeley
Our accredited M.S.W. program is a two year course of study which prepares students for advanced professional social work practice.