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Social Work Program

What classes will I take if I enter a social work program?

Master's degree programs in social work are designed to help aspiring social workers acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively in their profession. Social work programs at the master's level include both in-class coursework and clinical fieldwork. Coursework includes classes in social welfare policy, human behavior, ethnocultural issues, community organization, theory of psychotherapy, as well as conflict management, and ethics.

Through the clinical component of the social work degree program, students master the skills required to assess client needs, draw up psychotherapeutic treatment plans, identify pertinent social and community resources, intervene in crisis situations,

How should I prepare myself to succeed in a social work program?

Aspiring social work students should recognize the great commitment necessary to complete a social work degree and pursue a career in this rewarding and challenging profession. In choosing particular social work schools to apply to, students should do as much research as possible on each program by reading the program's promotional literature to determine its philosophy and theoretical bend. Incoming students will also find that visiting the campus to observe classes and talk to current students will offer them a unique insight.

Before filing an application with the admissions office, applicants should make sure their admissions packets are complete and that they have included a personal essay that highlights their achievements in the best light to make a strong case for why they would make a positive contribution to the social work program.

Admissions to social work programs can be competitive, and applicants should strive to get top grades and test scores. In addition, volunteer work or previous work experience in a social work setting or related field will go a long way toward keeping an application out of the slush pile when being reviewed by a prestigious social work school. Although volunteer or work experience cannot completely erase the effects of a low GPA or GRE score, it can mean the difference between being accepted and being waitlisted or rejected for those with borderline credentials. Because of the competition to get into social work school, applicants should apply to as many schools as they can afford to in light of the application fees.

Taking a broad sampling of social science courses as an undergraduate is great preparation for entering a social work program, as is getting hands-on experience as a volunteer or intern in a social work setting. You must keep in mind that the goal of social work school is largely to develop skills of critical thinking, observation, and empathic listening. The fieldwork or internship component of your program will be vital to developing the necessary skills. You can best ensure your success in this aspect of your social work program by choosing a placement that interests you and caters to your personal strengths. Fieldwork placement may include internships at college or university counseling centers, local hospitals or psychiatric facilities, rehabilitation centers, social service and child protection agencies, as well as government agencies, including the Veterans' Administration.

Social Worker Schools