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Masters in Social Work School Rankings

Master of Social Work School Rankings

When we assemble a list of universities for an academic subject, we try to select schools based on the traditional rankings provided by US News and World Report along with a few other criteria. One of them is cost and accessibility: Columbia has a terrific school of social work but living and learning in the middle of Manhattan is beyond the reach for most students, even with financial assistance for the tuition. Cost has an impact on the value of any degree. We also look for schools that may have an online option for degrees, although online MSW programs are scarce because of the extensive supervised field work that is required, but a few universities are venturing into online programs that require internships anyway.

1. University of Washington has the fourth ranked School of Social Work in the country according to US News & World Report. Students engage in study of core courses during the first year of the program and then move into an area of concentration in year two, concurrent with the field activity required for all MSW degrees. The areas of specialization for this program include Administration & Policy, Children & Families, Multigenerational Practice, Community Centered Integrative Practice, and Health/Mental Health with either of those areas as a sub-specialization.

2. University of Texas has a Master of Social Work program that is highly focused, with the curriculum variation limited to two general areas of concentration. This is a sixty credit hour degree that will require two full time school years to complete, with perhaps some additional clinical hours in order to qualify for licensure. The elective areas of focus are Clinical Social Work, and Community & Administrative Practice. Clinical social work is the counseling and work with individuals, families and groups. Community and Administrative Practice involves policy, advocacy, and program management.

3. University of Southern California has the eighth ranked School of Social Work in the United States. It is also one of the very few universities that offer an online MSW program for students anywhere in the country. The MSW@USC (link) launched in the fall semester of 2010 and has proven to be an enormous success. It is a rigorous academic program that requires all of the attention and field work associated with the campus learning experience. The four areas of concentration available for the online degree are Families & Children, Mental Health, Community Organization, Planning & Administration, and Military Social Work.

4. Washington University at St. Louis has a social work program. The Brown School of Social Work is understandably selective about its applicants, but it also awards $3 million in scholarships every year. The MSW program has several dual degree options and a fairly flexible curriculum that allows for extensive student input. The areas of concentration for this degree are Management, Social & Economic Development, Children, Youth & Families, Gerontology, Health, and Mental Health.

5. University of North Carolina is ranked for its Chapel Hill campus program. The foundation curriculum is stretched over both years, so students select an area of concentration early in the program. The three options are Direct Practice, which is working with children and families; Management & Community Practice, which is an administrative and advocacy orientation; and Self-Directed, which is a mix of both disciplines.

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