Summary: 2009 Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States
The Annual Survey of Social Work Programs (Annual Survey) is a census of accredited social work programs that has been conducted by the Council on Social Work Education since 1952. Data collected in the Annual Survey are the primary source of information about social work students, graduates, and faculty. In addition to advancing knowledge about social work education, the data are also used to determine program membership dues for accredited baccalaureate and master’s programs. The means of collection and reporting have changed over time, but the instrument itself remains largely unchanged.
The Annual Survey is broken into five sections, which cover baccalaureate programs, master’s programs, doctoral programs, full-time faculty, and part-time faculty. The program instruments include sections on program structure, enrollments, concentrations and field placements (BSW and MSW only), financial aid, and degrees awarded. The full-time faculty instrument collects demographic information along with information about faculty title, role, and time assigned to programs and tasks. The part-time instrument collects aggregate data about part-time faculty gender, age, and ethic/racial identification.
The surveys are administered online through the survey platform Zarca Interactive. In the fall of 2009, survey invitations were e-mailed to program directors at all accredited social work programs and to doctoral programs that are members of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education. Truncated text of the questions is used in most of this summary to conserve space; the entire text of the survey instruments is available at the CSWE website (http://www.cswe.org/CentersInitiatives/DataStatistics/ AnnualSurvey.aspx).
When reporting percentage breakdowns by gender, the number of respondents of “Unknown Gender” is omitted from computation. When reporting percentage breakdowns by age group, the total number of respondents is used for computation.
The response rates to the different sections of the survey were again quite high in 2009. The master’s programs had the highest response rate with 98.5%. The response rate for the Annual Survey has failed to reach 100% for some time. Thus the results presented here should be interpreted with caution.
Social work programs were asked to respond to questions about their structure and the institution in which they are housed. At the time of survey administration, there were 468 accredited baccalaureate and 198 accredited master’s social work programs in the United States. Of accredited programs at 523 institutions, 62.1% (325) were baccalaureate-only, 10.5% (55) were master’s-only, and 27.3% (143) had both baccalaureate and master’s accredited programs at their institutions.
Programs were asked to identify their institutional auspice: (1) public-state, (2) public-other, (3) private-denominational, or (4) private-other. The majority of accredited social work programs were housed in public institutions.
When looking at institutional auspice by program level, there were a lower proportion of stand-alone baccalaureate programs housed in public institutions. These baccalaureate-only programs were more evenly distributed between public and private institutions
Programs were asked if their institutions identified with specific gender or ethnic groups. Programs predominantly self-identified as “non-ethnic, coeducational” institutions (83.4%; 440). The largest category of programs identifying with a diverse population self-identified as “Historically Black College or University.”
Programs were asked to identify their institution’s primary setting using the categories urban, suburban, and rural. Master’s-only and institutions housing multiple programs were more likely to identify their setting as urban. Baccalaureate-only programs were more evenly distributed across setting.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching devised a framework for categorizing colleges and universities, which has been used extensively in higher education. A brief explanation of the basic categories in the Carnegie Classification is provided below, and further information can be found at the Carnegie Foundation website: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications
RU/VH: Research Universities (very high research activity)
RU/H: Research Universities (high research activity)
DRU: Doctoral Research Universities
Master’s/L: Master’s Colleges and Universities (larger programs)
Master’s/M: Master’s Colleges and Universities (medium programs)
Master’s/S: Master’s Colleges and Universities (smaller programs)
Bac/A&S: Baccalaureate Colleges—Arts & Sciences
Bac/Div: Baccalaureate Colleges – Diverse Fields
Bac/Assoc: Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges
Spec/Med: Special Focus Institutions—Medical Schools and Medical Centers
Spec/Health: Special Focus Institutions—Other Health Profession Schools
Spec/Faith: Special Focus Institutions—Theological Seminaries, Bible Colleges, and other faith-related institutions
Tribal: Tribal Colleges
The highest proportion of accredited programs were housed in institutions classified as Master’s/Larger Programs (30.8%), followed by Research University/High Research Activity (13.6%), Master’s/Medium Programs (13.0%), and Baccalaureate/Diverse Fields (11.8%). Social work programs offering doctoral degrees were most likely to be housed within RU/VH institutions. Baccalaureate-only programs were least likely to be housed within research institutions.
Since 1980, the federal Title IV-E child welfare training fund has been a source of financial assistance for social work students specializing in child welfare work. It is necessary to have current data on the number of social work programs participating in this program when discussing funding for social work education and student debt load. A total of 34.6% (154) of the baccalaureate programs that responded to this question (445) offered IV-E stipends in 32 states. Of the master’s programs that responded to this question (188), 51.1% (96) provided IV-E stipends in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
For 2009, 408 social work programs (78.0%) provided information on 3,963 full-time faculty members. For the purposes of this Summary Report, “full-time” refers to faculty members who spent 50% or more of an FTE in social work education. The full-time faculty instrument includes a separate form for reach individual faculty member. The instrument includes questions on faculty member demographic information, title, role, and percent of time assigned to different tasks.
Information was provided about each full-time faculty member’s age, gender, and racial/ethnic identification. The largest percentage of full-time faculty members fell into the 55-64 years age category (37.5%). Only 4.3% of the faculty members were under 35 years of age. The majority (67.8%; 2,627) of full-time faculty was female.
Table 7 shows the racial/ethnic identification of the full-time faculty members. Faculty members from historically under-represented groups (includes all categories, except White, Other, and Unknown) accounted for 27.9% (1,086) of faculty members. Additionally, 1.6% (64) faculty members were identified as foreign (no resident visa).
A majority of full-time faculty members had no administrative title. Of those faculty members with an administrative title, the program director titles were most common with 9.3% (332) holding one of those titles, followed by Director of Field Instruction.
The most common ranks held by full-time faculty members were Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, with a slightly lower number holding the rank of Professor.
Almost three-fourths of full-time faculty members held a doctoral degree in social work, social welfare, or another field. About one-quarter of full-time faculty members held a master’s degree in social work or another field. Almost all of the full-time faculty members (92.7%) have a master’s in social work; it is the highest earned degree for 25.3% of faculty.
The survey asked what professional licenses were held by faculty members; faculty members could report multiple licenses. A total of 2,619 licenses were held among 3,866 full-time faculty who responded to these questions. Among the faculty who held licensure, 68.5% had one license, 11.5% had two licenses, 1.9% had three licenses, 0.2% had four license. And one faculty member held five licenses.
The most commonly held license was the Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW). The most commonly reported “Other” licenses were Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW), held by 37 faculty members, and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), held by 36 full-time faculty members.
Almost one-half of full-time faculty members were tenured. Less than 2% of full-time faculty members were housed in institutions with no tenure system.
Most (93.8%) of the funding for full-time faculty came from their universities. The following tables include salary information on full-time faculty with titles of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor that did not have an administrative title and for whom we had no missing data for the variables at issue (1,570). Salaries were adjusted to reflect a nine-month academic period. If there were less than five faculty members in a single category, salary information was excluded to ensure confidentiality.
The median salaries (adjusted for 9 months) for full-time faculty members with no administrative title were $90,000 for Professors, $68,230 for Associate Professors, and $56,650 for Assistant Professors. The table below shows salaries by rank and Carnegie classification of the institutions where the faculty members were employed (see the Institutional section for more details on the Carnegie classifications).
Salaries based on social work program to which the faculty member had primary responsibility are presented below. At each rank, faculty members had higher salaries if they had some assignment to a graduate program.
Full-time faculty members devoted over one-half of their work time to teaching, followed by administrative and research activities.
A majority of full-time faculty members’ had instructional time at the master’s program level. Because full-time faculty might have teaching responsibilities at more than one program level, percentages in Table 16 sum to more than 100%.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, full-time faculty participated in the following types of publication activity.
The faculty section of the Annual Survey asked social work programs for aggregate data on their part-time faculty. For 2009, 70.6% of programs provided information on 4,182 part-time faculty or instructional staff. For the purposes of this Summary Report, “part-time” refers to faculty members or instructional staff who spent less than 50% of an FTE in social work education.
Information was provided about the age, gender, and racial/ethnic identification of part-time faculty members. The largest percentage of part-time faculty members fell into the 45-54 years old age category (23.1%). The majority (71.2%) of part-time faculty was female.
Part-time faculty tended to be younger than full-time faculty; more part-time faculty fell into the “under 35 years” age group and fewer part-time faculty fell into the “55-64 years” and “65 years or older” age groups than did full-time faculty.
The table below shows the racial/ethnic identification of part-time faculty members. Members of historically underrepresented groups accounted for 19.5% of part-time faculty. Additionally, 1.8% (75) part-time faculty were foreign (no resident visa). The racial/ethnic identification of part-time faculty was similar to that of full-time faculty.
About three-fourths of part-time faculty members held a master’s degree, most commonly in social work. About 15% of part-time faculty members held a doctoral degree, again most commonly in social work. Compared with full-time faculty, part-time faculty were much less likely to hold doctoral degrees.
The most common ranks held by part-time faculty members were Adjunct, Lecturer, and Instructor. Salary information was provided for 9.6% of the 4,135 part-time faculty members of known rank.
In 2009, 456 baccalaureate programs (97.4%) responded to the Annual Survey on Social Work Programs. The baccalaureate section addressed student enrollment, field placements, financial aid, and graduates. Additionally, some questions addressed structural components of baccalaureate programs. Most programs (79.6%; 358) reported that an application was required in order to declare social work as students’ major. Almost all programs (94.2%; 425) reported that they operated on a semester system.
Programs were asked to report student enrollment as of November 1, 2009. A total of 46,301 full-time students and 6,489 part-time students were enrolled as of November 1st for the academic year. Applications received, accepted applicants, and those accepted applicants who enrolled are reported below. It should be noted that the number of applicants most likely includes duplicates, since students may apply to more than one school.
• 23,967 - Applications received and considered
• 17,363 – Applicants accepted for admission
• 14,436 – New students enrolled for Fall 2009
There were 31,303 full-time juniors and seniors enrolled in 448 programs that provided this information, with an average of 69.9 students per program. The following table shows the distribution of enrolled full-time baccalaureate students by gender and age. Overall, the majority of full-time baccalaureate students was 25 and under in age (61.2%) and female (87.8%).
There were 5,203 part-time juniors and seniors enrolled in 229 programs that provided this information, with an average of 22.7 students per program. The following table shows the distribution of enrolled part-time baccalaureate students by gender and age. The age distribution among of part-time baccalaureate students was more evenly distributed than was the case for full-time baccalaureate students. However, the majority of part-time baccalaureate students, as for full-time students, was female (87.1%).
There were 12,015 full-time students from historically underrepresented groups, comprising 40.7% of the total full-time enrollment. Part-time students’ gender composition was comparable to full-time students (87.1% female; 4,385). However, part-time programs had a greater proportion of students from historically underrepresented groups (48.1%; 2,426). Among full-time juniors and seniors, 1.3% (409) were foreign (no resident visa). Among part-time juniors and seniors, 1.1% (58) were foreign.
In the 428 programs that provided this information, 14,746 full-time and part-time students were in a field placement as of November 1, 2009. Categories of field placements were provided, and programs were asked to report how many students were in each field placement category. Among the categories, Child Welfare continued to have the highest concentration of students (15.0%), followed by the category of Other (14.7%), Family Services (9.7%), School Social Work (8.0%), Health (7.9%), and Aging/Gerontological Social Work (7.8%). The most common “Other” placements were various types of youth services, veteran-related services, and GLBT-related services.
At the 272 programs that provided this information, an average of 85.3% (19,538) of full-time juniors and seniors received some form of financial assistance.
At the 285 programs that provided information about the racial/ethnic identification of students receiving financial assistance, 43.8% of the full-time juniors and seniors were students from historically underrepresented groups. Foreign (no resident visa) students comprised 2.2% (432) of the students receiving financial assistance.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, 449 baccalaureate programs awarded 14,018 degrees. Most graduates were female (89.3%) and 37.0% were from a historically underrepresented group.
Programs were also asked to report on graduate debt load. The graduate debt section had a lower response rate than other sections. On average, 78.2% of graduates acquired loan debt while working towards a BSW (246 programs reporting). The average debt load reported was $24,683 (215 programs reporting).
In 2009, 195 master’s programs (98.5%) responded to the Annual Survey on Social Work Programs. The master’s section addressed student applications, enrollment, concentrations, field placements, financial aid, and graduates. Additionally, some questions addressed structural components of master’s programs.
Programs were asked to report whether tests were required for application, specifically the GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL. The majority of programs (77.5%; 148) required the TOEFL for students who did not consider English their native language. Most institutions did not require students to take the GRE or GMAT, with the highest percentage (20.6%; 40) requiring the GRE Verbal section and 20.2% (39) requiring the GRE Quantitative section (see doctoral enrollment for a comparison of application processes).
Respondents were also asked to identify dual degrees and certificates that were offered through their program. Law was the most popular dual degree offered by programs, followed by public health.
Among certificates offered, the most frequently offered was aging/gerontology, followed by school social work. Given the frequency in reporting the “Other” category, additional fields will be included for this question in the future.
There were 44,853 applications to full-time and part-time master’s of social work programs in 2009. Almost 20% of the applications were for advanced standing status (8,938). Because students can apply to multiple programs, CSWE is unable to produce a count of unduplicated applications. The acceptance rate for applications to full-time programs was 65.6%. The acceptance rate for applications to part-time programs was 72.8%. Of those students who were accepted for admission, 60.8% of full-time applicants and 78.8% of part-time applicants went on to enroll.
As of November 1, 2009, the total enrollment of full-time master’s students was 29,975; the total enrollment of part-time master’s students was 17,718. Table 31 shows the distribution of enrolled full-time master’s students by gender and age.
Overall, 86.4% of full-time master’s students and 86.7% of part-time master’s students were female. The largest proportion of full-time master’s students were “25 and under” in age (39.1%). The largest proportion of part-time master’s students was “26 to 30” in age (26.6%).
Master’s programs had 30.5% (9,148) full-time students from historically underrepresented groups and 33.8% (5,980) of part-time students.
Among the 189 programs that provided this information, almost one-half (47.6%) offered a single-tier (method only) concentration. About one-third (32.8%) of the programs offered a double-tier (method and field of practice) concentration. The remaining programs offered single-tier (field of practice only) (15.3%) or some other type of concentration system (4.3%).
Questions about concentrations offered were broken out into two parts – methods and fields of practice. Respondents were asked to report whether they offered a concentration and the number of students enrolled in each concentration. The table below shows methods concentrations and student enrollment.
Programs reported 23,148 full-time and 11,688 part-time students with a declared method concentration. Enrollment in Direct Practice/Clinical concentrations far out-paced enrollment in all other methods, comprising 57.2% of methods enrollments. The next highest enrollments were in Advanced Generalist (13.9%) and Generalist (7.4%).
Programs reported 10,511 full-time and 4,369 part-time students in a field of practice concentration. The concentrations in a field of practice are listed below. The concentration of Families, Children and Youth was the most popular, with 27.1% of student enrollment. Other concentrations with a high proportion of students enrolled were Mental Health (13.4%) and Health and Mental Health (9.3%).
In the master’s programs, 30,037 full-time and part-time students were in a field placement as of November 1, 2009. Categories of field placements were provided, and programs were asked to report how many students were in each field placement category. Among the categories, Mental Health or Community Mental Health had the highest concentration of students (204%), followed by Child Welfare (11.8%), Family Services (11.4%), Health (11.4%), and School Social Work (11.2%).
At the 124 programs that provided this information, an average of 79.4% (18,132) of full-time students received some form of financial aid. The largest source of funds was public subsidized and unsubsidized loans. This was followed distantly by support from the school or university.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, 19,092 master’s of social work degrees were awarded from 195 member programs. Females comprised 87.3% of the graduates.
The proportion of graduates identified with a historically underrepresented group was 27.8% (5,306). About 1.7% (320) of graduates were identified as foreign (no resident visa).
Programs were also asked about the debt load of MSW graduates. According to the 101 programs (51.8%) that responded, 75.7% of their graduates had an average loan debt of $30,789.
In 2009, 65 doctoral programs (98.5%) responded to the Annual Survey of Social Work Programs. The doctoral section addressed student applications, enrollment, concentrations, field placements, financial aid, and graduates. Additionally, some questions addressed structural components of doctoral programs.
Doctoral programs were asked if they required students to take the GRE (verbal, quantitative, analytical, and written sections), MAT, or TOEFL. The proportion of programs at the doctoral level requiring the GRE was greater than for programs at the master’s level.
The acceptance rate for applications in 2009 was 37.0%. Because students can apply to multiple programs, an unduplicated count of applications cannot be determined. Most applicants who were accepted went on to enroll in the program (70.5%).
Newly enrolled students primarily came from a background in social work, with most (79.3%) holding a master’s degree in social work; 15.8% held graduate degrees from other fields.
Most of the applicants to doctoral programs were female. The largest proportion of applicants fell in the “26-30” age group. Most of the newly enrolled doctoral students were also female. Newly enrolled students tended to be older than applicants; the largest proportion of newly enrolled students fell in the “31-40” age group. Among applicants, 45.6% were from a historically underrepresented group, and a few (1.8%; 295) were foreign (no resident visa). Among newly enrolled doctoral students, 36.8% identified with a historically underrepresented group; 10.6% (45) were foreign.
Doctoral programs were asked to identify enrolled students who fell into two categories – those who were taking coursework and those who had completed coursework as of November 1, 2009. There were 2,490 students enrolled in doctoral programs. Most doctoral students were full-time (69.8%); a slight majority of doctoral students had completed coursework (53.1%).
In Table 44, there is a break-down of the gender and racial/ethnic identification of enrolled students, including a comparison across the different enrollment statuses.
Doctoral programs reported that 235 students taking coursework and 147 students who had completed coursework received formal loans.
Overall, most of the doctoral students receiving financial assistance were female. The largest proportion of students receiving financial aid fell in the “31-40” age group. Overall, 38.6% identified with a historically underrepresented racial/ethnic group. Overall, 15.3% (158) of doctoral students being financially assisted were foreign (no resident visa). The table below provides a demographic break-down of doctoral students receiving financial assistant by coursework category.
During the 2008–2009 academic year, 320 degrees were awarded from 65 doctoral programs. Most of the graduates were female (75.9%). The percentage of graduates from a historically underrepresented racial/ethnic group was 34.4%. Over one-half of students took four to seven years to obtain their doctorates.
Eighteen programs (27.7%) responded to questions about loan debt, reporting that 56.1% of their graduates had an average debt acquired while working towards a doctorate of $37,272.
Doctoral programs provided information on the known employment status of their graduates.
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