Where should I study?
Choosing where to study and what to study are two of the biggest decisions students face when planning their education. At this point you know you want to study social work, so now it's time to start considering programs and schools. Keep the following three factors in mind during this research and you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful social work career.
Accreditation—Is your preferred program a degree mill?
Choosing an accredited program will help ensure that your degree translates to a social work career. Since the Council on Social Work Education’s mission is to ensure and enhance the quality of social work education, we have a dedicated committee responsible for formulating accreditation standards and policies, and determining the criteria and process for evaluating these standards. To ensure that you avoid degree mills, or what the Council for Higher Education Accreditation calls “dubious providers of educational offerings or operations that offer certificates and degrees that may be considered bogus,” start your college research with our list of accredited social work programs.
Future plans—What do you want to do?
Do you want to work in a school or a hospital? A private practice or a prison? Do you want to specialize in disaster relief? Are you interested in homeless family assistance or gerontology services?
Selecting a school may seem like the most pressing decision at this point, but you have a lot of decisions to make before you even get to that point. Keep in mind what you’d like to accomplish with your degree when determining which program is best for you. A BSW degree opens doors to entry-level positions in a variety of practice areas. If you're pursuing a master’s degree, you may search for a school with faculty members who specialize in your desired area of focus. Another school may have a career services office that has a proven history of matching graduates to their dream jobs. You’ll want to weigh your priorities as you choose among these options.
Financial burden—Can you afford your top choice?
You may have relied on scholarships to pay for your undergraduate studies, but unfortunately, this kind of funding can be harder to find for graduate school. Check with the financial aid offices at your schools of interest to determine whether they offer fellowships, work-study programs, or other funding assistance. ln addition, consider accredited online programs because they more easily allow the opportunity to continue working while studying.
Choosing the best social work program for your goals and needs can be time-consuming because you need to thoroughly consider all your options; however, the work you put in now will pay off in the long run.