Masters in Social Work: What, Where and How
Updated on Oct 30, 2018 - 11:03 a.m. IST by Shraya Singh
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Masters in Social Work - Social Work is an area of study which is slowly gaining the spotlight in the domain of development studies. A masters in social work delves into the various different subdomains of social practices and builds upon the student’s knowledge of them following the generalized instruction which they are believed to have received in their undergraduate education. This means that a masters in social work drifts deeper into the direct social work practices used in communities and hospitals and focuses on micro-, macro- and meso-aspects of the same. Master in social work or master in social welfare jobs are present across almost every domain of study and work associated with humanity and human development.

What is Masters in Social Work (MSW)?

A masters in social work is generally offered in a degree for MS in social work or Master of Social Work which is MSW. Unlike many other areas of study, the scope of MSW is exponentially increasing in India with the implementation of new government policies and expansive areas for social work research as well as abundance of MSW jobs. Some of the MSW courses offered by top universities around the world are spread across different areas of specialization including child and family social work, school social work, clinical social work etc. proving that the scope of MSW is spread across more than one domain. MSW courses also range from 1 to 2 years of full-time study. Many colleges offer programs on a part-time basis as well but most universities recommend that the MSW and MS in social work programs be completed on a full-time basis in order to ensure full-immersion into the study of social work as a whole. 


Eligibility for Masters in Social Work

In order to be eligible for most of the top programs for MS in social work or an MSW degree, applicants are required to meet certain eligibility requirements. The primary and underlying requirement for any graduate program and subsequent master in social welfare jobs is an inherent interest in working for the people on this planet. This includes the desire to help, nurture, care for and understand others and devote oneself to the development of humans as a whole. Apart from this, the eligibility requirements for various MSW courses are:

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  • The applicant must have completed either a three-year or a four-year bachelor’s qualification. This can be in any domain of study, although a bachelor’s education in any of the social sciences would be preferred. Additionally, the number of years of tertiary education required prior to the MS in social work vary from university to university, for example, most universities in the United States which offer MSW courses require applicants to have a four-year bachelor’s degree.

  • Often, many universities require their applicants to have completed some sort of fieldwork in their prior education in order to confirm that the candidate will be suitable for subsequent master in social welfare jobs and that the candidate has a general understand of what is MSW. Therefore, for universities with these requirements, either a master’s or bachelor’s degree in any related social science would be required in order for the applicant to be eligible.

Admission Requirements for Masters in Social Work

The masters in social work admission requirements for the top universities around the world are similar to the requirements of any other postgraduate qualification. The documents requirement for any of the top MSW courses are:

  • A statement of purpose or SOP. Some universities also ask for a personal statement in place of or in addition to the SOP. A personal statement is quite similar to the statement of purpose but focuses more on personal motivation and goals whereas an SOP is more academically and professionally orient.

  • Three, or in some cases two, letters of recommendation are required from professional and academic referees associated with the applicant.

  • Official transcripts and/or degrees are required for all previous tertiary-level education.

  • Standardized test scores for the GRE General test are generally not a prerequisite for most MSW courses, but some universities still require test scores in order to register new candidates.

  • English language proficiency scores are required for admission abroad. This includes scores from any of the following tests:

    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic

    • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

    • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)


The minimum scores for admission to the MSW courses in the list of social work colleges offering the best programs are given below.

English Language Proficiency for Masters in Social Work

University

English Language Proficiency Test

IELTS 

TOEFL iBT

PTE A

CAE

University of Chicago

7.0

104

-

-

University of California, Berkeley

7.0

90

-

-

University of Toronto

7.0

93

-

-

The University of Manchester

7.0

100

66-73

185-190

The University of Melbourne

7.0

94

65

185

The University of Sydney

6.5

85

61

176

University of Sussex

6.5

88

62

176

University of East Anglia

6.0

79

55

169

University of Witwatersrand 

7.0

94-101

-

-

  • Additional supplementary documents: Depending upon the university of application, candidates may also be required to submit additional essays, academic writing, publications, writing samples, research proposals etc.

  • resume or a curriculum vitae is required to be attached to the online application form.

  • A completed application form needs to be submitted and the application fee must be paid before the application deadline.

  • Often, universities consider all applicants for merit-based scholarships. In some cases, however, additional essays and applications are required for scholarship consideration, especially with externally-funded scholarships.

Top Universities for Masters in Social Work

Many of the top universities in the world for a masters in social work are located in the United Kingdom. This includes names such as the University of Sussex, the University of Manchester and the University of East Anglia. There are a number of other highly acclaimed universities spread across the world which offer some of the best graduate programs in social work; one of them being the program offered by the University of Delhi. Given below is a list of social work colleges along with their QS world university and world subject ranks in development studies. 

Top Masters in Social Work/MSW Courses

University

Program

Program Duration

QS World Rank

Dev. Studies

University

University of Sussex

MA in Social Work

22 months

1

227

University of California, Berkeley

Master of Social Welfare (MSW)

2 years

6

27

University of East Anglia

MA in Social Work

2 years

12

269

The University of Manchester

MA in Social Work

2 years

14

29

University of Toronto

Master of Social Work

2 years

15

28

The University of Melbourne

Master of Social Work

2 years

16

39

University of Delhi

MA in Social Work

2 years

17

487

University of Witwatersrand 

MA in Occupational Social Work

1 year

19

381

The University of Sydney

Master of Social Work

1 year

21

42

Master of Social Work (Qualifying)

2 years

University of Chicago

MA in Social Service Administration (SSA)

2 years

23

9

Masters in Social Work: Fees and Funding

The annual tuition for most MSW courses varies with the country and the university of application. Although many may argue that the current tuition rates are excessive for a masters in social work or MS in social work qualification, it can be seen with the growing scope of MSW, that these rates will only rise in the years to come as the value of these qualifications and the number of master in social welfare jobs also increases. The tuition rates for the list of social work colleges provided in this article are given below.

Annual Tuition Fees for Masters in Social Work

Country

University

Annual Tuition Fee

United Kingdom

The University of Manchester

£18,500

University of Sussex

£16,750

University of East Anglia

£16,100

Canada

University of Toronto

$30,533.52

India

University of Delhi

Rs.14,490

South Africa

University of Witwatersrand 

R45360

Australia

The University of Melbourne

AUD $23,200

The University of Sydney

AUD $40,000

United States

University of Chicago

USD $48,759

University of California, Berkeley

USD $18,077.00

The cost of pursuing a masters in social work abroad is generally higher than any of the MSW courses offered by Indian universities such as Delhi University. That being said, it can also be seen that the number of scholarships offered for masters in social work and welfare students are also greater. Many national governments also offer department-specific scholarships as the domain of study is closely linked to the growth of the country and leads to more applicants for MSW jobs. Some notable funding sources for the list of social work colleges specified above include:

Notable Scholarships for Masters in Social Work

Scholarship/Funding

Level

Applicable at 

Department of Health Postgraduate Bursary

Country-wide

United Kingdom

Sussex Graduate Scholarships

University-wide

University of Sussex

Sussex India Scholarships

University-wide; Applicant-specific

University of Sussex

Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Scholarships

International; Applicant-specific

-

Jean Allgeyer Family Fellowship

University-wide; Department-specific

University of California, Berkeley

Rintha Mary Carter Social Work Fellowship

Country-wide; Department-specific

United States

Social Work Research Stipend

University-wide; Department-specific

University of Toronto

Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

Country-wide

South Africa

GSHSS International Scholarship and Bursary

University-wide; Applicant-specific

The University of Melbourne, Australia

Commonwealth Scholarships

International; 

-

SSA Scholarship Awards

University-wide; Department-specific

University of Chicago, United States

Many other sources of funding are available apart from these. With the gradually expanding scope of MSW, the number of master in social welfare jobs available both in India and abroad are growing. Although the work may not be everyone’s piece of cake, for those who truly understand and love what is MSW, these MSW jobs pay off well. Not only are they monetarily satisfying after a certain amount of experience in the domain, but they are also mentally and emotionally satisfying for candidates truly devoted to social work and welfare. 

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