You have chosen to pursue one of the most rewarding and challenging careers the world has to offer. You will serve as an advocate speaking for those who can’t speak up for themselves. You will protect children and help families and people of all ages make and follow plans to help them overcome the most difficult problems imaginable. You will make a difference in the lives of others every day as a social worker.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for social workers in the United States was $46,890 in May 2016 with the highest 10% earning a median salary of over $78,510. The job outlook for social workers looks excellent, with the employment of all types of social workers predicted to grow by 16% from 2016-2026. This is much faster than the projected growth of 7%for all occupations. In the area of healthcare and mental health and substance abuse, the need for social workers is expected to increase at an even higher rate: 19-2%. You can find much more information here.
With the career in such high demand and with so many important responsibilities, attaining a higher level of education is a necessity. While it is possible to get hired at the entry level in some places as a social worker with a bachelor’s degree, most often a master’s degree is required. This means more schooling and more expense in paying for higher education. Fear not, this article will try to serve as an overview for you offering you some concrete ideas on where you can go to find scholarships for graduate students in social work. Scholarships do not have to be only for students coming out of high school and just beginning their college experience. With a little extra effort on your part and knowing where to look for msw scholarships, you will be on your way to funding your graduate education through scholarships in no time.
The good news is that there are scholarships available to those pursuing their master’s degree in social work. There are four main areas where you can find scholarships and we will address each one.
Scholarships are often available to graduate students in social work in the cities or states in which you plan to seek employment.
The National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc. offers a scholarship for graduate study in fields that specifically help youth. Applications are available on the NAJA website from September 1st- February 1st each year, and the scholarship is awarded in April. It is open to graduate students who plan to work directly with children. Applicants must be a U.S.citizen and a permanent resident in a state that has an NAJA chapter: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, or Tennessee. You can get an application and find out more information at Junior Auxiliaries.
The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts offers numerous scholarships and interest free loans for students pursuing higher education and living in the area. See The Community Foundation for more information.
In Michigan, there are various community foundations offering scholarships to specific areas of the state. The Organization of Latino Social Workers, Michigan Chapter offers two $250 scholarships annually to Latino social work students pursuing their bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work.
While it would be quite the long list to name out all the scholarships available in all 50 states in this article, it is important to note that many states also offer loan forgiveness programs for those entering the field of social work who will commit to serving as a social worker in the state for a set number of years.
It will also prove helpful to search for specific scholarships available to graduate students within your state. You may want to keep in mind any professional, ethnic, and religious groups of which you may be a member for additional scholarship opportunities that you may otherwise miss.
Once you have selected the college or university you wish to attend to pursue your graduate work, doing a search of scholarships they offer may prove invaluable to you. Obviously, we can’t list all of the schools here, but we will point out a few universities that offer several scholarships for those pursuing degrees in social work.
The University of Michigan offers numerous scholarship opportunities. The Child Welfare Scholarship Program offers scholarships to those students who will concentrate on helping children through their career. The Katherine Reebel Scholarship Fund offers scholarships to those enrolled in master’s level social work classes at the University of Michigan. The Eleanor Sabo Scholarship is available to those students in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan in the second year of pursuing their master’s who have a strong academic record and are concentrating on the areas of foster care and adoption. These are just a few of the 7 pages of scholarship opportunities for MSW students offered at the University of Michigan. See their website University of Michigan for more information.
The University of Nevada, Reno is another university that offers many scholarship opportunities for graduate students in their School of Social Work. The Alicia Smalley Scholarship is offered to students who demonstrate financial need, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and are interested in the area of social justice. The John and Louise Semenza Family Scholarship is awarded to students who plan to work in public agencies who service special needs populations. The Kris Tower Scholarship goes to students who maintain a 3.0 GPA and plan to help people with disabilities. Several more scholarships at this university can be found at University of Nevada.
Please research your specific school of choice to see the scholarships they offer to graduate students.
There are many professional associations and not-for-profit organizations as well as academic sororities who offer scholarships to students pursuing their master’s degree in social work. Many of these are done at the state and local level and you would need to do some research on your specific area, but we will focus on a few of the national groups who offer scholarships here.
The National Association of Social Workers offers a number of msw scholarships and fellowships. The Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to students committed to working with American-Indian, Alaska Native, or Hispanic and Latino populations. The Verne LaMarr Lyons Scholarship is offered to students who concentrate on health and mental health areas and are interested in working with the African-American communities. See NASW Fellowships for more information.
Additional msw scholarship opportunities and loan repayment programs can be found at NASW Scholarships. We will list a few of them here.
Most corporate sponsored scholarships directed toward certain fields of study are typically offered at the state and local level. Many corporations offer scholarships to their employees or their children. Checking with companies you or your parents have worked for are a good place to start. Once you have selected the state in which you want to work and the school in which you want to enroll, you can search for corporations who invest in their local communities. Often your college or university will be able to offer you guidance. They can tell you about corporations that are affiliated with your school or field of study.
At the national level, some corporations also fund scholarships. These may be offered to minority or women students in the interest of helping underrepresented populations enter certain careers and diversifying the workforce. A good place to start is by looking at the Fortune 500 companies to see if they are currently offering graduate scholarship opportunities. They frequently publicize their scholarship application requirements nationally and they are often connected to fields of study that are closely related to their businesses.
NorthRange Behavioral Health: Offers a wide range of training and assistance in continuing education opprontinies.
CSWE Scholars Program: Doctoral students and faculty are invited to apply for this scholarship through the Council on Social Work Education. Besides a monetary award — which varies year-to-year according to number of recipients and their financial need — scholarship winners have the unique opportunity to work on projects and initiatives through CSWE.
Earning your master’s degree in social work isn’t cheap, but the good news is that there is support available to you if you are willing to put in some extra time and effort to apply for it. Many associations and non-profit organizations understand the importance of the role you will fulfill in the world and are happy to help you with scholarships, fellowships, and student loan repayments. Colleges and universities are offering many scholarships for their graduate students as well.
Some corporations are giving back at the local, state, and national level by investing in their communities through scholarship assistance. Many states are offering scholarship opportunities and loan forgiveness programs for graduate students committed to serving their local communities as social workers. Some religious and ethnic and minority groups are also sponsoring scholarships to their members. You are not alone. There are many people who recognize the value of your contribution to our society and are willing to offer financial assistance as you prepare to help the people of your community.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018, January 30). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-1
Council on Social Work Education. (2018). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.cswe.org/Centers-Initiatives/Initiatives/Scholarships-and-Fellowships.aspx
National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc. (2017). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from http://www.najanet.org/naja-scholarship/
School of Social Work University of Michigan. (2018). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://ssw.umich.edu/admissions/msw/financial-aid/grants-and-scholarships
The University of Nevada, Reno. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.unr.edu/social-work/resources-and-downloads/scholarships-and-financial-aid/scholarships