Choosing a Health Profession
Allied Health Program
How to Prepare
Masters of Social Work (MSW)
The field of social work is both a profession and social science. It is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people’s lives. Social workers help to solve concerns that people have in their everyday lives such as personal problems, helping to cope with disease or injury, substance abuse issues, or even work with those who have suffered from domestic violence. Social workers may work more in academia conducting research and advocating for improved service for those less fortunate than others. Social workers may also work in the public sector in planning and policy development. It is a profession committed to social justice and developing the potential of each individual and the lives in their community. Social workers address social issues on every level of society and economic status.
There are many different career opportunities available to professional social workers. Child, family, and school social workers provide social services to improve the social functioning of children and their families. These social workers may assist single parents in finding day care, arrange adoptions, and help find foster homes for children in need. In schools, social workers work as a liaison between students’ families and the school, working with parents, teachers, and school officials to help make the most out of the students’ experience. Social workers in schools also help with students dealing with stress or emotional problems.
Medical and public health social workers provide support to individuals, families, and vulnerable populations so they can deal with chronic or terminal illnesses, such as cancer or AIDS. They provide after-hospital care advising family caregivers and counseling patients. Medical and public health social workers may work for hospitals, nursing and personal care facilities, family service agencies, or even local governments. Other types of social workers include social work administrators, researchers, planners, and policy makers.
Social work admission committees look for students that have been involved in community service activities and other service internships. In general, programs look for applicants who have experience working with people, particularly in social settings. At Tulane, consider getting involved with community service organizations like CACTUS (Community Action Council of Tulane University Students), Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, or Relay for Life. A list of community service organizations at Tulane can be found at http://tulane.edu/cps/students/student-org.cfm.
There is no centralized application service for students applying to master of social work graduate programs. Master of Social Work (MSW) programs vary on their specific admissions requirements, so it is always important to research the programs to which you want to apply for complete information. Students are encouraged to apply at the earliest possible date, which varies by school.
Most social work graduate programs require that applicants sit for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), but some programs may wave this requirement if the applicant’s GPA is high enough. Competitive social work graduate programs require an undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. Many students that apply to social work graduate programs hold a bachelor’s degree in a liberal arts discipline such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, or other related fields; however, any undergraduate major is acceptable. Graduate social work programs seek students that have had coursework that focuses on communication that trains one to think analytically.
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