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Schools with Social Services Programs: How to Choose

Those in the social services work to improve the lives of others through counseling, therapy and social policy. Social work is a broad field with many opportunities. Colleges and universities across the U.S. offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in social work and counseling.

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Social service professionals work with individuals who are struggling with relationships, addictions or mental health issues by providing coping techniques. Students can also find counseling programs that offer a variety of concentrations, such as substance abuse, mental health or school counseling.

10 Schools with Social Work Programs

These schools offer social work programs at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $20,966 in-state, $42,016 out-of-state
Washington University in St. Louis Saint Louis, MO 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $47,620
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $52,713
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,839 (in-state undergraduate), $16,278 (in-state graduate)
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Master's $44,176
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public Master's, Doctoral $11,074 in-state, $28,285 out-of-state
University of California--Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 (in-state undergraduate), $13,431 (in-state graduate)
University of Texas-Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $9,806 (in-state undergraduate), $10,934 (in-state graduate)
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 4-year, Private Master's $41,169
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $26,262

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School Selection Criteria

The following items are noteworthy to remember when considering a school for social work:

  • When choosing between social work programs, prospective students may wish to consider areas of specialization offered, such as substance abuse, family issues or health.
  • Field experience is typically a required component of social work and counseling degree programs, so potential students may wish to research where a program's practicum courses take place.
  • Students will want to seek schools that prepare them for the appropriate state licensing exams and include the requisite number of work hours.
  • Students should look at the social work program's curriculum to determine if courses match the training needs of their career choice.

Bachelor of Social Work

Bachelor of Social Work degree programs must, as mandated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), include supervised field experience into the curricula. Some schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor's/master's degree program. Graduates find employment in schools, hospitals or social work agencies.

Master of Social Work

A master's degree is necessary for advanced positions in the social work field. Some programs offer concentrations in clinical practice or leadership. In some cases, those with a bachelor's degree in social work may be able to complete the program in as few as two semesters.

Master of Science in Counseling

A master's degree is usually required to become a licensed counselor, though it can vary by state. Some schools offer thesis and non-thesis options for graduate students. Those looking to complete a thesis project may prefer schools with additional resources, such as student organizations and centers for evidence-based practice.

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling

Doctoral candidates in counseling often spend the final year working as counseling interns. Programs are offered online for the working professional; prospective students can also find programs that combine online and in-person courses for interactive learning. Graduates can work in federal facilities, in mental health agencies or as counseling educators.

Students who are interested in a social services program should consider the specializations a school offers, as well as if the program prepares students for licensure. Other considerations may include whether the curriculum matches the student's desired career, as well as the location of practicums.

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