Social Work Graduate Programs in Alabama

The state of Alabama has many schools offering graduate programs in social work. This article will discuss two graduate degree options in social work and five Alabama schools that offer a range of options in the discipline.

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Earning a graduate degree in social work can be a valuable choice for anyone interested in working with diverse populations concerning a range of individual and social issues. Read on to find out about what degrees are available and where to find programs in the state of Alabama.

Graduate Programs in Social Work

Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work, or MSW degree, is the most common graduate degree in the field of social work. It is typically completed in five semesters, with two years of study including the summer. Students undertake rigorous academic study of social concerns and learn strategies for individual counseling, policy advocacy, and social science research.

Field experiences are a critical component of any MSW program. Students typically undertake a generalist field placement in their first year of study and a specialist or advanced clinical placement during their second year of study. Field seminars help students to integrate their field experiences with the academic standards of MSW programs. Field placements are arranged by the university in settings such as schools, mental health clinics, and hospitals.

The MSW is the degree required to earn the credential of Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), or Private Independent Practice (PIP) in Alabama. Further steps, including a national examination and post-graduate practice, may be required to earn these credentials.


Although not as plentiful in Alabama, a PhD social work program is designed to develop scholars and researchers of social work. The degree usually takes a minimum of three years to complete. Typically, applicants first hold an MSW degree. Two years of post-master's practice experience is recommended and is often required for full-time teaching in accredited social work programs after earning the PhD. Students usually take coursework in substantive areas of social work, electives outside of the social work department, and courses in statistics. A dissertation is typically required for program completion.

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Social Work Graduate Programs in Alabama

University of Alabama

At the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, students can pursue the MSW or PhD degrees. The MSW program focuses on offering a foundation year, and students then specialize after the first year in social work with children and youth or with adults. Students can also pursue joint programs in public health or law. To apply for the MSW, students must hold a 2.5 GPA, and those lower than a 3.0 should submit GRE scores. Topics may include working with groups, children/adolescents, and families. Second year field placements in Washington, DC are available. The PhD program is also offered for those who seek additional scholarship in social work. Students should hold an MSW; and if they do not, applicants should submit GRE or MAT scores or seek concurrent MSW/PhD enrollment. References, a statement of purpose, and evidence of scholarship are also required. The program offers notable research opportunities.

Samford University

One university offering the MSW degree in Alabama is Samford University, a private not-for-profit Christian college in Homewood, Alabama, which is just south of Birmingham. At Samford, students can focus on advanced clinical social work or community practice and social engagement. To apply, students should submit undergraduate transcripts with at least a 3.0 grade point average. Those with a lower GPA may take the GRE or MAT and earn competitive scores to increase their chances for admission. Prospective students should also submit an academic writing sample and personal statement. Topics may include faith-related social work, current community issues, and welfare policy. Students can pursue joint degree programs in theology, divinity, or public health.

Auburn University

Auburn University's MSW program is relatively new, having been instituted in 2017. To apply, students should submit their undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a four to five page personal statement. Students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree may apply for advanced standing. Topics may include social human behavior, psychopathology, and welfare policy. Graduate assistantships may be available.

Alabama A&M

Alabama A&M offers the MSW degree. Alabama A&M is a Historically Black University located in Normal, Alabama. To apply, students should have a bachelor's degree focused upon the liberal arts with a GPA of over 2.5. Students should also provide recommendations and two short essays. Work or volunteer experience in the field of social work is preferred. Study topics may be mental health interventions, welfare policy, and needs assessments. Two concentrations, Family and Child Welfare and Community Mental Health, are available.

Jacksonville State University

The MSW degree is also offered at Jacksonville State University. To apply, students should submit transcripts demonstrating a 3.0 GPA, references, and a resume. A personal statement and social problem analysis are also required. The MSW program prepares advanced social work generalists focused on rural environments. Some study topics may include rural social work, human social behavior, and individual generalist practices. The degree is offered in a hybrid format, which includes both online courses and in-person lectures.

Alabama offers diverse options for earning graduate social work degrees. Those who pursue this field will be qualified for a range of positions serving the vulnerable of society.

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