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The Official MSW Q&A Thread

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by pingouin, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. VerryBerry


    Feb 27, 2011
    Somehow I missed this thread even though it's above the top thread. :sleep:

    I am interested in becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and prefer to be in mental health/public health/or medical health. I would also like to practice in California.
    I have a question on the following schools regarding if they offer my area of concentration:


    ^I am unsure if those schools offer my area of interest (mentioned above).

    How much of the field work needs to be done during the 2nd year in your desired area? It seems like you can only take a couple of courses on it.

    I was also interested in the Child Welfare Stipend Program. Could I still have a Public Health/Mental Health/Medical Health area of concentration, and still do that? It seems like you would only have to work for 2 years after you graduate.

    Also, I know that you need at least 3000 hours of supervised clinical training for the LCSW. Is this training paid? I know that this is an additional two years on top of the Masters. I would just like to figure out the costs.

    I'm having a difficult time figuring out the costs for 2 years of Masters in Social Work. On average, how much is the total (for a state school)? The schools' websites have it listed per unit, but I would just like to know from someone who's already been through the program.

    Thank you!
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  3. Savagebee


    Mar 11, 2011
    in OK it can be paid or unpaid supervision.
    it can be provided by your employer or you may out of pocket. From what I know thats pretty universal, just depends on your situation
  4. jessalynne


    Mar 18, 2011
    In NY, it can be either. It is usually provided by your employer, but many LCSWs will supervise new LMSWs for free as they feel it is an obligation to give back to the field.

    Also, for those who are pursuing the LCSW-R, they must have an additional three years of supervision.

    I know many/most LCSWs/LCSW-Rs who continue supervision throughout their careers.
  5. raychelaych


    May 5, 2011
    Hello! I'm new to this board, but it seems like such a great resource to get information that, so far, has seemed a little out of reach when it comes to researching MSW grad programs.

    A little background on me: I graduated last May with a degree in Psychology from a fairly prestigious liberal arts college on the west coast - got honors in major, completed an honors thesis, cum laude, and a 3.7 in-major GPA. This year I am working as an "intervention specialist" placed through Americorps in an elementary school - basically a school social worker with more direct child support and less case management.

    I was really struggling for a bit deciding on a grad route, because I have a little academia-world burnout and am really committed to applied work. I have realized that an MSW sounds pretty great in terms of the flexibility it will provide me. The general area I'd like to work in would be direct client care relating to family support, child development, parent education and counseling, etc. I'm thinking becoming a LCSW is a good path.

    Here are a few roadblocks I'm facing in my decision:

    1. I am originally from CA and still hold my permanent residence there, and I'm STRONGLY leaning toward grad school in-state there. I want in-state tuition at a public university, and CA has so many options! I am also drawn to training in CA because I'd like to be qualified to work with Spanish-speaking and immigrant populations. So one big question I have is this: CSU or UC? I feel so lost when it comes to finding out the quality of various programs. I know UCLA and UC Berkeley are both ranked high in US News & World Report, but what does that really mean? I really do want to be able to stand out in the crowd of recent MSW grads and hit the ground running into my career. I also definitely want to be challenged and have stimulating professors who are willing to guide me. Will one of these schools do that for me? Or do I save money and go to a CSU that's less prestigious?

    2. I am a little concerned about the vagueness in MSW curriculum. I'd really love to have a solid background in child development - should I seek outside enrichment? In my google searches I've found two options for MS in Child Development and MSW joint degree programs. However, they are in New York and Chicago, and I'm not sure I'm willing to relocate that far, especially for the significantly higher tuition. Can you get a solid development background in general MSW programs, or are there some specialties that I am not yet aware of? I love the idea of working with parents and children jointly, even doing developmental evaluations and screenings and bringing that into the whole-family perspective. Any advice or thoughts?

    3. Finally, I am wondering about the Title IV-E Child Welfare stipend in CA. I found a few mentions of this in the forum, but what I am wondering about is whether it would be possible to get my supervision hours to become a LCSW while working in a child welfare position for the state. The more I think about working in child welfare for a couple years, the more I am willing to really give it a go. I know it can be a really difficult area with high burnout, but I also believe it could be a good first step really "in the trenches" for going into family services in social work. My only concern is that if I spend 2 years working in the state and then still need to start from scratch on my licensing, that could be big delay in my career.

    I realize that is very lengthy! Any tips or insight anyone has about any of these questions would be SO appreciated. I feel a little in the dark here - it really seems like there isn't a ton of MSW program evaluations or guidance available.
  6. incidental

    incidental rændəm neʃən 5+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    just wanted to say thank you for this sticky! there are many questions that i had that are answered here. :)
    Goobernut likes this.
  7. goodfella1

    goodfella1 2+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    Hey Mitch,

    I'm wondering what your experience at NYU is? Do you think the training and placements are good there? Would you recommend it? I just got accepted there with a $9,000 scholarship offer. I imagine that scholarships are offered for first year students only. Anyway, do you think your prospects there are good and placements are good enough for you pay off your debt?
  8. Jalpari


    Oct 3, 2010
    hi there!
    I am BS psychology.. I need some information regarding Masters program. Do you guys know of any university in UK that offers partially online & partially on campus Masters degree? I am residing in Qatar and i want this type of flexible program as i am very well aware of the tuition fee of UK. In this case, during my online studies, i will be working & saving money for my fee...i know full online program is not credible. I know of many univs here that offers one year online and other year on campus degree. . but they dont have psychology .. so i am looking for one in UK .. Any idea about it?

    Your suggestions will help.
  9. hanadul83


    Dec 1, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hi Raychelaych, I'm asking a lot of the same questions that you are, but I'm applying for the USC online program (part time, accelerated) because it's flexible enough for me to continue working at the afterschool program that I serve for my Americorps year (ending this August). I've read a lot of the forums and I'm still wondering if a "brand name" school will be better (for networking) despite the expensive tuition, or if I'd be okay attending a CSU (CSULB is the best out of the CSU's for MSW, I hear). I'm hoping I'll be offered a decent financial aid package (even though it's my 2nd Master's degree), and I'm counting on the public service loan forgiveness programs so I don't have to eat ramen every day after I graduate. Please keep us updated on your decisions! I found that pinguoin's messages have been very helpful :) Best of luck!
  10. Revi


    Aug 21, 2012
    can somebody help me with LCSW/ ASW supervision contacts?
  11. MSW hopefull

    MSW hopefull

    Dec 21, 2012
    I am currently going into my senior year in the Behavioral Science department with an emphasis in Psychology. I really would love to get my MSW but I am worried about getting into a program. My GPA is only a 3.0. Do you think I have a chance at all? Is the cost equal the reward both in life fulfillment and money?

    I am kind of lost. I just want to help people but I don't know what way to go about it.

    Also how do I get into the field before I have a degree? Is there any way?
  12. FreudianSlipper

    FreudianSlipper 5+ Year Member

    Dec 24, 2011
    Yes, you can get into a program.

    I don't know that I can answer the reward question accurately. Why do you want to get an MSW? What do you picture yourself doing with it? In the end, only you can answer this. Stress and reward levels (emotional and financial) are going to vary greatly by which field of social work and on the individual level.

    It seems like you could definitely benefit from some exploratory jobs and volunteering to try and get a sense of how you might want to help people. I'd recommend you do this a bit before making the leap to grad school.

    Volunteer at a homeless shelter, get a job in a residence for domestic violence victims, a residence for adults with mental illness, try and find a bachelor's level case management job, get a job as a recreational aide at a nursing home and try and shadow their social worker, and so on...

    Does the school you attend have a social work program BSW or MSW associated with it? Might be a good way for you to speak with an advisor who can guide you in the right direction. Or try your psych dept.
    Goobernut likes this.
  13. Hmeleu


    Feb 16, 2013
    Hi-- I have been accepted to MSW programs at BU and Simmons, waiting to hear back from Smith and BC. I have also been accepted to Salem State and am strongly considering it as an in-state resident, might be the best financial decision (not graduating with debt). My question is how will my school choice affect my job prospects post-graduation? I am going to be on a clinical track and would love feedback about how Salem State's MSW program is seen. Thank you!!
  14. Goobernut

    Goobernut LMSW 5+ Year Member

    Jan 23, 2012
    While I was obessesing and waiting for grad school responses, I found an excellent thread. Sometimes the whole MSW vs PsyD vs PhD vs LMHC comes up a lot -- and gets extremely varied responses.

    In my personal opinion, this thread, is one of the best threads that answers this question. People responded in a very thorough and intelligent way, and yet did not show too much bias for one field or the other. It also addresses a lot of the basic questions people seem to have when people pop onto this board looking for answers (and don't take a lot of time to search past posts). Also, it emphasizes over and over again the importance of researching your local market. One person remarks how there is a shortage of doctoral level clinicians in his/her state, and they wish they had done further research before deciding on getting an MSW. Yet, there are examples of just the opposite in the thread as well. Nice thread that doesn't devolve into name calling or slandering of someone else's theoretical stance.

    It's old, but I feel very relevant :) Enjoy.
  15. pnw013


    Apr 17, 2013
    Hi all,

    Sorry if this has been addressed already, but here is my question! I recently graduated with a BA in Psychology and a BA in Sociology and have been debating various programs to pursue in grad school. I feel I have done a great deal of research on these programs and keep coming back to MSW, so I'm pretty sure I'll be pursuing that. I'm planning on taking at least a year or two off to gain experience in the field to really ensure that this is what I want to do (and to pay off some of that debt hopefully!), but am not sure where to start. I spent my undergrad doing research, but did not get involved in any practicum or internship (which I'm really regretting now), and have limited volunteering experiences (Boys and Girls club, and a tutor/mentor at an alternative high school). Work wise I only have retail experience and am worried that I won't be able to get a paid social services job straight out of undergrad. For all you MSW and LCSW's out there, what kind of jobs did you start out with that you feel prepared you for your graduate studies? I'm honestly open to a variety of jobs, and have been looking into the mental health area a lot, but I'm not sure what else might be out there/what I should be looking for. Ultimately (with my MSW and with licensure) I would like to work with children and their families either within mental health, in schools, or in a private practice. If I need to provide any further details or clarifications, please let me know. Thanks for taking the time to read this :)
    Snowmann likes this.
  16. autumn7

    autumn7 5+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2011
    I'm wondering about lifestyle possibilites for Clinical Social Workers in Private Practice...

    I've put a lot of thought into the MSW career choice. I'd really like to work as a Clinical Social Worker in private practice (I understand that there are obstacles here, and other paths to consider). What I'm wondering is this - assuming I end up with 50,000 in debt (in addition to my undergrad loans) and then begin working towards licensure, etc - does anyone have a ballpark estimate about how long it takes to pay off loans, and what sort of lifestyle is possible in the meantime? I'm not looking for a life full of material priveledge, but I would like to live comfortably, and occasionally have enough money for travel with family. I know this is kind of a tough question to answer, as MSWs work in so many sectors and states with differing salaries. But any help someone could provide about financial planning, and realistic lifestyle goals would be helpful. I'm likely to end up near a mid-sized city in the northeast or midwest (ruling out big city salaries like those in NYC or Boston, etc).

    I really do have a difficult time coming up with a better job for me - the idea of eventually making your own schedule, working with people from different backgrounds, new work every day, creativity as a healer etc. I hear a lot about burn out and warnings about entering the field. But I'd like to hear from people who have enjoyed it and do feel as though they can make a nice life out of this. If not, and you've left SW, what other fields offer similar rewards in terms of flexibility and creativity with people?
  17. submarine1991

    submarine1991 2+ Year Member

    Nov 26, 2013
    I cant speak to the student loan debt/repayment...
    About a year ago, I watched several videos on Youtube about SW'rs in private practice. NYU had a panel of clinicians who ranged from very recent graduates to very seasoned therapists.

    My professors talk freely about private practice and I'm sure many colleges have alumni panels/networking opportunities for students and prospective students to ask questions. Lastly, there is a SW forum on Reddit where this question may get more responses.

    In the meantime I hope others can chime in and begin to answer your questions. I can tell you how my colleagues and SW friends live post graduation, however I am interested and network with military social workers and GS SW'rs so I will only give you a small piece of the big picture
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2014
  18. coolbanana


    Oct 3, 2014
    I worked as a substitute teacher for two years with elementary and special education.
    I had very little research experience save for being in a research group for about 7 months in college.
    I was out of school for 7 years and due to health issues I only worked two of those years (see above).

    I still got into grad school.

    Don't worry about it, you'll be okay.

    Also, you have to have an LMSW to work mostly everywhere. They don't usually hire just MSWs, so licensure is pretty much a given.

    Also if you want to work with kids, I would look into school social work. That is basically my chosen vocation, although these jobs are hard to find in my state.

    I'll also mention that my undergrad GPA was a 2.95, although my major GPA was a 3.4. Again, I still got in. Social work programs are not nearly as competitive as others.
    Snowmann likes this.
  19. wesleysmith

    wesleysmith LLMSW 2+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2014
  20. kestrelcry

    kestrelcry 10+ Year Member

    May 22, 2006
    I'm not highly qualified to answer this question, as I'm not an MSW, but I did get into the MSW programs to which I applied, so here's my 2 cents. I worked as a case manager for a couple years. They are often chronically underpaid and overworked, and thus there is frequent turnover. Alternately, working in a residential program of some kind as a residential counselor, recovery specialist, or whateve it is that the agency calls their employees in residential that hand out meds, cook, and spend time with clients. I did that for a while before getting a job as case manager. The work sometimes rewarding and often frustrating, and even more underpaid, but it'll give you a good idea of some of the cons of working in mental health (the system) as well as the pros (awesome client moments).
  21. CreativeSocialWorker


    Apr 3, 2015
    Hello. I had a couple of questions about LCSW licensing in California. First, can we count hours from home (ex. doing online trainings, research, paperwork, etc.)? Also, I currently have a LMFT as my individual supervisor and an LCSW runs our group supervision. My question is if I can count some hours under my group supervisor (to meet the "hours under an LCSW" requirement). If so, how many? Thank you.
  22. wesleysmith

    wesleysmith LLMSW 2+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2014
    Don't know the specifics for Cali, but found these two sites on supervised hours, hopefully they can clear things up. Also, if you started your own thread on this subject with a brief, descriptive title, it may draw in more responses. Good luck!
    submarine1991 likes this.
  23. koharu

    koharu 2+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2015
    Purchased this book from Amazon and sharing it because it's a gem. I think Social Work programs should require all students to read.

  24. jheda


    Dec 23, 2016

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