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MSW FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about our Master of Social Work Program.

FAQs

We offer three program options:

  1. Advanced Standing Program – Allows you to enroll directly in advanced coursework if you meet certain criteria, including receiving a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE accredited bachelors of social work program within the past 7 years.
  2. MSW Campus Program – Offers full or part-time coursework on the Urbana-Champaign campus.
  3. iMSW Program – Our Advanced Clinical hybrid program enables you to work full-time while pursuing your graduate degree through blended online and hybrid weekend classes. The iMSW in Leadership and Social Concentration is fully online.

If you meet the following criteria, then you are qualified to apply:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university
  • Evidence of personal attributes that are suitable for the profession of social work
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or better for the last sixty (60) semester hours or ninety (90) quarter hours of coursework
  • Experience in human services (paid, volunteer, research and/or internship)
  • Twenty hours of coursework in the social, and behavioral sciences, humanities, and biological sciences
  • There are a few additional requirements for international applicants

Absolutely. In fact, about 65% of our students have degrees other than social work, including psychology, sociology, photography, English, music, finance, philosophy, anthropology, and many others. You will just need to make sure that you have completed 20 hours of social, and behavioral sciences, humanities, and biological sciences.

Advanced Standing students that have a bachelors of social work degree from a CSWE accredited school of social work within the past seven years will begin the program in the fall. Traditional students with a bachelor’s degree in any other area must begin the program in the summer session II.  Summer session II begins mid-June.

We do NOT require GRE scores for the MSW program.

Yes, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s MSW program has been continuously accredited by CSWE since its inception over 75 years ago.

As you work toward your MSW degree, you’ll achieve competency in one of two concentrations:

Leadership and Social Change or Advanced Clinical

 

We ask you to declare your concentration on your application materials; however, you can also change your concentration once you begin the program if you develop an interest in a different concentration area. You must decide on your concentration by the time you enroll in spring classes. You will receive individual academic advising from a faculty advisor.

How quickly you complete the program will depend on your concentration, course load, and your status on the prerequisite and foundation requirements. For the MSW Campus Program as an Advanced Standing student, you may complete the MSW program in as little as 12 months (3 semesters). For all other students, you can complete the program in as little as 18 months (5 semesters) if you have an undergraduate degree in a field other than social work. If you are in the iMSW Program, Advanced Standing students can complete the program in 18 months (5 semesters) while all others can expect to complete this program in 36-48 months (8 semesters).

There are a few steps you must complete.

  • Graduate College Application– To be completed online at www.grad.illinois.edu
    • All items below will be uploaded to the Graduate College Application.
      • Three (3) letters of reference (must be academic and/or professional in nature).
      • Personal Statement
      • Resume – This should include relevant education, volunteer, and work experience.
      • Unofficial transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
  • Official Transcripts from all colleges/universities attended. Mail directly to the School of Social Work, 1010 W. Nevada Street, Urbana, IL 61801

Advanced Standing students are required to complete a minimum of 44-56 hours of MSW coursework to graduate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a MSW degree. Twelve to twenty-four hours of the 44 hours are internship hours. Traditional students without an undergraduate degree in Social Work are required to complete 72 hours to graduate with a MSW degree. Twenty-four of the 72 hours are internship hours. Students take classes in the areas of advanced social work practice, policy, research, human behavior, and a plethora of topic specific courses like trauma informed practice, family therapy seminar, cognitive and behavioral therapy, Social Work practice with groups, Social Work practice with Children and Adolescents.

Traditional students starting in the campus program take SOCW 400: Generalist Social Work Practice Methods and SOCW 451: Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE) their first summer. These courses are only offered during the summer and must be completed before taking advanced methods or HBSE courses.

SOCW 400: Generalist Social Work Practice Methods and SOCW 451: Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE I) are completed during the initial summer semester. SOCW 410: Social Welfare Policy and SOCW 427: Social Work Research Methods will be completed during your first fall semester.

If you completed research methods, social welfare policy or HBSE in psychology/sociology or other similiar program you will still be required to complete these courses through our program.  Due to accreditation guidelines, these courses are required to be completed through an accredited school of social work.

Every year we enroll approximately 125 new students in our MSW Campus Program and 50 students in our iMSW Program. Average class size is 25 students and the student/teacher ratio is 15:1, including courses taught by distinguished community practitioners.

The internship experience is the capstone of Social Work education. We require our MSW students to complete an internship in their concentration/focus area. Our internship experience is distinct because you will conduct your internship in a “block internship placement” which occurs after you complete all your MSW coursework. This unique “block internship placement” structure allows you to complete your MSW internship throughout urban, suburban, and rural Illinois, and there is the potential for out-of-state placements as well. Our MSW program requires you to complete an internship in an agency where you will gain hands-on experience working with clients. The internship allows you to put into practice all the skills that you have learned in your MSW coursework in a supportive, internship placement. Through these hands-on learning experiences, you will be well prepared to work as a professional social worker upon graduation.

In your MSW internship:

  • Traditional students you will complete a two-semester internship, working 4 days/30-32 hours per week.
  • Advanced Standing students you will complete a one-semester internship, typically a 14-week extended summer internship.
  • We have numerous placement sites across Illinois and can consider out-of-state placements.
  • You will also take part in an online seminar course that integrates your internship experience with social work values, ethics, and practice.
  • Students with a School Social Work focus area will likely be required to complete a two-semester internship even if they are an advanced standing student.
  • You will work with a full-time faculty member whose time is devoted to working with students during their internship. This faculty member will help you both before and during your internship.

You will work closely with the School of Social Work’s field education faculty to secure an internship.  You are given the opportunity to choose an internship from a variety of social service organizations based on your interests and concentration/focus area.  The agencies we work with serve a multitude of diverse populations, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes in areas including healthcare, child welfare, extended care facilities, and community advocacy agencies. MSW students have interned in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and several hundred other organizations.

During your last semester/s of graduate studies, you will gain rich learning experiences as you are immersed in a full-time internship within an agency. Through the internship experience, you can gain great hands-on experience, which includes:

Foundation Skills

Following are just a few of the foundation skills that you will develop during your internship:

  • Assessing client and community needs
  • Obtaining social histories
  • Empowering clients, communities, and systems of all sizes
  • Contacting and using community resources
  • Offering individual, group, and family counseling
  • Conducting interviews with individuals, families, and stakeholders
  • Implementing intervention plans
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions
  • Keeping concise and accurate records
  • Managing client caseloads
  • Conducting crisis interventions
  • Advocacy
  • Advanced Skills

These are some of the advanced skills that you will acquire in your field education:

  • Identifying and handling ethical dilemmas
  • Developing advanced interviewing and relationship skills
  • Employing a person-in-environment perspective in assessments
  • Using literature and research to empirically validate and guide practice
  • Functioning as an autonomous practitioner
  • Planning for social policy and community organization
  • Promoting social and economic justice
  • Mobilizing coalitions for implementing social change

Yes, if you graduate from an accredited MSW program, you are eligible to take a licensing exam to become a licensed social worker (LSW).  If you work as a LSW in the field of social work and receive clinical supervision from a licensed clinical social Worker (LCSW) for approximately two years (usually full-time), you are eligible to take a clinical licensing exam to become a LCSW.

A semester of tuition and fees for a full-time graduate student in the on campus MSW Program for the 2017-2018 academic year is approximately $9294.00 per semester for residents and $16,911 per semester for nonresidents.  Students completing their field placement are enrolled full-time during each semester.  The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign uses a range of hours to determine tuition.  To learn more about this information you can use this link.  iMSW Program students are charged $579 a credit hour (for a 4-hour course, the charge would be $2,316).  Students in the iMSW Program typically take two courses per semester.

The School of Social Work has a competitive financial aid program which results in several of our students receiving some type of aid that does not have to be repaid. Included in the possibilities are grants, pre-professional assistantships, fellowships, stipends, tuition waivers, and endowed awards. Financial aid is available on the basis of academic merit and experience and not financial need. Some awards are for first-year students exclusively, while other forms are reserved for current students. Only full-time campus students are eligible for financial aid.  Students needing to request loans to help offset the cost of graduate school can complete the FAFSA form at this link

There are many reasons why social work is a good choice for your future.  Social work is a challenging and rewarding profession that offers national and international career opportunities.  Social workers have a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  They help people with disabilities, life-threatening illnesses, inadequate housing, poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, or mental illness.  Social workers also assist people experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.  MSW graduates are trained to be therapists, clinicians, advocates, policy reformers, etc.  Social Works are change agents in the lives of the individuals that they serve.  The book, 101 Careers in Social Work, is a valuable resource if you are interested in learning more about the field of Social Work and what social workers do.

The faculty at the School of Social Work is comprised of a diverse group of innovative scholars who share one common trait: they are highly approachable, student-focused professors.  They hold advanced degrees in social work, law, business administration, public health, psychology, and public administration. They regularly publish in a variety of premier journals.But most of all, they are committed to teaching excellence and mentoring students for academic and professional success. Both caring and effective, they conduct research about critical issues facing Illinois and the nation, such as:

  • The quality of life of low-income families
  • The safety and well-being of abused and neglected children
  • The development of interventions for treating vulnerable adolescents and young adults with substance use disorders
  • The assessment of parenting risk in parents with mental illness

Our faculty serves the citizens of Illinois, helping to meet community needs, educating students for public service, and sharing the School’s resources with the community.

We use the latest research to inform best practice and arm you with the skills you need to be a successful leader in the field of social work – be it as a practitioner, advocate, policymaker, or community organizer.

  • We have earned a national reputation for providing excellent education
  • Our award-winning and student-focused faculty guides you through the program, helping you build the skills you need
  • Our unique internship structure allows you great input into your experience and prepares you for success in the field
  • Our vibrant student organizations and active alumni association are valuable resources for you throughout your years here and throughout your career

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is ranked #47 of national universities and #15 in top public schools by  U.S. News & World Report. The University of Illinois is where world-class academics meets thriving micro-urban diversity in the arts, culture, and technology. With a combined population of 180,000, the twin cities feature a variety of theaters, restaurants, and concert arenas, as well as more than a dozen major museums and art galleries. The two cities also offer more than 80 parks and recreation facilities, and the University of Illinois is ranked as one of the most disability-friendly campuses in the nation. Urbana-Champaign is ranked as both a Top 10 Green City and a Top 10 Tech City.

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