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How hard is it to get into Social Work programs?

nodisrespectnodisrespect Posts: 21Registered User New Member
edited August 2013 in Graduate School
I REALLY want to go to UIUC for graduate school. I plan on entering the MSW program but I am extremely anxious about how competitive the program might be. I originally wanted to enter a clinical phD program, but I figured I did not have the extraordinary credentials and did not want to base my plans around this unlikely choice.

How hard is it to get into a master's program for social work, and specifically, if anyone might now, at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign?

They require a minimum of 3.0 for the last 2 years, but for that first semester I could only manage a 2.9. Will this automatically disqualify me? My psychology major gpa is 3.7.

I really have my heart set on going here (very much regret that I was actually invited to go there for undergrad but was too ignorant to know what I was turning down) but if my chances are unlikely, I want to start preparing for the rejection :(

My second choice is the University of Chicago program, which seems to be universally viewed as prestigious, but their GPA requirements are only 2.8. I know that GPA isn't the most important thing when applying to grad school but I don't know how else to gauge the potential likelihood of acceptance.

Any help at all would greatly be appreciated.

Oh and also, I am new here. HI!
Post edited by nodisrespect on
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Replies to: How hard is it to get into Social Work programs?

  • tenisghstenisghs Posts: 3,955Registered User Senior Member
    Clinical track at most social work programs tend to be more competitive than the policy/management/community organizing tracks. In general the MSW program is not hard to gain admittance (50/50 chance). As long as you have a liberal arts background and taken a lot of human development and social science courses. Volunteer experience in a human services field helps too. The PhD Social Work program, on the other hand, is extremely competitive and have low acceptance rates (similar to other PhD social science programs).
  • cookiemomcookiemom Posts: 662Registered User Member
    Both programs are highly regarded. Chicago is one of the top in the country and more difficult to get into. Social Work schools look beyond grades and want people with experience. If you are just out of school I would suggest working for a few years in the field. It will greatly improve your chances. Good Luck.
  • nodisrespectnodisrespect Posts: 21Registered User New Member
    Well, I will have a letter of rec from a professor that I did research with, and from the Illinois director of DCFS. (The third is just my favorite professor). These will help right? I want to enter the advocacy and leadership specialization. Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate them. (I'm stressing lol)
  • ramaswamiramaswami Posts: 665Registered User Member
    Social work programs require a pulse and a checkbook. The 3 worst degrees to have in terms of credibility: social work, education and divinity.
  • tenisghstenisghs Posts: 3,955Registered User Senior Member
    ramaswami, whose opinion is that? I'm assuming that yours only. It's not fact.
  • nodisrespectnodisrespect Posts: 21Registered User New Member
    Oh please. Get a life.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Posts: 665Registered User Member
    I supervise MSWs, I recruit MSWs. The requirement for admission to Columbia U's MSW program for example is merely an undergrad degree with a capacity to do B grade work. No GRE, for example. I spoke with a senior official recently (about the poor preparation of one graduate I hired) and among other things I learned was the fact that the admit rate was well over 75% and the ones not admitted had several failing grades, academic infractions ,etc. Same for Fordham and Smith college, easy admittance, low standards. You may not like what I am saying but no need to tell me to get a life, etc. This is not opinion.

    The background of the social workers I work with typically goes like this: community college credits in courses such as human development, general studies, then a state school for courses such as multicultural communication, feminism, justice and poverty, etc, then social work school. I personally know nearly 50 such social workers.

    A few are smart, many are not, some went into the program to become therapists because of problems of their own (many have had substance abuse and mental health issues themselves, this is not to put them down) all were poorly trained, without exception. Mind you, those I know came out of the clinical track and they function as therapists since the state law permits their practice and none of them know much about psychopathology, they take the DSM and use it like a cookbook.

    I would avoid going to an MSW for therapy. I run a major program for a major employer of social workers, I will not continue this dialogue, you can PM me for further info. Get the degree if you want to make a living, you will be hired, there is a need for cut rate "therapists", reimbursement by insurers favor MSWs but dont go thinking it is a respected degree or that you will learn anything useful.
  • tenisghstenisghs Posts: 3,955Registered User Senior Member
    ramaswami, you have given me examples so far of schools in the East Coast/NYC area. You are still generalizing the versatile value of a MSW degree. Some people get a MSW to do MEZZO/MACRO work (social policy, administration, community organizing), not always micro (clinical) work.

    As someone who works at Univ of Michigan, I highly doubt the acceptance rate is as high as 75% at their SSW program. In fact, I noticed Michigan isn't even among the most popular Social Work schools by prospective applicants (even though it's ranked #2 in the 2009 edition of U.S. News) because of tuition costs and difficulty of coursework (one of my colleagues is currently in the Michigan MSW program and he's constantly studying). The SSW does admit some borderline applicants, but they to be very small in numbers.

    I can only speak for Michigan, but I'm sure it's the same at Chicago SSA and WUSTL Brown.

    I will admit that social work tends to be a very popular (and over-saturated) field in the Northeast. But don't go around stating that it's a worthless degree when it's not. Geography does play an important role.
  • nodisrespectnodisrespect Posts: 21Registered User New Member
    You may not like what I am saying but no need to tell me to get a life, etc. This is not opinion.

    Dude, you're not listening to me. I don't like or dislike what you're saying. I DON'T CARE what you're saying. You came into this post with a disproportionately negative attitude given the subject matter specifically to talk down on my career path. Did you think you would change my mind? Did you think I would suddenly find my plans and goals worthless and up and decide to do something else? Were you expecting me to look over all the hard work I've down these past four years and gasp and go "OMG IT WAS ALL FOR NOTHING WHAT WILL I DO NOW? I did not know what I was going to do with my life until some random loser on the internet told me I was planning to do the wrong thing"?

    Come on now, there's no way any of these things could possibly have happened. There's absolutely nothing that could have came from your comment except a meaningless internet fight which is clearly what you were looking for because you're apparently a huge loser who needs validation from strangers on the internet. You came into this thread specifically to be a jerk, and for that my friend, you are a loser and I repeat, you need to get a life.

    And for the record, I'm not going into MSW to be a therapist. Therapists need phds. I already said I considered entering a phd program, and that I plan on entering MSW for advocacy work. The two have nothing in common. Just because you are "near" some people in the same types of programs, you are not an expert on the entire spectrum of MSW degreed work. For all your supposed knowledge in the field, you seem perfectly prepared to accept the idea that an MSW degree is appropriate for being a therapist when any moron that majored in psychology knows this isn't true. The most "therapy" one could get with an MSW is being a high school guidance counselor. It sounds like you're basing your whole perspective on a few people you know personally and some offhand comment one random guy made - yeah, you've really convinced me with that hardcore evidence. You have some kind of issue with these people specifically that YOU know, like you definitely should invest in a REAL therapist for these projection issues. One with a PHD.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Posts: 665Registered User Member
    First, to nodisrespect, I am not attempting to change your mind, I have a PhD in clinical psychology, two post docs, publications, former professorship at Mayo, current director of major clinical psych dept, if that is a loser in your opinion, then I have a multitude to keep me company. Like you, I do not "accept" (whatever that means) an MSW for therapy work, in fact my post lamented their poor training, but I accepted the market reality that Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement includes MSWs and since they are cheaper than PhDs they get hired, in fact I did say that to be hired go get that degree, so it is not worthless from an economic point of view. I did say that I was writing about clin social work programs.

    Second, to tenisghs, for macro work, MPH or MPA are the preferred degrees, yes, the acceptance rates at Fordham, Columbia, Smith College, etc is very high, I know since I am a clinical adjunct, supervise practicum and internships and do hire, so I am in touch with their programs frequently. I would venture to suggest that it is perhaps even more easy to get in in the Midwest since there is no great population concentration but I could be wrong if there are but few programs.

    Let me summarize: clinical social work programs are easy to get into, few requirements, easy to find so-called therapy jobs, you won't learn much about therapy in the program but will come out thinking you do, you get to be a therapist alongside PhDs and MDs since clinical teams tend to be multidisciplinary and you will fall into the trap of thinking you are a trained therapist. All this is no comment on the smarts of those entering such programs, people go into programs/careers for a variety of reasons, you may have a genuine calling and unwilling to invest in a PhD or you may need to make a quick living but the majority of students are unlikely to have the smarts of engineers, scientists, PhDs, psychologists and other more demanding disciplines.

    I currently know 50-60 clinical MSWs and their work intimately, this is perhaps a larger sample size than you have access to. I do know 5 people doing macro work, MPH, MPA, in both clinical and advocacy. Yes, there are MSWs in advocacy but they tend to be more narrowly focused, in admin social work, but the MPHs and MPAs work across the spectrum, from hospital directorships to UN. Thanks for listening, and this is not to offend anyone, change anyone's mind or to say your degree is worthless.
  • tenisghstenisghs Posts: 3,955Registered User Senior Member
    Second, to tenisghs, for macro work, MPH or MPA are the preferred degrees, yes, the acceptance rates at Fordham, Columbia, Smith College, etc is very high, I know since I am a clinical adjunct, supervise practicum and internships and do hire, so I am in touch with their programs frequently. I would venture to suggest that it is perhaps even more easy to get in in the Midwest since there is no great population concentration but I could be wrong if there are but few programs.

    Those two degrees (MPH and MPP) are for two very direct career paths (health care and public sector/evaluation). If I have no interest in health care, why would I pursue a MPH? If I don't want a very economics-driven curriculum when my goal is nonprofit administration or advocacy, why would I get an MPP? If someone is interested in international affairs, then a MPP or MA in IR makes sense. Only ignorant people equate MSW = therapy. I don't care if you're a clinical psychologist. Your background is health and clinical. None of us (the OP and me) are interested in your area. One of my mentors has an MSW and she makes six figures as a director of a economic development organization in NYC. I know another woman with an MSW who is president of a children's foundation making six figures in Michigan. Guess what? None of these women have clinical backgrounds, and their MSW education prepared them for their careers. (My background is management, particularly social enterprise, social policy and nonprofit organizations.)

    Careers in Social Work Part 2
    Mental Health/Clinical Social Work • Community Organization • International Social Work • Management/Administration • Policy and Planning • Politics • Research

    Choices: Careers in Social Work, Part 2
  • ramaswamiramaswami Posts: 665Registered User Member
    Tenisighs, you might be surprised to learn that I am actually trying to help you. Let's deal with facts:

    1. Whilst MSW does not always mean therapy/clinical, the overwhelming majority of MSW holders function as therapists. Two reasons for this: more jobs in therapy(fewer admin jobs) and the interest candidates have in becoming therapists. There is a feminization of the field and women gravitate toward the therapy side. Call the placement division of any MSW program and get where their grads found jobs.

    2. Neither the MPH nor the MHA (not MPP as you write??) is economics driven. For any subject to be truly econ driven applicants need to know math up to level of Real analysis.

    3. Please do not argue by "I know XYZ..." There are always exceptions. More MSW admin track (I use admin track as shorthand for all nonclinical MSW tracks) degrees are earned each year in the US than MPH and MPAs so in fact you might find proportionately more MSWs in advocacy positions. But the high end positions tend to go to the MPH and MPA. Do remember that many MPH are MDs and there may be an epidemiology focus here.

    4. If you are not interested in health care then instead of MPH take a look at MPA which can be used in a variety of settings.

    5. I have intimate knowledge only of health care but a good knowledge of other advocacy settings since many of the referrals that come to us and the ones we make deal with agencies involving aging, childcare, education, teen services, housing, etc etc etc. Many of my patients intersect with every imaginable agency and I deal with these administrators daily.

    But then I am a loser, right? So don't bother learning from me.
  • nodisrespectnodisrespect Posts: 21Registered User New Member
    1. Whilst MSW does not always mean therapy/clinical, the overwhelming majority of MSW holders function as therapists.

    OMG.

    This is not what ANYBODY in this post is talking about, so why do you keep trying to argue this point? How did you get so many degrees with such a poor level of comprehension skills? Just stop already. You keep trying to drag this conversation in a direction that no one is interested in talking about.

    I don't understand how I can make this any clearer? I don't want to be a therapist.

    You keep talking about MSWs that practice therapy. One area of a degree (that, for the record, is not even what the degree is for) that no one is interested in. Are you really under the impression that MSWs are degrees for practicing psychotherapists? Just because some people use them to squeeze into psychotherapy (which is what I assume you mean when you keep saying "therapists"), it is only after getting additional certification and licensing, which proves that the degree is meant to focus on other kinds of work. The MSW is a terminal degree meant for community service. Not private practice. Period. Just because you know many people who want to be therapists without getting a PHD, that doesn't mean that is the only thing that an MSW is for. If you're so concerned that most people use an MSW for the clinical track, I suggest you go and tell THEM that their degree is going to be "worthless".

    I don't understand how you think your comments are relevant to the subject matter at all.

    You clearly have an ax to grind because you're upset you spent a hefty amount of years on your many, I'm sure, degrees, just to have these "untalented", "unrespectable", "substance abusers" that are "poorly trained" come and practice "right along side" you. Go grind it somewhere else.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Posts: 665Registered User Member
    Nodisrespect, in post 2 tenisighs started off by mentioning clinical track, in post 10 you brought in therapy , so I gave a little bit of background, of the 5 items I mentioned, only no 1 was on therapy, the other 4 addressed other tracks.

    You have unnecessarily launched personal attacks. First I am called a loser, now lacking in comprehension. Let me give you my credentials on comprehension: 99th percentile on the Miller analogies test.

    Best wishes.
  • ramaswamiramaswami Posts: 665Registered User Member
    I went back and read some threads to reexamine my focus on therapy and realized that you had originally indicated your interest in a clinical PhD, plus gave a background in psychology. That I typical of someone who wants a clinical track, hence I kept keeping that point alive even though I do realize your intention now is admin/management, etc.

    Forgive me for saying that if you are worried about your background and ability to do a clinical PhD it is somewhat ironic you would viciously attack the comprehension, etc of someone who has thoroughly established his credentials in the field.
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