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Top 10 Degree Programs in Social Work

Social work is multifaceted field that involves assisting individuals, families,groups, communities and organizations with a wide variety of social issues and needs. They help in providing the necessary support and access to programs and services to help people live better and more productive lives. Those seeking to enter the field of social work commonly need an advanced criminal justice degree in social work to open the door to a wide variety of criminal justice jobs. Various publications, such as the U.S. News and World Report, rank the top degree programs based on peer assessments. Others rank schools based on academic quality, reputation, awards, and other criteria. The 2012 rankings of Master of Social Work and related programs are as follows:

University of Michigan Ann Arbor
The master’s in social work degree program is offered through the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The program strives to prepare professionals to work at the local, state, national, and international levels of social work. Students are required to choose a practice method concentration and a practice area to apply their selected technique. The practice methods include interpersonal practice, community organization, social policy and evaluation, and management of human services. The practice areas include health, mental health, aging in families and society, community and social systems, and children and youth in families and society.

Washington University in St. Louis
The Master of Social Work program at Washington University is offered through the Brown School of Social work. The school is considered a leader in the field and has contributed to various policy tactics at local, national, and international levels. The school offers instruction in policy, research, and practice. The program offers six concentrations: health, mental health, management, gerontology, social and economic development, and children, youth, and families. The school prides itself on offering a flexible graduate curriculum that provides a solid foundation of the fundamentals of social work, but also enables students to create their own academic path. Students have the ability to choose their concentration and the time and location of their fieldwork.

University of Chicago
The School of Social Service Administration offers the master’s degree program in social work at the University of Chicago. The school is among the oldest social work graduate schools in the nation. The school offers a Master of Arts degree in social work, which is equivalent to the Master of Social Work, but provides a broader academic and practical foundation of direct social work practice. It provides instruction on social science theory, development of policies, and interdisciplinary research. This criminal justice degree prepares individuals to serve as leaders in their fields. Students participate in direct practice with individuals, families, groups, and organizations. They must choose one of two concentrations: social administration or clinical. The program offers flexibility for students to tailor their education to meet specific goals for various criminal justice jobs. Students are able to choose from an array of elective course within the school and throughout the university.

University of Washington
The School of Social Work at the University of Washington provides a Master of Social Work program that offers a solid foundation in social work knowledge, abilities, and ethics. Students engage in in-depth study of social work interventions. The curriculum involves collaborative interaction with students and faculty to successfully prepare students for social work practice in a constantly changing international environment. The program’s main goal is dedication to social justice, and it is driven by a foundation year goal and an advanced year goal. The foundation year goal is to prepare students for generalist practice by providing the basic knowledge and abilities to solve complex social issues. The advanced year goal prepares students for advanced careers in a specific area of concentration that promotes leadership, social interventions, and a dedication to public services. Students participate in internship opportunities in the nearby area.

Columbia University
Columbia University’s School of Social Work is highly regarded for its world-renowned faculty. It offers a Master of Science in Social Work degree program that blends rigorous academic instruction with practical application of social work theories and abilities in actual real world settings. The program is structured around comprehensive study in one of four concentrations: policy practice, advanced clinical practice, advanced generalist practice and programing, and social enterprise administration. In these concentrations, students gain a solid understanding of providing direct social services to a diversity of populations. Students have a variety of local opportunities in New York for delivery of services, development of policies, and research. Students have the ability to choose one of seven practice fields including contemporary social issues; family, youth and child services; aging; health, mental health, and disabilities; the world of work; school-based and school-linked services; and international social welfare and services to immigrants and refugees.

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina offers its Master of Social Work degree through the School of Social Work. Students study a rigorous core curriculum and choose one of three concentrations, including direct practice, management and community practice, or self-directed study. The school prides itself on faculty who value evidence-driven practice and the significance of self-reflection. It offers a supportive academic atmosphere where students are able to design a plan of study that best meets their academic and career goals. Students are prepared for direct practice within communities, private agencies, and nonprofit organizations. They are also qualified to work in policy practice and advocacy and leadership.

University of California Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare offers a master’s degree in social welfare that strives to prepare leaders of the field who are qualified for multi-level social work practice in a variety of areas. It offers education established on strong evidence and the program responds to the constantly changing needs of local and international communities. Faculty members of the school are recognized at the national and international levels and the school performs research on major issues in California, the U.S., and around the world. The program is structured around five concentration areas with each one created to convey specialized understanding and abilities needed for advanced practice in a specific area. The concentrations include direct practice in child and family services, direct practice in health services, direct practice in community mental health services, direct practice in gerontology services, and management and planning. Students participate in research efforts to recognize the best practices, improve delivery of services, and create state-of-the-art social interventions.

University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin offers a Master of Social Work through its School of Social Work. The program prepares individuals for advanced social work practice with a variety of clients. It blends a foundation and concentration curriculum that provides experiential learning through a variety of means, such as internships and externships at certain agencies in the area. The program is structured through a systems and developmental framework. The foundation curriculum prepares students for generalist practice in the social work field. Students learn about historical development, contemporary practice, ethical issues, and organizational contexts. No matter what concentration students choose, the program focuses on dedication to culturally diverse populations, social and economic justice issues, and advancement of social work knowledge. Students can choose from two concentrations: clinical social work or community and administrative leadership.

Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University offers a Master of Science in Social Administration through the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. The school prides itself on its connection to the community, and the university has national recognition for its community-based research. The school is also noted for its ability to change social and economic leaders. The diversity of the community provides students with the ability to experience effective change. Students have the ability to choose the community practice for social change concentration or the direct practice concentration. Within the direct practice concentration, there are five specializations: health, mental health, aging, alcohol and other drug abuse, and children, youth, and families. The direct practice concentration prepares students to tackle complex social needs in a constantly changing environment. The concentration focuses on the development of skills and promotes the incorporation of knowledge about diverse populations and related issues that happen in many different practice settings.

Boston College
The Graduate School of Social Work at Boston College offers a Master of Social Work program that prepares students to take innovative and effectual steps to help individuals in need and provide necessary assistance to at-risk populations. The program offers a flexible curriculum that provides structure and individualization to help students meet their career goals. Students can select clinical or macro practice in four concentration areas: health and mental health, global practice, older adults and families, children, youth and families. Students can create a specialized field of study by linking two or more concentrations. They can also select electives through the Graduate School of Social Work or from collaboration with other institutions. All concentrations require specialized coursework and field placement.


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