Top 10 Graduate Social Work Schools & Programs

Top 10 Graduate Social Work Schools & Programs

Students who pursue advanced degrees in social work may desire a career that helps people and their communities. Many social work programs offer both master's and PhD degrees. Students who choose to pursue a terminal master's degree may be more concerned with clinical practice, while those on the PhD track may want to concentrate on research, policy and organizational behavior issues. Students may also choose certain populations or communities in which to conduct their studies.

Top ten graduate schools for social work

The list below highlights the top 10 social work programs in the country, as compiled by US News and World Report in its 2012 list of best graduate schools. The schools on this list host graduate degree programs for social work that offer students advanced curriculums and “hands-on experience in clinical settings,” according to the listings.

  • University of Michigan--Ann Arbor. The School of Social Work offers a selective PhD degree program that allows students to study both social work and sociology. Students who complete this program often aim to enter high-level leadership, research and education positions immediately after graduation.
  • Washington University in St. Louis. The Brown School of Social Work offers both MA and PhD degree programs. Students in the PhD program are expected to enter the program with a chosen area of study. Students in this school are encouraged to have a strong commitment to social welfare and a passion for outstanding academic research.
  • University of Chicago. The School of Social Service Administration offers both MA and PhD degree programs for students who are interested in learning about contemporary methods and theories in social service. Students may receive instruction on research methods and clinical methods, as well as big-picture issues involving social policy and large organizations.
  • University of Washington. The School of Social Work at the University of Washington has strong roots in principles of diversity and social justice. Widely recognized as a top center for social work education, the school aims to equip students for a number of career opportunities after graduation.
  • Columbia University. The School of Social Work has programs for MS and PhD degree students. The program is highly selective and instructs students on some of the most prominent issues in the field today. Students who complete this program may become administrators or conduct research in a number of related fields around the world.
  • University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill. The PhD program at this school is designed to advance students who are interested in research and theory related to social work. This program is not designed for students who are most concerned with methods of clinical practice.
  • University of California—Berkeley. The School of Social Welfare is a community-based school that encourages students to learn about and work closely with a number of local communities. The school offers an MSW and PhD degree track.
  • University of Texas—Austin. This school, which offers master's and PhD degree programs, begins with a general social work education that’s designed to give students a core understanding of the field. Students then choose individual areas of study.
  • Case Western Reserve University. The Mandel School of Applied Social Science offers a master's and doctoral degree program. Students may receive instruction on the cores of sociology and the methods of clinical practice. PhD students may focus on research methods and theory.
  • Boston College. The Boston College Graduate School of Social Work requires students to choose a specialized field of concentration, such as Children, Youth & Families or Health & Mental Health. These emphases give students the opportunity to learn more about the populations they hope to serve following graduation.
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