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Everything posted by TheCrow

  1. I just graduated from a macro focused MSW program and had considered a joint MSW/MPA. For me, I already had many of the quantitative/technical skills that an MPP/MPA would teach from my undergraduate degree. I took mostly macro classes during my MSW and I didn't think they were very good because they assumed you knew so little. There's a big distinction between getting the skills you want, versus "signaling" to future employers that you're a good fit/part of the club for what they do. I took my MSW from a name-brand school and turned it into an amazing macro position. No one asked me anything about my degree during the interview and I couldn't have gotten the job if it wasn't for my undergraduate degree. On the other hand, you also have to balance those two factors with the cost. In my opinion, I think it might make sense to apply to a number of different types of programs so that you have many different options. My classes weren't the most relevant in my program, but the social work program at my school has infinitely more financial aid than our school of public policy. Especially if you are eligible for advance standing, that could be a great option to get the degree done (if you can do it in one year, you not only save a year of tuition, but gain back a whole additional year to make a salary). If you're comparing between programs are local, non-brand-name schools (which is a completely valid option!) I think I would definitely go with an MPA unless you want to manage direct service programs. Then they're might be an advantage to an MSW (since you can supervise students and eventually other social workers). I'm not convinced an MSW/MPA makes that much sense for many people - one master's is usually sufficient. The last comment I have is that I would give real consideration to evening or part-time programs in either vein that will let you keep working while you earn a degree. I think that doing that is definitely an underrated option and I wish I had been in a position to do it.
  2. What are your goals? This is very specific to your goals.
  3. I started on this forum when I was looking through master's programs. I'm graduating next month and I just wanted to add a few things I've realized for those interested in policy. For background, I had a fairly quantitative undergrad and entered the MSW at a "top" school right after undergrad. I got good financial support and then a large research grant in my second year that wiped out most of my remaining debt, and was able to churn out a number of publications. I got a great summer internship after my first year in DC. I was able to turn that into a great full-time position, but in a quantitative role that is not traditional social work and which I would not have qualified for without my undergrad degree. 1. Most "policy" happens at the state or federal level. Other policy positions, as mentioned by the OP, are agency-level positions that are effectively based on experience. Getting a true entry level position in policy requires hard skills (such as econ, stats, research) that will likely be difficult to obtain during your MSW (and even if you do, you'll often be considered part of "the other"), unless it's a generalist "program coordinator" type role that you work your way up from. Federal positions are quite difficult to get at the entry level without veteran's preference, not even mentioning the present climate. 2. In general social work privileges experience for its own sake. There seems to be a lot of "dues paying" (waiting for it to be your turn to move up) and a lot of focus of people remaining in the area they graduated from, compared to many other fields. To that end, consider where you are. Many major cities have local policy, state policy, and regional offices of federal agencies. If you don't have strong skills in in-demand fields like I mentioned above and don't get them through a dual-degree or elsewhere, you're probably better off avoiding debt and working your way up through experience. 3. If you're interested in a PhD, please remember that the degree (and many of the positions you use it for) are about research, not teaching. You may be better off getting an MSW followed by a PhD in a different field that provides better methodological training for your research interests. And if you're not aiming for a full-time academic position, you may be better of just getting one research-based master's in something else (there's likely more funding for it too). 4. The highest ranked programs are the most likely to admit students with little experience, but the most likely to bury them in debt. Make sure to thoroughly consider all of your options. Recruiting is also a lot more siloed at the graduate level - so the school name may not carry you into positions that other professional schools get recruited for without a whole lot of hard work and luck. 5. I'm very happy with where I ended up, but I feel uniquely fortunate. Most of my classes were 30+ people squished around a table called a "graduate seminar" (when 30+ people is, by definition, not a graduate seminar). The focus was not at all on the master's students and little seemed to be gained by anyone from the classes - there was a lot of showing up and going through the motions. A large portion of the tenured faculty were not social workers at all and were hard to meet with due to field hours. Even being research focused at a school obsessed with research, I had to work with faculty elsewhere at the University. 6. "International social work" at the master's level, excluding wealthy students studying in the US from abroad, seems to be much less existent than prospective students seem to imagine.
  4. Not for the master's.
  5. I think professors try pretty hard not to use many textbooks, though in your first two quarters that may be less true. In terms of room and board, there's basically no graduate housing - you're gonna have to get somewhere "off campus" and you're not going to be at school enough to really be eating meals on campus. Housing costs depend a lot on where you live and at least my year SSA was really unhelpful with that. I would check UChicago's marketplace (which is like a UChicago-only version of craigslist). If you want a studio, you'll often pay $1000+ a month, but if you're okay with living with other people, you can bring that cost down quite reasonably. I spent $625 a month my first year and and $665 my second year a month to live with two roommates in Hyde Park. There are significant advantages and disadvantages to living in different places and it's hard as a first year since you don't know where you're field placement will be before you commit to housing. I lived in Hyde Park both years - the public transportation is just not that good in my opinion to be commuting in and out a ton every week. Hyde Park is also cheaper than many other neighborhoods.
  6. Congrats on getting in! Just as a note, you can bring in up to $5000 in external funding a year before they reduce your SSA award.
  7. Actually, private universities often engage in more tuition discounting (raising tuition only to then hand out a lot of scholarships), whereas public universities often have far fewer scholarships so most people pay sticker price. I'm always concerned when I see people applying to a ton of out-of-state public schools.
  8. Also, from a 2011 article: "Top-ranked programs tended to be nonselective as regards MSW student admissions. Admissions rates of 70%, or even 80%, at our leading schools of social work raise serious concerns about the motivations and consequences of lax admissions standards, particularly when the universities housing these schools are known to have already accumulated mountainous endowments." "Our Best Schools of Social Work: How Good Are They?" in Social Work Research.
  9. The majority of MSW students just take large amounts of debt and with field placements, there often aren't many hours to work for money.
  10. The most recent publication on this topic is "Picky, picky, picky: ranking graduate schools of social work by student selectivity" published in 2009. Recently, the Council on Social Work Education has intentionally denied access to acceptance rate information. As of that time, San Franscisco had the lowest admissions rate of any MSW program, at 17.4% with an 87% yield rate (87% of those admitted enrolled). Columbia, at that time, had an 63.2% admissions rate with a 69.2% yield rate. Hunter has a 37.1% acceptance rate with a 66.9% yield rate. New York University had a 70.4% admissions rate with a 39.4% yield rate. Basically, the "top ranked" US News schools have much higher admissions rates, but tend to bury graduates in huge amounts of debts that they tend to ignore. Of the "top" schools, UChicago and Case seem to have among the most financial aid.
  11. Primarily because professional schools want to take your money and then see you do really well (as a good representation of them and help in recruiting). It's easiest for them to just admit the people with likelihood of being successful (in terms of knowing people and having already gotten promotions), rather than take people who aren't in the field and hope they'll make it work. Law school admits people in such a way as to keep the rank high (LSAT and GPA), since that's what everyone in law seems to care about, and they really don't care whether that means you'll be a good lawyer because that's not their problem.
  12. I hate to say it, but I don't think it's unheard of for a social work student to get to a field placement the first day and know it's just not going to work out. Field offices then deflect any criticism, knowing they don't have enough resources or placements and honestly know very little about where they're sending students.
  13. From other's postings here, students at Columbia and NYU report having the same field placements as students at Hunter. In terms of GRE, basing your decision on where to apply based on who doesn't require the GRE is very short-sighted. Graduate school--particularly at the cost of these programs and the expected earnings afterwards--is a huge life decision. A lot of decisions may seem reasonable because it feels like everyone else is doing it, but a huge number of people are buried in absurd amounts of debt.
  14. Do you want to focus on policy or direct practice? It sounds like you're largely aiming for school based on their brand appeal. For direct practice, no one really cares where you went and many of the "top schools" just employ a large cadre of adjuncts to teach their practice classes. For policy-focused students, the name of your school matters more, but you might be better off in a different type of program, especially if you're not offered a lot of funding. I think you'll find that, in general, you don't have to worry about competitiveness for social work programs. The brand name schools are actually easier to get into than the lower-ranked program. The problems is that many of them (places like NYU, USC, and Columbia in particular) give very little need-based and merit aid, so the bigger struggle is getting into a program that is avoidable. While public service loan forgiveness is available, remember that you will have to still pay a lot toward the loans over that time period.
  15. It really depends a lot on the programs. The higher-ranked programs tend to be more forgiving of a lack of experience, but they often admit those students with little funding. The lower-ranked programs tend to be far more obsessed with experience.
  16. JD admission at UChicago and UPenn is far, far more competitive than the MSW programs and is based primarily on LSAT score. Because of American Bar Association requirements (ABA), you will also not really be able to do a joint degree if you haven't already applied because you can't count courses toward a JD if they were taken before you started the JD program. You might consider asking UPenn if they're willing to match your SSA offer. I would also strongly encourage you to visit both programs - you're going to be living there for two years.
  17. I applied to both public affairs and social work programs last year and ended up enrolling at UChicago's social work program. I think the program will get me where I need to go, but there are a number of downsides and I think one of the major reasons it will work for me is my quantitative undergrad. One of the advantages, however, is that many of the social work programs are more affordable. It really depends on what you want to do, however. Feel free to PM me.
  18. Just as a note, you can search for an apartment on uchicago's internal version of craigslist: https://marketplace.uchicago.edu/?q=apartments&v=
  19. It's a reputation survey to deans and other major people at social work schools.
  20. I'm a current master's student at UChicago. Some of the benefits here include: a "Program of Study" in Health Administration and Policy that brings you together with students studying business, medicine, law, and public policy. There are also a number of field placements here at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services regional office and there are many strong health courses you could take in other divisions of the university. I don't know much about WUSTL, but I would note that the school of social work there offers both an MSW and an MPH, so there may be more health courses in the same building.
  21. I don't think my stats would be especially helpful, since I was a PhD applicant who was deferred to the master's program and I think their interest in admitting and funding me was due basically entirely to my potential to be a researcher in the field and not a practitioner (which is the lens they usually use to admit master's candidates) and my background is not traditional at all. So, I think they were very impressed by my GRE scores (which aren't required) and research background. I think lower-ranked schools are obsessed with you having checked boxes of full-time work experience. I think higher-ranked schools that give funding are much more interested in you demonstrating that you have enough experience and knowledge to really know what being a social worker is about. And just to be honest, I was admitted to USC, but the perception I left with was that the master's program just buries you in debt. They weren't going to send me a financial aid award until well after the deadline to commit to other schools.
  22. I think you will find that the higher ranked schools are more likely to admit you with a lower GPA and leave you to pay large amounts to attend, whereas lower ranked schools will be less likely to admit you with a lower GPA.
  23. Actually, social work admissions are weird. There are basics two trends: highly selective public universities where everyone pays basically the same and private universities (often higher ranked) that admit a far higher percentage of applicants, but give reasonable funding to a much smaller pool. With a low GPA, I bet you're more likely to get into Columbia for an MSW than Portland State.
  24. Most schools will want you to have an MSW and 2-3 years of post-MSW, plus a PhD in social work or a related field. Others that are more open to hiring those without MSWs (mostly just Columbia and UChicago) seem to hire people from traditional social science disciplines (e.g., sociology, political science) over those with a PhD in social work but no master's.
  25. The Council on Social Work Education (the professional accrediting agency), requires two years of post-MSW practice in order to teach the practice courses. Basically, this means you will not be competitive at small departments or as competitive at very clinically oriented departments without a master's degree in social work and the professional experience. I would apply to the joint MSW/PhD programs.