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MSW acceptance rates


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Hey everyone!


I'm currently a junior majoring in psychology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. I want to go to graduate school for social work but don't know if I'm competitive enough or not. The schools I'm looking to apply to in Fall 2014 is U of M, Michigan State, Wayne State, UIUC, USC, Boston U., Rutgers, NYU, and Columbia. U of M is my first choice. I'm pretty sure I will have a 3.5 cumulative GPA by the end of this year, and my major GPA will be a 3.7 and last 60 credits is 3.94. Is this GPA competitive enough for these schools? Also, I'm not sure if I have enough experience. I had a psychology practicum at a preschool for 4 months and then I worked at a day care as a teacher assistant for the summer (May-August 2013). I'm pretty sure I'm going to be volunteering at the VA hospital this semester and I'm going to intern/volunteer under a BSW at a nursing home this summer. Is this enough experience? I've also worked as a cashier at a grocery store since I was a senior in high school.I work there every summer i come back from college, can that be used as human service experience? I'm just concerned that my stats aren't competitive for these schools. what do you guys think? Also, I'm interested in working in the Va after graduation, does anyone know how hard it is to get a job in the VA? Also, I heard social workers in the VA are paid really well, is this true? I appreciate the feedback! 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Your GPA looks great, I would focus more on your experience. From what I've heard, is that social work programs care a lot about your experience. If you want to work in the VA, I would say definitely volunteer at the VA hospital. Perhaps you could make a connection with a social worker there and they could answer your questions about it.

I'm not sure if the grocery store is human service experience, but you could somehow relate it in your personal statement. Maybe it helped you develop communication and "people skills" and both those are valuable in the social work field.

I don't think there is any set number for "enough experience" but it sounds like you have a good start. Contact the schools that you want to apply at and ask them how much experience they are looking for in their applicants.

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I recently got into U-M and Wayne States MSW program for fall 2014. I am a psychology/biology major at Eastern and my gpa is a 3.5. I think knowing what you want to do, and having good experiences will definitely help you get in more than a good GPA. For example, I will be concentrating in social policy and evaluation in health, and the experience I have that relates to that is working on the Obama campaign in 2012, volunteered for the American cancer society, and fit kids 360. If you have any questions feel free to pm me.

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tikababy, I'm currently working at the VA and I also volunteer here at the VA too so I might be able to answer some of your questions.  First, gaining employment in the VA is not necessarily easy but it's not impossible either.  If you served in the military then you'll be able to receive preference over most applicants (especially if you're receiving service-connected disability ratings).  Otherwise, you're going to be competing with potential Veterans for those positions.  The VA prefers to hire Veterans over non-Veterans as some of their positions posted online are limited to either former/current federal employees or disabled Veterans.  Here's a good place to start looking for jobs at the VA:  www.usajobs.gov  With that said, I would definitely look into networking at the VA both for volunteering/internship opportunities as well as potential paid job opportunities.  There are many areas to volunteer within the social work field here at the VA.  Some examples include working with assisting homeless Veterans, substance abuse treatment, suicide prevention, and helping returning OEF/OIF Veterans.  In addition, if you're able to gain some volunteering experience (whether at the VA or elsewhere), you could potentially use that volunteering supervisor (or whoever is overseeing you) as a letter of recommendation.  The benefits of working at the VA are incredible--especially the health insurance and paid time off.  The salary overall is also good (I believe you'd start as a GS-9 upon graduation from MSW and once you obtain your licensure, you'll be promoted to GS-11).  Here is a link to the GS pay scale:  https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2014/general-schedule/    The "General Schedule" pdf will show your base pay and certain areas around the country have what they call "locality pay".  For example, I'm currently working as a GS-7 and my base pay is around $34,000 but since I work in Boston I receive an additional 24.8% pay increase.


Something to also consider is possibly working at the VA as a Psychology Research Assistant.  You could find these positions at the www.usajobs.gov website and search for the term "Psychology Research Technician".  Most of these jobs are term based (as they're often paid via a research grant) so you're only commiting yourself for 1-2 years; however, working at the VA before applying to graduate school can help you get back into the VA system as a LICSW (licensed clinical social worker).  That's what I did when I graduated college in 2012.  I got offered a job as a research assistant and that's what I've been doing for the past 2 years.  It's been great experience and as long as you have a strong academic background (which you clearly have) along with good research & statistical training (e.g., Psychology Statistics, Research Methods), then you should meet the minimum requirements to apply.  Most of those positions start at the GS-7 level or thereabouts.


In closing, volunteering/iinterning at the VA is definitely a great way to "get your foot in the door" which could potentially lead to a paid job within the VA.  Once you're working at the VA you'll be considered a federal employee which means you're eligible to apply for jobs posted within the VA system before they're made available to the general public.  Let me know if you have any other questions and I wish you the best of luck! 

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