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Will a social work degree from Case Western be worth the money?


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I recently was accepted to Case Western Reserve University out in northeast Ohio. It's a top-10 ranked social work program in the country, and seems like a great opportunity to position myself for better employment someday. As good jobs in the field are very competitive, I've been led to believe that the program you attend really does matter. I'm looking to go into the clinical side of social work, doing mental health counseling, school counseling, and other clinical type work which has the most potential for earning significant income someday.

However... I then learned about the cost. It will be $21,000/semester. They have offered me a scholarship of $20,000, plus a 4,000 reward for field work, which will be divided over the 4 semesters. That means 16,000/semester still needs to be accounted for. Summed up, unless I find further grants or funds to use, and accounting for living expenses while attending school, I'd get out of there with about 80,000 dollars worth of debt. Since you're doing field work the entire time in addition to schooling, you can't work, so your expenses will have to be covered by loans and the 4,000 in field work awards. All this means is that, no matter what, I'd be going into a lot of debt for a two-year Masters in Social Work.

From those who understand the field, and how much it pays for those with good degrees versus how much I could earn with a lesser degree or trying to work my way up in an organization... will it be worth it to pay up all that money for a 2-year Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work?

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Most people do not recommend accumulating more debt that you expect to earn in your yearly salary after you graduate. Ultimately it is your call though. To get a better sense of perspective, have you calculated the total costs of attending other schools?

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@dchandle15 I am just finishing up my MSW from the University of Illinois, and I would say that unless you're planning to do a PhD  or any further education in the future, the ranking of the program you go to isn't going to matter THAT much. Do you have other choices? Where you get your degree from will not really effect the amount you get paid or the type of entry level job that you're eligible for. That's going to be much more dependent on your experience, interview skills etc.  You also might be able to get an assistantship if you reach out to the admissions department. You never know if they'll be able to help you or not, but it's worth asking! 

Also, just because you're in class/in field for most of the time doesn't mean you can't work, it just means you'll be tired. I've worked 2-3 jobs at a time while attending a full time program, which adds up to about 80 hours a week with coursework/homework time. Sure, I'm tired, but it's also worth it to make it out with less debt. They don't "encourage" it but as a first gen student, I did it all through my undergrad too and it does make a difference. You might want to try to take the first semester job free and then see if you can handle adding in some work. If you can get something in the general field, it will make jobs easier to get after graduation! 

Also, congrats on your offer!  Wooohoooo go you!!!!!!

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