Social Work Student Resources, Scholarships, and Support Services

From a list of scholarships to a collection of valuable academic and career prep resources, see where to get help paying for college and succeeding in your program as a social work student.

Last Updated: 01/11/2021

Graduating with as little debt as possible and feeling confident in your skills and ability to get a rewarding job is every college student’s goal – and it’s no different for social work students. To make this goal a reality, social work students can take advantage of the many scholarships, support services, and resources that have been designed specifically for them. In the following guide, we’ve highlighted the best of these all on one page. From support services and scholarships available directly from your school to a list of private scholarships and helpful online resources, see where to turn for help paying for and succeeding as a social work student.

Campus and Online Support Resources for Social Work Students

Earning a post-secondary degree often pushes students’ mental and financial limits. To reach maximum academic and professional potential, you’ll need some career and educational support. See below for examples of where to find that support.

University Student Support Centers and Services

When students need help, they should first look to their own school or program. Not only will your school have the best understanding of your situation, but it also has a strong interest in seeing you succeed. To give an idea of what to look for, we’ve highlighted two notable schools that do an exceptional job helping their social work students.

1

Columbia University

The Columbia School of Social Work makes getting help easy for its social work students. If there’s a helpful resource, chances are Columbia University offers it. For starters, graduate students have an advisor for their entire academic career. In addition, the Office of Career Services and Leadership Management provides top-notch career advice. To help with academics, students can utilize the Field Education Department, which helps set up social work field placements, along with the Writing Center and the Social Work Library.

2

Humboldt State University

Attending classes online means receiving assistance can be more challenging. A few schools, like Humboldt State University’s Department of Social Work, have risen to this challenge by offering three major services for social work students. First, the virtual campus provides for maximum interaction among students and professors and offers assistance from the Humboldt State University librarian. Second, there are distributed learning community seminars, special classes students take each semester to help make the most of their online learning. Finally, regionally-based professional and academic coaches assist students as they transition into the social work program by providing the tools needed for learning success.

Articles, Videos, and Podcasts for Social Work Students and Professionals

Agents of Change Social Work Test Prep Run by a licensed clinical social worker, this podcast delivers test prep advice and strategies for the ASWB exam. Podcasts are uploaded roughly once a month.

Master of Social Work at USC Blog This blog is run by the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The articles posted relate to concerns that social work professionals and students are likely to face.

NASW Social Work Talks Podcast With uploads roughly every month, this podcast introduces listeners to various social work topics such as domestic violence, eating disorders, and racism.

The New Social Worker This online careers magazine offers articles and information about events, jobs, and graduate school for social work.

UB School of Social Work’s YouTube Channel The University of Buffalo School of Social Work has a YouTube channel with dozens of videos dating back 12 years. They continue to upload new content, with videos about social work topics posted every few weeks.

Social Work Professional Associations and Student Organizations

American Board of Clinical Social Work (ABCSW) The ABCSW is the premier organization for establishing professional standards, including the Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work credential.

Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) This AOSW aims to improve the quality and availability of psychosocial services to individuals suffering from cancer, as well as to their families.

Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) The ASWB handles the regulation of social workers for the United States and Canada. This includes overseeing the maintenance and administration of social work licensing exams.

Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) The CWLA is made up of hundreds of agencies that help vulnerable children and their families. It promotes new policies and practices to achieve this mission.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) As the largest membership organization for social workers, the NASW is well-placed to improve the social worker profession. One way they do this is through the creation and upholding of professional standards.

School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) In the United States, the SSWAA is the only national organization devoted exclusively to promoting the interests of social work in schools. This includes assisting students in reaching academic and emotional growth goals.

Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) By working with organizations around the world, the SSWR assists research efforts by and on behalf of social workers.

Social Work Social Media and Online Communities

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Discussion Forums Well-known for its work in accrediting social work programs, the CSWE also has many resources for professionals and students, including online discussion forums offered in electronic mailing list format.

The Grad Cafe This online community hosts message boards for various professionals, including those in journalism, law, public health, and social work. Individuals can post questions and receive prompt and insightful answers in any number of topics relating to social work.

r/socialwork This subreddit allows Reddit users to share advice and ask questions, whether they’re thinking about a career in social work or have worked in the field for decades.

Support Resources for Students in Online Social Work Programs

Most students now take at least one course through distance learning. To promote online success, a plethora of resources are available to assist students both academically and with career objectives.

10 Netiquette Needs for the Online Classroom Online learning might be the norm, but not everyone is used to it. This resource explains how students can learn as much as possible while being polite and considerate to classmates and professors.

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – Education Resources Created through various initiatives operated by the CSWE, these educational resources offer an expansive array of information, including case studies, assessment tools, and videos that review advanced practice skills and behaviors.

Open Educational Resources – Humboldt State University (HSU) HSU offers a comprehensive array of learning materials for social work students and teachers. Resources include textbooks, courses, and videos.

The Online Student’s Guide to Time Management Online learning offers the maximum level of flexibility, but students must take care to not fall behind in schoolwork. This STEPS guide offers an overview for students needing help with time management.

SWHelper Career Center SWHelper is a leading online magazine for the social work community. It offers many resources, including in-depth career assistance.

College-Sponsored Scholarships in Social Work

Paying for college is often the biggest challenge for students. While there are a variety of financial aid options available, they are not all created equal. Scholarships are some of the most sought-after forms of financial help since they do not require students to work for or pay back funds.

Start your scholarship search with your school and social work program since they often have scholarships available only to their students. This makes it easier to apply and earn a scholarship award. To get an idea of the school-sponsored scholarships available, we’ve highlighted two schools with excellent scholarship offerings.

1

The University of Utah

The University of Utah’s College of Social Work makes helping its social work students pay for their education a priority. For example, in the most recent academic year, the college gave over $250,000 in financial aid to more than 100 students within its bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. social work programs. Students interested in international social work can take advantage of the CSW Global Educational Opportunities Scholarship, open to social work students looking to study abroad.


Edward Yukio Okazaki Memorial Scholarship

Amount

Varies

Deadline

4/15/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Bachelor’s degree in social work students currently enrolled at the University of Utah. Must have a history of academic success and interest in gerontology.

How to Apply

Go to the University of Utah’s scholarship website and sign in with your Utah account information. From there, submit the application information online.

2

University of Minnesota Duluth

The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Department of Social Work makes finding funding for social work students as easy as possible. Like other social work programs, the school offers a host of scholarships, including several based on diversity and academic excellence. Roughly 60% of master’s degree social work students receive at least one scholarship. There are also other forms of financial aid available, including fellowship opportunities and loan forgiveness programs.


Peggy L. Scheller Memorial Scholarship

Amount

Varies

Deadline

Rolling deadline

Eligibility

Social work students earning their master’s degree can apply. Applicants must be in good academic standing with an expressed desire for a career in rural outreach programs.

How to Apply

Students who are applying for admission into the University of Minnesota Duluth are automatically considered.

Private Scholarships in Social Work

Many scholarships come from private organizations, including professional associations, charitable institutions, and corporations. Private scholarships are often competitive because they offer the highest dollar awards. The list of scholarships below will help get you started.

Amount

$500

Deadline

8/23/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Show a commitment to social work in the social justice and equity specialty. Must be in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

How to Apply

Application instructions are found on the CSWE website after the application cycle opens in the summer of each year.

Amount

$1,500

Deadline

6/28/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Have at least a 3.0 GPA, be a member of the National Association of Black Social Workers, be African American, demonstrate a desire to conduct research in the African American community, and be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited social work program.

How to Apply

Provide the application form, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, a letter of good standing, and official transcripts.

Amount

$15,000

Deadline

Varies

Eligibility

Must have a bachelor’s degree, two or more years of experience in social work or a related field, and plan on enrolling in a graduate program that allows work with children and families.

How to Apply

To obtain an application, email the Educational Foundation Executive Director.

Amount

Varies

Deadline

3/11/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to members of the National Association of Social Workers who are working toward a master’s degree in social work and have a special connection to Hispanic, Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native populations.

How to Apply

Obtain an application at the National Association of Social Workers’ website. Provide a biographical essay, statement of merit and financial need, official transcripts, and two letters of support.

Amount

$10,000

Deadline

Varies

Eligibility

Master’s degree students in their final year who plan on working to provide mental health and/or substance abuse services to ethnic or racial minorities.

How to Apply

Application materials are available yearly in the late spring/early summer. Sign up for alerts for when application materials get posted online.         

Amount

$3,000

Deadline

1/11/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Open to New York state residents attending college full time for degrees in social work or a similar field that allows them to help the developmentally and intellectually disabled.

How to Apply

Complete the online application, which requires a signature from the department chairperson. Applicants must also include one signed letter of recommendation. 

Amount

$2,500

Deadline

1/15/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Intended for master’s or Ph.D. students enrolled in a social work or other human services program. Must also be members of the Minnesota Social Service Association. Preference goes to those planning on working in the Midwest region after graduation.

How to Apply

Visit the Minnesota Social Service Association website to download an application. You’ll need a personal statement, two letters of support, and copies of unofficial transcripts.

Amount

Varies

Deadline

3/27/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Available to master’s degree social work students interested in helping clients in underserved minority populations. The social work program must be in North Carolina.

How to Apply

Complete the online application, which requires at least one reference and evidence of clinical experience. A completed application may be submitted via email.

Amount

$1,000

Deadline

11/20/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

After becoming a member of the American Board of Clinical Social Work, individuals may apply for this scholarship by writing a clinical paper about a field placement intervention.

How to Apply

Become a member of the American Board of Clinical Social Work to have the opportunity to submit the paper.

Amount

$1,000 – $3,000

Deadline

5/31/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Must be seeking a bachelor’s degree in social work, be a member of Phi Alpha, and be able to show a history of academic success.

How to Apply

Apply online through the Phi Alpha scholarship program website.

Amount

Varies

Deadline

2/15/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

The Pi Gamma Mu scholarship is for students in their first or second year of graduate work in a social science area of study, which includes social work.

How to Apply

The application includes a personal statement, resume, at least three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.

Amount

$2,500

Deadline

3/5/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Must be enrolled in a graduate program in an area of study that relates to mental health, such as psychology or social work.

How to Apply

Submit a resume, unofficial transcripts, two letters of reference, and a personal statement. All materials must be submitted as a PDF via email.

Amount

At least $900

Deadline

7/31/2021 for Fall or 12/15/2021 for Spring (Annual)

Eligibility

Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a high school senior or undergraduate with less than 90 credits, and plan on earning a degree in social work to work with the elderly.

How to Apply

Application materials include a form, personal statement, and at least two letters of recommendation. Must provide evidence of a commitment to social assistance and community service.

Amount

Up to $15,000

Deadline

4/1/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

For students devoted to social and economic justice and active in the progressive movement. Financial need is also considered.

How to Apply

Besides the application (which becomes available online in January of each year), students need a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a copy of their Student Aid Report.

Amount

Varies

Deadline

3/11/2021 (Annual)

Eligibility

Membership with the National Association of Social Workers, enrollment (or plans to enroll) in a master’s level social work program, and interest (or experience) working with the African American community in the area of mental health care.

How to Apply

Provide a biographical essay, evidence of financial need, two letters of support from professional references, and transcripts.

Tips for Winning a Social Work Scholarship

Scholarships in this field are highly competitive, so you need to stand out. By the time you apply for a scholarship, there is little you can do to change things like your GPA, test scores, or prior coursework. So, start now to give yourself the best chance possible to win a scholarship. Here are five tips to get you started.

  • Tip #1
    Identify what makes you stand out
    Even with excellent grades and amazing test scores, applicants still get lost among the many qualified scholarship hopefuls. To catch the eye of a scholarship committee member, emphasize what makes you different from your peers.
  • Tip #2
    Network
    Making connections isn’t just helpful when applying for a job. By attending networking events and meeting people in the social work profession, you might meet someone who plays a part in a scholarship selection process or who could be an influential reference on your scholarship application.
  • Tip #3
    Ask for recommendations as soon as possible
    Not only do writers appreciate as much time as possible to write a solid letter of recommendation, but it also provides them with further evidence of your ability to plan ahead, stay organized, and be aware of other people’s time.
  • Tip #4
    Start early
    Some scholarships take a lot of effort and time, especially when an essay is required. The best essays are those with multiple revisions. The earlier your start, the more tweaks you can make, which allows you to submit the best work possible.
  • Tip #5
    Turn in your application on time
    Organization and conscientiousness are critical for social workers. Turning in an application on time or early shows the scholarship committee you have what it takes to keep track of cases and clients and not miss important deadlines. 

Other Ways to Get Help Paying for College as a Social Work Student

Social work students have access to several forms of financial aid, including government student loans, work-study, grants, and private loans. However, social work students will often have greater access to certain forms of financial aid than do other students.

For example, many schools offer graduate assistantship positions for social work students. This gives students a stipend or tuition discount in return for their help in any number of areas, such as tutoring, technical support, and research. Fellowships are also very popular for graduate and undergraduate social work students who need financial assistance for a field placement or research project. There’s also eligibility for loan forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is for graduates working for non-profit or governmental organizations, which is where many social workers end up after earning their degree.

Learn more about ways to get help paying for school in our guides to financial aid and loan forgiveness programs.