Illinois State University
Illinois State University
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is social work?

What are the advantages of studying social work at ISU (bachelor’s level)?

What are the advantages of getting my MSW (Master of Social Work) at ISU?

What are the differences between social work and psychology?

What can I do with a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) degree?

What can I do with an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree?

How much should I expect to earn?

What is the outlook for job opportunities in social work?

How do I get into the BSW program?

How do I get into the MSW program?

Once I’m admitted to the BSW program, what will I study?

Once I’m admitted to the MSW program, what will I study?

How many students are admitted to the BSW program?

How many students are admitted to the MSW program?

Do you offer any online classes?

What is social work?

International Definition of Social Work: "The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilizing theories of human behavior and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work."
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What are the advantages of studying social work at ISU (bachelor’s level)?

One of the most impactful pieces of your experience will be the relationships you make with your classmates and the faculty.  All social work majors begin the program together in the fall semester and take the same classes together for the next 2 years, so strong friendships are forged.  When you graduate, you will already have a network of other social workers to rely upon as you move into the work force or into graduate school.  Also, class sizes are 30 students maximum, so you will get to know the faculty well.  We encourage community involvement on small and large scales.  Employers are eager to hire BSW graduates because they know that these job candidates come to them with at least 10 months of experience in social work, from their internship.  Employers know that they won’t need to train a social worker on how to be helpful, only on how to procedurally deliver agency-specific services.

Another major advantage of a BSW is that with it, you are eligible for Advanced Standing in the MSW program, making you eligible to earn your MSW in only 12 months!
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What are the advantages of getting my MSW (Master of Social Work) at ISU?

Students repeatedly answer this question by referring to the enthusiasm, experience, and genuine concern for students that the faculty bring into the classroom.  Because we are a small program, admitting only around 40 students into the program each year, students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and staff on research, practice, and community involvement.  While we value research and scholarly publishing, our major focus is on helping people in practical ways in the field.

Here at ISU, we encourage our students to think about their career interest, help them to set goals and develop a plan of study towards their particular area of interest.
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What are the differences between social work and psychology?

One major difference between psychology and social work is that the two-year master's degree in social work is a terminal professional degree.  Career opportunities in the field of social work expand across all service areas such as: mental health, health & human services, substance abuse, school social work, local, state, and federal government, corrections, homelessness outreach and services, international social work, domestic violence treatment and prevention, hospice services, and many more.  With a Master’s degree from an accredited school of social work, graduates are able to enter into the field immediately upon graduation and are eligible to apply for the basic social work license (LSW).   

Licensing for psychology in most states can only occur at the PhD level.  Usually graduates move on to a PhD program in psychology to become a psychologist.  Although there may be some overlap in the curricula, the philosophy of each field differs. Social work focuses on the environmental challenges that affect persons and assists in empowering individuals to enhance their well-being which is done through both academic study and field experience. 

Students enrolled in a doctoral program in psychology begin with several years of academic study before transitioning into their clinical internship. 

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What can I do with a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) degree?

Most students who earn a BSW work in entry-level positions in a wide array of social service agencies.  Those who excel in their work may eventually achieve leadership roles in non-clinical positions, such as overseeing residential treatment center 24-hour staff or helping to organize community actions. Those at the BSW level are eligible to become a Licensed Social Worker after 3 years of supervised post-baccalaureate social work employment.  This would allow a BSW to provide clinical social work services, but they may not practice independently. 

BSW career options:

  • Mental health facilities and outpatient clinics
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Child welfare agencies
  • Adoption programs
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Government agencies (federal, state and local)
  • HIV/AIDS clinics and outreach programs
  • Youth services
  • Early intervention programs
  • Head Start programs
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Senior services
  • Community-based organizations
  • Advocacy agencies
  • Legal services
  • Homeless services
  • Relief services
  • Community organizing efforts
  • Services to individuals with disabilities
  • Services to individuals with developmental disabilities
  • Child Protective Services (CPS)
  • Correctional facilities
  • Public health services
  • Welfare agencies

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What can I do with an MSW degree?

Here, your options are nearly limitless.  Most students who return for their MSW are hoping either to provide clinical services to clients and/or become directors of social service agencies.  Some hope to go into politics or work in school systems.  MSWs who complete 3,000 hours of supervised practice are eligible to earn their professional license, making them a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  This allows an MSW to provide formal clinical social work and bill third-party payers, such as Medicaid or private insurance providers, for their services.  MSWs who have their LCSW may practice independently.

MSW Career Options:

  • (see above listed in addition to below)
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Political office
  • Military support services
  • International organizations
  • Union organizing
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
  • Hospice services
  • Research
  • Private practice

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How much should I expect to earn?

Detailed information on the most recent salary information. 
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What is the outlook for job opportunities in social work?

"Employment for social workers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Job prospects are expected to be favorable, particularly for social workers who specialize in the aging population or work in rural areas."

This quote, and much more detailed information about the job prospects for different areas in social work, are found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site.  

Also, you might find this article helpful:  NASW Report on Workforce Shortage 
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How do I get into the BSW program?

We have a separate application process for all students who would like to earn their BSW.  Please plan to apply one year in advance of actually beginning the BSW curriculum.  You may turn in your application materials to the Director of Recruitment and Admissions by the appropriate deadline.
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How do I get into the MSW program?

See the steps required for admission.
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Once I’m admitted to the BSW program, what will I study?

If you have done a good job of planning your coursework prior to beginning social work courses, then all you will need to study is social work!  If you have not taken graduation requirement classes yet, then you will need to complete those while taking social work courses.  Elective hours may be used towards the following concentrations: Child Welfare, Gerontology and Women and Gender Studies. Here is the BSW plan of study for your last 2 years in your undergraduate degree.
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Once I’m admitted to the MSW program, what will I study?

This depends on two things: 

1. Chosen concentration

2. Whether you are a Foundation student (no BSW) or Advanced Standing student (have your BSW)

Please see the plans of study for each concentration to view the courses:

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How many students are admitted to the BSW program?

We admit 60 students per year to the BSW program. If a student applies by the application deadline, maintains a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher, has completed the prerequisites, and demonstrates that the Social Work profession would be a good fit through their essay, their application should be given full consideration.
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How many students are admitted to the MSW program?

We typically admit 50 students each year.  Given that we want to keep our faculty:student ratio small for our students’ educational quality, this is likely to continue to be a competitive program.
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Do you offer any online classes?

We do not offer internet-only classes at this time.  However, some of our classes may mix internet and in-class learning for the convenience of our students.
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2017-06-26T11:09:48.369-05:00 2017