A Look at MSW Programs in Georgia

Georgia is the largest state in the southeast. Along with being the largest are the greatest numbers of citizens who are experiencing struggles with poverty, life changes, mental health, and community challenges. With a population approximating ten million, there is a great deal of diversity and need for social work services across the state.

Consider some of the statistics that describe the needs of the Georgia citizenry. The state has a poverty rate that is over 17% which is 2.5 times the national poverty level. It is a young state, with over 25 percent of the population under the age of 18 years. There are over 660,000 veterans living in Georgia. Nearly nine percent of citizens under the age of 65 have a disability. Persons living in rural areas have more chronic health issues than urban dwellers and less services available to help them.

Georgia has been facing a challenge in meeting the needs of citizens for social services in the areas of education, mental health, child and family services, and health care. In recent years, the state has overhauled it’s system of mental health, closing state hospitals but struggling to appropriately place persons with mental illness into community residences and services.

In an attempt to attract and retain both educators and social workers, in May of 2017, the governor increased wages by 19% in the state budget. In just the Division of Child and Family Services, alone, there is an annual turnover rate among social workers of 32 - 39 percent on an annual basis. A recent report by Voices for Children indicated that 52 of the state’s 153 counties do not even have one licensed social worker. The shortage of mental health providers and social workers is greater in the rural areas than in the Atlanta area. The impact of this shortage is very bad for adults but worse for children. It is reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death for children ages 15 to 19 and the third leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 14 years. The needs are great and varied for social workers to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Georgians.

There is a shortage of licensed clinical social workers in Georgia, making the employment field open for opportunities to service others. There is a strong need for social workers who will work in rural communities for governmental and community agencies providing services to children and families, veterans, persons living in poverty, substance abuse treatment and education, assistance with locating financial and health resources, and work in schools.

Given the ongoing struggles of the state with deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients, there is a need for social workers willing to work in communities servicing the homeless, placing persons with mental illness into residential communities, and servicing the populations with mental illness. Social workers may also find meaningful employment with Veteran Affairs, hospice and agencies needing case coordination for persons with developmental disabilities. To provide you with the types of social work positions, here are some position titles:

  • Case Manager
  • Caseworker
  • Child and Family Specialist
  • Child Welfare Worker
  • Client Advocate
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Community Living Specialist
  • Community Services Agency Director
  • Crisis Counselor
  • Director of Social Services
  • Family Counselor
  • Family Services Social Worker
  • Geriatric Social Worker
  • International Social Worker
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Mental Health Social Worker
  • Occupational Social Worker
  • Policy and Planning Specialist
  • School Social Worker
  • Social Work Researcher
  • Social Worker
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

Scholarships for masters in social work degrees

There are six accredited graduate programs in the state of Georgia. There are scholarships available that may assist you to continue your education to obtain your master’s degree in clinical social work. The National Association of Social Workers or NASW is one resource for locating scholarships in social work. The NASW foundation offers a program called Social Work Heals that is funded through the National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The grant promotes health care social work and provides grants to students at the BSW, MSW, Doctoral and Postdoctoral levels.

The Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship is a grant awarded to students with an affinity to working with American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations. The candidate must demonstrate work in nonprofit or voluntary grassroots organizations. Up to 10 scholarships in the amount up to $4000 are awarded annually. Most recently, the awards were in the amount of $2000.

The Judith Holme Memorial Student Award is sponsored by the American Clinical Social Work Association or ACSWA. This national competition awards two $1000 scholarships to masters students in their second year of study based on their essay submission that recount their intervention experiences.

The National Association of Black Social Workers offers scholarships to graduate students to members of their association who provide a winning essay and letters of reference. Through their organization, there are about nine possible awards available for students who will be working in the African American community.

The Shelomo Osman Memorial Student Awards is also sponsored by the American Clinical Social Work Association or ACSWA. This cash award of $500 is granted to first year graduate students based on essays regarding their field intervention experiences. The award requires membership to the ACSWA.

The Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarships are awarded to masters degree in social work students who are interested in working in health and mental health in African American communities. It is a competitive award that has been granted to about four candidates a year. Recipients receive about $4000 a year, although they are planning to increase the award. There is also funding for conference attendance.

There are a number of special interest scholarship opportunities for graduate students based on your area of interest as you pursue your studies.

One resources is the The Social Work Scholarships website. You may also consider contacting associations directly in your field of interest.

Your university may also provide you with information regarding financial aid and tuition awards through their programs. The Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work has provided a listing of the top 10 financial aid resources for graduate students in social work. A virtual program, these financial aid opportunities may open the door for students in Georgia to obtain their accredited masters in social work.

Why enroll in an accredited MSW program in Georgia?

One good reason to enroll into an accredited MSW program is to increase your employability and the salary you can earn. The amount of money you can earn as a BSW may vary by where you are living and working Georgia. The median salary of a BSW is about $51,000 with salaries in the Atlanta area higher than areas like Valdosta by as much as $5000 annually. This may look like a good salary but a social worker with the masters degree in social work will make at least $10,000 more than a BSW on an annual basis. This is a good incentive to make the time and financial commitment to obtain the graduate degree.

Once you obtain your MSW in social work, you can apply for licensure and obtain the credential you will need to work in private practice, supervise others, and qualify for better paying jobs. Most social workers are hired by government agencies, healthcare organizations, and social assistance organizations. Health care companies such as New Century Hospice, LHC Group, Avita Community Partners, and SouthernCare Inc are large employers of social workers in Georgia.

By attending an accredited masters in social work program in Georgia you are giving yourself an education that will be recognized by your state’s licensure board. You will also be demonstrating to future employers that you have been trained in an institution that is meeting national standards of quality and experience, making you a desirable candidate for that better paying job. The accredited programs will also better prepare you for the Association of Social Work Board or ASWB examination that is required for licensure.

It is important to know and understand the Georgia licensure requirements as you select your master’s of social work program to ensure you are properly prepared with the coursework, field experiences, passing ASWB scores, and supervision documentation to achieve licensure as a clinical social worker. Once you complete your MSW, you will need to complete 3000 hours of supervised clinical work experience over the course of three years before you may apply for licensure. The state of Georgia does not share reciprocity with other states. If you decide to go to graduate school in another state and complete that state’s licensure, you cannot assume you will be automatically awarded a license to practice social work in the state of Georgia.

There are six accredited masters of social work programs located in the state of Georgia. When selecting the program for you, there are a number of factors that you will need to consider. First, you must assess your circumstances as to location and financial needs. Once you have established if you will be able to attend a program that is on campus or online, you may proceed to learn more about the programs and consider how they are a fit to your goals. The programs can vary in curriculum and in the areas of focus that you will be able to study. For example, you may have an interest in military social work or you may want to work in a school setting.

Perhaps your motivations are in social justice and public policy service. While all programs will provide general clinical skills, it will be important for you to identify where you see your future career path as you select your program of graduate studies.

Overview of Accredited MSW Programs in Georgia

Masters of social work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This accreditation assures the student that the program will be meeting standards of education and experience that will be recognized by licensure boards and meet national standards of quality. Most of the programs provide students with the options to attend full time in a two year program, a part-time option that takes three years to complete and an advanced study placement for students with a BSW and quality volunteer or work experiences. The masters in social work in Georgia is about a 60 credit program and includes field experience placements.

Some programs will offer the generalist clinical training but avail options for students to specialize in such areas as child and family, gerontology, military, school, social policy and community services. The average cost of the master’s of social work in Georgia is $8349. The acceptance rate is about 57% which means you will need to have a strong application to be admitted to the program of your choice.

A master’s degree in social work in Georgia will consist of coursework and field experience. The field placements will begin as soon as your first semester in the program to provide you with the real world learnings you will need for serving your clients. It is often recommended that you try different settings to develop your range of skills and discover the environments and client-base you may prefer for future employment.

Interested in exploring a list of the best online MSW programs for you? Make sure to check out our guide published in April 2018!

Accredited MSW programs in Georgia

Albany State University

College of Arts and Humanities MSW Program This program’s purpose is to prepare students for clinical practice with vulnerable children, families and adults throughout the lifespan. Students can take additional courses that will prepare them academically for the state clinical licensure examination for social workers (LCSW). Initial Accreditation Date: 2011 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2014 Next Accreditation Review: February 2018 Tuition: $189.00 per credit

Clark Atlanta University

Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work The mission of the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work Master's Program is to prepare advanced social work practitioners as leaders who pursue social justice with a commitment to service with diverse populations, address disparity issues that prevail globally and engage in competent practice. They offer a two year plan of study, three year plan of study and advanced standing plan of study. Initial Accreditation Date: 1928 Latest Accreditation Review: June 2015 Next Accreditation Review: June 2022 Tuition: $887 per credit

Georgia State University

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
This program focuses on community partnerships, based on a generalist practice model. Graduates work in various service delivery sectors including health care, public child welfare services, non profit management, and numerous other contexts. The program is also ranked in the top 5 for affordability of a graduate program. Initial Accreditation Date: 2001 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2013 Next Accreditation Review: October 2020 Tuition: In-State Graduate Credit $390.00; Out of State Graduate Credit $1250.00

Kennesaw State University

Department of Social Work and Human Services
The vision for the this department is “to prepare engaged, innovative professionals and global citizens who are educated to enrich the lives of individuals and families and enhance the quality of communities”. Only full time and advanced study placements are offered.

A dual degree in MSW/MBA is offered. The dual degree program is for 84 credits. The purpose of the dual degree program is to address challenges of dealing with non-profits to develop and seek social services and goods. The competencies acquired through the dual degrees will be sought after by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) credits in companies, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and large managed care organizations. Graduates may also form their own private practices and develop social enterprises. Initial Accreditation Date: 2005 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2013 Next Accreditation Review: February 2021 Tuition: In-State Graduate Credit $290.00; Out of State Graduate Credit $1045.00 Dual Degree: MSW/MBA

Savannah State University

Department of Social Work The MSW at Savannah State University is designed to train graduates to be agents of social change. In this program “students will learn public policy and study crisis intervention in a rich educational tradition that is rooted in social justice and social change”. The program offers two tracks: a clinical social work concentration and a social administration concentration. The policy practice cognate includes coursework on child and family, gerontology and military social work. Initial Accreditation Date: 1998 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2011 Next Accreditation Review: February 2019 Tuition: In-State Graduate Credit $917.00; Out of State Graduate Credit $1447.00

Tulane University

School of Social Work
Social Work attracts men and women who want to make a difference in the lives of others and learn skills to positively impact communities. With a great reputation for faculty, success of alumni students and close knit atmosphere of the school, Tulane’s School of Social Work is on the ground working in partnership with numerous non-profit organizations to rebuild the city. The program includes options for Dual Degree Offerings: Dual Master of Social Work and Juris Doctor, Dual Master of Social Work with Master of Science in Disaster Resilience Leadership and Dual Degrees MSW/MPH-GCHB. Initial Accreditation Date: 1917 Latest Accreditation Review: 2011 Next Accreditation Review: March 2018 Tuition: $1,018 per credit hour

University of Georgia

School of Social Work Forty years ago, the university began offering training in social work. They offer two year, advanced study placement and extended time options for students to complete the masters in social work degree requirements. The program provides a generalist base of training and three options for tracks of specializations: a focus on individuals, families and groups; a focus on policy and program development, supervision and administration, or a combined track.

The are also options for Dual Degree Offerings: Dual master degrees are offered in public health (MSW/MPH), law (MSW/JD) and divinity (MSW/MDiv). The MSW/MDiv dual degree is offered in collaboration with Emory University.

A number of graduate certificates are also available to MSW students including the Marriage and Family Therapy Certificate, the Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and the Certificate in Gerontology. Initial Accreditation Date: 1966 Latest Accreditation Review: October 2011 Next Accreditation Review: October 2019 Tuition: In State Graduate $395.00; Out of State Graduate 2 Semesters $1071.00

Valdosta State University

Department of Social Work The program consists of web-based and weekend courses. The Master of Social Work program at Valdosta State can be completed on campus, online or in a hybrid format. The students experience two separate year-long practicum placements. Students have opportunities to gain additional experience by participating in My Friend's House and South Georgia CARE-NET, two programs sponsored by the Valdosta State social work department. My Friend’s House is dedicated to providing a safe environment for those who are impaired by Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The department also sponsors a study abroad program to Mexico in which students visit social work sites. Initial Accreditation Date: 1998 Latest Accreditation Review: June 2010 Next Accreditation Review: June 2018 Tuition: In State Graduate $258.00; Out of State Graduate $927.00

Overview of accredited online MSW programs approved to operate in Georgia

Students can find advantages to enrolling in online accredited MSW programs. Online courses offer more flexibility with scheduling and the convenience of not having to travel to a location for classes. Accredited online MSW programs must meet the same standards as all other programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Formats for the online courses may vary. Some will be in a distance learning format in which your are attending live classes through the internet.

Many have a blend of these synchronous courses with more flexibly scheduled asynchronous course delivery. Your program will require you to engage in field placement in approved locations, the same as on-campus social work masters degree programs. The tuition costs and fees associated with an online program can also be less than when attending a traditional campus-based program. The online programs are offered across states. There are top ranked accredited master’s degree online programs available to students in Georgia. You can find a nationwide listing of accredited online MSW programs with the Council on Social Work Education.

Fordham University

Graduate School of Social Service Ranked as one of the top 25 programs nationwide, the online masters degree program has been also nominated as one of the most affordable online programs that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The program offers traditional admissions as well as advanced study placements. Students may select among the three areas of advanced practice: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Communities, or Evaluation. The program can also prepare you with skills to work in Policy Practice and Advocacy. The program will work with you to locate approved agencies and sites for your required field experiences. Initial Accreditation Date: 1929 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2014 Next Accreditation Review: February 2022 Tuition: $921 per credit

Simmons College

School of Social Work Online program with weekly 90-minute synchronous sessions and asynchronous course work. Specialized Practice: Clinical Social Work, with specialized areas in Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Child and Family Welfare; Trauma and Interpersonal Violence; and Health and Aging. Initial Accreditation Date: 1919 Latest Accreditation Review: June 2013 Next Accreditation Review: June 2021 Tuition: $1080 per credit Coursework is online. Field experience at approved agencies near student residence.

University of Central Florida

College of Social Work The program was listed as one of the most innovative universities in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges 2016 Guide. This online program includes part-time and part-time advanced standing options. The format for course delivery is primarily asynchronous online delivery with some synchronous components. No campus visits are necessary. Initial Accreditation Date: 1996 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2017 Next Accreditation Review: October 2024 Tuition: $448.00 per credit U.S. News Report Ranks 89 in the Nation Coursework is online. Field experience at approved agencies near student residence.

University of Denver

Graduate School of Social Work This online program is grounded in principles of social justice. The program encourages students to explore pathways to careers as practitioners, community organizers, community and economic developers, program planners and evaluators and policy analysts. The foundation curriculum provides the required general skills. The concentration curriculum focuses on assessment and advanced interventions based on cognitive approaches and trauma-informed care. The program offers a field liaison to assist you with your field experience in your residential community. Initial Accreditation Date: 1933 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2017 Next Accreditation Review: October 2024 Tuition: $911 per credit (90 Quarter Credits)

University of Southern California

Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work The instruction is delivered with live classrooms facilitated online. The MSW curriculum offers increasing emphasis in the areas of early intervention, prevention and wellness; leadership and effective collaboration; implications of new findings in neuroscience, and; core competencies for evidence-informed interventions. Initial Accreditation Date: 1922 Latest Accreditation Review: February 2010 Next Accreditation Review: February 2018 Tuition: $1800 per credit Coursework is online. Field experience at approved agencies near student residence.

Valdosta State University

Department of Social Work The program consists of web-based courses for a masters in social work online . The Master of Social Work program at Valdosta State can be completed on campus, online or in a hybrid format. More information on this program is previously described. The program requires monthly visits are held one weekend per month, Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. The remainder of the coursework is completed online. See the above listing as this program is based in the state of Georgia.

Georgia is a diversely populated state with urban and rural areas. Statewide, there is a shortage of social workers. The need is greatest in rural areas. Social workers will find many opportunities to serve others, whether working in governmental agencies, health care networks, community organizations, healthcare, hospice, or public policy. Licensure in Georgia is in accordance with national standards, ensuring the public will be served by social workers who have had extensive field experience, comprehensive coursework, knowledge at national expectations, and a commitment to social justice and evidence-based practice. By choosing to attend a program that is accredited by the Council for Social Work Education, you are taking the first step in achieving your goals.

Take the time to consider your goals and how the program will give you the opportunity to meet your objectives. Is there an age-group that is appealing to you? Do you want to work in public policy and community service? Is it your desire to develop businesses and raise funds for social work programs?

Perhaps you want to work in the health industry. There are many careers that will be open to you with the completion of your master’s in social work in Georgia. The cost of higher education can seem daunting but there are financial awards available through professional organizations. Your master’s program can also provide you with listings of more local scholarships and grants that you may explore.

Today’s programs typically give students options to accomplish their degree in the timeframe that works for their situation. If you have a bachelor's degree in social work with good grades and documented field experience, you may enroll in all of the in-state and online programs with advanced study placement, thereby lessening your time as a graduate student and the cost of the full program.

A masters in social work in Georgia is a realistic goal for students with bachelor's degrees in other majors but you will need to enroll in the full program. Most master’s in social work in Georgia will offer full time and part- time status to students, giving you more flexibility with costs, jobs, and family responsibilities. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act”. Your decision to pursue your masters degree in social work is the first step in the act of helping others to live better lives.

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Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.