Paying for Your MSW: Social Work Scholarship

Most graduate students struggle to make ends meet during their Master’s studies. For graduate students in the field of social work, especially, finances can be a significant challenge during completion of the degree, and unlike many careers, social work doesn’t guarantee a high paycheck to pay off loans after graduation. MSW scholarships are a way to help graduate students continue their education stress-free.

Social work students must complete many requirements to earn their social work degree – in addition to attending classes full or part-time, students must also work many unpaid hours in the field to meet their fieldwork requirements.  These responsibilities are, of course, on top of a student’s personal responsibilities such as family obligations, health needs, and in some cases, paid work. This intersection of circumstances leaves many MSW students in desperate need of funding resources during their graduate studies.

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There are, of course, traditional scholarship opportunities from within the university and external sources that students generally apply for before embarking upon their studies. However, additional opportunities to receive supplemental funding during one’s graduate career also exist. This guide illuminates three types of funding available to students already working on their MSW degrees to help students access alternative funding sources that will assist them in overcoming the financial challenge of being a social work graduate student.

MSW Scholarships for Current Students

MSW Student scholarshipsMany MSW scholarship opportunities are only available to undergraduate students, leaving few opportunities for those entering graduate studies, and even fewer for current graduate students.

While it is certainly ideal to have scholarship funding secured before entering graduate studies, there are many MSW scholarship opportunities available to current students that can be of great financial assistance during one’s graduate career. These scholarships can significantly reduce student loan amounts, assist in covering living expenses, or be applied directly toward tuition costs.

Many social work scholarships available to current MSW students are from Social Work associations and organizations. These MSW scholarships tend to be merit-based, looking at students’ academic progress and community service during their time as students, or identity-based, focused on specific minority groups or students who have chosen a particular specialization.

The following list of MSW scholarships available to current students provides an idea of eligibility requirements for such funding:

  • Point Foundation Scholarships – available to “out” persons in the LBGTQ community who have a proven track record of leadership and community involvement, are working for the betterment of the LGBTQ community and can show strong academic achievement and financial need.
  • National Association of Social Workers Foundation Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship – Awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations. Candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to working with public or voluntary nonprofit agencies or with local grassroots groups in the United States are also eligible.
  • National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers – Awards scholarships to full-time graduate students entering their second year of studies who are bilingual, bicultural, and attend one of the following New York Universities: Adelphi University, Stony Brook University, Long Island University Post, Fordham University, Columbia University.
  • Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund – Provides need-based grants to current students who are on the frontlines of movements for progressive social change.

Continue reading our Funding for MSW Students While in School series:

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Funding for MSW Students While in School - Part I: MSW Scholarships
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Funding for MSW Students While in School - Part I: MSW Scholarships
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Many graduate social work students are in need of MSW scholarships to continue their education. Find out which scholarships you qualify for.
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