Social Work Funding Opportunities

Social Work Funding: Social work students are encouraged to present their work at conferences and symposiums, sharing their research with the broader social work community and learning from others in the field in the process.

While presenting at a conference might seem to be at first merely an additional responsibility, it provides students a host of benefits, including allowing them to make important professional connections that could prove valuable contacts in the job search1.

Conferences are, however, expensive and social work funding can relieve some of the cost. They generally require a registration fee, in addition to travel arrangements, hotel accommodations, and meals.

The high cost of presenting at a conference is prohibitive to many students, which is precisely why there are resources for social work funding available to assist MSW students financially for conference presentations.

Conference Presentation Funding

Conference presentation funding varies by school and by conference, but there are generally several options available. The first is through the student’s university. Almost all universities offering graduate programs charge students a “Student Activities Fee” each academic year or each semester.

In most cases, these fees are earmarked to cover student events and student organizations, and more often than not, a portion of the funds collected is designated for conference presentation travel. Universities benefit from students representing their school at professional conferences and therefore have a vested interest in assisting students in doing so.


While this social work funding opportunity varies by school, it is usually available through a Graduate Student Association, School of Social Work Student Association, or sometimes through the Finance or Accounting office. Funding per student is generally capped at a certain amount, and there are usually deadlines for applying, either for upfront funding to cover costs or reimbursement after the fact. Students should ensure to thoroughly read all funding requirements and keep all receipts from travel and hotel stay during the conference.

If the limited funds available from the student’s school are not enough to cover conference costs, many conferences also offer reduced registration fee options for students or early bird registration at a discounted price. Many conferences will waive registration fees entirely for presenters/attendees who also offer to volunteer during the conference, working registration tables or assisting with room set-up. Some conferences offer scholarships that provide additional funding for presenters to use toward travel and hotel stay as well. All of this information is usually available on the conference website or by contacting the conference organizer.

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While conference presentation funding does not provide students additional monies to cover the normal costs of school attendance, it does allow MSW students the valuable opportunity to present their work and gain professional recognition and contacts, potentially at no additional cost to the student.

Students would be well advised to take advantage of these funding opportunities during their graduate careers, as after graduation, all conference-related fees will be the sole responsibility of the student.

Community Service Project Funding

Community Service Project FundingA final resource for MSW students seeking social work funding comes in the form of monies to be put toward community service projects. Again, these funds do not provide students additional funding to cover their existing expenses but do allow students the opportunity to carry out a community service project at no personal cost.

Realizing such a project is a valuable experience for the social work graduate student, and could lead to increased job opportunities down the road, while also allowing students to make an impact on their communities early on in their careers.

Since these funds are project-based, applicants must submit a proposal, with a budget, for the community project they wish to carry out. Funds awarded are meant to cover the costs included in the budget.

Examples of Funding Include:

  • Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Program – awarding fellowships to students to create and carry out sustainable community service projects addressing chronic health issues, as well as the underlying causes of health inequities, such as poverty, the environment, and education.

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

Reference List:

1Simon, S, Webster, J, Horn, K. A critical call for connecting students and professional associations. Social Work with Groups. 2007;30(4)5-19.

Funding Opportunities for MSW Students While in School Part 3: Opportunity-Based Funding
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Funding Opportunities for MSW Students While in School Part 3: Opportunity-Based Funding
Social work students are encouraged to present their work. Find out how social work funding can help you present your work at conferences.
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