Social Work Scholarships And Financial Aid

Earning a social work license can allow you to begin your social work career. Learn more about the licensure exam here.

Updated March 13, 2024

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Social Work Scholarships

Most social workers earn a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree before pursuing their career. Others may choose to earn a master of social work (MSW) first. Most learners complete a bachelor's degree in four years and a master's in two years with full-time enrollment.

With one or both of these degrees, professionals stand to bring in a good salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports social workers earning a median $51,760 per year. Social and community service managers earn a median $69,600 annually.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, annual bachelor's tuition and fees average $9,400 at public institutions and $36,700 at private ones. These costs do not include room and board, books, and other fees. Some social workers earn a master's degree, averaging $66,340 total according to Education Data Initiative statistics.

Since costs add up quickly, scholarships and financial aid can make the difference in students' ability to afford school. Thankfully, many organizations offer social work scholarships.

Scholarships and Grants for Social Work Majors

Students can apply for various social work scholarships, many available to students of all levels. Some scholarships use more specific requirements than others. Below, find just a sample of the available scholarships for social work students. Although a scholarship may not currently accept applications, students should check back during the next application cycle.

The Davis-Putter Scholarship awards need-based scholarships to college or trade-school students involved in the progressive movement. Applicants submit transcripts, a personal statement, two recommendation letters, financial information, and living expenses. Award amounts vary, up to $15,000. IRHA awards $1,500 to applicants studying dentistry, social work, or behavioral health in rural Illinois. Master's and doctoral students may apply. CSWE provides fellowships to students in their final year of an MSW. Candidates must commit to providing service to people with mental health or substance use disorders in underrepresented populations for two years after graduation. The fellowship provides a stipend of $10,000 and specialized training. CSWE provides fellowships to doctoral applicants studying social work who already hold an MSW. Students must aim to provide service to underrepresented populations. Candidates submit a writing sample, recommendation letters, short-answer responses, transcripts, and a resume. The Arc New York awards $3,000 grants to learners studying behavioral sciences, social work, nursing, healthcare administration and management, or psychology. Applicants must reside in New York. AHSP provides grants to students or recent graduates who commit to work in an underserved California community for 12 months. Applicants may receive up to $8,000. Applications usually open in January. The National Hemophilia Association awards grants to MSW students or graduates to complete a research project. The project must focus on bleeding disorders care and should promote the integration of psychosocial care with medical care. The fellowship awards a total of $15,000 annually. The Melanie Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a postgraduate student in the mental health field. Applicants submit a CV, transcripts, recommendation letters, and an essay. NASWF awards this scholarship to MSW candidates with demonstrated commitment to Indigenous American/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino/a populations. The Foundation awards up to 10 scholarships of $4,000 each annually. Applicants must hold a 3.0 GPA and submit materials including an essay and statement of need. The NAJA Scholarship awards grants to graduate students planning to work directly with children. Applicants must reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, or Tennessee.

Fully Funded Master's in Social Work Programs

The list below highlights a few universities offering full funding for MSW degree-seekers. Fully funded master's programs provide students with full tuition remission and a stipend throughout the entire program. Universities provide full funding with the expectation that recipients will teach or complete research during their program. Some programs also require learners to hold a position in a public setting after graduation.

Social Work Scholarship Application Tips

To take full advantage of scholarships, students should keep track of the programs they want to apply to. A spreadsheet or document with each scholarship's deadline and requirements can help students stay organized and meet deadlines. Applicants should ask for recommendation letters from trusted mentors well in advance. See below for more tips on applying for social work scholarships.

  1. 1

    Familiarize Yourself with Funding Types

    To apply effectively, students should familiarize themselves with the different types of funding available. Narrowing down what types of funding they want to pursue helps students in their scholarship search.

    For example, some students might decide to only apply for grants with no repayment required. Others may choose to apply for stipends that go specifically toward costs such as tuition and fees.

  2. 2

    Focus on Your Niche

    Applicants should consider their niche, or the subjects they focus on in their studies. Some learners might focus on working with students. Others might want to work in public health policy. Narrowing their niche can help students find suitable social work scholarships.

    Some scholarships for social work students require applicants to complete a research project. Students should decide if they think this commitment is worth it, or if they'd prefer to focus on scholarships covering tuition and fees.

  3. 3

    Develop Your Personal Statement

    Most scholarships for social work students require a personal statement. For the statement, applicants usually describe their personal history and reason for studying social work in an essay. Scholarship committees often outline what they're looking for in a personal statement on their respective websites.

    Applicants may want to write one general personal statement, but tailor it for each individual scholarship. When writing a statement, candidates should connect their experience and studies with the scholarship committee's goals. If a scholarship aims to help underserved populations, a student could write about their experience working in such an environment.

  4. 4

    Highlight Your Experience and Achievements

    Students should highlight their individual experiences and achievements when applying for social work scholarships. They might get the chance to do so in their personal statement, short answer questions, or resume.

    Applicants should emphasize related experience such as research, published papers, and internships. Students' personal statements and short answer questions let them explain how these experiences connect with the scholarship's intentions and goals.

Financial Aid Resources for Social Work Students

Social Worker Loan Forgiveness and Repayment

Besides funding a degree with social work scholarships and grants, learners can find student loan debt relief programs. These programs pay down a graduate's student debt in exchange for employment, usually in underserved areas or public sectors. The list below describes a few of the programs available to social work graduates.

Questions About Social Work Scholarships

How do you pay for a social work degree?

Students pay for social work degrees through cash payments, loans, scholarships for social work students, and financial aid. Financial aid and scholarships usually come in the form of grants, meaning they do not require repayment. Borrowers do need to pay back loans, however.

Where can students find scholarships?

Students find social work scholarships from different organizations, such as the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). They may also find scholarships for social work students from their institution.

Are there grants for social work students?

Social work students can apply for need-based grants from their school. They may also apply for merit-based grants specifically for social work students from their institution or outside organizations.

How do students qualify for a social work scholarship?

To qualify for social work scholarships, students must prove they currently major in or plan to major in social work. Other qualifications include pursuing a secondary degree in social work. Some scholarships for social work students require an application, essay, and/or short-form questions.

Do international students qualify for social work scholarships?

International students can qualify for certain social work scholarships. However, some social work scholarships do not accept applications from international students. Learners should check with their institution and scholarship councils before applying.

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