Where to get my MSW?
January 26, 2009 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Does it matter if I get my MSW in the same city I intend to be living/working in?

I'm finishing up my bachelor's in social work in a couple of years. After that I could stay here and do grad school and then head out to my new city of choice, or the other way around. I'd have to lay low for a year for in-state tuition, but will going to grad school in the same city I want to end up in give me an advantage in the job market? Where I am now, the social services field is pretty interconnected. Would doing my practicums there and getting to know people give me a leg up, as opposed to just moving in with a master's? Also, would it be easier than trying to transfer my state licensing? For what it's worth, the target cities are Nashville (though school would be in Knoxville), Seattle, and Austin. Thanks for your time.
posted by Roman Graves to Education (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it really matters. I completed my MSW at the UT Nashville program (they have one there, if you weren't aware), then moved to DE and NYC, where I had no trouble finding jobs. Actually, I moved because I couldn't find a living wage job in Nashville at the time (mid-90's).

If anything, I would consider the quality of the internships that will be available to you in each city. For instance, my focus is non-profit management, and my interest is civil liberties and social justice. I was able to intern for ACLU-TN in Nashville and part of that role was going to the TN Capital building to monitor legislative committee meetings. That would have been impossible had I been in Knoxville. I would investigate which agencies are on the roster for internships in each program you are looking at, and see if there are ones that are interesting to you.
posted by kimdog at 3:22 PM on January 26, 2009

MSWs are pretty transferable.

However, it certainly can help to get to know the people in the city where you will be working. Not only might it help you to secure work, it would also give you a beginning sense of what the various agencies are like as you apply for jobs etc. It can also depend a bit on what you want to do. I wanted to do clinical work in HIV when I graduated, and could only find work in the city where I had done my internships, which was an hour away from my house. Given the relative scarcity of graduate level (as opposed to advanced licensure level) clinical jobs in HIV, I had to have a network to find the job I did.
posted by OmieWise at 3:27 PM on January 26, 2009

Your connections are important. But what you should really be looking at when you consider moving is licensure and credentialing. The requirements of your state could be radically different than the state you are moving to. I would look into the license requirements, testing requirements, work hour requirements etc. and decide where you want to be licensed.
posted by marlys27 at 5:12 PM on January 26, 2009

I'm finishing up my MSW at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I lived for seven years before entering the program. I hope to move to NYC upon getting my degree, but chose to stay here to take advantage of the in-state tuition. That being said--
If I were to stay here, I feel like I would have an advantage due to connections made through the program, my practicums (practiti/ae?), and the community in general. But, I have gathered that the social work field is actually pretty small, and if you are resourceful enough, any of the professors or practicum advisers you have probably have connections elsewhere that you can take advantage of. Just look into the backgrounds of those whose classes you wish to take and those you hope to be interning with, and see if they have relationships with institutions or agencies elsewhere that you are interested in.

Full disclosure: I'm specializing in Macro practice and know nothing about licensing.

Also, apologies for ending so many sentences with prepositions.
posted by greta simone at 5:26 PM on January 26, 2009

Best answer: Get the best degree you can get. See if you can do practicum/internship in target city/state. Assume that life will throw you curves, i.e., you can only plan so much.
posted by theora55 at 5:53 PM on January 26, 2009

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