FAQ – NYC Campus
As an overview to the New York City campus, please find answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.
Who is eligible to apply for the MSW program?
To be eligible for admission to the M.S. program, an applicant must have:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university;
- 60 credits in the liberal arts, of which at least nine must be in the social sciences;
- An academic record reflecting the ability to do graduate work at least at a B level;
- A serious commitment to the profession of social work and the capacity for professional self-awareness, often demonstrated by internships and life experiences.
For more details, go to MSW Application Requirements (PDF: 8 pages).
What are the program requirements?
The majority of students are enrolled in our full-time Two-Year Program for four consecutive fall and spring semesters, earning 60 credits and 1,200 field instruction hours. We also offer a 16-month Program, which enables students to begin full-time study in the spring semester and to complete the requirements for the master’s degree in four consecutive terms, including summer.
NOTE: Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) may qualify for our Advanced Standing Program, which enables you to complete the M.S. requirements in 10 months.
Can you tell me more about the curriculum?
In the first year, students take important foundational courses in social welfare policy, research, human behavior, direct practice and field education. At the end of that year, they are required to choose one of four program concentrations, commonly referred to as “methods” or “method areas,” as well as one of seven fields of practice. In addition to coursework, they are required to complete a field placement that aligns with their chosen method and field of practice.
Can I customize the program according to what I want to do?
Once you are enrolled as a student, you will be encouraged to meet with staff in the Office of Student Services or Office of Advising to discuss the many ways in which you may customize your education. Whether it’s via pursuit of one of our four minors, or one of nine dual degree programs, or even just cross-registering at other Columbia University schools, there are myriad avenues for exploring your academic interests. This could include taking a class on Race and Health at the Mailman School of Public Health or enrolling in a Child Advocacy Clinic at the Columbia Law School.
How does field education work?
The Field Education Department places every first-year student with an agency or other site within New York City’s five boroughs. (Occasionally, placements are made in Connecticut and New Jersey.) As an admitted student, you are required to submit a field placement form, which, along with the the work experiences indicated on your resume, help the staff members of the Field Education Department determine your first-year placement. In addition, they assist with your transition to the field via a course entitled “Preparation for the Profession.”
In the second year, you will have more input into the decision-making process for your placement, which is determined by your choice of method area and field of practice.
How many hours a week will I need to dedicate to my studies and field work?
As a student enrolled in the full-time (Two-Year) program, you will take three or four courses each term, which requires being in class approximately six to eight hours per week. In addition, you will be interning 21 hours a week or three days, generally from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at a social service agency, government entity, school, hospital, or business under the supervision of a field supervisor, to gain hands-on experience relevant to your social work practice.
What if I can’t enroll in the program full-time?
We offer two programs that allow students to begin their studies with a reduced course load. Our Reduced Residency Program accepts students who have been employed full time for at least two years (or part time for at least four years) in a human services organization, working in direct practice. For the first two years of the program, Reduced Residency students enroll part time while remaining employed by their organizations, taking at least two courses each term. In the third year, they attend school full time, completing the necessary 900 field hours and required concurrent concentration-year coursework.
We also have an Extended Program, which allows students to pursue social work education by combining part-time and full-time study across three to four years. Extended Program students engage in full-time study when they begin their field placement requirements. At that time, they must register for a minimum of 10.5 credits, completing three days a week in the field plus at least one day a week in classes.
For more information, go to CSSW Study Plans (PDF: 21 pages).
Do you offer online classes to students at the New York City campus?
Yes, at this time we are able to offer several first- and second-year courses online.
- New York City campus students are welcome to switch to the Online Campus for the second year of their program.
- Changes from the online to New York City campus (or vice versa) cannot be made mid-term or mid-year, as a switch in programs most likely will affect tuition and fees, as well as the financial aid package.
- Due to visa restrictions, international students may take only one online course per term.
What is the cost of attendance for the New York City campus?
The cost of attendance for our New York City campus consists of tuition and fees plus living and personal expenses. The estimated tuition for the 2016–2017 academic year totals $43,432 ($21,716 per semester, for which a student is eligible to enroll for 10.5 to 19.5 credit hours). The estimated fees for 2016–2017 are approximately $5,950. Costs for books, transportation, and personal and living will be estimated and included in your budget and financial aid package; however, the actual costs for these items will vary by student. For more details including the breakdown of fees, along with an estimated cost of living for New York City, go to Cost of Attendance – New York City Campus.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once our Financial Aid office receives your FAFSA data—which generally is not available to the School until after February 15th—we can begin the evaluation process for determining your financial aid award package. If you are applying for admission by December 1, 2016, you can expect to receive your financial aid package by early-to-mid March 2017. Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional scholarships, Federal Work Study, federal loans, and other types of loans.
- Have you served in the military? Find out if you are eligible for veterans educational benefits by completing the checklist on the Columbia University’s Veteran Affairs site.
- Have you completed a term of service with AmeriCorps? Contact AmeriCorps directly to see if you are eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
How many students are typically enrolled in the program, and what kinds of backgrounds do they have?
Approximately 800 students are enrolled in the M.S. program, 90 percent of whom are in the full-time Two-Year Program. The average age of students entering the program is mid-20s. About 85 percent of our student body is female, and about 12–15 percent come from countries overseas. Approximately a quarter of our community is made up of students of color (e.g., African American, Asian American, Hispanic, biracial), and more than half have majored in psychology, sociology, social work, education, or English.
What kinds of careers do graduates typically enter?
Our graduates are prepared to practice in a wide range of settings: courtrooms, schools, hospitals, and religious institutions; in urban or rural communities, in the U.S. or abroad. Many graduates become directors and leaders of social work agencies and institutions throughout the nation and the world. Our students and graduates often tell us how helpful it is to have an Office of Career and Leadership Development and an extensive alumni network to call on as resources and contacts, as evidenced by some of the opinions expressed by members of the 2014 graduating class in this video for new students:
When is the deadline for Fall 2017 admission, and how do I apply?
The deadline for applications for September 2017 admissions is February 1, 2017. MSW Application Requirements (PDF: 9 pages). Already ready to apply? You may submit your materials to the Columbia School of Social Work’s Online Application Portal. NOTE: Once you have submitted all required items, you can expect to receive an admissions decision on or around March 1, 2017. Decisions will be rolling thereafter.