Anyone pursuing a career in social work will be quick to tell you that the journey from the first day of undergraduate courses to the first day of actual practice is not necessarily cheap. Nearly every job in the field of social work requires a bachelor's degree, while many even require a master's or doctorate.
To help those dedicated to helping others fund their education and pursue such a worthy career, we've come up with a list of 30 great scholarships for social work students. While some of these scholarships are aimed at certain groups, such as immigrant or minority students, every scholarship on this list is a respected award that has helped others overcome the financial challenges of obtaining their desired career.
ABE Judith Holm Award
— Open to final-year graduate students
The Judith Holm Memorial Award is given annually by the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work. The award is meant to assist final-year grad students as they pursue careers in clinical social work. Though specific requirements tend to vary year-to-year, the application usually requires personal essays and letters of recommendation. Each award winner receives $1,200.
Alice M. Yarnold and Samuel Yarnold Scholarship Trust
— Must be a resident of New Hampshire
— Must be majoring in social work, medicine, or nursing
The Alice M. Yarnold and Samuel Yarnold Scholarship Trust is awarded yearly to students who are residents of the state of New Hampshire. Applicants must be pursuing a degree in either social work, medicine, or nursing, and must demonstrate financial need through a completed FAFSA application. Recipients will be chosen based on their application, college transcripts, and letters of recommendation, and will be awarded an amount between $2,000 and $5,000.
American School Health Association Scholarship
— Must be a current ASHA member
— Open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students
— Minimum 3.0 GPA
— Must have declared a major related to school health or school social work
The American School Health Association offers an annual scholarship available to both undergraduates and graduates interested in pursuing careers related to the health needs of children. The application includes academic transcripts, professional letters of recommendation, and a 2-3 page personal statement on a given topic. Two winners are chosen each year and receive approximately $250.
Arthur W. Pense Scholarship
— Must be enrolled in an accredited physical or occupational therapy degree program
— Must be nominated by a local NYSARC chapter
The Arthur W. Pense Scholarship is an annual award offered by NYSARC, one of New York's largest non-profit social work organizations. Named for a former Assistant Commissioner of Mental Hygiene, the award totals $3,000 and is paid over three semesters in installments of $1,000.
Bethesda Lutheran Communities Service Scholarship
– Minimum 3.0 GPA
– Application includes letters of recommendation
Each year, Bethesda Lutheran Communities awards up to $10,000 in scholarships to deserving Lutheran students who want to pursue careers that will help those with developmental disabilities. Successful applicants will show a genuine desire to assist disabled people in their application and letters of recommendation.
Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund
— Applicants must be in their final year of study for a social work degree
— Must be an American citizen, noncitizen national, or have permanent residence status
— Minimum 3.0 GPA
The Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund aims to promote equity and social justice in the field of social work. Full-time students working toward a bachelor's or master's degree are invited to apply, and priority is given to those of African American, American Indian, Asian, Latino, or Native Hawaiian descent. Successful applicants will prove that they are dedicated to a world of equity and social justice.
The Cenie Jomo Williams Tuition Scholarship
— Open to African American college students
— Must be a member of NABSW at the time of application
— Minimum 2.5 GPA
— Must be enrolled full time in an accredited U.S. social work program
The National Association of Black Social Workers offers a number of annual scholarships, one of which is the Cenie Jomo Williams Award. Two $2,500 awards are given to African American students who have shown commitment to improving the social, economic, and political lives of those in the African American community. Applicants must submit their college transcripts and letters of recommendation.
Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship
– Open to students earning a master's degree
– Must be a NASW member
– Application includes a personal essay and academic references
Students pursuing a master's degree in social work, and who are interested in working with Hispanic, Inuit, or American Indian populations are eligible for this scholarship. Applicants must complete a personal essay and submit professional and/or academic references. Scholarship amounts and the number of recipients varies each year, but winners often receive up to $4,000.
CSWE Scholars Program
– Open to doctoral students
– Must apply through CSWE
Doctoral students and faculty are invited to apply for this scholarship through the Council on Social Work Education. Besides a monetary award — which varies year-to-year according to number of recipients and their financial need — scholarship winners have the unique opportunity to work on projects and initiatives through CSWE.
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
— Open to students who are politically and socially active
The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund seeks to support students who are in need of financial assistance, and who have shown dedication to such progressive issues as civil rights and economic injustice. Applicants should use the required personal statement and letters of support to show their political and social activism. Final awards are based on financial need, and may be as much as $10,000.
Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship for Outreach and Health Communications
– Minimum 3.0 GPA for the most recent academic year
Students who have completed a service to benefit an economically or socially disadvantaged community are eligible for this scholarship sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation. Applicants must write an essay describing their service, and preference is given to those who focus on reducing the use of drugs and alcohol. Two students will each be awarded $5,000.
Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship
— Open to social work doctoral candidates
— Recipients must be willing to present their study purpose at NASW's National Conference
The Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship aims to provide partial support for social work doctoral candidates as they conduct research on a topic of welfare policy and practice. One fellowship is awarded each year, and the awarded amount generally ranges from $4,000 to $6,500. Fellowship winners are expected to participate in various professional development sessions and the NASW National Conference.
Emma & Meloid Algood Undergraduate Scholarship
— Minimum 2.5 GPA
— Must be a member of NABSW at time of application
— Must be enrolled full time in an accredited U.S. social work program
— Open to African American students who are majoring in social work at an accredited U.S. institution
This $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the National Association of Black Social Workers is meant to honor its namesakes, two people who worked tirelessly to better the lives of the poor in their community. Potential applicants must submit letters of recommendation and a 2-3 page essay detailing the ways in which they are equally dedicated to improving the lives of those in the black community.
Hooyman Intergenerational Fellowship
— Open to students at University of Washington who are pursuing a master's degree or Ph.D. in social work
— Winners must complete a Multigenerational Concentration program
Social work students interested in a career working with older adults in a multigenerational context are invited to apply for the Hooyman Intergenerational Fellowship. Monetary awards range from $1,000 to $5,000, and winners are expected to spend their final years of study working with older adults and completing the Multigenerational Concentration program. The application process includes a resume, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.
Ima Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Scholarships
— Open to students pursuing a master's degree in social work at an accredited Texas university
— Must be nominated by a university dean
— Must address a need for financial assistance
To help alleviate the shortage of mental health professionals working in the state of Texas, the Ima Hogg Foundation for Mental Health presents a series of annual scholarships. Each year, 15 awards, each totaling $5,000, are awarded to graduate students entering their second year of graduate social work study. Successful applicants will be nominated by the head of their program, and will be selected based on academic ability and dedication to a career in mental health service.
James F. Reville Scholarship
— Must be nominated by a local NYSARC chapter
NYSARC, a New York-based non-profit organization which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, sponsors a number of scholarships each year, including the James F. Reville Scholarship. Applicants must be enrolled in a New York college or university, and must be preparing for a career working with those with disabilities. Each year, two winners are chosen to receive $3,000 in tuition assistance.
Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellowship
— Open to doctoral students whose research focuses on health policy and practiceâ¨— Recipients are expected to submit a final dissertation upon completion
— Recipients are expected to attend the NASW National Conference to present his or her work
The annual Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellowship presents $17,900 in award monies to one social work doctoral candidate who is working on research related to health policy and practice. Preference for this generous award is given to those working on a project that includes a diversity component. Recipients of the Aron award are expected to submit their final dissertation to NASW and present his or her project at the NASW National Conference.
John A. Hartford Foundation Fellowship Grants
Each year, the John A. Hartford Foundation offers a number of fellowship grants to both students and current social workers interested in geriatric social work. The requirements vary by grant, as do the amounts, but total nearly $300,000 each year. Potential applicants are encouraged to search the website to find the right grants for them.
Joseph T. Weingold Scholarship
— Open to students in an accredited special education degree program at a New York college or university
— Must be nominated by the college's department chair
Each year, the NYSARC provides two deserving students with $3,000 scholarships. Students applying for the award must be enrolled full time in a special education degree program at a New York institution. Successful applicants will be nominated for the award by the chair of their school's education department.
Leopold Schepp Foundation Scholarship
— Minimum 3.2 GPA
— Must be pursuing a graduate degree in a subject related to community service
— Must provide parents' most recent tax returns
The Leopold Schepp Foundation Scholarship is for students pursuing a graduate degree in a field related to community service. The award is given to a few students each year, and the maximum award amount is $8,500. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and a commitment to service, provide academic transcripts, and send their parents' most recent tax returns.
National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers
— Open to graduate students of Hispanic descent
— Must currently be enrolled in an accredited social work degree program
The National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers offers an annual scholarship to assist first and second-year graduate students in pursuing a degree in social work. Students of Hispanic descent, who are committed to issues affecting the Latino community, may apply by submitting an application and demonstrating financial need.
The Osman Award
— Must be a current member of the American Clinical Social Work Association
— Open to first-year students in an accredited master's of social work program
Sponsored by the American Clinical Social Work Association, the Osman Award is open to students in their first year of an accredited master's of social work degree program. To be considered, applicants should complete the required application, which includes sponsorship letters and an essay recounting the process of a clinical intervention. The chosen recipient will receive $500.
Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship
— Must complete a required application
The Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship is an annual award sponsored by the Phi Alpha Honor Society, the national fraternity for social work. The scholarship recognizes academic achievement, community service, and overall leadership with awards ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. Additionally, the first place winner of the scholarship is given the opportunity to travel to the Association of Baccalaureate Program Directors conference to present his or her work.
Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
— Must be an immigrant or child of immigrants, and under age 30
— Must have already earned a bachelor's degree by the time of application
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans total 30 awards handed out annually to "New Americans" (i.e. immigrants or the children of immigrants). Because the foundation seeks to honor and invest in the contributions of immigrants and their children, each fellowship winner can receive up to $90,000 in financial support over two years as they pursue a postgraduate degree.
Presbyterian Church USA Student Opportunity Scholarships
— Open to members of the Presbyterian Church
— Must have completed sophomore year in good academic standing
— Must be pursuing a degree in social service, religious studies, or education
College juniors and seniors who are members of the Presbyterian Church are eligible for this award. Applicants must complete a personal essay about their faith, submit their academic transcripts, and prove financial need. Award amounts vary, but can reach up to $2,000. Minority students and those from extremely poor backgrounds are often given preference.
Ron Brown Scholar Program
— Must be of African American descent
— Must be a U.S. citizen or hold legal resident status
— Must be a high school senior at the time of application
The Ron Brown Scholar Program provides $40,000 scholarships ($10,000 over four years) to African American high school seniors to put towards their undergraduate education. Successful applicants will show a unique commitment to community service and global citizenship, and will also demonstrate financial need. Scholarship recipients may use their funds at any accredited college or university within the United States.
Roothbert Fund Scholarship
— Must be pursuing a degree in social work at an accredited university
— Must provide proof of financial need
— An interview is required
Students with a genuine spirit for service, and who are pursuing a degree in social work from an accredited university, are invited to apply for the Roothbert Fund Scholarship. To apply, students must submit a formal application, along with proof of financial difficulty. Finalists will be chosen to complete the application process with an in-person interview. Awards vary from $2,000 to $3,000.
Sponsored by the Harry S. Truman Foundation, Truman Scholarships award deserving students with up to $30,000 in funding for their education. Successful applicants will exhibit a unique desire to make a difference in the world of public service. Besides the monetary award, Truman scholars are given unique opportunities to participate in various internships and professional development courses.
Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship
– Open to students earning a master's degree in social work
– Minimum 3.0 GPA
– Application includes a biographical essay
The National Association of Social Workers sponsors this scholarship, which is available to master's degree students who have proven a desire to work on healthcare and issues of mental health within the African American community. Two students are awarded annually, and amounts vary year-to-year.
William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fellowship for Minority Students
— Open to any minority student
— Winners are required to participate in a Hearth Fellowship internship
The William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fellowship for Minority Students is sponsored by The Aspen Institute Program, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit research organization. The award, which includes an internship, is open to any minority student who is pursuing work in a non-profit field. To be awarded up to $4,000, applicants should complete the required application and demonstrate academic excellence.