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Competition in american social work education during times of COVID-19: a midwestern case study
Social Work Education  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-09-01, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2021.1973990
Janet M. Joiner, Fayetta Keys


Competition to attract students for enrollment in American social work degree programs is intense. Program attributes (e.g. minimum grade point average, maximum transfer credits permitted, institutional tuition rate, and rankings) distinguish social work education programs in the United States. Determining which program attributes appeal to potential students could help increase a program’s competitiveness in a crowded education marketplace. The COVID-19 pandemic is further intensifying recruitment of students to BSW programs. This research used a case study approach to compare admission attributes of 21 bachelor of social work programs (BSW) offered at 11 public and 10 private institutions located in one state that could be viewed as representative of American BSW programs. This paper compared attributes that differentiated these undergraduate social work programs, while exploring the potential impact of the pandemic on BSW student recruitment. Implications for social work education are discussed, including lessons learned that may be helpful to BSW faculty and staff responsible for student recruitment activities and related operations. Social work education program administrators and faculty could use this information to review recruitment and application processes and raise awareness of the burgeoning influence of reputational ranking services.