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What Counts as Human Service?

  • Generally, the Admissions Committee accepts any direct service work with disadvantaged or vulnerable populations toward the experience requirement. Examples of such populations include at-risk youth, children with special needs, immigrants, and the elderly. This experience can be paid, voluntary, or educational.
  • Human services is broadly defined, and can include macro work as well as direct service and clinical work. Macro human service work is at the level of programs, policies, and research – these services help individuals, but in an indirect way. Direct service and clinical workers are at the front lines working with vulnerable or marginalized individuals, families, and groups.
  • An important note: In order for direct or macro human service experience to count towards your MSW application hours, you must be working with or for the benefit of a vulnerable or marginalized human population.
  • Direct and clinical human service experience might include activities such as:
    • Referral, screening, or intake
    • Case management
    • Counseling or therapy
    • Psychoeducation
    • Daily living assistance for persons with disabilities
    • Teaching, tutoring, providing education, or direct care for children, adults, or families with diagnosed or undiagnosed physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or developmental needs
    • Animal-assisted therapy
    • School social work
    • Residential treatment / group homes
    • Corrections / community corrections (please specify job duties in this setting)
  • Macro human service experience might include activities such as:
    • Community organizing
    • Organizing fund-raising
    • Policy analysis
    • Research support or assistance (e.g., research assistant on human service-related academic or program evaluation projects)
    • Program development or leadership (e.g., executive leadership or Board of Directors of a non-profit organization; participation in program planning or evaluation)
    • Grant-writing
    • International service if direct contact with/work alongside of disadvantaged populations
    • Faith-based or non-profit social service delivery
  • Activities that do not count towards human service experience might include:
    • Volunteer at an animal shelter
    • Nannying or baby-sitting school children (unless you are nannying with or for the benefit of children with particular physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, or developmental needs)
    • General population school teaching (however, please specify activities in this role because a portion of your activities might count toward human service experience)
    • Administrative assistant, receptionist, or office manager
    • Accountant, bookkeeper, or data entry
    • Parent-teacher associations
    • Church or religious involvement/volunteering for the benefit of the religious congregation (i.e., faithbased non-profit work will count if the activities are with or for the benefit of vulnerable or marginalized populations)
    • Participant (not an organizer) at community or fund-raising events


If you unsure whether your experience would qualify, you may send in a detailed description of your duties and responsibilities as well as the population(s) served in your position to an academic advisor.

Last Updated: 4/14/21