Comparisons Between Caucasian Students, Students of Color, and American Indian Students on their Views on Social Work’s Traditional Mission, Career Motivations, and Practice Preferences


student's perceptions, social work, career motivations


Secondary data analysis of a California statewide sample of nearly 7,000 entering MSW students between 1991 and 1999 sought to find out whether MSW students are less motivated by social work’s traditional mission of serving the poor and whether students of color are more motivated than Caucasian students by this mission. Results indicate that (1) MSW students are highly attracted to clinical practice but are simultaneously attracted to traditional, non-clinical domains of social work; and (2) they are least attracted to private practice and psychotherapy relative to other areas of social work. MSW students of color and Caucasian students are also generally more alike than different in professional philosophy; however, students of color, especially American Indians, express views more consistent with social work’s traditional mission.

Original Publication Citation

Limb, G., & Organista, K. (2003). Comparisons between Caucasian students, students of color, and American Indian students on their views on social work’s traditional mission, career motivations and practice preferences. Journal of Social Work Education, 39(1), 91-109.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Social Work Education




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor