Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Shon, Herbert


Social work college students experience unique challenges in their academic programs. The multidisciplinary nature of social work combined with challenging clinical practicums compounds the amount of stress social work students must cope with. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult discipline to create new challenges for social work students. This quantitative study aimed to assess undergraduate and graduate social work students' coping strategies and perceived stress during the COVID-19 pandemic using the Brief COPE Inventory and Perceived Stress Scale. Active emotion-focused, avoidant emotion-focused and problem-focused strategies were analyzed to determine their effect on perceived stress. Results indicate that the students who engaged in the avoidant type of coping strategies more reported a higher perceived stress level than those students who used active emotion-focused coping and problem emotion-focused coping. Educating students on what avoidant coping strategies look like will lead to earlier identification of these behaviors and can increase students’ self-awareness, potentially aiding in reducing stress. Future research may benefit from the development of practical and effective interventions to help manage or decrease stress amongst students.