Academically, I actually found it easier than my undergrad work. I just felt that there is a lot of time expected from you in terms of the practicum. At my school, we went to class 2 days/week and practicum 3 days/week both years.
Yes, the practicum was the main part of my social work programs in both undergrad, and grad school. That is where you get most of your experience, so make sure you get a good one! Some people in my program stressed out a lot about the coursework, but I personally did not find it that difficult. I mean, I did study and learn a lot of new things, but the practicum is where I got the bulk of my education. I also found that employers after graduation love practicum experience!
The coursework was not that challenging for me, and I think that many of my fellow students agreed with me. However, I have never been the type who needed to complete all of the assigned reading. If that sort of thing bothers you, then it can be really time consuming. The internships can be very intense, usually moreso during your second year than your first. It is doable though.
I was just logging in and saw MSW mamas, so I thought I'd join in. Cool that there are other MSW's here!
I didn't think it was that difficult compared to my undergrad work. The hardest part for me was basically memorizing the DSM-IV and then actually putting what you had learned to practice in the internship.
It was DEFINITELY worth it for me as far as job opportunities and salary where I live.
I've found the coursework to be cake, but I've found that several of my colleagues have struggled, especially with fundamental concepts like strengths or empowerment perspectives, racism and working with different populations. They may understand the concepts on an academic level but have trouble applying them in their practica.
My program uses a delayed start for practicum; the first year is 2 days per week for 6 months and the second year is 3 days per week for 9 months. My first year practicum was incredible and I learned more in the field than I did in class.
ETA: I was in a generalist placement with a focus on linkage/referral, advocacy and resource procurement. I was at the city health department in the perinatal clinic. I did intake and follow-ups as needed that included Healthy Start applications and applications for hospital charity programs for undocumented or ineligable immigrants.
In my program there were tons of papers to write. I enjoyed the topics of most of them, but it was very time consuming.
I did advanced standing so one long practicum, at a counseling agency serving families and children. Great experience.
My BSW was very challenging too. I can remember thinking at the time that the BSW was harder than the MSW, but now with more time between I'm not sure if that was true. All of this was 15 years ago so it is getting fuzzy!