Anyone interested in starting a career in clinical social work has likely considered earning a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree or even a master of social work (MSW) degree to begin a career in social work practice. But, how often is an accelerated MSW program even thought of?
If you are considering pursuing an accelerated MSW program, but aren’t quite sure if it is right for you, you have come to the right place. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to make the best decision for your education and career goals.
With everything from a detailed description of what an accelerated MSW program is to a list of some of the top-ranked accelerated MSW programs available, you are sure to find all of the information you need below to determine if an accelerated MSW program is the right move for you.
What Is an Accelerated MSW Program?
An accelerated MSW program may sound complicated, but in reality, it is about the same as a traditional master of social work program. The only real difference is that the accelerated version of an MSW program takes much less time to complete.
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Since most social work and mental health-related programs require intensive field placements and field education, it typically takes students at least two to three years to complete an MSW. However, if a university offers an accelerated MSW program, you will be able to complete your degree in around 16 months, which gets you started in your career years sooner than with a traditional degree.
Prerequisites and Other Requirements
In order to enroll in an accelerated master of social work program, you will need to meet a few prerequisites and requirements. As is the case with all degree programs, these requirements will most likely vary depending upon your chosen school and program, so be sure to double-check your dream program’s prerequisites before applying.
For most accelerated MSW programs, you will need to have at least a little bit of volunteer or work experience in the field of social work. You will also need to have earned an undergraduate degree in social work or a similar field and must prove you are able to handle an accelerated program. Most require that you maintained a GPA of 3.0 to 3.2 or higher in your undergraduate program.
Why Should You Enroll in an Accelerated MSW Program?
There are quite a few reasons enrolling in an accelerated MSW program can benefit you. Perhaps the biggest pro of enrolling in one of these types of programs is simply because it can be completed in half the time.
The shortened study time allows you to save quite a bit of money on tuition, as you only pay for 12 to 16 months rather than 24 to 36 months, and as we all know, college tuition isn’t cheap.
Of course, there are a few downfalls to enrolling in an accelerated master of social work program. It can be difficult to keep up with the coursework for some students, though if you are dedicated to the program and have good time management skills, this should not be an issue.
You may also have trouble finding a school that offers on-campus programs, as accelerated MSW programs online are much more common. But, if you can navigate a few challenges, enrolling in one of these programs is a fantastic move.
Career Opportunities After Earning an Accelerated MSW
There are a lot of career opportunities for those who have earned an accelerated MSW degree. In fact, many employers will be more impressed by you earning an accelerated degree than a traditional one, which can open up a whole new realm of possibilities for your career.
Jobs with an Accelerated MSW
Earning an accelerated MSW degree is a fantastic career move, as there are many job opportunities for those holding this prestigious degree. These opportunities become even more expansive if your degree is earned from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) approved program. If prestige is important to you, be sure to check if your program is accredited by the council prior to applying.
Even without council accreditation, you can still be hired for many different jobs with an accelerated MSW degree. Some of the more desirable positions for those with this degree include working as a substance abuse counselor, a non-profit executive director, school guidance counselor, or even a public policy analyst, for which you normally need a master’s degree in public policy. If you choose to add a specialization or concentration to your degree, you gain even more career options.
Salary and Job Outlook with an Accelerated MSW
One of the most important things to consider before deciding on a career field is the potential salary and job outlook for your career. You don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on a degree only to find out it is a dying field.
Luckily, this is not the case when it comes to social work. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a growth of 13 percent for clinical social workers by 2029, which is much faster than most occupations.
Since social work is becoming a field in high-demand, it only makes sense for the salary to be decent. Though you won’t be earning as much as a doctor, you will likely earn around $50,000 to $85,000 per year. As with any occupation, you are more likely to earn a higher salary if you have a higher education level and more experience.
The Best Accelerated MSW Programs
While there are a decent amount of accelerated MSW programs available for you to enroll in, we recommend enrolling in one of the best. The following programs are some of our top picks and we suggest applying to as many of them as you can to ensure acceptance.
This way, you are likely to be accepted into at least one program accredited by the CSWE, and perhaps even more, giving you a good selection of programs to choose from.
Florida State University offers a variety of MSW programs for you to choose from. You can go the traditional route and enroll in the on-campus program either full time or part time, or you can enroll in the 100 percent online accelerated advanced standing MSW program. The accelerated program is only available to those who have completed a BSW prior to applying to the program and can be completed in under one year.
While enrolled in this program, students will be expected to complete 39 credit hours of combined required social work courses and electives. You will also be required to choose a concentration in either clinical social work or social leadership.
While this program is designed to be completed after about one year of studying, students are encouraged to move at their own pace and may take up to seven years to complete the program.
Arizona State University also offers an advanced standing program as an option for students looking to pursue an accelerated MSW degree. This program is offered in an on-campus format, allowing students to receive all of the benefits of in-person learning with the speed of an online degree. If you choose to enroll in this advanced standing MSW program, you can earn your degree in as little as one year.
In order to qualify as a candidate for this MSW program, you will need to have earned a bachelor of social work from an accredited institution within the past six years. You will also need to have maintained a GPA of 3.2 or higher during your undergraduate studies.
During this program, you will be required to choose between one of three concentrations: policy, administration, and community practice, advanced direct practice, or advanced generalist.
Boise State University offers one of the best accelerated master of social work programs accredited by the CSWE. This university offers both a regular, full program and an accelerated program which can be completed in one year. In order to be accepted into the accelerated or advanced standing program, you will need to first earn a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution.
The advanced standing program at Boise State University is offered both as a 100 percent online program and a 100 percent on-campus program, so you can choose which best suits your learning type. Both versions of the program are designed to help students learn the clinical, organizational, and policy skills needed to succeed in a social work career.
This program also requires students to participate in supervised fieldwork, which gives you the chance to practice your new education prior to joining the workforce.
If you enroll at Simmons University, you can be a part of an accelerated MSW program that takes the average student around 16 months to complete. This MSW program is offered in a totally on-campus format, providing students with a great combination of in-person learning with the benefits of speedy, online schooling.
Simmons University is also accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, and this MSW program is accredited by the CSWE, making this degree very prestigious.
This master of social work program focuses heavily on hands-on learning. Though nearly every MSW program involves fieldwork in some way, shape, or form, Simmons University has created a curriculum in which fieldwork is the primary focus.
Almost all of the required courses revolve around the hands-on learning experience you are guaranteed to have as a student, making this a fantastic program for those who simply can’t wait to jump into the field of social work.
Finally, we have the University at Buffalo. This university offers both a part-time and full-time advanced standing accelerated MSW program, all totally online. Students enrolled in the part-time program can complete the degree in about 18 months, while those enrolled full-time are able to finish in one year or less. In order to be accepted into either of these programs, you will need to have earned a BSW from a CSWE accredited institution.
During this program, you will be required to complete 35 credit hours of social work courses and electives. Out of the required credit hours, at least nine will be spent completing fieldwork and field seminars, nine credit hours will be spent on elective courses related to social work, and the remaining 17 credit hours encompass the required social work courses.
This university offers a wide array of elective courses, with intriguing options such as forensic social work, personality disorders, and psychopathy.
Should You Earn Enroll in an Accelerated MSW Program?
Whether you are currently in high school and trying to prepare for your future, are completing general education requirements through a community college, or have already completed your bachelor of social work, it is safe to say earning a master of social work is a fantastic decision you can make for your career.
If you plan to work in the field of social work, a master’s degree is not always required, but it will be extremely beneficial to you in your career. Choosing to enroll in an accelerated program can be intimidating, and the coursework will likely be rigorous and challenging.
However, doing so will help you save a lot of money by cutting your tuition in half. It will also allow you to begin working in your dream job much sooner, and it will likely impress your future employers. Overall, we recommend pursuing an accelerated MSW program for anyone who wants to work in social work.
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