While a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work can qualify you for several entry-level jobs, an MSW (master of social work) can offer plenty of exciting career paths. You can enter several rewarding roles in human service and child welfare with an accredited MSW. If you’re a conscientious and determined professional who is curious about the benefits of having a master’s degree in this field, then read on.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the overall employment of social workers is projected to grow by 11 percent by 2028. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. Though this growth will be driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services, there are several other exciting concentrations that you can choose from. Moreover, social workers earned a median salary of $49,470 in 2018, roughly $11,000 more per year than the median pay for all other occupations.
Earning a Master of Social Work Online
A Master’s Degree in Social Work is growing in popularity amongst employers for several reasons. A graduate of this program often possesses special licensure and may be allowed to diagnose and treat disorders.
You can work in healthcare, at a school, or as a family social worker and be rewarded in many ways. Not only will you gain a handsome paycheck, but you’ll also gain a rewarding job as a positive force for those in need.
Today, millions of students are choosing to pursue their degrees online. Choosing to earn an online master of social work will be beneficial for a number of reasons. Due to factors such as cost, convenience, and even quality, online MSW programs may be your best bet.
Most online programs are asynchronous, meaning you can complete your studies whenever and wherever you want to. In addition, online programs are often smarter choices financially, since you do not have to pay for arbitrary fees such as commuting fares or boarding expenses. Also, if you work a part-time job, have to take care of a family member, or live far away from any reputable institution, then an online course is a great choice.
Be prepared to use chat forums, video conferencing, and other online tools such as Zoom or Blackboard. Making sure you’re fully prepared with the means to get your degree is half the battle. Moreover, it is imperative to ensure that the programs and schools you research are accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), or another legitimate source.
Visit school websites, check reviews of your instructors or programs, or contact the schools directly to make sure. Choosing the right program is a difficult decision, but the most important factors include cost, convenience, and reputation.
What Courses Must I Take To Get My Master’s Degree?
In essence, social work is an academic and professional discipline concerning the well-being of both individuals and communities. Social workers may work in several different industries, though they share common roles. They help connect people with various forms of public assistance and advocate for laws and policies which serve society more effectively.
Therefore, a master’s program in this field informs students about social work practice, social welfare research, and social work theory. Prospective students learn about topics like counseling approaches, cognitive treatment methods, clinical assessment, and social welfare planning. Students will also partake in several field placements and complete field experiences to gain practical experience in a social work setting.
Some of the courses you can expect to take for an MSW include:
- Introduction To Social Work
- Human Behavior and the Environment
- Social Justice
- Group Theory
- Social Change and Innovation
- Field Study
- Substance Abuse: Alcohol and Other Drugs
- Assessments and Diagnoses in Social Work
Moreover, you can specialize in certain concentrations offered in MSW programs which include: healthcare and social work, social policy and advocacy, gerontology and aging, clinical social work, and even forensic social work. Depending on the concentration you choose, this can open a number of doors for your career.
Additionally, students with a bachelor’s in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program may receive advanced standing in an MSW program. Advanced standing status typically allows students to bypass some foundational coursework, expediting graduation by as much as one year.
Ultimately, an MSW will consist of both theoretical and practical courses that will allow you to master the principles of social work and allow you to excel at whatever job you end up pursuing.
Best Master of Social Work Online Programs
The application process for any degree program can be long and cumbersome, but there are a few key steps you should remember. As mentioned, students should begin this process by researching potential schools based on factors such as cost, accreditation, curriculum, and location.
You should also collect transcripts and important documents such as test scores or letters of recommendation before applying. Furthermore, some prerequisites for a Master’s Degree in Social Work involve having a bachelor’s degree, professional experience or internships, and a minimum GPA. You will learn more below as we discuss the best online social work master’s degree programs available today.
Fordham University (The Bronx, NY)
Credit Requirements: 66 credits
Program Length: 16 months
Format: Asynchronous and synchronous
Fordham University’s excellent online master of social work made our list because of its intensive collaborative program. Using classroom settings and laboratory work, students can focus their degree on one of four concentrations, such as Organizations and Community.
In as little as 16 months, you can earn their degree by enrolling full-time. Meanwhile, candidates with a social work bachelor’s degree are eligible for advanced standing and can graduate in as little as eight months. Additionally, Fordham partners with social service organizations across the country, allowing students to work with agencies that are approved by faculties in their communities.
Requirements: Along with having a minimum 3.0 GPA, applicants must submit a current resume and at least one recommendation letter. They must also submit a three- to five-page essay discussing a current social issue they are passionate about.
Tulane University of Louisiana (New Orleans, LA)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 12-16 months
Format: Asynchronous and synchronous
Tulane University’s online MSW makes our list because it emphasizes relationship-centered clinical practice, inspired by the resilience of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. On top of this more personal approach, students also get to complete 948 hours of field education. Along with an intensive, four-day summer residency program, the curriculum trains students in terms of applied social statistics, leadership, and current policy approaches on social welfare.
Traditional candidates who enroll full-time can graduate in 16 months, while learners with advanced-standing status can obtain their credentials in under one year. One of the best online programs available today, Tulane University might be your best bet.
Requirements: Applicants should possess a bachelor of arts or science in a liberal arts field. All candidates must submit a five-page statement of purpose. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for applicants (advanced-standing candidates must have a minimum 3.3 GPA). Candidates should have a strong undergraduate academic performance during their junior and senior years and relevant employer references.
University of South California (Los Angeles, CA)
Credit Requirements: 90 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
The University of Southern California’s MSW program offers 1,000 hours of comprehensive field training, along with virtual practicums and community-based projects. Not only can students prepare for careers as licensed clinical social workers, but they can also choose a variety of specializations for military or school social work practice.
Moreover, candidates will focus their classes on either adult mental health and wellness or children, youth, and families. Students can also pursue social change and innovation concentrations. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree may complete a 37-credit advanced standing curriculum in 12 months. On the other hand, learners without such credentials enroll in the traditional track, which totals 60 credits across a span of about two years.
Requirements: Though students require a minimum 3.0 GPA and prior work experience to enroll, this program does not require GRE scores and USC accepts applications year-round.
University of Denver (Denver, CO)
Credit Requirements: 90 quarter credits
Program Length: 18-21 years
Accredited by the CSWE, the University of Denver’s online master of social work is another excellent option. Consisting of courses such as power, privilege, and oppression, evidence of practice, and cognitive behavior therapies, students will be well-versed in the fundamentals of social work through this program.
Depending on their concentration, students may take advanced classes in health and wellness or mental health and trauma. All candidates complete field internships with one of the university’s 250 community partners and can begin studies at four points each year.
Requirements: Applicants need at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA, though the university strongly prefers applicants with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Admissions materials include an up-to-date resume, two recommendation letters, and a statement of career goals.
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)
Credit Requirements: 60 credits
Program Length: 2.5 years
Format: Asynchronous and synchronous
By utilizing the Mandel School of Applied Social Services, Case Western Reserve University delivers a fully online master of social work program. Both affordable and convenient, this is an excellent online program that is also intensive. Distance learners take live and asynchronous classes through the Zoom platform. Although CWRU does not require campus visits, MSW candidates need to complete field training with an organization in their community.
Based on their chosen concentration, students take classes like mental health policy and service delivery, and family system intervention. Beyond the classroom, MSW candidates can access the support of an alumni network that has a presence in all 50 US states and over 40 countries.
Requirements: Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for advanced standing. All prospective students must submit a resume, three professional recommendations, and a two-part essay.