Some CSWE-accredited schools for social work may offer social work certificate online programs. These web-based programs might be appealing to currently working licensed MSW social workers and recent BSW graduates seeking a learning format that might afford more scheduling flexibility and convenience.
Social workers certificate online programs may enable current practitioners to enhance their skills in leadership, treatment methodologies or other targeted social work areas. These programs may be offered full-time or part-time, and might require about four to eight courses. On average, while program lengths and course credits vary, earning an online social work certificate might take about one year. Prospective applicants generally need either an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work, though this is dependent on the certificate, and any individual social work school requirements.
Each university may have a different social work certificate programs online, and some may entail campus visits or field work. Online courses are sometimes delivered in video format that is viewable on a computer with internet access. It may involve things such as power point presentations, and online readings, quizzes and assignments.
Three potential benefits of online social work certificates might include:
Social worker certificate online programs may be available as post graduate certificates and post masters certificates. While a bachelors degree in social work may prepare graduates for direct-service positions such as caseworkers and mental health assistants, it is the masters degree in social work that prepares students to work in their chosen specialty area. Online social worker certificate programs may be designed for:
Students working towards a specialty: Some online certificate programs for social work provide practitioners with the opportunity to specialize in a patient population (e.g. geriatrics, family and children) or social work topic (e.g. housing for seniors, trauma).
Licensed social worker seeking potential advancement of expertise within a specialty: Some online certificate programs for social work are oriented to clinical social workers who have a chosen specialty (e.g. substance abuse social workers) and are seeking to enhance their education by taking an extra certification to be able to examine evidence-based research and theory and take something back into their current career
Current MSW-level social workers seeking potential advancement into administration: Some online social work certificate programs might explore topics such as leadership and managerial tasks of the social worker administrator (e.g. budgeting, fundraising). Earning a certificate may be helpful to social workers seeking potential careers such as Social and Community Service Managers and Directors.[ii]
Currently licensed social workers seeking continued professional development: Social workers of all stages are ethically required to remain informed of the most recent research, theory and techniques[iii]. The number of “continuing competence”[iv] education credits may be up to each state; students should look for social work schools that are approved as providers for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program.
Did you know?
“The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) views continuing education as an essential activity for ensuring quality social work services for clients”[i]
Some online social work post-graduate certificates might be designed for individuals who may have earned a bachelors degree in human services or a field related to social work. Primarily though, a post baccalaureate social work certificate is something a graduate might pursue to fulfill some of the foundation courses of the MSW degree.
Students interested in a post baccalaureate social worker certificate online program may be required to have:
Some of the National Social Work Credentialing Center (NASW) credentials that might be available for BSW candidates who have met the requirements of their program might include[v]:
Some online post-masters certificates might be used by current licensed MSW- level social workers or clinical social workers to refine management skills, use the hours for continued education or seek advanced practice specialty credentials. The goal is generally to deepen knowledge base.
Students interested in a post master’s social worker certificate online program may be required to have:
Some of the National Social Work Credentialing Center (NASW) credentials that might be available for MSW candidates who have met the requirements of their program might include[vi]:
Before enrolling in a social worker certificate online program, students should verify that their schools of choice are regionally accredited. In addition to regional accreditation, individuals should look for programmatic accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the main accrediting agency for social work degree programs. CSWE accreditation is evidence of the relevance and academic standards of a school's social work program.
Whatever your present academic level, you might consider taking it to the next step with an online social work certificate. Browse sponsored program listings, then start a conversation with prospective schools with our handy on page navigation. Follow prompts for “request info” and you are on your way to learning about enrollment.
[i] .socialworkers.org/practice/standards/cont_professional_ed.asp |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm |[iii] socialworkers.org/pdev/default.asp |[iv] aswb.org/licensees/continuing-education/ |[v] socialworkers.org/credentials/list.asp |[vi] socialworkers.org/credentials/list.asp