Boston MA Online Social Worker Certificate Programs

Some CSWE-accredited schools for social work may offer social worker 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.

About Social Worker Certificate Online Programs

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.

“The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) views continuing education as an essential activity for ensuring quality social work services for clients”[i]

Potential Benefits of Social Work Certificate Programs Online

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:

  1. Study on your schedule through audio and video online courses
  2. Take your time, provided you complete your assignments when due
  3. Learn from professors that may be drawn from national and international faculty without having to travel (unless specified)

Who Are Online Social Work Certificate Programs For?

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:

  1. Students working towards a specialty
  2. Licensed social workers seeking expertise
  3. Current MSW graduates seeking administrative occupations
  4. Professional Continued Education

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.

Online Post Graduate Certificate Programs in Social Work

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.

What are Potential Eligibility Requirements?

Students interested in a post baccalaureate social worker certificate online program may be required to have:

  • Earned a Bachelor degree in social work from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
  • Have a current and unrestricted license to practice social work
  • Show documentation of 2 years of supervised experience in the specialty area
  • Show continued education in the specialty area
  • Note that program requirements may vary

What are Some Potential Advance Practice Specialty Credentials for BSW Social Workers?

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]:

  • Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials (military service members, veterans and their families)
  • Social Worker in Gerontology
  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker
  • Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker
  • Certified Social Work Case Manager

Online Post MSW Certificate Programs in Social Work

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.

What are Potential Eligibility Requirements?

Students interested in a post master’s social worker certificate online program may be required to have:

  • Earned a Masters degree in social work
  • Have a current and unrestricted license to practice social work
  • School specific requirements

What are Some Potential Advance Practice Specialty Credentials for MSW Social Workers?

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]:

  • Advanced Social Worker (military service members, veterans and their families)
  • Clinical Social Worker (military service members, veterans and their families)
  • Clinical Social Worker Social Worker in Gerontology
  • Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager
  • Certified Advanced Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker
  • Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker

Find Accredited Online Social Work Certificate Programs

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.

Take the Next Step

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

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