Certificate of Social Work Programs
Graduate social work certificate programs offer continued education for current and aspiring social workers. Some certificates in social work are designed for the recent graduate seeking to refine skills within their chosen field such as geriatrics or substance abuse. Others may suit the licensed clinical social worker who wants to stay abreast of current research, or trends in theory, advocacy and policy.
Graduate level social work certificate programs may be post-baccalaureate or post-master’s programs that generally explore current research to give social worker professionals the knowledge to advance their treatment strategies. Typically, shorter in duration than a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program, social worker certificates might be completed in about two semesters, although this may vary between universities.
FACT: When asked about their education level, 4% of healthcare social workers responded that they had earned a post-baccalaureate certificate and 4%responded they had earned a post-master’s certificate[i].
Admission requirements to social work graduate certificate programs vary. For a post-baccalaureate social work certificate, students may be required to have earned a Bachelor of Social Work or related Bachelor’s degree (i.e. Bachelor of Human Services) from an accredited college. For post-master’s social work certificates, prospective applicants generally have earned their MSW degree.
Earning a graduate certificate in social work does not mean the same thing as the process involved for a social worker to achieve professional certification. Familiarizing yourself with potential terminology (‘certified’, ‘certification’ and ‘certificate’) may help you find a certificate in social work that aligns with your academic and vocational goals.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers ACSW certification, however this is not the same as licensing in that it does not grant the legal authority to practice. Some of these qualifications are offered to currents licensed social workers seeking ‘advanced practice specialty credentials.’[ii] NASW credentials and specialty certifications are professional designations that may be used to enhance, but not replace, state licensure. Some of these advanced specialties might include[iii]:
Each separate credential and certification has its own criteria.
Most states have specific licensure or certification requirements for social workers. Certification, or licensing, typically requires a social worker to have earned a Master of Social Work from a CSWE accredited program, have a minimum of two years supervised clinical practice and pass exams[iv]. In some states, the social work program a student chooses may play a role in determining license category, should this occur in the future.
Earning a social work certificate on the other hand, may add onto existing skills or serve as a platform for continued education, however, it is not a degree. Some certificate in social work programs offer BSW and MSW social workers the necessary skills and knowledge in key areas of practice, but these are social workers who may already be licensed clinical social workers seeking the necessarily skills to work within schools or healthcare[v].
One of the potential benefits to social work certificate programs is that they may add value to your credentials and abilities. Within these programs you might find two basic types of certificates:
Post-baccalaureate social work certificate programs might appeal to recent graduates or students who have earned their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and want to take some of the foundational courses from a Master of Social Work (MSW). The course credits earned may help students fulfill some of their state’s educational requirement hours.
Post-master’s social work certificate programs might appeal to currently working social workers and other human services professionals. These programs may offer evidence-based treatment approaches which may enable clinicians to take away findings and assessment strategies based on current research.
Prospective and practicing social workers should look for CSWE accredited programs. The Council on Social Work Education is responsible for developing the accreditation standards that define professional competency. The CSWE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.[vi]
Some accredited universities and schools for social work may offer online social work certificate programs. Campus and hybrid distance learning formats may also be available. Use any of these formats (campus, hybrid or online) to refine your search preferences. Alternatively, search for certificates in social work schools by location. Use our on-page navigation to refine by city, state or country.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is projected to grow by 12% from 2014 to 2024 which is faster than average for all occupations[vii]. That said, for some of the more specialized clinical social worker occupations (healthcare, mental health), the rates are up at 19% for the same time frame[viii]. With this outlook, why not consider taking the next step in your education with a certificate in social work? Browse our sponsored listings, then use the “request info” setting to reach out to prospective schools so you can check whether their next enrollment is imminent?
sources: [i] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1022.00#Education |[ii] naswdc.org/credentials/default.asp |[iii] naswdc.org/credentials/list.asp |[iv] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm |[v] naswdc.org/credentials/faqs.asp |[vi] cswe.org/Accreditation.aspx |[vii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm |[viii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm |
This program provides graduate training and specialization for students and professionals in the areas of risk and the fostering of resilience through education.