For those who work in social work, the tasks you perform are often intense, complicated, and very important. Each day may bring new challenges or opportunities. One way to prepare for this type of career is to exhaust your educational options. To work in social work, many individuals may need to complete a master’s degree, but a doctoral degree may also be important. Consider some of your options.
What Is a Master’s Degree in Social Work?
A master’s degree in social work, or MSW, is the next step after completing a bachelor’s degree. It prepares students to work in the field as a counselor or providing social services to those in need. Many states may require a person to have a master’s degree to be licensed to provide these services. It may be possible to choose a master’s degree in various concentrations in the social work field, including working with children, in mental health, with substance abuse, or working with families (among others).
What types of MSW may help you work in the field?
There are often two main types of MSW degree paths. The first is a traditional MSW pathway, which may require you to obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete four semesters or two years of education. This method may be a good option for those who want to study over time. A second option is an MSW Advanced Standing Alternative Program (ASAP) path. This path often provides access to the same overall education, but a student may complete this program in 3 semesters or about 1 year of education with a summer course. You may need to meet GPA and other requirements to enroll in this path.
What concentrations are available for an MSW?
When enrolling in an MSW, many students choose a specific concentration or an area to focus their education on. While they may still learn the basics and foundations of social work, they may concentrate many of their classes in a specific area. Some examples may include children, youth, and family services, mental health, health care, or school counseling.
What Are PhD Programs in Social Work?
A PhD program is a type of doctoral educational path that is another type of graduate program. Typically, it is completed after completing a master’s degree, though some educational tracts allow a student with a bachelor’s degree to start on the path to their doctoral degree as well. Various types of social work doctoral degrees may exist, including in areas such as social welfare, mental health, and healthcare, among others.
What is a DSW degree?
A Doctorate of Social work is often a bit different from a PhD in social work. In a doctorate in social work (DSW), a student may apply his or her knowledge to a clinical setting. They may be working in a practice, for example. In a PhD in Social Work, a great deal of research is usually completed, and many of those who complete this degree path go on to work in educational and research positions within agencies and programs. Students typically need to choose which path they wish to complete.
Why Choose an Online Social Work Graduate Program Over an In-Person Program?
Both options, attending in-person or online, often provide the same type of information and are considered equal paths as long as the coursework comes from an accredited program. An online program may allow students to focus more of their time and energy on working in the field while they study. Some may wish to develop their PhD or DSW this way because it may allow them to work on building their experience while they are learning.
Why Complete a Graduate Degree in Social Work?
For those who have just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work or in a related field, it may be important to consider the benefits of continuing your education. Often, states do not allow individuals without a master’s degree to provide counseling services to individuals, and licensing may be limited. You may need a master’s degree, but also, working towards your doctoral degree may be beneficial depending on the type of career work you hope to do.
Your graduate course of study could provide other benefits as well that may be important to consider to you. Consider a few of these benefits now.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
Choose a concentration for your career
At the master’s degree level, you may be able to choose a concentration for your career. For example, you may wish to focus on providing care to senior citizens. That may allow you to take gerontology courses to help better prepare you for that field. If you want to work with children and provide for their needs in social services, you may wish to pursue a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in pediatric services.
At the master’s degree, you may have more ability to choose courses that better fit your long-term goals and needs. This could give you more of an opportunity to steer your education towards your goals.
- Accredited online university
- Take one or two core courses at a time and complete as many as you want in 12 weeks for one flat fee*
- Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundation knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.
*Books, supplies, and other fees apply. Military Tuition Assistance (TA) is not available for FlexPath.
Gain more skill to work as a counselor
As noted, you may need to have a master’s degree to provide counseling services. During your graduate studies, you may have more opportunities to do that. There are various experience-building and clinical studies that make up these programs. In short, you may learn how to provide care to various population groups or in various settings more fully at the graduate level.
Consider pursuing graduate degrees to develop leadership skills
It’s just as important to consider the benefits of a PhD in the field, which may prepare you to work in a range of leadership positions. Some may complete a DSW and then have their own practice or work in the community providing these services.
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$89,150||0|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||$84,900||230|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$82,900||1,190|
Consider research benefits
For those who are looking for ways to work in research in the field, a PhD may allow you to do that. It may prepare you to consider a wide range of research work that could help you build a career in an area that interests you.
Completing a graduate degree in any social work field may be well worth it. Take a closer look at some of the path options available that may help you achieve your goals.
- Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
- Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
- Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access.
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