Masters of Social Work Programs in Alberta
MSW Programs, or Masters in Social Work (MSW degree) programs, prepare individuals for the professional practice of social welfare counseling and administration.
Earning a Masters in Social Work may also be valuable if you wish to pursue specialist and advanced practice roles in the field such as licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). While an undergraduate degree is helpful if you are looking for that initial or entry-level job, an MSW degree is often required for social work positions in health care, administrative or clinical roles.
Are you considering a masters in social work? Looking for grad schools with campus or online MSW programs, dual degree tracks, or full or part-time study? Whichever type of Masters in Social Work program you're looking at, read on to explore the potential opportunities that an MSW degree might lead to.
An MSW is the abbreviation for the Masters in Social Work degree, which is a professional degree that typically requires two to three years of education (approximately 15 to 20 credits) beyond your Bachelor’s degree. Some MSW programs allow graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) to earn their master’s degree in one year. All MSW programs require completion of coursework and supervised practicum, also called an ‘internship’ or ‘field work’ in some MSW schools.
We asked Licensed Master Social Worker Tomanika Perry-Witherspoon how earning a MSW degree supported her career:
“Obtaining my MSW degree significantly impacted my career in social work, as it increased my learning opportunities. I was educated on clinical aspects (how to facilitate, individual and family therapy, etc.) of social work. This graduate education background enabled me to begin a private practice after obtaining my full license.”
~Tomanika Perry-Witherspoon, LMSWCEO of Growing Counseling Services Click to Tweet
While you should pay attention to specific MSW program requirements at a prospective school, a bachelor’s degree in social work is not necessarily required to enter an MSW degree program. There are two scenarios:
MSW programs might focus on different strategies to provide basic support services for different vulnerable individuals and groups, whether these are troubled teens, abused children, people in hospices or military veterans. While courses vary between MSW programs, some of the topics that a student working towards an MSW degree might encounter are[ii]:
In addition to classroom-based learning, students are typically required to complete a certain amount of fieldwork as specified by their MSW program. Masters in social work students are usually able to choose from a variety of settings to complete this work such as:
DID YOU KNOW?
Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting[i].Click To Tweet
Wondering whether earning an MSW degree might be instrumental in helping you to make diagnosis? Professionals who have earned a BSW, and are currently working in direct service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant may be able to interview clients, serve as liaisons between clients and social services agencies, and maintain case history records. However, they may not actually diagnose. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) may diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional disorders. This is not all.
Individuals may earn an MSW degree without committing to full licensure in the form of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Clinical social workers (CSWs) are always licensed in the state where they practice, and it is up to each state to determine the titles professional social workers may use, or the scope of their practice. The LCSW is an extremely specialized social worker who has:
Many states require a MSW graduate to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). For professionals who have already earned a BSW and work in the field (direct service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant)[vi] the Master of Social Work is a prerequisite of practicing as an LCSW.
Pursuing an ‘LCSW degree’ might be worth considering if you are choosing between a Masters in Counseling Psychology, or Master of Social Work. Clinical social work combines an in-depth understanding of how mental and emotional disorders develop within an individual in their environment. LCSWs may be involved in direct therapy with clients in private practice.
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a non-profit national organization that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for social work education in the United States. As of October 2016, there are 250 accredited masters social work programs and 16 masters social work programs in candidacy.[iv]
Online MSW programs may be ideal for working professionals and students who live too far from a traditional on-campus program. Search our extensive directory of sponsored listings for masters in social work online. Or, search for social work schools in the location of your choice (by city, state or country). Our on-page navigation is easy to use and will filter your results as you enter your preferences.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for social workers – especially those with a master’s degree and licensure should be good; a 12% employment change between 2014-2024 is projected.[i] If you have a strong inclination to compassionately help people cope with their unique stresses, or you wish to pursue the path of clinical social work, review the sponsored options for MSW Programs. They may sound alike, but contacting the school through the ‘request info’ setting will help you identify unique features of each school and this way, you can track deadline for applications. We simplify so you may take the next step in your professional or academic life.
sources[i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm | [ii]nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88564 |[iii]bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#Healthcare and social service | [iv]cswe.org/Accreditation.aspx