Connecticut Social Work Graduate Programs and Degrees

What is a MSW Degree?

A Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Degree is an advanced graduate degree in social work. An MSW is required to become a licensed social worker (LMSW), or a clinical practitioner. Though PhDs are available, an MSW is considered a terminal degree in the field. Meaning, most students will not pursue a higher-level degree past the masters.

An MSW will expand understanding of human behavior, social policy, social justice and clinical practice. This in turn should prepare students to work in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings that includes local, county and state child welfare agencies, non-profit agencies, medical facilities and correctional settings.

Social Work Graduate Programs

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Social Work?

With a master’s in social work, you can work in a range of settings including mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, private practices, government entities, and community agencies. Within these settings, you can work with and serve a variety of people. As a social worker, you might help people solve problems or treat their mental, emotional, or behavioral issues. Overall, you’ll help people live healthy, meaningful lives and address small to large challenges along the way.

The average age of social workers in 2016 was 43.2 years old. The majority of people who earned a degree in social work (87%!) were female. Most often, people who earned a degree in social work did so at the master’s level (53.2%).

In 2016, there were 725,950 people employed as social workers. Jobs for social workers could grow by 16 percent between 2016 and 2026. That is much faster than average for all industries.

Do I need an MSW Degree to Become a Social Worker?

You do not need an MSW to become a social worker. Usually the minimum educational requirement for a career as a social worker is a Bachelor of Social Work. However, social workers with a BSW may be assistants or case workers. They are not diagnosticians and their salary may be lower.

It is typical for baccalaureate social workers to be licensed professionals in their state of practice. Earning an MSW opens even more opportunities. At that point you would be eligible for licensing in all states, offering a wider scope of practice. So what do all the acronyms mean then? Well let’s break it down.

  1. What is a LBSW? LBSW stands for Licensed Baccalaureate Social Workers. This would be the lowest rung of licensure.
  2. What is a LMSW? LMSW stands for Licensed Master Social Workers. After earning your MSW, you will take a licensure exam to become an LMSW.
  3. What is LCSW? LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Workers. An LCSW has also earned an MSW degree, but has also completed a certain number of supervised clinical hours.
  4. What is the difference between an LMSW vs LCSW? An LMSW does not generally practice clinical social work. An LMSW might focus more on things like case management, administration. They may also work with public or private organizations, and do consultation work. An LCSW, on the other hand, practices clinical work. This may include working as a therapist providing clinical services, psychotherapy, and/or counseling.

Regardless, it is important to choose a social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSCWE). Applicants at any of these levels must also pass a standard exam to become licensed.

Jobs in Social Work

No matter where they work, social workers have a certain set of responsibilities. They are advocates who help identify and support people and communities in need. To do so, they assess clients’ situations, strengths, weaknesses, and other characteristics. This helps them understand how to best provide services and support.

In addition to assessing clients’ larger needs, social workers help clients cope with difficult challenges and changes in their lives. They help solve everyday problems and face small to large challenges. They may also refer clients to other services that can help clients otherwise improve their lives.

Social workers must hone numerous skills. They need to be strong listeners, caring people, and interested in seeing people thrive. They must be able to manage files and paperwork and think critically about how to structure client support. They must have excellent communication, emotional, problem-solving, interpersonal, and organizational skills. The skillset they need is as diverse as the work they do. Following are some of the more specific roles social workers might play:

Occupation

Average Salary

Employment

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

$48,430

306,370

Healthcare Social Workers

$56,810

167,730

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

$47,830

112,040

Social Workers, All Other

$60,900

58,150

(Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-8)

Top States for Employment: Child, Family and School Social Workers

State

Employment

Annual Mean Wage

California

10,600

$66,300

New York

7,940

$64,530

Illinois

4,940

$65,890

Ohio

3,420

$48,680

South Carolina

2,500

$45,190

(Source: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211029.htm#st)

Top Salary Metro Areas in Connecticut : Child, Family, and School Social Workers
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT $72,430 1,990
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $70,830 1,200
Waterbury, CT $68,130 420
Danbury, CT $67,100 240
Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI $59,830 470

Popular MSW Degrees in Connecticut

Social Work degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Social Work .

In fact, in the most recent update of the data (2016), across the U.S, there were 52,122 Social Work degrees awarded to students. The majority (53.2%) of these programs were at the master’s degree level.

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Masters in Social Work - Community PracticeSacred Heart UniversityMS
Master of Social Work (MSW)Quinnipiac UniversityMSW

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What’s the Difference between a MFT and  MSW?

Two types of common social work degrees include the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Master of Family Therapy (MFT). While some of the coursework and program intentions overlap between these two degrees, they have some distinct elements.

First, students who earn MFTs gain knowledge and skills in psychotherapy and family systems. As such, they become Marriage and Family Therapists once licensed. They often use “systems theory” and other theory-based approaches to treat clients. Their focus when treating clients is on the couple, family unit, or other type of pair or group. For MFTs, relationships and how to facilitate healthy ones is the primary focus.

Students who earn MSWs, typically focus on treating individual clients. While they might help a client facilitate a healthy relationship, they will do so by working with the individual. If a students with an MSW wants to treat couples, families, and other group units, they have to pursue a specific license and become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Second, MFT and MSW students pursue distinct licensure. MFT graduates must earn a license to practice. MSW graduates, however, can practice in some settings without a license. Yet to become clinical professionals and eligible to work in more settings, MSW graduates must become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Masters in Social Work Degree Guide

MSW (Masters in Social Work)

MFT (Master in Family Therapy

Master of Social Work

Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy: Child & Adolescent Family Therapy

Length of Program: two years

Length of Program: 36 months

Students study social work as it applies to individuals and families, organizations and communities. They learn about evaluation, public policy, and advocacy and how to use all to facilitate successful social work.   

Students learn how to use a family therapy systems approach to support children and teens. They learn how to work in therapeutic settings and gain clinical hours.   

  • Human Rights & Social Justice
  • Human Behavior & Social Environment
  • Social Work Practice in Research
  • Social Policy I: Policy & the Profession
  • Advanced Clinical Assessment
  • Theories of Personality
  • Leadership Development in Public and Non-Profit Community Organizations
  • Advanced Theories in MFT
  • Advanced Qualitative Design & Analysis
  • LGBTQ Couple & Family Therapy: Clinical Applications

Programmatic accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education

Programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education and the International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education

The MSW is considered the terminal, or final, degree in social work. However, some social workers choose to pursue a doctorate degree. Social workers who want to develop their skills as researchers, scholars, and teachers pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work. Social workers who want to advance their clinical practice pursue a Doctor of Social Work.

Because you do not need a doctorate degree to work as a social worker or earn licensure, many social workers choose to earn an MSW. After all, it only takes two to two and a half years to earn an MSW. Once you have one, you can pursue licensure and enjoy a range of career opportunities.

Meanwhile, it takes anywhere from three to six years to earn a doctorate degree in social work. Having one doesn’t necessarily make you more competitive for jobs. Therefore, those who opt to pursue a doctorate degree usually want to work as researchers and educators, not as clinical social workers.

Social Work Masters Programs

The curricula for a master’s in social work helps students advance their practice or begin one. Through practice- and administration-oriented coursework, students grow the clinical, organizational, and political skills they need to enhance people’s lives. They also learn how to apply their skills to help individuals and families deal with contemporary issues.

The typical master’s in social work covers subjects such as social work practice, social welfare policy, human development, field work, and research methods. It also covers subjects that impact human beings, such as ethnicity, gender, and class. Courses in subjects like these give students foundational knowledge.

Students gain advanced knowledge by studying more specific subjects. For example, they might study leadership and management, intervention, mental disorders, and advanced clinical work. Courses in subjects like these help students grow focused, advanced knowledge and specific skills to apply on the job.

Some MSWs offer students options to concentrate their studies. Examples of concentrations include:

  • Advanced clinical practice
  • Military social work
  • Social work in healthcare
  • Social work with children and families
  • Social work and trauma

As you can imagine, having a concentration enables students to learn about an area of interest in depth. Doing so can direct students’ careers and give them specialized knowledge and skills.

Overall, the coursework for an MSW is divided into two parts: core and elective courses. The core courses cover foundational subjects. The elective courses cover subjects of specific interest to students. Students often devote one year of study to each.

Some MSW programs offer an option called Advanced Standing to students who have a bachelor’s degree in social work. Advanced Standing degrees enable students with academic or professional experience in social work to earn their MSW degrees more quickly.

What is an Advanced Standing MSW Program?

MSW Advanced Standing Admissions Requirements

 

Our Lady of The Lake

Widener

Walden

Sacred Heart

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation not more than one year old (at least one from an academician if in school within the last 3 years, others from employers or supervisors)

Three letters of recommendation: two academic references and one professional reference

N/A

Two letters of recommendation:

One from a manager, employer, or professor, all written within the last two years.

Resume

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Personal Statement

Yes

Yes

N/A

Yes

Minimum GPA

3.0 
If cumulative undergraduate GPA is below 3.00, but above 2.50, an additional GPA statement will be required to discuss the circumstances surrounding the undergraduate GPA and plans to be successful at the graduate level.

3.0

 

3.0

Students may be accepted with a lower GPA in certain circumstances.

3.0

Application Fee

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Other

BSW from a CSWE accredited school.

BSW from a CSWE accredited school.

BSW from a CSWE accredited school.

BSW from a CSWE accredited school & earned within the last 6 years.

CSWE Accredited Programs

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a national organization in the U.S. that represents social work education. As an accrediting agency, it develops standards that define quality social work programming and curricula. It conducts a rigorous review of the courses, coursework, clinical hours, and more in social work programs to ensure that students learn what they need to learn to provide safe, effective care. The accreditation process is rigorous and includes reviews of curricula and programming, site visits, and case studies.

Attending a social work program accredited by the CSWE is important. It represents that the program is a quality one. It also signifies that the curricula in the program is sufficient to help students pursue licensure and employment. It offers a seal of approval in the field of social work.

How Long Does it take to earn a Masters in Social Work?

With full-time study, students can earn an MSW in two years. If they opt to pursue an MSW with more clinical hours, it could take two-and-a-half years to graduate. Students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work may be eligible to pursue Advanced Standing. Having Advanced Standing can help a student earn an MSW in as little as one year.

Students who want to earn a doctorate degree in social work can do so in two to three years. Typically, students complete two years of coursework. Then they take one year to do a dissertation. Prior to pursuing a doctorate degree in social work, students must hold an MSW.

Online Social Work Programs That Could Be Completed in 15 Months or Less

University# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to CompleteClinical Hours
Sacred Heart University30N/A12550
University of Louisville302 Starts Through the Year12450

What is the Cost of a Masters in Social Work?

The median in-state cost of tuition for a degree in social work is $6,912 per year. Out-of-state tuition at a private institution, meanwhile, had a median rate of $29,900 per year. This means that some programs will be more or less expensive than this.

To give specific examples, this visualization shows instate and out of state graduate tuition costs of four institutions with Social Work Graduate Programs as reported by NCES.

 
 
 
$11,617 Average Public Institution University
 
$14,784 Average Private For Profit Institution Tuition
 
 
$9,684 / $24,117 Florida State University
 
$26,551 Average Private Nonprofit Institution Tuition
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What are the Costs per Credit for Masters in Social Work?

Cost per credit of course is different at every College or University. State Universities are also likely to have in state costs vs out of state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by each one of these institutions:

UniversityDegree Name# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTuition Cost
Boston UniversityMaster of Social Work (Traditional)65$885$57,525
Boston UniversityMaster of Social Work (Advanced)40$885$35,400
Our Lady of the Lake UniversityMaster of Social Work (Traditional)57$907$51,699
Our Lady of the Lake UniversityMaster of Social Work (Advanced)30$907$27,210
Simmons CollegeMaster of Social Work (Traditional)65$1,060$68,900
Simmons CollegeMaster of Social Work (Advanced)37$1,060$39,220

View the Best Social Work Graduate Programs in Connecticut Below

  • Accredited online university.
  • Capella University offers doctoral programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession.
  • Competency-based curriculum delivers both foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so that what you’re learning in your courses is immediately applicable to your career goals.

Sacred Heart University

Online

Ranked a Best College in the North, U.S. News & World Report, 2015-2017. SHU's MSQ program will qualify you to sit for the Licensed Master of Social Work exam immediately after graduation. You'll also earn hours towards state licensure for clinical social work (LCSW). 

Our Lady of the Lake University

Online

As one of only three MSW programs focused on the Hispanic population, OLLU's CSWE accredited, online Master of Social Work program offers busy adults the unique opportunity to prepare to serve this fast growing demographic at all stages of life.

Winthrop University

Online

Winthrop's CSWE-accredited, online MSW program offers an empowerment focused curriculum designed to prepare you to improve lives and communities as a specialized social worker. 60 credit Traditional and 39 credit Advanced Standing options are available.

Widener University

Online

Through its trauma-focused curriculum, the MSW at Widener will help you understand the impact trauma - a leading factor in mental health, substance abuse, and other social-emotional issues - has on the quality of life. This MSW program prepares you to improve both your life and the lives of others through clinical social work and social justice.

Northcentral University

Online

Northcentral University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program will help prepare students for a career in a variety of social service settings.

University of Southern California

Online

The MSW@USC is the first top-ranked MSW program offered nationally. Many online programs are limited to certain geographic areas or the availability of courses, making it necessary to travel to campus. Our program can be completed from virtually anywhere.

Saint Leo University

Online

The Master of Social Work Program mission is to prepare graduate students for professional advanced practice in becoming leaders through the provision of social work services that promote social and economic justice, and human rights locally, nationally and globally.

University of Louisville

Online

Louisville's 100% online MSSW program helps students earn a social work degree on their schedule. Online courses culminate in a practicum completed at a site of choice. Multiple specialties and an Advanced Standing track are available.

Regis College

Online

Social workers serve on the front lines creating change for individuals and communities. The online Master of Social Work from Regis College can help put you in a position to impact the future of countless people, fight for social change an...

Loyola University Chicago

Online

Develop linguistic competence and cultural awareness to help Spanish-speaking clients thrive by earning a Bilingual Masters in Social Work online. This unique MSW is taught primarily in Spanish and focuses in Health/Mental Health and Migration Studies.

Simmons University

Online

Simmons College’s online Master of Social Work program can be completed in as few as 15 months, and GRE scores are not required.

Indiana Wesleyan University

Online

The Indiana Wesleyan University Master of Social Work degree program is designed to offer non-residential students an opportunity to pursue a MSW degree in a asynchronous learning environment.

Fordham University

Online

Fordham’s top-ranked Graduate School of Social Service offers a future-focused online MSW program, preparing students for integrated practice with all populations. GRE scores are not required.

Walden University

Online

Be a voice for those in need with an online social work degree from Walden. Designed to address some of the most pressing issues facing society today, our programs can prepare you to work in a variety of roles delivering direct services to individuals, families, and communities

In Demand Social Work Programs

School NameProgram NameLocation
Stockton UniversityMaster of Social Work (MSW)Pomona, NJ
Quinnipac UniversityMaster of Social Work (MSW)Hamden, CT
Ana Maria CollegeMaster of Social WorkPaxton, MA
Loyola University ChicagoMSW/MA in Women's Studies Dual DegreeChicago, IL
Sacred Heart UniversityMasters in Social Work (MSW)

Fairfield, CT

Seton Hall UniversityMaster of Social WorkSouth Orange, NJ
Simmons UniversityMaster of Social WorkBoston, MA
Smith CollegeSocial WorkNorthhampton, MA
Loma Linda UniversitySocial Work - MSWLoma Linda, CA

SOURCES: [i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm |[ii] socialworkers.org/pdev/default.asp |[iii] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm |[iv] [iii] |[v] datausa.io/profile/cip/440701/ |[vi] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1113.00 |[vii] cswe.org/About.aspx | [viii] aswb.org/licensees/about-licensing-and-regulation/

  • Accredited by the CSWE
  • GRE scores not required
  • Minimum completion time: 12 months with a BSW
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