Social Work Degrees
What kind of degree is required to work in the social work field?
Students interested in social work can pursue the bachelor's degree in social work (BSW), the master's degree in social work (MSW) or the doctorate in social work (DSW or PhD. in social work). The BSW is an undergraduate degree that takes an average of four years to complete. The college student who earns the BSW pursues a major in social work while also completing other course requirements for earning a bachelor's degree. With a BSW, an individual can gain an entry-level position in the field of social work.
However, a bachelor's degree in social work can be insufficient for certification or licensure in some states. Those who wish to pursue certification or licensure in states requiring advanced degrees should pursue the Master's Degree in Social Work, also known as the MSW. Those who plan to use their social work degree to go into private practice as psychotherapists should also considering earning their master's degree.
What are the options for advanced degrees in social work?
A master's degree through an accredited school of social work is adequate to qualify a social worker for most of the available job opportunities in the social work field. However, those who successfully complete their master's degrees have the option of continuing on to earn a doctorate. There are two types of doctorates in social work, the DSW or doctorate of social work, which is considered a "professional" degree, and the PhD. in social work, which is considered a research degree. Social workers who wish
What are the options for a joint degree in social work?
Students can often earn joint degrees in social work and medicine, social work and public health, social work and law, or social work and public policy. For instance, a student pursuing a joint degree in social work and law may take three to four years to earn both degrees as opposed to the two that it generally takes to graduate with only a social work degree. However, joint degrees can make social workers more marketable with certain employers. For instance, a candidate with degrees in both social work and law might have an edge when applying for a job with the criminal justice system, and a candidate with degrees in both social work and public health may have an advantage when applying for medical social worker positions.
How long does it take to earn a degree in social work?
Bachelor's degree social work programstypically take about four years to complete if a student attends school full-time. The master's degree in social work is generally a two-year program. However, some accelerated programs, which require students to take heavier course loads and to take classes during summers, are also in existence. In addition, many master's degree programs in social work grant advanced standing to students who already have a bachelor's degree in social work, reducing the time it takes to complete the MSW by up to a year. A DSW or PhD. in social work can take anywhere between two and four years to complete, depending on the complexity of the student's chosen dissertation project.
What can an individual do with a social work degree?
With the most basic social work degree, the bachelor's degree, an individual can qualify for entry level positions as a case consultant or intake specialist who conducts initial interviews of clients seeking therapy or services from a social services agency. A bachelor's degree in social work is generally sufficient for an individual to obtain a position as a child protective services worker, who investigates allegations of child abuse and monitors homes in which past abuse has occurred. A bachelor's degree in social work also qualifies graduates to work as court-appointed special advocates who represent the interests of abused children, foster children, or juvenile delinquents who find themselves embroiled in the legal system. Other sub-fields of social work that welcome the bachelor's degree in social work as a credential are gerontological social work, which entails the provision of services to senior citizens, and criminal justice social work, which involves working with incarcerated inmates or with parolees after their release from prison.
Generally the Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) is required for those social workers that wish to enter private practice as clinical social workers. Other fields within the social work profession that require the master's degree include medical social work, psychiatric social work, and school social work. Social workers who go on to earn the DSW or PhD in social work generally find work as professors, community advocates, policy or legislative advisors, and research academicians.
What kinds of institutions offer social work degrees?
The bachelor's degree in social work is offered by a number of undergraduate colleges and universities throughout the country. Graduate degrees in social work are offered by schools of social work, which are generally part of larger universities that offer a wide variety of advanced and professional degrees. Some universities offer students the opportunity to complete part or all of their coursework online, and some primarily online institutions now offer social work degrees.
The doctorate in social work (DSW) or PhD in social work can be completed entirely online. However, the bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) and, especially, the master's degree in social work (MSW) include an intensive clinical component that requires the student to obtain extensive hands-on work experience under supervision of qualified professionals. This aspect of the social work degree program cannot be satisfied through online learning even though coursework is usually allowed to be completed online.