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Last Updated: May 10, 2021

Pursuing an online degree in Social Work

Social work is a field of study and a profession that is aimed at assisting individuals, families, groups, and communities in enhancing their skills and their abilities to utilize available resources and those of the community to resolve problems and thereby establish and develop their individual and collective well-being. There are three different levels of social work - micro, mezzo, and macro which deal with different target audiences namely individuals, groups, and large communities

Benefits of pursuing a degree in Social Work

Social workers perform a variety of duties ranging from helping individuals and families access social services, counseling those struggling with mental health issues, or assisting communities by providing improved services. They can be specialists in diverse areas such as clinical social work, children and family social work, healthcare social work, and school social work.

Due to the effect and reach of social work, a degree in social work is highly valued and has lucrative career prospects. Many social work jobs require a master's degree from an accredited social work program and an online degree can open up a plethora of opportunities. More information regarding career prospects, annual median salary, and areas of employment are given below.

Graduate degree in Social Work (MSW)

A Master's in Social Work (MSW), whether earned online or through traditional full-time format, can provide a host of possibilities for students, the most important of which is that it can act as a stepping stone to becoming a Licensed Social Worker or LCW. LSWs are not only high in demand but also well paid.

MSW is a good option for social workers who want to do more in the field. While a bachelor's degree can be good for professionals, it can end up limiting one’s career opportunities. Students who want career advancements will want to continue their education, and the MSW is the best pathway forward. An online master's degree in social work takes two years of full-time or part-time study. During their program, students need to fulfill requirements for both coursework and field education.

Online MSW programs are usually pocket-friendly with costs ranging from $3000 to $50,000. The price range is directly related to the universities being a private school or a public school. As expected, private universities (which may also be Ivy Leagues) fall on the more expensive spectrum than public universities.

An accredited online program providing a Master’s degree in Social Work can be the perfect foundation for an exciting and fulfilling career as a social worker. A master's degree from a CSWE (Council on Social Work Education) accredited online program satisfies the academic requirements for social work licensure in the US. Moreover, many organizations prefer to employ people with an accredited social work degree. Hence it is prudent for prospective MSW students to make sure that their chosen program holds CSWE accreditation.

An online MSW program includes topics such as social welfare planning, school social work, and social work theory. Several programs also have the provision of allowing students to pursue a specialization or a concentration in the disciplines such as:

Top Universities for Online Social Work Degree

University of Michigan

University of Chicago

University of California (Berkley)

Columbia University

University of North Carolina

Career prospects

According to the statistics shown by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers earn a median salary of $52,000 per year, as of 2020. In addition to being rewarding, social workers’ career path offers massive growth potential, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating the addition of more than 90,000 new social work jobs in the next ten years, where the job outlook has increased by 13%.

Graduates having an online MSW degree from an accredited university meet the educational qualifications for most social work careers. They can work in a variety of environments, including but not limited to schools, hospitals, and community organizations. They can be employed as the following:

Places of employment for social workers

Social Worker License

As mentioned earlier, a Master's degree in Social Work equips one to become social work licensure. Many social work jobs need a state license and candidates require an accredited master's degree in social work as well as professional experience to earn a license.

Enumerated below are the several types of social work licensure as mandated by The Association of Social Work Boards -

  1. Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  2. Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  3. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  4. Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
  5. Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)
Important Note: Each social work licensure has corresponding requirements that vary by state and would-be social workers should research the licensure process in the state where they plan to practice.

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