A Master’s in Social Work (MSW) enhances a social worker’s career in countless ways, opening doors to new professional pathways, opportunities, and specializations.
Your Career Outlook with a Social Work Degree
An MSW is an important long-term career investment that will greatly improve your career outlook as a social worker. It can help you practice at a higher level, command a better salary, apply for more job opportunities and work with diverse people and populations in a wide range of settings.
Through an MSW, students study broadly in the field, specialize and complete practical field placements, all of which position them to take on more complex and high-standing professional roles.
Why Invest in an MSW?
Holding a Master’s in Social Work, as opposed to a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) degree, means that job opportunities immediately open up, and are far more varied and extensive. The added time investment, specialization and practical knowledge involved in the course mean that salary packages for jobs requiring an MSW are also typically more generous.
There are areas of social work, such as clinical work, where an MSW is a necessity. In most states, social workers with an MSW are licensed, regardless of whether they are employed in clinical practice. Being a licensed social worker unlocks avenues to practice in a wide range of social work settings and at higher levels.
Social work licensure requirements vary from state to state, and you will need to pass a test as a part of your application process.
In many states, an MSW is also required to gain third-party reimbursement from insurance companies or government agencies. This means that social workers with MSW degrees can work in more settings, with more individuals, than those with only a BSW.
An MSW provides the instruction and hands-on skills needed to work with a range of people and populations, from veterans and military personnel to individuals with mental health issues or aging populations.
Whatever your particular passion for helping people and creating change, the knowledge you will gain through an MSW will leave you far better equipped to do the work you want to do and to make a difference.
What You Will Study
The field education of an MSW, along with highly focused coursework, equips social workers for many specialized areas.
The opportunities for study at this level are exciting. Among the many subjects and areas you can learn about at the MSW level include:
- substance abuse and addiction therapy
- working with aging populations
- social policy reform
- occupational social work
- international human rights
- social work advocacy, research, policy, and planning.
A core part of an MSW is a field placement, which will give you invaluable practical experience, the opportunity to network and the ability to explore new career paths.
Advanced Standing refers to credit granted to a student for their professional experience or academic coursework completed at another institution, where the undergraduate coursework (typically a Bachelor of Social Work) was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
An Advanced Standing track allows students to apply relevant completed coursework and professional expertise to move directly into upper-level coursework, which means you could graduate sooner.
Degree Requirements for Social Workers
The educational requirement for social workers varies according to the area of social work you wish to go into and at what level. The basic degree requirement in social work is a BSW, which allows students to enter the field. However, to go further in your career and to specialize, it is highly advisable to do an MSW.
Although the field of social work offers a PhD (for research-focused social workers) and a Doctorate in Social Work (practice-based), this level of study is not usually expected. Therefore, the MSW is the level required for professional practice and licensing.
Learn more about what you can do with a career in social work.