Potential students interested in pursuing social work education may have heard about advanced standing. Students with advanced standing enter graduate level education with one year of coursework and fieldwork already completed. But how do they do this and what exactly does advanced standing mean? These are the basics about social work advanced standing.
What is Advanced Standing?
For those who do not already have an undergraduate degree, the first step in beginning a social work career is enrolling in a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
BSW programs offer four-year undergraduate degrees that provide generalist knowledge of social work theory and practice and include a fieldwork (social work internship) component.
Upon completion of the BSW, graduates are prepared to obtain entry-level positions in human services. However, many advanced positions require the social work terminal degree – the Master of Social Work (MSW) – so BSW programs also act as a seamless stepping stone to graduate studies.
Social Work Advanced Standing Requirements
For students who have completed a BSW and wish to pursue the MSW, social work advanced standing is an attractive option that provides many benefits.
Advanced standing allows students who have earned the BSW to complete the MSW in one year rather than two. Since the four years of the BSW program include coursework and a fieldwork requirement similar to the requirements of the first year in the MSW program, advanced standing options recognize BSW graduates as already having completed the first year of the MSW.
Applying to MSW Programs
When applying to MSW programs, BSW graduates should indicate their interest in advanced standing options and be sure to submit transcripts in a timely manner. If BSW requirements were met satisfactorily upon admission, BSW coursework and fieldwork credits will be transferred to the MSW program, counting toward student progress for their graduate-level degree. Some programs do have GPA requirements (usually 3.0) for transfer credits from the BSW to apply toward the MSW, so students should inquire and be mindful about that.
Second Year Coursework
Once admitted into the social work advanced standing option, students begin with the MSW program’s second year of coursework and second-level fieldwork requirement. This means advanced standing students can begin to take elective credits toward fulfillment of their specialization right away. The fieldwork conducted during the BSW program counts as the student’s first-level MSW fieldwork requirement, thus advanced standing students begin the more intensive second-level fieldwork requirement.
Can You Complete your MSW Program in a Year?
Completing the MSW program in just one year does have its challenges and is quite intensive. Students in graduate education for only one year must work harder to develop professional contacts and faculty relationships during that time.
Advanced standing options offer many benefits to students, such as:
- Cutting down on costs by reducing time required for degree completion
- A faster path to the terminal social work degree, and therefore, to more advanced social work positions
- Maintaining momentum in the advancement of your career