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Welcome to MSWOnlinePrograms.org. Our site was created to help students research a variety of social work degrees and related programs, but with an emphasis on Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. MSW programs develop both basic and advanced practice skills and often allow students to specialize in a selected area of social work practice. You can learn more about your options by clicking on the links below and by following our blogger, Julie Fanning MSW, LCSW, as she posts topics related to the social work profession and much more.

What to Consider When Evaluating MSW Options

Online programs are designed for students who want to complete their education without the constraint of traditional classroom scheduling. When researching online MSW programs, there are few important factors to take into consideration:

  1. Is the program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)? (Online MSW programs must meet the same CSWE accreditation standards as campus-based programs.)
  2. Does the program offer the area specialization or concentration you want?
  3. Are there ample field placement opportunities in your area of interest?
  4. Does the program offer on-campus or online research facilities, academic advising, classroom training, or internships?

Below you’ll find a list of accredited schools that meet the above criteria and offer a number of quality degree options:

SchoolPrograms
University of Southern California
Accreditation:
  • WASC
Walden University
Accreditation:
  • HLC
  • NCA
Our Lady of the Lake University
Accreditation:
  • SACSCOC

Click here to learn about more Social Work colleges

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Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work

You may have found yourself asking whether the investment of an MSW is going to be worth it. For some, the decision to pursue a master’s degree may come easy, while others may have questions as to whether the benefits outweigh possible drawbacks. Below you’ll find a few of the many advantages to earning your MSW:

  • Higher salaries: Those who hold a master’s degree often qualify for higher salaries and/or better benefits than those with a bachelor’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Better job security: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a lower unemployment rate for those with a master’s degree versus those with only a bachelor’s degree. (See graph below.)
  • BLS Earnings Chart

  • Professional incentives: A master’s degree often leads to career advancement, opportunities for leadership, professional development, and the option to open a private practice.
  • Strong marketplace demand: Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. With an MSW, you can become licensed to work as a mental health and substance abuse social worker, a field projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.

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Social Work Program Concentrations: How to Choose a Practice Area

Both campus-based and online MSW programs offer different concentrations that allow students to specialize in a particular field of social work. There are many different areas of concentration in social work, and depending on the program, you can choose to focus your studies on one particular area, such as those listed below:

Area of Specialization: Field Description: Additional Information:
Addiction and Substance Abuse Social Work Addiction and substance abuse social workers work with individuals and families to organize interventions, therapy, and recovery for those dealing with alcohol and drug abuse.
Family and Child Social Work Family and child social workers work with children, parents, and entire family units to overcome common struggles like poverty, domestic violence, illness, child abuse, and prejudice.
Medical and Mental Health Social Work Medical and mental health social workers provide support and counseling to families and patients dealing with loss of a loved one, adjustment to new environments or situations, providing psychotherapy, or obtaining social help and support.
Counseling and Human Services While counseling and human services are not fields of social work, they are popular careers that have much in common with social work, including compassion for others and working to improve their clients’ well-being.

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What Social Work Professionals (And Students!) Should Know About Certification

Social work is a licensed profession. Each state’s licensing body establishes its own rules and regulations for social work licensure. Students should check the licensing body in the state they plan to practice to ensure they are clear about the licensing requirements. For more information, The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) maintains complete contact information for every licensing board on their website.

Below is a useful chart to help you compare the two most common types of licenses and their characteristics:

Type of License: Description: Licensing Requirements:
Licensed Social Worker (LSW) LSWs are typically authorized to practice social work which includes social services to individuals, groups or communities, community organization for social welfare, social work research, social welfare administration or education. LSWs may engage in clinical social work practice, as long as it is not conducted in an independent practice as defined by law.
  • Earn a degree from a graduate program of social work approved or have a degree in social work from an undergraduate program approved by the CSWE and have successfully completed a specified number of years of supervised professional experience
  • Apply for licensure in the state in which you wish to be licensed
  • Pass the required examination for the practice of social work as a licensed social worker
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) LCSWs are typically authorized to independently practice clinical social work under the auspices of an employer or in private practice.
  • Successfully complete a specified number of hours of supervised clinical professional experience after receiving a master’s degree in social work from a graduate program approved by the CSWE
  • Apply for licensure in the state in which you wish to be licensed
  • Pass the clinical examination for the practice of social work as a licensed clinical social worker

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