What You Should Know About This Degree
As social work is a human services field, learning how to work with people is a key component of your education. Therefore, even if coursework for programs can be fully completed online, all accredited social work programs have hands-on learning components, such as internships. When researching programs, find out what their expectations are for field experiences, and make sure you can fit this element of the program into your schedule and lifestyle.
Licensure is another major consideration for social workers. In order to be considered a clinical social worker, you must have a master’s degree and a state-issued license. Licensure regulations vary by state, and may affect where and how you earn your degree. At the exploratory stage, it’s important to research what the licensure requirements are in your state, and check with your programs of interest to make sure you will be eligible for licensure if you earn your degree at their institution.
While a BSW is the minimum level of education needed for social work employment, more job opportunities are available to those with an MSW, including the ability to run a private practice. If you’re considering going into social work at the undergraduate level, it’s worth remembering that earning an advanced degree will likely be necessary to further your career.
Here are some questions to ask when researching online Social Work programs:
- Does this program offer the specialization I want? Specialization in an area like healthcare, substance abuse, or educational settings is often required at the Master’s level, so it’s important to make sure the program you’re reviewing offers the concentration you are seeking.
- Does this program have an advanced track? Many MSW programs offer “traditional” and “advanced” tracks. Traditional tracks are aimed at those who do not have a BSW, and need to complete foundational coursework before moving on to advanced training. These programs usually take additional time to complete. Individuals who already have a BSW can enroll in an advanced track program, which are less credits and take less time to complete.
Once you’ve selected the programs that interest you, research their application requirements and admissions procedures. This information is typically available on the program’s website. You can also contact the program directly if you have any questions.
Financing your graduate education is another important consideration. Research what scholarships and financial aid options are available to you. If you are currently employed, you can also check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement.