What Can You Do With a Major in Social Work?

Social work degree programs help train students to help clients and patients to deal with problems in their everyday life, ranging from poverty to unemployment. This article details the social work major at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

Career Options for Social Work Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there are numerous types of social workers, including those in clinical, geriatric, child and family, school, medical and mental health specialties. With a bachelor's degree, which is the minimum education needed to work as a social worker, graduates can pursue careers as licensed social workers, case managers or social services directors. Examples of jobs for master's degree holders include mental health therapist and executive director.

Salary Information

PayScale.com reported that in April 2014, most social workers with a bachelor's degree in social work earned between $27,939 and $49,203 per year. The website also noted that most social workers with a master's degree earned $32,439-$64,325 annually.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Universities often have specific schools or departments of social work or sociology that offer the major of social work. This field consists of a combination of social work, social sciences and other liberal arts courses required to work in this field upon graduation. Students also take introductory courses in psychology as part of their curriculum in order to better understand social systems and human behavior. After four years of study, this degree program often amounts to a Bachelor of Social Work, which qualifies graduates for entry-level social worker positions.


Required courses may include elementary statistics, human behavior, social welfare and communication. In addition to these courses, students are often required to satisfy internships at local healthcare centers, welfare offices, schools and government agencies during their undergraduate career. These internships help them understand how social workers provide assistance to their clients, who often include children, families, the poor and homeless.

Master's Degree in Social Work

Master's degree programs for prospective social workers typically lead to a Master of Social Work (MSW). This program type may be meant to prepare current professionals for more responsibility in their field, although many options are available for individuals with very little prior training or experience.


Students learn strategies for specific problems, such as poverty reduction, influencing government policy and the obstacles faced by current or developing non-profit organizations. Courses may address research technology, social welfare policy, mental health practice, community services, family services and youth services.

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