Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree options for social and community services are available. At the associate's level, students receive introductory education in psychology, group counseling, case management and cultural differences. A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Social Work program prepares students for private and public community outreach, advocacy and social work, as they will learn about those respective fields and criminal justice. Master of Science (M.S.) in Social Work students explore the history and underlying principles of the field and receive advanced teachings in the social sciences. A bachelor's degree is required before applying to a master's program, while TOEFL scores are required for international students looking to apply at any level.
Associate's in Human Services
The most common related associate's degree program conferred is in human services. Professors in such programs stress the importance of participant empowerment, crisis intervention and community support. Human services associate's curriculum includes general education courses in psychology, English, mathematics and social services. Core class subjects include:
- Group work
- Social problems
- Case management
Bachelor of Science in Social Work
At the bachelor's level, students learn about ethical and theoretical principles in social work, including patient treatment. While studying criminal justice and human behavior courses, students may develop on-the-job practical skills. Other related topics to be discussed are:
- Social welfare and policy
- Social justice
- Human behavior and the social environment
- Field preparation
Master of Science in Social Work
Social work master's courses cover social welfare, policy and mental health. Students delve into the history behind social services, as well as the underlying principles. Students are also taught how to work with various groups, communities and families in mental and physical health settings. Graduates are qualified for careers areas in physical and mental health as it pertains to children, youth and families. These degree programs may also provide advanced education in mental health and psychology principles. Some classes included are:
- Human behavior
- Social work philosophy
- Cultural and ethical awareness
- Generalist practice
- Community resource utilization
Popular Career Options
Associate's-level graduates are eligible for entry-level employment as a group residence worker or social casework assistant, for example. Some positions in the medical and education fields are also accessible. Bachelor's degree holders qualify for mid-level managerial work and roles in healthcare, social service and government. Some popular job titles include:
- Social worker
- Case manager
- Public health social worker
- Non-profit director
- Social services manager
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for social workers is expected to grow at a rate of 12% from 2014-2024, with a mean annual wage of $57,970 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Students can further their education or advance their career by enrolling in a graduate certificate program with a specialization in gerontology, management or community service, among others. In some instances, a certificate may be conferred with the completion of a master's degree.
Individuals interested in improving their communities can pursue degrees in social and community services. Associate's degree programs prepare students for entry-level social work, while bachelor's and master's degree holders will be better equipped for roles in mid-level management, government work and healthcare.