The minimum level of education for any case worker is a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). However, many case worker jobs - particularly those with government agencies - require employees to possess a Master of Social Work (MSW).
10 Schools with Social Work Programs
These schools have social work programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*|
|University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||$20,966 in-state, $42,016 out-of-state|
|Washington University in St. Louis||Saint Louis, MO||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$47,620|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, IL||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$52,713|
|University of Washington||Seattle, WA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$11,839 (in-state undergraduate), $16,278 (in-state graduate)|
|Columbia University||New York, NY||4-year, Private||Master's||$44,176|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||4-year, Public||Master's, Doctoral||$11,074 in-state, $28,285 out-of-state|
|University of California--Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$13,431 (in-state undergraduate), $13,431 (in-state graduate)|
|University of Texas-Austin||Austin, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||$9,806 (in-state undergraduate), $10,934 (in-state graduate)|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, OH||4-year, Private||Master's||$41,169|
|Boston College||Chestnut Hill, MA||4-year, Private||Master's, Doctoral||$26,262|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School and College Selection Criteria
Students should keep these things in mind when choosing a school:
- Since not all schools offer all concentrations, prospective case workers should select a school that offers a specialization in their area of interest.
- Students should determine what service programs are available at the schools they are interested in, as well as what partnerships the social work program has with advocacy groups, non-profit groups and government agencies.
- Students may consider school accreditation and national rankings of social work programs.
- Schools that offer a broad range of evening and weekend classes give students more flexibility in pursuing service or fieldwork opportunities during business hours.
Bachelor's Degree Program
A BSW degree is the most common degree necessary for an entry-level position as a case worker. These programs typically require around 125 hours of coursework, including general education requirements and about 400 or more hours of fieldwork. Typical coursework includes human behavior, social welfare programs and current issues, such as addiction, social work and legal issues or child abuse.
Master's Degree Program
Case workers often pursue a master's degree in social work, typically with a concentration in social services policy or administrative leadership. These concentrations can be helpful particularly if a case worker has an interest in pursuing a career with a government agency. Students typically study areas such as advocacy, program development and informatics, which is the affect of information on the policies and practices of social work. Master's programs in social work typically require around 60 hours of coursework and over 1,000 hours of fieldwork.
Prospective case workers should look for social work programs that offer the specialization they are interested in, and they may consider a school's accreditation and rankings. Other considerations may include the availability of service programs and schedule flexibility.