Master's Degree in Social Work with Curriculum Overview

Although some programs can be comprehensive, master's degrees in social work usually focus on specific social services and involve coursework, research, and internship opportunities that provide practical work experience.

Essential Information

Typically two years in length, a master of social work program can offer broad, comprehensive social work education, or concentrate in specific areas of social work. For the latter, students have the option to choose an area of specialization such as public health, mental health and substance abuse, family and education. A master's degree allows social workers to become qualified in taking greater responsibilities like managing more caseloads and researching trends and developments in social work.

To enroll in a social work master's degree program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Although the bachelor's degree does not need to be in social work, there may be social work prerequisite courses that need to be completed prior to enrollment. Most programs require applicants to submit official transcripts and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test scores. Licensure may also be necessary, so individuals should check with the state for which they work for all of the requirements.

Master's Degree in Social Work

Much of the coursework in the master's program is based on case studies and social work research. Internship opportunities, with local government agencies, health organizations and schools, are available and provide candidates with first-hand experience working with families and individuals. Typical courses include the following:

  • Social welfare concepts
  • Social and economic diversity
  • Family and child services
  • Social work practices and procedures
  • Interventions and social treatments
  • Working with social and public health agencies

Employment Outlook and Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed social workers is expected to grow by 12% from 2014-2024. Opportunities for substance abuse and mental health social workers is projected to increase by 19%.

The median annual salary for child, family and school social workers was $42,350 in May 2015, according to the BLS. Healthcare social workers earned a median salary of $52,380 during this time, and mental health and substance abuse social workers earned a median salary of $42,170.

Continuing Education Information

Each state has different licensure and certification standards for social workers. Although requirements vary by state, most social workers are required to have at least two years of supervised social work experience before becoming licensed. Licensure requirements also vary by area of social work. Social workers may also pursue Ph.D. degrees in social work, which qualify them for post-secondary teaching and supervisory or management positions.

Master's of social work programs combine coursework and research with internship opportunities in specific fields such as public health, mental health and substance abuse, family and education. After obtaining this degree, social workers become more qualified to take greater responsibilities and advance in their careers.

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