Masters in Social Work Programs with Career Options

A Master in Social Work (MSW) is the essential gateway to the occupation. Learn what is required to gain admission to this program and see common courses you may take. Find out about salary and job prospects, and learn how to obtain a license or certification.

Essential Information

Social work master's degree programs prepare students for professional licensure and to counsel patients who are struggling with various difficulties, including mental health and substance abuse problems. Students explore theories and action-based ways of solving complex social problems and could learn about issues affecting children, families, adults and minorities. An internship or practicum at a local school, hospital, or community center is typically required.

In order to gain admission to a master's program in social work, students are typically required to possess a bachelor's degree in a related field and submit their Graduate Records Examination (GRE) scores.


Master's Degree in Social Work

In addition to general social work courses on human development and counseling, students may take classes that will help them better comprehend the issues facing their communities, such as:

  • Social change
  • Racism
  • Social policy
  • Social work practice

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates may typically work as social workers, counselors or therapists. They might specialize in several areas, including mental health, substance abuse and family services. Jobs for social workers were expected to increase by about 12% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The average annual salary for mental health and substance abuse social workers was $47,190 in May 2015, while healthcare social workers earned $54,020.

Continuing Education

Every state requires social workers to be licensed, certified or registered. The licensing process may include two years or 3,000 hours of clinical experience under the guidance of a supervisor; amount specifics vary by state.

Prospective MSW students now know what to expect in terms of curriculum, internships and licensing requirements, as well as job and salary prospects for post-graduation.


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