While a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for social workers, most aspiring professionals earn an MSW and complete a post-master's experiential program so that they can take the licensure exam to qualify as clinical social workers.
Schools with Master's Degree Programs in Social Work:
At these schools, it is possible to study social work at the master's degree level:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor, MI||4-year, Public||$20,638 (In-state); $41,688 (Out-of-state)|
|Washington University in St. Louis||St. Louis, MO||4-year, Private||$47,300|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, IL||4-year, Private||$51,624|
|University of Washington||Seattle, WA||4-year, Public||$15,207 (In-state); $27,255 (Out-of-state)|
|Columbia University||New York, NY||4-year, Private||$42,280|
|University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||4-year, Public||$9,143 (In-state); $26,354 (Out-of-state)|
|University of California-Berkeley||Berkeley, CA||4-year, Public||$11,220 (In-state); $26,322 (Out-of-state)|
|University of Texas-Austin||Austin, TX||4-year, Public||$10,934 (In-state); $20,762 (Out-of-state)|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, OH||4-year, Private||$41,137|
|Boston College||Chestnut Hill, MA||4-year, Private||$26,172|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
University Selection Criteria
When selecting a social work program, you might consider the following:
- Prospective students must make sure that the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work.
- For students who are interested in a particular area of the field, such as children and families, health, or minority groups, it is helpful to find a school that offers concentration or dual degree opportunities in that area.
- Students should explore the internship opportunities available through the program and make sure the school provides opportunities in a setting where they want to work in the future, such as a rural clinic or urban hospital. Some schools even offer international internships.
- Working professionals and prospective students with other scheduling constraints should look for programs that are available in online or part-time formats.
Master's Degree in Social Work
Master of Social Work (MSW) programs provide the educational background necessary to take the clinical social worker licensure exam. In these programs, students build their clinical assessment, problem-solving and leadership skills, and they must fulfill an internship or practicum requirement prior to graduation. Some programs allow students to choose a concentration in a particular interest area, such as children/families, adults and healthy aging or community organization. There are also schools at which it is possible to pursue a dual degree in related field, such as a Master of Public Health. In total, these programs take two years of full-time study to complete, but there are some schools at which it is possible to choose a three- or four-year part-time track. Upon completion, graduates are prepared for the two-year residency that they must complete before taking the state licensure exam.
Many schools across the country offer MSW programs that prepare aspiring social workers for licensure. Prospective students should consider schools that provide specialization options and internship opportunities that align with their career goals.