Online Masters in Social Work Degrees

Earning an online masters in social work degree (MSW) is ideal if you have a strong desire to help improve lives.

Social workers help other people cope with a wide range of issues, from relationships to family problems, disability and health issues, social problems, unemployment, substance abuse or domestic conflicts.

Social workers typically work with at-risk populations, and often specialize in a specific area. A Child and Family Services social worker, for example, specializes in child welfare and family services. Medical or public health social workers help individuals or families who suffer from medical and health-related issues. Mental health and substance abuse social workers help people treat and overcome their conditions, and return to a high quality of life.

Most of the people who pursue master of social work online programs are individuals who have personal reasons for wanting to help with these issues. Many social workers have a personal or family history with related problems and choose to channel that history into helping others. Social work is a career that doesn't pay as well, so people who pursue online social work degrees are people who job fulfillment matters more than income.

Featured Colleges offering Masters in Social Work Online Programs

Capella University

  • Masters in Social and Community Services
  • Masters in Multidisciplinary Human Services

Degree Pre-requisite

For those who want to pursue master of social work online programs, two learning tracks exists; a learning track for students who have earned a bachelor degree in social work, and a learning track for students who have a bachelor in a related specialization. If you already possess a recent bachelor's degree in social work, some online colleges offer a one-year accelerated program to complete your masters degree in social work. However, most of these schools require the bachelor degree to have been earned within the previous five years.

Students who have a bachelor degree in another discipline typically may pursue a two-year social work masters degree online track to earn their social work degree. The first year consists of foundation courses that would be covered in a bachelor of social work program, and are required prerequisites for a master-level program. The second year is the same curriculum as the one-year program for students who have recently completed the bachelor in social work. Online master's degree programs in social work do vary, though, so consult the documentation for the school you're considering to determine the requirements for online graduate degree in social work.

Curriculum and Licensure

All states require social workers to be registered, certified or licensed, depending on state requirements. An online graduate degree in social work covers the coursework designed to prepare students for licensure. Students must then complete state licensure examinations and meet all state-established criteria in order to become licensed practicing social workers.

The curriculum for a master social work degree online may include courses in: social welfare policy and services, human behavior and social environment, social work intervention in drug addiction and abuse, diagnostic assessment, and social work intervention in child abuse and neglect. These online social work degree programs are designed to give students the education and background they need to begin field studies, which may include working directly with individuals and families in the field.

Job options

Graduates who earn a campus or an online masters degree in social work (Master's in Social Work MSW degree) typically pursue one of two career paths: policy, planning and administration, or clinical practice.

Masters degree in social work graduates who choose policy, planning and administration typically work for the government or social service organizations to help create, implement and administer programs. A graduate might go on to become a welfare worker or a child and family services employee.

Students who graduate with a master of social work degree online and choose to go into a clinical setting may work for medical and surgical hospitals, home health care services, nursing care facilities or outpatient care centers.

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