Due to the demand for a graduate social work education, social work schools and programs can be found all over the world along with companies looking to hire individuals with this advanced training. A master’s program in social work is designed to provide you with additional higher-level skills and training in a specialty concentration that you would not receive with a bachelor's program. Many companies recognize these accredited graduate programs and understand that future hires with an advanced degree have a higher level of training and the ability to typically manage a team of professionals.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Work Managers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211029.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
In most cases, a doctorate degree requires 36 to 54 credit hours. As a full-time student, you can typically complete 18-24 credits per year, meaning you would earn your degree over the course of about two years. If you are a motivated student, there are a few options available to help you earn your degree sooner.
Some schools have accelerated social work masters or doctorate programs that put students on the fast track to earning their degree. This can reduce the typical two-year time frame by up to 30%. If an accelerated program is too much to handle, you may be able to benefit from year-round learning. Year-round learning is continuous schooling all year long, with no summer break. This type of education allows you to finish your degree earlier and get started in your career faster. If you took AP courses in high school, you may be able to count them toward your college credits, which can in turn, reduce your time and the costs of schooling.
Before choosing a major there are some important facts you should know about.
As you begin exploring colleges and universities, you may already know what you want to major in. If you have a social work graduate concentration in mind, look through the graduate catalog, either online or a copy of the book and browse the majors offered by that college. If you find this major, this will be one school you'll want to consider attending; if not, then cross the school from your list and move on to the next.
If you're uncertain what social work master’s specialty degree you're interested in, try to find a school with a robust variety of courses, that will let you experience a few varied lower level classes and allow you to figure out what you enjoy while you work through your general education.
The two most prominent types of master levels in social work are: Master of Arts degree (MA degree) in social work and a Master of Science degree (MS degree) in social work. An M.A. degree normally requires pupils to take fewer concentration courses as well as to focus more on discovering about social work. These students have a little bit more flexibility when it pertains to customizing their education to meet their occupation objectives as well as goals.
The Master of Science degree in social work, on the other hand, is much less concentrated on exploration and even more targeted to a specific focus. Master of Science students, usually, focus specifically on the area of their major and have a tendency to be more career focused. Master's degrees in the clinical field, for example, are most likely to be a Master of Science degree. You can find some sample classes for a doctorate below:
These days fewer and fewer students graduate in two years. In fact, the government now sets the bar at a three-year term from starting an advanced graduate program to completion. Accredited masters programs in social work, on the other hand, are more likely to graduate in 18 months to 2 1/2 years. That is because those programs are more competitive, and studies have shown that students in highly competitive programs have more success with graduating in two years (or less.) Keep it mind there are also other determining factors that play a role in how long it takes to graduate like full time vs part time, funding for college, working at the same time (can potentially decrease how many credit hours you can take) etc. A good goal to shoot for is to graduate within 2 to 3 years.
Your school's accreditation is an important aspect of getting your master's degree. The two most common forms of accreditation are regional and national.
Regional accreditation is the most recognized and most prestigious available. Because of this label, these colleges often have higher tuition and have more competitive admission standards. Regional accreditation accounts for over 85% of colleges across the United States. There are 6 different regions, including:
MSA (Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools)
NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges)
NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools)
NAC (Northwest Accreditation Commission)
SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)
WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)
National accreditation is less common. National accreditation agencies oversee the accreditation process for career, vocational, and trade schools across the United States. As a result, these schools tend to be less expensive, require less general coursework, and feature a more practical, career-oriented curriculum. Because it is less structured, schools are only reviewed every 3-5 years to ensure that they still meet accreditation requirements.
Accreditation is an important part of the selection process. It adds value to a graduate degree by offering wider acceptance than degrees from non-accredited schools receive. Accreditation ensures employers and other reviewers of your educational background that you have a quality education in social work. It informs potential employers that the graduate has the expected level of education and knowledge to perform work in today's high-paced, technology-driven environments.
The Department of Education designates regional and national accreditation agencies. It is also through this department that educational loans and grants are provided to college students. The federal policy is to limit student loans to schools and colleges with acceptable accreditation. Which means that, if your school isn't accredited, you will likely not be eligible to receive any financial aid. For many students, accreditation is key to getting funds to pay for the substantial costs of a graduate degree in social work.
A two-year graduate degree in social work is an investment into your future. The cost of tuition can vary widely depending on the academic excellence of the university and the specific field of study chosen. You can expect tuition for a doctorate degree in social work to cost anywhere from $15,000-$60,000 per year. The cost of tuition for online degrees is typically the same cost as on-campus. When talking about costs, it is important to factor in textbooks, technology, as well as room and board, as those costs are separate from tuition. These are average college tuition costs and does not include financial aid. It is important for each and every student to seek out financial aid options to help pay for their college tuition.
The cost of your education is worth every penny, because it is an investment in your future. You may feel that you are investing too much money in a degree but remember that it will all come back to you. Once you get the career that you've been aiming for, you will be to pay off your student loans and live a better life.
If your university offers career and/or placement services, you'll be able to take advantage of both as a student or graduate. You can receive career counseling, career assessments, and resume reviews, where you'll learn how to spruce your resume up. It is important to research if your potential college has post career placement assistance. This demonstrates that the college or university social work program is with you from start to finish.