FAQs About a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)

Do you have a passion for human rights and a deep desire to help others? Are you concerned about justice and motivated to work toward change? A social work degree will prepare you to make a difference in the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities. And a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) will prepare you to become licensed and ready for a variety of clinical social work jobs and settings.


What is an MSW degree?

A Master’s in Social Work (MSW) prepares you to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). The MSW degree usually requires coursework in areas like family counseling, human development, and clinical social work practice and theory. You may be able to concentrate in a particular area of interest, like substance abuse counseling, school social work, or medical social work. After earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work, you’ll be prepared to become clinically licensed in the field.


Is an MSW or social work degree the right choice for you?

An MSW degree or social work degree could be the right choice for you if you’re passionate about helping others, enjoy working with clients one-on-one, and want to know that your career will really make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. Social workers need skills like empathy, cultural awareness, and the ability to set boundaries. They need to be able to listen well as they relate to clients, and they should have strong organizational skills to manage complex schedules and information.


What can you do with an MSW and social work degree?

An MSW or social work degree can lead to a variety of jobs in social work, including non-clinical social worker in a nonprofit organization or clinical social worker in a hospital, mental health, or education setting. Social workers are needed in corrections, residential care facilities, community health organizations, and disability services. They work with children, adolescents, adults, seniors, and families.


What jobs can you get with an MSW degree?

The social work job outlook offers opportunities in diverse settings. Social work jobs are available in places like public schools, hospice, domestic violence shelters, adoption agencies, child and adult protection, health systems, mental health clinics, trauma centers, and agencies supporting refugees, people experiencing homelessness, or youth and adolescents. Careers also include counselors, therapists, managers, policy analysts, treatment specialists, advocates, and educators.


How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work?

An MSW takes about two years to complete and requires significant field experience that aligns with state requirements for clinical licensure. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in any field to pursue an MSW, and if you already have a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW), you may be able to finish an MSW in less than two years. An MSW is a minimum requirement for many social work positions, especially if you’re interested in a career in private practice.


Can you complete a Master of Social Work online?

You can complete coursework for a Master of Social Work online, but field work is also an important component of programs to prepare you for clinical licensure. Field work gives you practical social work experience in a professional setting under the supervision of a qualified instructor.


If you’re ready to explore your next steps in social work, Bethel offers a number of options to prepare you for success. If you already hold a Bachelor’s in Social Work, you may qualify for our Master of Social Work: Advanced Standing, an accelerated program you can finish in as few as 15 months. Or check out our Master of Social Work: Full Program, and finish in as few as 24 months. Both programs offer online coursework. Bethel also offers an undergraduate Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW).