What Can You Do With a MSW Degree?
An MSW degree is a Master's of Social Work. This degree provides students with advanced critical analysis, problem-solving and research skills, in preparation for various types of social work. MSW programs are generally intended for graduates with a bachelor's degree in social work, sociology or a related field.
MSW Degree: Overview
An MSW degree program typically takes two years to complete, though accelerated and part-time programs are also available. Students gain a background in social theory in addition to studying public policy, social programs and organizational structures. Most programs also engage students in clinical practice and research fieldwork, allowing students to acquire experience providing social services and critically examining a particular social issue or problem.
At the master's degree level, students are generally required to take courses that cover a range of social work topics, including social justice, social welfare policy, mental health practice, human behavior and research technology. Most MSW programs offer a variety of concentrations in which students may focus, to better prepare them for the social work career they desire. These may include a clinical specialty, such as child and family social services, mental health or substance abuse, as well as a practice method specialty, including community organization, public policy, social service administration or intrapersonal practice.
Social Worker Career
Graduates with an MSW are trained to help people cope with and overcome social problems. They are prepared for social work positions in local, state or national government as well as non-profit and private organizations. A master's degree is often required for supervisory positions within these organizations.
Social workers often provide counseling within a clinical specialty or to a specific community. Social workers may also work as administrators, researchers, policymakers and planners. Policy makers and policy advocates work directly with local and national government to set up publicly funded programs that address child abuse, poverty, homelessness, violence, mental health and other issues.
Social workers generally enter this field not for the money, but because they have a desire to help people. As of May 2008, the median annual earnings of a child, family and school social worker were $39,530, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). At the same time, mental and public health social workers earned a median annual salary of $46,650 and health and substance abuse social workers earned $37,210.
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