In a social work degree program, students are able to gain the skill and competencies needed in order to work within the social environment to make a difference for individuals and communities. Social workers are able to take their understanding of human behavior, social policies, social welfare, diversity, economic and social justice, ethics, and communication in order to build relationships with individuals, communities, and organizations to provide services and interventions for improvement of quality of life. Social workers have options in a number of professional environments, from government agencies to private corporations. To get started, most positions in this field will require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in social work or human services.
Online Social Work Degree Rankings
Undergraduate Degrees in Social Work
To get started, students will take a number of core courses in the field of social work at the undergraduate level. Although curriculum varies by institution, common courses include social problems, human behavior, prevention, crisis intervention, case management, and social policy. Students also complete a number of courses in ethics, advocacy, and psychology. Whether pursuing a bachelor's degree online or on campus, these courses help to prepare all graduates for the social profession.
In addition to core courses, many programs in social work include the opportunity for students to focus on a specialized concentration in order to better prepare for their future careers. Common areas of specialization include child welfare, youth and education, mental health, corrections, juvenile justice, substance abuse and addictions, and child welfare. For additional information on areas of practice for social work, please visit the National Association of Social Workers at http://www.naswdc.org.
Graduate Degrees in Social Work
Many positions will require professionals in the social work field to pursue a graduate degree. Master's degree programs in this field often include advanced courses in social work practice, social work research, and human behavior. In addition to this coursework, graduate students will also complete a field practicum.
The field practicum enables students to work in an internship or externship during their graduate studies in order to gain the experience and professional skills needed to be successful in the workplace after graduation. Most institutions work with government agencies, hospitals, private businesses, and schools to place students with experienced social workers to gain that experience. Many online schools also include this option, working with students and communities around the nation to make these field practicum placements.
Required Licensing and Certifications for Social Work
After graduating from an accredited bachelor's degree program, future social work professionals are required in most states to pass a professional examination that demonstrates competency in upholding the safe and ethical practices required for this field.
Whether pursuing a degree online or in an on-campus program, students at both the graduate and undergraduate degree levels are able to benefit from coursework and field practicums that prepare graduates for real world situations and scenarios. By working toward a degree in social work, graduates have options from state agencies to educational institutions to correctional facilities to youth programs for putting those skills and experience into practice as a professional social worker.