For those students how want to make a real difference in the lives of others, there is perhaps no degree more impactful than a bachelor of social work. A bachelor of social degree gives students insight into the unique issues facing children and adults, and equips them with an understanding of how they can help resolve those issues and guide each of their clients toward better choices, better situations, and a better life overall.
Offered by a large number of both public and private universities, a bachelor's degree in social work offers students a rewarding career and gives them entry-level access to a profession that's growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
A Solid Foundation for a Career in Social Work and Human Services
Like many bachelor's degrees, a degree in social work is designed to prepare students for entry-level work in the field. To that end, the degree focuses on the unique issues facing society and how those issues can be resolved on an individual basis through counseling, mentoring, and other methods of assistance. Generally, a four-year degree in the field prepares graduates for a number of different positions and capacities:
Substance Abuse Counseling
Social workers often help those with a history of substance abuse, or a tendency to fall into the trap of addiction, by offering them access to support groups and other resources. In some cases, social workers actually lead the support groups and encourage members to take ownership of their addiction in proactive, positive ways.
Some social workers actually assist the unemployed, guiding them toward new educational opportunities, employment centers, or a new understanding of their existing skills. These services are often provided through both public agencies and private recruiters.
Adults and children who are the victims of abuse often seek the help of social workers, who can help with locating the proper public resources and counseling needed to recover.
The Coursework: A Look at the Instructional Side of the Bachelor of Social Work
Social work students endure a rigorous curriculum at the bachelor's degree level. In addition to strict general education requirements enforced by virtually all modern liberal arts universities, social work students must take classes that focus on modern psychology, contemporary counseling, and the issues facing today's children and adults. They'll engage in courses designed to teach dispute resolution, and they'll take classes that teach the unique laws and regulations facing those in the social work profession.
Most universities offer at least one "capstone" course to seniors in the social work program, which will include a combination of practical internships or co-op placements and research into a specific area of the field. Additionally, most universities will encourage social workers to choose a minor or concentration that sets them up for a more specialized area within the broader profession after they've received their degree.
Continuing Education Opportunities Abound for Graduates
After earning a bachelor's degree, social work students can proceed directly into "direct service" positions. These positions usually require the social worker to take on a caseload within a public agency or another organization, regularly meeting with clients and checking on their progress. Students with a four-year degree who wish to engage in clinical social work, which allows for counseling services and even prescribing treatments for common issues, must pursue at least graduate-level education in the field.
No matter the level of education ultimately pursued by aspiring social workers, the profession is one that offers fast growth, excellent compensation, and rewarding opportunities to help adults and children who are going through hard times. For those who thrive on giving back, there is perhaps no better degree to pursue at the undergraduate level than the Bachelor of Social Work.