You can follow many paths to realize your dream of becoming a social worker. Regardless of which one you choose, you will need to earn a college degree. A bachelor degree in social work, or BSW, will help you get the foot in the door, but a master of social work, or MSW, will really broaden your career horizons. Consider killing two birds with one stone by completing an accelerated BSW/MSW program.
A few great reasons to consider an accelerated BSW/MSW program include:
1. It's Faster and Easier
Accelerated BSW/MSW degree programs are often called four-plus-one degree programs because the master degree portion can be completed in one year instead of two. Most programs allow you to start taking courses toward your MSW during your junior or senior year of undergraduate school, and many courses offer dual course credit for undergraduate and master's degrees. If you're already thinking about going on to earn your master of social work degree, this is an easier and faster option to consider.
2. It's Cheaper
Because accelerated BSW/MSW programs usually allow you to complete coursework toward your master degree while still an undergrad, you end up getting a lot more bang for your education buck. That's doubly true for courses that award dual credit for BSW and MSW degrees. Most people are able to complete such programs in five years, so they avoid having to pay an entire extra year's worth of tuition. On average, students can save $5,000 to $12,000 by pursuing this option.
3. Keep Up Forward Momentum and Gain a Competitive Edge
Even if you tell yourself that you'll go back to earn your MSW someday, life could easily get in the way. After landing your first job, you may find it too difficult to pursue an MSW. Minimize the risk of this by opting for an accelerated BSW/MSW program. You will be able to keep up your forward momentum and will already be in "school mode" as you complete your MSW. Further, you will have a significant competitive edge over other recent grad when looking for your first job.
4. It's Convenient
There's no denying the fact that accelerated degree programs are fast-paced and, in many cases, exceptionally challenging. However, they are usually designed to be as convenient as possible too. After all, these programs want students to succeed. As a result, most consist of blended formats that incorporate classroom instruction and online components. For master's programs in particular, students often have full-time jobs and other responsibilities, so there are usually many flexible ways to go about earning your degree.
5. Qualify for Better Opportunities
After working for four years to earn your BSW, what's one additional year to be able add an MSW to your credentials? Sure, you will have to wait one year longer to finish your education, but the extra year will bring about many exciting opportunities. You'll have less trouble finding jobs despite not having a ton of experience, as employers will see how motivated and dedicated you are. Also, by participating in a master of social work degree program, you'll have even more opportunities for making crucial connections that are sure to pay off handsomely throughout your career.
As eager as you may be to complete your four-year degree and jump head-first into the workforce, give serious thought to completing an accelerated BSW/MSW program instead. You will have to work hard, and the going will be tough. When it's all finished, however, you will be able to hit the ground running in your social work career.
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