How do I become a social worker?
If you do not have a baccalaureate degree yet, the first step is to earn this degree in social work. If you already have a baccalaureate degree in another field, you could set your sights on a master’s degree in social work. A social work degree is desirable when looking for any job in the human services. A master’s degree is advisable for advanced practice, supervisory, management, or program development positions.
Is an MSW the same as an MSSW? (And other alphabet soup issues)?
What is a "5-year" master's program or advanced standing?
The typical master’s degree program consists of the equivalent of 2 years’ full-time study. Some programs will grant advanced standing to applicants who hold a baccalaureate degree from a program accredited by CSWE. The extent of advanced standing varies from program to program. You should contact individual master's programs for information about advanced standing. Some advanced-standing programs allow for completion of the master’s degree in a single calendar year (usually three concurrent semesters). A "5-year" master’s program would really be a normal 4-year baccalaureate program with an advanced-standing master’s degree year.
What is the value of studying social work instead of a related field such as sociology, psychology, counseling, or human services?
Social work is a profession that distinguishes itself through its own body of knowledge, values, and ethics. Although graduates of the other fields listed may, in various states, be employed by social service agencies and perform many functions that social workers do, their education and background knowledge are not distinctly that of a social worker. Please contact the accrediting bodies of the fields mentioned above to learn more specific information. Social work education not only focuses on the acquisition of knowledge and theory but also requires that students have field experiences in the last year of a baccalaureate program and in the 2 years of a master's program. This field experience provides students with an opportunity to practice skills learned and to apply knowledge and theory in actual practice settings.
Where are the social work programs near me?
Where can I find information on licensing?
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is the association of boards that regulate social work. ASWB develops and maintains the social work licensing examination used across the country and is a central resource for information on the legal regulation of social work. Through the association, social work boards can share information and work together. ASWB also is available to help individual social workers and social work students with questions they may have about licensing and the social work examinations.
Where can I learn about financial aid for social work degree programs?
CSWE Scholarships and Fellowships
American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (MSW students interested in clinical work)
American Society on Aging Graduate Student Research Award (graduate students in aging)
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund (undergraduate and graduate students interested in peace and justice issues)
Elmer Ediger Scholarship, MHS Alliance (graduate students interested in mental health or developmental disabilities)
Financial Aid Resources for Social Work Education, NASW-California Chapter
Foundation for Rural Education and Development Scholarships (students from rural areas who intend to work in a rural area after graduation)
Foundation for Rural Service Scholarship Program (students from rural areas who intend to work in a rural area after graduation)
NASW Foundation Fellowship, Scholarship, and Research Awards
National Association of Black Social Workers (students of African descent interested in research in and service to the Black community)
Pre-dissertation Initiative, Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGESW; for doctoral students interested in gerontological research, teaching, and practice)
Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation (college juniors planning graduate study and a career in public service)
Udall Scholarship (Native American and Alaska native sophomores and juniors who plan a career pertaining to Native American health care)
See also NASW’s information on loan forgiveness programs.
Why should I attend a program accredited by CSWE?
CSWE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting body for social work education in the United States. Social work education programs that are accredited by CSWE have met a series of rigorous standards designed by leading social work educators and practitioners to ensure that students are adequately prepared for professional practice. Membership in the National Association of Social Workers and the social work licensing laws in most states require graduation from a CSWE-accredited program. The profession of social work in the United States looks to CSWE-accredited programs to produce individuals who have the knowledge and skills to be professional social workers. Your chances of being licensed or hired as a social worker are greatly enhanced by an accredited social work degree.