Online Master of Social Work Degree

Overview

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Social workers change lives. By performing tasks such as assisting individuals with mental health issues or educating patients on how to manage a serious illness, they seek to have a positive impact on the communities they serve.

Most graduates with an online master’s of social work become licensed clinical social workers, professionals who can provide mental health services. Licensed clinical social workers can diagnose mental, behavioral and emotional disorders and provide therapy to clients.

A master’s of social work is usually required to join the profession. In an online master’s of social work program, students learn the history and philosophies of social welfare. They also study how to counsel clients, manage a large case load and acquire management skills necessary to obtain supervisory roles.

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Course Work

Example courses
Human behavior in the social environment
Communities and organizations
Social welfare policy analysis
Social work ethics
Cognitive and behavioral treatment
Principles and philosophy of social work

Students in an online social work master’s program will complete core course work in social welfare policy, social work research and social work practice with individuals and families. Students are usually required to choose an area of focus. Specializations include clinical social work, policy, planning and administration, and community organization.

An online social work master’s degree generally cannot be completed entirely online as students are usually required to have multiple supervised clinical experiences.

Typically students do not need a bachelor’s of social work to enroll in an online master’s of social work program. Most schools will accept students with a bachelor’s degree in any field, though preference is given to those with a liberal arts degree.

Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Child, family or school social worker $36,000
Social worker $41,000
Social services director $47,560
Hospice social worker $48,000
Social work supervisor $50,400
Medical social worker $51,600
Licensed clinical social worker $53,000
Employee assistance program counselor $55,000

*per PayScale.com

Social workers often work long hours and typically do not make a high salary, though they do benefit from an above average employment growth rate. Employment of social workers is expected to increase 19 percent by 2020, faster than the average growth rate of 14 percent for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Clinical social workers must obtain a license. To do so, most states require professionals to complete clinical experience, have a master’s of social work degree and pass an examination, according to the BLS.

Licensed clinical social workers make a median salary of $53,000, according to PayScale, an online salary database.

Professional organizations such as the Clinical Social Work Association and the National Association of Social Workers offer professional development, networking and career services.

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