What to Think About: Masters of Social Work (MSW)

By: Meg

Necessary?

Why would you want to get a MSW? If you’re interested in Social Work, it’s definitely something to think about. In order to be a social worker, you have to actually have a degree in Social Work. You can do that with a Bachelor’s, but if that’s not an option, you can get an MSW.

If you do have a BSW, you can think about advancement potential. In order to do independent counseling or get into administration, you’ll need a Master’s. Chances are you’ll only need 1 year of full-time course work to get there, though!

Accreditation

First thing to check when you are looking at MSW programs is whether they’re accredited or not. If they aren’t, you won’t be able to get a job as a social worker. It’s not worth your time. Check http://www.cswe.org/ to make sure the schools you’re looking at are accredited.

Field Placement

Social Work programs will all have some kind of field placement/internship. These are required to get your license, so it’s important not to skip over. There are usually two placement experiences, one the first year and one the second year. If you have a BSW, you’ve already done something similar. The one thing not all programs have in common is how you get to your placements. Some programs assign you to them, while others have you find them by yourself. There’s a lot of variation to be had. I’ve heard of several programs who assign your first year internship, then you find your second year experience. When you’re assigned an internship you don’t have a lot of choice, but you will definitely have one set up with an organization your school trusts. On the other hand, if they leave you on your own to set it up, you might end up scrambling trying to get everything approved.

Focus (or not)

Some schools have a very general approach, and your focus would come in mostly during field placement. UMD’s MSW program is very generalized. There are a few classes that pertain to working with Native American culture, but they make sure that you’re prepared for whatever focus you end up in, even if it changes. Other programs may have a focus in child and family, adolescents, mental health, substance use, etc. If you know your focus, you might think of going to a school within that, so long as it also has a generalized base. You want to make sure that you have the skills if your goals ever change.

There’s a lot to consider when thinking about Graduate School. If you want help figuring it out, stop by Career and Internship Services and set up an appointment with a counselor. You could also stop in to the Social Work office to ask about it.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Meg’s other posts

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