What Can You Do with a Master's Degree in Social Work?


What Can You Do with a Master's Degree in Social Work?

Holding a higher degree, no matter the field, can open the door for bigger opportunities. This is especially true in the area of social work, where an advanced degree may mean a position with more responsibility and a higher salary.

The demand for social workers is outpacing that of most other professions, especially in the area of medical and public health where workers are needed to ensure patients are being cared for properly. If you’re a compassionate and caring person who wants to invest in the lives of others, then social work may be a good path for you.

Shelby Cole, home office operations coordinator for OU Extended Campus North America, said the area of social work offers vast opportunities for employment, especially in the area of medical and public health.

“Substance abuse social workers are in high demand as the legal system places greater emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation,” Cole said. “A Master of Social Work degree can open many doors and can show future employers that you have the compassion and dedication necessary to work in such an important field.”

“Social work is one of those careers in which you can truly make a difference in people’s lives.”

The OU Extended Campus Master of Social Work degree offers two concentrations that open up different opportunities for graduates, Cole said. The Administration and Community Practice concentration gives students the values, knowledge and skills to function competently in social work administrative and community practice roles, while the Direct Practice concentration offers students the skills needed to work in direct practice roles which deal with individuals, groups or families.

Graduates may choose to careers as medical social workers, substance abuse counselors, child welfare caseworkers or clinical mental health social workers. Other employment opportunities include nursing home directors, hospice workers, psychiatric crisis screeners, university professors and prison social workers. Salaries range from $33,0000 to $63,000 annually.

MSW graduates will need to take the Social Work Licensure exam to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which will open up opportunities in the fields of mental health, substance abuse, school social work and marriage counseling,” Cole said.

An MSW only takes two years to complete if going to school full time and offers a wide range of employment opportunities. While careers may not be the highest paying, they are some of the most rewarding.

“Social work offers a challenging and exciting career for the individual who is motivated to help others and has a personal commitment to the advancement of social justice,” Cole said. “Social work is one of those careers in which you can truly make a difference in people’s lives.”

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.