Deciding if a Master of Social Work is the right next step

Limestone College Social Work

Choosing to pursue an advanced degree such as a Master of Social Work can be a difficult decision, especially considering the time and financial investment required. That’s why it’s important to think critically about specific benefits an MSW can offer.

Here are three things to keep in mind when deciding to pursue an MSW:

Career Track
While earning an advanced degree in any given profession is likely to advance one’s career, earning an MSW isn’t the only way to advance as a social worker. Before deciding to pursue an MSW, students should consider their desired career track and evaluate how important an MSW may be within their area of interest. For example, those interested in clinical social work and the ability to provide therapy are often required to earn an MSW due to licensure requirements.

However, this is not true of all social work areas of practice. Students can talk to social work practitioners within their area of interest to gain a deeper understanding of how an MSW may help advance their career.

Program Specializations
Even for those who may not be interested in pursuing clinical social work, an MSW can provide specialized training within a specific area of practice. For example, a number of MSW programs offer concentrations such as children/youth, military, gerontology, and community among others. While a focused program may be ideal for some, others may benefit from a more general social work study.

Regardless of choice, students should consider how important a program concentration might be to their career ambitions before choosing either option.

Program Accreditation
As program accreditation can have a significant impact on obtaining licensure and ultimately getting hired, it is critical to ensure that the master’s program you are looking to attend is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Master’s and bachelor’s degrees accredited by CSWE — such as Limestone’s Bachelor of Social Work Program — adhere to the highest standards of social work education and ensure that students are adequately prepared for professional practice.

To find out if a program is accredited, use the CSWE online Member Program Directory.

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