Online Master’s Degree in Social Work

Social workers help individuals, groups, and communities overcome social problems in a number of ways. They may help an individual cope with circumstances in their life, or they may diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. A person who wants to work as a social worker should consider earning a master’s degree in social work, which is offered at traditional brick-and-mortar campuses and online. An online master’s degree in social work from an accredited college or university enables a student to complete their coursework in their own time without getting in the way of the obligations he or she has to their employer or family. Some social work master’s degree programs may take as much as three years, or the completion of 62 credit hours, to complete, though the actual completion time may vary based on the institution and the requirements of the program.

Classes for an Online Master’s Degree in Social Work

Students of an online master’s degree in social work program may learn essential clinical and community training stills that will enable them to provide the best assistance they can to their clients. Therefore, students enroll in courses such as human behavior in the social environment, social work research, advanced psychological assessment, social work practice, and social welfare policy. In a human behavior in the social environment course, students may learn about how social context affects health, theories of human behavior in relation to society, the influence of value systems, and internal biases and how they’re altered. Meanwhile, a social welfare policy class may discuss the history, philosophies, and conceptions of social welfare and how social work develops policy. Read on to see a list of five common social work master’s degree courses:

  • Social Welfare Policy Analysis
  • Methods of Research
  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment
  • Communities and Organizations
  • Adult Psychopathology

Many online master’s degree programs in social work require the completion of clinical practice courses that give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. Some universities have these clinical practice classes focus on three demographics: individuals, families, and groups. Other institutions offer a field practicum course that is essentially a supervised internship with a social agency. The overall objective is to prepare a student for their professional career by allowing them to develop advanced skills in the field.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Master’s Degree in Social Work

A master’s degree in social work should prepare an individual for a career as a social worker. Social workers are responsible for helping people cope with problems in their lives. Direct-service social workers identify people who need assistance, assess a client’s needs, and create plans to help their client overcome their life’s challenges. Meanwhile, clinical social workers diagnose and treat behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders; conduct individual and group therapy sessions; consider an individual’s background and situation to assess their needs; and help clients come up with coping strategies. Social workers are employed at hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, colleges and universities, schools, substance abuse clinics, and more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of social workers in May 2010 was $42,480, and the top 10% of earners in this profession earned more than $70,390. The BLS expects employment in this industry to increase 25% from 2010 to 2020 because of an increasing need to investigate child abuse cases, find care for an aging population, and treat people for mental illness and addiction. However, these projections are no guarantee of salary or employment opportunity, which is determined by location, employer, condition of the economy, and an individual’s credentials.


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