This article contains information about the best way to choose a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). It also describes good reasons that social work is a good field in which to work in the 21st century. The article also contains information about two online universities where you can earn your BSW. Also provided is important program accreditation information.
What Is a Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree?
A bachelor’s degree in social work provides you with the skills and knowledge to work at an entry to mid level position in social work. The Council on Social Work (CSWE) accredits social worker programs in the US, and it states that bachelor’s programs provide students with the background needed to be a general social worker, or a family and child social worker.
Typical bachelor’s programs in social work require approximately 120 credit hours, and can be completed in three or four years online.
Wherever you earn your bachelor’s degree, you will need to complete 400 hours of supervised fieldwork. Most students complete this work at a social service center in their area, if the program is being taken online.
Typical classes for this bachelor’s degree include courses in human behavior, social welfare policy, social work with families and individuals, social work practice, ethnicity, race and culture, methods of social work, and treatments and interventions with at risk populations.
Common program goals for this bachelor’s degree include:
- Develop a strong knowledge base to practice in social work with multi level systems that are firmly grounded in social work systems theory.
- Be able to practice and behave in social work practice that is consistent with the best practices in social work as described by top social work organizations in the US.
- Demonstrate a strong commitment to economic and social justice, and also to full inclusion of diverse populations in the US and world society
- Be committed to lifelong social work and social welfare learning, as well as developing professionally
- Be effective in using critical thinking skills to be able to engage in different levels of analysis, inquiry and evaluation to improve how social work services are provided
Why Earn a Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree?
Today there are several benefits to earning a social work degree.
One of the major advantages of working in social work is that you can start your career in mental health services in this field at the bachelor’s degree level. Many other professions, such as counseling and psychology, require you to possess at least a master’s MSW degree to offer services. Being able to work at least on a limited basis in counseling to a degree with a bachelor’s will provide you with very valuable experience with individuals, couples, and families who are in need.
The next reason that earning a social work bachelor’s degree is a good move is that you will likely have plenty of job options upon graduation. This is indicated by annual job data that is compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.
BLS states that overall job growth for all social workers will be 12% by 2024. This means that there will be tens of thousands of new licensed social worker jobs in this time period. Employment for social workers is being driven by much more need for social and healthcare services.
Employment for entry level family and child social workers will increase by 6% by 2024, which is a solid growth rate. There is more need today for child and family social workers to work with parents, families and children to help them to work through their personal problems.
Social work job demand is even greater for higher levels social workers with a master’s in social work (MSW). For example, job demand for healthcare social workers will rise by a large 19% by 2024. Also, employment for mental health social workers and substance abuse social workers will increase by 19%, as well.
It is true that those higher level social workers require a MSW and licensure. But the bright side of this is that you can easily find an entry level social worker job with your bachelor’s. You will be able to gain invaluable counseling experience with your clients, and then earn your master’s degree. Higher level healthcare and clinical social worker jobs will then be open to you.
The last reason to consider a bachelor’s in social work is the median pay in the field is $46,890. There are much higher salary possibilities for social workers with a master’s degree; the top 10% in the field earn a median salary of $78,000 per year.
Online Degree Options
Students considering an online bachelor’s in social work may consider the Bachelor’s in Social Work from Liberty University. This degree allows students to integrate their faith as you learn to engage, evaluate, and intervene in the personal lives of people with substantial problems. You will be carefully trained to provide excellent social work services to individuals, groups, organizations and whole communities.
Students in Liberty’s program will learn vital ethical principles, and will hone your critical thinking abilities that are necessary to provide services to an increasingly diverse world.
Courses in this four year, online program provide a close examination of human behavior, social environments, economic and social justice, and human rights.
Your required courses will include:
- Intercultural Comm. & Engagement
- Health of the Social Worker
- Social Problems 3
- Behavior & the Social Environ
- Social Welfare & Policy
- Practice with Individuals & Fam.
- Social Work Practice
- Practice with Diverse Populations
In addition to the above course requirements, students are required to complete fieldwork to earn their bachelor’s degree. Your fieldwork experience will have you to shadow a fully licensed social worker for several weeks.
The CSWE requires that all bachelor’s programs in social work have 400 field training hours.
A unique option at Liberty University is the social work trip to Europe that it does every few years. In 2017, there is a social work trip to Greece, where you can go abroad in the summer and earn college credit as you work with various refugee organizations to help stop human sex trafficking.
University of Utah
The University of Utah offers an online Bachelor of Social Work that will train and educate new social worker students to be progressive change agents for society, especially for the most vulnerable among us.
This program specifically strives to teach you to work effectively as a supporter for our most marginalized communities, including people of color, refugees, LGBTQ and those will mental illnesses.
This social worker program draws on knowledge and wisdom from many related disciplines. This is why social worker students at this university must complete courses in the behavioral sciences, humanities and physical sciences.
Core courses are:
- General Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology
- S. National Government
- Social Work as a Profession
- Social Welfare as an Institution
After the core classes are completed satisfactorily, students then complete 51 credits in social work classes; this includes a practicum. Required courses are:
- Human Behavior and Social Environment I
- Human Behavior and Social Environment II
- Applied Social Work Statistics
- Social Work Practice I
- Social Diversity and Cultural Understanding
- International Community Based Research
- Social Work Practice II- Couples & Families
- Social Work Practice III: Groups
- Social Welfare Policy/Service
It is advised that the social worker program you are considering be accredited by the Council on Social Work (CSWE). This is the leading social work education accreditation agency in the US today. This organization’s seal of approval will assure you and your possible employers that you have earned the highest quality social work degree.
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in social work will provide you with many exciting and profitable career options in a rapidly growing profession. The BSW degree will give you with solid career options to gain experience in the field, which you can possibly leverage into earning a master’s degree in social work. This graduate degree will offer you nearly endless social worker job possibilities.
- Social Workers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm
- Colorado State University. Social Work Undergraduate Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ssw.chhs.colostate.edu/students/undergraduate/
- Liberty University. Bachelor’s in Social Work. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.liberty.edu/online/bachelors/social-work/
- University of Utah. Bachelor’s in Social Work. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://online.utah.edu/ug-programs/social-work/