Bachelors In

Social Work Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.
on February 15, 2024

Why We Love It

  • $46,610
    Potential Avg. Salary*
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook

* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for 21-1021 Child, family, and school social workers 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

With a bachelor of science in social work, you’ll be prepared to start a career as a case worker for a social services agency. Social workers care for families and children in need, investigating the suitability of home life, referring families for counseling and other services, and protecting children from harmful situations.

With additional education, you may also be able to provide individual counseling in private practice.

What is a Degree in Social Work?

A bachelor of science in social work (BSW) is the starting point for a career helping individuals and families overcome issues and avoid harmful situations. Individuals who’ve earned BSW degrees commonly work for state and local social service agencies like Child Protective Services (CPS).

They visit families who’ve been flagged for investigation, interview family members and children to evaluate living conditions, and refer clients to other services for counseling, drug rehabilitation, or anger management.

While a career as a social worker is rewarding, many BSW-holders continue their education to become clinical or psychiatric social workers. Clinical and psychiatric social workers work in hospitals, rehab clinics, and foster care agencies and are licensed to practice as counselors.

To be qualified to practice as a counselor, you must earn either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. The requirements for licensing vary wildly by state, so it’s important to review state regulations before beginning your educational journey.

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What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Social Work?

  • General Psychology
  • Social Problems
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Ethics in Social Work
  • Social Welfare and Policy
  • Human Behavior
  • Topics in Sociology
  • Personal Health

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Social Work?

In recent decades, mental health concerns have become more prevalent, and more people have begun to understand the long-lasting impacts of an unhealthy or abusive home life on children as they grow and become adults.

For this reason, social work has become an important practice in society as the protectors of children who live in unsuitable unsafe conditions. As such, the demand for social workers is expected to grow in the coming decade to fill the need for outside intervention and counseling.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Social Work will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Social Work Degree

There are various online bachelor and master’s degree programs available online. Students are required to complete around 120 credit hours to earn a bachelor degree.

Some programs also require practical internships as part of the study. You can also choose to gain associate or master’s degrees if you already have a related bachelor degree.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

There is currently growing demand for social workers to face the challenges imposed by the rapidly changing lifestyle. People are increasingly seeking professional and knowledgeable advice to restore a balanced and healthy social life.

Social workers use psychology, sociology, public health, economics, community development and law to improve the interactions between individuals, families and communities. They propose steps and interventions to solve personal and social problems. If you have the talent, patience and skills to help people in their social life, then you may consider supporting this talent with solid knowledge by earning a university degree in the field.

What does a social work student learn?

Students in social work academic programs are expected to learn about human behavior. They also learn the standard practices for working with individuals, families and groups. They need to know about the research methods used in social studies.

The following list shows courses commonly studied as part of social work programs:

  1. Introduction to Social Work
  2. Human behavior and the lifespan: this course deals with the change in human behavior during the lifespan of humans. This is very important for social workers since age is a critical factor when dealing with social problems.
  3. Cultural diversity and justice:  this course deals with another factor affecting human behavior which is the cultural background of people. It also deals with the issues that need to be handled to ensure justice for people from different cultures.
  4. Social welfare policy: this course is concerned with the policies that are implemented to ensure the social welfare of individuals or communities.
  5. Social work research methods
  6. Quantitative and qualitative research which includes statistics
  7. Psychology and psychopathology provide the students with the scientific background for understanding human behavior. A significant percentage of the social problems is based on psychological pathologies.
  8. Ethics in social work: working in the social field needs a deep sense of the governing ethics. In some cases, the ethics themselves become controversial and the social worker should have good knowledge about this to ensure fair and right decisions.

Now I have the social work degree…where can I work after graduating?

Social work careers can be classified into micro, mezzo and macro levels. The micro level refers to working with individuals in various settings. The macro level refers to the social work related to the community as a whole, institutes or countries. The mezzo level refers to the work between the two levels as a limited neighborhood or support group.

  1. Clinical social workers: they focus on treating mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. They work in hospitals, couples counseling and support groups.
  2. Child and family social workers: these are specialized workers to support the family integrity and provide a suitable environment for the children. They also play a major role in dealing with domestic violence and child abuse.
  3. Healthcare social workers: they provide support to patients starting from diagnosis and throughout their treatment journey. They are responsible for helping the patients and their families make any required arrangements to adapt to their health conditions.
  4. Geriatric social workers: they are viewed as a subgroup of healthcare social workers. They help seniors when moving to nursing care facilities or assisted living.
  5. Hospice Social Workers: they work with patients with terminal illnesses. They may provide grief counseling to the families.
  6. School social workers provide counseling to the students and their families when they have academic, social or behavioral problems.
  7. Health educators: they provide general counseling to the community to raise awareness.
  8. Public policy social workers: they play a major role in setting the policies for maintaining the integrity and healthy state of the families and the community as a whole.
  9. Social workers can also work in the research and academic fields.

Should I choose a social work degree?

If you enjoy working close to people and providing knowledgeable advice to them, then social work is probably a good choice for you. Social work is unique and requires a special set of skills:

  1. Active listening: this is the most important skill needed. A social worker needs to listen carefully to what is being said and to analyze the words and the motive behind them.
  2. High emotional intelligence: they need to show self-awareness and empathy to others.
  3. Patience and tolerance: social workers need to deal with diverse clients and people including in some instances drug addicts or child abuse criminals for example.
  4. Setting boundaries and inner strength: dealing with social problems can easily affect your own life. That’s why you need to set clear boundaries between work and your personal life.
  5. Communication: social workers deal with different people and they have to figure out the proper way to communicate with them to figure out the reason for a problem and set the best way to deal with it.

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Best Jobs for Social Work Degrees

With a bachelor of science in social work, you’ll qualify for entry-level positions in public and private agencies: adoption agencies, foster care and placement agencies, and state/local branches of Child Protective Services.

With additional education, you may be able to provide counseling services either independently or for a nursing home, hospital, prison, rehab clinic, or reproductive healthcare center.

How to save time and money

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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