Consider an online MSW program that is currently taking applications for 2023.
|University of Kentucky||Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited, 100% online. Regular and Advanced Standing MSW tracks.
|University of Southern California||Online Master of Social Work
CSWE-accredited online MSW program from USC can be completed in as few as 12 months with a BSW.
|Campbellsville University||Online Master of Social Work
No GRE or GMAT required. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks available. Program can be completed in less than a year.
|Syracuse University||Online Master of Social Work
No GRE required. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks.
|Case Western Reserve University||Online Master of Social Work
No GRE required. Earn your Master of Social Work online at CWRU in as little as two and a half years. Bachelor’s degree required.
Simply put, Advanced Standing MSW Programs are accelerated Master of Social Work programs for those that already hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited school of social work.
Some students in Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) programs have the opportunity to complete their degree faster than other students earning the same degree. This is due to a program called Advanced Standing. This type of program has specific entry requirements but has a number of benefits to those who are accepted.
This guide provides detailed information about the Advanced Standing MSW program, including how the program works, admission requirements, examples of courses within the program along with career and salary opportunities. If you are considering the challenging and rewarding field of social work and want to help others who are struggling, then read on to learn more about this opportunity.
What is the Advanced Standing MSW Degree Program?
MSW and MSSW programs can accept students with any number of bachelor degrees, though it is a best fit for those who have majored in a related field, such as psychology, sociology, family science and women's studies. These students, called 'traditional students' enter the program and typically complete coursework and graduate in two years, if studying full time.
The Advanced Standing MSW program is an innovative master's program. It is available in both online and in-person learning environments. It can expedite the degree process for students enrolled. This program is only available to students who have earned their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an accredited social work program. Those with another type of degree must enter the traditional two-year program.
Why look for an advanced standing MSW program if you qualify?
Basically, the Advanced Standing program rewards students who have already completed extensive study and gained practical work experience in social work. The typical first year curriculum of a traditional MSW program lays the foundation for entering the field and practicing as a professional.
Accelerate your path to a MSW degree by months if not years
Since BSW graduates have already completed this type of coursework and have already had at least 400 hours of professional work experience through their practicum placement in their bachelors program, there is no need for them to repeat this coursework in the MSW program. Thus, Advanced Standing students essentially skip the first year of the program and earn their degree in about a year, if studying full time, and in approximately two years if taking courses just part time.
What you learn in Advanced Standing Masters programs
In the Advanced Standing program, the curriculum builds upon what was learned in the BSW program. Students further develop their skills and gain additional knowledge on the theory and practice of social work, social policy, ethics, research methods, specific techniques and interventions for working with individuals and families and may have an opportunity to focus their studies on a specific topic of interest, such as addictions, mental health, gerontology or military social work.
|Our Lady of the Lake University||Online MSW
|University of Kentucky||Online Master of Social Work
|Arizona State University|| Online Master of Social Work
|University of Southern California||Online Master of Social Work
|Baylor University||Master of Social Work
Why Look for Accredited Advanced Standing Online MSW Programs?
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the only agency that vets and determines if a school of social work has met their strict requirements and demonstrates that they are providing top-notch education and support for students that will best prepare them to enter the field as qualified and prepared social work practitioners. Attaining accreditation is a long and detailed process, and that accreditation must be renewed every few years. This means programs who have received accreditation and want to continue being accredited must continually provide superior education and opportunities for their students. These programs are the best of the best.
Another reason why you should attend an accredited school of social work is related to your future career aspirations. Many social workers want to provide therapeutic interventions for clients and/or become licensed to open their own private therapy practice. If this is the case, note that most state licensing boards will only recognize MSW degrees earned from an accredited program. If your MSW is from an unaccredited program, then you could not apply to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in that state. So if having a private practice is your goal, be sure to apply only to accredited programs for your Advance Standing Online MSW degree, so you will not have to worry about this requirement down the road.
What Type of Personality Traits Are Preferred in Social Work Careers?
The field of social work can be demanding. It is important to consider your interests and inherent personality traits to determine if this profession is a good fit for you. If you have a number of the below traits, social work may be a great career option.
Social work requires a great deal of caring and empathy, with a desire to help those who are struggling. A desire to fight for justice is also critical, as you may serve as a voice to advocate for your client’s needs and to change unfair policies or practices.
Since a number of clients may be experiencing difficult life circumstances or be in dire need of support, you should also have the skills to detach from your work after hours and practice self-care. Without this, the burden of hearing heartbreaking stories day in and day out can take both a mental and emotional toll on social workers. It is important to set boundaries and “leave work at work” in order to sufficiently rest and recuperate to head back into the same environment the following day.
Setting healthy boundaries with clients is also critical. Since clients may be emotionally vulnerable as they share traumatic or difficult stories of their life, and having a caring professional respond to them and assist with their struggles may help them feel better and overcome obstacles, some clients may misunderstand the role of the social worker and begin seeing you as a friend. Having boundaries to establish your role in the helping relationship is important so that expectations are clear.
Communication is of utmost importance. Social workers need to actively listen to their clients to fully understand what is being said, both verbally and non-verbally. Social workers also need to communicate clearly both in speaking and writing to ensure clients and other service providers easily understand expectations and next steps in their treatment plan.
Patience is something that successful social workers seem to have in abundance. They realize that dealing with government agencies, other social service providers and even clients who may sometimes appear to lack motivation to change their situation can take a long time and can be frustrating. Having the ability to “roll with it” and face challenges head on without losing passion or commitment makes the job much easier for social workers.
Finally, creativity and organization are two additional traits that are helpful for those considering a career in social work. Government agencies and other social service programs each have varying levels of red tape and specific hoops that must be jumped through in order to serve a client. It helps if a social worker can think creatively about how to get their client’s needs met, if current efforts have been stalled or hit a wall. Organization helps social workers keep information on each client separated appropriately and helps the social worker to become less overwhelmed when dealing with a large caseload of clients.
If you are the type of person that loves to help others, social work may definitely be a field for you to consider. This field is perfect for hard-working and dedicated professionals interested in finding resources for families in need, individuals that have been diagnosed with mental health disorders, and vulnerable populations including children, prisoners and the elderly.
How Much Time and Money Can The Advanced Standing MSW Degree Cost?
Social work professionals that have already completed their BSW and have experience in the field may debate whether or not moving forward into a master’s program can really be worth the time and money. Before you look into programs or make any decisions regarding furthering your education, you should consider what type of investment you will be making to achieve your goal.
The primary advantage of an Advanced Standing MSW program is that it expedites the process to earn your MSW in approximately one year if attending full time, or around two years if attending school part time. This reduces the amount of both time and money needed to complete the program and graduate, when compared to traditional students.
Take for example, the reputable and nationally-ranked University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, which offers an Advanced Standing Online MSSW for qualified applicants. At the University of Louisville, Advanced Standing students complete 30 credit hours within 2-5 semesters.
Tuition at the University of Louisville is $752 per credit hour. Thus, the tuition cost for the Advanced Standing Online MSSW program is $22,560. Compare this to the $45,120 that traditional students must pay for the same degree, the difference is staggering.
Reducing the time-frame to complete the degree by a year and paying half the amount certainly makes the Advanced Standing Online MSSW program worth it!
Note that this does not include any fees that may be assess in addition to tuition costs. Before selecting an online MSW program, it is important to confirm tuition and all fees in order to have a better idea of what you’ll pay for the degree.
What are the Admission Requirements for Advanced Standing Online MSW Programs?
As previously stated, the primary requirement for gaining admission to an Advanced Standing program is having earned the BSW degree from an accredited program, often within the previous five to ten years. If your bachelor’s degree is in any other field besides social work, you are not eligible for this program. Other typical admissions requirements for Advanced Standing Online MSW programs include:
- an average Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 out of a 4.0 scale. Some schools require that all social work classes have earned a grade of B or better.
- a resume to demonstrate your professional experience
- letters of recommendation by past professors or employers that can speak to your ability to successfully complete graduate level coursework and serve future clients in a professional and ethical manner
- admissions essays and a personal statement. This demonstrates to the admissions committee that you can write at a graduate school level, demonstrating your achievements and describing your career aspirations.
Some programs have additional requirements, including Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. Some prefer, though may not require, two years of related work experience post-BSW. Again, carefully check the requirements of the programs in which you’re interested to determine if they have any other admissions requirements.
Advanced Standing MSW Coursework to Expect
Human Behavior and the Social Environment
Human behavior can be influenced and impacted by a number of factors, including environment, community, health, and history (along with current practices) of oppression and discrimination. Social work professionals may regularly work with clients from diverse backgrounds, living in very different communities throughout their region. It is important for professionals to have knowledge about human behavior across the lifespan and how behavior can be influenced by a number of factors. Using comparative knowledge about human behavior can help social workers notice trends and habits that can be holding a client back from their fullest potential. This course may help students explore these correlations in order to develop more effective interventions for their clients.
Social Work Theory and Practice
Theories of human behavior and effective social work interventions are continually evolving as a result of ongoing research within social work. MSW level courses in social work theory and practice cover the history of the primary theories of the profession, how they were developed and how they can be applied to the various situations in which social work clients find themselves.
The only way to definitively know how and why certain interventions are effective or ineffective is by conducting research. Social work practice affects research by developing questions that need answering, and research affects social work practice by studying the issue in question and applying what has been learned to improve the field. MSW students will learn basic research design and implementation, along with general statistics to analyze the data that is collected.
Social work is a field affected by ethical decisions on many levels on a daily basis. Social workers must act in an ethical manner in every facet of their professional lives. In fact, there is a Code of Ethics for the profession that all social workers must follow. Courses on ethics provide an opportunity for students to read about scenarios they may face as a practitioner, assess their own values and responses and discuss with classmates and professors about the correct ethical response.
Students gain hands-on work experience in a practicum setting, further preparing them for their career. Students must complete up to 1000 hours of practicum at a local social service agency for their MSW degree. A benefit of earning an online degree is that oftentimes, a practicum placement can be made in the student’s local community or nearby. In some cases, if an MSW student is also working full time in a community organization, they can complete their practicum hours at their place of employment.
Social Work Policy
Policies can help or harm a client’s ability to be self-sufficient, and can also help or make it more difficult for social workers to do their jobs and serve their clients. Courses on policy cover how policies are developed and assessed, how landmark policies have affected individuals and communities, and the process for changing existing policies at a local and national level.
Supervision and Leadership in Social Work Organizations
Students may be curious about what is required of management professionals within the field. This type of course can help students learn more about the roles of supervisors within social services, including effective decision making,leadership, and effectively managing staff and teams.
What Types of Careers and Responsibilities Can I Expect?
Advanced standing MSW program have been developed for those seeking to advance in their career. Fewer jobs are available with only a BSW degree, and the salary can quickly become stagnant at that level. Social workers with an MSW have many more options to work with whatever population, environment or condition that is most interesting to them. Social workers can be found in nonprofit organizations, schools, prisons, hospitals and many other settings. Also, as previously discussed, earning the MSW degree is the first step in becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
Those that are interested in pursuing more supervisory positions may seek out opportunities to provide leadership. Those that want to focus on research or teaching may decide to return to school for their Ph.D. Take a look at a few interesting career choices and their responsibilities that could potentially be obtained after earning your MSW degree.
Social Work Management
In fields that provide social services to the public, social workers may be overwhelmed with large caseloads. Social work managers may provide support and guidance to their caseworker employees that are working face-to-face with clients. Social work managers may be responsible for overseeing the work of social work professionals, reviewing case files for accuracy and even managing finances and projects set forth by your agency.
Social Policy Review/Improvement
Professionals in this arena may work for state agencies or even the U.S. Government. The job responsibilities for professionals at this level may include recognizing weak areas in social policy, providing planning for policy change and implementing changes that can assist in providing better social services to various populations within society.
Medical Social Worker
Social workers in healthcare have a variety of responsibilities in serving their patients and offering services to their family members. Tasks that medical social workers complete include assessment of needs, patient education about their medical condition and how it may impact their life, providing referrals for relevant programs and services, and discharge planning.
Advanced Standing MSW Associated Salaries
- Social and Community Service Managers: $69,600 on average per year (BLS).
- Healthcare Social Workers: $57,630 on average per year (BLS).
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: $48,720 on average per year (BLS).
The Advanced Standing MSW for Professional Advancement
One of the common reasons why BSW holders decide to move forward into a masters-level program is to advance to higher positions within their current job. A lot of professionals in the field of social work may find that they have greater needs or desire for their career that cannot be achieved at their current degree level.
Holding a Masters in Social Work could potentially open doors in leadership positions, as well as advanced positions within the social work arena. Completion of this degree program can be a great component in meeting the qualifications for the career you desire.
During the course of your degree program, you may also take courses that can increase your strengths and awareness in social work leadership, which can be a great addition to a resume for management positions throughout your career. Paired with experience as a social worker, your MSW degree can help you land opportunities unavailable at the bachelors level.
Earning an MSW degree opens the doors for more career opportunities and better salaries for those wanting to work in social work, helping vulnerable populations and improving their lives. An Advanced Standing program allows students to reduce the time necessary to complete their degree and costs less than a traditional, two-year MSW program. If you have a BSW degree, then applying to a program that offers Advance Standing to qualified students is the way to go. You’ll spend less to earn your degree and be finished in about half the time, allowing you to enter the field with a new job, better salary and more opportunities.
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