Bachelor’s degree in social work programs
A Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) is an excellent degree course as it is one of the most useful and flexible degrees you can obtain in the human services field. Whether you plan to join the workforce straight out of university or continue your education to an advanced degree, a BSW opens the doors to many entry-level social work careers and is a great way to get started in the human services sector.
The requirements to enroll in a BSW program
The academic requirements for enrolling in a BSW program will depend on the school you choose. You will need to fulfill the school’s general requirements plus any prerequisites to the program. These might include community service hours, a personal essay, sociology or psychology classes, and letters of recommendation. Candidates generally need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and a GPA that meets their prospective school’s requirements. Some schools may also require SAT or ACT scores.
Careers and further study possibilities with a BSW degree
Social workers often have to combine an office job with fieldwork, where they visit people’s homes, schools, hospitals, community centers, and various local authorities and organizations and engage with the problems that exist in the community.
Entry-level and non-clinical jobs are available for graduates of online bachelor’s in social work programs.
Precise salary data is not published by degree level, but the BLS showed an average salary for 2 positions where a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, (national median as reported in 2019):
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Counselors – $46,200
- Social and community service managers – $64,150
However, salary potential depends on many factors, including geographic location, professional experience, and education.
If you want to become a clinical social worker, which requires a master’s degree, your BSW may make you eligible for Advanced Standing, which allows you to complete your MSW within 1 academic year.
A study commissioned by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) found that earning an MSW boosts pay on average by $15,000 annually over what you could expect with a BSW.
Jobs and salary levels for BSW graduates
Salaries for individuals with a BSW can vary by a significant margin based on location, industry, and experience.
Below are some sample careers and salaries for individuals with a BSW
Information about BSW licenses and certifications
BSW graduates may need to be licensed to work in certain social work positions or states. You can gain licensure by completing a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and passing the Association of Social Work Boards’ bachelor’s exam. Individuals typically do not need prior work experience to attain this level of licensure.
Once BSW degree-holders are licensed, they must take continuing education courses to renew the license every 2 years. Those interested in clinical social work practice will need an MSW to become licensed.
Subjects studied for a BSW degree
Your BSW coursework will cover a wide range of themes and combine theoretical classes and lectures with practical experience conducted in various social organizations, institutions, care facilities, etc. during your fieldwork component. You will study how large social issues can affect individuals and how human development and behavior can be affected by external factors. You will also learn about social assistance programs and examine how they can improve lives and communities.
Core classes in a BSW program
Your individual program will vary but typical core social work classes cover:
Ethnicity and race
Community social structures
Drug and alcohol addiction
Diversity and diverse populations
Social welfare programs in the U.S.
Social work case management practice
As a student you can choose a minor that will be useful to your social work career. Some popular minors include:
As the United States has a large Spanish-speaking population, you will be able to work with disadvantaged members of these communities.
The study of social life and social change and the causes and consequences of human behavior can give you an insight that enriches your social work practice.
You can utilize an understanding of the human mind and conduct to help your work with a psychology minor.
Government agencies fund many social outreach programs and many social workers are employed in the public sector. An understanding of how policies are made can help your career.
The BSW internship requirement
Yes. All accredited BSW programs must include at least 400 hours of supervised fieldwork. This practical experience is a prerequisite to graduate with a social work degree. If you have a particular field of social work that you are interested in, it is a good idea to check with colleges to make sure their course has fieldwork in those areas. This will give you an opportunity to experience working in that field to really see if it is an area you want to work in later.
The cost of BSW degrees
The cost of a bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW) varies depending upon the type of institution you attend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics for 2018-19, the average annual cost for a 4-year public institution runs around $9,212 per year for in-state tuition. Boarding and fees add an additional $11,386 making a total per year of $20,598.
Those seeking degrees can also pursue online options. The online program suits those students who are employed while studying as it provides the opportunity to complete coursework at the learner’s own pace. You will find online BSW degree courses are generally less expensive than a campus course.
Online and on-campus programs are normally composed of the same course content and are taught by the same lecturers. There are also courses available that are a mixture of online and campus teaching.
The most important thing, whether the school you select is a traditional classroom or an online program, is that you attend an accredited school. This may allow you to apply for financial aid and ensure that you can be licensed to work. Additionally, it gives you the opportunity to fast-track on a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) program if you want to continue your education.
The length of courses
The bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) degree is a 4-year, full-time undergraduate degree. Typically, the first 2 years are composed of liberal arts courses and the final 2 years concentrate on social work classes in human development, policy/law, research, and practice. Programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education require that BSW students must complete a minimum of 400 supervised fieldwork or internship hours in order to graduate and be eligible to apply for a social worker license. Accredited BSW programs often allow students who are studying for a master’s of Social Work degree to complete the degree in a shorter amount of time.
Accreditation of BSW degrees
When you are deciding which course to take one of the most vital things is to make sure that the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This organization ensures that all accredited courses are taught by suitably qualified teachers and that programs have the necessary components to enable students to become capable professional social workers. If a course is not accredited, it may mean that you will not be capable of being licensed by your state, and in many states that means you cannot work.