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Online Master's Degree Programs for Medical Social Workers

Medical social workers provide assistance to hospital patients and their families. Find out how an online master's degree program can help you prepare for this position, as well as career and salary information for graduates.

What Online Master's Degree Programs Are Available in Medical Social Work?

As a healthcare or medical social worker, you'll help clients deal with the emotional and social issues associated with acute and ongoing disabilities or illness. Medical social workers must typically have a Master of Social Work degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). As of 2016, more than 40 colleges and universities in the United States offer online Master of Social Work programs that have been accredited by the CSWE.

In general, an online MSW program requires approximately 65 credits and lets you complete the majority of your coursework online, but they still require some in person appearances, such as an on-campus orientation or field placements. Programs can be found in both asynchronous formats that allow you to log on and complete coursework at your own convenience and as synchronous programs which offer a more traditional classroom experience and require you to be online at specific times.

Online Availability Online programs are available, but they generally require in-person activities and fieldwork
Common Courses Human behavior, discharge planning, healthcare social policy, social welfare policy and analysis, psychosocial evaluations
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree, with advanced standing for social work majors at some schools; work experience; some programs are only open to those who live in the state or region of the school
Licensure Information Clinical social workers must have a state license to practice

What Will I Learn?

Online courses in a MSW program typically cover topics in social welfare policy and analysis, human behavior, psychosocial evaluations and research. Individual programs may offer concentrations in healthcare social work that include coursework in client assessment, intervention and program planning. Some common medical social work course topics include:

  • Social policy in healthcare
  • Healthcare program planning
  • Clinical interventions
  • Discharge planning
  • Medical aftercare
  • Mental health evaluations

What Are the Admissions Requirements?

Although admission policies can vary, some programs are only open to residents of the host state or region. A bachelor's degree is required for admission, with some schools offering advanced standing to candidates with a BSW. Some schools may also require you to meet minimum GPA requirements or have relevant work experience.

What Should I Know About This Career?

You must have a state license to practice as a clinical social worker. Requirements for non-clinical professionals can vary. In most states, completion of a CSWE-accredited program is needed to sit for the state licensing exam.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 20% of all social workers were employed by local, state or private hospitals in 2014. Between 2016 and 2026, employment opportunities for healthcare social workers were projected to increase by 16%, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. In May 2018, healthcare social workers earned a median annual wage of $56,200, as reported by the BLS.