What Does MSW Stand For?

The acronym MSW stands for Master of Social Work. A person holding a master's degree in social work works in social services in settings such as schools, hospitals and government agencies. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Master of Social Work

This program prepares students for advanced practice as a social worker or other professions that provide social services to members of the community in need. An MSW degree program can be completed in about two years of full-time study and can be found in both online and on-campus formats from many colleges and universities. As of November 2015, there were 241 MSW programs accredited by the Council of Social Work Education.

The curriculum of an MSW program usually includes both classroom lectures and field experiences. Common course topics include human behavior, social welfare, social policy and social work practice. Many schools also offer concentration options in areas like community organization, management of human services and more.

Important Facts About Master of Social Work Programs

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Fully online and hybrid format
Continuing Education Ph.D. in Social Work
Possible Careers Counselor, Social Welfare Administrator, Probation Officer

MSW Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is the most common requirement for jobs in the social work field. However, a master's degree in social work is required for social services jobs in health settings and clinical work. An advanced degree is also often required for supervisory, administrative and staff training positions. Typical career fields for someone with a Master of Social Work degree include:

  • Child and family services
  • School social work
  • Medical and public health services
  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Clinical social work

All states have some licensing requirement for social workers, per the BLS, though specific requirements vary by state. Clinical social workers, for example, are typically required to have completed an MSW program, two years or 3,000 hours of experience, and a clinical exam.

Employment Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, employment of all social workers is predicted to increase by 16% from 2016-2026, with those who specialize in healthcare social work experiencing the largest increase (20%).

The BLS reports that average salary of family, child and school social workers was $49,760 as of May 2018. Social workers working in elementary and secondary schools earned the highest average wage, with an average salary of $63,000. The average salary for healthcare social workers was $58,470 in May 2018. Healthcare social workers employed in junior colleges earned the most, with an average salary of $70,810.

The annual salary for mental health and substance abuse social workers averaged $49,630 in May of 2018. At $65,830, these professionals working for insurance carriers earned the highest average salary at that time.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools