What Type of Degree Is Needed for a Career in Social Services?

The social services field encompasses a variety of careers, including caseworkers, administrators, and professors. Social workers can specialize in subjects such as public health, substance abuse, and family assistance. The type and level of degree required varies based on the profession. Schools offering Human Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education and Training Required

Most social service jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Social service assistant positions are an exception which can require just a certificate or associate's degree in a human services or a social science subject. However, assistants looking to advance to positions of greater responsibility will still need further formal training in a degree program.

Important Facts About Social Services Education

Online AvailabilityCoursework online; internship/fieldwork in-person
SpecializationsClinical, geriatric, school, community
Continuing EducationRequired by most states to maintain license
Common CoursesTrauma, diversity, psychopathology, child development

Bachelor's Degrees

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that a Bachelor of Social Work degree is the typical base requirement for social workers. Students in a social work bachelor's degree program learn about human behavior and the dynamics between individuals and communities. Common subjects in this program include:

  • Social justice
  • Psychology
  • Social work statistics
  • Welfare programs and policies

A Bachelor of Social Work program will also feature practicum courses. Students in these courses gain hands-on experience working in a social service agency that relates to their field of interest.

For some entry-level positions, a bachelor's degree in sociology or psychology may be considered an acceptable substitute for a social work degree.

Master's Degrees

Further job opportunities in social services are available to those who hold a master's degree in social work. Certain social worker positions, such as those in the medical and health fields, require a master's degree. Master's degree programs offer more in-depth study of such social issues as mental and physical healthcare, welfare, and poverty. The student may choose to focus on direct social work with individuals or work with communities. As with the bachelor's degree program, coursework includes field experience.

Administrative positions in social services agencies may require at least a master's degree. Some colleges may offer the Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in social policy and administration. Other schools offer a separate master's degree in social service administration.

Doctoral Degrees

Those looking to teach social services at universities and colleges will need a doctorate in social work. A doctoral degree is also necessary for positions in social services research. Doctoral programs include numerous classes in research, analysis, and statistics. Students also take graduate-level courses in a focus area of their choosing.

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

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

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  • Ashford University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Saint Leo University

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    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Master

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  • Seton Hall University

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    Popular programs at Seton Hall University:

    • Master

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  • Northcentral University

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  • Post University

    Post University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Post University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

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