Social Work University Courses

Find out what you'll learn on the path to becoming a social worker. Discover the degrees available in the field of social work and the kinds of courses you'll have to take to earn them. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Coursework Is Needed to Earn a Degree in Social Work?

Social work is a field in which the aim is to help with the functioning of society by aiding those in need, and social workers can work with groups or individuals in a variety of circumstances to further that goal. Social workers can provide help to veterans, youth, the impoverished, those with substance abuse problems, or people from any number of other backgrounds which negatively impact their abilities to participate in society. To begin a career as a social worker, it is often necessary to hold a bachelor's degree or master's degree in social work, which will ensure that social workers are well educated in the areas of psychology, sociology, and the law, enabling them to best provide the help that is needed. The coursework needed to obtain such a degree is interdisciplinary and extremely rigorous, covering topics in a variety of areas.

Social Work Degrees Provide students with the knowledge to help disadvantaged populations within society
Pre-Major Social Work Courses Foundations of social justice, intro to social work, sociology
Social Work Major Courses Macro social work, generalist social work practice, developmental psychology
Master's Degree Courses Science of social work, human behavior and social environments, policy and advocacy
Doctorate Degree Courses Leading and managing large organizations, influence for social good, leading public discourse

What University Courses Must Be Taken Prior to Entry into a Social Work Major?

Social work programs at universities are often structured such that a pre-major must be declared, and certain classes completed, before admission to the social work major. In addition to general education or liberal arts courses, pre-major courses might include intro to social work, social work research, or foundations of social justice. These are generally designed to provide a basic overview and lay the groundwork for the degree, helping students to decide if this really is the right major for them. Courses outside the subject area of the major which might be required before admission include statistics, US government, sociology, and psychology. Such courses include material that is necessary to know in order to fully understand and perform social work.

What University Courses Must be Taken While Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work?

Once accepted into a social work major, the courses will largely be within that field. Courses on topics such as macro social work, which focuses on communities, and micro social work, which focuses on individuals and families, are commonly required. Many courses will have titles including generalist social work, designed to provide a baseline idea of how to interact with clients, although courses dealing specifically with children and adolescents or adults are also likely to be needed. Further specialized courses may be available, such as those dealing with childhood abuse or neglect, drug and substance abuse, and trauma. Internships and volunteer work are also commonly required as part of a social work degree.

Outside of the social work department, courses on developmental psychology, basic pharmacology, or modern biological concepts might be required. These are generally taken with the intent of providing greater insight into the problems that a social worker's clients might be struggling with, how they might be treated, and how to record data and perform research.

What Courses Could Be Taken While Earning a Master's Degree in Social Work?

Master's degree programs in social work are often able to be completed in a little over a year, especially for those who already hold a relevant bachelor's degree, and rarely take more than two years. They tend to be more specialized than bachelor's degrees, and are taken with the intent of moving into a particular area of social work, such as social policy or clinical work, or to work with particular populations, such as schools or the military. As such, coursework will vary significantly depending on the specialty. General courses might include policy and advocacy, science of social work, or human behavior and social environments. More specialized courses will have titles dealing directly with their subject matter, like aging and disability, theories of health and mental health, LGBT issues, or violence against women. Extensive field work in the chosen subject area is usually required for graduation. As master's degree curricula are heavily shaped by these specialties, be sure to consider available specialties when applying.

What Courses Could Be Taken While Earning a Doctoral Degree in Social Work?

Doctoral degrees in social work are available at some universities. These degrees usually equip graduates for high-level positions within social work organizations and have less of a focus on direct clinical work as a result, although it does not eliminate it entirely. Topics might include leading large organizations, shaping public discourse, and using influence for the benefit of society. Doctoral programs will typically include a residency and a thesis or capstone project that is meant to create real, actionable plans for change.

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.

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  • Walden University

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    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

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  • Liberty University

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    Popular programs at Liberty University:

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  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

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  • Strayer University

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    Popular programs at Strayer University:

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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Ashford University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Post University

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  • Florida Tech

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  • Grand Canyon University

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