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Social Work


Social work programs prepare people to counsel groups and individuals.

In social work programs, students learn counseling methods and how to manage casework. They also learn when to make referrals to other services.

Social work programs include topics such as:

Social work programs prepare students to work in:


In social work programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in social work. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Most social work programs are offered at the graduate level. Many universities offer graduate degrees in social work. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

Related Educational Programs

Related Careers

Careers Directly Related to this Program of Study

Other Careers Related to this Program of Study

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Most schools require that you pass certain courses with good grades before you can officially become a social work major. Typically, these courses are lower-level sociology, psychology, and statistics. Often a biology course is also required. In addition, many schools require you to complete an official application to the social work program. This application usually includes a personal statement, professional resume, undergraduate transcripts, and background check.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Most schools also require the following:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

In most social work programs, students spend their third or fourth year of study doing field work. This means that students work at social service agencies such as mental health clinics, nursing homes, or substance abuse centers. Students perform duties such as meeting with clients, writing reports, and general casework. Students are closely supervised by professional social workers. Through fieldwork, students learn firsthand what it's like to be a social worker. They learn to apply their course work to real-life situations. Fieldwork also gives students valuable experience that they can use to apply for jobs after they receive their bachelor's degree.

Things to Know

You can do many things in high school and college to gain social work experience, such as volunteer at community organizations and social service agencies.

Most states require you to become licensed or certified to become a practicing social worker. You must meet certain criteria regarding education and fieldwork experience. Often you must pass an exam.

Some schools combine sociology and social work into a single bachelor's degree program. Other schools combine criminal justice and social work into a single bachelor's degree program.

If you want to become a counselor, supervisor, or administrator, you usually have to get a master's degree in social work.

Often you can combine graduate study in social work with other graduate programs, such as nursing, law, public health, or education.


East Side Area

Walla Walla University

King-Snohomish Area

Bellevue College

Edmonds Community College

Highline College

Lake Washington Institute of Technology

North Seattle College

Seattle Central College

Seattle University

University of Washington - Seattle

Kitsap Area

Olympic College

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University (Spokane Campus)

Gonzaga University

Tacoma Area

Evergreen State College, The (Tacoma Campus)

Pacific Lutheran University

University of Washington - Tacoma

Tri-Cities Area

Heritage University (Pasco (Tri-Cities Area))

Vancouver Area

Washington State University - Vancouver

West Side Area

Saint Martin's University

Yakima Area

Heritage University