How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online MSW degree?

If becoming a social worker is a lifelong dream, you may be wondering how long it takes to earn an online MSW degree. In order to practice as a licensed social worker, students must first complete a number of courses before demonstrating their comprehension through a licensure examination. Those interested in becoming certified must ensure they meet the examination requirements, including earning an undergraduate degree as well as a master’s degree in social work. If you would like to determine how long it will take you to earn an online MSW degree and become a licensed social worker, this guide can help you develop a timetable for reaching your professional career goals.

Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Whether a student is re-entering school or is fresh out of high school with a diploma, the first step to earning an online MSW degree is to first earn a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes four years. Although a bachelor’s degree in social work can help to satisfy some graduate-level course requirements, some schools allow students with an undergraduate degree in any field to apply for their online MSW programs. As long as the baccalaureate program is nationally or regionally accredited, the course credits taken should transfer into the graduate program.

Gain Volunteer Experience

Volunteer experience in the field of social work can be completed while a student is earning his or her bachelor’s degree or immediately after the completion of these studies. Students are encouraged to commit to at least six months of volunteering in order to increase their chances of admission into competitive master’s degree programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Opportunities may be available through the Fisher House Foundation, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the National Remember Our Troops Campaign, the National Military Family Association, and more.

Earn a Master’s Degree

Once a student has earned a bachelor’s degree and gained hands-on experience in the field of social work, it is time to apply for a CSWE-accredited online MSW degree. Depending on where the student wishes to work, there are a number of programs available. For instance, students who are seeking a career in a clinical setting should find a program that offers a clinical concentration. Other specializations include social work in business, community planning, families, and mental health. Most graduate students may earn their online MSW degree in two years or fewer.

Gain Supervised Experience

Once students complete the online MSW degree program, they will need an additional two to three years of clinical experience while working under a licensed professional in an actual facility. Once these required hours are completed, students may then sit for the professional clinical or generalist licensing exam. Those seeking certification should check with the specific licensing requirements in their respective states.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Masters in Social Work 2018

Students will spend at least five years studying at the undergraduate and graduate levels in order to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Once the educational component is complete, students may expect to spend another two to three years gaining hands-on supervised clinical experience. Although it takes approximately six years to earn the online MSW degree by itself, students may spend anywhere from seven to nine years to achieve their professional career goals in the field of social work.