"Social work is a calling, a profession that believes each human being is deserving of dignity and respect. It’s our job to make sure [human beings] are not only treated that way, but that systems, policies and practices that deny people basic human rights be changed." – Stacey Borasky Ferguson, EdD, MSW, dean of Chamberlain’s Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program and a 22-year veteran social worker
Social workers are often passionate and eager to advance social justice –Dr. Ferguson is an example of this passion and drive. Whether you are a seasoned social worker looking to advance your education or you are considering social work as a new career path, earning a MSW degree can offer many benefits that can help enrich your professional and personal journey.
With an expected job growth rate that is much faster than average compared to all other occupations, high job satisfaction rates reported by practicing social workers and the opportunity to impact the lives of the underserved, a career in social work can be a fulfilling career and life choice.
Chamberlain’s MSW faculty recently shared the key reasons to consider earning an MSW to enhance or start your career as a social worker:
1. Specialize based on your passion
A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree prepares individuals for generalist practice and is the minimum requirement for most social work positions. Expanding your education to an MSW allows you to take your career a step further and specialize your social work practice based on your interests and passions.
The second year is what we call the specialization year,” shared Dr. Ferguson. “That year really focuses on advancing generalist skills, helping students to learn other ways of social work practice that are possible within their chosen specialty.”
Chamberlain University’s MSW degree program offers the following tracks: substance use and addictions, gerontology, crisis and response interventions, trauma, medical social work and military social work. The degree program also has a Traditional Track, for those who have a bachelor’s level degree in something other than social and an Advanced Standing Track option for those who have a BSW.
2. More career options
Earning an MSW degree can open the door for new, exciting and diverse career opportunities that may not be available to individuals with only a BSW.
“I would advise any student that has an interest in being part of a great profession to consider earning an MSW. I think it’s one of the most versatile kind of professions out there. With an MSW you can practice in a variety of settings and populations, which allows you flexibility,” explained Oren Shatayermma, PhD, MSW, MSW degree program professor.
Individuals who receive advanced social work degrees have the opportunity to work in medical, mental health and educational fields as therapists, healthcare social workers, school social workers and clinical social workers. In order to be a licensed clinical social worker, many states require a MSW degree.
3. Hands-on experience
All BSW and MSW degree programs offer a field education component where students gain experience and training in the community. Each university and program offers different types of field education options. In addition to the engaging field work curriculum, Chamberlain’s MSW degree program offers a unique immersion experience.
This is what Amanda Morgan Henry, LCSW-C, field director of Chamberlain’s MSW degree program had to say, “The immersion experience is a good opportunity for students to work through and apply what they've learned in their courses to real life practice. It's an opportunity to think about theories, approaches and strategies in a very real scenario, and we hope to see students accessing [what they’ve learned] and using it in the immersion.”
An immersion experience provides students with three days of being completely immersed in a scenario where they are the social worker, giving them real-time, real-world experience and feedback before entering into field work.
Social work is a field that allows for individuals to be agents of change and advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. If this rewarding career interests you or if you’re ready to advance your education in the field, take the first step and request more information about Chamberlain’s MSW degree program.
By Sunita Rao-Fogt
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