Social workers identify and address social phenomena that cause distress in the lives of those affected by them. Poverty, neglect, racism, discrimination, alcohol, and substance abuse are all factors that produce undue stress, and preclude individuals from accessing resources like medical care and child welfare. Professionals in this field are trained to connect people to these resources and improve their quality of life.
Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in social work online are introduced to a myriad of social issues. They learn skills and strategies necessary to help others cope with problems associated with immigration, family violence, aging, mental health, and other personal issues. The entry-level education prepares them to work in a number of human services organizations in public and private sectors.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work?
Students who enter the social work major are interested in working to improve human welfare. Importantly, the bachelor’s degree is the entry-level requirement for work in this field. Some students will continue their education and earn a master’s degree, which will enable them to help people in educational or clinical settings. Graduates who earn an undergraduate social work degree are trained to assist individuals from diverse communities and backgrounds.
Getting Into a Social Work Bachelor’s Program
Admissions criteria for this major will vary by academic institution. Many programs require students to have completed as many as 30 college credit hours prior to acceptance; some or all of these credits must be earned through a social work department. Some programs demand that students entering the major hold a 3.0 GPA for completed social work program courses.
- General application and fee
- Sufficient high school GPA — typically 2.0
- Personal essay
- ACT or SAT scores
- Recommendation letters
Inside a Social Work Bachelor’s Degree Program
A bachelor’s degree in social work program exposes students to social problems involving human welfare, policy, and minorities/oppressed groups. Students will learn fundamental theories and established strategies to prepare them for direct-service occupations. These positions require the professional to assist clients in crisis situations or those facing drastic life changes, such as unemployment or divorce.
Courses and seminars a student may be expected to take include ‘Critical Thinking About Moral Problems,’ ‘Social Work Practice: Fundamentals,’ or ‘Social Work and Oppressed Groups.’ Undergraduate students in this field will also need to complete supervised fieldwork, as well as a culminating internship. In both cases, students gain experience working in homeless shelters, hospitals, and substance abuse treatment centers. Students in their final year are often required to complete a senior seminar of some kind.
What’s Next for Social Work Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Students who complete the undergraduate degree in social work have the credentials to work as direct-service social workers in public child welfare, social work with the elderly, and after-school and foster care services environments.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment for all social work occupations is projected to increase 25% from 2010 to 2020. The median pay for social work employees was $42,480 in May 2010.
Graduate degrees such as the master’s and Ph.D. in social work may open professionals to even more job opportunities. Students who seek further education often hope to secure long-term employment as clinicians or counselors. These occupations also require either two years of experience, or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after graduation.