Training and Certification
Social work degrees are offered at three levels:
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
The Bachelor of Social Work is a generalist social work degree designed to prepare students in the basic fundamentals of social work practice.
- Education at the baccalaureate level is expected to prepare for the beginning generalist social work practice and provides the professional foundation.
- Accredited BSW programs require at least 400 hours of supervised field experience.
- BSW programs prepare graduates for direct service positions such as caseworker or group worker.
Master of Social Work (MSW)
The Master of Social Work is a specialized social work degree.
- Social work degree programs are required by the Council of Social Work Education to offer a foundation curriculum in: social work practice, human behavior in the social environment, social welfare policies and services, human diversity, research, and professional ethics.
- During the degree program, students are also required to complete a field practicum. This is social work experience under the supervision of a professional social worker. Accredited MSW programs require at least 900 hours of supervised field experience. Typically, the MSW requires two different placements.
- Master's degree programs prepare graduates for work in their chosen field of concentration and continue to develop their skills to perform clinical assessments, manage large caseloads, and explore new ways of drawing upon social services to meet the needs of clients.
- Upon completion of an MSW, social workers can work towards completing professional licensure. In most states, licensure requires two years practice experience under the supervision of a licensed MSW and completion of a test. In Washington State, there are two levels of social work licensure:
- Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW). The LASW was created for practitioners serving in an agency setting.
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). The LICSW was created for practitioners working independently. The LICSW requires more direct client contact hours and more hours of supervision.
PhD in Social Work or Doctorate of Social Work (DSW)
Doctoral level work trains graduates for careers in research, teaching, advanced practice, administration, planning and policy analysis. Doctoral programs do not have to have accreditation.
In the State of Washington, social workers do not have title protection. This means that it is legal for a non-degree person to call him or herself a social worker. Therefore, a person can apply for a social work job who does not have a degree in the field.
Center on Human Development and Disability,
Clinical Training Unit, University of Washington,
Box 357920, Seattle, WA 98195-7920 firstname.lastname@example.org