Becoming a Social Worker in Massachusetts
There are many pathways to direct service social work in Massachusetts. If you put in enough years in a social service agency under appropriate supervision, you can eventually wear that 'Licensed Social Worker' title. But if you don't want to wait a decade -- and if you want better opportunities in the near future -- it's best to get some post-secondary education.
The highest level of social work practice requires a master's; there are very strict requirements for graduate level social worker education in Massachusetts.
If You Are in High School
Use your high school years to get a solid academic foundation. Meanwhile, begin career exploration. The South Middlesex Opportunity Council has internship opportunities for students as young as high school.
Research college programs. You have a lot of choices, but you will have the most options if you enroll in a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
If you are very academic minded, you may enroll in a program that allows you to complete your bachelor’s and then continue on for a Master of Social Work (MSW); some Massachusetts social work schools let you to progress at an accelerated pace.
It's alright to make the decision about graduate school later, though, as a solid performance in a BSW program generally translates into an abbreviated master's program.
If you aren't ready for the university, you can begin at a community college. You often don't apply to the BSW program until the end of your sophomore year even if you are enrolled at the university.
Begin pre-professional studies. You will take core requirements, plus a few program-specific prerequisites like sociology.
Apply to the department at the appropriate time and begin upper division social work studies. If you will be continuing on for a master's, keep your grade point average above 3.0.
After you earn your BSW, you can apply for credentialing as a Licensed Social Worker. You will need to take the ASWB bachelor's exam.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, you will need to work under supervision for two years before you are eligible for credentialing as an LSW. If you have less than a bachelor’s, it will take longer. Passing the associate exam through the ASWB will qualify you as a Social Work Associate (LSWA).
If You Have a College Degree
Prepare to apply to a CSWE-accredited master’s program. A liberal arts background is adequate academic preparation. If you do not have paid human services experience, spend some time volunteering.
Gather references and allow plenty of time to prepare your essay or autobiographical statement.
The Simmons College School of Social Work ([email protected]) is the nation’s oldest school of social work and is offering an innovative Online Master of Social Work program. You can complete this CSWE-accredited Master's in Social Work program in as little as 15 months. There is no GRE required for acceptance to this program. Request information.
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited online Master's in Social Work. The GRE is not required to apply to the [email protected] program. A Bachelor's degree is required. Learn more about this program.
Capella University is now offering an online Master of Social Work that is in CSWE candidacy status. The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role (in most states). Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work. Click Here to contact Capella University about their Master of Social Work program or Doctor of Social Work program.
Begin your foundations coursework. If your undergraduate degree was in a field other than social work, you typically spend the equivalent of two semesters taking generalist courses. (Some BSWs will be able to skip this coursework.)
Select a concentration at the appropriate time. At the broadest level, the concentration may be clinical or macro (indirect). Some Massachusetts schools offer specialized programs (for example, older adults or children and families).
Give thought to where you want to work as an intern. Your school will have multiple partnerships and may consider other placements.
Once you've completed your MSW, you can apply to take the ASWB master's level exam.
In order to earn the independent clinical license, you will need at least two years of post-graduate supervised experience.
You will also need to pass the ASWB clinical exam. When all requirements are met, you will earn the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) credential.