Becoming a Social Worker in Pennsylvania

You can become a social worker in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree, but unlike in many states, the baccalaureate level license is a temporary one. If you want to continue to wear that ‘social worker’ title you will need to continue on for a master's.

You can pursue a social work master's even if your bachelor's in in another field. Here are some tips to getting your social worker education in Pennsylvania.

group of social work students

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Take the standard college prep curriculum at the high school. Meanwhile seek to learn about the profession through job shadowing, service projects, or volunteer service.

Step 2:

If you want to begin at the bachelor's level, look for a school with a social work degree program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Research the many options available in Pennsylvania. It is possible to do a combined bachelor’s/ master’s social work program, completing both degrees (and being well on the way to licensure) after five years. It is also an option to enroll in a standard Bachelor of Social Work program and apply for advanced standing in a master’s program in your senior year.

Step 3:

Excel in upper division coursework. Keep your grades up and do well in your practicum.

You can join a professional organization like the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to guide you through the transition to professional practice.

Step 4:

Continue on to a master’s degree program and/or seek employment in the social services.

Step 5:

Pursue licensure when you become eligible. (Eligibility for provisional licensing depends on actually enrolling in a master's program). The bachelor’s level ASWB exam is required.

If you can't continue for a master's degree, it doesn't mean you can't get a job using your skills. However, you will not be eligible for that coveted title.

Find more detailed Pennsylvania Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Research CSWE-accredited master's programs. There are different types of social work master’s program in Pennsylvania. Some are specifically designed for employed practitioners.

Meanwhile, take the first steps toward admission. Master's social work programs typically look for a GPA of at least 3.0. Most MSW programs do not require the GRE or other graduate exams, but some will consider them when a student's undergraduate grades fall below the desired level. Human service experience is often an asset.

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.

Fordham University's top-ranked School of Social Work offers an online MSW program that prepares students for relevant, integrated practice with all populations. GRE scores not required. Request information today.

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.

Step 2:

Attend an information session and then prepare your application packet. It will include resume, references, and one or more pieces of writing.

Step 3:

Begin master’s social work coursework. Consider what specializations you want to pursue and what type of setting you wish to do your practicum. If you have advanced standing, you will need to know your concentration very soon. If you are in the traditional track, you may be able to wait until you have taken some courses.

If you are pursuing clinical studies, you may become a student member of the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work. You will find resources to help you make decisions and prepare for supervised practice.

Step 4:

Apply to the Pennsylvania Board for permission to take the ASWB master's level exam when you are in your final semester of your degree program. When you have finished the degree and passed the exam, you can become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW).

Step 5:

If you are pursuing clinical licensure, you will need to work under supervision until you have accrued the requisite hours.

Step 6:

Clinical licensure is also dependent on passing the ASWB clinical exam. When you have met all standards, you will become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Find more detailed Pennsylvania Social Work Licensure information here.

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