The Value of a Master’s Degree in Social Work

For committed social workers, this career is a calling. These professionals have a deep-seeded passion to enrich communities and the lives of individuals by creating purposeful, positive changes. The field is experiencing rapid growth — 12 percent between 2014 and 20241 — and in some specialties, even more than that. So, if you’re successfully and happily employed with your BS in social work, you may wonder about the benefits of attaining an MSW degree.

Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Social Work

A MSW degree demands personal resources many social workers already feel short on: time and money. However, the knowledge gained through obtaining a master’s degree in social work allows social workers greater flexibility in their careers through a variety of challenging roles and fields that are growing at a rapid rate, through a broader understanding of complex issues and how to treat them more effectively, and with compensation that is above the industry average.

  • Broader career options. Some sectors require a MSW degree no matter the role you fill, and specific social work careers are only open to those with that credential. The healthcare field, which is experiencing a job-growth rate of 19%1, includes medical, geriatric, and hospice and palliative care careers and expects candidates to have a MSW degree to fill available positions.
    Specific management roles, such as those of a supervisor, program manager, or administrator, can usually only be filled by professionals with an MSW degree. With the increased availability of mental health care and demand for social workers, the need for these management positions is growing — 17 percent between 2014 and 2024.2
    Clinical social workers have the gold standard of licensure, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license, which cannot be obtained without having a MSW degree. Those with their LCSW are able to open a private practice, work in clinical settings, and accept third-party payments.
  • Greater knowledge of social issues. A Master of Social Work degree can offer a deeper understanding of mental health challenges and provide area-specific focus that gives you the knowledge and skills you need to better assist clients and tackle more complex issues. For instance, the online trauma-focused MSW program at Widener University emphasizes the root causes of individual, family, group, and community issues. With trauma as one of the leading factors in social-emotional mental health challenges - including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse - a trauma-focused degree helps you excel in treating clients with specific concerns or a combination of challenges. A detailed understanding of the cause and effect relationship trauma has on individuals and families can give you the information you need to reach those with multifaceted challenges and prepare you to work across many fields.
    Degrees that offer a specific specialty, such as a hybrid dual masters in social work and education with a focus on human sexuality (H/MSW/Med), cultivate an expert status to work within a specific field or help a specific client population. Specializing in a focus also allows you to further your career by providing consulting services or working within human resources.
  • Higher salary.While the financial payoffs may not seem as immediate as some fields, a master’s degree in social work typically results in higher pay. The last survey by the National Association of Social Work Workforce Center showed that the difference in various social work fields between those with bachelor’s degrees and those with master’s degrees can be as much as $15,000 annuallly.3

Improve Your Outlook

A master’s degree in Social Work is your ticket to working in the rapidly advancing field of human services, attaining challenging positions that require the degree, and earning a higher salary. The cost-to-financial benefit ratio can be improved by attending an accredited online MSW program, such as that at Widener University, which also eliminates the need for travel time and maximizes your ability to learn on your own schedule.

Learn More Now

To learn more about Widener University’s trauma-focused Online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, or their hybrid dual masters in social work and education focused on human sexuality, call 844-386-7321 or complete the request for more information form and a program manager will contact you right away.


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Social Workers, 
on the Internet at (visited October 02, 2016).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Medical and Health Services Managers, 
on the Internet at (visited October 02, 2016).