thoughts on Social Work PhD degrees

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Tony in Albuquerque, New Mexico

38 months ago

I believe the credential matters when it comes to positions, pay and more opportunities. I also encourage BSW's to take advantage of the advanced standing--one more year will be well worth your time.

To state the obvious, a talented, compassionate, BSW can be more effective than someone with less talent who has an MSW. However, the reality is the BSW may very well find they are working for that MSW. Too often talented people fail to invest in themselves by earning education commensurate with their skill. There are of course numerous factors involved, family, finance and other priorities to name a few.

I just completed all of my MSW courses (finishing practicum) in May and I am on track to complete my MBA this December. I am very excited by the options I will have as a result of staying on this very long difficult road.

I wish everyone the best and I close by saying as I’ve followed this forum for almost two years it has been a great source of honest feedback and encouragement. Please, continue providing the feedback to this community. We are all better off by honestly sharing our experiences.

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DadMike in Maryland

38 months ago

Tony in Albuquerque, New Mexico said: I believe the credential matters when it comes to positions, pay and more opportunities. I also encourage BSW's to take advantage of the advanced standing--one more year will be well worth your time.

To state the obvious, a talented, compassionate, BSW can be more effective than someone with less talent who has an MSW. However, the reality is the BSW may very well find they are working for that MSW. Too often talented people fail to invest in themselves by earning education commensurate with their skill. There are of course numerous factors involved, family, finance and other priorities to name a few.

I just completed all of my MSW courses (finishing practicum) in May and I am on track to complete my MBA this December. I am very excited by the options I will have as a result of staying on this very long difficult road.

I wish everyone the best and I close by saying as I’ve followed this forum for almost two years it has been a great source of honest feedback and encouragement. Please, continue providing the feedback to this community. We are all better off by honestly sharing our experiences.

Absolutely correct. If you want to be granted full professional social works status in most states, you must be a licensed MSW. BSWs do a lot of good work; we have alot of BSWs and even human-service bachelor's levels folks at my agency; but they are frustrated when they learn the person doing the same job the are makes 6grand more per year because they have the MSW, and that they can never be promoted because they don't have their masters degree.
Nothing wrong with a BSW. But if that's your only credential, you will be greatly limited in income and career options as a social worker.

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DadMike in Maryland

38 months ago

c lo in Collingswood, New Jersey said: Actually, state of nj qualifies you with a bsw as long as you have 5 additional yeas experience which i do. LMAO who are u to say i cant call myself a social worker? I have the experience obviously if i was asked to fill in this position upon graduation. Hmmm you sound lill bitter.

All depends upon the State. In Maryland you could legally call yourself a Social Work Associate. If you presented as a Social Worker with a BSW and the LSWA licence, the highest a BSW can get, you could be prosecuted by the Maryland Board of Social Work for felony fraud.
Every state is different.
Doesn't mean you don't have serious social work skill- just that you'd be in violation of the legalities.

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DadMike in Maryland

38 months ago

DadMike in Maryland said: All depends upon the State. In Maryland you could legally call yourself a Social Work Associate. If you presented as a Social Worker with a BSW and the LSWA licence, the highest a BSW can get, you could be prosecuted by the Maryland Board of Social Work for felony fraud.
Every state is different.
Doesn't mean you don't have serious social work skill- just that you'd be in violation of the legalities.

And I should add- you can be a BSW for 40 years or more, and still not earn the legal title "Social Worker" in Maryland.
Every state is different. Cannot be said often enough.

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reify in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

38 months ago

Hi all! I've really found this forum helpful, thank you!

I was wondering if anyone knew about Phd and macro/policy social work? It makes sense to me why you wouldn't need a Phd for clinical social work, but does macro/policy have more of a need for someone with a research or academic background?

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c lo in Collingswood, New Jersey

38 months ago

www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/ check this site out it gives All info needed for those who want to become a social worker.

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c lo in Collingswood, New Jersey

38 months ago

whoops wrong sit try this one...sorry www.bls.gov/oco/ocos060.htm

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Currer813 in Georgetown, Indiana

38 months ago

Tiare in Keller, Texas said: Hi Meg,
I have currently done my research on your very question. I'm changing careers. I have a BA in Arts & Sciences , MBA in Business Administration and worked 11 years as an executive for a Fortune 100 corporation. I initially wanted to return to school and become an LMFT - however, after interviewing friends who are LMFT's, Social Workers and a few professors in Social Work and Psychology I finally have a clear understanding about each of the options.

MSSW is an absolute must if you want to practice. The tough part is the time commitment. It's 2 years of schooling then x hours for internship depending on your state laws for licensing. TX and CA require 3000 intern hours. Sources in the field have said the quickest anyone has completed 3000 hours is within 3 years. Also, paid internships are hard to come by. Even then, the paid internships may have "on call hours". If you have 5 years to invest and its what you really want to do (practice) then go for the MSSW...

Many MSSW programs have their practicum/internships concurrent with the academic portion. Therefore, for many people, it's a 2 year program. I did a dual MSSW/MFT at the University of Louisville (the only one of its kind at this point), and finished after a VERY INTENSE 2 years.

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Joanne Francis in Brooklyn, New York

38 months ago

I have my MSW in Social Work. I have been trying to find a job and find it to be very stressful. A lot of agencies out there want to pay 40,000 or under. I think it's hard to survive on that kind of money in these times, what do you think?

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Kathy

38 months ago

I agree. We do not become social workers with expectations of a high salary but it would be nice to be able to afford to repay student loans without compromising necessities.

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Amorpheus11 in Davenport, Iowa

38 months ago

money has its place. It is merely a tool. What about the forgiveness clause for loans?

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DadMike in Maryland

38 months ago

Joanne Francis in Brooklyn, New York said: I have my MSW in Social Work. I have been trying to find a job and find it to be very stressful. A lot of agencies out there want to pay 40,000 or under. I think it's hard to survive on that kind of money in these times, what do you think?

Feds pay really well, esp. if you're willing to do social work w/ military.
Hospitals pay pretty well, too.
Don't know abot New York state pay- Maryland and DC have decent state pay- not the best, but the bennies and hours make up for it.
Private agencies tend to be the absolute worst in pay- the only one that makes a decent salary is usually the director and their immediate assistants.

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Amy in Urbana, Illinois

37 months ago

hello, I am so glad I came across this discussion board! I've been wondering about getting a PhD after getting an MSW as well. I am interested in being an adoption caseworker and am looking forward to seeing if I get accepted into an MSW program right now. I'm also wondering if the name of the school you go to really makes a difference in this field (e.g., going to the University of Chicago or to the University of Illinois at Chicago). I'm thinking that these days it's not really how much you know but who you know, as in any other field? especially since it seems like you could wind up with the same amount of income regardless of what school you go to, and then you'll be paying more money in the long run simply because the reputation of your school is more prestigious.

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DadMike in Maryland

37 months ago

Amy in Urbana, Illinois said: hello, I am so glad I came across this discussion board! I've been wondering about getting a PhD after getting an MSW as well. I am interested in being an adoption caseworker and am looking forward to seeing if I get accepted into an MSW program right now. I'm also wondering if the name of the school you go to really makes a difference in this field (e.g., going to the University of Chicago or to the University of Illinois at Chicago). I'm thinking that these days it's not really how much you know but who you know, as in any other field? especially since it seems like you could wind up with the same amount of income regardless of what school you go to, and then you'll be paying more money in the long run simply because the reputation of your school is more prestigious.

Name of school not such big deal-- esp. since social work salaries are not the highest, you want to keep your student loans down. I've seen plenty of folks working with me with MSWs from Howard U and other private schools that cost 50-60grand a year making the same salary as us state school folk that paid only 6 grand per year.
DSW is not needed, unless you want to be researcher or college professor. It garners no more professional respect, nor higher wages. The clinical license is what matters most, and it's the same license for a DSW as an MSW.

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reify in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

37 months ago

Hi Amy! I'm a current MSW student who is just starting to look at the job market for after I graduate... I can tell you for sure that just going to a good school isn't everything. Personally, I think the best way to go about it is look for a school in the region where you'd like to live and work permanently (or at least for the next few years). Many MSW programs have a built in internship component, so just by going through the program you have connections, not only from your own internship, but from all your classmates. It's a great way to find out what it's actually like to work at a lot about organizations in the city and give you an idea where you want to start your job search. Although you'll definitely want a school with a good reputation, I think the best thing to consider (when thinking long term about job options) is where each school has established relationships for internships. Most schools should have a list of current and past internship opportunities on their website somewhere. I currently at UPenn (pretty expensive) and am definitely wondering if it's going to be worth it...

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gort in Fishers, Indiana

37 months ago

Tony in Albuquerque, New Mexico said: Hello everyone - this is a great question and I agree with much of what has been said. My thoughts on the subject stem from completing my undergraduate 14 years ago and recently retiring (two years ago) from the United States Air Force. I will begin the MSW Program this August and finish in May 2011.

I would tell anyone a big consideration must be "what do you want your professional identity to be?" In my experience, if you have a PhD or a MSW, natural talent and people skills you will obviously be respected; however, I believe the PhD is seen as the absolute authority on the subject and is less likely to be questioned. I believe this would be especially true among the MDs.

THE BOTTOM LINE FOLKS - do not take a break from school until you have the last degree you want. Suck it up and stay in at least one class a semester until you’re finished. A good friend told me this in 1995! Believe me--time flies.

I believe a PhD will give you more flexibility as you mature such as being an online professor or teaching school at night. I hope to pursue a PhD immediately after completing the MSW--of course I've wanted to teach night school for years.

Good Luck Everyone!!!

You have no idea what you are talking about. The PhD in social work is strictly for research. You do not get more clinical training and thus the MSW is the terminal degree for professional practice. A social work PhD will not have any more clinical training than an MSW. MD's will think what they think regardless of whether you have a PhD in social work or an MSW, and worrying about what they think is not something you should engage in anyway. Trying to get a degree in order to be respected, as opposed to using your MSW experience to navigate the multidisciplinary atmosphere speaks of weakness and an inability to advocate. Please get a clue before commenting in the future.

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DadMike in Maryland

37 months ago

gort in Fishers, Indiana said: You have no idea what you are talking about. The PhD in social work is strictly for research. You do not get more clinical training and thus the MSW is the terminal degree for professional practice. A social work PhD will not have any more clinical training than an MSW. MD's will think what they think regardless of whether you have a PhD in social work or an MSW, and worrying about what they think is not something you should engage in anyway. Trying to get a degree in order to be respected, as opposed to using your MSW experience to navigate the multidisciplinary atmosphere speaks of weakness and an inability to advocate. Please get a clue before commenting in the future.

Yep- professionally, outside of academia, DSWs are viewed with skepticism and a bit of contempt. Because of just what you said- no additional skills, yet they paid for 4 more years of school- it's like having "SUCKER" stamped on your forehead. Some of them I've met are humble and OK; other ones insist on being called "Dr." and are laughed at behind their backs for their clueless arrogance; ALL of them tend to be bitter as MSWs rise above them in the ranks.

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jxlot in Oceanside, New York

37 months ago

Hello,

I have my MSW ad passed the exam but am really confused as to where I can find a clinical supervisor to help me get the 3,000 hours I need to get my LCSW in New York State? Does anyone have any ideas on where I could find clinical supervision? Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

Best,

Joshua

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helperforpeople in Buffalo, New York

37 months ago

gort in Fishers, Indiana said: You have no idea what you are talking about. The PhD in social work is strictly for research. You do not get more clinical training and thus the MSW is the terminal degree for professional practice. A social work PhD will not have any more clinical training than an MSW. MD's will think what they think regardless of whether you have a PhD in social work or an MSW, and worrying about what they think is not something you should engage in anyway. Trying to get a degree in order to be respected, as opposed to using your MSW experience to navigate the multidisciplinary atmosphere speaks of weakness and an inability to advocate. Please get a clue before commenting in the future.

Its unnecessary to be so mean-spirited when there is a difference of opinion or a miscommunication of facts. Not very "Social Worker" either.
Let's try and respect each other.

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Shelly in Lawrenceburg, Indiana

37 months ago

Unbelievable. I would say some have ego issues and may be a little envious of those having the desire and aptitude to achieve beyond the MSW. Anyone can obtain an MSW, the Ph.D is another thing altogether. They are not even remotely related, nor are they intended to be. I don't think any Ph.D needs to defend their credential, it speaks for itself.

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Keith in Germantown, Maryland

37 months ago

Meg H in Boston, Massachusetts said: Hi everyone,

I am currently finishing up a MS in Human Services. I am planning on going to school again to get my MSW and become a LCSW, but I discovered a program near me that is a five-year joint MSW/PhD degree. I'm curious what your thoughts are about a PhD social work degree, as well as the time commitment. I don't have a concrete career plan in mind, but I know that I want to eventually own my own private practice, as well as spend time working with underprivileged populations (I'm a case manager for homeless families right now).
I'm only 24, no husband or kids, so I feel like if I'm going to take the time to do it, I should do it now. But a lot of people are discouraging me about how long it will take and how restricted I will be financially... What are your thoughts? Thank you!!

Hello:

Go for it! I think the younger you are starting a PH.D. program, the more advantage you will have in establishing a career. It is also important to realize that some of the comments made about the length of time it will take you to complete the PH.D. program is a reality.

For example, if you are in the work force and you decide to not work while studying for the PH.D. That's a loss of economic income. It depends on a lot of factors in regards to your personal situation, which only you can be the judge.

Ask yourself, what are my personal responsibilities? Do I have a family to raise? Am I self supporting and self sufficient etc. These are the kinds of issues that has to be assessed in regards to whether or not you can afford to loose time out of the work force to get a PH.D.

Also, perhaps! depending on your age, economic situation, family obligations etc. There are some PH.D. programs out there that are sensitive to the "Adult Learners" life experiences and reality; so that considerations and accomodations can be made to allow you to hold a job, while you are studying to get your PH.D.

keith

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DadMike in Maryland

37 months ago

Shelly in Lawrenceburg, Indiana said: Unbelievable. I would say some have ego issues and may be a little envious of those having the desire and aptitude to achieve beyond the MSW. Anyone can obtain an MSW, the Ph.D is another thing altogether. They are not even remotely related, nor are they intended to be. I don't think any Ph.D needs to defend their credential, it speaks for itself.

The Phd in Socail Work does speak- and those considering pursuing it should know what it says, and what it doesn't.
Phd in Social is not helpful for raising in agency heirarchy in public or private agencies--if thats' your goal, and you want a degree beyond MSW, much better degrees are MBAs or Masters in Public Admin.
It's not helpful in mental health- pychiatrists and psyhcologists will have real issue with a social worker calling themselves "Dr", and the pay and reimbursement rates are same for MSW as Phd.
It's similarly not helpful in any other direct service field.
Phd in Social Work is good for research and teaching in social work schools. That's about it- if that's what you want, go for it!
I've seen too many bitter Social Work Phd's in the field upset that their pay and respect in no more than an MSW's, or that they got passed up for a directorship by an MBA or an MSW, to give anyone different feedback and maintain a good conscience. Want to see an angry DSW? I have-they took a child welfare job and read their title on their job description-- "Case worker", same as the rest of the staff. They didn't last long- too angry about the pay and status.
Follow your dreams- but remember that w/o proper research and preperation following dreams can lead you to live your nightmares.

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Mike in Lindenhurst, New York

36 months ago

I have a question Mike:

I would like to one day follow your career path (manager/director of a state/federal social service agency, social administration in mental health services, etc) after I finish my dual MSW/MPA degree program in a few years. (starting this fall at SUNY Binghamton). I realize i will have to work my way up for a decade or so no matter what the specialization before a I will be considered for a promotion, but your advice supports the dual MSW/Administration degree option vs a PHD. As I see it, an MPA degree is the equivalent of an MBA, but gives one the requisite skills to manage and administrate in the public sector, whereas the MBA prepares graduates with a skill set in the business world (more of a profit/negotiation/sales focus) Throughout my research I have come to the conclusion that pairing an MSW with either an MPA, MBA, or even an MPH is more beneficial than having a DSW if you career objective is to be a director of a public agency or non profit organization. Your posts indicate you would agree with this assessment, is this right?

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Mike in Lindenhurst, New York

36 months ago

I have a few other specific questions. Although SUNY Binghamton isn't a top 25 school of social work or public administration its a pretty reputable university, especially in NY. It seems federal employment (for MPA graduates) recruits from Georgetown, American U, William & Mary, Hopkins, U of M, etc more so than schools outside the DC region; would an MPA/MSW graduate from a good NY school be competitive enough? I could only see myself doing clinical work for a state agency or the FED (for the Dept of Health and Human Services, or the Dept of Veteran Affairs or Indian Health Service, etc) I'm preparing for my new career and making the switch specifically because of mental health and substance abuse issues that I've dealt with and now want to help others through (with a DUI charge unfortunately on my record) Will this hinder me? Am I sort of on the right track here?

This thread has been extremely helpful! I think social workers are the best people and I'm psyched to one day join you all and do some good work.

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DadMike in Maryland

36 months ago

Mike in Lindenhurst, New York said: I have a question Mike:

I would like to one day follow your career path (manager/director of a state/federal social service agency, social administration in mental health services, etc) after I finish my dual MSW/MPA degree program in a few years. (starting this fall at SUNY Binghamton). I realize i will have to work my way up for a decade or so no matter what the specialization before a I will be considered for a promotion, but your advice supports the dual MSW/Administration degree option vs a PHD. As I see it, an MPA degree is the equivalent of an MBA, but gives one the requisite skills to manage and administrate in the public sector, whereas the MBA prepares graduates with a skill set in the business world (more of a profit/negotiation/sales focus) Throughout my research I have come to the conclusion that pairing an MSW with either an MPA, MBA, or even an MPH is more beneficial than having a DSW if you career objective is to be a director of a public agency or non profit organization. Your posts indicate you would agree with this assessment, is this right?

Yep. Just a plain MSW is enough to get you where you'd like to be, as long as you keep up advanced licensure (depending on state) and network appropriately. It could take a decade- you may find a place that promotes you even faster; but I strongly recommend working as a line-level worker for a few years so you'll have some gut-level experience with the work before you supervise it. Alot of admins in MD have NEVER been workers- went straight to supervisor on up-- and they make our jobs harder, not better, because they are clueless as to the impact of their directives.
The dual degree will likely give you more options, including upper admin positions even outside of social welfare agencies-- not a bad thing one bit.

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DadMike in Maryland

36 months ago

Mike in Lindenhurst, New York said: I have a few other specific questions. Although SUNY Binghamton isn't a top 25 school of social work or public administration its a pretty reputable university, especially in NY. It seems federal employment (for MPA graduates) recruits from Georgetown, American U, William & Mary, Hopkins, U of M, etc more so than schools outside the DC region; would an MPA/MSW graduate from a good NY school be competitive enough? I could only see myself doing clinical work for a state agency or the FED (for the Dept of Health and Human Services, or the Dept of Veteran Affairs or Indian Health Service, etc) I'm preparing for my new career and making the switch specifically because of mental health and substance abuse issues that I've dealt with and now want to help others through (with a DUI charge unfortunately on my record) Will this hinder me? Am I sort of on the right track here?

This thread has been extremely helpful! I think social workers are the best people and I'm psyched to one day join you all and do some good work.

If you have an MSW from an accredited school and a pulse, you're in!! This is social work-- you're starting salary will hopefully be in low 40s with an MSW and a licence if you're urban East Coast; and that's the same whether you spent 12 grand or 40 grand on your Master's. School snobbery doesn't really matter in social work, probably because no one gets rich doing it, so who cares where you went to school!?! :)
As far as VA jobs go-- whether or not you were a veteran will have much more of an impact than what school you went to.
The DUI-- can you get it expunged? Depending on the types of jobs you want, it COULD matter-- but if it's very old, you went to treatment, etc., you can probably get around it, esp. if you're upfront about it. You'd want to discuss it with personell- they're the ones that usually call the shots on that, not the hiring supervisors.

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Riyazoddin in India

36 months ago

I already complete Mba,I got MSW seet it is use ful for me,what kind of jobs i get plz tell me

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Kevin in New Haven, Connecticut

36 months ago

Hi All - I am tossing between applying to programs to obtain a PhD in Public Health and a PhD in Social Work - and the pros and cons associated with each (though I may very well apply to both types of programs). Here's my quick background: I graduated with a BSW 4 years ago, and immediately thereafter completed my MPH in social/behavioral sciences. Since then I have been involved with chiefly public health research, and generally love research altogether. My interests are many, but they seem to coalesce into the behavioral health field and the biopsychosocial approach. I'm interested in mixed mtds research, interventions, diverse populations and chronic illness. Further, I have discovered that I'm not that interested in practice, and would like the opportunity to enter academia at some point in my career (and perhaps culminate as Dean - I like the admin side of things as well). I am well aware that social work doctoral programs are research heavy but traditionally do not emphasize the physical health aspects of social work (yet there are professors in SW depts who do public health social work research).

My question and source of concern is that if I apply to both programs and am fortunate to be admitted to both, then which degree is more marketable?

Also, do social work doctoral programs encourage you to get in contact with your POI, as they do in public health?

And how competitive is academia in social work?

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DadMike in Maryland

36 months ago

Kevin in New Haven, Connecticut said: Hi All - I am tossing between applying to programs to obtain a PhD in Public Health and a PhD in Social Work - and the pros and cons associated with each (though I may very well apply to both types of programs). Here's my quick background: I graduated with a BSW 4 years ago, and immediately thereafter completed my MPH in social/behavioral sciences. Since then I have been involved with chiefly public health research, and generally love research altogether. My interests are many, but they seem to coalesce into the behavioral health field and the biopsychosocial approach. I'm interested in mixed mtds research, interventions, diverse populations and chronic illness. Further, I have discovered that I'm not that interested in practice, and would like the opportunity to enter academia at some point in my career (and perhaps culminate as Dean - I like the admin side of things as well). I am well aware that social work doctoral programs are research heavy but traditionally do not emphasize the physical health aspects of social work (yet there are professors in SW depts who do public health social work research).

Can't advise your career-track, as I work in applied profession. But I will say-- if you never get your hands dirty with the actual work, you'll lack a critical piece of understanding and empathy when you try to recommend policy and interventions based on your research. That's one big reason so many social programs fall short-- research eggheads w/no real word experience preach to the line what's best. We get a brand new program every 2-3 years, and it's always clear to us that folks in research have not a clue; and they never listen to us. Hopefully you will not become one of those that try to tell others what to do in a job they find too distasteful to actually perform themselves.

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teenas in Cleveland, Ohio

36 months ago

I here everyone discussing MSW programs but can anyone tell me what a Masters of Human Service degree in child protection is? What can you do with this degree? Is it worth applying for or should I apply for the MSW program.

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DadMike in Maryland

36 months ago

teenas in Cleveland, Ohio said: I here everyone discussing MSW programs but can anyone tell me what a Masters of Human Service degree in child protection is? What can you do with this degree? Is it worth applying for or should I apply for the MSW program.

Never heard of it. Would be worthless in Maryland-- you MUST have an MSW to be licensed as a social worker, and to get ahead in the field.

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DadMike in Maryland

36 months ago

DadMike in Maryland said: Never heard of it. Would be worthless in Maryland-- you MUST have an MSW to be licensed as a social worker, and to get ahead in the field.

Oops-- you can also be a BSW to get a license.

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Cay in Atlanta, Georgia

36 months ago

Sarah Ann Higgins in Birmingham, Alabama said: I am shocked to hear how difficult it is in other areas of the country to find good clinical supervision - and that people PAY for this!!! As a MSW, licensed clinical social worker and private independent practitioner with over 20 years experience, I am always more than happy to supervise graduate level social workers interested in sitting for the clinical exam - for no charge! I feel that it is my duty as a social worker to help others in my profession reach their fullest potential, and NOT financially exploit them in the process! What a racket! Shame on those who DO charge for this!!!

It's good to hear someone out there understands. I currently cannot afford the supervision which is why I decided not to pursue licensure.

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ASmiley in Manassas, Georgia

35 months ago

Hello, I wanted to ask a question in regards to the MSW program. Right now, I'm currently in my last class for my MBA, but seriously considering obtaining an MSW degree afterwards. I should have taken this up from the beginning, but anyway, I wanted to know if this was a good program and if having the MBA would be a hassle of trying to get the MSW. This is something I really want to do. If anyone could give me some insight, it would greatly appreciated.

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Shandra in Norfolk, Virginia

35 months ago

Asmiley, if u don't mind me asking.....Why do u feel u need the MSW? What r ur career goals? An MBA is a very prominent degree that u can parlait into managing a non-profit organization. Unless u want to work in direct client care.

Are there more jobs in GA in the social work field than in business? Just curious.

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Tony in Albuquerque, New Mexico

35 months ago

I completely agree with Shandra's comment. However, I just finished my MSW and have three classes left for my MBA. The combination is said to be a good one, but I would think most people complete the two together (one extra semester). If you decide you "need" the MSW realize you are in for 60+ more hours of graduate school and you may never recoup your financial investment? Also, you should consider if you will be delaying your career by pursuing more graduate school rather than focusing on building your management career by gaining experience.

Good Luck

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DadMike in Maryland

35 months ago

Tony in Albuquerque, New Mexico said: I completely agree with Shandra's comment. However, I just finished my MSW and have three classes left for my MBA. The combination is said to be a good one, but I would think most people complete the two together (one extra semester). If you decide you "need" the MSW realize you are in for 60+ more hours of graduate school and you may never recoup your financial investment? Also, you should consider if you will be delaying your career by pursuing more graduate school rather than focusing on building your management career by gaining experience.

Good Luck

If you want to manage a business, MBA is better than an MSW. But if you have an MBA, why would you want to work in a lower-paying, high-stress non-profit social service agency? You'd be better off working in a for-profit business.
If you want a carrer in helping others, get the MSW, and get direct work experience in the field. Without direct experience in the field a person will make a terrible social services agency manager. If you get a dual MBA/MSW you'll be better prepared to run a program, but ONLY if you have direct experience will you run it well.
Agencies bring in non-experienced admins all the time, and I have yet to run into one that lasts long and actually brings about anything than stress and chaos. Mainly due to their lack of understanding of what the job is about.
If you want to make big money, get an MBA.
If you want to help people, get an MSW.
If you'd like to do both, get both degrees- but don't expect big money, or that you'll help people, if you have no real experience with direct work. Or just get the MBA, and volunteer.

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Tim in Washington, District of Columbia

35 months ago

I am a semester away from my MSW and already have an MS in Forensic Psychology and I am going on to complete my PhD. A degree is never useless, especially if you are using the research to increase or further the knowledge base of the population you are focusing on for the profession, or preparing new social workers in the classroom. While a PhD may not offer me more money (which is not often the motivation of true social workers else we would have chosen a different field), I will have my LCSW and with both I simply maximize my ability to choose within an already diverse field. Furthermore, as one person posted, many schools offer grants...mine pays 90% so I am not at all concerned with the cost. My belief is if you want to do the very best job for the underserved, you have to sacrifice and attain the very best; if this means continuing then I salute you as a colleague.

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DadMike in Maryland

35 months ago

Tim in Washington, District of Columbia said: I am a semester away from my MSW and already have an MS in Forensic Psychology and I am going on to complete my PhD. A degree is never useless, especially if you are using the research to increase or further the knowledge base of the population you are focusing on for the profession, or preparing new social workers in the classroom. While a PhD may not offer me more money (which is not often the motivation of true social workers else we would have chosen a different field), I will have my LCSW and with both I simply maximize my ability to choose within an already diverse field. Furthermore, as one person posted, many schools offer grants...mine pays 90% so I am not at all concerned with the cost. My belief is if you want to do the very best job for the underserved, you have to sacrifice and attain the very best; if this means continuing then I salute you as a colleague.

I hate to say this, but, based on your post, how much real world work experience do you have?
Granted, your school is 90% paid for-- but I certainly would not encourage anyone to take on loans for a social work Phd-- they will not reap any benefits beyond an MSW salary, and if you read posts from them even they have a hard, hard time paying back their loans.

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Tim in Washington, District of Columbia

35 months ago

To answer the question posed regarding how much real world experience I have, I have over 13 years of direct care experience and my experience includes jails, prisons, community corrections, mental health, substance abuse, and providing behavior support for the intellectually disabled. I was fortunate enough to listen to a professor in my first year of undergrad, that encouraged her class to volunteer and complete internships in the area(s) we may have an interest in and unlike many of my cohorts that complained about working anywhere for free, time constraints, etc. I sacrificed and gained vital experience that has served me well academically and professionally. While we all certainly need to pay our bills and care for our families, social workers are unique in that we are change agents and genuinely care for human kind. However, I am not motivated by money, therefore my earning a PhD is not contingent upon me earning a higher salary, but solely to provide a service (research and preparing future social workers)for the profession I love. This is my personal decision, just as it is the ultimate decision of the originator of the post...if it works for your personal goal attainment then fine, if not then that is also fine. So yes, I have loads of experience...and building.

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DadMike in Maryland

35 months ago

Tim in Washington, District of Columbia said: To answer the question posed regarding how much real world experience I have, I have over 13 years of direct care experience and my experience includes jails, prisons, community corrections, mental health, substance abuse, and providing behavior support for the intellectually disabled. I was fortunate enough to listen to a professor in my first year of undergrad, that encouraged her class to volunteer and complete internships in the area(s) we may have an interest in and unlike many of my cohorts that complained about working anywhere for free, time constraints, etc. I sacrificed and gained vital experience that has served me well academically and professionally. While we all certainly need to pay our bills and care for our families, social workers are unique in that we are change agents and genuinely care for human kind. However, I am not motivated by money, therefore my earning a PhD is not contingent upon me earning a higher salary, but solely to provide a service (research and preparing future social workers)for the profession I love. This is my personal decision, just as it is the ultimate decision of the originator of the post...if it works for your personal goal attainment then fine, if not then that is also fine. So yes, I have loads of experience...and building.

If you are unconcerned about income, someone else is paying for degree, and your desire is to go into academia/research, the DSW is perfect. It's a great fit for anyone interested in those areas that aren't worried about personal finances and have prior direct work experience.
Skilled MSW may be able to get same jobs,though, but not full professor.

Given the amount of fresh entrants to field on this site, it is important to discuss what the degree offers AND its constraints. DSW is of no benefit to direct social work employment, esp. to a fresh grad.
Personal decisions need to be INFORMED decisions.

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DadMike in Maryland

35 months ago

Tim in Washington, District of Columbia said: I am a semester away from my MSW and already have an MS in Forensic Psychology and I am going on to complete my PhD. A degree is never useless, especially if you are using the research to increase or further the knowledge base of the population you are focusing on for the profession, or preparing new social workers in the classroom. While a PhD may not offer me more money (which is not often the motivation of true social workers else we would have chosen a different field), I will have my LCSW and with both I simply maximize my ability to choose within an already diverse field. Furthermore, as one person posted, many schools offer grants...mine pays 90% so I am not at all concerned with the cost. My belief is if you want to do the very best job for the underserved, you have to sacrifice and attain the very best; if this means continuing then I salute you as a colleague.

I will add one more thing-- in both DC and Maryland, upon completion of and MSW OR DSW you can test for an LGSW license- you must be supervised by a clinical-level supervisor for apx. 2 years to test for the higher license level- in Mayland, LCSW-C for clinical, LCSW for admin only, LISW in DC is I believe the equivalent. And prior psych experience doesn't count- the Boards are strict and kind of jerky about this.
DSW gives you no advantage or shortcut-- you MUST have 2 years supervised experience if you want to have the highest level of licensure as a social worker.

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socialwkr in Missouri

34 months ago

Tim in Washington, District of Columbia said: I am a semester away from my MSW and already have an MS in Forensic Psychology and I am going on to complete my PhD. A degree is never useless, especially if you are using the research to increase or further the knowledge base of the population you are focusing on for the profession, or preparing new social workers in the classroom. While a PhD may not offer me more money (which is not often the motivation of true social workers else we would have chosen a different field), I will have my LCSW and with both I simply maximize my ability to choose within an already diverse field. Furthermore, as one person posted, many schools offer grants...mine pays 90% so I am not at all concerned with the cost. My belief is if you want to do the very best job for the underserved, you have to sacrifice and attain the very best; if this means continuing then I salute you as a colleague.

I think a negative in the social work field is that people accept the myth that social workers get into the field to help "those" poor people who can't help themselves, and thus, social workers (since anyone can do social work, right?) should not expect salaries befitting their education? I think this mentality hurts social workers among other professionals. This concept of a social worker as a sacrifical lamb is what hurts the profession of social work. ANYONE can help someone, social work is a specialized field built on theories and applications that provide an educational background that places social work as a profession.

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socialwkr in Missouri

34 months ago

I forgot to add the concept that social workers are just helpers who want to help others, is what is attributing to a lack of understanding by other professions on the value of social workers. I was just speaking with a social worker who works in a hospital, and she said the new RN supervisor in their IDT meetings tells the social workers they can leave the meeting...once the IDT meeting starts to discuss clinical issues regarding patients. Social workers have been pushed out....but the awesome thing is social workers are continuuing to fight back through showing what they know, and that yes, social work is a valid profession (that anyone can't just do). And a social worker should not be at the bottom of the professional ladder.

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DadMike in Maryland

34 months ago

socialwkr in Missouri said: I forgot to add the concept that social workers are just helpers who want to help others, is what is attributing to a lack of understanding by other professions on the value of social workers. I was just speaking with a social worker who works in a hospital, and she said the new RN supervisor in their IDT meetings tells the social workers they can leave the meeting...once the IDT meeting starts to discuss clinical issues regarding patients. Social workers have been pushed out....but the awesome thing is social workers are continuuing to fight back through showing what they know, and that yes, social work is a valid profession (that anyone can't just do). And a social worker should not be at the bottom of the professional ladder.

Social workers have ALOT of specialized knowledge in their areas of practice. People don't realize that helping someone- TRULY helping, not causing more harm, not pitching in handing out sammies for an hour, but really getting into complex systems such as health care, child welfare, criminal justice, mental health, and making these often arcane, unfriendly, and often harmful systems work for people, is really hard and difficult work.
Social workers are the best interface between systems and the people that use them- I've lost track of the amount of serious issues myself and my staff have been able to solve on behalf of clients due to doctors/psychiatrists/school principals/police, etc., not knowing how to communicate with people. Can't get insurance to cover a crucial medical advice? 10 to 1 a medical social worker can get for you. Need to locate and visit a recently arrested relative? Prison social worker can help. Can't find treatment for your mentally ill child? Spouse is suicidal and you're at your wits ends? Your 6 old just tells you the babysitter molested her? Social worker will almost always be the first person to help with all of the above.

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DadMike in Maryland

34 months ago

socialwkr in Missouri said: I forgot to add the concept that social workers are just helpers who want to help others, is what is attributing to a lack of understanding by other professions on the value of social workers. I was just speaking with a social worker who works in a hospital, and she said the new RN supervisor in their IDT meetings tells the social workers they can leave the meeting...once the IDT meeting starts to discuss clinical issues regarding patients. Social workers have been pushed out....but the awesome thing is social workers are continuuing to fight back through showing what they know, and that yes, social work is a valid profession (that anyone can't just do). And a social worker should not be at the bottom of the professional ladder.

I will add- no wonder nurses can be rude-- look at their threads here-- though they rank higher in medical field than social workers, they are treated far, far worse!! They get yelled AND have to deal w/ body fluids. More power to 'em--- and the good ones will work with the whole team. Bad folks are in every profession.

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socialwkr in Missouri

34 months ago

DadMike in Maryland said: I will add- no wonder nurses can be rude-- look at their threads here-- though they rank higher in medical field than social workers, they are treated far, far worse!! They get yelled AND have to deal w/ body fluids. More power to 'em--- and the good ones will work with the whole team. Bad folks are in every profession.

So true about working as a team....I work with some great nurses and we all respect each other's professional role.

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Wilberforce in Woodbridge, Ontario

33 months ago

I completed my BSW last year, and am completing my MSW this year (I graduate in october '12, woo-hoo!)

I am debating whether I should continue on to do a social work PHD right away, or get into the field (specifically clinical mental health) for a few years. career wise, I am seriously considering becoming a Canadian military social worker, which requires good standing in a regulatory social work body, an MSW and at least 2 years of clinical mental health experience in the field.

alternatively, I am also very interested in conducting research on military social work, post-trauma treatment program effectiveness, the experiences of social work military officers and the like.

what to do, what to do...

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DadMike in Maryland

33 months ago

Wilberforce in Woodbridge, Ontario said: I completed my BSW last year, and am completing my MSW this year (I graduate in october '12, woo-hoo!)

I am debating whether I should continue on to do a social work PHD right away, or get into the field (specifically clinical mental health) for a few years. career wise, I am seriously considering becoming a Canadian military social worker, which requires good standing in a regulatory social work body, an MSW and at least 2 years of clinical mental health experience in the field.

alternatively, I am also very interested in conducting research on military social work, post-trauma treatment program effectiveness, the experiences of social work military officers and the like.

what to do, what to do...

Don't know how different Canada is to US in terms of social work- but if they are similar, PhD in Social Work is a total waste of time. If you want to be a college professor- it's a good investment. If you want to do mental health work- get the MSW, get the license, and get experience. It's all you need.

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Stevo T in Tarrytown, New York

33 months ago

What exactly do Phd's in social work teach? I am interested in teaching but not in research. Am pondering the MSW/Phd track. The posts on this forum have been extremely helpful. I want to teach part-time but am mainly interested in Clinical Work i.e. LCSW. I wonder if I can pursue the LCSW after I finish DSW? Would that be a complete waste of time for me? I am young and motivated. I hear from a lot of social worker friends about the difficulty of finding jobs and/or supervision after the MSW. I just want to keep the options open. I have an M.Div and M.A. in theology in my education background and am fluent in several languages. Aslo, do you know which states value the MSW more--in terms of pay?

Thanks again to all who have taken the time to write on this forum. For a fledgling like me, it has been informative.

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