Why Choose a Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree?
I ‘m often asked why people should choose to pursue a master in social work (MSW) degree over the myriad of other human services graduate degrees that are available. My answer is the same one that influenced my degree choice many years ago: an MSW degree opens up more career paths than any other comparable degree. No other human services-oriented degree encompasses this breadth:
• Therapist, planner, community organizer, executive director, policy analyst, researcher, program developer
• Work across systems: individuals, families of all forms, groups, organizations, neighborhoods, service systems, communities, regions, states, nations
• Every field of practice: addictions, aging, anti-poverty, child welfare, criminal justice, disabilities, health, mental health, social development, social justice, trauma … just to name a few!
• Work with people: in schools, hospitals, prisons, the military, clinics, agencies, government, communities.
• Work on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed in society to “challenge social injustice,” to end discrimination, to address poverty, and to promote meaningful change.
• Build on strengths, support growth, prevent problems, ameliorate long-standing problems, advocate for change, develop innovative interventions, lead an organization, unravel the causes of complex social problems, study what works, do social entrepreneurship.
These are just some of the opportunities for those with an MSW.
On my own career journey, I had been working in the mental health field for several years prior to enrolling in an MSW program. Initially, I had been thinking about pursuing a degree in clinical psychology. But during my work, I noticed that the people who were doing what I wanted to do were social workers. They did therapy with clients, helped clients access services across fragmented services systems, and made service systems change to accommodate clients’ needs. As I learned more about the profession and its commitment to social justice, I knew I had found my professional home.
For those of you out there who are social workers, how would you answer the question, Why Choose Social Work?