Social Work

A Guide To Specialized Certificates For Post-Baccalaureate Social Work Study, Masters of Social Work (MSW) Students, and Professional Development

A Guide To Specialized Certificates For Post-Baccalaureate Social Work Study, Masters of Social Work (MSW) Students, and Professional Development
Image from
Nedda Gilbert profile
Nedda Gilbert May 8, 2018

Perhaps you would like to develop your skills or deepen your training in a specific area of social work. You may want to advance your knowledge of a particular population, such as children and families or the elderly. If so, earning a specialized certificate is an option.

Article continues here

Obtaining a social work certificate not only distinguishes you as an expert, it may help you market yourself in a specific field.

Certificate programs are available to both post-baccalaureate and post-MSW students. At some schools, these can be earned concurrently during MSW study. While it’s possible to acquire a certificate after earning a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), earning a certificate does not bestow the same credentialing and professional recognition that an MSW does. In other words, obtaining a certificate as a BSW should not be seen as any kind of substitute for pursuing a graduate MSW degree. The overwhelming majority of employers hire licensed, MSW graduates. In many settings, this is a hard line requirement due to regulatory or insurance guidelines.

Types of MSW Certificates

MSW certificate programs range in type and duration. They may be offered in a fully online format, through a traditional program, or in part-time evening options. As we said, they may be open to BSWs, designed for current or post-MSW students, or offered as professional development through a continuing education program.

The duration, schedule, and certification requirements in each subject area vary as well. Classes may be offered in a series of intensive workshops or stand-alone courses. Depending on the MSW certificate, it may be completed in as little as two semesters, or up to three years. You many also pursue more than one certificate concurrently.

There are so many unique MSW certificate options to choose from, it may be difficult to get your bearings. Start with the area of practice you’re most interested in, and think about your current or future status. Will you pursue this program as a post-BSW, as an MSW student, or as a post-MSW? What fits in best with your career goals and lifestyle? To learn more about certificate study (and to get inspired), browse this extensive list of certificates offered in the field of social work:

  • Palliative and End-of-Life Care
  • Spirituality and Social Work
  • Executive Leadership in the Nor-For-
  • Profit Sector
  • Trauma-Informed Care and Counseling
  • Child and Family Therapy
  • Drugs and Addiction
  • Clinical Practice with Adolescents
  • Child and Family Therapy
  • Gerontology
  • Integrated Healthcare
  • Mental Health
  • Home Services Management
  • Gender Sexuality and Women’s Studies
  • Global Social Work
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Challenging Behavior
  • Latino Leadership
  • Policy and Community Organizing
  • Human Resources Management
  • Veterans and Military Families
  • Neuroscience and Social Work

About the Author

Ms. Nedda Gilbert is a seasoned clinical social worker, author, and educational consultant with 25 years of experience helping college-bound and graduate students find their ideal schools. She is a prolific author, including The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and Essays that Made a Difference. Ms. Gilbert has been a guest writer for Forbes and a sought-after keynote speaker on college admissions. Previously, she played a crucial role at the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company and was Chairman of the Board of Graduate Philadelphia. Ms. Gilbert holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University and is a certified interdisciplinary collaborative family law professional in New Jersey.

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle. He has been managing editor of the Noodle.com website for over four years.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


Share