Where to Get Your Master of Social Work (MSW) in Louisiana
March 10, 2021
You don't need to get your MSW in Louisiana to practice social work there. However, a Louisiana program will prepare you for the state's licensure process. It will also focus on the issues most prevalent in the Pelican State.
So, you're thinking about getting a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. That means you have a pretty good idea that you'd like to pursue a career in social work. You may have earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) as an undergraduate, but that's not necessary. Nearly all MSW programs admit students from every undergraduate major.
Are you currently working as a social worker and hoping to improve your career prospects? Or are you simply looking to enter the field? Either way, a Master of Social Work can open many career options that would not otherwise be available to you. There's a good chance it will increase your income significantly as well. Most important, it will train you to become an advanced-level, effective social worker capable of working in many different social work practices.
Each state has its own rules and procedures for conferring social work licenses. MSW programs typically prepare students for the licensure process of their home state. That's one compelling reason to consider earning your MSW in Louisiana if you plan to build your social work career there. When you complete your MSW in the Pelican State, you'll be all set to earn your license and get started on your career.
If you want to know more about MSW programs in Louisiana, read on. In this article, we'll identify the schools that offer this degree and answer these questions:
- Why get an MSW?
- Does it matter where I get my MSW?
- On-campus or online MSW?
- Which Louisiana schools offer an accredited MSW?
Why get an MSW?
If you plan to spend your working life as a social worker, you will likely find your advancement significantly hampered if you do not have a graduate degree. It's not that you won't be able to find a job; it's just that those jobs will be low-level, low-responsibility, and low-pay. And while you may earn some promotions through hard work and experience, you will ultimately run into a barrier that you cannot pass without a Master's in Social Work.
If your highest level of education is an Associate of Social Work or a Bachelor of Social Work, you probably qualify for these social work jobs:
- Child advocate
- Family service worker
- Gerontology aide
- Intake counselor
- Mental health assistant
- Probation officer
- Residential case manager
- Victims advocate
Among the careers that will never be available to you without an MSW are those involving clinical work. All of those require a graduate degree.
An MSW qualifies you for many, many more jobs, including:
- _Clinical therapist_
- _Community action coordinator_
- _Criminal justice social worker_
- _Foster care social worker_
- _Hospice social worker_
- _Marriage and family counselor_
- _Medical/public healthcare social worker_
- _Mental health counselor_
- __ Military social worker __
- Policy analyst
- Social work researcher
- _School and child welfare social worker_
- _Substance abuse counselor_
An MSW provides the skills and knowledge you'll need to excel in these roles and to broaden your understanding of social work practice and ethics. You'll likely earn more, and you'll do better, more fulfilling work as a result of earning this degree.
Does it matter where I get my MSW?
Yes. To receive a license to practice master's-level social work in the state of Louisiana, you must earn your MSW from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). There are currently five schools with that accreditation in the state.
You can earn your MSW from any accredited master's program in any state and still practice social work in Louisiana. Only a Louisiana program, however, is guaranteed to prepare you for the state's specific requirements. Many programs actually walk you through the requirements to ensure you receive your license at the time of graduation or soon after.
As in most fields, the better-known the school, the more it will help you during your job search after you receive your degree. An MSW from Tulane University will likely impress any employer, recruiter, or potential client. A degree from any accredited institution, however, should qualify you for the vast majority of social work opportunities available in Louisiana.
On-campus or online MSW?
If your top priorities in earning an MSW are to pursue networking, team-building, and mentoring opportunities, an on-campus education will probably better serve your needs. Also, some people simply perform better in a live classroom setting. For them, attending classes on-campus makes sense.
On-campus study has its downsides, however. First, you have to get to campus. That's fine if you live in New Orleans, where there are two accredited programs, or Grambling, Baton Rouge, or Pineville, each with one accredited program. But Louisiana is a big state, with many towns and cities nowhere near any of those locations. Online study removes the need to commute to and from campus or to deal with the nightmare of campus parking. You just drop yourself down at your computer and you're ready to go.
Online learning also broadens your options, particularly if you consider out-of-state schools in addition to Louisiana institutions. Do you currently work? Have family? Have other obligations that make it hard to fit school into your calendar? Online learning is much more flexible than on-campus education. Much of the material is available 24/7, so you can watch a lecture or complete an online project whenever you have a free moment. And thanks to broadband capacities, you can still get plenty of face-to-face time with your instructors and classmates via Zoom or another teleconferencing app.
Which Louisiana schools offer an accredited MSW?
_Grambling State University_
School of Social Work
Historically black college/university (HBCU) Grambling State University offers a two-year, 63-credit Master of Social Work program with a generalist orientation. Students with a Bachelor in Social Work degree enter with advanced standing and must complete only 39 credits to earn the degree. The GSU curriculum includes nine credit hours (three courses) of electives and 900 hours of field education.
The school's website touts the program's "learner-centered environments" that "sensitize students to the social and human realities that culminate in poverty and oppression for populations-at-risk, especially African Americans and rural residents in North Central Louisiana." Elective options like "Rural Social Work Practice" and "Direct Practice with African Americans" illustrate the program's focus on local populations and issues.
School of Human Behavior
Louisiana College is a small undergraduate institution (with just over 1,200 students) and graduate programs in three disciplines (education, nursing, and social work). It's a self-proclaimed Christ-centered institution "academically melding the values of social work and the Christian faith… to the application of social work skills in the marketplace." Students may pursue the MSW here part-time (six hours per semester, taking three to four years to graduate) or full-time (15 hours per semester, two years to graduate). Full-time advanced standing students (i.e., those entering with a Bachelor of Social Work) can graduate in one year.
LC offers a healthcare/behavioral science concentration that prepares social workers for jobs in hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, hospice facilities, and psychiatric facilities. Students may pursue a generalist practice MSW if they prefer. The program is relatively new; as of May 2019, it had graduated seven students.
_Louisiana State University and A&M College_
Baton Rouge, LA
School of Social Work
With over 25,000 undergraduates and over 5,000 graduate students, LSU is the largest university in the state of Louisiana. Its 60-hour MSW is split into a generalist year (30 hours) and an advanced year (30 hours), during which students tailor their education to their interests and career goals. Second-year studies include 12 hours (four courses) of electives. Advanced standing students (i.e., those holding a BSW) can place out of up to 27 credits, making it possible for them to complete the degree in one year.
On-campus students complete the program on a semester schedule. They may pursue a specialization in children and youth services, gerontology, social work practice in schools, or policy and macro practice. Online students follow an intensive seven-week module format, with one-to-two week breaks between the year-round classes. The online program has six annual start dates. Students in both programs must complete 960 hours of field study.
_Southern University at New Orleans_
New Orleans, LA
School of Social Work
Like Grambling State, Southern University at New Orleans is a historically black college and university (HBCU). Like many other social work programs, social justice advocacy lies at the heart of SUNO's approach to the discipline; as the school states on its website, the program here is "undergirded by the school’s themes of advocacy, empowerment and transformation" to "prepare master students for agency-based advanced social work practice."
SUNO's on-campus MSW program offers options for full-time students (63 credits, two years), part-time students (63 credits, six semesters), and advanced standing students (37 credits, three semesters). Students may use electives to develop a concentration in either children, youth, and families and health/mental health. Each concentration encompasses both micro/mezzo and macro approaches.
New Orleans, LA
School of Social Work
Tulane University opened the first social services training school in the Deep South back in 1914. Today this prestigious university continues to pioneer social work practices designed to empower individuals and communities, to prepare students to engage in culturally relevant work, and to facilitate social justice and advocacy. The school offers its MSW both on-campus (full-time and part-time) and online (also full-time and part-time).
New Orleans' recent experiences with natural and human-caused disasters provides rich fodder for faculty and the curriculum. "Direct work with the surrounding community" is "an integral part of the program" here for both on-campus and online students. All students must complete 948 hours of field-based education. Students may supplement their master's degree with certification in disaster and collective trauma, or mental health, addiction, and the family.
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