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Degree Overview: Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) Degree in Hospice Care

Majors Overview August 22, 2017

This article talks about Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree programs in Hospice Care and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education options.

Master of Social Work Programs in Hospice Care Overview

Specialization in hospice care as a particular area of interest is often available to a student enrolled in a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) program. They may avail such a specialty via field placement and elective courses in hospice and end-of-life programs. Two different tracks in the master’s program are offered in many schools, to fulfill the need of students seeking direct contact with clients and those aspiring to become social work administrators.

While admission criteria typically accept incoming students with any bachelor’s degree, students may gain academic advantages by having a bachelor’s degree in social work. In all states, licensure is mandatory for social workers, and a special certification is available through the National Association of Social Workers for individuals interested in hospice work.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to meet a GPA standard of 3.0 in undergraduate coursework, particularly in courses related to liberal arts. Advanced academic standing may be available to applicants with a Bachelor in Social Work (B.S.W.) from an accredited school. They may also be allowed to transfer some credit toward the master’s degree. In most schools, applicants may also have to submit a resume detailing relevant volunteer and work experience, along with letters of reference.


The emphasis of coursework in many MSW programs is on work experience or field study, apart from seminars and classes. Those seeking specialization in hospice or end-of-life care may have to complete core coursework that covers topic areas such as:

•Social work in health care settings
•Programs for aging adults
•Grief and bereavement
•Aging and the family
•Advanced social work practice with elders
•Social work and spirituality

Job and Wage Outlook

Social workers, including those who focus on medical and public health care, are expected to see a faster than average 19% job growth, over the 2012 – 2022 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The projected growth is due to the growth in the aging population. In May 2016, healthcare social workers brought in an average annual wage of $55,510 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Options

State licensure is compulsory for clinical social workers who can obtain it by meeting certain standards, including two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience (BLS). With an MSW, a licensed social worker can hope to obtain career enhancement into a management position.
Specialization in hospice care is available through a Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker designation offered by the National Association of Social Workers. An advanced version of the credential can be obtained by acquiring a degree from an accredited school, having college course credits in the hospice specialty area and at least two years of related work experience.

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