Those with an interest in assessing, managing, and implementing community and social services programs should look into master’s degree programs in social work. This article talks about these type of programs and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.
Master’s Programs in Social and Community Services
The focus of Master of Science in Social Work (M.S.S.W.) and Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree programs is on the theoretical ideas and practical skills underlying the provision of community services to underserved peoples. Students take about two years to complete these programs though students with bachelor’s degrees in social work may complete some within a year.
Specializations are available in either macro or clinical social work, with respective emphases on group services and individual care. There is a more direct relation between macro social work courses and community services; however, enrollees in both programs are taught necessary skills in leadership, research, and administration.
Students can expect to become an expert in evaluating the effectiveness of social service programs, influencing public policy, administering community services, and working with specific populations. Enrollees in most programs are allowed to gain hands-on training through field experiences.
Admission criteria typically require incoming students to MSSW and MSW programs to hold undergraduate degrees in a social sciences or liberal arts field. A course in statistics is also a requirement. Admission criteria also require the submission by students of a resume, letters of reference, and a statement of purpose.
Program coursework in MSSW and MSW programs is devised to make students adept in assisting diverse populations. The emphasis of coursework is on statistical and research skills, program implementation, social policy, and administration strategies. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:
•Working with multicultural populations
•Community building theory
•Strategic community partnerships
Students who complete an MSSW or MSW program can seek positions with non-profit organizations, the government, or private advocacy groups. They can seek jobs as consultants, supervisors, or policy advisors. They may choose from possible job positions such as:
•Community development consultant
•Community service program administrator
•Social service policymaker
Job and Wage Outlook
Social and community service managers are expected to see a faster than the average 21% job growth during the 2012 – 2022 decade. In May 2014, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $67,730 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Continuing Education Choices
Program graduates who seek continuing education may pursue doctorate programs that emphasize theoretical skills and research; those who complete these programs may pursue careers in program assessment and academia. Graduates may often seek careers as theorists, professors, or policymakers.