You may be able to complete your studies in less time in an advanced standing MSW program. Unlike traditional Master of Social Work (MSW) programs, these courses are designed specifically for graduates of Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programs. See if you qualify, what courses you may take, and the benefits of choosing an advanced standing program as part of your career journey.

Advanced Standing MSW Overview

What is an advanced standing MSW? An advanced standing program is available for students who have previous education in the field of study, typically at the undergraduate level. For MSW programs, this means a BSW holder may qualify for the program. Typically, the program must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The primary difference between an advanced standing and a traditional MSW program is the time frame and scope of courses. While traditional social work programs may focus on foundational programs for the first few courses or even the first entire year, an advanced standing program launches straight into new ideas, concepts, and skills.

The Application Process

Start the application process at a particular university to see if you qualify. Advanced standing social work programs have varying admissions requirements. Here are some examples of requirements that may apply to your chosen program:

  • Receive a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program within the past five years.
  • Graduate with a cumulative and/or social work class GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Pass a background check and drug test.
  • Provide one or more letters of recommendation.
  • Submit resume.
  • Complete one or more admissions essays.

Once you complete the application, you may be invited to an interview to discuss your qualifications and goals. Some programs also require an application fee.

Advanced Standing MSW: Online vs. On Campus

These programs are offered both online and on campuses throughout the nation. Many online courses allow you to work at your own pace to enjoy flexible study and class hours. In most cases, an online course can also be more affordable.

On-campus programs offer in-person classes. Join your professors and classmates in face-to-face discussions and projects on a campus near you or a prestigious location around the country.

Advanced Standing MSW Benefits

Choose an advanced standing Master’s of Social Work to accelerate your training, pursue your dream career, and receive an in-depth education that includes versatile skills. Explore each of these benefits in-depth to see if this degree option is right for you.

Accelerated Training

In most cases, an advanced standing program allows you to earn your degree in as little as one year. Your previous experience and coursework give you the opportunity to earn your degree with fewer courses and fewer hours of studying.

Fulfilling Career Options

Take the next step in your career as a social worker, therapist, counselor, probation officer, or another professional role. Graduates of advanced standing social work programs can enjoy rewarding careers helping others at both the individual and community levels.

In-Depth Education

A Master of Social Work is an advanced degree option that offers specialized training. Study at the graduate level to gain insight, knowledge, and practical experience in your field.

Versatile Skills

Training as a social worker or counselor means training in social policy, education, mental health support, and other critical areas. An MSW also helps you use a number of soft skills as you practice listening, understanding, and assisting individuals in a variety of settings.

How Much Does an Advanced Standing MSW Cost?

The cost of advanced standing social work programs varies depending on the location, school, and whether the program is in-person or online. Costs for advanced standing Master’s of Social Work programs typically start around $10,000; for example, an Advanced Standing MSW online at the University of Nevada – Reno costs approximately $10,600. However,  program costs can range much higher.

Scholarships, grants, and student loans can also affect the cost of a program. Look for grant opportunities and ask about graduate assistantships to reduce the cost of tuition or completely pay for your studies.

Common Courses in an Advanced Standing MSW

What is an advanced standing MSW course schedule? The specific course names and topics can vary from program to program. In general, however, you can expect to learn about some of these topics:

  • Social work
  • Social welfare
  • Human development
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Substance abuse policy and therapy strategies
  • Diversity and social justice
  • Social work research

Most programs include fieldwork as a practical element of your studies. Expect to participate in an internship, practicum, or other hands-on project, either throughout the course or as a capstone project.

If you have a particular area of study you’re interested in, then explore popular concentrations. Many graduate programs allow you to add a concentration to your master’s degree. Here are some popular options:

  • Children, youth, and families
  • Mental health
  • Community administration
  • Community organization and development
  • Clinical work
  • Healthcare

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Advanced Standing MSW?

A traditional Master of Social Work program takes between 18 and 24 months for full-time students to complete. Part-time programs take about 36 months to complete.

An advanced standing Master’s of Social Work can be completed in about 12 months. Part-time advanced standing programs take between 16 and 24 months to complete. This makes an advanced standing track almost twice as fast as a traditional track.

Advanced standing MSW online and traditional online programs can be more flexible. Many online programs are asynchronous, which means you can take classes on your own schedule rather than attending a live stream of a professor. Some online programs allow for an accelerated course schedule.

Career Options and Job Outlook for Advanced Standing MSW Graduates

It’s important to consider your career goals before you research specific schools and apply to a graduate program. What is an advanced standing MSW used for? Here are some common career options for MSW graduates and their job outlooks.

Social Worker

A social worker protects vulnerable individuals and community groups. They help identify needs, assess situations, and provide resources. Becoming a social worker allows you to advocate for community members, families, and individuals who need assistance and support.

The 2021 median pay for a social worker in 2021 was $50,390, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of social workers is expected to grow 12% between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than average.

Health Education Specialist or Community Health Worker

When a community member needs assistance with health-related issues, they may not know where to turn. Health education specialists and community health workers provide education, support, assessments, programs, and connections to individuals with health issues or who are at risk of health-related difficulties.

According to BLS, the 2021 median salary for these professionals was $48,860. The job outlook is a 17% increase from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the national average job growth.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists work with couples to strengthen their marriage, overcome relational issues, or find healthy ways to cope with the stress of marriage, divorce, and other major life events.

Therapists who specialize in marriage and family situations earned median pay of $49,880 in 2021, according to BLS. The number of this category of therapists is expected to grow 16% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster growth than the average job outlook.

Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

Work with probationers and parolees to achieve progress and rehabilitation in the criminal justice system. As a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist, you can help law offenders develop a plan for when they are no longer in prison. You can also help provide resources to help them train for and apply to a new job.

The BLS 2021 median pay for these professionals was $60,250 per year. The job outlook is a 4% increase in the decade between 2020 and 2030, which is slightly slower than average.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

All of these professionals work with people on various mental health and substance abuse issues. These include eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, behavioral problems, and other issues. Each of these counselors provides instruction, evaluation, treatment, and other services for individuals and communities.

These positions together had a 2021 median pay of $48,520 per year, according to BLS. They can expect a significant job outlook, with a 23% increase in jobs between 2020 and 2030. This high percentage puts the estimated employee change between 2020 and 2030 at 75,100 new jobs.

School or Career Counselor or Advisor

As a school counselor or advisor, you will work with students to develop their academic opportunities and social skills. Consider a career as a career counselor or advisor if you’re passionate about helping students and professionals select an occupation and navigate their career goals.

Altogether, these roles had a median pay of $60,510 in 2021, according to BLS. They also had an estimated job increase of 11% between 2020 and 2030. Unlike many social work positions, these roles typically require a Master’s degree in a related field.

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