Known for its calm, laid-back population and accepting communities, Oregon is a welcoming state for any social work student. There are over 3.9 million residents in Oregon, many of whom live in cities like Portland, Eugene, and Salem. As a student, you may find that Oregon places a great deal of importance on education. The state has above average high school and college graduation rates, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

According to Sperling’s Best Places, the cost of living in Oregon is 12% above the national average. However, the cost of living is considerably lower in rural or suburban areas.

If you want to earn an MSW in Oregon, there are three schools that you can attend. Two schools are in urban areas, while one is located in a suburban area. With an average tuition cost of $8,107 and an average scholarship of $3,630, getting your degree in Oregon can be very inexpensive.

Since MSW programs are broken up into a core year and a concentration year, many schools give you the opportunity to choose a concentration early on in your program. Portland State University has many options, including a school social work concentration, a Peace Corps international track, and a certificate in gerontology. You start field hours right away in your first semester, so you can use this time to figure out what specialty you want to pursue.

In your core year, you take lower-level courses in social work techniques, societal influences on behavior, and theoretical perspectives of social work. These courses help you build a strong base of knowledge in social work, which you can build on in your second year.

As you begin your second year, you can plan on digging into the themes that you touched on in your core year. If you choose a concentration, much of your coursework will revolve around your concentration.

Throughout your program, you’ll have to complete over 900 hours in the field. You will likely have to go to many different places, as this is the quickest way to get experience in a variety of fields.

With the huge variety of employment options open to social workers, it’s important to think about your career path long before graduation. Ideally, you’ll learn about different career options and requirements while you are in school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is likely that you will end up working for a healthcare organization or government agency. They are the two largest employers of social workers in the country.

In Oregon, some of the primary social work employers are Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Amedisys Home Health & Hospice Care, Dialysis Clinic Inc, and Cambia Health Solutions. There may also be private practice opportunities if you pursue clinical licensure.

Once you have graduated from your MSW program, you can begin the process of becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker. All licensure paperwork goes through the Board of Licensed Social Workers. You must pay $100 for your license, $50 for your application, and $50 for your background check. Upon passing your exam, you get your license.

To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and have full clinical privileges, you must complete 3,500 hours of supervised work experience as an LMSW. Once the Board receives your supervisor’s evaluations and proof of your hours, you can sit for the clinical exam.

As a social worker, your salary is dependent on myriad factors, including your licensure level, what experience you have, and what type of social work you do. Overall, social workers in different specialties can expect to earn average salaries of $38,000 per year to $58,100 per year (O*Net, 2012). Specialist clinical social workers generally earn average salaries of $41,100 per year to $52,800 per year (O*Net, 2012).

Overall, job openings for social work graduates in Oregon are not expected to increase significantly through 2020. However, it is important to note that across the nation, job growth for social workers is expected to increase by 20% to 34% (O*Net, 2012). Clinical social workers, like family therapists and substance abuse counselors, can expect national job growth of 27% to 41% (O*Net, 2012).

Schools in Oregon Offering Masters in Social Work Programs

Oregon State University

(Corvallis, OR)

  • Masters in Human Development and Family Studies
  • Masters in Public Policy Analysis
  • $6,660 Tuition Cost
  • $3,491 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
  • Urban Campus Setting

Portland State University

(Portland, OR)

  • Masters in Social Work (MSW)
  • $6,390 Tuition Cost
  • $5,147 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
  • Urban Campus Setting

Western Oregon University

(Monmouth, OR)

  • Masters in Social Work (MSW)
  • $7,080 Tuition Cost
  • $2,253 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
  • Suburban Campus Setting
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