Top Online Military Social Work Programs

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WHAT IS A MILITARY SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM?

A military social work program, you will find, is most often a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Here, you would study the many ways to help people solve and cope with problems. Then, you will learn to apply these concepts to support active duty personnel, veterans and their families.

If you want to utilize your counseling methods, then you need a master’s degree and a state license. You will also need 2 years of supervised field work. Earning a military social work degree may ready you to pursue this licensure. Or, at the bachelor’s level, you would be prepared to help out as a case manager.

TYPES OF ONLINE MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAMS

Master of Social Work  Military Social Work

Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) Military Social Work Specialization

Master of Social Work

In the online MSW at USC, you will find both an advanced standing program (37 credits) and traditional (60 credit) program. The Military Social Work track helps you learn how to meet the unique needs of active military members, veterans and their families.The online MSSW at the University of Louisville offers you an advanced standing (30 credit) program and a regular (60 credit) program. Here, you would complete an advanced field practicum in an approved military social work placement.The online MSW at Simmons allows you to meld social justice values with a strong emphasis on field education. Here, you will find full time, part time, and accelerated options. You can choose from courses of study in child and family, mental health and addictions, as well as health and aging.
Course Examples:

  • Clinical Practice with the Military Family
  • Clinical Practice with Service Members and Veterans
  • Military and Veterans Policy and Program Management
Course Examples:

  • Military Social Work
  • Mental Health
  • Psychopathology
Course Examples:

  • Social Policy
  • Human Behavior
  • Advanced Clinical Practic

MSW Specialty

Usually, you will find military social work to be an area of emphasis within broader MSW programs. At the most basic, you will study specific ways to assess and support this vital group. This can mean you could study military culture in order to understand specific issues of concern:

  • Support for stressed military personnel facing deployment
  • Anxiety of active duty and veterans upon their return home
  • Physical, mental and psycho social issues of service members and veterans
  • Assisting service members find health and career services
  • Counseling for military families
  • Helping to provide links to resources (career, financial, housing and benefits)
  • Stressors for active duty, guard, reserve and veteran groups
  • Post traumatic stress

In many schools, you will see two types of programs: (1) traditional or general, (2) advanced standing. You will find that advanced standing MSW programs often entail about 30 to 37 credits. This is right for you if you have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). As such, you will skip the basic courses. Instead, your classes will cover clinical upper level content. As such, your classes will be shorter, though you will complete a practicum in your area of emphasis.

WHAT DO MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE COURSES LOOK LIKE?

Before we talk curriculum, it’s important to know what kind of program you’re looking for.

  • Are you new to social work?
  • Do you already have a BSW?
  • Would you prefer to study addictions, aging, mental health or the needs of children?

In general MSW Programs, you will often need to complete 60 to 65 credits. In this case, you will be building a foundation, as the courses cater to non social work students. You will still need a bachelor’s degree to enroll, but it doesn’t need to be a BSW.

In such programs, you will complete two parts plus  fieldwork. Firstly, you’ll take foundation courses. Secondly, you will take advanced practice courses. You will often take a wide range of courses in human behavior and social justice. In these courses, you will touch on how to assess and work with a wide variety of people.

After this part of the program, you will likely take higher level, clinical classes. In these, you may get into leadership and management themes in social work. You may, for instance, study ethics, diagnosis and assessment. In some schools, this is the point where you choose a direction.

In advanced practice classes, you would cover how to intervene when faced with a problem. As a result, you taking these classes may expand your skills. If you choose a direction, it may be a useful way to leverage your interests. Your interest, for example, might be addiction, domestic abuse, or policy advocacy.

Some common courses include:

Clinical Practice with the Military Family: This type of class may help you understand the family life cycle for military families. How the demands and stressors of military culture affect dynamics. For instance, how they cope with the deployment of a parent, spouse or child.

Clinical Practice with Service Members and Veterans: Here, you may study active duty, retired and deployed service members and veterans. What are their needs? How to deal with health, mental and psychosocial issues. It may pay attention to themes like combat trauma, stigma and mental health therapy.

Field Education Internship: Apply what you learned in real settings. It’s a part of all the programs below although each school specifies the number of hours and location.

Substance Use and Use Disorders: In this course, you will learn to prevent, identify, and provide specialty appropriate interventions for patients who use drugs.

Intro to Family Therapy: Learn various therapeutic modalities in family therapy. You would discuss indirect methods for initiating and sustaining change in family systems.

Mental Health: This course will help you identify, understand, and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.

Trauma and Interpersonal Violence: Learn how to focus on the social forces, prevalence, dynamics, types, effects and interventions specific to trauma and interpersonal violence.

Social Change: In this course, you will gain an understanding of how society changes through social movements and how these movements form and evolve over time.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EARN A MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE?

If you are a full time student, it may take 2 years or less to earn an online MSW in military social work. To get to this point, you will need to first earn a bachelor’s degree.

Some BSW programs could take you 4 years to complete. You could also attend a school (e.g. Simmons University) that offers a 3+1 program. In that case, you could roll the BSW and MSW degrees into 4 years.

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MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAM EXAMPLES

School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Northcentral University36Multiple24
Simmons65September12 to 16
University of Southern California35Multiple12

HOW MUCH DOES AN ONLINE MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAM COST?

What you will pay for an online military social work degree depends on several factors. One is where you live. In state tuition for a social work degree will cost you $6,993. For out of state tuition, you could pay $29,900.

The other factor you need to consider is how many credits you have to complete. Many schools charge by a per credit rate while others may charge a flat fee for the course. If you are paying per credit, then the fewer credits you need to complete, the fewer you need to pay for. Sometimes, you can reduce costs through eligible transfer credits.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
University of Southern California37$1,863$68,931
Northcentral University36$2,163(per course)$25,956
University of Louisville30$714$21,420

TOP SCHOOLS FOR MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE ONLINE PROGRAMS

At the last check, you can see, there were over 50 schools that offer social work degrees or programs. From those schools, you will find there were 46,810 social work degrees awarded to students. The majority (56%) of these, you will find, were degrees from MSW programs.

School2017 Degrees awarded2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)
University of Southern California1,438$56,255
Rutgers University New Brunswick756$31,282
University of Texas Arlington677$26,553
New York University619$56,225
Fordham University618$52,687
CUNY Hunter College523$14,852
Aurora University465$24,260
Columbia University NYC460$59,430
Loyola University Chicago425$44,048
California State University Los Angeles305$18,629

*Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students

CHOOSING AN ACCREDITED MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE ONLINE PROGRAM

There are two main reasons you are wise to look for an accredited online military social work degree. The first speaks to your program’s quality. The second fact you need to consider revolves around licensure.

Regionally accredited schools, you will find, may also have programs that are CSWE accredited. The Council on Social Work Education (or CSWE) is a national association. It has a Commission on Accreditation. This, you should know, is the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the U.S.

Did you know that as a policy and standards setter, the CSWE has criteria which a school must meet? This, you will find, includes the types of courses and skills in a curriculum. Overall, you will find, they conduct a stringent peer review of each social work program to check for compliance.

Candidacy, or the review, you will find, takes about three years. It does not guarantee accreditation, you should know. However, once accredited, you can rest ‘reasonably assured’ of the program’s quality. That said, your school must reaffirm its status every few years. This means maintaining or improving itself.

The CSWE, you will find, only accredits programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. You can find a directory on their website. This is a great way to check where your choice schools stand. It is something for you to keep in mind, since this relates to the second point, licensure.

You may have gathered that social work is a regulated field. As such, you will find that each state has policies about licensure. Yet, there is one rule of thumb per the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). To pursue a license, you will usually need to earn your degree from a CSWE accredited program.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE?

Did you know that the number of people in the social work workforce is 725,950 strong? Also, as you can guess, it’s growing by 6.19%. Reports also point to a gender imbalance. This, you will find, is because 87% of employees are women. The average age is 43.2 years. Newcomers are getting younger, but in one year there has only been a 0.36% change in the average.

Are you interested in this track? Well, it’s an exciting time for you to pursue a career in social work. Per BLS.gov, the employment of social workers is on the rise by 16% through 2026. This is much faster than average for all occupations.

Projections are even more favorable if you are interested in a specific type of social work. The demand for healthcare social workers is growing by 20%. A close second, the growth rate for mental health and substance abuse social workers is 19%.

TOP SALARIES BY STATE FOR MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE HOLDERS

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
NV730$78,940
CA18,150$72,770
District of Columbia530$70,580
OR1,480$70,190
CT2,170$68,840

CAREERS WITH A MILITARY SOCIAL WORK DEGREE

There are a variety of exciting career paths you can pursue with a military social work degree. For entry level roles like case worker and mental health assistant, you can expect to need a BSW degree. Clinical roles will require you to have an MSW and possible state license.

MILITARY SOCIAL WORKERS

As a military social worker, you would work with active service members and veterans. In this role, you could be a civilian, or you could be an active duty or veteran military social worker.

Active or former military personnel can face unique challenges as a result of their jobs. These can include isolation, anxiety, insomnia, post traumatic stress disorder, and depression. They may also have a hard time transitioning to civilian life, with finances or deployment.

Your role, as a military social worker, is to help with these issues. You could, for example, use your skills as a homeless outreach social worker, or as a liaison to services. Or, you may have the knowledge to counsel military families or work with addictions.

Median Salary: $61,980 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 16% (Much faster than avg.)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work

SOCIAL WORKERS

As a social worker, you would help people solve and cope with problems in their day to day lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Bachelor’s social workers (BSW) may work with groups, community organizations and policy makers. In this role, you would operate at the macro level to develop or improve programs, services and policies. This may involve advocacy and speaking up for the underserved.

If you wish to be a clinical social worker, you must have an MSW and a license. In this role, you may provide therapy to individuals, groups, families and couples. Often, you will choose a specialty. School, child and family, healthcare, addictions and mental health are some examples.

Median Salary: $47,980 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 16% (Much faster than avg.)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work

MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SOCIAL WORKERS

Mental health and substance abuse social workers focus on mental illness or addictions. If you choose this path, your role may be to provide counseling or services. For example, you might run support groups or 12 step programs.

You could also work in military support programs. One example is the Navy’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program. Another is the Air Force’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program. Or, you may work in outpatient centers or family services.

Median Salary: $43,250 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 19% (Much faster than avg.)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work

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EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.

Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.