Obtaining a social work certificate not only distinguishes you as an expert, it may help you market yourself in a specific field.

Certificate programs are available to both post-baccalaureate and post-MSW students. At some schools, these can be earned concurrently during MSW study. While it’s possible to acquire a certificate after earning a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), earning a certificate does not bestow the same credentialing and professional recognition that an MSW does. In other words, obtaining a certificate as a BSW should not be seen as any kind of substitute for pursuing a graduate MSW degree. The overwhelming majority of employers hire licensed, MSW graduates. In many settings, this is a hard line requirement due to regulatory or insurance guidelines.

Types of MSW Certificates

MSW certificate programs range in type and duration. They may be offered in a fully online format, through a traditional program, or in part-time evening options. As we said, they may be open to BSWs, designed for current or post-MSW students, or offered as professional development through a continuing education program.

The duration, schedule, and certification requirements in each subject area vary as well. Classes may be offered in a series of intensive workshops or stand-alone courses. Depending on the MSW certificate, it may be completed in as little as two semesters, or up to three years. You many also pursue more than one certificate concurrently.

There are so many unique MSW certificate options to choose from, it may be difficult to get your bearings. Start with the area of practice you’re most interested in, and think about your current or future status. Will you pursue this program as a post-BSW, as an MSW student, or as a post-MSW? What fits in best with your career goals and lifestyle? To learn more about certificate study (and to get inspired), browse this extensive list of certificates offered in the field of social work:

  • Palliative and End-of-Life Care
  • Spirituality and Social Work
  • Executive Leadership in the Nor-For-
  • Profit Sector
  • Trauma-Informed Care and Counseling
  • Child and Family Therapy
  • Drugs and Addiction
  • Clinical Practice with Adolescents
  • Child and Family Therapy
  • Gerontology
  • Integrated Healthcare
  • Mental Health
  • Home Services Management
  • Gender Sexuality and Women’s Studies
  • Global Social Work
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Challenging Behavior
  • Latino Leadership
  • Policy and Community Organizing
  • Human Resources Management
  • Veterans and Military Families
  • Neuroscience and Social Work
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.