Schools for Aspiring Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Oct 20, 2021

The path to becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a master's degree from an approved program, commonly offered at a 4-year university. To fulfill licensure requirements, aspiring clinical social workers should select a school that offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) or a doctoral program in social work.

Top 10 Schools with Degrees in Social Work

Here's a list of schools with applicable programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2018-2019*
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, Michigan 4-year, Public Master's, doctorate In-state $23,128
Out-of-state $46,678
Washington University in St. Louis Saint Louis, Missouri 4-year, Private Master's, doctorate $52,400
University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois 4-year, Private Master's, doctorate $57,759
University of Washington Seattle, Washington 4-year, Public Master's, doctorate In-state $15,510
Out-of-state $27,801
Columbia University New York, New York 4-year, Private Master's, doctorate $46,216
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina 4-year, Public Master's, doctorate In-state $10,243
Out-of-state $27,454
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, California 4-year, Public Master's, doctorate In-state $11,442
Out-of-state $26,544
University of Texas-Austin Austin, Texas 4-year, Public Master's, doctorate In-state $11,742
Out-of-state $22,564
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio 4-year, Private Certificate, master's, doctorate $45,168
Boston College Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 4-year, Private Master's, doctorate $29,412

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for a clinical social work school:

  • Students will want to look for accreditation of the program they are considering; the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) maintains a database of accredited social work degree programs at the masters level and students interested in doctoral degrees can find information at the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work.
  • Clinical work is an important part of attaining licensure, so students should look for programs that have a high requirement for supervised clinical work.
  • Schools located in populated metro areas may offer more opportunities for fieldwork, allowing students to gain first-hand experience.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

This graduate degree combines the study of sociology, psychology and public health. This degree program prepares students for leadership roles in social work, as well as advanced professional practice, such as clinical social work. Some schools offer a concentration for clinical practice. A bachelor's degree in social work or liberal arts is generally required for admission to a MSW program. It is typically a full-time, 2-year program. In addition to coursework, students must complete 400-900 hours of supervised field study; this can generally be completed in the surrounding community with a cooperating institution or program.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work is the most common doctoral degree in this field, but a few schools offer a Doctor of Social Work (DSW). There is generally little difference between these two doctoral programs. These graduate programs focus on educating students to become scholars, educators and researchers in the field of social work.

A doctoral social work program typically requires two years of coursework, and a large portion of this time is spent in residency. Students are required to engage in independent research for a dissertation, which will determine the remainder of their program duration.

Students should ensure the accreditation, location and experiential learning components of a social work degree program before enrolling.

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