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Question About Social Work Degree and Sociology?

Question by Tiff: Question about Social Work Degree and Sociology?
What you would say is the difference between a bachelors in Social work and a Bachelors in Sociology with a concretion in social work? When looking for a job, what type of places would look at me for both of these different kinds of degrees?
What type of places do social workers work in?

Best answer:

Answer by monique
Sociology is the “study of society”, so your curriculum is not geared towards “practice”, like social work curriculum is geared towards. For example, in a sociology class you may study a topic that looks at demographics, social problems, different theories and research. However it does not provide practice interventions in how to work with the individuals who perhaps may be having social problems, etc. The goal is more of studying and learning about various groups in society.

BSW curriculum will provide education on theories and practice in working with individuals, groups, families, communities and organizations. The BSW degree also requires a field practicum (internship). Universities typically have a list of approved agencies who have agreed to take students.

Sociology is interesting curriculum and important….which is why BSW curriculum does require a certain number of sociology course work. I know we had to take sociology course work for culture/ethnic relations, as well as of course general sociology. I also had to take a sociology research course as well as a social work research course. And I took a couple of sociology electives too.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has a directory of social work programs accredidated and there are hyperlinks to the University website page social work program which is a convenient to search the type of curriculum offered. http://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/organizations.aspx

Social workers can work in various settings, to include administrative jobs. Some individuals with social work degrees, for example, write grants, do research and work on fundraiser in agencies that may be not for proft. Social workers work in health care settings (hospice, home health, hospitals, nursing homes); mental health settings (state department of mental health, residential treatment centers, alcohol/drug rehab, etc); dept of social services (child protective services, foster care, investigator, etc); other state jobs may include probation and parole officers; youth services (to include juvenile facilities, counseling, residential); dept of aging (adult protective services, community support worker); maternal health (education, home visits, etc); and other public health positions. Social workers who have their Masters in Social Work and typically a clinical license can work for the federal government, to include the Veterans Administration as well as a civilian working on military installations.

Social workers may work for law firms; victim advocates; domestic violence shelters; grass roots organizations (i.e. I saw a job looking for a social worker to work for Mothers Against Drunk Driving); organizations/agencies that provide services for those who are homeless (i.e. Salvation Army, catholic charities); management/administrative positions in various job settings with the MSW. I have also met a couple of social workers who attended a graduate program where they earned their MSW and JD in a dual program. One of them has her own elder law practice.

So there are options out there…..one has to be creative and know what their focus is. The myth of the day is that all social workers are poor and work for child protective services, which is far from the truth! Also, most of the state agencies will hire individuals with a BS in Sociology, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Education as well as Social Work to work in entry level positions like child protective services. So these are not “social work” jobs in the strict sense.

I would also encourage you to do some online job searches to get a sense for the positions out there and the qualifications and degree employers are looking for. Indeed is a good job search if you haven’t tried it before http://www.indeed.com

Also, if you do choose to get your BSW, you would qualify to apply for one year advanced standing MSW programs if you wanted to go to graduate school at some point. This is what I did. Essentially, one year of the core social work curriculum is waived, because the BSW would have had this during the BSW. If somoene does not have a BSW the average length of a MSW program full time is approximately two years.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!



Lisa – Lost in her addiction for years, Lisa Ummel lost everything before she found hope while in a recovery program of The Salvation Army.


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