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A Guide to Massachusetts Social Work Programs

By Staff Writer


The social work field continues to grow, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting an 11% job growth rate from 2018-2028. However, not everyone who earns an on-campus or online social work degree in Massachusetts becomes a social worker. These professionals also find employment as mental health counselors, human resources managers, and therapists. An undergraduate degree in social work lays the groundwork for many potential careers.

A student looking to pursue specific social work careers may need to earn a master's in social work (MSW). These graduate degrees usually allow enrollees to specialize in fields such as addiction, trauma, or health.

In This Article

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work

What does a social worker do?

Social workers assist people with everyday problems, including mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. These professionals work closely with clients to help them adapt to any significant life changes and offer assistance with any crisis situations. Social workers serve as advocates for their clients at the local, state, and national levels.

What is a social worker vs. therapist?

Aside from requiring different licenses, social workers and therapists work in different situations. Social workers often help clients overcome difficulties in their lives, and locate resources for their clients from government, community, and social service agencies. Therapists help clients overcome their problems through communication and sometimes medication. Therapists usually have a smaller scope of practice than social workers.

What does it mean to be a mandated reporter?

A mandated reporter must report any suspicion of child abuse to authorities. Social workers who work closely with vulnerable populations become mandated reporters. As a mandated reporter, it is a social worker's responsibility to observe any potential abusive situations and contact the appropriate authority.

Is social work a good career?

The social work field offers rewarding careers working closely with those in need. Aside from personal satisfaction, social workers also enjoy comfortable wages. BLS data indicates that social workers earned a mean wage of $49,470 in 2018, with the top 10% earning more than $81,000 a year. Social work is also a high-growth field with job security.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation proves that a school or program meets strict academic standards. Some specific degrees, such as those awarded by graduate-level social work programs, receive programmatic accreditation. If you study at an unaccredited school, you may have trouble transferring credits to accredited schools, and employers may pass you over for other candidates.

How do I become a social worker?

Each aspiring professional must complete an accredited social work program. While a bachelor's degree might suffice for some roles, most careers related to social work require a master's degree. Social workers must also obtain licensure, and these requirements vary by state.

What Can I Do With a Social Work Degree in MA?

While a degree in social work can lead to many different careers in Massachusetts, specific career outcomes depend on degree level. The lowest level, a bachelor's in social work (BSW), leads to several entry-level jobs. Many careers require at least a master's in social work, and a master's degree serves as a prerequisite for becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

After becoming an LCSW, graduates can pursue nearly any social worker career. Regardless of which degree students earn, projections show a 7.9% growth rate for social workers in Massachusetts from 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average for all employment. Read on for a few possible careers a social worker might find in MA.

Child and Family Social Worker

Sometimes referred to as social service workers, child and family social workers advocate for families in dire economic straits. This position requires a minimum of a BSW, though most employers prefer candidates with MSWs. While not required, students might want to obtain licensure.

School Social Worker

School social workers help students overcome social or emotional troubles at home or in the community. This position requires a master's degree and a postgraduate license.

Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers help clients pay for medical care, refer clients to facilities, and serve as advocates. Students need at least an MSW to become a healthcare social worker.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

These social workers help clients through psychotherapy, advocacy, and long-term intervention. Each candidate for this role should earn an MSW and become an LCSW.

Top-Ranked Schools with Social Work Programs in MA

Kiplinger's Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst (#57 in-state, #44 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

U.S. News Best Graduate Social Work Programs 2018

  • Boston University (#10)
  • Boston College (#11 tie)
  • Smith College (#17 tie)
  • Simmons College (#38 tie)
  • Salem State University (#105 tie)
  • Bridgewater State University (#128 tie)
  • Springfield College (#128 tie)
  • Wheelock College (#147 tie)
  • Westfield State University (#201 tie)

Social Work Guide's Top Online MSW Programs 2018

  • Boston University
  • Simmons College

Schools in MA with Social Work Degree Programs

BSW and Other Undergraduate Programs

Westfield State University

Westfield State University, located close to Springfield and the Massachusetts-Connecticut border, offers full- and part-time BSW degrees accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The BSW program prepares students for various professional social work roles by developing generalist practice skills and knowledge. Enrollees must apply for admission to the social work degree program in the junior year after completing the necessary liberal arts and social work prerequisite classes, including psychology, history, economics, and biology.

Once admitted to the program, students deepen their knowledge of social work theory by taking classes in social welfare, research, policy analysis, and generalist practice. They must also complete a 400-hour field education placement in a local social service organization. The division of graduate and continuing education offers classes for part-time students on certain weekdays.

This program meets the minimum requirements to become eligible for the first level of social work licensure in Massachusetts, and the university also offers an MSW. Westfield State University currently ranks 86th among public schools in the North by U.S. News & World Report.

Simmons College

Simmons College, located in Boston, offers undergraduate programs to women, along with graduate programs to both male and female students. In 2019, its social work program tied for 36rd in the country in U.S. News & World Report's rankings. The CSWE-accredited BSW program within its school of social work offers generalist practice certificates, including gerontology, children, youth, and family social work, hospice and palliative care, and case management.

Students with exceptional GPAs can apply for the college-wide honors program, which provides additional faculty support, internship opportunities, and scholarships. Enrollees aged 24 and above can also receive extra tuition and counseling support from the university to make the transition to student life easier.

Each degree-seeker in the BSW program must complete service-learning hours and a formal field education placement to prepare for entry-level social work practice after graduation. The college also offers an accredited MSW degree, an accelerated four-year BSW and MSW program, and a Ph.D. in social work.

MSW and Other Graduate Programs

Boston University

Boston University (BU) is a private institution founded in 1839. In 2019, the graduate school of social work was tied at 10th in social work programs as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Boston University's school of social work offers many different options for completing its CSWE-accredited MSW degree: full-time or part-time enrollment at the main campus in Boston; part-time enrollment with weekend classes at several satellite campus locations across Massachusetts; or part-time enrollment online with a clinical focus.

This online social work degree in Massachusetts allows students to complete their field placements in their own communities. Learners can explore MSWs at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. Students with accredited BSWs may also pursue advanced standing enrollment to move directly into their second year. BU periodically offers international summer courses, with previous destinations including Puerto Rico, Mali, China, Denmark, and Israel. The university also features a Ph.D. program in social work.

Boston College

Boston College's MSW program holds accreditation by the CSWE and helps students customize their learning experiences. Enrollees in its school of social work choose either the clinical or macro practice specialization, along with an area of concentration in children, youth and families; global practice; health and mental health; older adults and families; or individualized.

In the first year of the two-year program, students take classes in human behavior, social welfare, research, and diversity. In the second year of the program, students focus on building skills in their areas of specialization and concentration. Candidates who previously earned accredited BSWs may apply for advanced standing to skip the first year of the program. The college offers several certificate programs for MSW students, including child welfare; latino leadership; neuroscience and social work; policy and community organizing; refugees and immigrants; school social work; trauma; and veterans and military families.

The college also offers a Ph.D. in social work. In 2019, the social work program at Boston College ranked 10th among social work schools by U.S. News & World Report.

Springfield College

Springfield College's master of social work degree program offers flexible study options with weekday and weekend course plans for students on both the traditional and advanced standing tracks. Depending on the program, students can typically finish the MSW in 2-3 years.

The college's school of social work also offers a postmaster's certification in trauma-informed practice with children and adolescents, along with an MSW/JD dual degree program offered jointly with the Western New England University School of Law.

Accreditation Information for MA Social Work Schools

School Grad Rate1 Transfer-Out Rate1 Associate’s SW Program Bachelor’s SW Program Graduate SW Program CSWE Accred.5 US News Best Social Work Grad Schools Ranking3 Net Price*1
Anna Maria College 40% N/A No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $27,539
Boston College 91% 6% Yes No Yes Yes #11 tie $26,335
Boston University 85% N/A No No Yes Yes #10 $32,539
Bridgewater State University 59% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #128 tie $14,739
Bristol Community College 19% 16% Yes No No No Not Ranked $7,336
Clark University 78% N/A No Yes No No Not Ranked $24,394
Eastern Nazarene College 47% N/A No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $14,867
Elms College 78% N/A No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $21,846
Gordon College 72% N/A No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $29,486
Holyoke Community College 22% 18% Yes No No No Not Ranked $6,523
Northern Essex Community College 19% 18% Yes No No No Not Ranked $7,730
Regis College 45% N/A No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $22,439
Salem State University 46% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #105 tie $14,848
Simmons College 67% 14% No Yes Yes Yes #38 tie $28,840
Smith College 87% N/A No No Yes Yes #17 tie $25,619
Springfield College 69% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #128 tie $28,292
University of Massachusetts-Boston 42% 34% No Yes No No Not Ranked $10,376
Western New England University 59% 26% No Yes No Yes Not Ranked $28,644
Westfield State University 63% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #201 tie $15,498
Wheelock College 55% N/A No Yes Yes Yes #147 tie $26,533

*The net price is calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics by subtracting the average amount of aid (including grants and scholarships) from the total published cost of attendance for in-state/in-district students, which includes tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses. To gain a better understanding of how to interpret the statistics discussed in this table, see our list of important definitions.

Directory of MA Social Work School Programs

Anna Maria College*
50 Sunset Ln
Paxton, MA 01612-1198
(508) 849-3300
School Site

Boston College*
140 Commonwealth Ave
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-8000
School Site

Boston University*
One Silber Way
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 353-2000
http://www.bu.edu

Bridgewater State University*
131 Summer St
Bridgewater, MA 02325
(508) 531-1000
School Site

Bristol Community College
777 Elsbree St
Fall River, MA 02720-7395
(508) 678-2811
School Site

Clark University
950 Main St
Worcester, MA 01610-1477
(508) 793-7711
School Site

Eastern Nazarene College*
23 E Elm Ave
Quincy, MA 02170-2999
(617) 745-3000
School Site

Elms College*
291 Springfield St
Chicopee, MA 01013
(413) 594-2761
School Site

Gordon College*
255 Grapevine Rd
Wenham, MA 01984
(978) 927-2300
School Site

Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave
Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 552-2000
School Site

Northern Essex Community College
100 Elliott St
Haverhill, MA 01830-2399
(978) 556-3000
School Site

Regis College*
235 Wellesley St
Weston, MA 02493-1571
(781) 768-7000
School Site

Salem State University*
352 Lafayette St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 542-6000
School Site

Simmons College*
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115-5898
(617) 521-2000
School Site

Smith College*
Lilly Hall
Northampton, MA 01063
(413) 584-2700
School Site

Springfield College*
263 Alden St
Springfield, MA 01109-3797
(413) 748-3116
http://www.springfield.edu

University of Massachusetts-Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125-3393
(617) 287-5000
School Site

Western New England University*
1215 Wilbraham Rd
Springfield, MA 01119-2684
(413) 782-3111
School Site

Westfield State University*
577 Western Ave
Westfield, MA 01086-1630
(413) 572-5300
School Site

Wheelock College*
200 Riverway
Boston, MA 02215-4104
(617) 879-2000
School Site

Schools with an asterisk (*) have programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).