Human Services Guide
Oregon

MSW in OR | Master of Social Work in Oregon

Oregon is part of the beautiful Northwest region of the US and is home to tremendous natural beauty and a high tech industry second only to Silicon Valley in the US. Whether you want to work as a licensed social worker in Salem or a Child Welfare Case Manager working at a Oregon Department of Human Services in Portland, you will want to earn your Master of Social Work degree. In the past 5 years the workforce in the United States has seen a huge shift towards being far better educated and trained. This sea change in workforce education came as workers responded to layoffs during the economic downturn by returning to schools like Portland State University to attain advanced degrees. In order to remain competitive in this new economic reality it is crucially important to earn a Master’s degree in your field. In the current marketplace one often needs a Master’s degree to even get an interview, let alone actually landing the job. If you are considering a career in social work in Oregon, you should really evaluate whether it is wise to stay in school until you have earned your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Few degrees in the field of human services offer as many employment options as the MSW. Regardless of your career choice a MSW will open doors and also make you highly competitive for jobs that do not strictly require Master’s degrees.

The first step towards opening the door to a wide variety of excellent and engaging careers in Social Work will be to take the time and put in the research to make an informed choice from amongst the various MSW schools in Oregon. Once you have found the ideal school and specific program that appeals to you, then you can complete the process of getting your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and enter the Social Work arena. From there it is simply a matter of looking at all your options and finding an occupational specialty that makes the best use of your natural talents and abilities. For those who find that they have skills in organization, motivating others and having vision, a career as a Social Work Administrator at the Department of Human Services in Portland may be a perfect chance for you to capitalize on your natural talents. If you prefer to work with people who are disabled, you may want to look at the idea of becoming an Aging and Disabilities Case Manager helping people ensure that their government assistance programs continue to provide the safety net and supplemental income they need to flourish. After you have your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree you will find that a whole array of possibilities open for you in the Social Work world. .

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Oregon has a number of levels of social work licensure and you become academically eligible for all of them when you have a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. The levels are: the Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW), the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), the Certified Social Worker Associate (CSWA) and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). The requirements for each level are outlined in our article on Oregon Licensure Page. The state website also has useful information and you can find at the State of Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers.

Finding the Right School for MSW in Oregon

If you want the best possible educational outcome and the ideal skill set for your future career, you will need to thoroughly research schools and MSW programs. Taking the time to find one that gives you the training and skill set you need for your occupation is a considerable investment in your future. If you feel called to assume a leadership position within a Human Services agency an excellent choice is to find a degree concentration similar to the Social Service Administration and Leadership degree concentration offered at Portland State University. While most MSW programs are created with generalized curriculums to prepare you for virtually any career in the social work sector, some MSW programs are designed to help students prepare for specific careers. This is why it is so critical to really get into the details of what a program might offer in terms of curriculum and skill set taught.

Career Options with a MSW

A MSW is a wonderful degree to earn for many reasons. One such reason is the tremendous diversity of occupations you will be eligible for after graduation. In order to truly make an informed educational decision, you will want to spend some time investigating several job options to find an occupation that is a great fit for you. An example career to consider is working at Providence Health and Services as a Clinical Case Manager in Medford. You might be interested in a career similar to being a Medical Social Worker at Tuality Healthcare in Hillsboro. Here at humanservicesedu.org we have built a resource that can help you research this exact decision. Below you will find a fairly short list of some of the many positions you will qualified for with an MSW in Oregon. For more in-depth research consult our section on job descriptions:

  • School Social Worker
  • Child Welfare Case Manager
  • Social and Community Service Manager
  • Licensed Clinical Social Work
  • Aging and Disability Services Case manager
  • Social Service Screener
  • Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Social Work Administrator
  • Social Service Permanency Worker

MSW Programs in Oregon

Finding the Right Program for You

There are many elements you will want to weigh and consider as you work to select the ideal MSW program. One decision which can help you quickly narrow the field of possible programs is to make a determination about which type of learning experience is a better fit for you, a traditional physical campus or an online program. If you find that you prefer a physical campus like the Ashland (Pop. 20,232) campus of Portland State University, you will quickly be able to zero in on programs where the school is located near a desirable area to live in. There are several Portland State Campuses to choose from and there is a large difference between the Portland (Pop. 2.2 million) as compared to their other campuses such as the Ashland (Pop. 20,232) campus. After you have decided on your campus type, you can then concentrate on evaluating elements of the programs you are considering:

  • The curriculum
  • Program accreditation (CSWE etc.)
  • Admissions requirements
  • Program prestige
  • The financial costs of the program

Of the many aspects of a MSW program one should carefully evaluate and analyze, the most important is the curriculum. While the vast majority of MSW programs will have attributes of the curriculum that are universal from program to program, some have been carefully crafted to give the graduate student certain skillsets for specific employment outcomes. For instance, some MSW programs are geared towards giving students the skills that are required to be effective child welfare case managers as is the case with the Portland State degree concentration in Direct Human Service. You will need to determine for yourself if a customized program or a more generalized MSW is a better fit for your employment aspirations. While there are many online or distance programs that are CSWE accredited the only physical university in Oregon with this accreditation are the various Portland State University campuses.

Reviewing financial costs as one evaluates schools and programs is a crucial consideration for many students. To get a sense of tuition rates you can look at Portland State University for illustrative purposes as you evaluate several schools and programs. Portland State University has tuition rates of $4044.00 for residents of taking 12 credits for each term, compared with $6324 for a 12 credit term for non-residents. There are also fees, book costs, supplies and room and board which will need to be considered as part of your financial evaluation process as you analyze several schools. You also will need to make sure that you have met all of the admission requirements for a given program, which may vary from program to program. A final element you may wish to take into account is program prestige in the social work community. A prestigious program could potentially provide you with an edge as you seek post-graduation employment.

Online MSW Degree Programs in Oregon

Your evaluation process should include a careful evaluation and analysis of the relative advantages of both online and physical campuses. Often online programs will offer considerable financial incentives when compared to their traditional peers in terms of tuition costs. This is a consideration that can really tip the scales for students who are working within more restrictive financial realities. Another extremely appealing trait of online programs is that they will often be very modular. This allows students tremendous latitude in terms of class schedules and program completion timelines. This is extremely helpful for students for whom flexibility is at a premium. For some students the ability to take classes from the comfort of their own home or office is one unique attribute of online programs that makes them extremely appealing. You will have to weigh the various pros and cons of online and physical campuses and determine which one is a better fit for your learning style and personal preferences.