Human Services Guide
Pennsylvania

MSW in PA | Master of Social Work in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is located in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic region of the US and is a state with a rich history. Pennsylvania is also a state that has significant opportunities for the well-educated social worker, especially those possessing a Master of Social Work degree. In our current marketplace it is crucial to make your resume stand out to prospective employers. As the workforce has become increasingly well-educated it has become a top priority to maintain pace and earn an advanced degree. For those who are considering becoming social workers in Pennsylvania, you will want to take the time to research and evaluate the tremendous benefits offered by earning your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. A MSW is an extremely valuable degree and is very sought after by employers in the human services field. It is also a degree that will offer a tremendous diversity of potential careers to those who have one. 

Earning your MSW will give you many possible occupational routes to take, such as: social work administrator within the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, a school social worker helping troubled children in one of Pennsylvania’s 500+ school districts or creating your own independent practice as a licensed clinical social worker. 

The first step towards ensuring that you have a bright future in Social Work, that is adaptable, flexible and with excellent job security is to take the time to compare and contrast several MSW schools in the state of Pennsylvania. Finding the right fit in terms of both school and program will pay tremendous dividends down the line. After you have completed school you will have a great many options in terms of Social Work careers in Pennsylvania. If you are a person who is stimulated by fast paced environments and want to work with medical professionals, then a career as a Medical Social Worker in a city like Erie helping patients apply for and get access to Medicare and Medicaid could be an ideal choice for you. For those who feel a call to protect children and ensure they have a safe home environment there is the option of joining the state Department of Human Services in Pittsburgh as a Child Welfare Case Manager. Pennsylvania has a large population and an incredibly diverse number of job options for those who have taken the time and effort to earn their Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees.

Once you have your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree you will have a whole new array of jobs in social work that become available to you. Among them are the licensure titles of: Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). They each have their own unique requirements which you can learn about in our article social work licensure page. You may also wish to view the State Board of Social Workers

Finding the Right School for MSW in Pennsylvania

After you have seen that obtaining a MSW in PA you will open many doors for you in terms of employment, you will want to concentrate on the selection of an excellent school and MSW program. Finding a MSW program that closely matches your employment goals is absolutely critical and is arguably as important as earning the degree itself. For example, if you are interested in becoming a Gerontology Social Worker you will want to consider a program similar to University of Pennsylvania’s degree Aging Concentration. By taking the time to evaluate several schools online or in Pennsylvania, you will increase your understanding of what kinds of programs are available and in the process learn more about your educational needs. It can also help you to refine your search as you will have a better idea of what it is you are looking for.

Taking the time to research several occupations in order to determine what career you want to have after graduation can do wonders for bringing some clarity to your selection process. For example, if you are interested in helping former convict adjust to life after prison you might be intrigued by University of Pennsylvania’s Goldring Reentry Initiative degree concentration. There will be many different occupations you will have available to you once you have your MSW, however the curriculum and skills taught at each program may differ greatly. You may wish to find a program that is tailored to your career specialty or in some cases you will want to find a more generalized MSW program in Pennsylvania to keep your options open. 

Career Options with a MSW

There are so many different careers you will be eligible for once you have your MSW that it is well worth your time to consider exactly which career is the best fit for you. You might want to consider a career as a Children’s Counselor MSW with NHS Human Services in Carbondale or another similar career in another city. If you are interested in Hospice work you might consider working for Community Health Systems in Easton, as a MSW Hospice Social Worker. By doing the research into occupations, you will learn more about potential careers in human services and also refine your selection process. Here at humanservicesedu.org we have built a resource that can help you research this exact question. Below you will find a fairly short list of some of the many positions you will qualified in Pennsylvania with an MSW. For more in-depth research consult our section on job descriptions:

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

MSW Programs in Pennsylvania

Finding the Right Program for You

One of the easiest choices you can make early on in your decision making process, is whether you prefer an online program (see more on this below) or a traditional physical campus in Pennsylvania. There are advantages and drawbacks to each depending on your personal situation and needs. If you are someone who wants to have a traditional college campus experience, such as is offered by Millersville University in Millersville (Pop. 7,774), you will be able to quickly narrow your field by eliminating schools in areas you do not wish to live. There is a vast difference between opportunities and lifestyles between Millersville University in Millersville (Pop. 7,774) and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (Pop. 5.9 million metro). Once you’ve chosen between a physical vs. online campus, you will want to begin analyzing the following elements of the programs you are considering:

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

By far the most important element of any program to research and evaluate is the program’s specific curriculum. You will want to find a program where the curriculum closely corresponds to the skillset required for your desired occupation. While most Master of Social Work programs are designed to teach general principles for advanced social work and have universal elements, some MSW programs are specifically designed teach skill sets for specific careers as is the case with the Global Human Rights certificate offered by the University of Pennsylvania. Only you can determine if you prefer to have a tailored program or a more generalized MSW experience offered with an Advanced Generalist concentration as is offered with many online courses.

Financial considerations will of course be a key to making a decision on what school and program is ideally suited for you. To begin to get a sense of what some tuition figures look like, we will examine Millersville University which has tuition of $482.25 per credit hour for residents and $707.25 per credit hour for non-residents which is not inclusive of fees, book costs, supplies and room and board. You will want to take the time to research tuition and assorted additional costs for several schools to make an informed decision on this critical financial and educational decision. You will also need to make sure that you reach all of the admissions requirements for programs you are considering. You will also need to familiarize yourself with the application process of any program you are considering.

Online MSW Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

There are many potential benefits to online programs that make them worth seriously considering even if they seem unappealing at first glance. An aspect of many online programs that is enticing for students on a budget is that they often have far lower tuitions than their traditional counterparts. Many online programs also offer substantially greater flexibility in terms of class schedules and program completion pace. This kind of flexibility can be a compelling reason to join an online program. Another aspect of online programs that can make them very appealing to students with certain learning styles is the ability to take classes from the comfort of your home or office. There are many pros and cons to both types of programs and you will have to discover for yourself which method of education is better for you.