Human Services Guide
Virginia

MSW in VA | Master of Social Work in Virginia

Virginia has a long and rich history, and it is also an excellent state to become a social worker in. Increasingly, prospective social workers will want to earn an advanced degree to be competitive in the job marketplace. Over the past decade the American economy has changed in many significant ways. Many workers have gone back to schools such as Norfolk State University, or in the case of students, they have stayed in school longer in order to get an advanced degree. To be competitive in the current economy you will need to have an excellent educational background. Currently, many employers have seen that they now have the luxury of requiring, or at least greatly preferring those applicants who have Master’s degrees in their field

For a social worker who is looking to find the perfect social work career in Virginia, the wisest educational plan is to attain a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Not only will this give you access to many advanced social work jobs, it also will make you very desirable in positions that do not overtly require a Master’s degree.

The state of Virginia has two titles for its licensed social workers, the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Both levels of licensure require that you have a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. You can read a breakdown of each level’s additional requirements here. You may find it helpful to browse The Virginia Board of Social Work here.

Taking the time and effort to earn you Master of Social Work (MSW) degree will pay dividends in the long run for your career in Social Work in Virginia. In order to see that reward you will need to put in the work and the first step is to inquire into several MSW schools until you find the program that most resonates with your career goals. Once you have earned your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree you will have your pick from among an extensive field of career choices. For example, if you are drawn towards helping people to see, work through and ultimately heal deep emotional patterning, then you may find that a career as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (More information on licensure in Virginia for LCSW’s can be found here:) in Richmond is a perfect fit for you. Some people feel a strong desire to become leaders in any organization they join, for them a career as a Social Services Administrator in the Virginia Department of Social Services in Virginia Beach or a similar city might be a deeply rewarding occupation to hold. You may be unsure as to what you would like as your career in Social Work, one thing you can know is that having your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree will be extremely helpful regardless of what kind of job you wish to have.

Finding the Right School for MSW in Virginia



If you feel that earning your MSW degree is a wise educational choice, you will want to begin concentrating on the process of selecting a school and program that is an excellent fit for you. By comparing and contrasting several schools you will increase your chances of finding a program that meets your specific needs. One of the best ways to bring clarity to your search for an ideal school is to first determine what career you want to have after you have your Master of Social Work diploma. If for example, you want to pursue a career in management you will most likely want to look for a program that emphasizes social work administration in its curriculum as is the case with the Social Work Administration, Planning and Policy Practice degree concentration at Virginia Commonwealth University. By finding an occupation that matches your inborn skills and abilities, you will bring clarity to your selection process. If you are unable to decide on a future occupation that intrigues you, then the best course of action would be to find an Advanced Generalist concentration program which are offered at a number of online universities and programs as well as in Virginia and surrounding states.


MSW Programs in Virginia

Finding the Right Program for You

You will need to appraise several attributes of prospective MSW programs you are researching to ensure the best possible educational outcome. One of the first determinations you can make is whether a physical campus such as the campus of Norfolk State University (Pop. 242,803) or an online program (more on this below) is a better fit for you considering your personal educational needs. Some things to consider when making this choice are: flexibility, living situation, learning style and finances. If you are someone to whom a physical campus is more appealing, then you can quickly decide on which schools are appealing based on what area you wish to live in. After choosing a campus type, you can start to concentrate on the task of comparing and contrasting the key elements of the schools and programs you are considering:

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

Remember, as you research various programs to do your analysis through the lens of your final career. It is very important that the curriculum of the program you choose closely corresponds with your desired occupational path. Most MSW programs have aspects of their curriculum that are universal amongst all programs, there are some programs that have been tailor made to prepare one for certain specialties. Finding a specialized program that meets your desired career goals may not be possible, in which case a more generalized curriculum will be a better fit for you. If pursuing a career as a licensed clinical social worker in Virginia sounds appealing to you, then you will want to look for programs that have been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Choosing a program that is CSWE accredited is an excellent choice as it will help move you towards licensure in Virginia. As an additional reason to choose a CSWE accredited school, it is good to keep in mind that a program with this accreditation will meet the requirements not only for licensure in Virginia but also most other states.

Financial considerations will of course be a key to making a decision on what school and program is ideally suited for you. An illustrative example of school tuition is that of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MSW program which has tuition of $4,765 per semester for residents taking 9 to 15 credits and $9,797 per semester for non-residents taking 9 to 15 credits. This is not inclusive of various student fees, textbook costs, supplies or room and board. While not a critical consideration you may want to research and see if the program you are considering is part of a school that is considered to be well regarded in the social work community. 

Online Programs for MSW in Virginia

You will want to take the time to compare and contrast the ways in which online campuses and traditional ones differ in order to find the better fit for you. There are several advantages to online programs that make them well worth your careful consideration. Often online programs have far lower tuitions than their traditional counterparts for a variety of reasons. For many students the most appealing feature of online schools is that they offer greater flexibility in terms of class times and the rate at which you complete the program This kind of customization can be very appealing to non-traditional students such as: students who are working full time for financial reasons, adults who are returning to education after an extended break, busy parents or others for whom flexibility is critical. For some students, being able to attend class in the comfort of their own living space is another excellent reason to consider online programs.