Develop the Skills You Need to Help Others with a Social Work Degree
Masters in Social Work

A Master’s in Social Work Will Help Advance Your Knowledge

Social work is a noble calling. Social workers provide help and services for individuals, families, and children in need. They help people apply for and receive aid, act as mentors, and help protect children and the infirm from abuse. Getting a Master’s in Social Work will help you grow your career, and in turn, help others.

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There are multiple programs available at highly ranked universities all across the United States. The number one ranked program in the nation can be found at the University of Michigan. According to the school’s website, “A U-M MSW degree offers a broad range of specializations that draw on the most recent research, new learning innovations and a strong interdisciplinary focus.”


There are multiple concentrations and even certificates to choose from based on what you want to focus on in your career. The concentrations include the following:


This practice area prepares students to work in health care systems and settings, including public health and health promotion programs, primary care and long-term care settings, hospitals, health-related governmental agencies, community-based health services, and health advocacy groups.

Community Organization

This practice method prepares students to promote social action and change at the community level, as well as to develop cohesion among formal and informal organizations and individuals. It involves helping people improve their capacities to perform various community roles, articulate needs, and mobilize people and resources.

Interpersonal Practice

This practice method prepares students to restore, maintain, and promote social functioning. These change objectives relate to the individual, family, or small groups and focus on the transactional relationship between people and their social environment.


The Office of Global Activities (OGA) collaborates to promote social work in a global context, including promoting the U-M SSW's leadership role in global social work education and research, increasing students' competencies in global social work practice, and fostering an environment conducive to global social work education and research

Community and Social Systems

This practice area prepares students to work in settings that include grassroots, neighborhood, and faith-based organizations; federal and state legislative and political bodies and offices; local and international community development operations; and educational and socialization organizations.

Mental Health

This area of focus prepares students for working in settings such as inpatient psychiatric settings, residential facilities, and community mental health and psychosocial rehabilitation programs.

Aging and Families in Society

This specialization prepares students to work in settings that serve older people and their families, including hospitals and outpatient clinics, senior centers, nursing homes, and planning and advocacy settings, as well as in various organizations.

Children and Youth in Families

This specialization prepares students to work in settings that serve children and adolescents and their families, including schools, recreational programs, family service agencies, juvenile justice systems, neighborhood organizations, prenatal clinics, and/or family planning programs.

Management of Human Services

This area of focus prepares students for managing and directing human service organizations to achieve goals as efficiently and effectively as possible within the framework of social work values.

Social Policy and Evaluation

This specialization prepares students to analyze, develop, and implement social policy into operational plans for achieving social goals. The concentration also prepares students for assessing, analyzing, and evaluating policies and programs.

Examples of Core Courses

The coursework for each concentration will specialize beyond some of the core courses listed below:

  • Understanding Social Issues of Our Time
  • Undergraduate Foundation Topics in Social Work and Social Change
  • Theories and Practices for Community Action and Social Change
  • Social Problems and Social Work Today
  • Topics in Social Work
  • Basic Social Work Research
  • Introduction to Community Organization, Management and Policy/Evaluation Practice
  • Adolescent Development and Behavior

The University of Michigan has many options for areas of specialty:

  • Child Welfare Scholarship Program
  • Detroit Clinical Scholars Program
  • Community-Based Initiative in Detroit
  • Geriatric Scholarship Program
  • Global Activities Scholars Program
  • HRSA Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care Trainee Program
  • Integrated Health Scholarship Program
  • Jewish Communal Leadership Program
  • National Community Scholars Program
  • New Leaders in African-Centered Social Work Scholars Program
  • Masters International Volunteer Program
  • Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program

Finally, the School of Social Work also offers several certificate and specialization options for students interested in specific areas of study:

  • Certificate in Child Welfare
  • Certificate in Global Social Work
  • Human Services Management Certificate
  • Social Work in School Settings
  • Specialist in Aging Certificate

Potential Job Opportunities

After you have completed your program, you can choose to look for a position that matches your concentration and specialization. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in social work are growing rapidly over the next eight to ten years. The average starting salary for a social worker is approximately $48,000 annually.

Rehab counselors and social and human service assistants start at approximately $35,000 per year.

For health educators and community health workers, the average starting salary is around $45,000 annually.

Mental health counselors make about $43,000 annually to start, and school and career counselors make about $55,000 per year starting out.

While the field of social work is growing and expanding, it isn’t a job people do to achieve wealth. Those in social work don’t do it for the money. A job in social work is about devoting oneself to helping others in our community.

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