What is the Difference Between an MSW and an MSSW?

Social workers may be hired with a bachelor’s degree, but many positions require graduate degrees, which has many individuals wondering what the difference is between an MSW and an MSSW. While the titles may indicate they are different degrees, they’re actually the same program. Both programs require similar coursework and studies and both result in the graduate holding a master’s degree in social work. Read on to learn all the important facts about the master’s degree in social work and what it can offer.

Difference Between the MSW and the MSSW

While the MSW and MSSW have different initials in their name, these two degrees are basically the same. In fact, they are two of three degree titles all used by students pursuing careers as social workers.

  • MSW – Master of Social Work
  • MSSW – Master of Science in Social Work
  • MSSA – Master of Science in Social Administration

Students often wonder which of these three programs they should choose to help them reach their career goals of becoming social workers. The truth is that they’re all basically the same, and the degree title is not near as important as the program being accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This is the only agency to accredit master’s degree social worker programs in the United States. There are currently more than 200 accredited master’s degree programs in the U.S.

Additionally, students must graduate from a graduate program that’s accredited by the CSWE in order to work as a social worker in the U.S. The titles of MSW, MSSW or MSSA do not designate the type of program but rather the school that’s offering the program. One school may offer the MSW while another offers the MSSW. The titles are different, but the overall programs are the same as long as they’re both CSWE-accredited.

What The Program Entails

Some social workers may work with a bachelor’s degree, but clinical social workers must have a master’s degree such as the MSW or the MSSW. To be eligible for the master’s degree program, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree. It typically takes about two years to earn a master’s degree in social work. The program prepares students to work as social workers and offers areas of specializations.

Students complete coursework and are required to complete supervised internships. Clinical social workers must also be licensed. To obtain licensure, the social worker must obtain certification. Eligibility for most social worker certifications requires that the candidates complete at least two years of clinical internships.

Career Outlook for Graduates

Social worker are expected to experience good job growth during the decade of 2018-2028 according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the type of social worker will determine employment growth. Although social workers overall should see a 11 percent growth, child, family, and school social workers should see a 7 percent growth, while healthcare social workers should grow 17 percent, and mental health and substance abuse social workers could experience an 18 percent growth.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

With substance abuse and mental health issues at all-time highs, social workers are very much in demand. Working as a social worker can be extremely challenging but also has the potential to be very rewarding, especially when they’re actually able to help their clients. This career can be attained by earning either the MSW or the MSSW.