Is It Worth Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work as a Recent BSW Grad?

Congratulations, you’ve earned your Bachelor of Social Work degree!

Now, you may be facing a big decision: Should you take the next step and pursue a master’s degree?

As a recent Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) graduate, you should’ve gained a solid foundation in social welfare theories, human behavior, and social policies. However, if you aspire to specialize in clinical practice, pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work (MSW) unlocks exciting new career possibilities. But it also means investing more time and money in your education.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the scope of an MSW degree to help you decide if it’s worth pursuing.

Understanding the Scope of Clinical Social Work

According to Keuka College, clinical social workers provide mental health support to individuals, families, and communities. Their responsibilities include conducting assessments, developing treatment plans, and delivering psychotherapy. These individuals work with patients facing various hardships, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and trauma.

One major aspect that sets clinical social workers apart is their holistic approach. They understand how environmental factors, social systems, and community resources impact an individual’s well-being. This perspective allows them to provide comprehensive care tailored to each client’s needs.

Talking about career, with a BSW, you may find your job options limited, especially in mental health. A clinical MSW, however, qualifies you for certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). This designation allows you to diagnose and treat mental health conditions, lead therapy sessions, and open your private practice.

Moreover, LCSWs also do better than any other social worker. Payscale reports that LCSWs, on average, earn $63,880/year, higher than any median annual salary among all MSWs.

Career Opportunities and Advancement

Pursuing an MSW can open doors to diverse career opportunities in clinical settings. You can apply to hospitals, community health centers, private practices, and government agencies.

With an advanced degree, you’ll be qualified for roles like clinical therapist, mental health counselor, and case manager. Furthermore, it can enhance your earning potential and pave the way for leadership positions in the field.


According to, as of March 2024, the median annual salary for social workers with a master’s degree is $72,280, versus $65,590 for those with a bachelor’s degree. The pay range for a bachelor’s degree is between $58,690 and $73,0901. However, for a Master’s degree, the scale is between $65,460 and $79,690. In addition, advanced degrees often bring greater job security and stability in the field.

Empowerment is a core principle in social work, and an MSW equips you with specialized knowledge and skills. You’ll receive intensive training in trauma-informed care, crisis management, and coping with complex client situations. This advanced knowledge strengthens your overall ability to help people, which is the heart of empowerment in social work.

You’ll be able to advocate for clients and communities more efficiently and connect them with the right resources.

Do you love working with kids? Or perhaps you’re interested in addiction counseling?

A master’s degree lets you specialize in social work. Your BSW likely exposed you to a range of areas. But, with MSV, you can focus on a population or career that truly sparks your passion.

Is the Investment Worth It?

Let’s be realistic: a master’s degree is expensive. However, see it as an investment in your future potential.

On average, an MSW can cost you between $38,000 and $55,000. Some online programs charge per credit. Such programs can cost $480 to $2,809 per credit. Several universities charge higher fees for out-of-state students, so research carefully. On the other hand, some universities, like Arizona State University, offer a full–time, in-state program that costs $14,173/year.

If you can’t cover the tuition, explore financial aid options like scholarships, grants, or work-study programs to help offset costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Long Does It Take to Complete an MSW Program?

The duration of an MSW program can vary, but most full-time programs typically take two to three years to complete.


Part-time programs may take longer, ranging from three to four years. Some advanced-standing MSW programs require a year of full-time study. Part-time students might need about 16–24 months to clear it.

Q2. What Are the Different Types of Social Workers?

There are several areas that social workers can specialize in. Clinical social workers, child, and family social workers, healthcare social workers, and those who specialize in gerontology, mental health, or substance abuse are just a few examples.

Q3. What’s the Difference Between a Clinical Social Worker and a Therapist?

While clinical social workers and therapists share similarities in providing mental health services, clinical social workers have a broader understanding of social systems, advocacy, and community resources. This allows them to integrate certain elements into their practice.

In conclusion, choosing to pursue an MSW is a personal decision. And it should be based on your personal and professional goals.

There’s no right or wrong answer! Take some time to research different programs, speak to working professionals, and carefully assess your long-term career goals. If clinical social work aligns with your vision of making a difference, a master’s degree may be your next empowering step.

Even so, an MSW is optional for social work success. Many BSW graduates find fulfillment in various roles, such as case management, community outreach, and advocacy. However, if you aspire to specialize in clinical practice and wish to further your education, an MSW can be a valuable investment in your future.