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What Are the Different Types of Online Social Worker Degree Programs?

By Florence J. Tipton
Updated May 17, 2024
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Generally, online social worker degree programs prepare students to work with various groups of people facing social problems. Most online social worker degree programs use learning platforms that replicate in-class instruction and communication. An online undergraduate social worker degree teaches theoretical concepts and solutions to social issues. With the graduate social worker degree online, knowledge is expanded from theoretical concepts to practical analyses and field research.

For the undergraduate degree program, students may study various subjects that provide an understanding of social challenges. Generally, the program teaches theories related to socioeconomic barriers for children, adults, and the elderly. In addition, the undergraduate degree might also cover public policy issues that impact the lives of people.

The requirements for enrolling in undergraduate online social worker degree programs might vary among colleges and universities. Some academic institutions that offer this type of social worker degree may require students to complete general education courses before enrollment. Others may prefer to accept students who have earned a two-year degree in social work or a related field.

Online social worker degree programs for graduate students provide advanced training and instruction. Many of the programs focus on issues such as racial disparities, social norms, and the impact on human behavior. Students typically learn how to dissect these issues through clinical practice and analyses of case studies.

Some graduate online social worker degree programs also include concentration areas related to this field. Therapy techniques for children, adolescents, and families are one type of concentration offered through online coursework. Studying legislative policies that affect the social work field is another concentration area that several academic institutions could offer.

Graduate degree programs offered online might consist of one of two learning formats. In one format, all coursework and interaction with the instructors and fellow students is completed online. Another is a hybrid format where students take some courses online and in the classroom.

While this could depend on concentration requirements, some graduate programs also prepare students to sit for a certification examination. Typically, this certification is suitable for clinical practice when students work for several years after receiving a graduate degree. Alternately, the certification could be for students without relevant work experience, but who want to improve their credentials.

Few postgraduate social worker degree programs exist in an online format. Those that do might train students to lead social service organizations or fill faculty and research positions at academic institutions. These programs may also provide hands-on experiences through research on existing programs or a qualitative study that expands a topic.

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