Social Work Degrees in Kansas

A social work degree prepares graduates for a career in helping people. Social work as a discipline focuses on understanding and compassion for people from all walks of life. Social work professionals work to improve the lives of others and to handle societal problems such as drug addiction, homelessness, and poverty. Social workers in Kansas encounter patients who struggle with crime and criminal incarceration, juvenile delinquency and justice, mental illness, family instability, and unemployment. Social work in Kansas is a growing field with new jobs created every day. For example, starting in January of 2018, the KCPD has begun hiring social workers to become part of each of their patrol divisions -- social workers will soon be expected to assist officers on calls and determine the needs of those interacting with the police.

Attending a social work school in Kansas is flexible and can be put toward any number of career paths, including child, family, and school counseling; medical, mental health, and substance abuse; military support; and community outreach

Attending a social work school in Kansas is flexible and can be put toward any number of career paths, including child, family, and school counseling; medical, mental health, and substance abuse; military support; and community outreach. Possible career paths vary based on the area of interest and the level of degree attained. Graduates with associate degrees often work in counseling and case management positions, while those who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s can work in more specialized roles such as court liaison or human services.

There is a significant difference between non-clinical and clinical social workers. Non-clinical professionals can practice social work with only a bachelor’s degree, though many obtain a master’s or doctorate for additional career opportunities and experience. Clinical social workers must have earned at least a master’s degree and licensure by the National Association of Social Workers to provide clinical services, such as psychotherapy and counseling.

Social workers in Kansas practice at many levels, from entry-level to mental health clinical work. Social workers must have at least a bachelor's degree to become employed in Kansas. When selecting a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate program, it is important to choose a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education in addition to the school's regional accreditation. Social work coursework includes classes such as human behavior, social welfare policy, and the social environment. Graduates who attend a bachelor’s in social work program in Kansas need to apply to become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker. Master’s in social work programs provide more areas of specialization in the field, and open the door to work as a licensed clinical social worker.

Aspiring social workers in bachelor's and master's programs are encouraged to attend specialized practicums in their area of interest. These practicums can appear on your resume as related job experience or skills. Active social workers in Kansas must continue to expand their education by attending classes and lectures annually. They can also obtain various certifications to further specialize their career path. Finally, before becoming eligible to practice social work, they must also pass a state-sponsored licensing exam.

Those interested in becoming a specialized clinical social worker must obtain a master’s in social work in addition to completing at least 4,000 hours of clinical experience within two years. These clinical hours must be completed under the supervision of a licensed social worker.

Like in most fields, career opportunities in social work vary depending on the level of education obtained. The higher level of degree earned, the better your career prospects become.

Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in social work in four years, and some online programs take even less time. Most full-time students are able to earn their master’s in social work within two years. Students looking to earn a doctorate in social work can choose between a Ph.D. program or a doctorate in social work (DSW). A Ph.D. program focuses on a theoretical approach to social work, preparing graduates for work in academia. A DSW is more practical in focus; this degree is better for those looking to continue active social work post-graduation.

Bachelor's Degree
Bachelor’s programs in social work prepare graduates for careers helping those facing poverty, mental illness, disability, drug abuse, and addiction.
Master's Degree
MSW programs offer more specialized studies than bachelor's degrees and teach students about all aspects of professional social work. Graduates are prepared to pursue clinical careers in social work, as well as other management positions.
Doctoral Degree
Students seeking a doctorate in social work can choose between a Ph.D. or a DSW. Ph.D. programs are more research-oriented and prepare graduates for a career in academia, while a DSW is considered a practice-oriented degree suitable for an active career in the field.

There are many areas in which a social work professional can specialize their career. Graduates with a BSW are prepared for positions such as behavioral management aide, community outreach worker, and juvenile court liaison. However, they can obtain more education and expertise to qualify for additional career opportunities. Those with an MSW typically find careers in medical centers, child welfare centers, and as clinical mental health social workers. In urban areas, it is considered more marketable to have earned at least a master’s in social work.

Child and Family Social Worker

These professionals assist families in crisis, including those afflicted by extreme poverty, mental illness, and addiction. Child and family social workers help families find services they can use to get their lives back on track.

School Social Worker

These social workers specialize in mental health and assist with behavioral concerns in schools. These professionals are responsible for frequently consulting with teachers, administration, and parents, as well as providing group and individual therapy.

Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers often serve as patient navigators, case managers, and therapists. These professionals are employed at hospitals, though many find work in smaller clinics and schools. Healthcare social workers must have earned a MSW to work in a clinic or hospital.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

These professionals are often considered synonymous with therapists and have clinical relationships with couples, families, and individuals in treatment programs, office settings, and classrooms. This role centers around the diagnosis of clinical disorders and connecting clients with the resources that they need.

All states require social workers to obtain official, state-sanctioned licensing to practice social work. Kansas requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree prior to becoming licensed. Earning an associate degree will not qualify you for a career in social work, though you may apply associate-level credits toward a bachelor’s in social work program. Clinical social workers must have earned an MSW to work in clinical settings. After completing a clinical social work master’s program, graduates must complete at least 4,000 supervised clinical hours. These hours are overseen by practicing clinical social workers.

There are three licenses a social worker In Kansas may apply for at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels.

There are three licenses a social worker In Kansas may apply for at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels. Licensed Bachelor Social Work (LBSW) candidates must have earned credits in a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution. The application process includes the submission of official transcripts and at least three professional references currently employed as social workers. Candidates may apply for licensure within four months of graduation. The final step is to pass the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) bachelor-level exam.

Becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) follows the same process but with a master’s-level ASWB examination. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) must follow the same licensure requirements as above, but must also obtain at least 4,000 hours of social work experience. Social work licenses must be renewed once every two years. To renew a license, you must have completed at least 40 hours of continuing education coursework within the past two years, including three hours of ethics classes.

Social workers in Kansas may also obtain certifications in their area of interest to specialize their career path. A certification is different from a license because it is a voluntary process, whereas licensure is required by the state to verify that you are qualified to work in the field. Below are a few credentials that are offered by the NASW.

Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials

Selecting the right social work program can be challenging. It is often difficult to determine what is important when selecting a program and what to look for before enrolling. In Kansas, all social workers must have earned their degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education; there are nine such social work programs in Kansas. Only one of these schools has an associate-level program, while eight offer bachelor’s degrees and five offer programs at the master’s level. Students opting to earn their social work degree online have the benefit of flexibility in scheduling and location. Many online programs are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace.

Programs lengths can vary depending on the level of degree. Most BSW programs can be completed in four years, though online students may pursue accelerated degree options. Alternatively, master’s programs often only take two years. Many social work programs in Kansas offer various specializations. If there is a particular area of social work that you are interested in, you may want to choose a school that offers that specialization.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Kansas?

Currently, there are no online social work programs in Kansas, though there are hybrid options for students looking to enroll in both online and on-campus classes. Those looking to earn a degree in social work fully online can apply to schools with online programs in other states. Often, online programs are offered at in-state tuition rates to out-of-state distance learners. Additionally, the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) is the largest tuition reciprocity program in the U.S. and includes schools in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, and North Dakota.

Online programs offer an increased level of flexibility, affordability, and customization, but they also require a higher level of self-motivation and teaching. Unlike traditional classes, online students must be motivated to complete their readings, homework, and testing on their own time. Many online programs also offer tutoring and academic counseling to distance learners. Online programs are becoming more common and as a result, online degrees are beginning to hold the same level of prestige as campus-earned degrees.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Kansas?

There are several factors that can impact program duration. A bachelor's degree in social work can be completed in four years. Online programs often offer asynchronous, accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as three years. Synchronous and hybrid programs require login and meeting times for activities such as lectures and student discussions. These programs are usually completed in the same amount of time as a traditional, on-campus degrees. Many schools also give students the option to enroll part-time and complete their degree in as many as six years.

Bachelor’s degrees typically can be completed in four years and consist of an average 120 credits divided between social sciences, psychology, and general education courses. Master’s in social work programs take an average of two years to complete and involve more specialized classes on the theory of social work and a student's desired area of specialization. Doctorate programs take an average of four years to complete, regardless of whether the program is a Ph.D. or a DSW. Students seeking a DSW will take classes preparing for a career in a clinical setting, while those seeking a Ph.D. will focus more on research practices.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Kansas?

The cost of becoming a social worker in Kansas varies depending on your desired level of education, where you attend school, licensure, potential certifications, and continuing education opportunities. The average four-year social work bachelor’s degree in Kansas costs $24,116. A typical two-year master’s program costs $13,800 at public universities and an average of $36,000 at private institutions. The cost of doctoral degrees in social work vary greatly depending on institution and the area of specialization. Earning an online social work degree is an effective way to reduce the cost of earning your degree, as online programs are often associated with lower tuition costs.

Examinations and licensing are additional costs that must be factored into the cost of any social work degree. For example, to enter a master’s program, applicants must first take the GRE at a cost of $50 in most states. In Kansas, obtaining a LBSW license costs $100 while the LMSW and LSCSW both cost $150 and must be renewed every two years.

Baccalaureate and higher levels of licensure can cost as much $230, and the clinical examination up to $260. It is also important to continue taking classes that pertain to your career in social work. Some employers will pay for their employees to undergo yearly trainings, but if not, it is the individual’s responsibility to seek out and fund these education opportunities. Continued education is crucial for social workers to remain marketable and up-to-date on developments in this constantly evolving field.

Directory of Social Work Programs in Kansas

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Graduates with a degree in social work are prepared for careers in a number of fields from clinical work to community services management. Career options and specializations vary depending on the level of education obtained. Many careers are available to graduates with an LBSW, but those with at least a master’s degree are able to pursue a wider variety of professions. All social workers share a common goal of connecting with people and providing solutions to problems ranging from poverty to mental illness.

Health Educator/Community Healthcare Worker

These professionals focus on the development and implementation of strategies to improve community and individual health. They are responsible for collecting data to better discuss health concerns as they relate to specific populations. Most health educators have an advanced degree.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists help couples manage and overcome familial disagreements and strained relationships. Independently licensed social workers in this field have the option to open their own counseling practice. These professionals must have an advanced degree and professional licensure.

Probation Counselors/Specialists in Correctional Treatments

Probation counselors aide in the rehabilitation of criminals either in custody or on parole or probation. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and partake in on-the-job training.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help those with mental, emotional, developmental, or physical disabilities to live independent lives. These professionals diagnose and assist in the treatment of those with mental disabilities. Applicants must have an LSCSW to be considered.

Social/Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide individuals with client services, such as psychological counseling and rehabilitation. These professionals are able to offer further counseling and recommendations to other licensed professionals.

Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Kansas

  Employment Annual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 2,170 $41,570
Healthcare Social Workers 1,060 $52,970
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 900 $40,090
Social Workers, All Other 600 $52,400
Source: BLS

There are a wide variety of scholarships available for social work students in Kansas. While scholarships are frequently offered at the national level, there are many scholarships that are offered specifically for Kansas residents. Scholarships may also be awarded to students attending school in a specific state or region. Below are a few scholarships that are ideal for social work students in Kansas.

Social Work Scholarships

Presbyterian Student Opportunity Scholarship $3,000

Who Can Apply: The PSOS is awarded to college sophomores, juniors, and seniors obtaining their first degree. Scholarships are need-based and available to residents of Kansas attending an accredited institution in the U.S. View Scholarship

Tortoise Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship Program $3,000

Who Can Apply: The Tortoise Young Entrepreneurs awards three scholarships to permanent residents of Missouri or Kansas who are attending an accredited, undergraduate program in any field of study. These scholarships are non-renewable. View Scholarship

NIADA Foundation Regional Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The NIADA Foundation annually sponsors four students who have displayed academic excellence at an institution of higher education. Recipients are able to put scholarship funds towards an education at any university or college of their choice. View Scholarship

Korean American Scholarship Foundation - Midwestern Regional Chapter Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is offered to students of Korean descent studying in the U.S. regardless of their citizenship status. Students must be enrolled full-time in one of the designated Midwestern states, such as Kansas or Illinois. View Scholarship
  • National Association of Social Workers Founded in 1955, this association gives social workers the opportunity to interact with a group of like-minded individuals. Members have access to social work forums and publications in addition to receiving discounted tuition to training seminars and conferences.
  • Clinical Social Work Association The CSWA works to keep clinical social workers up-to-date through media coverage and newsletters. Members are offered social services and professional support via conferences and networking events. This association is also involved in policy-making efforts that advocate for the best clinical practices in social work.
  • Society for Social Work and Research The SSWR is a nonprofit group that provides support to social work students and professionals. This society advocates for continued academic research in the field. Members have access to workshops and seminars throughout the year in addition to networking opportunities.
  • School Social Work Association of America The SSWAA advocates for students’ emotional, social, and academic growth. All members receive professional liability insurance worth $250,000 from Forrest T. Jones & Company. Members also receive discounts on professional newsletters, webinars, and periodicals.
  • American Clinical Social Work Association The ACSWA is an online resource that helps social work professionals connect with each other. The association provides members with the latest research, trends, and best practices for clinical social work. Students may also be eligible for clinical scholarships. Members may take part in online discussions and access legal publications and blogs.