Social work programs prepare students to help others address challenges such as addiction, domestic violence, poverty, and homelessness. Most social work graduates become social workers that specialize in areas like children and families, healthcare, or mental health. Other career paths open to social work graduates include research, administration, and education. To become a social worker in Mississippi, you need at minimum a bachelor's in social work. Clinical social workers need at least a master's in social work.
Mississippi is a good place to pursue your first professional job in the field of social work
Earning a social work degree while living in Mississippi presents numerous benefits. The state's low cost of living makes it a welcoming environment for students living on a budget. Mississippi is a good place to pursue your first professional job in the field of social work, because unlike states with a high cost of living, it is possible to live comfortably with an entry-level social worker salary.
Another good reason to consider social work schools in Mississippi is that many people in the state need the help social workers offer. Mississippi is home to some of the nation's highest rates of poverty, income inequality, and uninsured residents. Social workers help people deal with many issues stemming from these problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects long-term growth for all social worker jobs in Mississippi, with healthcare social workers expected to grow 16%. Social workers attending school or working in Mississippi can gain valuable hands-on experience working with people in desperate need of social services.
Each state makes its own rules about how to become a social worker. In Mississippi, you need at least a bachelor's in social work to practice as a licensed social worker. Some advanced and clinical practice licenses require a master's in social work. Every social work license in the state requires candidates to hold a degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Applicants can apply for social work licenses through the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.
Individuals with a bachelor's degree qualify for the nonclinical licensed social worker (LSW) credential. Professionals with a master's or Ph.D. in social work can apply to become a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or licensed certified social worker (LCSW). In addition to providing proof of education, you must also pass the appropriate Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam and undergo a criminal background check by submitting your fingerprints. If you want to obtain a LCSW license, you must also complete two years of supervised work experience.
Social work licenses in Mississippi remain valid for two years. To qualify for renewal, social workers must complete 40 continuing education hours every two years, including two hours of cultural diversity and four hours of ethics. Social workers can complete 20 of the 40 required continuing education hours online. The Mississippi Board of Examiners must pre-approve all continuing education hours.
It is possible to earn a social work degree at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. levels. An associate degree takes two years to earn, a bachelor's four, a master's two, and a Ph.D. three to five. The higher level of degree that you earn, the better the job opportunities and salary potential once you graduate. If you only earn an associate degree, you cannot become a social worker, but may find employment in support roles. Earning an associate degree in social work is also good preparation for earning a bachelor's. Generalist and entry-level social work jobs typically require a bachelor's degree. If you plan to practice clinical social work, you need at least a master's degree. The highest level of social work degree is the Ph.D. Graduates from doctoral programs in social work typically enter teaching, research, and administrative roles.
- Associate Degree
- An associate degree in social work prepares graduates for support roles. Programs typically provide a general introductory overview of the profession, with coursework in sociology, psychology, and social work.
- Bachelor's Degree
- BSW programs provide a broad overview of social work, including its history and major theoretical underpinnings. Most BSW programs include an internship that gives students hands-on experience in a real-world social work environment. Graduates can work as nonclinical social workers in Mississippi.
- Master's Degree
- The MSW is the most widely applicable degree in social work. Once you hold a master's, you can practice as a clinical or nonclinical social worker in any state. MSW programs allow students to delve more deeply into a concentration or subfield of social work. MSW programs almost always include an internship.
- Doctoral Degree
- Students who earn a Ph.D. in social work find careers in education, research, and administration. Doctoral programs explore advanced theories of social work and tend to focus heavily on current issues within the field. Students must complete and defend a dissertation. Courses usually consist of high-level seminars.
You can pursue a variety of different specialties within the field of social work. People who like working with children often find fulfilling careers as school social workers or child and family social workers. If the medical field interests you, you can pursue healthcare or hospice social work. If you want to practice clinical social work and help people struggling with addiction or mental health disorders, consider becoming a mental health and substance abuse social worker.
Child and Family Social Worker
School Social Worker
Healthcare Social Worker
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker
The rules for becoming a social worker vary from state to state. Social workers in Mississippi must hold a license from the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists. Every state, including Mississippi, requires clinical social workers to hold a license and a master's degree in social work. Most states also require licensure for nonclinical social workers.
In Mississippi, you can become a licensed nonclinical social worker if you hold at least a bachelor's in social work
In Mississippi, you can become a licensed nonclinical social worker if you hold at least a bachelor's in social work. In addition to providing documentation of the required education, you must pass the appropriate ASWB exam and undergo a criminal background check. To become a certified or clinical social worker, you must hold a master's degree. The highest level of licensure also requires two years of work experience.
Social workers can also demonstrate additional skills and knowledge by pursuing voluntary certifications and credentials in areas like substance abuse, school social work, gerontology, and healthcare. State agencies regulate licenses, while independent organizations offer certifications. Becoming certified increases employability and demonstrates commitment to the profession. Earning certifications can also improve your chances of receiving a salary increase or promotion.
Applicants typically receive certification by providing documentation of work experience and
continuing education hours. Candidates typically must hold a BSW or MSW and current state social work license. Several organizations offer certifications for social workers. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers the certifications listed below.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials
Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)
Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)
Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G)
Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW)
Although there are numerous social work programs in Mississippi, choosing the right one can be difficult. Factors to consider before making a decision include cost, location, program length, and specializations available. Cost is often the biggest concern when choosing a social work program. Make sure to calculate the estimated total price of the program and find out about financial aid opportunities. Location is less important for online programs than in-person programs. However, living near campus can be helpful. Students near campus often have easier access to support resources and internship placements.
Social work programs vary in length based on number of credits, enrollment options, and internship requirements. Some programs offer a fast-track option for students seeking to finish their online social work degree as quickly as possible. Cohort programs require students to take specific courses on a predetermined schedule with the same classmates. Also consider what area you want to specialize in, and then make sure the programs you consider offer the appropriate concentration. Most importantly, ensure your chosen program holds accreditation from the CSWE or you cannot receive licensure.
Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Mississippi?
Prospective students can pursue several online social work programs in Mississippi. Do not worry that earning your social work degree online will negatively impact your social work license or job prospects. In fact, the Mississippi State Board does not distinguish between online and in-person degrees. College transcripts and diplomas do not usually differentiate between online and on-campus classes. In many cases, online schools offer the same curriculum, instructors, student organizations, library resources, and internship opportunities as on-campus schools. Online degrees hold the same prestige and value as degrees earned through a more traditional on-campus program.
You do not apply for your social work license until after you receive your degree. At that point, you must submit proof of education to the Mississippi State Board. The state requires applicants to hold degrees accredited by the CSWE. Also ensure that your college or university holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. As long as you make sure that you earn your online degree through a school with the appropriate accreditation, you won't face any problems applying for your social work license.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Mississippi?
The amount of time it takes to become a social worker in Mississippi varies depending on which social work program you enroll in and what level of degree you earn. Characteristics that affect the length of an online social work program include program format and whether courses are available full time, year-round.
Individually paced programs give students greater flexibility to complete coursework as quickly or slowly as they want. Cohort learning, on the other hand, requires students to complete courses in a pre-planned sequence with a group of classmates. Some online programs follow traditional academic calendars, with only part-time study available in the summer. Others offer full-time study year-round, allowing students to finish their degrees in a shorter time frame. Another factor affecting program length is the duration of required internships or field experiences.
On average, it takes about two years to complete an online associate in social work, four years for a BSW, two for an MSW, and three to five for a Ph.D. If you already hold a bachelor's in social work, some MSW programs offer a fast-track one-year course of study.
After you earn a degree, you can take the relevant exam and apply for licensure. This process takes two to six months on average.
How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Mississippi?
The cost of completing a social work program in Mississippi depends on numerous factors, including the level of degree you earn and which school you attend. Generally speaking, the higher the level of degree you earn, the more it costs. Graduate tuition is always more expensive than undergraduate tuition. However, many master's and doctoral programs offer better financial aid packages to students than undergraduate programs. Graduate teaching and research assistantships often include tuition remission and living stipends. Public colleges and universities are nearly always more affordable than private schools.
To receive your social worker license, you must take an exam through the ASWB. The cost varies depending on which exam you take. The bachelor's and intermediate exams cost $230, while the advanced generalist and clinical exams cost $260. Mississippi also requires social workers to pay a license fee that ranges from $70 to $100 depending on the level of license. The cost of continuing education credits varies depending on which organization you take them through. Some groups offer free or discounted continuing education opportunities to their members.
Directory of Social Work Programs in Mississippi
Graduates of social work programs typically become professional social workers. Most social workers specialize in serving a specific population such as children, aging populations, medical patients, or individuals dealing with substance abuse. All social workers help people figure out solutions to complicated and stressful challenges. Helpful characteristics of social work professionals include empathy, patience, and perseverance. It also helps to be detail-oriented since social workers often help their clients navigate complicated bureaucracies to receive the services they need.
Licensed Clinical Social WorkerLCSWs provide a variety of services to individuals and families dealing with mental health issues or other problems. They often offer counseling and therapy. LCSWs usually work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and clinics. Every state requires LCSWs to hold a license and a master's degree in social work.
Social Work SupervisorSocial work supervisors oversee and guide less experienced social workers. They perform administrative tasks and help run social work organizations. Most individuals in this role hold a master's or Ph.D. in social work.
Hospice Social WorkerThese social workers offer hospice patients palliative care services. They also provide assistance with insurance paperwork, funeral planning, and end-of-life decisions. Many employers require hospice social workers to hold an MSW.
Case Manager, Social ServicesCase managers oversee clients receiving social services, including food stamps, housing resources, or domestic violence assistance. Most case manager jobs require at least a bachelor's in social work.
School Social WorkerThese social workers practice in K-12 public and private schools. They counsel students to help them deal with issues like bullying, behavioral problems, and poverty. These professionals need at minimum a BSW to work in Mississippi.
Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Mississippi
|Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||2,530||$34,930|
|Healthcare Social Workers||1,170||$47,540|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||800||$38,640|
|Social Workers, All Other||360||$53,280|
Scholarships can help students afford the high cost of college education. Social work majors in Mississippi can earn scholarships from local businesses, professional organizations, national foundations, and state agencies. The following list describes just a few options available to students pursuing a social work degree in Mississippi.
Social Work Scholarships
Melanie Merola O'Donnell Memorial Scholarship $2,500
Carl A. Scott Book Scholarship $500
Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarships $4,000
- Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists The Mississippi Board provides licenses to all social workers in the state. The website features information about how to become a licensed social worker, including resources on license renewal, continuing education hours, and social work licensure laws.
- National Association of Social Workers, Mississippi Chapter The Mississippi Chapter of NASW represents the interests of all social workers in the state. The group maintains a state job board, offers continuing education hours, and hosts an annual conference. Members also receive access to networking opportunities, help with licensure, and access to a newsletter.
- Mississippi Public Health Association MPHA is composed of public health professionals across Mississippi, including healthcare social workers. Its mission is to strengthen public health in the state through advocacy, education, and leadership. The organization offers networking and professional development opportunities. MPHA also hosts an annual conference and offers information related to health issues in Mississippi.
- Mississippi Department of Mental Health DMH provides mental health services to Mississippi residents. Mental health social workers can find job announcements, information about mental health programs, and reports. The website also includes a resource library and information about continuing education opportunities.
- Council on Social Work Education The CSWE grants accreditation to BSW, MSW, and DSW education programs in the U.S. Students can consult this organization's directory of accredited social work programs when considering where to earn their degree. The CSWE also provides information about scholarships and other resources.