Social Work Degrees in Oklahoma

A social work degree prepares recipients for careers in areas such as drug counseling, child welfare, and community improvement. Programs typically focus on the human behavior, psychology, and research common to all social work positions and specializations.

In Oklahoma, the employment growth rate reached 19% in 2017 for marriage and family therapists, and the average social worker salary reached $40,640

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 16% increase in all social work jobs by 2026 and 14% growth for child, family, and school social workers. These figures sit well above the projected 7% average growth for all occupations in the U.S. through 2026. In Oklahoma, the employment growth rate reached 19% in 2017 for marriage and family therapists, and the average social worker salary reached $40,640.

Many social work programs in the state focus on specific social work careers, enabling students to pursue more distinct degrees than general social work. The difference in occupations and degrees provides prospective students with an incentive to work in Oklahoma. Graduates of social worker programs in Oklahoma work in schools, hospitals, clinics, or even family homes.

To earn Oklahoma licensure in social work, candidates need at least a bachelor's degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This degree qualifies graduates for a position as a licensed social work associate (LSWA), which serves as the initial level of social work licensure. LSWA pursuers must pass the Associate of Social Work Boards exam (ASWB) before receiving licensure and only need a bachelor's in the field. Those with a master's in social work degree may take the same steps for the licensed master social worker (LMSW), though they must pass the ASWB exam at the intermediate level.

Oklahoma supports reciprocity between state licensures to allow social workers in other states to seek similar licensure within the state

For a career as a licensed social worker, or LSW, applicants need a master's in social work and at least two years of supervised experience. Candidates must also hold current LMSW or LSWA licensure and pass an advanced ASWB exam. For the administrative social worker licensure (LSW-ADM), the exam and experience nearly mirror the LSW, with the caveat that the LSW-ADM requires supervised administrative experience. Steps to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) likewise nearly mirror the LSW-ADM, except that the ASWB clinical exam and supervised hours must include clinical practice elements.

Oklahoma supports reciprocity between state licensures to allow social workers in other states to seek similar licensure within the state. The state also requires social workers to both renew their license each year and to earn 16 continuing education hours.

The degree you choose will determine the jobs for which you qualify. Oklahoma mandates that the those with an associate degree cannot earn a license, and that those with with a master's degree may qualify for clinical positions. In that vein, the higher the degree one receives, the more promising their job prospects.

These higher degrees, however, require additional time and money. To earn an associate degree, for example, students only need around 60 credits at the undergraduate level. A master's, however, requires first obtaining a bachelor's -- which calls for approximately 120 undergraduate credits -- and between 30 and 60 additional graduate credits. This educational choice more than doubles the amount of time and money needed to get an associate degree, and often causes prospective students to avoid building any student loan debt. The Social Security Administration, however, reports that graduate degrees boost lifetime earnings by an average of over $1 million. Given that this amount proves larger than the average amount of student loan debt, students should consider their time in school an investment.

Associate Degree
This degree requires approximately 60 undergraduate credits. Typical courses include psychology, sociology, and crisis intervention. An associate degree does not qualify learners for licensure, but graduates can hold positions such as case management aides and assistants to social workers.
Bachelor's Degree
Students complete approximately 120 credits to obtain a bachelor's. Like an associate degree, these programs include general requirements; however, they also dive deeper into social work concepts through human behavior, social work research, and policy courses. This degree qualifies graduates to earn licensure as a LSWA and to hold positions as substance abuse counselors, mental health assistants, and community organizers.
Master's Degree
A master's degree typically requires between 30 and 60 credits. These degrees do not include general requirements and courses vary based on thesis and program. Possible classes include death and dying, assessment and diagnosis, and couple and family therapy. Learners with a master's may become licensed social workers, clinical or otherwise, and hold positions like rehabilitation directors or child welfare social workers.
Doctoral Degree
A doctorate in social work (DSW) or Ph.D. in social work both qualify graduates for high-level positions. Students may need as many as five years to complete either degree. Courses differ based on dissertation or final project, but common classes for the DWS deal with clinical practice. Ph.D. topics include research and teaching. Graduates may take positions as professors, researchers, or administrators in social work.

Earning a social work degree in Oklahoma can lead to careers in multiple areas, such as the justice system, healthcare, and education. Jobs as substance abuse counselors, group home workers, and public health workers qualify as social work positions. Degree seekers should consider which position they would like to enter so that they can research schools for the corresponding degree.

Child and Family Social Worker

These social workers help struggling families become functional and stable, whether the family's struggle surface because of finances, mental health issues, addictions, or abuse. Responsibilities include finding resources for families, removing children from hazardous homes, and providing counseling and advocacy for family members in need.

School Social Worker

Workers in this group assist students with problems faced in school such as bullying, disabilities, and insufficient attendance. Duties involve counseling troubled students and generating communication among the school, child, and family.

Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers focus on areas like public health, geriatrics, or mental welfare to aid medical professionals and the patients for whom they care. Concentrations also exist for issues a patient may face, like transplants. These workers offer referrals and grief counseling and assist patients in coping with changed living conditions.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

These workers focus on helping people with mental illnesses and drug addictions. Aspects of the career include defining a patient's problem, forming a plan of action, and providing needed resources for patients to succeed in recovery.

Oklahoma provides five levels of licensure for social workers, each with its own qualifications. The LSWA serves as the entry-level license and and does not qualify a candidate to practice at the clinical level. The following licenses, however, necessitate a master's degree, and some allow clinical practice: LMSW, LSW, LSW-ADM, and LCSW (all of which are described below). The differences among these licenses includes the type of exam and experience needed for board approval. The LCSW, for example, requires the ASWB clinical exam and clinical supervised experience while the LSW-ADM calls for an advanced ASWB exam and administrative experience.

The LSWA serves as the entry-level license and and does not qualify a candidate to practice at the clinical level

While licenses reflect government regulations, certifications derive from smaller organizations interested in ensuring that a social worker boasts a specific skill set. Certifications, in other words, assist in career advancement. While no certification substitutes for social work licensure, applicable certifications prove a candidate's advanced training in social work.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) grants many of these certifications. For the group's leadership certifications, applicants must hold NASW membership -- though non-members may receive other certifications. Applicants with a bachelor's degree qualify for certifications that lead to work as social work case managers; social workers in gerontology; certified hospice and palliative care social workers; military social workers; and certified children, youth, and family social workers. A master's degree provides further job options as advanced social work case managers; clinical social workers in gerontology; and certified advanced children, youth, and family social workers. Candidates should strive for success in education, licensure, and certifications for the best employment opportunities.

Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials

When considering social work programs in Oklahoma, learners should remember factors like cost. In general, public universities offer cheaper tuition rates than private schools, and out-of-state degree seekers endure higher tuition rates than resident students.

Prospective students should also consider the variety of program options available to them. Many social work schools in Oklahoma offer social work degrees under titles that reflect concentrations. For example, Oral Roberts University offers a bachelor's in social justice, and Tulsa Community College delivers various associate degrees related to social work, including child and family services, human services, pre-social work, family and community, and criminal justice. Additionally, Northwestern Oklahoma State University administers minors in grief and bereavement and community social services. Learners familiar with all of their options can select the program that meets their career goals.

Degree seekers should also consider the school's location. An online social work degree provides an alternative to traditional learning that tends to offer both cheaper schooling and more flexibility. Individual or cohort pacing also plays a role in the decision-making process. A bachelor's offered in a cohort format, for instance, requires students to work through a pre-selected course sequence in concert with a group of other students. Alternatively, individual pacing allows students to complete their coursework at their own pace.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Oklahoma?

Though schools do not offer online social work programs in Oklahoma, licensure guidelines in the state provide no conditions regarding out-of-state schools. Degrees need only boast accreditation from the CSWE. Learners can therefore feel comfortable studying social work online from an out-of-state institution and still find work in Oklahoma.

The accrediting bodies for Oklahoma include the Higher Learning Commission, the Council on Occupational Education, and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training. Students should research the accrediting bodies of selected schools' states for comparison, but all social work programs must hold accreditation from the CSWE to qualify graduates for licensure.

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

Becoming a social worker begins with education. To earn an associate degree, learners complete around 60 credits, which often takes two years. A bachelor's requires approximately 120 credits and four years. Both of these undergraduate degrees include general requirements and fieldwork. Obtaining a master's calls for roughly two years of study and 30-to-60 credits. A doctorate can require approximately four years and involve between 90 and 120 credits. These time frames, however, change based on variables such as pacing and school requirements.

A cohort format, for instance, requires that students complete courses in a predetermined sequence with the same group of students. Learners cannot work at their own pace. Other programs provide accelerated learning options that require students to complete a quickly-paced predetermined sequence of classes. A degree seeker's part-time or full-time status also impacts the rate at which they complete their degree. Students should consider these factors when searching for the program that best meets their needs.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Oklahoma?

Educational costs vary by institution. For a social work degree in Oklahoma, degree seekers may choose Northwestern Oklahoma State University with undergraduate tuition costs of $6,052.50 for 30 hours. Adding fees, books, and room and board, the estimated yearly cost reaches $12,385. For out-of-state students, these numbers increase to $7,102.50 and $13,435. These prices, however, serve only as estimates.

To enter a graduate program, learners may need to take the GRE, which costs $205. Additionally, licensed social workers must pass the ASWB exam. To take the bachelor's or master's tests, candidates must pay $230. For an advanced generalist or clinical exam, the cost is $260. For either exam, test takers need to pay a $25 application fee. Applying for licensure itself comes with a $150 fee. Social workers must renew licenses every year, but may only do so with 16 continuing education hours. This renewal costs $100.

Directory of Social Work Programs in Oklahoma

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Career opportunities for social workers abound. A person working with the judicial system for social justice, for example, could qualify as a social worker. Other social workers focus on mental health, rehabilitation, family structure, or community growth. Everyone can find a position that fits both their personal and salary preferences.

Marriage and Family Therapist

These therapists assist with mental health disorders, drug addictions, parenting issues, and relationship struggles within families. They boast experience with psychotherapy and understand family dynamics such that they can offer both diagnosis and treatment.

Rehabilitation Counselor

These workers help patients cope with mental, physical, or emotional disabilities. Responsibilities include analyzing patients' situations, creating assistance plans, and offering connections to helpful resources.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

These counselors assist people with addictions and mental health issues by identifying the core problems that impede recovery. Duties of this profession include building treatment plans, providing resources, and counseling family members.

Healthcare Social Worker

These workers focus on patients with life-threatening ailments. They possess knowledge of psychosocial factors and assist patients and families who deal with such illnesses. Responsibilities include counseling, connecting with resources, and offering guidance on preventing illnesses.

Community Health Worker

Workers in this field strive to better the health of whole communities. They offer counseling, provide health screenings, and link citizens to resources. These employees may also conduct research to determine health concerns and find solutions.

Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Oklahoma

  Employment Annual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 6,970 $37,350
Healthcare Social Workers 1,830 $46,690
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,210 $37,320
Social Workers, All Other 400 $54,190
Source: BLS

Earning a degree requires a substantial financial investment. To mitigate the costs, schools and the government make several scholarship available to students both in Oklahoma and to students interested in social work.

Social Work Scholarships

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund $10,000

Who Can Apply: Students of colleges, universities, or trade programs who strive for social change, such as fighting racism or financial inequality, may qualify. View Scholarship

Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship $4,000

Who Can Apply: This NASW scholarship caters to master's learners with a passion for assisting American Indians, Alaskans, and Hispanic groups. View Scholarship

Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship $5,500

Who Can Apply: The NASW awards this scholarship to students pursuing a master's. Candidates need a passion for working in healthcare settings, particularly with African American populations. View Scholarship

Scholar Serve Award $3,000

Who Can Apply: Students with volunteer experience and strong academic records may qualify for this award. All recipients need at least a 3.0 GPA. View Scholarship
  • NASW Oklahoma Chapter This branch of the NASW connects locals to social workers across the nation. The organization provides conferences and workshops where members build professional connections that can advance their careers. It also provides ethics consultations, news on judicial changes, and options for continuing education.
  • Parent Promise This organization offers programs to assist people in becoming successful parents; it also offers resources like free ultrasounds and counseling. Association with this group could provide students pursuing a career in child and family welfare with networking opportunities.
  • Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Affiliation with this group allows social workers to gain experience in advocacy and child welfare. The group's website provides a blog with information on legislation and outreach programs. Events like a symposium and an open house deliver field information to attendees, and assemblies such as the group's chili cook-off encourage relationships among members that can lead to career opportunities.
  • Autism Speaks Social work candidates interested in helping children or working in mental health can gain experience by connecting with this organization. The group offers resources such as day programs, therapy, medical professionals, parent guidance, and service dogs to those impacted by autism.
  • Homeless Alliance This group aids in the struggle against homelessness. Tactics to end the epidemic include programs, a magazine, a resource center, and a day shelter that offers access to food, running water, and some technology. The organization reaches out to other groups and the community to encourage a more nurturing environment.