Top 25 Social Work Certificate Courses Online for 2021

Social workers are trained to help people in various community, legal, and social settings. They deal with varied mental health issues, addictions, and abuse. They also deal with unemployment, inadequate housing, substance abuse, and familial problems. A social work certificate program explores the fundamental concepts of social work and social justice. It is usually open to students who have a Master’s degree in social work (MSW). Some colleges also offer it to bachelor’s degree holders or those currently enrolled in MSW programs. 

An online social work certificate program is designed for working professionals in the field. The flexible format allows them to earn extra credentials as they continue to work. It is a great fit for practicing social workers who want formal professional development. Social work certificate programs prepare students to promote social development and change. They gain a thorough understanding of human development and behavior. They also learn about various social, economic, and cultural interactions. They learn to advocate for the empowerment of people and communities. 

Students who complete the program are eligible to earn social worker certification or licensure. Once they do so, they can become registered social workers in a specific field. They can prepare to work in family services, child welfare, gerontology, policy planning, or public health. Students gain basic training in social policy and justice in a variety of communities.

Students in an online social work certificate program learn to:

  • Incorporate social justice values into social change processes and actions
  • Apply skills learned when working with people, communities, and organizations 
  • Gain an understanding of the key concepts that social workers need to practice
  • Learn how social policies and research impact people

This article has shortlisted the top 25 schools that offer an online social work certificate or a related program. We have considered the program’s format, whether it is flexible, asynchronous, and self-paced. The course content and school accreditation have been considered, as well. The programs have been ranked based on their affordability. We have considered the per credit or session cost for ranking purposes. 

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Tuition

  • Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
  • Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
  • Net Price Below $18,000: 2 points
  • Net Price Below $20,000: 1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • Less than 20:1: 1 point
  • Less than 15: 1: 2 points
  • Less than 10: 1: 3 points

Return on Investment (ROI): According to Payscale.com

  • Top 500: 1 point
  • Top 300: 2 points
  • Top 150: 3 points

Flexibility of the Program (asynchronous course delivery, hybrid options, part-time/full-time schedule, etc. ) – 1 point per item

Online Student Support Network (faculty mentors/advisors, etc.)— 1 point per item

Concentrations/Specializations – 1 point per item (5-pt cap)

Accreditation (School-Wide and Program-Specific) – 1 point per item

“Wow” Factor – 1 point

 #25 Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 

School Social Work Certificate

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Points: 6

Michigan State University offers a School Social Work Certificate program. Courses are all delivered online. It is open to current Michigan State University MSW students, clinical students only. It prepares students to become school social workers upon graduation. They are trained to work with school-age youth in various educational and community settings. The program components include: 

  • Social Work in Educational Settings
  • School Social Work Intervention: Children with Special Needs
  • Assessment and Testing in School Social Work
  • Specialized field placement in a school setting 

Graduates can receive a recommendation for temporary approval as a school social worker. 

Fast facts:

  • 9 credits + Specialized field placement 
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $1,090

 #24 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ

Certificate Program in Case Management-Online

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Points: 7

Rutgers offers a Certificate Program in Case Management that is delivered via webinars. It is entirely online and asynchronous so that students can complete it at their own pace. It is designed for students with an MSW degree who wish to add a specialized skill to their resume. The curriculum includes: 

  • Building the Helping Relationship 
  • Comprehensive Assessment and Case Planning (2 days) 
  • Advocacy and Collaborating Skills in Case Management 
  • Improving Networking Skills and Enhancing Interagency Relationships 
  • Handling Crisis in Case Management
  • Two electives are required as well

The program allows students to enhance their skills for challenging roles. All workshops offered in this certificate program are non-clinical. 

Fast facts:

  • 7 webinars
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition per credit: $724

 #23 Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

Online Graduate Certificate-PreK-12 School Social Worker 

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Points: 8

Colorado State University offers a PreK-12 School Social Worker Graduate Certificate program. It is designed for students who have completed or enrolled in the Master of Social Work. The curriculum is tailored to the needs of school social workers. Students gain foundational credentials required by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). They learn to be effective special services providers (SSP) in the PreK-12 setting. They learn about: 

  • Social work in schools
  • Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework
  • Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP)
  • The complexities and challenges in Special Education
  • The fundamentals of conflict resolution and mediation 

Students gain technical knowledge of policy and intervention to face the unique challenges of the field. 

Fast facts:

  • 9 credits
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $689

 #22 Great Basin College

Elko, NV

Certificate in Human Services 

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Points: 8

Great Basin College offers a Certificate of Achievement in Human Services Program. It provides entry-level education as well as real-life work experience. Students learn about Human Services organizations and the way they work. They get a generalist overview of human services work. Theory and hands-on opportunities through practicum help them develop professional interpersonal skills. 

The curriculum includes: 

  • Substance Abuse: Fundamental Facts and Insights
  • Introduction to Human Services
  • Introduction to Counseling

All coursework may be completed online. They may be used as electives or for continuing education. Students may also meet AAS degree requirements. Students prepare for employment in various human services agencies. They also work in mental health centers, correctional institutions, community health education organizations.

Fast facts:

  • 15 credits
  • Offered by: Health Sciences & Human Services Dept.
  • Format: Online/Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Tuition per credit: $650

 #21 University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Graduate Certificate in Gerontology

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Points: 8

The University of Georgia offers a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. It provides training to expand one’s existing professional skillset and improve career opportunities. Students learn through an interdisciplinary approach. They train to help improve the aging experience of older adults. The curriculum includes topics like: 

  • Foundations of Aging 
  • Aging in Society 
  • Lifespan Health Psychology 
  • Cognition and the Aging Brain
  • Smart Technology in an Aging Society 
  • Pharmacology and Aging 
  • Public Health and Aging 

It is designed with graduate students and working professionals in mind. All courses are offered fully online in an asynchronous format. Students learn to apply the knowledge they gain to real-world scenarios. 

Fast facts:

  • 12 credits
  • Offered by: College of Public Health
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: CEPH; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 
  • Tuition per credit: $645 

 #20 Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, KY

Social Advocacy and Justice Certificate

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Points: 9

Eastern Kentucky University offers a 100% online Social Advocacy and Justice Certificate program. It trains students to support individual, family, and community resilience and lead change. They gain the skills needed to create meaningful change and positively impact others’ lives. Course topics include: 

  • Human behavior change
  • Crime and public policy
  • Social policy analysis and Advocacy

Students learn essential skills through a blend of theory and practical applications. They go on to work in areas like child, family, and school social work. Students also work in healthcare, social work, mental health, and substance abuse social work. 

Fast facts:

  • 18 credits
  • Offered by: College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $611

 #19 Aurora University

Aurora, IL 

School Social Work Certification Online

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Points: 9

Aurora University offers a School Social Work Certification Online. It is designed for MSW degree holders who plan to specialize their skills in a school setting. Students gain broad knowledge in school social work practice and field experience in school social work. It prepares graduates for school social work certification in Illinois. |The curriculum includes: 

  • School Social Work Certification Course 
  • Social Work Practice with the Exceptional Child
  • Reading Content and Reading Methods for School Social Worker
  • Advanced PEL Field Instruction

Students have to complete the program within four consecutive semesters. They can work as school social workers in public and private school settings in Illinois. 

Fast facts:

  • 15 credits
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $600

 #18 Indiana University

Indianapolis, IN

Online Graduate Certificate in e-Social Work Practice

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Points: 10

Indiana University offers an Online Graduate Certificate in e-Social Work Practice. The unique program addresses the gap between social work practice and technology innovation. Students explore areas like: 

  • The growing field of telebehavioral health practice
  • The limiting factors like lack of training and lack of access that affect the gap
  • The role of social work in the field of telebehavioral health practice
  • Technology-mediated practice delivery
  • Types of telebehavioral health services
  • Strengths and limitations of these services

Students are trained to deliver technology-mediated practice. They work with client populations in areas where access is currently lacking. They learn to practice e-social work with diverse individuals and groups. 

Fast facts:

  • 12 credits
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $597

 #17 University of Tennessee 

Knoxville, TN

Postgraduate Veterinary Social Work Certificate

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Points: 10

The University of Tennessee offers a Postgraduate Veterinary Social Work Certificate program. It is designed for MSW students from a CSWE accredited Social Work program. Though most modules are online and self-paced, students have to visit the campus 2-3 times for the workshops. The curriculum includes: 

  • Module: Compassion Fatigue and Conflict Management 
  • Module: Animal-Related Grief and Bereavement 
  • Module: Animal-Assisted Interventions 
  • Module: The Link Between Human and Animal Violence
  • Supervision Sessions: Online video conference
  • Keystone Project
  • Workshop: Animal Assisted Interventions Workshop
  • Workshop: Veterinary Social Work Intensive
  • Workshop: 3-day International Veterinary Social Work Summit 

Through this program, mental health professionals gain knowledge in the four areas of veterinary social work. 

Fast facts:

  • 4 modules + 3 workshops + project + Video sessions
  • Offered by: College of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Cost: $3550

 #16 Clarkson College

Omaha, NE

Online Human Services certificate program

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Points: 11

Clarkson College offers an Online Human Services certificate program. It teaches students how to assist clients with various needs and the human service agency structure. It is ideal for individuals who love helping others. The flexible online format allows students to gain work experience and study at the same time. They can use real-time work to complete fieldwork requirements. The curriculum includes: 

  • Social Policy and Human Services
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Community Engagement and Social Change
  • Community Health Fieldwork 
  • Ethics, Empathy, and Advocacy 
  • Human Development

Graduates work in clinical environments, non-profits, or community agencies. They work with diverse groups like the elderly, homeless, immigrants, people with addictions, disabilities, children, and families. 

Fast facts:

  • 21 credits
  • Offered by: College of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per credit: $558

 #15 Arizona State University 

Tempe, AZ

Online Criminal Sentencing & Sentencing Advocacy Graduate Certificate

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Points: 11

ASU Online offers an Online Criminal Sentencing & Sentencing Advocacy Graduate Certificate. It provides students with the skills and credentials for a career in the legal and justice systems. Graduates can work in varied legal settings and the social work sector, advocating for victims’ rights. Students learn to focus on promoting rehabilitative, restorative, and client-centered outcomes. They learn about: 

  • Court processes
  • Best practices for writing reports and assessing offenders
  • Ethical standards governing the performance of investigations
  • Principles of justice
  • Methods of investigating cases
  • Sentencing schemes

Students learn to act as a liaison between the office and government social services. They may advocate for rehabilitation as opposed to imprisonment.

Fast facts:

  • 15 credits
  • Offered by: Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $512

 #14 University of Missouri

Columbia, MO

Graduate Certificate-Gerontological Social Work

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Points: 11

The University of Missouri offers a Graduate Certificate program in Gerontological Social Work. It is designed to train the next generation of geriatric social work practitioners. The curriculum covers topics like: 

  • Evidence-based helping strategies with older adults and their families
  • Building awareness of aging policies and services
  • Various bio-psycho-social assessments to complete with aging adults and their families
  • Working with an interdisciplinary team
  • Gerontechnology
  • Disability rights advocacy
  • Death, grief, and loss
  • Developing plans of care for community-dwelling older adults

The program seeks to train qualified professionals who can advocate for older adults. Students can prepare for the Advanced Social Worker in Gerontology (ASWG) licensure.

Fast facts:

  • 12 credits
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education; Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $469.75

 #13 Florida Gulf Coast University

Fort Myers, FL

Medical Social Work Certificate

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Points: 12

Florida Gulf Coast University offers a Medical Social Work Certificate. It provides extra training for those holding a master’s degree in social work. Training in the field of medical social work enhances their social work education. Students are well-prepared to pursue a career as a social worker in the healthcare field. They specialize in public health, geriatric, palliative, and inpatient medical or mental health care. Coursework includes:

  • Medical Social Work 
  • Loss & Bereavement
  • Trauma-Informed Care 
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Child Abuse 
  • Issues in Aging 

Medical social workers work in hospitals or other specialized medical settings.

Fast facts:

  • 12 credits
  • Offered by: Marieb College of Health & Human Services
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per credit: $373.38

 #12 University of Wisconsin–Stout

Menomonie, WI 

Social Work Professional Online Certificate

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Points: 12

The University of Wisconsin–Stout offers a Social Work Professional Online Certificate. It is designed for social work professionals who wish to add specialized knowledge and skillset to their resumes. It qualifies students to pursue social work licensure in the state of Wisconsin. Highlights of the program: 

  • Career-focused courses
  • Blends knowledge-based learning with the practice of theory
  • Promotes diversity and awareness
  • Emphasizes applied learning
  • Delivery includes one all-day face-to-face session per course 
  • Eight-week courses that can be completed in one year

The certificate program has been designed with the adult learner in mind. The customized instruction model allows students to learn as they continue working. 

Fast facts:

  • 18 credits
  • Offered by: College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition per credit: $363 

 #11 University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Platteville, WI 

Online Child Advocacy Studies certificate

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Points: 12

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers an online Child Advocacy Studies certificate. It prepares students to be effective trauma-informed professionals. They train to respond to work with maltreated or at-risk children and adolescents. The curriculum includes: 

  • Perspectives on Child Maltreatment and Child Advocacy
  • Victimology
  • Criminal Justice Internship (CAST Internship)
  • Independent Study in Criminal Justice (CAST Project)

The program is open to students from varied professions like social work, law, health, and psychology. It has a unique blend of psychological and sociological perspectives. It examines the process of assisting individual victims. It also looks at the broader civil effort to end child abuse. The program adheres to the standards laid out by the National Child Protection Training Center.

Fast facts:

  • 9 credits
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition per credit: $344.50

 #10 Appalachian State University

Boone, NC

Aging, Health, and Society Certificate

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Points: 13

Appalachian State University offers an online Aging, Health, and Society Certificate. Students develop the skills to help older adults stay healthy, active, and involved in the community. They learn about adult development and aging to prepare for successful careers. Students in this program learn to: 

  • Enhance older adults’ quality of life
  • Help the elderly access the programs, services, health care, and housing they need
  • Emphasize the sociological processes of aging with social factors that influence health outcomes

The program is ideal for individuals who have some health care experience or experience with the aging population. It is also a good fit for those looking to make a career change into a secure field.

Fast facts:

  • 12 credits
  • Offered by: College of Arts and Sciences
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per credit: $266

 #9 Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

LEAD in Social Work, Graduate Certificate

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Points: 13

Florida State University offers a Graduate Certificate program online called LEAD in Social Work. It educates students about leadership theories and practices and provides leadership experience. The program blends skills like leadership, budget and finance, and decision-making. They also learn about client-centered management, negotiating, and team building.

The curriculum includes: 

  • Social Program Evaluation 
  • Budget and Finance in the Social Services
  • Social Work Administration 
  • Grant Writing and Grant Management 

Students learn to manage social service agencies and successful management of grants successfully. They also learn skills they need for middle and executive positions in social service organizations. 

Fast facts:

  • 12 credits
  • Offered by: College of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per credit: $215.55

 #8 Quinsigamond Community College

Worcester, MA

Human Services Certificate

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Points: 13

Quinsigamond Community College offers a Human Services Certificate program. It provides a foundation for various careers for non-degree workers in the field. The program helps students: 

  • Understand the basics of human services
  • Empathize and interact with individuals, groups, families, and communities
  • Conduct intake interviews and provide a basic assessment of human needs
  • Be prepared for group facilitation and participation
  • Advocate for people and learn to help them with human services knowledge

Graduates can transfer to the Human Services associate degree programs. Some colleges allow students to use the certificate earned as transferable credits. Students can go into entry-level careers in various human service occupations; 

Fast facts:

  • 15 credits
  • Offered by: Dept. of Public and Social Services
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Tuition per credit: $205

 #7 New York University 

New York, NY

Online Certificate Program-Spirituality and Social Work

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Points: 13

NYU’s Silver School of Social Work offers an online Certificate Program in Spirituality and Social Work. It blends theory and practice to train students for a challenging field of work. They explore the contribution of spirituality to social change and social policy. The curriculum includes: 

  • The intersection of spirituality, mysticism, and religion
  • The intersection of mind and body
  • The intersection between spirituality, religion, and culture
  • Spiritual assessment and transformation
  • Spirituality in the bio-psycho-social assessment and treatment planning process
  • Case studies

Students also learn about the importance of spirituality in a clinical setting. They learn to apply various interventions and spiritual methods to practice. 

Fast facts:

  • 18 two-hour sessions
  • Offered by: Silver School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Cost of the program: $1,980

 #6 San Antonio College

San Antonio, TX

Case Management, Level II Certificate

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Points: 14

San Antonio College offers a Case Management Certificate program. It provides a framework for case management services delivered in health care, addictions, long-term care, aging, HIV/AIDS, occupational services, child and welfare family services, and adult and juvenile justice. The curriculum includes: 

  • Assessment and Case Management 
  • Ethics for Social Service Professionals
  • Family Intervention Strategies
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Treatment Modalities with Special Populations
  • Interviewing and Counseling Theories

Case Management is growing in demand in public, private, and non-profit sectors. It provides students with the applied skills desired by employers. They can work as Case Managers, Case Coordinators, and Social Services Assistants.

Fast facts:

  • 30 credits
  • Format: Online/In-person
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition per credit: $86

 #5 University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Advanced Certificate in Oncology Social Work Practice

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Points: 14

UPenn offers an Advanced Certificate in Oncology Social Work Practice. The unique program is designed for current healthcare social workers. It helps students gain knowledge and skills to work with people and communities affected by cancer. Topics include: 

  • Supervision and Administration in Oncology Care
  • Cancer Health Disparities
  • Trauma-Informed Cancer Care
  • Bioethics and Moral Distress
  • Sexual Health and Fertility Across the Cancer Spectrum
  • Cancer Genomics

While most of the courses are delivered online, students travel to the UPenn campus for an intensive weekend of learning. 

Fast facts:

  • 60 CEU’s including 3 ethics credits
  • Offered by: School of Social Policy & Practice
  • Format: Online/Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Cost: $3,950

 #4 Adelphi University

Garden City, NY

Post-Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice and Social Work

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Points: 14

Adelphi University offers a Post-Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice and Social Work. It is a solution-focused course that helps social workers expand their critical thinking. It incorporates a practical and actionable curriculum for social workers. They learn to address the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable populations. Topics include: 

  • Drawing connections between traditional social work goals, climate science, and environmental justice
  • History of social work environmental advocacy
  • Aging Populations and the Climate Crisis
  • Child Welfare and Environmental Justice
  • Achieving Equal Opportunity and Environmental Justice

Students learn the benefits of ensuring environmental justice on their professional goals. They train in social work along with ways to ensure positive ecological measures for communities. 

Fast facts:

  • 24 CEs
  • Offered by: Institute for Social Work and Environmental Justice
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Cost: $1320

 #3 University of Memphis

Memphis, TN

university-of-memphis

School of Social Work Graduate Certificate

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Points: 14

The University of Memphis offers a School of Social Work Graduate Certificate. It is designed for current MSW students or MSW graduates to get licensure as a School Social Worker. The curriculum includes: 

  • Intro Exceptional Learner
  • Func Anlys/Treat Prob Behaviors
  • Field Placement 
  • Experiential Learning Credit

The certificate program can be pursued while one is enrolled in a Master of Social Work program. Those who have completed their MSWs from an accredited institution can apply as well. Students are prepared for School Social Work Certificate and Licensure. 

Fast facts:

  • 12 semester hours 
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Tuition per hour: $50.00 

 #2 University of Maryland, Baltimore

Baltimore, MD

Financial Social Work Certificate Program

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Points: 15

The University of Maryland, Baltimore, offers a Financial Social Work Certificate Program. The online version of the program will be available from early 2021. The program helps students to: 

  • Improve their knowledge and skills with financial social work concepts and practice
  • Help engage with clients for economic empowerment and strategies
  • Build skills to use financial social work practice for clients struggling with finances
  • Be powerful change agents and advocates within their communities of practice

The program meets the need for greater financial capability and knowledge on the part of social workers. Students work in nonprofits, social service agencies, educational, legal, and medical settings.

Fast facts:

  • 42 CEUs
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Cost: $1,200 

 #1 University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI 

Online Certificate in Political Social Work 

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Points: 16

The University of Michigan offers an Online Certificate in Political Social Work. Students learn how to use policy and politics to create social change. It is designed for all social workers from all fields of practice. The program blends theory, social work practice, and research. The curriculum includes:

  • Political Justice & Voter Engagement
  • Political Social Work Theories & Research
  • Ethics in Political Social Work
  • Engaging Elected Officials: An Inside Perspective
  • Bridging Divides

Students learn to practice skills for advocating policy. They understand how politics impacts the lives of those that they serve on both micro and macro levels. They also explore opportunities for running for office.

Fast facts:

  • 28 credits
  • Offered by: School of Social Work
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Cost: $420 

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