Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by SWDC Reviewer
You can receive college credit for completed social work experiences, including past employment and academic portfolios. Students interested in earning a social work degree will benefit from classroom theory and hands-on field experiences with actual case studies. If you already have work experience in this field, it is possible to receive some form of college credit for it in many cases.
The exact number of work experience credits usually depends on your total years spent on the job, your college or university policies, and the degree level you plan to complete. The following options for this type of college credit may be open to you.
Submitting an Academic Portfolio
Since social work courses are outside the scope of general education courses, credit by exam isn’t available for these classes. Some college social work departments will accept a portfolio as an alternative. Some schools that offer the portfolio option may require new students to enroll in a course on putting together a professional portfolio in a specific format.
Documents students should submit include detailed letters of recommendation from work supervisors. Additionally, have any related licenses or credentials and any employment award. Often an advising faculty reviews each portfolio before deciding to grant credit.
Enrolling in an Assessment Degree Program
A few accredited universities offer these types of degree programs that combine past documented social work experience with classroom or online learning. You will usually need to demonstrate fundamental knowledge acquired in a past job. You also may need to complete at least one capstone course and an internship.
Admission to these assessment programs also relies heavily on written recommendations from past supervisors or managers. Excelsior College of New York and Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey are the two most successful and reputable online college assessment programs.
Can you Convert Work Experience into Credits For an Undergraduate Degree?
Can you convert work experience into a degree? When enrolling in an undergraduate social work program, sometimes you may be able to receive credits for past work experiences. According to most policies within social work school departments, the same credit is not granted for graduate-level social work programs.
The good news for prospective graduate students is that an undergraduate major in social work is generally not required for admission to most social work graduate degree programs. Additionally, credit for work or life experience can apply to an undergraduate degree in another field.
Considerations for Social Work Degree Programs
Not all colleges and universities grant credit for past social work towards an undergraduate degree, so do your research carefully on several schools. Schools determine credits on a case-by-case basis. And, many social work departments have varying evaluation criteria for giving work experience college credits. A current social worker license can count toward college credits at some schools.
Tips for Earning College Credit for Social Work Experiences
After you decide to earn a social work degree, make a list of possible programs and schools. Next, please find out the names of the advising faculty and contact them by phone or email. Ask questions about the social work department’s policy on granting credit for social work experience.
Be specific about your past experience and any licenses or certificates you currently have. Write down the information you get from the advising staff about getting credit for your work experience and use it for making your final choice of a social work degree program.
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