This guide covers all you need to know about becoming a social worker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Within the guide, you will discover what it takes to earn your degree and become licensed in Philadelphia. You can also find an overview of the city’s social work needs and the opportunities it offers for those wishing to practice as a social worker.In this guide
- Campus-based degrees
- Master’s of social work
- Online social work degree
- Licensing requirements
- Social work jobs
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, currently has the most job openings for social workers in the state. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities to work as a social worker in the growing city of Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania’s social work licensing board requires that social workers practicing in many social work settings obtain credentials as a Provisional Social Worker (PSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
Below, you will find the types of education offered by the city, how to become licensed, and discover job opportunities in the area.
Campus-based social work degrees in Philadelphia
If you are planning to attend on-campus classes while earning your social work degree, there are three main campuses offering campus-based social work programs in Philadelphia. Each program is Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited. Below, you will find the costs and opportunities they offer for on-campus students.
Additionally, a complete listing of all social work programs are available on the Pennsylvania state page.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania has one of the country’s most respected Masters in Social Work (MSW) programs. The average full-time tuition cost is $37,678.
Some goals and opportunities for the on-campus MSW program include:
- Prepares students for social work leadership roles
- Teaches students to provide services to individuals, families, groups, communities in local, national, and global arenas
- Provides “cutting-edge” innovation with educational tradition rooted in social justice and social change
- A minimum of 16 course units are also required in order for students to graduate
More program information can be found here.
Temple University offers both a bachelor’s of social work (BSW) degree and an MSW degree program. Tuition costs for 2021-2022 are about $17,136 for Pennsylvania residents and $30,864 for out-of-state students. The university’s website has more information about costs and fees.
Some goals and opportunities for the on-campus BSW program include:
- Opportunities for field practicum courses
- A focus on understanding human behavior using a person-in-environment perspective
- Renowned and nationally recognized faculty from the program’s School of Social Work
- BSW program can be completed in four years or six years if students choose to attend part-time
Master’s in social work program
Temple University offers two concentrations for its MSW program, including:
- Clinical practice with individuals and families
- Macro practice in organizations, communities and policy arenas
The MSW program can be completed in 2 years unless students are eligible for the advanced standing MSW program. An advanced standing program allows those who have graduated with a CSWE-accredited BSW degree to complete their MSW degree at an accelerated rate.
More program information can be found here.
La Salle University
At La Salle University, tuition costs are approximately $30,000 annually for BSW majors. Below you will find information about the school’s BSW social work program:
- At La Salle’s main campus, they offer a full-time day or part-time day class format
- An accelerated hybrid program is also available for students and can be completed in 15 months
- According to the university’s website, the curriculum “integrates Lasallian values of respect for the individual and a commitment to social and economic justice with the theory, skills, and values of the social work profession”
Master’s in social work program
- La Salle offers a full-time (21-24 months) and part-time (3-4 years) MSW program
- An advanced standing program is also available and can be completed full-time (9 months) or part-time (2 years)
More program information for earning your BSW and MSW can be found here.
Online social work degrees in Philadelphia
Obtaining your social work degree online is a great option for those who are unable to attend in-person classes. Local options for online social work degree programs in Philadelphia are listed below.
- Temple University offers an online BSW degree program that can be completed full-time in 2 years or up to 4 years part-time
- The BSW program is a 60-credit program and costs $610 per credit
- Students can also complete their MSW degree online part-time. An online advanced standing MSW program is also recently available for students.
La Salle University
- At La Salle University, it offers some hybrid options for students
- The university offers an accelerated part-online and part on-campus program
To learn more about other online opportunities close to Philadelphia, check out our Pennsylvania state guide.
Social work internship and internships in Philadelphia
When it comes to obtaining a social work education, internships and fieldwork play a crucial role. Hands-on experience provides students with real-world social work experience so that they may be prepared for future jobs. Additionally, many jobs in the field require prospective social workers to have previous supervised work experience and an internship on record.
Some examples of places that accept social work students and provide hands-on experience in Philadelphia include:
- Mental Health Partnerships: Internship/Wellness Manager (must be licensed as an LCSW to apply)
- Community Engagement Intern at Health Federation of Philadelphia
- Child Guidance Resource Centers Intern
Be sure to check out sites such as Indeed.com and Chegg Internships, which are great places to look for upcoming and active internships for gaining fieldwork experience as a social work student.
Social work license in Philadelphia
Pennsylvania’s licensing board offers three types of licensure for those wishing to practice as a social worker in Philadelphia. The licenses include: Provisional Social Worker (PSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
In order to obtain one of these licenses, candidates must already have a BSW or MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program. Below, you will find the steps to earn each type of license available in the city.
Steps to become a PSW in Philadelphia
- Candidates must have three years of full-time social work experience under the supervision of a master’s level social worker.
- Submit an application to Pennsylvania’s licensing board and proof of enrollment in a CSWE-accredited MSW degree program.
- Take and pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam. The testing cost is $230 and the examination consists of 170 questions. Candidates must answer 105 questions correctly in order to pass.
- Receive your license. PSWs may then begin practicing under the supervision of a licensed social worker.
Steps to become a LSW in Philadelphia
- Those holding an MSW or DSW degree can apply to become a LSW in the city.
- Candidates must apply to the state’s board in order to certify that they meet the requirements for licensure.
- Register and schedule to take the $230 ASWB Master’s exam. Candidates must pass the test with a score of 70% or higher.
- Receive your license and begin practicing as a LSW in the city.
Steps to become a LCSW in Philadelphia
- In order to apply to be a LCSW in Philadelphia, candidates must have documented work experience and already hold a LSW.
- Candidates have two years to complete 3000 hours of work experience and periodically meet with an approved clinical supervisor.
- Register and take the ASWB Clinical Exam. The testing cost is $260 and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions. In order to pass, candidates must answer 105 questions correctly.
- Receive your license from the board and begin practicing as a LCSW.
For more information on how to receive your license in Philadelphia, please refer to our Pennsylvania state guide.
Social work job opportunities in Philadelphia
In order to start working as a social worker in the city, candidates are required to become licensed in the state of Pennsylvania after receiving a BSW or MSW. By obtaining more advanced licenses, you will also be able to apply to higher paying job opportunities.
According to Indeed Jobs, the yearly average base salary for social workers in the city of Philadelphia is roughly $70,026. However, salaries differ by years of experience.
Philadelphia social work salaries by years of experience
- Social workers with less than one year of experience can expect to earn $64,985 per year
- Social workers with one to two years of experience can expect to earn $64,685 per year
- Social workers with six to nine years of experience can expect to earn $81,459 per year
- Social workers with over 10 years of experience can expect to earn $83,297 per year
Listed below are some examples of local social work job openings in Philadelphia at government organizations and independent agencies:
- Holy Redeemer BSW Social Worker: Must have BSW degree or related field work
- Home Health Social Worker (MSW) at Penn Medicine: LCSW or LSW (required)
- Admissions Social Worker at Belmont Behavioral Health System: 1 year social work experience and MSW (preferred)
- Social Worker (MSW) at InnovAge: MSW degree from CSWE-accredited program (required), 3 or more years of social work experience (preferred)
There are endless opportunities for practicing social work in the city. By obtaining your degree and earning one of the three licenses offered in Philadelphia, you will be able to receive the best opportunities available as a social worker in the city and impact lives while doing so.