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Social Work at WGU

Are You Looking to Get a Degree in Social Work?

There’s no question that getting a degree in social work can help you achieve your goal of becoming a social worker. To become a licensed clinical social worker, you’ll need a master’s degree. While WGU does not currently offer any specific master’s degrees for social workers, the university does provide undergraduate degrees that can serve as a solid foundation should you desire to go on and earn an advanced degree in social work. There are several bachelor’s degrees beyond just those specific to social work that can help you prepare. Also, if you’re interested in a career focused on helping others, certain bachelor’s degree programs will prepare you for several other jobs, whether you end up going on to be a social worker or not.

If your goal is to earn a master’s degree and become a licensed clinical social worker, you may be interested in starting out with a bachelor’s degree in education or healthcare. WGU has degree offerings in both areas to give you a solid foundation for future success as a social worker.

WGU offers bachelor’s degree programs in the healthcare and education industries that impart valuable skills, insights, and experiences that can either prepare you to earn a master’s degree in social work or equip you to be a leader in a field similar to social work. Ready to learn more? Check out the degree options WGU has for students like you who are interested in a career focused on helping others find success in their lives.

Pathways to a Career in Social Work

With over 88,000 social worker jobs23,000 patient advocate roles, and thousands of health service coordinator positions via LinkedIn, there’s a lot of competition on these career paths—but a degree can set you apart from other applicants. Depending on what kind of work you wish to specialize in, a degree with a focus in healthcare or health services could make all the difference in whether or not you get the job you want. If you’re passionate about a job that allows you to help others, there are many health-focused career paths that could lead you to your dream job.

Many of the skills needed for a successful career focused on helping others can be found in health service and healthcare-based degree programs. Getting a bachelor’s degree with a healthcare background can give you the edge you need in a competitive job market and will show employers you’re right for the position. A degree in social work may be important for a specific role as a social worker, but for other careers that involve working with people on an individual level, the education and background you need could be served by a health services or healthcare program.

If a healthcare degree doesn’t seem like the right fit, an education degree may be a good option. Education is one of the rare fields where you can focus on helping individuals succeed. Working one-on-one with students can be very rewarding and can also prepare you for a career as a social worker should you decide to pursue that path. As a teacher, you’ll face many difficult challenges that can give you relevant experience and be emotionally rewarding.

There is great demand for teachers. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be more than 78,000 new high school teaching positions available by 2030. A nationwide teacher shortage means there’s a desperate need for qualified teachers. As a teacher you can have a profound impact on young lives.

Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Services

A bachelor’s degree in health services coordination offers a strong foundation for roles such as patient advocate, service coordinator, and more. The program will prepare you for the responsibilities associated with patient-focused care, teaching you leadership and communication skills, cultural awareness, person-centered care coordination, and more. 

Navigating the complex healthcare environment can be challenging for patients and families, which is why skilled social workers who specialize in this field are so important. As such, this program is designed to teach you how to navigate changes in technology, insurance and medicine, and the complicated processes associated with the healthcare system. You’ll graduate from this program knowing how to offer the best support to patients and families who need assistance in finding appropriate health resources, making appointments, answering post-care follow-up questions, and addressing any other issues that may arise in a patient-focused healthcare environment.

Some of the valuable healthcare skills you’ll learn include:

  • Cultural Awareness for the Healthcare Professional
  • History of Healthcare in America
  • Health and Wellness through Nutritional Science
  • Medical Terminology
  • Communication and Organizational Awareness
  • Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health
  • Healthcare Ecosystems
  • Care of the Older Adult
  • Technology Applications in Healthcare

Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration

If you’re interested in positions such as healthcare administrator, case manager, or other organizational roles, a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration is a great starting point. Combining industry-specific knowledge with skills in business administration, this program is designed to prepare you with the education you need to play a key leadership role in a wide range of environments such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and government offices that serve the healthcare industry. Coursework includes insight into areas such as accounting, communications, regulations, financial resource management, and more.

As much as the healthcare industry is focused on patient needs, it’s also a business—which means it needs qualified leaders to help it operate at peak efficiency. Working in such a high-pressure environment can be a challenge, but WGU specifically designed this program to empower you with the skills and knowledge to make you an effective leader in this field. Plus, obtaining your bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration can prepare you to move up the ladder into more senior roles, where you can truly make a difference in the industry.

Some of the valuable skills you’ll learn include:

  • Business Management Tasks
  • Project Management
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management
  • Introduction to Human Resource Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Healthcare Delivery Systems, Regulation, and Compliance
  • Healthcare Values and Ethics
  • Technology Applications in Healthcare
  • Financial Resource Management in Healthcare

Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (Mild to Moderate)

If you’re interested in assisting students with mild to moderate special needs, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in special education may be a good option. This degree program will help you learn about special education considerations including how to collaborate with parents for student success, how to conduct instructional planning for learners with exceptionalities, and how to stay within ethical and legal boundaries.

The special education field is one that’s very rewarding but also comes with its share of challenges. A relevant and comprehensive degree program can help prepare you for the rigors of the job.  

Some of the courses in the mild to moderate special education program include:

  • Pedagogy
  • Effective Teaching practices
  • Elementary Education Methods
  • Pre-clinical Experiences
  • Student Teaching
  • General Education
  • Professional Cores
  • General Science Content

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

The Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree will explore the ins and outs of developmental psychology and the theories and practices used by today’s mental health experts to identify and treat abnormal psychology. You'll gain valuable research and learning skills that help you create evidence-based strategies that address real psychosocial issues. You'll also learn about:

Once you've earned your degree, you'll be ready to pursue a variety of jobs, including:

  • Behavior technician
  • Market research analyst
  • Psychiatric technician
  • Academic advisor
  • Social services specialist
  • Patient navigator
  • User researcher

Bachelor of Science in Public Health

If you feel strongly about making a difference in the lives of others, including those in your community and beyond, then earning a Bachelor of Science in Public Health is a great place to start your career journey.  
You’ll be introduced to the foundations of public health and expand your general healthcare knowledge to become a more informed and effective public health expert. These topics include:

  • Community and public health
  • Gender health
  • Mental health
  • Human sexuality
  • Health and wellness
  • Chronic and infectious diseases

Career options similar to social work for those with a public health degree include:

  • Health education specialist 
  • Community health worker
  • Medical and health services manager
  • Social and community services manager
  • Social and human service assistant

Master of Public Health

Whether you're already working in the public health field or just starting out, a Master of Public Health can help you gain the advanced skills and knowledge you need to propel your career forward. You'll become an expert at monitoring your community's health, addressing its needs, promoting disease prevention, improving access to healthcare and public health resources, and developing policies and plans for promising public health outcomes. 
WGU's Master of Public Health degree explores the core functions and essential services of public health, along with the social and behavioral determinants. You’ll dive into the challenges of obtaining financing for public health programs, as well as topics including: 

  • Biostatistics and analysis
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Global health
  • Public health policy and advocacy
  • Health education and promotion


is the average annual salary for social workers.

Careers Related to Social Work

Social work or a similar occupation can be an incredibly enriching opportunity for people like you who are driven to make a difference, support community needs, and help create a better, more functional world for all involved. While some of these positions will require a degree in social work, not all do—which is why a degree in healthcare or education can be a great springboard into the career that you want. If you’re not set on a career as a social worker, there may be many other career paths that have a similar focus on helping others that could be an even better fit. A bachelor’s program in health or education can teach you important skills and give you the support you need to start out on your professional path.

If you’re committed to pursuing a career in social work, you’ll likely find that higher paid and more prominent positions will require a master’s degree in social work. A bachelor’s degree in a health or education field can be extremely valuable in helping you realize this educational goal, providing you with a strong foundation on which to advance your knowledge and capabilities. Plus, having both a bachelor’s in health or education, and a master’s in social work will look impressive on your résumé, and will undoubtedly catch the attention of the hiring managers for the more senior social work role you want.

What Does a Social Worker Do?

Social workers offer compassion-based community support and help people work through a variety of challenges they may be facing. Social workers can help people with terminal illnesses, mental illness, adoption and child services issues. They can also work in medical administrative roles, and more.

What Does a Patient Advocate Do?

A patient advocate acts as a liaison between a patient and their healthcare provider, ensuring they get the help and support they need to navigate both their health challenges and the healthcare system. They can also help with scheduling appointments, assist in getting financial or legal aid, find the right specialists for individualized care, and more.

What Do Health Educators Do?

Health educators work with the community to encourage positive behaviors and habits that support an overall healthy lifestyle. By discussing health issues and concerns with community leaders, they devise plans and create strategies to address health concerns and support people in their pursuit of wellness.

What Does a Case Manager Do?

A case manager works with people who are facing a personal crisis, trauma, health issue, or a variety of other complications with the goal to help them get the support they need to make it through their challenges. This can mean connecting them with appropriate services, helping them find financial support, create treatment and recovery goals, support them with counseling services, and more.

What Does a Community Outreach Manager Do?

Community outreach managers work within the community to create connections to local support systems, enabling them to connect those in need to the organizations that can help them get back on their feet. These organizations include local religious outposts, community centers, economic development agencies, and nonprofit organizations, among others.

What Does a Health Administrator Do?

A healthcare administrator is in charge of planning, directing, and coordinating health services for a medical office or organization. They can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private medical facilities, smaller departments within larger clinics, or managing smaller clinical areas and medical practices. They may also provide administrative duties for groups of physicians.

What Does an Elementary Teacher Do?

An elementary school teacher teaches young students in kindergarten through fifth grade basic skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic. They may also teach science, music, language arts, and computer skills. Elementary school teachers must be skilled at managing several different personalities and keeping the class on task. Maintaining a learning environment where each young student can thrive is challenging, but teachers who are skilled at classroom management and have a passion for assisting students one-on-one can maintain order.

What Does a Special Education Teacher Do?

A special education teacher teaches students who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. They often teach basic life skills and help students become independent. Social skills, personal hygiene, and speech are important, as are reading and writing. Special education teachers must be calm under pressure and able to handle challenging situations and behavioral issues. Students in a special education class often need extra attention and discipline. Effective classroom management is paramount for special education teachers.

What Does a Special Education Advocate Do?

A special education advocate is someone who supports students and families seeking special education services. Many of these advocates are trained and paid professionals, but some are volunteer workers who simply have a desire to help. Special education advocates step in to defend and advocate for students to ensure they are receiving the individual consideration, support, and plan they need to succeed given the unique challenges they face.


career growth is expected by 2029 in social work positions.

Why Choose WGU?

WGU is an excellent choice for a healthcare management or healthcare service coordination degree over a social work degree from another university. It’s a great option for many students because:

  • It’s affordable. Our tuition is charged per six-month term, not per credit, so graduating faster costs less. 
  • It’s accessible. Along with our already-low tuition, our scholarships and financial aid make college even more affordable for even more students. 
  • It’s at your pace. Thanks to our competency-based education, you can pass courses by proving what you know, meaning you can speed up your program and graduate faster. 
  • It’s career focused. Our degree programs are designed with your employment and success in mind, so the skills you learn will translate directly to your work post-graduation. 

Prepared for Success on the Job

*From a 2023 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU graduates.

100% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.*

97% of employers said that they would hire another WGU grad.*

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.*

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Any of the healthcare or education focused bachelor's degrees at WGU can prepare you for a future career making a difference in the lives of others. These degrees are a great alternative to a social work degree program and can make sure you have training and credentials that will help you succeed in your career.

Health & Nursing

Health and Human Services – B.S.

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a...

An online health degree program for students who are committed to making a difference for patients in a variety of ways.

  • Time: 63% of students finish this program in 24 months
  • Tuition: $4,210 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 35 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Epidemiology
  • Community and Public Health
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Pathophysiology
  • Healthcare Values and Ethics
  • Substance Abuse Support

This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also directly working with patients who need help.


Special Ed and Elementary Ed (Dual Licensure) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring K–12 special education teachers. Leads to dual licensure—elementary education teaching license and special education teaching license.

  • Time: 60% of students finish this degree within 38 months.
  • Tuition: $3,825 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 44 total courses in this program (45 for Washington residents).

(Specific grade levels will vary depending on licensure in your state.) If your state offers a single K–12 special education teaching license and you are interested in focusing on teaching students with mild to moderate exceptionalities, consider the B.A. Special Education (Mild to Moderate) online teaching degree. 

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • Elementary Reading Methods
  • Elementary Mathematics Methods
  • Elementary Social Studies Methods
  • Elementary Science Methods
  • Language Arts Instruction and Intervention

This special education teaching online degree program requires in-classroom observation and a term of full-time student teaching. 


Healthcare Administration – B.S.

You can become a healthcare industry leader:...

You can become a healthcare industry leader:

Compare with B.S. Health Information Management

  • Time: 63% of graduates finish within 17 months
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 40 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program include: 

  • Management
  • Communication
  • Team Leadership
  • Operations
  • Scheduling
  • Strategic Planning

The online courses in this career-focused business degree program will prepare you with management-level skills and an up-to-date understanding of our healthcare delivery system.


Special Education (Mild to Moderate) – B.A.

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring...

An online teaching degree and teacher certification program for aspiring special education teachers. Leads to your teaching license in states that offer a single teaching license in K–12 special education.

  • Time: 61% of students finish this program within 34 months.
  • Tuition: $3,825 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 39 total courses in this program.

 If your state requires—or if you're interested in—dual licensure in both elementary education and K–12 special education, consider the B.A. Special Education (K–12) program.

Skills for your résumé included in this program:

  • Lesson Planning
  • Ethics
  • Behavioral Support Strategies
  • Educational Psychology & Development
  • Classroom Management

This online degree program includes a preclinical experience with face-to-face observation hours and a Student Teaching component hosted by an experienced teacher and directed by a clinical supervisor.

Health & Nursing

Psychology – B.S.

An online psychology program for students who want to make a difference in...

An online psychology program for students who want to make a difference in their life, and the lives of others.

  • Time: 95% of students finish similar programs in less than 4 years.
  • Tuition: $4,085 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 34 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé included in this program: 

  • Social psychology
  • Consumer psychology
  • Adult psychology
  • Mental health awareness
  • Psychopathology

This degree allows you to gain valuable knowledge and experience in the field of psychology and can prepare you for additional certifications or careers.

Health & Nursing

Public Health - B.S.

This online bachelor's degree in public health will prepare you to impact...

This online bachelor's degree in public health will prepare you to impact your community and make a difference.

  • Time: 63% of students finish similar programs in 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,210 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 33 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program:

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Public health approaches
  • Epidemiology
  • Biopsychosocial health models

This degree prepares you with relevant industry skills and experience that will help you move forward in your career.

Health & Nursing

Master of Public Health

This online Master of Public Health degree program is a perfect fit for...

This online Master of Public Health degree program is a perfect fit for students who want to make a difference in their community.

  • Time: 60% of students finish similar programs in 21 months.
  • Tuition: $4,995 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 12 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program:

  • Biostatistics and analysis
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Global health
  • Public health policy and advocacy
  • Health education and promotion

This degree prepares you with relevant industry skills and experience that will help you move forward in your career.

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work

Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work will take four years, while earning a master’s degree will take an additional two years. If you enroll in a degree program at WGU, you can accelerate your healthcare or education degree and potentially graduate faster.

There are a variety of career paths you can take with a social work degree. Depending on your chosen area of specialization, you can work in departments of child and family services, mental health, the medical field, education, community services, and more.

Though it can be a very challenging role, social work is also very rewarding and fulfilling if you want to make a difference in your community, and in people’s lives. Projections also show that social work career growth is strong and steady, with many opportunities to advance your career.

If you’re interested in a career helping others like social work, it’s recommended you start by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work, healthcare management, health and human services, or a special education-based program. You can also explore degrees in psychology or sociology. While a master’s degree isn’t required for all social work jobs, it can be helpful in advancing your career later on.