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How Can I Customize My BSW Degree?

In the right Bachelor of Social Work program, you can choose from a variety of focus areas.

If you’re thinking about starting a social work career, then you probably know that to become a social worker, you have to earn a social work degree and apply for one of more than 707,000 social work jobs in the U.S.1 But the question you may be asking is: Should I start with a general Bachelor of Social Work, or is there a way to customize my BSW degree?

In the right BSW degree program, customization is, indeed, possible. Many Bachelor of Social Work programs allow you to choose from a variety of focus areas, so you can direct your studies toward the knowledge you’ll need for whatever type of social worker you wish to be.

How Can I Customize My BSW Degree?

How Do Focus Areas Work?

At a school of social work that offers BSW areas of focus, the focus areas are typically integrated into the overall BSW degree program. What that means is, you don’t have to spend longer in school when you choose a focus area. Instead, you can use your required elective hours to complete all the courses in your focus area. In most cases, five courses compose a focus area, giving you an in-degree specialization you can put on your résumé.

What Focus Areas Are Available?

The five most common areas of focus are:

In this focus area, you’ll learn about the causes and treatments of addiction. Courses typically cover such subjects as addiction assessment, human behavior, and case management of addicts.

Forensics and the Criminal Justice System
Social work and the criminal justice system often come into contact. In this focus area, you typically study such subjects as the workings of the modern criminal justice system, criminology, restorative justice, and victimology.

Crisis and Trauma
Many types of social workers help people who’ve recently experienced trauma or are in active crisis. This focus area can help you handle such situations by offering courses in disaster response, crisis communications, victimology, and emergency management.

Courts and the Legal System
Often, social workers help their clients navigate the legal system. This focus area can help you learn to do that well, with courses in criminal law, judicial process, restorative justice, victimology, and community response coordination.

Healthcare Settings
The healthcare system and social work also often interact with each other. To help you better understand healthcare and health in general, this focus area typically includes courses in healthcare organization, healthcare policy, healthcare delivery, and environmental health.

What’s the Best Way to Earn a BSW Degree?

If you’re looking for a convenient way to earn your BSW degree, consider online learning and a degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Through a CSWE accredited online BSW degree program, you can earn your degree from home or anywhere else you have internet access. Plus, an online Bachelor of Social Work degree will allow you to choose when in the day you attend class. This means you can complete your Bachelor of Social Work online classes while continuing to work full time and/or meeting the other demands in your life.

Of course, a BSW isn’t the only degree for social workers. Many social workers choose to expand their career options by going on to earn their Master of Social Work, and online education can make that more possible, too. In some online Bachelor of Social Work degree programs, you can take advantage of an Advanced Standing option after you graduate. What that means is, if you graduate from your BSW program with a high enough GPA, you can move directly into an MSW degree program and potentially qualify for a reduction in the number of credits you need to earn your degree—saving you time and money.

Choosing a BSW program with optional focus areas can help you enter the social work field you want. And thanks to online education, you can find the right BSW degree program for you and your career aspirations.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a CSWE-accredited  Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University's Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is responsible for developing standards that define competent preparation for professional social workers and ensuring that social work programs meet these standards.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,