Also known as medical social work, gaining higher education in this field prepares workers that will help patients in health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care. Duties they will have include taking care of any issues that patients are dealing with and/or potential further care once they are discharged from hospitals or any other form of in-house care.

Social Work Programs Focused on Hospital Work

Additional roles for hospital social workers include the process of discharging patients and quickly preparing them to be sent home.

In many cases, holding medical social work positions will require licensure from the state, and graduate programs will offer the clinical experience necessary to gain licensure.

Online Hospital MSW Programs

Many social work programs that offer a clinical focus and practicum experience give students an ability to pursue the degree online. Academic experience is completed through the learning management system. For those that do not live in the proximity of the institution will likely complete their clinical hours at an approved health care facility.

Having the ability to complete higher education online gives students more flexibility in school decision and finding the right program that works for their schedule. Many institutions offer a truncated curriculum for those that obtained a Bachelor's degree within social work from programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Typical Educational Requirements

While gaining an online education is convenient and many students have the opportunity to pursue a degree and keep their job, gaining higher education within the hospitality portion of social work will require more than academic credit hours.

Hundreds of hours will be needed to fulfill practicum requirements, and frequently these clinic times are only during business hours. Students should anticipate a rigorous schedule despite only being enrolled part-time in most instances.

Bachelor's Degrees in Hospital Social Work

Students can pursue a Bachelor's degree in the field of social work that has clinical practicum. This level of education may be enough to obtain licensure and work at various hospitals and health care clinics, but potential workers should review licensure requirements in order to determine if they will meet them. For those that must obtain a Master's degree in social work, many institutions offer an accelerated format that can bypass some of the core curriculum due to already learning these topics through the Bachelor's degree, assuming it is accredited by the CSWE.

An example of a school that fits all of this criteria is Wayne State University and their Bachelor of Social Work. The schedule has plenty of flexibility for those that will pursue the program on a full-time or part-time basis, and there are various locations to take the program, such as in Detroit, Macomb, or Schoolcraft in Michigan. The curriculum has an emphasis in field work to prepare students to work with a diverse group of patients and to gain hands-on experience within human behavior, treatment methods, and research. Field work is required in both the BSW and MSW degrees.

Master's Degrees in Hospital Social Work

Obtaining a Master's degree in the field of social work hospitality will be enough for licensure in many states and will prepare eventual graduates for administrative and executive roles. These positions will manage those that are directly working with patients and assist in the assessment and evaluation of those that are dealing with behavioral or emotional problems. All Master's degrees that have a clinical specialization will require students to complete a certain amount of hours in field work, which generally falls around 500 hours or more.

In some instances, students can combine their Master's degree with a similar program. At Temple University, students can pursue a dual degree with an MSW and Master of Public Health. This can be completed within three years and gives eventual graduates further education in protecting communities with health concerns that are local, or any potential threats. Along with clinical practicum sessions, they will also be getting academics within foundational research, theories on treatment plans, social justice, how this work impacts various families and children, and mental health policies that have been established around the world.

University of Central Florida – MSW

The College of Health Professions and Sciences has a Master of Social Work that prepares students for evidence-based clinical social work that helps improve the community living experience by dealing with mental health issues. There are two different tracks to choose from when pursuing the program, either the on-campus track or the online track. For the online format, students will complete courses in seven-week terms, taking them one at a time in an asynchronous format. Course content is done on-demand, but students are expected to keep up with deadlines. Due to the varying nature of both, the school does not allow students to switch tracks or do a hybrid format.

62 credit hours are needed to complete the online program, and just 32 credit hours for those that are accepted into the advanced standing version. Admittance into the latter program is available for students that have completed a Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution and they maintained a 3.3 GPA within the last 60 credit hours. While students can maintain a job pursuing this degree, they must complete at least one course while completing field placement requirements, and that will take place during standard business hours.

Loyola University-Chicago – Clinical MSW and Leadership MSW

Within the School of Social Work, students can complete a Master of Social Work that requires two years of academic and hands-on training within human services and development. There are two different tracks that students can choose from, and one of those is the clinical track with works directly with health care, family health, mental health, and more. There is another option to take the specialization in leadership and development for those looking at higher-level roles and lacking some specific talent to succeed at the executive level.

There are two different internships to satisfy this degree before completion. One of them is completing 480 hours in cleaning the house. After that is completed, an additional internship is 24 hours per week, or a total of 720 work hours. While there are no prerequisites to gain admission into the program, students should still have maintained a grade of “C” or better. Examples of courses that students can take include Health Policy and Health Systems, Social Policy and Practice in Health and Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Treatment in Groups.

University of Tennessee-Knoxville – MSW

Students can either gain the Master of Social Work at the Knoxville or Nashville campus in Tennessee, or they can complete the online program. Both of these program formats are taught by the same faculty members, and they offer flexibility for part-time and full-time enrollment. Students that have completed related coursework in an undergraduate degree qualify for the advanced standing placement. There are two concentrations that students can choose from – Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice and Organizational Leadership. Regardless of concentration, internships will still be held at an approved location by the school.

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Courses holding online lectures will usually have login or interaction requirements to determine that the student is there and paying attention. There is an ability to interact with other class members virtually as well when needed. When it comes to accessing coursework or other research materials, those are all offered asynchronously and due dates are up to the discretion of the professor. Every single class that is available at the campus locations will also be offered online, and there are no requirements for students to complete an on-campus residency before pursuing the program.

University of Denver Online MSW

The Graduate School of Social Work has a full online program that offers the same capabilities as the on-campus version. Students are able to complete the program in either 18 or 21 months depending on their academic standing and if they completed a Bachelor’s degree within social work in the past. Courses will be distributed in a live format and students will have interaction with other peers. There will be multiple live class times so students have the ability to customize their schedule that best fits their needs. Internships will take place in any community that is approved by the college. Students have the ability to access course materials and lecture recordings in an on-demand format around-the-clock.

There are two concentrations that students can choose from to customize their degree: Mental Health and Trauma, and Health and Wellness. Either of these specialties will emphasize clinical studies and enhance perspectives on substance abuse and trauma that their patients will face. Admittance into the program takes place in January, March, June, and September. For the traditional pathway, students should have an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA (with a recommendation of having at least a 3.0 GPA over the last 60 credit hours).

Hospital Social Work Careers

Medical Social Worker

Works with patients and their families to improve a patient’s situation or quality of life at a health care facility. Essentially, they will provide psychosocial support to these parties in order to provide information and help them cope with these issues. Typical duties for these types of social workers include meeting and assessing the problems that patients are facing, determining and recommending treatment methods for their issues, and creating a discharge plan for the patient once they have been cleared by the hospital or clinic. They may either report to management on their findings or directly recommend treatment to doctors and physicians. The median annual wage for social workers within health care is approximately $56,200 across the nation according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Studies social behavior by examining individuals and groups on the basis of their behavior and how they interact with others. They may look at what affiliations or beliefs they have and gather information to determine what impact this may have on society. When studying groups, it is frequent to see sociologists survey them to gain further information, such as how a new policy will affect them. One of the major benefits sociologists have are impacting policy changes to improve health and minimize crime and poverty within a community. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, those looking into careers within social science will see an 11 percent increase between the 2018-28 years.

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Community Services Manager

Coordinates social services within the community, reviewing programs to determine if they are effective locally and suggesting other activities and improvements to existing programs in the area. It is typical for managers to hire and train new members on the staff, and they will supervise certain programs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is going to be a 13 percent job increase between the 2018-28 decade for social and community service managers. This is faster than the average and is mainly caused by the aging population across the world. On average, the median annual wages are at $76,790 across the United States, with the higher-paying sectors within the local government, religious, and grantmaking organizations. 

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Social and Community Service Managers reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.