About Social Work Certificate Programs Online

Students typically pursue social work certificate programs online to expand their current social work knowledge to better aid communities in need. The program’s succinct course of study is a quick way to engage with specialized social work content.

For instance, students could look at subjects in: 

  • Gerontology
  • Family Counseling
  • Or even Bilingual Assistance

. . . to name a few!

This way, students may be able to better address the specific needs of new groups of people.  

Certificate in Social Work Distance Education Essentials

Unlike other programs, online social work certificate programs are typically earned in conjunction with a graduate degree. This means that students earn a certificate in addition to a masters or PhD degree. Schools offer these joint programs to expand upon general social work courses. The certificate itself is a way to specialize your social work knowledge to a specific field.

In fact, these courses might help you develop a toolbox to address the challenges experienced by a specific community. Based on the institution, you could have the chance to study some of the following social work specialties in some Social Work certificate programs online.

  • Trauma & Crisis Intervention
  • Addiction
  • Bilingual Assistance
  • Mental Health
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Youth & Family
  • Gerontology
  • Global
  • Adoption

Concentrations vary by school. Be sure to speak with potential certificate programs for more information.

Potential Social Work Certificate Programs Online Curriculum

Online social work certificate programs courses may vary wildly between different concentrations. But, nailing down a specific course of study that each of these programs encounters is difficult because each demands a distinct skill set. Their specialized coursework is made to address the needs of a certain group as opposed to basic methods.

For instance, gerontology students may not need to know the same skills and knowledge as students studying adoption.

Despite this, each program follows a similar standard framework. First, courses address obstacles currently faced by the community they’re studying. For example, gerontology may deal with things like housing and financial support for the elderly.

Then, courses shift to how that problem could be fixed. Typically, this is through studying relevant public policies as well as advocacy methods. Concentrations that are offered differ by school. Check with possible certificate programs for more information.

Internship or Field Work Experience

While curriculum may vary, many online social work certificate programs require students to complete an internship or field work assignment. Based on your focus, you could be placed into a real-world social work scenario to test your skills and knowledge. During this program, students are paired with current social workers to experience their daily routine.

In addition, time spent in an internship could possibly count toward mandatory practice hours for a social work license. Internship and field work requirements and placements vary by school.


Many students earn an online social work graduate certificate because the classwork could be put toward various practicing certifications. For example, earning your certificate could also help you work toward some of the following professional certifications.

  • Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G)
  • Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW)
  • Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)

These are only a few samples of social work certifications. Requirements per concentration may vary.


Students applying to an online social work certificate program usually do so as part of a masters degree application. Students applying to masters programs should take visit the online masters in social work page for more information on the application process.

But, in some cases, schools might offer stand-alone programs for students to flesh out their social work experience. In these instances, schools may ask students to provide a 3.0 GPA from a related degree program. This ensures that students have already studied the basics before tackling specialized courses. Requirements vary by school.  

Program Length

Based on which online social work certificate program you choose to pursue, your graduation timeline may differ. For students also earning a masters degree, a certificate could possibly be completed in 1 semester. Stand-alone programs might take around a year for you to complete.

Program length differs by school. Speak with your program for more information.

Next Steps for Social Work Certificate Programs Online

Online social work certificate programs could be your first step toward helping a community rise above its challenges. To begin your search, browse the list of programs on this page.

For more information, click a program’s link. Once there, you can read a brief description about the program. Or, request more info from the school itself. Get started right here on your new path!