Social Work Diplomas

If you are interested in working in the human services field but still aren't sure if you should pursue a bachelor's of social work (BSW) or masters of social work (MSW) degree program, consider the benefits of a diploma in social work. These two-year educational programs are available at only a handful of colleges and training centers around the country - many are available in Canada or are offered as a human services associate degree program.


These programs are designed for students who wish to apply for positions at the para-professional level in the social services field and can serve as a solid foundation for a bachelor's degree program in the field. You can earn transferable credits and also gain valuable practical, job-related skills during your two years of training. Some diploma training programs are available online.

Types of Jobs You Can Apply for with a Diploma in Social Work

You won't be able to apply for entry-level jobs as a social worker with only a diploma in social work. Today, employers will hire those who have at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related degree - most prefer to hire those with master's degrees and you will need at least a master's degree if you plan on working in the clinical field.

Examples of jobs you may be able to apply for with a diploma in social work include:

  • Community Service Worker
  • Teacher's Aide
  • Residential Service Worker
  • Home Support Coordinator
  • Social Work Assistant
  • Mental Health Worker
  • Family Support Worker
  • Senior Support Worker

Most students completing a diploma program do so to prepare for advanced studies; only a few enter the work force immediately after completing their associate's degree simply because the pay is minimal and there may be very few job opportunities in their local area.

Getting a Social Work Diploma

A social work diploma is also known as a human services diploma or human services associate degree program. These programs typically provide basic training in subjects such as public administration, psychology, human resources, and social work. The curriculum typically includes introductory topics such as:

  • Introduction to human services and social services
  • Social and developmental psychology
  • Counseling skills
  • Advocacy and mediation
  • Social policymaking

You will need at least a high school diploma or GED to enroll in a social work diploma program, and it will usually take you about two years to complete the courses. Some schools now offer the diploma program completely online.

Since these programs are so short and only cover introductory courses, you will not gain extensive hands-on training or work experience in the field. Fieldwork experience is essential to your career as a social worker, so you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree or other advanced degree program in to fulfill your work experience requirements. Every state in the United States requires social workers to be license. You cannot get a license without having a certain number of hours of work experience. You may also need at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field to become licensed. If you decide to pursue clinical social work, you will need at least a master's degree.

Ultimately, having a social work diploma will help you learn about the field and complete some of your prerequisites or introductory courses. Only some courses will be transferable to a four-year degree program, so consider speaking with an admissions counselor about all of your options before you enroll in a two-year program.