5 Best Forensic Social Work Master’s Programs – 2024


Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Do you have a bachelor’s degree in social work or another field? Does the idea of having a career where you can study forensics and help others interest you? If so, have you considered becoming a forensic social worker? A forensic social work master’s program is an excellent way to further your education and specialize in a field where you can utilize your knowledge of forensics and human behavior to help others.

If you have thought of this career path, it is natural to wonder, “What are the best forensic social work master’s programs?” As you continue reading, you will find the answer to that question as well as detailed information about the 5 best forensic social work programs for 2024. I will share information about the programs, including their cost, curriculum, and admission requirements and answer some frequently asked questions to help you decide if this is the path you wish to pursue.



RECOMMENDED ONLINE MSW PROGRAMS

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOAL OF A FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAM?


The goal of forensic social work master’s programs is to prepare students for graduate-level practice as social workers with an in-depth understanding of forensics. These programs aim to give students the ability to apply critical thinking and decision-making skills and to advocate for victims and alleged offenders in criminal cases. Additionally, the programs prepare students to provide consultation and educate lawmakers, law enforcement officials, attorneys, and the public to diagnose and treat clients.



5 MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS AND ABILITIES YOU WILL GAIN IN A FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAM


Forensic social work master’s programs will prepare you with a wide range of skills and abilities to help you succeed and make a positive impact on the people you serve. The following are five of the most important skills and abilities you will gain while enrolled in these programs.

1. You will learn to apply evidence-based practice in social work practice:

In forensic social work master’s programs, students learn the importance of implementing evidence-based practice. As a forensic social worker, you will have access to a vast knowledge base of research and evidence-based findings that you can use to create and implement care plans for your clients.

2. You will learn to engage diversity and difference in your practice:

A person’s life experiences, culture, and religious background can influence their perception of your job as a forensic social worker and their role as a member of society. You will learn to recognize and appreciate the diversity among your clients. You will also develop an understanding of how to show respect for your client's experiences and engage your client as the best available source of information in planning their care. This skill is especially important because when people feel appreciated and valued for who they are, where they come from, and what they believe, it is easier to build a trusting relationship with them.

3. You will learn when and how to intervene with or for individuals, families, and groups:

As a student in a forensic MSW program, you will learn to assess human behavior and identify when it is appropriate to intervene on behalf of the clients you serve. You will implement interprofessional and interpersonal communication to implement measures to promote the safety and well-being of your clients.

4. You will learn to implement cultural competence in social work:

Forensic social work master’s programs will teach measures to implement cultural competence. You will learn to demonstrate an understanding of the diversity among your clients and embrace their cultures and beliefs to provide effective social work services.

5. You will learn to design and implement individualized care plans:

Your forensic MSW program will prepare you with the theoretical knowledge and practical training experiences needed to design and implement plans to address the needs of your clients. You will use assessment, evidence-based research, and interdisciplinary collaboration to design and implement plans and follow through to assess the effectiveness of your plans.



5 MAIN ADVANTAGES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS


Earning your degree through one of the best forensic social work master's programs comes with a wide range of advantages. A positive employment outlook and good earning potential are just a few of the advantages you will experience. The following are five of the main advantages of these specialized degree programs.

1. You can advocate for victims of crimes:

One of the greatest advantages of becoming a forensic social worker is that you can use your knowledge and experience to advocate for victims of crimes. You may offer counseling services, testify about how being victimized affected your client, and offer resources for ongoing help or treatment.

2. You can lobby for changes in the criminal justice system:

As a forensic social worker, you will learn the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. You can use that knowledge to advocate and lobby for changes in the legal system. Your actions could impact the way victims of crimes are viewed and the resources made available to them. You can also influence how offenders are treated and ensure fair proceedings and access to necessary mental and physical health care services.

3. You can make a difference in the lives of many people!

If you genuinely care for others and want to make a difference, you may find that becoming a forensic social worker is a great option. Whether you work with victims to offer emotional support throughout difficult legal trials, advocate for resources and care for victims, or work with alleged offenders to ensure they have representation and proper mental health care, you can make a difference in their lives. The work you do not only impacts victims and offenders but can have a long-lasting effect on their families and friends, as well.

4. The job outlook for forensic social workers is good:

It is natural to want a career that offers long-term job opportunities. Forensic social workers can expect to see an increase in job opportunities through at least 2031, per projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. You will feel a sense of personal and professional accomplishment:

It goes without saying that earning a master’s degree is something to cause a deserved sense of pride. Not only will you feel a sense of pride for having accomplished your academic goal, but earning your degree through one of the best forensic social work master’s programs can also leave you with a feeling of personal satisfaction. You will work with clients who need an advocate, and the impact you have on their lives will leave you with a true feeling of both personal and professional accomplishment.



2 MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS


While forensic social work master’s programs have many advantages, there are some disadvantages to consider. As you think about whether to pursue one of these degrees, compare the pros and cons and think of your short-term and long-term goals to help you decide if forensic social work is the path you should pursue. The following are the two main disadvantages of forensic MSW programs.

1. Advocating for client rights can be difficult because of the way the legal system works:

Even the most experienced forensic social workers often find it difficult to navigate the legal system. Your access to important documents or reports may be stalled, depending on whether you are representing an alleged offender or victim. Unfortunately, the wheels of justice seem to move very slowly. When you realize how complex the legal system can be, it can feel discouraging, especially when you want to get results for the clients you represent.

2. Being a forensic social worker can be extremely emotionally taxing:

As a forensic social worker, it can be difficult to separate your personal feelings or emotions from the trauma your clients experience. As a nurse, I understand the feeling of empathy for patients and the strong desire we often feel to “move mountains” and make things better for those for whom we provide care. I believe that feeling empathy and showing compassion, whether we are nurses, social workers, or other providers, is what makes us effective at our jobs.

Forensic social work master’s programs will teach you the importance of developing therapeutic relationships and will guide you on how to act within the legal and ethical bounds of your role. However, even the best programs may not prepare you for every situation. You must practice self-care, including being aware of when you begin to feel emotionally overwhelmed. Do not be afraid to reach out to your supervisor if you feel you need a break. Also, take time to unplug and unwind. I realize it may sound odd to mention this, but eating a well-balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and exercising will help improve not only your physical health but promotes emotional well-being, as well.



WHO ACCREDITS FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER’S PROGRAMS?


One of the most important things to consider when choosing an academic program is accreditation. The best forensic social work master's programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

S.NO.Accrediting Agency
1Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)



WHEN DO FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER’S PROGRAMS START?


Start dates for forensic social work master’s programs vary, depending on the school. The following are the start dates for the top programs in the nation.

At DePaul University, the program will start in the fall. Candidates seeking full-time admission must apply by April 1st, and those seeking part-time admission must apply by July 15th.

Seton Hall University offers fall and spring start dates for its forensic social work master’s program. If you wish to enroll in the program full-time, you must apply before the April 30th deadline. The part-time pathway offers rolling admissions with spring and fall start dates.

Alabama State University begins its program in the fall and summer semesters each year.

The forensic MSW program at Aurora University starts in the spring semester of each academic year.

The Long Island University forensic social work master’s program begins in the fall semester yearly.



HOW MANY CREDITS ARE THERE IN FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS?


The curriculum plans for forensic social work master’s programs typically require students to complete between 30 and 80 credits. Advanced standing students usually complete between 30 and 40 credits, while traditional students are required to complete between 60 and 80 credits.

DePaul University states that their students in the forensic social work master's program will need to take 88 credit hours of coursework to complete the entire program. 56 credits are earned from core coursework, and 32 credits are focused on the forensic social work concentration.

At Seton Hall University, students entering the program without a bachelor’s degree complete 60 credits. Students with a bachelor’s degree in social work enter with advanced standing and complete 33 credits.

The traditional forensic social work master’s program at Alabama State University is a 60-credit pathway. Students who pursue the advanced standing pathway complete 36 hours.

At Aurora University, you will complete 69 credits. The program includes 27 generalist credits, 33 specialist credits, and nine forensic concentration credits.

The forensic social work master’s program at Long Island University is a 60-credit hour program.



HOW LONG ARE FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS?


Forensic social work master’s programs typically take one to four years to complete, depending on whether you enroll as a traditional or advanced standing student and whether you choose part-time or full-time study. The following list reflects the time it takes to complete the five programs featured in this article.

At DePaul University, you can choose to enroll part-time or full-time. Part-time students complete the program in three or four years. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.

Seton Hall University offers part-time and full-time study options, as well. Students without a previous bachelor’s degree can complete the program in two years if enrolled full-time or four years part-time. Advanced standing students can complete the program in one year full-time or two years part-time.

Alabama State University offers traditional and advanced standing pathways for its forensic social work master's program. Traditional students can complete the program in two years, full-time, or four years on a part-time basis. Advanced-standing students take one year to graduate if enrolled full-time and up to two years if studying part-time.

You can complete the program offered at Aurora University in under three years.

Long Island University offers part-time and full-time study options for its forensic social work master’s program. Full-time students take an average of two years to graduate. Part-time students usually graduate in four years.



HOW MUCH DO FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAMS COST?


The cost of forensic social work master’s programs ranges between $14,000 and $87,000. Some schools charge different rates for students based on whether they are state residents or reside outside the state. Others have the same rate, no matter where the student lives. The list below includes a breakdown of tuition costs for the nation’s best programs. Unless otherwise stated, the prices listed are for tuition only.

Students at DePaul University’s forensic social work master’s program can expect to pay around $743 per credit. The program requires 88 credits, which brings the cost of tuition to $65,384.

Tuition for the Seton Hall University program costs $1,450 per credit hour. The program features a 60-credit curriculum, which makes tuition average $87,000. Additional fees, including university, mobile computing, technology, and student fees, are required. Some fees are charged on a semester basis, while others are one-time fees.

At Alabama State University, tuition is determined by your state residency. Alabama residents pay $412 per credit hour, and non-residents pay $824. Traditional students complete 60 credits, which makes tuition cost between $24,720 and $49,440. Advanced students complete 36 credits and pay between $14,832 and $29,664, based on whether they live in-state or out-of-state.

Tuition at Aurora University costs $618 per credit. With a 69-credit program, the average cost of tuition is $42,642.

Long Island University charges $1,352 per credit hour. The forensic social work master’s program is a 60-credit program, taking the total tuition to $81,120. Additional fees, such as per-term university and technology fees, also apply.



WHAT IS THE MINIMUM GPA REQUIRED TO GET INTO FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAMS?


The minimum grade point average to get into forensic social work master’s programs is usually 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. Some schools offer conditional admission opportunities for students with lower GPAs if other criteria are met. As you research programs, pay close attention to this criterion, as it can get tricky. For example, at Alabama State University, applicants need a 2.75 overall college GPA for the traditional pathway but must have a 3.0 GPA to receive advanced standing status. DePaul University, on the other hand, accepts candidates with a 2.7 GPA.



WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAMS?


Admission criteria for forensic social work master’s programs are established by the school and align with state, federal, and accreditation guidelines. Some requirements are the same for all schools, including needing a bachelor's degree. Other criteria and required supporting documentation may vary. The following are examples of the admission requirements for the nation’s best programs.

Admission to DePaul University’s forensic social work master’s program requires having a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with an overall 2.7 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Candidates must have relevant paid or non-paid professional or volunteer experience. You must provide at least two letters of professional recommendation, transcripts from all post-secondary schools, a current resume or curriculum vitae, and a personal statement.

Seton Hall University requires applicants to have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Viable candidates must have at least 24 literal arts credits, including at least one course in psychology, English, sociology, history or political science, human biology, and statistics. Applicants seeking advanced standing must have a bachelor's degree in social work conferred by a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Additionally, all candidates must have a minimum 2.75 cumulative college GPA with a 3.0 average for all social work classes. You must provide official transcripts from all post-secondary schools you attended, three letters of professional recommendation, and a personal statement.

Admission to the forensic social work master’s program at Alabama State University requires having a bachelor’s degree from an accredited post-secondary institution. Applicants with a Bachelor of Social Work degree may apply for advanced standing. If you have a non-social work bachelor’s degree, you will apply for the traditional pathway. All applicants must provide transcripts from any college or university previously attended, three letters of recommendation, a Statement of Purpose, an admissions essay, and a professional resume. Traditional pathway applicants must have a minimum college GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale. Advanced standing candidates must have a BSW grade point average of at least 3.0.

Aurora University requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited liberal arts post-secondary institution. An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 is preferred. However, applicants with a lower GPA are considered on an individual basis. When applying, you must submit a professional resume, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities.

Admission to the forensic social work master’s program at Long Island University is contingent upon meeting the following criteria. You must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a preferred GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If your GPA is less than 3.0, you may be offered admission on a probationary status. You must provide official transcripts from any college or university you have attended, a personal statement, a professional resume, and two letters of professional or academic recommendation. Some applicants may receive an invitation for an interview before receiving an admission offer.



WHAT KIND OF COURSES WILL YOU TAKE IN FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAMS?


The curriculum for forensic social work master’s programs usually includes foundational and concentration courses. Academic advisors will evaluate the transcripts from your previous degree program to determine if you have classes that can transfer into the MSW forensic program.

At DePaul University, you will study in classes such as Fund Development & Management, Professional Writing & Development, Human Behavior & the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, and Community Social Work Practice.

The curriculum plan for the forensic social work master’s program at Seton Hall University features classes, including Mental Health & Psychopathology, Substance Abuse Theory, Behavioral Interventions for Chronic Health Conditions, Social Policy Analysis, Forensic Social Work and the Family, Forensic Social Work in Civil Courts, and Forensic Social Work: Criminal Justice System.

Students seeking a forensic MSW degree at Alabama State University take classes such as Human Behavior & Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, Expert Testimony in Forensics, Policy, Leadership & Administration in Forensic Social Work, Community Supervision with Special Populations, and Advance Theory & Practice in Forensic Social Work.

At Aurora University, you will take classes, including Social Work Perspectives on Psychopathology, Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity in Social Work Practice, Social Work with Vulnerable Children & Families, Mediation, and Advanced Social Policy.

Long Island University offers a forensic social work master’s program with a rich curriculum. At this school, you will study in classes such as Human Behavior & the Social Environment, Psychopathology, Administrative Behavior, Physical & Pharmacological Effects of Substance Abuse, Forensic Social Work & the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems, Family Violence Across the Lifespan, and Community-Based Practice with Children and Families.



WHAT KIND OF PRACTICAL TRAINING WILL YOU UNDERGO IN FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAMS?


All forensic social work master’s programs require a practical training component. To obtain and maintain accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education, programs must include at least 900 hours of supervised field training. If you have a bachelor’s degree in social work, you may be eligible for advanced standing in the MSW program and transfer some of your previous practical training hours.

The forensic social work program at DePaul University includes field training during both your foundation and concentration years of the program. You will complete a minimum of 540 contact hours of field training during the foundation years of the program. Full-time students begin field training in the fall quarter of the first year, and part-time students begin in the second year. Field training in the foundation years is divided into two internships: one generalist placement and one forensic social work placement. The final year of the program, referred to as the concentration year, includes 580 concentration hours.

At DePaul, the field education coordinator will work with you to find appropriate placements based on your personal interests and academic progress. Program faculty will work as liaisons to monitor your progression in field training and to grade your performance.

At Seton Hall University, you will collaborate with the Director of Field Education to identify field training sites and preceptors. During the foundation year, field training is focused on building a generalist social work skill set. You will complete 400 hours of field training under the supervision of a master social work practitioner. These hours are divided between two semesters. In addition to the foundation year field experiences, you will complete a Field Seminar concurrently. The Seminar is designed to help maximize your learning experience by offering opportunities to discuss experiences and encounters and glean information from faculty and preceptors.

In the Concentration or Advanced Standing year, the field practicum is designed to build on your experiences from the foundation year of the program. During this year, you will complete 500 hours of field training, divided into two semesters of 250 hours.

Students in the forensic social work master’s degree at Alabama State University complete a total of 950 field training hours. Traditional students complete 450 hours during the foundation year and 500 hours during the concentration/advanced standing year. If you are an advanced-standing student, you may transfer up to 400 field training hours from your bachelor’s social work program.

At Aurora University, you will complete 1,050 hours of field training. First-year students complete 450 hours over the course of two semesters, averaging 15 clock hours each week. In the second year of the program, you will earn an additional 600 hours of field training, also spread across two semesters. All field training hours will be completed under the instruction and guidance of a field liaison and social work field instructor.

Long Island University’s forensic social work master’s program includes a minimum of 1,000 hours of field education. You will complete at least 200 hours per semester in your foundation year and 300 hours per semester in your concentration year. The university’s faculty field liaison helps arrange field training assignments and monitors student progression through collaboration with the field instructor and student.



WHAT ARE THE BEST FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS IN THE NATION?

(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 5 Best Online and Campus-Based Forensic Social Work Master’s Programs in the nation for the year 2024.)


1. DePaul University - Chicago, IL


Programs Offered:

MSW


2. Seton Hall University - South Orange, NJ


Programs Offered:

MSW and Advanced Standing MSW


3. Alabama State University - Montgomery, AL


Programs Offered:

MSW and Advanced Standing MSW


4. Aurora University - Aurora, IL


Programs Offered:

MSW and Advanced Standing MSW


5. Long Island University - Brookville, NY


Programs Offered:

Regular MSW and Advanced Standing MSW


VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY



WHERE DO GRADUATES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAMS MOSTLY WORK?


There are several settings where graduates of forensic social work master's programs work. Some graduates work in clinical settings such as hospitals or rehabilitation hospitals. Others work in legal settings such as lawyer's offices, court services, or correctional facilities. The following are three top settings where graduates may work.

1. Psychiatric Hospitals:

After graduating from a forensic social work master’s program, you could work in a psychiatric care hospital. In this setting, you will evaluate defendants and collaborate with interdisciplinary team members. You may monitor the patient’s case, reviewing their response to treatment and helping to determine their competency to participate in their criminal defense.

2. Correctional Facilities:

Another common place for forensic social workers to work is prisons, jails, or other types of correctional facilities. In this setting, you will provide support to inmates. Part of your job will include evaluating an offender's competence, whether they have a support system outside of the correctional institution and their interaction with staff, other inmates, and visitors. Your observations can be a key component in the outcome of clinical trials and are instrumental in ensuring each client receives proper care.

3. Nonprofit Organizations:

Often, when we think of forensic social workers, the first thing that comes to mind is working with people who have committed crimes. In recent years, forensic social workers have found another option for a career path by working to exonerate individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes. Organizations such as Partners for Justice and Innocence Project work to free people they believe have been wrongfully convicted of crimes and to advocate for changes in the legal system.



5 BEST JOBS FOR GRADUATES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS


In addition to having various work settings to choose from, graduates of forensic social work master’s programs work in several positions. The following are five of the best jobs for program graduates.

1. Forensic Social Work Practitioner:

As a forensic social work practitioner, you will help individuals navigate the criminal justice and court systems. In this setting, you may counsel victims of crimes or alleged offenders. You could facilitate addiction, anger management, or other court-ordered mental health services. You may act as an advocate for juvenile offenders during criminal proceedings or be a witness on behalf of victims.

2. Pediatric Forensic Interviewer:

The pediatric forensic interviewer conducts interviews to obtain facts from children suspected of being victims of or witnesses to crimes. This job requires you to be approachable and neutral as children are impressionable and can be easily influenced to answer questions in a manner they feel the interviewer wants. You will likely be called to provide expert testimony in criminal proceedings on behalf of the clients you interview.

3. Correctional Facility Social Worker:

Forensic social workers in correctional institutions offer support to incarcerated individuals. In this role, you will help ensure that inmates receive available resources, including care for emotional or mental illness or trauma and physical health care services. You will evaluate progress reports from correctional staff and work with inmates to determine their competence to assist in their defense in criminal trials.

4. Juvenile Detention Counselor:

As a forensic social worker in a juvenile detention center, you will work to identify juvenile offenders’ resources and support systems, monitor their behavior, and assess for symptoms of mental health issues. You may conduct group or individual counseling sessions, collaborate with medical and correctional staff members, prepare documentation and reports for legal proceedings, and testify in court proceedings.

5. Children and Family Services Abuse Counselor:

The Department of Children and Family Services employs social workers in various roles. As a forensic social worker, you could work with the DCFS as an abuse counselor. In this job, you will advocate for victims of abuse. You will interview victims and families and work with law enforcement agencies to help build cases in defense of victims.



WHAT STARTING SALARY CAN NEW GRADUATES OF THIS PROGRAM EXPECT?


The starting salary for new graduates of a forensic social work master’s program is $22.53 per hour, $901 per week, or $3,910 per month. This wage is equivalent to an annual income of $46,870.

Hourly$22.53
Weekly$901
Monthly$3,910
Annual$46,870
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)



WHAT AVERAGE SALARY CAN GRADUATES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS EXPECT?


The average income for graduates of forensic social work master’s programs is approximately $37.31 per hour, which is $1,492 per week or $6,470 per month. This salary is equal to $77,602 annually.

Hourly$37.31
Weekly$1,492
Monthly$6,470
Annual$77,602
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)



10-YEAR JOB OUTLOOK FOR GRADUATES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS


The 10-year job outlook for graduates of forensic social work master’s programs is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this specialty will see an 11.09% increase in jobs between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than all other jobs.

2021-31
+11.09%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)



3 MAIN REASONS BEHIND THE DEMAND FOR GRADUATES OF FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS


There is a need for forensic social workers greater than ever. The following are three of the main reasons why there is a demand for graduates of forensic social work master’s programs.

1. Untreated mental illness leads to an increased risk of committing a crime:

Despite an increased awareness of the importance of mental health care, many people with mental health diagnoses go without treatment. The Mental Illness Policy Organization suggests half of all Americans with a mental illness do not receive adequate treatment. According to the National Library of Medicine, patients with mental health disorders are more likely to commit violent crimes if they are untreated. Forensic social workers can be especially helpful in these situations by providing resources for treatment, as well as evaluating the affected person’s competence to participate in their own defense in criminal proceedings.

2. Rising substance abuse issues:

Along with mental health issues, there has also been a rise in substance abuse nationwide. Unsuccessful rehabilitation or refusal to participate in detoxification or rehabilitation opportunities often leads to a life of crime. Forensic social workers act on behalf of individuals with substance abuse disorders dealing with criminal issues, which means as long as there are substance abuse issues, the need for qualified forensic social workers will continue to increase.

3. The use of a holistic approach to victims and offenders:

The more we learn about the impact of a holistic approach to caring for clients, the more it is evident that forensic social workers are key to filling an important role. Forensic social workers assess clients based on their current situation or trauma, evaluate their socioeconomic status and needs, and work with interdisciplinary teams to find the best solutions for care and action plans. The more we implement a holistic approach to client care, the more valuable forensic social workers become, which leads to a demand for their services.



IS THE COST OF A FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTER'S PROGRAM WORTH THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)?


As you weigh your options for an academic and career path, an important factor to consider is whether the cost of getting the degree will be worth the return on your investment. The best way to determine that is to compare the cost of a program to your earning potential. For example, forensic social work master’s programs cost anywhere from $14,000 to $87,000. New graduates of the programs earn nearly $47,000 annually. With experience, the average income for graduates is $77,602.

When you compare the cost of the programs to earning potential, the return on your investment could be worth the cost. Even if you choose one of the more expensive programs, and if you earn the starting salary, you could still see a positive return in just a few years. If you take advantage of financial assistance opportunities, you could reduce the cost of your program, which could help you see a return faster. Also, keep in mind that most social work jobs offer some type of benefits package, often worth several thousands of dollars.



BONUS! 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE ENROLLING IN THE BEST FORENSIC SOCIAL WORK MASTERS PROGRAMS


As you ponder your options and decide whether to enroll in any of the available forensic social work master’s programs, there are some important things you should consider. Before committing to any program, you need to think about the five following things carefully.

1. Who arranges your field training?

A vital part of forensic social work master’s programs is the field training component. Most schools have a clinical coordinator who helps arrange practical training contracts and locate preceptors. Other schools may require you to locate your sites and preceptors and request authorization. Before committing to a school or program, be sure to find out who arranges the field training. By doing this, you can get ahead of the game and prevent any delays in starting your practical training.

2. Forensic social work is NOT always easy.

One of my colleagues has a degree in forensic social work, and when I asked him what he would tell readers or prospective students about the programs, he immediately said, “It is not a walk in the park!” Every day as a forensic social worker is different. Some days you may work with victims of crime. On other days you may work with alleged offenders. It is important to keep in mind that, although there will be hard days, the job can be very rewarding, and not all days are difficult. Just be honest with yourself about how you feel about your job and understand that it is not up to you to fix the world.

3. Remaining objective can be challenging, which could impact your effectiveness on the job.

If you asked anyone, I am sure they would tell you they want to be fair to all people. However, as a forensic social worker, you will face situations that will test your ability to remain objective. When you interview a victim of a violent crime or an abused child, or an elderly person, it can be easy to let your emotions cloud your judgment. As much as you may feel those emotions are justified, you cannot allow them to take control. When you lose sight of the facts and begin to act on your personal emotions, you could lose control of the situation and negatively impact the people you represent. Therefore, before enrolling in a forensic MSW program, think about how you handle stressful situations, especially when you feel others have been wronged, and decide if you think you can practice objectivity.

4. You could face horrific circumstances, some that you may never have imagined.

Forensic social work focuses on criminal behavior and issues. Therefore, it goes without saying that some of your cases will be emotional and challenging to work on. I am not a forensic social worker, but I have volunteered as a victim's advocate and worked alongside social workers enough to tell you that when you get the call that a child was sexually abused and they need you right away, it is nearly impossible to maintain your composure. You may work with offenders who have committed violent crimes, including rape or murder. There will be many days when you cannot help but take work home with you because the images in your mind will not be easily erased.

5. Not everyone wants your help.

If there is anything that makes me feel frustrated, it is knowing that I can help someone and have the ability to make their lives easier or better, and they refuse help. I am a natural "fixer," which is probably one of the reasons I was attracted to a career in nursing. Understanding that just because I know what to do to help others does not mean I should, was a difficult lesson for me (one I am still learning).

No matter how compassionate you are, no matter how hard you work to help your clients, some people simply do not want to be helped. As much as you want to help others, you cannot force them to accept your services. There will be times when you have to do your job as much as you can, document well, and let clients decide for themselves what the next step is for themselves.



MY FINAL THOUGHTS


If you desire a long-term career in forensic social work, you may have wondered, “What are the best forensic social work master's programs?” Throughout this article, we have discussed information about these programs and provided you with a list of the 5 best forensic social work masters programs for 2024. With the information in this article, you can choose one of the nation’s top programs, earn your degree, and begin your career as a forensic social worker! There is no time like the present to begin your new path!



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


1. What Is The Best Forensic Social Work Master's Program In The Nation?

DePaul University offers the best forensic social work master’s program in the country.

DePaul University - Chicago, IL


2. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into Forensic Social Work Master’s Programs?

The minimum GPA for forensic social work master’s programs is usually about 3.0. However, some programs accept candidates with lower GPAs.


3. Do I Need Any Work Experience To Get Into Forensic Social Work Master’s Programs?

Some forensic social work master’s programs require work experience, but all do not.


4. What Is The Typical Cost-Per-Credit For Forensic Social Work Master’s Programs?

The cost-per-credit for forensic social work master’s programs ranges from $500 to $1300.


5. How Much Do New Graduates Of This Program Make Per Year?

New graduates of forensic social work master’s programs can expect to make about $46,870 per year.

$46,870


6. On Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Make Per Hour With Experience?

On average, graduates of forensic social work master’s programs make $37.31 per hour.

$37.31


7. On Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Per Month With Experience?

Graduates of forensic social work master’s programs make an average of $6,470 per month.

$6,470


8. On Average, How Much Can Graduates Of Forensic Social Work Master’s Programs Make Per Year With Experience?

On average, graduates of forensic social work master’s programs make about $77,602 per year.

$77,602


9. Is A Forensic Social Work Master’s Program Hard To Complete?

Forensic social work master’s programs can be challenging to complete. However, with dedication, you can succeed!


10. What Are The 3 Best Alternative Degree Options For Forensic Social Work Masters Programs?

Some of the best alternatives to a forensic social work master’s program include Child Welfare MSW, Addictions MSW, or a Veteran’s MSW.


Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).