Bachelor of Social Work or Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Articles | Bachelor of Social Work

A social worker oversees a group session with clients

There’s a particular kind of appeal to careers that not only provide personal fulfillment for professionals, but also have a tangible effect on the community. There are several paths you can take to improve lives with your everyday work. For instance, you could opt for a social work degree and seek out a role helping others directly, at a legislative level, in a clinical setting, or in other settings. Alternately, you could study criminal justice and seek to help your community through fair and even-handed policing and corrections work.

There are notable differences between these two courses of study, from the classes necessary to receive a bachelor’s degree to the kinds of positions that may open upon graduation. Determining what kind of career path you envision for yourself is an important first step to completing your schooling and improving life in your community in noticeable ways.

Social work career outcomes

The life and duties of a social worker can take many forms, usually highly specialized in both daily tasks and subject matter expertise. There is a path in social work to suit many combinations of skills and interests, and factors such as job demand, salary, and schedule may differ widely between these various paths.

People who have an aptitude for dealing with children can work with families or in schools, while individuals with a passion for social reform can focus on pushing legislation to provide aid to disenfranchised groups. Assisting people as they face struggles with substance abuse is another way to directly provide aid, as is providing support and stability to children who have been through trying situations such as abandonment or abuse. Furthermore, health care systems are often looking for social workers to help patients or family members dealing with the consequences of serious illnesses.

Those willing to pursue a master’s degree and state licensure can take on clinical roles, diagnosing mental illnesses and afflictions requiring care. Nearly any population imaginable is likely to have some need for social work services, meaning aspiring social workers can follow their interests when it comes to their area of practice.

Criminal justice career outcomes

As with social work education, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can lead to numerous avenues for future jobs, each with its own specialized focus and unique place in the community. U.S. News & World Report listed everything from roles in local police departments to private-sector investigations as potential outcomes for graduates of criminal justice programs. Forensic science, paralegal work, and corrections jobs are also possible careers.

U.S. News pointed out that demand for criminal justice experts is in flux. While violent crime rates are generally declining, online and digital transgressions are increasing quickly, meaning there is a growing need for tech-savvy law experts to deal with cybercrime. The requirements for various criminal-justice roles may differ significantly. For example, some positions will demand extensive extra training, while others may demand rigorous background checks.

The closest point of intersection between criminal justice and social work comes from human services specialties within criminal justice majors. U.S. News pointed out that some individuals who study in these programs go on to roles as social workers, though they often seek out additional education after they have their criminal justice degrees.

Social work studies

The curriculum in a social work program involves a few major components. First, there are overview courses that give a general grounding in the concepts that enable a social worker to do his or her job. Then, there are the highly specific classes targeting topics such as the different challenges facing people at various ages, as well as the pressures exerted by the community. There are also practical, hands-on learning experiences such as internships and placements. Even online degree programs tend to feature these in-person elements, as they are essential to a balanced course of study.

Good social work degree programs will be presented by faculty members engaged in and aware of the up-to-date reality of the field. Factors that can impact people’s lives are constantly changing, and it’s important for courses to be forward-looking. Students who don’t get a strong grounding in contemporary causes and effects of social ills may end up out of touch with their clients’ reality upon graduation.

Criminal justice studies

Criminal justice degree programs tend to feature many courses that teach students the basics of the legal and criminal code. U.S. News specified that interlocking classes teach about the way the law is applied and how courts, police services, and corrections departments work together. They will also become aware of victims’ rights and the ways in which individuals interact with the system. Each topic can apply to multiple post-graduation careers.

The connection between practical law enforcement and the other areas of criminal justice is strong. Even pupils who don’t intend to become law enforcement officers have to grasp the way evidence is collected, cases are built, and individuals are moved through the courts. As with social work degrees, online studies in criminal justice may require some in-person experiences such as lab work or internships.

Choosing Regis College

Regis College is a potential starting point for career paths dedicated to helping others. Online programs such as the Bachelor of Social Work are designed to be convenient and accommodating ways for busy individuals to receive top-quality education from an accredited university. With flexible online coursework and practical components that can be completed at a number of locations across the country, the BSW degree program can open doorways to new roles and experiences.

Helping others deal with serious problems in their lives or bettering conditions for whole communities can be rewarding career paths. A social work degree can be a helpful starting point for individuals who aspire to such roles. Talk to an enrollment advisor to learn more.



Recommended Readings:

Social work or human services: Which master’s degree is right for you?
Social work or psychology: Which master’s degree is right for you?


Online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree, U.S. News & World Report

Bachelor of Social Work Online, Regis College