Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Kansas
The Midwest is somewhat of an unofficial hub for social work education as many Midwestern states have 15-20 institutions that offer social work degree programs despite relatively small professional social work education. In that spectrum, Kansas falls somewhere in the middle. There are 12 accredited social work degree programs in the state according to the Council on Social Work Education. This is less programs than some of Kansas’ immediate neighbors, but it is still more than a vast majority of states have to offer. There are four schools offering a Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree, which is the path that all students will need to take to become licensed clinically. There is also a good mix between public universities and private institutions that will allow the student to pick the size and cost of the program they want. There are also three schools in the state that offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the professional social work industry is small and close-knit. As of May 2022, Kansas has around 5,500 professional social workers employed across the state. The majority of those social workers are either child, family, and school social workers (2,950) or healthcare social workers (1,450). But there are also roughly 870 substance abuse social workers and 210 specialty social workers that fall into a different category entirely. The annual average salary of social workers in Kansas ranges between $50,730 for mental health and substance abuse social workers and $78,610 for specialty social workers.
The Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board is the organization in Kansas responsible for approving licensure for social work licensure in the state. It approves three levels of licensure. The licenses are:
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
An applicant for this license must obtain a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program, references from at least two social workers licensed at or above the Bachelors level and one reference from an on-site practicum supervisor and they must pass the Basic Level competency exam offered by the Association of State Social Work Boards (ASWB).
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
The applicant for this license must have a MSW from a CSWE-accredited program, references from at least two social workers licensed at or above the Masters level, and a third reference from an on-site practicum supervisor and he/she must pass the Intermediate competency exam from the ASWB.
Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW)
The applicant for this license must have a MSW from a CSWE-accredited program, references from at least two social workers licensed at or above the Clinical level, and a third reference from a work supervisor. They also must complete 4,000 hours of post-graduate supervised clinical work experience and pass the Clinical competency exam offered by the ASWB. This is the license that allows licensees to call themselves licensed clinical social workers and be clinical.
Kansas lays out all the requirements for licensure on its website and also in its rules and regulations section. It is important that potential licensees understand these rules so there are no surprises in the process.
Kansas Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers
Kansas schools have been offering social work degree programs for a long time and as a result, the schools have built very high-quality programs. According to U.S. World News & Report, the University of Kansas’s School of Social Work is ranked No. 26 in the country and it one of the oldest and most revered program in the Midwest. It offers concentrations in mental health, gerontology and child/family amongst others. It also offers a dual degree program that gives the student an MSW degree and a law degree.
Wichita State University is the next-highest ranked program at No. 130 even though it has only been accredited since 2000. The school quickly invested in the program and its students’ success is a big reason why its program is so highly ranked. Newman University is a private school in Wichita and its School of Social Work is ranked No. 172 in the country despite being accredited in 2000. It offers a dual degree program with Business Administration and has concentrations in Gerontology and School Social Work.
The last school in the Top 200 is Washburn University in Topeka. The School of Social Work has been accredited since 1974 and offers concentrations in everything from military social work to criminal justice and even housing services. The rest of the schools in the state offer only undergraduate programs. They include older programs like the ones at Kansas State University and Bethel College and Pittsburg State as well as newer programs like the one at Fort Hays State and the program at Tabor College is still in candidacy.
Online Social Work Schools in Kansas
Kansas has been slow adopting to online education and online degree programs in particular. None of the state-specific schools offer accredited online social work degree programs. Some of the schools will offer online social work classes and may allow current students to take distance education classes as well.
There are also programs around the country that offer accredited online degrees. For example, Humboldt State University offers both part-time and full-time online BSW options with very few in-person and on-campus requirements. Western New Mexico University is the other online BSW degree provider that is accredited while Briar Cliff University in nearby Iowa offers an online BSW completion program to students who have already started the process. Students looking for online MSW programs have more options because schools like Arizona State, University of Southern California and Widener University all offer online MSW programs that do not have stringent on-campus requirements for any part of the program.
Career Opportunities for Social Workers in Kansas
Despite the fact that according to their website, the Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest employer of social workers in the country, Kansas’s employment opportunities are actually offered by other state bodies and medical centers. For example, many employers in the state are hospitals such as Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Overland Park. St. Francis Health Center in Topeka and VC Hospital St. Francis in Wichita. There are also state positions like the one with Kansas State Research and Extension and the Department of Children’s Services and the Department of Health and Environment.
For more information about the process of becoming a social worker in Kansas, visit our page on Kansas social worker license requirements.
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for social workers, child, family, and school social workers, healthcare social workers, mental health and substance abuse social workers, and social workers (all other) are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed July 2023.
Child, Family, and School Social Workers Salary in Kansas
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm)
Healthcare Social Workers Salary in Kansas
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm)
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Salary in Kansas
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm)