The traditional route into social work – University

The children’s social work career path begins with study. There are many possible routes to gaining a social work honours degree.  University is the most common.  For this, you will need to have a gained a social work degree either at BA or MA level or Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work.  You will also need to be registered with Social Work England prior to being able to practice as a social worker.

The entry requirement for each course differs. You need to research what the minimum requirement for the course is at each higher education institution. As a rule of thumb in England you will need minimum 5 GCSE’s grade A* to C, including English and Maths, and 2 A-levels. (Minimum 240 UCAS points).

The Open University (OU) also run social work programmes. You can study social work at your own pace and continue to work. However the OU do not find social work placements for you. This means you would need to find an employer to sponsor you in order to become a social worker. This route may be useful if you work in the field of social care already.

Further information can be obtained via our local HEI’s – see the Social work courses page.

Fast track degree routes

The DfE sponsor “Step up to Social Work”an intensive full-time training programme that covers everything trainee social workers need to know in 14 months. Bursaries and course fees are fully funded. Completing the Step Up to Social Work course is one of the fastest children’s social work career path options, so competition for places is high.

You can apply for Step up to Social Work If you got a 2:1 or above at undergraduate level, or if you have a wealth of experience. The scheme is designed for people interested in Children and Families social work practice. See our Step up page for more information.



Social Work Apprenticeships offer a route into the profession without having to take time out to study at university. An apprenticeship will place you with a local authority, where you will be able to get involved in the practical, day-to-day side of the job. Some of your time will also be set aside for training, and you’ll have earned a degree by the time you finish your apprenticeship. For more information on social work apprenticeships, see our FAQs page.