Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Social Work

Explore online bachelor's degree programs in social work, including common coursework and in-person requirements. Then, learn how to choose the right social work program for you and find out more about the social work profession. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Social Work Bachelor's Degree Programs

When coming up with our list of the best online bachelor's programs in social work, we considered a number of different factors, such as affordability and flexibility. Below, you can explore the best online bachelor's degree programs in the field of social work.

1. University of Nebraska at Kearney

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Kearney, NE $7,512 93%

University of Nebraska at Kearney's online Bachelor of Science in Social Work Comprehensive degree program requires 120 total credits with social work coursework in the following subjects:

  • Social programs and policy
  • Social justice and diversity
  • Child welfare services
  • Legal and ethical issues in social work

This online program also requires that students complete two sections of supervised, real-world field placements that add up to 400 hours and take place in a professional setting. Additionally, University of Nebraska at Kearney's Department of Social Work has been accredited by Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1982. For the 2019-2020 academic year, online in-state students paid $261 per credit, while online out-of-state students paid $396.

2. University of North Dakota

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Grand Forks, ND $8,695 90%

University of North Dakota offers an online Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree that pioneered livestreaming and virtual classrooms where distance students can interact with faculty in real-time. Students must also be able to complete real-world field placements in the following geographic areas:

  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • Southern Manitoba
  • Minnesota
  • Eastern Montana

Students must also come to campus for select portions of the degree program. Students take courses on generalist social work practice, social policy, and human behavior. This BSSW also boasts award-winning social work student organizations like Phi Alpha and the Student Social Work Association. For this program, North Dakota residents paid $347 per credit, Minnesota residents paid $389, and non-resident students paid $521.

3. University of Utah

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Salt Lake City, UT $9,222 85%

The University of Utah's online Bachelor of Social Work degree is only 1 of 16 online social work programs that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Online classes in this social work program mix interactive elements, such as group assignments and discussions forums, with individual self-paced learning. Students take classes on the following topics:

  • Cultural understanding and diversity
  • Social welfare services
  • Social work writing
  • Social work statistics

Additionally, students complete a practicum course and seminar that gives them real supervised experience in a social work setting. All students in this online program pay a flat rate of $260 per credit regardless of residency status, and the University of Utah waives fees for services that online students don't use.

4. Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Millersville, PA $12,226 90%

Millersville University of Pennsylvania's online Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree completion program has a curriculum that has been designed to meet the Council on Social Work Education Accreditation Standards. Students take core courses in human behavior, social work law, and welfare policies.

Students must also complete field expereinces and may participate in the Marauder Suites Social Advocacy community program, which brings students together to fight for social justice causes. To apply to this program, students are required to hold an associate degree or have earned at least 60 college credits with specific coursework in social work topics. For 2020-2021, full-time Pennsylvania-based undergraduate students paid $3,948 per semester, while full-time, non-resident undergraduates paid $9,934 per semester.

5. Northern Arizona University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Flagstaff, AZ $11,564 94%

Northern Arizona University's online Bachelor of Social Work degree program requires 120 units, and students take classes in the following areas:

  • Generalist social work practice
  • Social welfare policies and legislation
  • Methods of crisis intervention
  • Diversity and social justice in social work.

Students also complete a field placement that gives them real-world social work experience and must take a final senior capstone course. This program offers both competency-based and traditional tracks, and is designed to fully prepare students to become professional social workers. The online undergraduate tuition price is $435 per credit.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN $8,395 97%
7 Troy University Troy, AL $8,908 94%
8 Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL $13,200 97%
9 Western New Mexico University Silver City, NM $6,066 96%
10 Alaska Pacific University Anchorage, AK $20,760 100%
11 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA $7,922 97%
12 Misericordia University Dallas, PA $ 33,240 100%
13 Huntington University Huntington, IN $26,158 99%
14 University of Louisville Louisville, KY $11,656 97%
15 St. Joseph's College-Long Island Patchogue, NY $27,840 98%
16 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI $7,621 82%
17 Mary Baldwin University Staunton, VA $31,110 100%
18 Granite State College Concord, NH $7,761 84%
19 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global Marion, IN $9,816 82%
20 Rutgers University-Camden Camden, NJ $14,835 94%
21 Aurora University Aurora, IL $24,260 100%
22 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR $9,544 97%
23 Evangel University Springfield, MO 23,421$ 100%
24 Judson University Elgin, IL $29,860 100%
25 Wayne State University Detroit, MI $13,097 94%
26 Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN $8,696 94%
27 Lindsey Wilson College Columbia, KY $24,850 100%
28 Wayland Baptist University Plainview, TX $20,070 96%
29 Ursuline College Pepper Pike, OH $32,390 100%
30 California Baptist University Riverside, CA $33,478 95%
31 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK $6,657 84%
32 University of Michigan-Flint Flint, MI $11,304 96%
33 Eastern Washington University Cheney, WA $7,323 94%
34 Angelo State University San Angelo, TX $ 7,436 94%
35 Columbia College Columbia, MO $22,704 90%
36 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI $28,810 100%
37 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN $29,960 100%
38 Bluefield College Bluefield, VA $26,060 100%
39 Union Institute & University Cincinnati, OH $13,256 100%
40 Campbellsville University Campbellsville, KY $25,400 96%
41 National Louis University Chicago, IL $10,710 93%
42 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH $31,136 75%
43 Anderson University Anderson, IN 30,450$ 96%
44 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ $7,519 n/a
45 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE $7,827 89%
46 Cardinal Stritch University Milwaukee, WI $29,998 100%
47 Dominican University River Forest, IL $33,434 100%
48 Quincy University Quincy, IL $28,562 100%
49 New England College Henniker, NH $37,914 95%
50 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA $22,584 97%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Bachelor's Programs in Social Work

Online bachelor's degree programs in social work prepare students to work in the human and social services field. These programs usually feature online coursework and in-person field experiences, and as such, cannot be completed fully online.

Credits

Typically, bachelor's degrees in social work require around 120 total credits, often with general education and a minimum number of social work credits required.

Length

Generally, online social work bachelor's degree programs can be completed in 4 years, if you are an incoming freshman and attending full-time. For those with transfer credits or an associate degree, you may be able to earn your degree in fewer than 4 years, depending on the amount of credits you have and your university's transfer credit policy.

In-Person Requirements

Most online social work bachelor's programs require real-world, in-person requirements in the form of field placements that take place in a human service agency or organization related to social work. These placements give students professional experience and help prepare them for careers in the field.

Common Courses in Online Bachelor's Programs in Social Work

Online bachelor's degree programs have similar coursework requirements, and below you can explore some likely topics you might study in your program.

Diversity and Social Justice

This course examines the concept of diversity in a social, economic, and cultural framework. Students learn about marginalized groups and the oppression and discrimination they have faced as well as how social work practice deals with diversity and how it can facilitate social justice.

Human Behavior and Social Environment

Courses like these center on the study of the different elements of human behavior within the context of social environments. Students study human behavior from a psychological, biological, and sociological point of view in addition to studying lifespan development theories.

Social Work Practice with Individuals & Families

Students develop the skills and techniques for generalist social work practice. There is an emphasis on the problem-solving process, communication skills, and case management assessment methods needed to work specifically with individuals and families.

Social Work Practice with Groups

Like the above course, students study the skills, methods, and techniques for generalist social work practice with an emphasis on interacting with groups.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor's Program in Social Work

When deciding which online bachelor's program in social work is right for you, there are several factors you should consider, including total cost, whether you want to attend a public or private university, and the polices about practical requirements.

Cost

The first thing to consider when choosing a program is the total cost of earning your degree. Many online social work programs calculate tuition on a per-credit basis. As such, in-state tuition can start as low as $260 per credit with out-of-state tuition rising to $650 or more per credit. That means the total cost of a 120-credit program could range from $31,200 to $81,720. Some universities, on the other hand, charge a flat rate per semester, often offering the same price for anything above 12 credits.

Universities typically also charge extra fees on top of tuition, which could be as low as $10 and as high as $300. There are several types of fees, including technology fees, library fees, and distance education fees.

Private vs Public

Another consideration is whether you want to attend a private or public school, each of which has benefits. For example, public universities are larger, and as such may have more resources in terms of facilities and often have a more diverse student body compared to private schools. On the other hand, smaller private schools may allow you to have a more personalized learning experience.

Many people assume that private schools cost more than public ones but this is not always the case. It may be true that attending an out-of-state public school would cost you more than attending an in-state private school.

Practical Experiences

You should consider the practical, in-person requirements of the online programs you are researching. Some programs require that students complete their mandatory field placements in a certain area of the country or a specific state. However, other online programs may work with you to find a suitable field placement within in your local community. It's important to check with your program about how their field placements are conducted since this will be a significant part of your experience.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's Programs in Social Work

When it comes to accreditation for online bachelor's programs in social work, you should look for both program and regional accreditation. Attending an accredited program should mean that you are receiving a high-quality education that will fully prepare you for a social work career.

Program Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the leading organization that accredits bachelor's and master's programs in social work. CSWE has put together comprehensive standards that a program must meet to become accredited. In relation to developing students as professional social workers, a program must cover the following competencies:

  • Ethical and professional behavior
  • Diversity in social work practice
  • Social, economic, and environmental justice
  • Social work research
  • Engage and assess families, groups, and individuals
  • Intervention and evaluation of families, groups, and individuals

Additionally, a program must have clear admission policies, must have credentialed faculty, must have a defined administrative structure, and must assess student outcomes.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is administered through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which approves certain agencies to accredit schools that are located in one region of the country. Below is a list of regional accreditation agencies:

  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Your prospective school should clearly state which agency they are accredited by. Accreditation is important as only students that attend an accredited school are eligible for federal financial aid.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Bachelor's Degrees in Social Work

To help you afford your online social work degree, you can apply for scholarships from your university, private institutions and federal aid.

Scholarships

Scholarships can be based on several eligibility factors, including need, the type of degree you are earning, academic achievement, and chosen career paths. Below are specific scholarship opportunities for undergraduate students studying the field of social work.

  • Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship - From the Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work, these are $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 awards for students who show scholarship, service, and leadership.
  • Carl A. Scott Book Scholarship - From the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), these are $500 book scholarships for students who want to pursue a career in social justice and social work.
  • The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund - This fund offers need-based scholarships for students that are involved in progressive movements for social and economic justice.
  • Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship - From the National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF), this is for a NASW member who is pursuing a social work degree.

You should also consult your university's financial aid department to find out what school-based scholarships are available to you.

Federal Aid

You should fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) from the US Department of Education as soon as you can so that you can learn about the different types of federal aid you qualify for.

Below are the common types of aid that you could receive:

  • Pell Grants - For students with financial need.
  • Direct Subsidized Loans - For undergraduate students.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans - For undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
  • Direct PLUS Loans - For graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduate students.
  • Work Study - For students who want to work and earn money to put towards their education.

Job Options with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

With a bachelor's degree in social work you can pursue a role as a social service manager or a social worker.

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers work within social and human services agencies where they create different kinds of services and programs for a particular population. Typically, you need a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field.

Social Worker

After earning a bachelor's degree, you can work in the social work field as a caseworker, an entry-level administrator, or a mental health assistant. Generally, social workers help clients access services, respond to emergencies and crisis situations, and develop social programs.

Only clinical social workers can provide therapy and diagnose and treat different kinds of behavioral, mental, and emotional disorders. To become a clinical social worker, you must earn a master's degree in social work and achieve licensure.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Social and Community Service Manager $65,320 13%
Social Worker $49,470 11%

Salary information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Licensure for Social Workers

The exact licensure requirements for social workers vary by state, and it's best to check with your state's licensing board for exact requirements. However, generally, licensed bachelor's social workers must hold a bachelor's degree in social work and pass a licensing exam. Clinical social workers must hold a master's degree in social work, complete a set number of clinical hours, and pass a clinical licensing exam.

Professional Organizations for Social Workers

There are several organizations that offer paid memberships to those in the social work field, advocate for the profession, and provide a wealth of resources.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

Founded in 1955, NASW is the largest organization for the social work profession. As a member of NASW, you get access to continuing education resources, legal resources, and a research library. NASW also leads on social work policy issues, offers a career center, and holds an annual conference.

Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA)

ACOSA is an organization for macro-level social workers that works to promote social justice. Paid membership to ACOSA gives you access to networking opportunities, job postings, library resources, and articles. ACOSA also offers a curriculum guide, produces the Journal for Community Practice, and leads a special commission to increase the number of macro social workers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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