Best Schools for Social Work

by TBS Staff

Updated September 27, 2022

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Social Work Undergraduate Programs

Social workers support communities by providing social services, helping clients manage mental health disorders, mentoring children, and connecting clients with resources.

A bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) can pave the way to a meaningful and in-demand career assisting society's most vulnerable people and groups. Specific job duties vary by specialty and employer, but social workers help people access community resources, like healthcare or food stamps; respond to crisis situations, like child abuse; and provide counseling or psychotherapy for individuals, couples, and families.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% growth rate for the social worker profession between 2019 and 2029. The BLS anticipates particularly good job prospects for clinical social workers, who provide treatment services in a clinical setting.

Professional social workers need a bachelor's in social work at a minimum. Our rankings list provides insight into some of the best schools for social work, as well as common career options for graduates. Professional social workers can also consider online social work degrees as an option for their BSW.

Featured Social Work Degrees

Top Programs for a Bachelors in Social Work

#1

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students looking to earn a flexible college degree should consider the University of Central Florida's online bachelor of social work. This program is one of 19 online bachelor's programs available through the college. From its main campus in Orlando, the school supports distance learners. The social work program offers flexible study options. Enrollees can pursue full- or part-time study while modifying classes as they see fit.

Enrollees complete both foundational and advanced coursework, granting them the knowledge and skills needed to advance in the social work field. The program also incorporates general education requirements that strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Learners can individualize their studies by choosing electives, minors, and concentrations.

With a bachelor's degree, graduates increase their job opportunities and earning potential. The school reports a median salary of $39,900 for graduates six years after completing a bachelor's degree. The average undergraduate pays $11,617 yearly in tuition and fees after aid. To learn more about funding opportunities and eligibility requirements, students should contact the financial aid office.

University of Central Florida at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 41,097

Total Online Programs: 47

Online Bachelor's Programs: 19

Admission Rate: 44%

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#2

University of Georgia

School Information
Location Athens, Georgia
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 87%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Individuals seeking flexible online study should consider the University of Georgia. Located in Athens, the college supports distance learning across two remote bachelor's programs. The online bachelor of social work program supports learners aspiring to careers in the field.

The online social work degree prioritizes flexibility. Students complete industry-specific classes, with the option to add electives and modify their coursework. Learners can also customize their learning through minors.

Undergraduate students pay approximately $28,830 in tuition. Enrollees can access internal and external funding opportunities to defray the cost of their studies. On average, degree-seekers are awarded $10,577 in financial aid.

University of Georgia at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 5,389

Total Online Programs: 29

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Admission Rate: 45%

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#3

Florida State University

School Information
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Florida State University, located in Tallahassee, provides numerous top-tier bachelor's degree programs. A leader in online education, the public institution also offers fully online bachelor's degrees. The BSW program is a wise choice for students hoping to advance in the social work field.

The social work degree supports flexible study, meeting the needs of every learner. Enrollees work with their academic advisor to ensure their studies suit both academic and professional goals. Students can customize their courses based on their interests.

Social work students can expect to pay $19,084 in tuition. While at the college, enrollees can explore funding opportunities to apply toward their studies. The college offers an average financial aid award package of $9,442 per degree-seeker.

Florida State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 19,802

Total Online Programs: 17

Admission Rate: 36%

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#4

The University of Texas at Austin

School Information
Location Austin, Texas
Admission Rate 32%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Texas at Austin offers many top-ranked bachelor's programs. A leader in online education, the public institution also offers fully online bachelor's degrees. Of these, the bachelor of social work stands out as a competitive option for students interested in the social work field.

The program curriculum enables flexible study. Students complete industry-specific classes, with the option to add electives and modify their coursework. Enrollees can also benefit from elective classes and other modifications.

Currently, undergraduate social work students pay $38,326 in tuition. Learners at the accredited institution can pursue funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships, to support their studies. The school reports an average financial aid award of $10,686 per student.

The University of Texas at Austin at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 12,770

Total Online Programs: 5

Admission Rate: 32%

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#5

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Florida International University, located in Miami, facilitates online learning through 67 online degree programs. Of its online options, 36 offer an undergraduate-level education. Individuals seeking competitive study in social work in a flexible modality can enroll in the college's online bachelor's in social work program. Students in the social work program can complete classes at their own pace, with the option for part-time study.

During the social work program, students complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to the social work field. This curriculum consists of general education and advanced classes. Students can customize their degree through electives, minors, and concentrations.

A bachelor's degree greatly increases one's earning potential. The college notes a median salary of $41,500 for graduates six years after finishing their studies. Students preparing to apply for the social work program should consider that the average price after aid for tuition and fees is $9,888. Prospective students can contact the social work program to learn more about admission requirements and financial aid opportunities.

Florida International University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 39,863

Total Online Programs: 67

Online Bachelor's Programs: 36

Admission Rate: 58%

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#6

University of Washington

School Information
Location Seattle, Washington
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Seattle, the University of Washington offers many top-ranked bachelor's programs. The public school supports distance learners across two online bachelor's degree programs. Distance learners looking to earn an online degree in social work can enroll in the BA in social welfare program.

The online social work degree places flexibility at the forefront. Learners can also customize their studies, with help from an academic advisor. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to modify coursework, choose electives, and pursue other educational opportunities relevant to their career goals.

When calculating the cost of a degree, students should note the current tuition rate of $37,071. While at the college, enrollees can explore funding opportunities to apply toward their studies. The institution averages financial aid packages of $15,354 per enrollee.

University of Washington at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 3,931

Total Online Programs: 12

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Admission Rate: 52%

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#7

University of South Florida

School Information
Location Tampa, Florida
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 75%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of South Florida is a public, four-year institution providing competitive study across 84 bachelor's degree programs. The college boasts five fully online bachelor's degree programs. The social work BSW is an attractive option for students seeking to advance in the social work field.

The online social work degree places flexibility at the forefront. Students can collaborate with their academic advisor to find classes that complement their career interests. Enrollees can benefit from elective classes, minors, and other modifications.

Undergraduates pay about $15,473 in tuition at the school. Social work students can access scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities while enrolled. Students at the college are awarded an average of $11,181 in financial aid.

University of South Florida at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 24,241

Total Online Programs: 34

Online Bachelor's Programs: 5

Admission Rate: 48%

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#8

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

School Information
Location Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire facilitates online learning throughout four online degree programs. Undergraduate students can choose from two online bachelor programs. Students seeking advanced online study in social work can enroll in the school's online bachelor's in social work program. The social work program offers flexible study options, where students can pursue full- or part-time enrollment while modifying classes as they see fit.

During the social work program, students complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to the social work field. These classes equip students with knowledge and skills applicable to a post-graduate career. Learners have the option to modify their studies, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations.

Graduates possessing a bachelor's degree can access more job opportunities and grow their earning potential over time. The institution reports a median salary of $40,200 earned by graduates six years after completing their studies. The college reports that the average undergraduate pays $14,010 in tuition and fees yearly, after aid. Students can meet with the Office of Financial Aid to learn more about funding opportunities and eligibility requirements for scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid.

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 3,133

Total Online Programs: 4

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Admission Rate: 82%

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#9

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public, four-year institution providing competitive study across 135 bachelor's degree programs. The public school supports distance learners across in an online bachelor of social work program. The bachelor of social work is an attractive option for students seeking to advance in the social work field.

The program balances rigor with flexibility. Students can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework to meet their academic and career goals. Students can also choose elective classes or pursue a minor to further their learning.

At present, undergraduates pay $33,127 in tuition. Students can receive financial aid to offset the cost of their degree. On average, degree-seekers are awarded $15,442 in financial aid.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 20,199

Total Online Programs: 33

Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 59%

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#10

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

School Information
Location Whitewater, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 62%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students looking to earn a flexible college degree should consider the University of Wisconsin Whitewater's online bachelor of social work. Undergraduate learners seeking flexible, remote study can pursue an online bachelor's degree. Students looking for a social work-adjacent career can pursue study through the bachelor of social work program at their own pace. The social work program is a flexible option for working professionals and busy students.

Throughout their coursework, students gain industry-relevant knowledge through general and advanced classes. Students gain industry-relevant and broad knowledge and skills, preparing them for life after their degree. While enrolled, degree-seekers can customize their studies by choosing electives, minors, and concentrations.

A bachelor's degree greatly increases one's earning potential. According to the institution, enrollees can earn a median salary of $37,500 six years after finishing their degree. Students preparing to apply for the social work program should consider that the average price after aid for tuition and fees is $12,309. Students can meet with leaders in the social work department to discuss application materials, admission requirements, and other relevant information.

University of Wisconsin Whitewater at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 4,715

Total Online Programs: 2

Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 79%

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#11

Harding University

School Information
Location Searcy, Arkansas
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students looking for a flexible bachelor's level education should consider Harding University. A leader in online education, the private institution offers fully online bachelor's degrees. Learners seeking to advance in the social work field will benefit from the bachelor's degree in social work.

Learners benefit from a rigorous curriculum that enables flexible study. The program curriculum equips students with industry-relevant knowledge. Enrollees can explore other educational opportunities, such as minors and elective courses, to customize their studies.

Social work students can expect to pay $20,010 in tuition. The accredited institution connects students with internal and external funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships.

Harding University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 574

Total Online Programs: 19

Admission Rate: 61%

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#12

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

School Information
Location Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 60%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, a public, four-year college, offers premier bachelor's degree opportunities. The public college supports three online bachelor's programs from its main campus. Of these, the bachelor's degree in social work stands out as a competitive option for students interested in the social work field.

The online social work degree prioritizes flexibility. Students can collaborate with their academic advisor to find classes that complement their career interests. Students also have the option to choose a minor and select electives as part of their curriculum.

Currently, undergraduate social work students pay $15,402 in tuition. Enrollees at the accredited institution can pursue funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships, to support their studies. The college reports that degree-seekers are awarded an average of $4,850 in financial aid.

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 3,173

Total Online Programs: 5

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Admission Rate: 85%

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#13

University of Arkansas

School Information
Location Fayetteville, Arkansas
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 66%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Arkansas is a public, four-year institution providing competitive study across 83 bachelor's degree programs. Located in Fayetteville, the college supports distance learning through five remote bachelor's programs. Distance learners interested in the social work field can enroll in the school's bachelor's in social work program.

The social work program connects students with a supportive online learning community, while enabling flexibility. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to make curriculum adjustments. Students can benefit from electives, minors, and other modifications to their studies.

Undergraduates pay about $24,056 in tuition at the school. Learners can access numerous funding opportunities through the accredited institution. On average, enrollees receive $7,483 in financial aid.

University of Arkansas at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 8,109

Total Online Programs: 39

Online Bachelor's Programs: 5

Admission Rate: 77%

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#14

California State University, Fresno

School Information
Location Fresno, California
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

California State University, Fresno provides flexible study opportunities to distance learners across four degree programs. Students looking for a social work-adjacent career can pursue study through the bachelor of arts in social work program at their own pace. The flexible program helps learners complete a college degree.

Students complete industry-relevant classes, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the social work field. This curriculum, which consists of foundational and advanced coursework, equips students with relevant skills needed to succeed in the social work field. In consultation with their academic advisor, degree-seekers can modify their course load, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations.

After earning their degree, graduates benefit from greater access to employment opportunities and higher earning potential. The institution reports a median salary of $37,200 earned by graduates six years after completing their studies. Social work students can expect to pay $6,002 in tuition and fees per year. Students hoping to gain admission to the social work program should connect with the social work department to discuss admission requirements and application materials.

California State University, Fresno at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 7,611

Total Online Programs: 4

Admission Rate: 58%

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#15

University of Wisconsin Madison

School Information
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Learners seeking competitive online study should consider University of Wisconsin Madison. Distance learners can enroll in a fully online bachelor's degree program. The online BSW program supports learners in their studies at a distance.

The social work program enables flexible study. Enrollees complete coursework relevant to the social work field, with the option to choose electives and modify coursework. Minors and other modifications can benefit students and help them meet career goals.

Typically, undergraduate students pay $36,333 tuition. While at the college, enrollees can explore funding opportunities to apply towards their studies. The college reports that students receive an average of $9,754 in financial aid.

University of Wisconsin Madison at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 8,064

Total Online Programs: 4

Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 54%

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#16

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

School Information
Location Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 68%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania enrolls distance learners in 21 programs. Online learners seeking an undergraduate-level education can choose from three online bachelor's degree programs. For students looking to advance in the social work field, the school's online bachelor's degree in social work is a wise choice. Students in the social work program can complete classes at their own pace, with the option for part-time study.

Enrollees complete both foundational and advanced coursework, granting them the knowledge and skills needed to advance in the social work field. Students also complete general education requirements, gaining additional knowledge. Learners can customize their degree through electives, minors, and concentrations.

The benefits of a bachelor's degree are varied, from increased job opportunities to higher earning potential. According to the college, graduates earn a median salary of $36,300 six years after completing their degree. When preparing for the cost of education, students should know that the average cost of tuition and fees after aid is $18,144. Before applying, prospective students should connect with the social work department to learn more about admission requirements and application materials.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 2,937

Total Online Programs: 21

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Admission Rate: 71%

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#17

Texas State University

School Information
Location San Marcos, Texas
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students looking to earn a flexible college degree should consider Texas State University's online bachelor's programs. For students looking to advance in the social work field, the school's online bachelor of social work is a wise choice. Students in the social work program can complete classes at their own pace, with the option for part-time enrollment.

Enrollees complete both foundational and advanced coursework, granting them the knowledge and skills needed to advance in the social work field. The program curriculum prepares students for the demands of the social work field. In consultation with their academic advisor, enrollees can customize their studies through electives, minors, and concentration areas.

A bachelor's degree greatly increases one's earning potential. The institution reports that graduates six years out from their degree earn a median salary of $40,600. Though degree costs vary, undergraduate students pay an average of $13,178 per year in tuition and fees. Prospective enrollees can learn more about the opportunities available at Texas State University, including admission requirements and financial aid eligibility, by connecting with the social work department.

Texas State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 11,452

Total Online Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 81%

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#18

Georgia State University

School Information
Location Atlanta, Georgia
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 55%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

As a leader in online education, Georgia State University supports 1,919 distance learners across seven remote degree programs. Individuals seeking competitive, customizable study relevant to the social work field will find the school's online BSW program to be an attractive option. The social work program offers flexible study options, where learners can pursue full- or part-time enrollment while modifying classes as they see fit.

Students complete industry-relevant classes, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the social work field. These classes equip students with knowledge and skills applicable to a post-graduate career. In consultation with their academic advisor, enrollees can customize their studies through electives, minors, and concentration areas.

Graduates possessing a bachelor's degree can access more job opportunities and grow their earning potential over time. The institution reports a median salary of $38,100 earned by graduates six years after completing their studies. Social work students typically pay $14,136 for tuition and fees, on average, per year. Prospective learners can explore funding opportunities, eligibility requirements, and other opportunities by connecting with the Office of Financial Aid.

Georgia State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 1,919

Total Online Programs: 7

Admission Rate: 76%

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#19

Appalachian State University

School Information
Location Boone, North Carolina
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Appalachian State University, a public, four-year college located in Boone, North Carolina, offers premier bachelor's degree opportunities. The public school supports distance learners across seven online bachelor's degree programs. Distance learners interested in the social work field can enroll in the school's BSW program.

Social work students can modify their coursework to suit their interests and accommodate their schedule. The social work program prioritizes flexibility in student learning. Enrollees can explore other educational opportunities, such as minors and elective courses, to customize their studies.

Undergraduates pay a tuition rate of $19,049 at the school. The accredited institution connects students with internal and external funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships. The college reports that degree-seekers are awarded an average of $8,612 in financial aid.

Appalachian State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 4,490

Total Online Programs: 26

Online Bachelor's Programs: 7

Admission Rate: 77%

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#20

The Ohio State University

School Information
Location Columbus, Ohio
Admission Rate 54%
Graduation Rate 86%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Ohio State University, located in Columbus, facilitates online learning through 17 online degree programs. Undergraduate students can choose from two online bachelor's degree programs. For students looking to advance in a social work-adjacent career, the online bachelor's in social work is a wise choice. The social work program prioritizes flexibility through full- or part-time study options.

Enrollees complete industry-relevant classes throughout their studies, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the social work field. Students also complete general education requirements, gaining a well-rounded education during their studies. Students can explore electives, minors, and concentrations with their academic advisor to individualize their degree.

After earning their degree, graduates benefit from greater access to employment opportunities and higher earning potential. According to the institution, graduates earn a median salary of $41,500 six years after finishing their degree. Typically, undergraduate students pay $18,706 in tuition and fees each year. Students interested in learning more about admission requirements and their eligibility for financial aid should connect with the social work department.

The Ohio State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 21,150

Total Online Programs: 17

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Admission Rate: 54%

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Bachelor's in Social Work Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

What Is Social Work?

Social workers support individuals, families, and communities struggling with issues such as poverty, mental health disorders, and behavioral issues. Social workers may help clients access social services and address problems through behavior modification. Many social workers also provide counseling services.

Social workers have several specialization options. For example, school social workers help children and adolescents overcome challenges at school, while substance abuse and behavioral social workers help clients manage substance use disorders and behavioral problems. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat behavioral and mental health disorders.

The largest employers of social workers are local and state government agencies, individual and family services, and ambulatory healthcare services.

What Is a Bachelor's in Social Work Degree?

A bachelor's degree in social work prepares students for entry-level, generalist positions in social work. Graduates of social work bachelor's programs can also apply to online master of social work programs.

Many students need or prefer the flexibility and convenience of earning a social work degree. Typical social work majors include college students who know they want to become social workers, working professionals who want to change fields, and healthcare administration professionals who want to advance their career and earning potential by earning a BSW.

Bachelor's in social work programs provide a foundational understanding of the history, major theories, and practices of the profession. Programs cover case management, human growth and development, and professional identity. Students gain critical thinking, advocacy, communication, and interpersonal skills.

Choosing a Program

Students looking for bachelor's in social work programs have a lot to consider when choosing a degree, including individual career goals and academic interests, cost, program length and flexibility, and specializations.

Read on to learn more about how to choose the right social work degree.

What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

Bachelor's in social work (BSW) students develop foundational social work skills like case management, crisis intervention, and treatment planning.

A typical curriculum offers courses in social work research, human behavior in the social environment, basic skills for social work practice, and diversity and multiculturalism. Many social work bachelor's programs do not offer concentrations, instead focusing on preparing students for general practice social work.

Students who plan to pursue a master of social work should use their electives to gain specialized knowledge during undergraduate studies.

Bachelor's in Social Work Curriculum

Social Work Specializations

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Social Work Social workers who specialize in mental health and substance abuse help individuals struggling with mental health challenges and addiction. This specialization explores mental health assessment, trauma, substance use intervention policy, and suicide risk assessment. Students who plan to pursue an MSW and become clinical social workers can benefit from this specialization.

Community Social Work

This specialization focuses on working directly with specific communities to improve daily life for people in that community. Community social workers often work on particular issues with citizens, nonprofit groups, and government agencies. For example, they may help start a new school or create a public health initiative.

Child, Family, and School

Social Work Child, family, and school social workers typically offer support to children and their families. They can work both in and outside of school settings, including at government agencies and social service agencies. Job duties may include conducting training for school staff, helping parents with children who struggle with behavioral issues in school, and intervening when a child experiences bullying.

Careers in Social Work

There are a number of specialities that you can pursue after earning a bachelor's in social work. However, note that some careers require at least a master's in social work, so it's important to check with local licensure requirements if you are pursuing one of these social work careers.

Social Workers

Median Salary: $50,470 Projected Job Growth: 13%

Social Workers help people overcome and deal with struggles in their everyday lives. Typical job duties may include helping a student experiencing bullying, connecting a family with community resources like food stamps, or helping a victim of domestic violence find emergency housing. Professional social workers be able to quickly and effectively solve problems while remaining calm.

Social workers need a bachelor's degree in social work at minimum to qualify for generalist social work positions. However, many social work jobs require a master of social work and state licensure.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Median Salary: $46,240 Projected Job Growth: 25%

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors help people who struggle with behavioral disorders and addiction. Job duties vary by specialization, but they may include evaluating clients' readiness for treatment, creating treatment goals with clients and their families, and referring clients to other services and resources.

Most substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need a bachelor's degree at minimum. Some states may require a master's degree. All states require licensure for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors working in private practice. Licensure requirements vary by state for those outside of private practice

Social and Community Service Managers

Median Salary: $67,150 Projected Job Growth: 17%

Social and community service managerscoordinate programs and initiatives that promote public well-being, usually under the auspices of a government or nonprofit organization. They may write funding proposals, identify necessary programs and services with the help of stakeholders, analyze program effectiveness, and manage outreach to promote programs.

Most social and community service managers need at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field and relevant professional experience. Some social and community service manager positions require a master's degree. This career does not require a license.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

It usually takes students four years to earn a bachelor's in social work. Transfer students and students who already hold an associate degree can graduate in less time.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Social Work?

A bachelor's in social work prepares graduates for jobs as social workers, case managers, and social services managers. It also meets educational admission requirements for most master of social work (MSW) programs.

How Much Do You Make as a Social Worker?

The BLS reports that social workers make a median annual salary of $50,470.

What Is a Social Worker?

Social workers help people solve problems in their everyday lives. Typical job duties include developing programs to help meet clients' basic needs, maintaining records, responding to crisis situations, and referring clients to community resources.

What Is a Bachelor's in Social Work?

A bachelor's degree in social work prepares graduates for careers as generalist social workers and case managers. Graduates can also apply to master's in social work programs.


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