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Online BSW Programs

A social work degree at the bachelor's level allows you to compete for entry-level, non-clinical roles in myriad professional settings. Whether you hope to work as a case management aide at a children's hospital, a probation officer at a county prison, or a behavioral management aide at a school, a bachelor of social work online can help you achieve that goal.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that roles for social workers will grow 13% between 2019 and 2029 — much faster than the national average for all occupations. Approximately 81,000 new roles should be created during this timeframe.

What Is Social Work?

Social work jobs are primarily concerned with assisting and supporting individuals, groups, and families as they attempt to live healthy and stable lives. It is also an academic discipline devoted to furthering research in social welfare, oppression, societal change, and human rights.

Social workers with bachelor's degrees provide support to licensed professionals, offering administrative and support services. Professionals must have a master's degree to become licensed and practice therapy, counseling, or case management. Social workers can also develop community programming, collect data on the effectiveness of existing community strategies, and perform administrative functions for health clinics or communtiy centers. Specializations include substance abuse, healthcare, developmental disabilities, and child welfare.

Top Social Work Programs

The Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs

  1. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $15374

    A public university founded in 1883, UND offers an online bachelor of science in social work. Students choose from three annual start dates and can finish the 120-credit degree in 2-4 years, depending on transfer credits.

    Major courses include an introduction to social work, social policy, and social research. Students may also choose to minor in related academic fields, such as gerontology or chemical dependency.

    UND recommends applicants possess a minimum GPA of 2.75 to apply. Students do not need to submit standardized test scores (waived through summer 2022).

  2. Troy University
    Location

    Troy, AL

    Tuition

    $12114

    First established as a teacher training college in 1887, Troy now boasts over 18,000 students. The school offers an online bachelor of social work.

    The 120-credit program includes core requirements such as courses in ethics, diversity, and social policy and planning. Specialized course topics include social work with individuals and families, social work in groups, and a hands-on, 400-hour practicum.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA on at least 27-30 undergraduate hours for unconditional departmental admission. Troy requires a minimum GPA of 2.0, a minimum ACT score of 20 (or 1030 RSAT) for unconditional university admission.

  3. Misericordia University
    Location

    Dallas, PA

    Misericordia is a Catholic university established in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. It offers an accelerated bachelor of social work designed for adult students.

    Students take courses in a half-semester format and complete fieldwork on nights and weekends. Students can finish the program in as few as two years, depending on transfer credits. Course topics include research methods, introduction to social welfare, and social problems.

    Applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 2.5, and a minimum SAT score of 930 or ACT score of 18 to qualify for admission. Transfer students must present a 2.0 GPA in previous college courses and 15 transfer credits for eligibility.

  4. Brandman University
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Brandman offers an online bachelor of arts in social work. Students can prepare for such careers as child and family social workers, mental health care providers, and gerontologists.

    Core course topics include diversity and justice in a global society, social welfare, and social policy. Electives include classes on domestic violence, victim advocacy, and military social work.

    Applicants must possess 12 bachelor-level transfer credits (or the equivalent) to qualify for admission. Students must also possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

  5. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Founded in 1971 as a private Christian university, Liberty now boasts a student body of 15,000 annually. Liberty offers an online bachelor of science in social work.

    Courses include social work practice with groups and human behavior and the social environment. Students complete fieldwork at an approved location near them. The program offers all coursework online, with one on-campus intensive required.

    Applicants may transfer up to 75% of the credits required for the degree. The school also awards credits for military experience. Students must possess a 2.0 cumulative GPA for admission in good standing.

  6. Angelo State University
    Location

    San Angelo, TX

    Tuition

    $11558

    Founded in 1928, ASU offers an online bachelor of social work. Graduates can sit for the licensing exam in the state of Texas.

    Students must complete 120 credits and participate in 500 hours of fieldwork. Courses include social work research methods, social work and mental health, and social work and children or families. Students also take courses covering social work and military practice as well as social work in international practice.

    Applicants to the program must complete 20 hours of relevant volunteer experience, show 30 credits of previously completed college work, and possess a minimum grade of "C" on the introduction of social work course. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.0 on any courses taken at ASU and a minimum GPA of 2.5 on any previously taken social work courses.

  7. Bemidji State University
    Location

    Bemidji, MN

    Tuition

    $14814

    BSU offers programs as part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

    BSU's blended learning bachelor of social work happens online with required travel to campus one Saturday per month. Courses include social welfare policy, interpersonal relations, and human behavior in the social environment. Students also complete a 480-hour internship to complete the degree at an approved location selected with an advisor's help.

    Students apply to the university first with a minimum ACT score of 21, a top 50% high school class ranking, or a minimum GPA of 2.75 for guaranteed admission. Students then need 30 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to apply to the department.

  8. University of Louisville
    Location

    Louisville, KY

    Tuition

    $17098

    UofL offers an online bachelor of social work with no campus residency requirements.

    Students take courses like social justice practice, issues in policy and service delivery, and an introduction to social work research. An optional drug counseling track opens further career opportunities and includes courses like mental health and special issues in drug and alcohol counseling.

    Applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 2.5 and an ACT score of 20 for admission to university lower-division courses. Students must also possess a minimum of 45 transfer credits for upper-division admission.

  9. Aurora University
    Location

    Aurora, IL

    Founded in 1883, AU offers a private education just 45 minutes from Chicago. AU Online offers a bachelor of social work with an optional child welfare track.

    Core social work courses include social welfare institutions and policies, social work research, and a survey of social work. The child welfare track includes courses such as the effects of trauma on children and social work with vulnerable children and families. Students can pursue a child welfare employee license upon graduation.

    Applicants must possess at least 60 credits of undergraduate work and a minimum GPA of 2.5 for admission to the department.

  10. Huntington University
    Location

    Huntington, IN

    A Christian liberal arts college, HU offers an online bachelor of science in social work.

    Courses include child welfare, an introduction to addictions, and social work practice. The program includes fieldwork opportunities as well as study abroad terms designed to introduce social work concepts in an international environment. The department also coordinates job shadowing opportunities for students seeking hands-on experience.

    The school offers a test-optional application process. The school accepts students on a rolling basis with several start dates per year.

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Popular BSW Programs

What Is an Online Bachelor's in Social Work Degree?

Pursuing an online bachelor's degree in social work teaches you the foundational skills required for non-clinical roles in the field. Bachelor of social work students learn about research methods, serving diverse populations, social work ethics, and how to administer social work across the lifespan. Aside from coursework, learners often participate in a semester-long internship to gain practical skills such as assessing clients, developing treatment plans, and making appropriate referrals for additional services.

The typical online bachelor of social work student has a passion for helping others. Some pursue a master's in social work immediately after graduating from online bachelor's programs so they can offer therapeutic services. Others wait until they've worked in an entry-level role for a few years. Doctorate-level students usually work in research or teaching at the postsecondary level.

Continuing Education in Social Work

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Social Work?

The average online social work degree at the bachelor's level requires four years of full-time study, though there are options for students who seek an alternate schedule. Part-time learners typically spend six years enrolled, while students in accelerated programs can often graduate in 2-3 years.

Other factors affecting the length of an online bachelor of social work program include internships and whether the program delivers coursework synchronously or asynchronously.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor of Social Work Program?

A typical online bachelor's degree in social work curriculum often includes the following courses.

Social Work Jobs

Graduates of online social work degrees at the bachelor's level can choose from many different meaningful career paths, including those covered below.

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

Median Annual Salary: $50,090
Projected Annual Growth: 22%

These professionals work with individuals, couples, families, and other groups across the lifespan to provide professional therapeutic care. They may offer one-on-one or group counseling, focusing on topics like conflict resolution, trauma, relational issues, or grief. Individuals hoping to work as mental health counselors or marriage and family therapists must earn a master's degree and complete supervised experience requirements before seeking licensure.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Median Annual Salary: $53,020
Projected Annual Growth: 3%

These professionals work with individuals convicted of crimes who are in custody, awaiting trial, imprisoned, or out on probation or parole. They conduct interviews; identify, develop, and implement appropriate rehabilitation programs; connect their clients with necessary resources; and provide counseling. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must maintain detailed records in case their observations or findings are required at a later date. They typically need bachelor's degrees.

Social and Community Service Managers

Median Annual Salary: $65,320
Projected Annual Growth: 13%

These professionals oversee programming and services devoted to helping improve social and community engagement. They often hold community meetings to identify necessary services, ascertain the effectiveness of ongoing programs, and stay in touch with those whom they serve. Much of their work revolves around improving programming through data collection and analysis, managing community service providers, and ensuring all administrative functions — including grant proposals — are operating appropriately.

Social Workers

Median Annual Salary: $49,470
Projected Annual Growth: 11%

Social workers provide meaningful services focused on making their clients' lives better. Social workers with a bachelor's degree mostly serve in supervised support roles, while those with master's degrees can provide clinical services such as counseling, therapy, and case management. Common responsibilities include making referrals, assessing client needs, working with individuals going through significant life transitions, helping those in crisis find security, and staying in touch with clients to ensure they have access to necessary services.

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Median Annual Salary: $44,630
Projected Annual Growth: 22%

These professionals often have a bachelor's degree, though some positions can be obtained with only a high school education. They work with clients as they navigate substance abuse and behavioral disorders, working in community health clinics, prisons, rehabilitation facilities, or counseling offices to provide mental health evaluations, treatment plans, and access to necessary resources. While they cannot provide therapeutic services, they can help individuals gain access to programming. They may also lead informational sessions or outreach programs.

Best Psychology Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is social work?

Social work focuses on providing help to those who need it. Social workers help clients with counseling, education, emotional support, and health referrals.

How much do social workers make?

As of 2018, median pay for social workers was $49,470. The top 10% of earners made over $81,400 in 2018.

What is the best online college for social work?

The best online college for social work for you is the one that matches your academic abilities, professional interests, lifestyle requirements, and academic needs.

What kind of job can you get with a bachelor of social work?

While you need a master of social work to qualify for licensed or clinical roles, a bachelor of social work qualifies you for entry-level support positions.

Is a social work degree a B.A. or a B.S.?

Most programs are a bachelor of social work (BSW degree), so they are not art or science degrees. However, some schools offer a bachelor of art in social work.

How long does it take to get a bachelor's in social work?

Full-time learners typically need four years to graduate from bachelor's programs.

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