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Depending on their position, social workers may perform duties such as support children struggling with bullying at school, help clients manage mental health disorders, or connect families with social services.

A bachelor's degree in social work prepares graduates for in-demand jobs, such as case manager, social services manager, and substance abuse counselor. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects social work jobs to grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028 — much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Our ranking of the best social work undergraduate programs can help prospective social work majors identify the right program for their needs.

Top 10 Bachelor's in Social Work Programs 2020

#1 New York University New York, NY
#2 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
#3 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
#4 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#6 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
#7 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
#8 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
#9 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
#10 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT

Best Bachelor's in Social Work Programs

1
New York University
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4

University of Iowa 

Iowa City, IA

About this school

Established in 1847, UI is the oldest higher education institution in the state. In 1913, the school began offering social work training to students across the country. Today, the school's BA in social work provides enrollees with the skills, values, and ethics necessary to succeed as generalist social workers.

In addition to a liberal arts foundation, the 120-credit social work degree includes core social work, natural and social sciences, and social work elective courses. Social work classes cover topics like social research, social policy development, intervention and prevention, and assessment and evaluation. Learners must also complete a field experience at an approved site.

Admission into the social work program requires the completion of a social work prerequisite course and all lower-level general education credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. To graduate, students need a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 GPA in the major.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
5

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

About this school

Established in 1867, U of I enrolls more than 33,000 undergraduate students across 11 schools, including a social work school. The school's bachelor of social work program prepares graduates for generalist social work practice and graduate study. Students receive training in policy development, social engagement, and leadership.

The 120-credit degree includes 53 social work credits, including courses on social work policy, diversity, and human development. The core program also includes an internship that allows students to apply degree knowledge and skills to a social work agency, working 32 hours per week for 16 weeks total.

Applicants must complete a minimum of 50 hours at a social service agency and possess a minimum 2.5 GPA in prerequisite undergraduate training. Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Transfer applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
6

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY

About this school

Founded in 1870, Syracuse introduced its social work school in 1955. The BS in social work trains students to overcome public policy, community, and individual and group challenges. Graduates qualify for a variety of generalist social work positions.

During the 120-credit social work degree, learners complete liberal arts courses in addition to social work courses on topics like social welfare policy, human behavior, social work practice, and research. Students must complete a one-year internship, which requires 16 hours per week at one of more than 200 human service agencies. Students can also choose from the following concentrations to customize the degree.

  • Military culture and mental health practice
  • Social work and the human-animal bond

Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer applicants can bypass the high school transcript and standardized test score requirements if they possess more than 30 credits. To qualify for admission to the social work major, applicants need a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
7

University of Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh, PA

About this school

Founded more than 225 years ago, Pitt hosts more than 10 schools and colleges, including a social work school. Formed in 1918, the social work division offers a BA in social work that prepares graduates for generalist social work positions.

The 120-credit social work degree includes 60 lower-level general education credits and 48 social work credits. Social work courses cover topics like policy analysis, social welfare, research, and human behavior. The program also includes a practicum in the final year. While students can direct their studies to pursue diverse careers, the social work major is partially designed to improve child welfare education and services in the state.

Social work students can choose the study plan that best fits their schedule, completing the program in 2-4 years. Applicants must submit high school transcripts and standardized test scores. Applicants can transfer prior credits earned with a grade of "C" or better. For admission into the social work program, applicants must complete 60 undergraduate credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
56%
8

Ohio State University 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Ohio State hosts over 65,000 students each year through more than 200 majors. The school's BS in social work program prepares students for generalist social work practice. The 120-credit degree includes 58 general education courses in addition to social work and elective courses.

Classes in the social work major cover topics such as social and economic justice, professional values and ethics, and practice with the general population. Near the end of the program, students apply degree knowledge and skills during an internship in a clinical environment, completing 420 hours of supervised fieldwork.

Applicants to Ohio State must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. They must also possess some community involvement experience. Applicants to the social work program must complete all general education and pre-major courses with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Graduates with a minimum 3.0 GPA may qualify for admission into the MSW program at Ohio State.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
37%
9

Michigan State University 

East Lansing, MI

About this school

MSU is a public research institution that hosts nearly 50,000 students each year. With a mission to improve local and global communities, the school of social work offers a BA in social work that prepares students for public service positions.

The 120-credit social work degree includes human behavior, social policy, and research methods courses. The core curriculum also includes a 12-credit internship during which learners spend 16 hours a week working for a social service agency. Students can customize their studies by pursuing one of several certificates, including:

  • Social work with global populations
  • Child welfare
  • Law and policy in social work
  • Social work with children, work, and policies
  • Health and aging services
  • Non-profit leadership in social work

Applicants must apply to MSU with strong high school grades and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants to the social work major need 46 completed credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA, including seven social work prerequisites.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
41%
10

University of Utah 

Salt Lake City, UT

About this school

Founded in 1850, the U offers nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school's bachelor of social work program prepares students for social and community development careers, especially in marginalized communities. BSW students can choose from online and on-campus learning formats.

The 120-credit social work degree includes 48 credits in the major, plus an internship and liberal arts training. Core courses include social work statistics, social welfare policy and services, and social diversity and cultural understanding. The 12-credit internship allows students to apply their training to a field of interest and gain experience in a social services agency.

In addition to the BSW, undergraduates can complete certificate courses in social justice advocacy and substance use disorder treatment training. Applicants must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. They must also complete general education credits with a minimum 2.35 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
30%
11

University of Missouri - Columbia 

Columbia, MO

About this school

The flagship university in Missouri, Mizzou has educated students for nearly 180 years through diverse undergraduate and graduate programs. The school offers a bachelor of social work program that prepares graduates for careers in human service environments, such as schools, family service agencies, and residential treatment programs.

The 120-credit social work degree includes general education and social work courses. Core social work courses include social justice and policy, community and organizational processes, and strategies of direct practice. Students also complete a field practicum at a social services agency. Students need a minimum 2.5 GPA to qualify for graduation.

For admission into Mizzou, applicants need a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. They must also submit SAT or ACT scores. BSW admission requires completion of social prerequisites with a minimum 2.3 GPA. Transfer students may qualify for admission and transfer credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
12

University of Kansas 

Lawrence, KS

About this school

Since its first class of 55 students in 1866, KU enrollments have grown to nearly 30,000 annually. The flagship university in the state, KU offers more than 400 programs across a variety of schools and colleges, including the School of Social Welfare. The social welfare school's bachelor of social work boasts more than 80 years of providing social work education, the longest of any such program in Kansas.

The 120-credit social work degree includes 51 social work credits, 41 general education credits, 28 elective credits, and a 12-credit practicum. During the practicum, learners complete 480 clock hours at an approved social work site. Social work students enjoy the schedule flexibility of morning, afternoon, and evening class options.

For guaranteed admission into KU, applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and strong ACT or SAT scores. For social work program admission, applicants need 54 completed general education credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
13

University of Georgia 

Athens, GA

About this school

Established in 1801, UGA hosts 17 colleges and schools, including a social work school that has educated aspiring social workers since 1964. The school's bachelor of social work prepares students to make contributions and affect sustainable change within social service settings. The curriculum is informed by the acronym PrOSEAD, which stands for power and oppression, promoting social justice, using evidence-informed practices, engaging in advocacy, and celebrating diversity.

The 120-credit social work degree focuses on human diversity, professional ethics, theoretical foundations, skills development, and professional foundations. Core courses include social welfare policy, current issues in social work, and social work research. During their senior year, students complete a field experience requirement at a social services agency for 20 hours a week.

Applicants to UGA must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. For admission into the social work major, applicants need 60 completed undergraduate credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Graduates may qualify for the master's program

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
33%
14

Fordham University 

Bronx, NY

About this school

A Jesuit Catholic university established in 1841, Fordham enrolls more than 16,000 students across nine schools, including the School of Social Service, which boasts a century-long history. During the BA in social work, students learn to work for improved social justice, human rights, and well-being for individuals and communities.

The 33-credit major includes courses in social welfare policy, social work skills, integration of human rights and justice in practice, and clinical assessment and diagnosis. Learners also complete a 600-hour field practicum and seminar during their second and final year in the major. Fordham allows students to choose one of several practicum schedules, but all enrollees must complete the program in less than two years.

Applicants first need to receive admission to Fordham, which requires a high school diploma or GED and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants to the social work major need 50 completed credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA, including prerequisite social work classes. Graduates may receive advanced standing for Fordham's MSW program.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
51%
15

University of Cincinnati 

Cincinnati, OH

About this school

Established in 1870, UC began offering social work programs through the Applied Health Sciences College in 1995. The bachelor of social work program prepares students for entry-level generalist social work positions in public and private community agencies. BSW students can choose between on-campus and online study.

Students pursuing the 120-credit social work degree complete general education credits during their first two years. Students then focus on social work topics, such as human diversity, professional issues in social work, and mental health perspectives. During their last year, students complete a 448-hour practicum. UC works with over 200 social service agencies to help students find appropriate practicum placements.

Graduates can pursue social work licensure in the state. They may also receive advanced standing in UC's MSW program. Applicants to UC need a high school diploma or GED and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants to the social work major need 60 completed credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
68%
Percent Receiving Loans
52%
16

The University of Tennessee - Knoxville 

Knoxville, TN

About this school

UTK established a social work school in 1942, including a BS in social work that focuses on the advancement of human rights, policy practice, diversity, and practice-informed research. UTK students can complete the degree online or on campus.

The 120-credit social work degree comprises general education, social work, and elective courses. During the 45-credit core, learners take courses in interviewing skills, understanding diversity, and social welfare policies. Students also complete a practicum, gaining hands-on professional experience in an approved social work setting.

Graduates may qualify for advanced standing in UTK's social work master's program, allowing them to complete both degrees in less than five years. UTK applicants must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. On-campus social work program admission requires at least 45 completed general education credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Online applicants need 60 completed credits and an associate degree.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
45%
17

Temple University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Established in 1884, Temple hosts more than 40,000 students each year. The institution's social work school is one of the largest in the country, offering social work degrees at various levels, including a bachelor of social work. BSW students learn how to contribute to societal transformation, tackling inequality issues like racism, health, and wealth.

The 120-credit degree comprises general education, social work, elective, and field practicum requirements. During the 54-credit major, learners take courses in institutional racism, history and values of social welfare, and service learning in the social work profession. The 10-credit practicum requires students to complete 400 supervised hours in a professional setting, choosing from opportunities at more than 500 organizations in the state.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. The school may also require SAT or ACT scores for some applicants. To graduate, students need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Graduates may qualify for admission into the school's MSW program and professional licensure.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
69%
18

Florida State University 

Tallahassee, FL

About this school

Established in 1851, FSU's main campus is the oldest continuous site for a university in Florida. Similarly, the social work school, established in 1928, is the oldest school of its kind in the state. The school's bachelor of social work program prepares students for careers in social work practice and social policy development.

Students complete 50 social work credits, including 12 practicum credits. Social work courses cover topics like social work practice with groups, research, and statistics. The 12-credit practicum requires students to complete 512 hours of fieldwork in a social work setting. Students can pursue an optional minor in social welfare, which requires courses in social work profession and interviewing and documentation.

For admission into the social work major, applicants must complete at least 60 liberal arts credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Transfer applicants from a CSWE-accredited program may receive transfer credit.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
19

University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus 

Norman, OK

About this school

Founded in 1890, OU hosts more than 21,000 undergraduates through over 170 majors. Established in 1917, the social work school offers several certificate and degree options, including a BA in social work. The program trains students in human rights advocacy, social work case management, and group work.

During the 120-credit social work degree, learners complete general education, elective, major proper, and major support courses. The 49-credit major requires courses in human diversity and generalist practice. Students complete a 600-hour practicum during their final year, working 16 hours per week. OU students benefit from over 300 university-affiliated agencies that offer internship opportunities. Students can pursue optional minors in areas such as:

  • African and African American studies
  • Native American studies
  • Social justice
  • Women's and gender studies

Applicants to OU must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants to the social work program need 60 completed undergraduate credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students need a minimum 2.5 GPA to qualify for graduation.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
20

Louisiana State University 

Baton Rouge, LA

About this school

Founded in 1860, LSU hosts 18 schools and colleges, including a social work school founded in 1937. The school's bachelor of social work program prepares students for social work careers through an emphasis on communication, investigation, evaluation, and professional practice.

The 120-credit social work degree includes 45-50 social work credits. Social work classes cover topics like human behavior and the social environment, diversity, and social work and policy. Students also complete a 480-hour internship. Students may fulfill the internship requirement by working at a social service agency or participating in an active research project in an area like poverty, gerontology, addictive disorders, or children and families.

LSU applicants must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Applicants to the social work program need at least 24 completed credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Transfer applicants may receive admission and transfer credit provided they possess more than 30 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
36%
21

University of Kentucky 

Lexington, KY

About this school

Established in 1865, the University of Kentucky enrolls more students than any other university in the state. UK's College of Social Work offers several social work degrees, including a bachelor of arts in social work that teaches students how to promote social change at the individual and community levels.

The program includes general education and social work course requirements. Social work classes include foundations of professional ethics in social work, human behavior and social environments, and social work practice. Students can also participate in research projects, student groups, internships, and study abroad opportunities.

Learners can add a public child welfare certification to their degree by completing two child welfare courses, 24 hours of training at four retreats, and an additional nine days of training during their final semester. Graduates can work in a variety of settings, including schools, faith-based organizations, mental health agencies, and hospitals. The program also prepares students for graduate-level study in social work and related fields.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
66%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
22

CUNY Hunter College 

New York, NY

About this school

Based in Manhattan and part of the City University of New York, Hunter College hosts approximately 23,000 students through more than 170 liberal arts and sciences programs each year. The college's School of Social Work offers several social work degrees, including a bachelor of social work.

The BSW program explores social work theory and practice. Students gain skills in advocacy, intervention, documentation, and engagement. To graduate, participants must earn a total of 120 credits, including 39 major, 39 elective, 30 common core, and 12 Hunter focus credits. Students can choose one of two specializations to tailor the degree to their interests and career goals: care coordination or child welfare.

Regardless of their specialization, all students take courses like social work practice and learning lab, practice in child welfare, and social work research. Students also complete a field placement requirement, gaining hands-on experience in a social work setting.

Program applicants need at least 80 credits earned with a minimum 2.75 overall GPA. They must also have completed an introduction to social work course with a "B" or better. Applicants must submit a personal statement explaining why they want to earn a BSW, a resume, and a fieldwork verification form. Transfer applicants must submit two letters of recommendation.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
56%
Percent Receiving Loans
5%
23

George Mason University 

Fairfax, VA

About this school

George Mason University — Virginia's largest public research university — serves more than 37,000 students from around the world each year. Established in 1972, Mason offers more than 140 undergraduate degrees and concentrations across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Health and Human Services offers an accredited BSW program focused on generalist practice.

The 120-credit program includes core, major, and elective courses. Courses include methods of social work intervention, knowledge building for helping professionals, and integrative methods in social action and social change. The program also requires a 450-hour supervised field practicum. The social work department helps students find appropriate field placements but does not guarantee placement.

Admission requirements include completion of at least 45 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a "C" or better in several introductory social work courses. Prospective social work majors must also have completed or be registered in introductory biology, introductory sociology, composition, and basic concepts in psychology courses. The department may require an interview for admission.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
53%
24

Catholic University of America 

Washington, DC

About this school

The Catholic University of America is a national research university that hosts over 6,000 students through more than 250 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school emphasizes faith and community service, and 80% of the student body practices Catholicism.

The university's School of Social Services boasts a 100-year tradition of training new social workers. The curriculum of this bachelor's degree in social work focuses on the treatment and prevention of social problems and the promotion of social well-being. Graduates can enter generalist social work practice or continue their education at the graduate level.

The program requires 14 major courses, including diversity in a multicultural society, social work research and statistics, and human behavior and the social environment. Additionally, learners take liberal arts courses in history, science, philosophy, and literature. The program encourages learners to complete a minor to enhance their education. Students also complete field education requirements at one of the university's 450 partner organizations.

Students may receive transfer credit for prior coursework completed with a "C-" or better at a regionally accredited institution. Social work majors receive access to services like a campus ministry, academic advising, counseling, disability services, and career services.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
76%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
25

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

Founded in 1831, the University of Alabama is the state's flagship university and hosts about 38,000 students each year. The school offers 72 undergraduate programs through 12 schools and colleges and boasts more than 600 student organizations.

The School of Social Work offers a 120-credit BSW program that prepares students to improve the well-being of diverse individuals and communities. Students gain skills in communication, problem-solving, and interprofessional collaboration through a curriculum that emphasizes social justice and the benefits of diversity.

Students take general education and social work courses. Major courses include the history of social welfare in the U.S., oppression and social injustice, and a generalist practice seminar. General education classes include English composition, introduction to biology, and Western civilization since 1648. Social work majors also complete an internship at one of 250 social service agencies. Additionally, the program allows students to participate in service-learning and research opportunities.

Full-time students can graduate in four years. Graduates can work in hospitals, schools, and public and private agencies. Current UA students with at least 45 credits from other divisions need a minimum 2.0 GPA to transfer into the program.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
43%
26

University of Vermont 

Burlington, VT

About this school

Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont offers more than 100 undergraduate majors, 50 master's degrees, and 25 doctoral programs. The school serves more than 10,000 undergraduates and 1,600 graduate students each year.

The BSW program prepares students to engage in professional social work practice. Grounded in human rights and social justice, the program features general education and social work courses. Major courses include issues and policies in social work, racism and contemporary issues, and social work practice.

The program's focus on experiential learning includes a 450-hour supervised field practicum that social work majors complete during their senior year. During the practicum, students apply classroom knowledge and skills to practical social work issues. Learners also complete a field seminar to discuss their practicum experiences.

Social work majors must complete general education courses with a "C-" or better and social work courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate. A social work faculty committee reviews each student's progress at the end of every semester to develop an academic support plan, as necessary.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
76%
Percent Receiving Loans
54%
27

San Francisco State University 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

Part of the California State University system, San Francisco State University is a public institution that offers 77 bachelor's degrees, 63 master's degrees, and one doctoral program. The school's diverse student body represents learners from more than 100 countries.

SF State's BA in social work features a cohort format, meaning students progress through coursework with the same group of peers throughout the program. The curriculum emphasizes diversity, ethics, collaboration, advocacy, equity, and cultural humility.

Required courses include interviewing skills in social work; social welfare in the past, present, and future; and services to children, youth, and their families. The program also includes a written English proficiency requirement, integrating formal writing assignments into most social work classes. During their senior year, students apply classroom knowledge and skills to a social work setting during a 480-hour internship.

The College of Health and Social Services admits social work applicants who have completed at least 60 credits and qualify as upper-division students. Prospective social work majors must also be current students at SF State or eligible for undergraduate admission. Before entering the program, learners must complete all of SF State's lower-division general education requirements with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
55%
Percent Receiving Loans
42%
28

North Carolina State University at Raleigh 

Raleigh, NC

About this school

A public research university that hosts more than 36,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year, North Carolina State University began as a land-grant institution in 1887. The school boasts a small student-to-faculty ratio, more than 700 student organizations, and a $1.3 billion endowment. The school's Department of Social Work oversees a BSW program that prepares students for entry-level social work jobs.

The program emphasizes human behavior and diversity, research methodology for social workers, social work practice, and community social services. Students learn to serve the needs of diverse individuals and communities. Classes include community social services, multicultural social work, and social work practice for families and groups.

In addition to coursework, students complete a 420-hour internship at an approved agency during their senior year. They also participate in a weekly field seminar to discuss their internship experiences. Students must complete at least 34 credits, including field preparation, fieldwork, and three practice classes, while in residency at NC State. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in all major coursework to qualify for graduation.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
81%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
29

Auburn University 

Auburn, AL

About this school

A top public research institution, Auburn University became the first Southern land-grant university upon its founding in 1856. Today, the school hosts more than 30,000 learners across over 140 majors, including social work. Auburn's BSW program trains students in generalist social work theory and practice.

The program prepares graduates to promote research on social welfare issues, develop partnerships with community groups, and make a positive impact on social problems and disadvantaged people in Alabama. Prospective social work majors must complete three introductory prerequisite social work courses with a "C" or better to qualify for admission into the program.

The 120-credit bachelor of social work requires 42 major concentration credits, including courses like human behavior in the social environment, social welfare policy, and social work methods. During their senior year, social work majors complete a nine-credit internship and senior integrative seminar. Students meet with academic advisors to select appropriate social work and social science electives for their program of study.

Students also complete general education and foreign language credits. Participants must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and earn a "C" or better in all major courses to graduate. Graduates can pursue entry-level social work jobs or graduate study.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
78%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
30

Wayne State University 

Detroit, MI

About this school

Located in the heart of Detroit, Wayne State University offers more than 380 academic programs. The university holds the highest designation for research and community engagement from the Carnegie Foundation.

The School of Social Work offers a bachelor's degree in social work that prepares students for entry-level generalist social work jobs. The program focuses on working with vulnerable populations, individuals, and groups. The major curriculum covers five primary areas: research methods, social welfare policy and services, human behavior and the social environment, social work practice, and field education. The 120-credit degree includes 60 general education, 51 social work, and nine elective credits.

To receive admission into the program, students must hold 60 credits, complete a series of prerequisites in their first two years of college, and earn a minimum overall 2.0 GPA. The program fills up each year, so prospective students should apply early. Social work majors can complete the program on campus or completely online. The School of Social Work awards more than 40 private scholarships to social work students each year. Learners also gain access to free writing and research support services.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
47%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
31

Miami University-Oxford 

Oxford, OH

About this school

A public university established in 1809, Miami University offers bachelor's degrees in more than 120 areas. It also hosts 70 graduate programs. MU's College of Education, Health, and Society oversees a BS in social work program that prepares students for generalist social work practice. Graduates can apply for social work licensure in Ohio and some other states.

The social work program boasts expert faculty, guaranteed social service agency internship placements, and opportunities to participate in service projects with the Miami Student Association of Social Work. The program also brings in social work professionals from local agencies to help students find internships and jobs and develop professional contacts.

The curriculum focuses on policy changes to help improve the social well-being of at-risk populations. Students take courses on topics like human behavior and the social environment, social work research, social work ethics, social and economic justice, and social welfare policy and services. The university also requires learners to complete general education credits. Social work majors complete a practicum during their senior year.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
38%
32

Ohio University 

Athens, OH

About this school

Established as the state's first university in 1804, Ohio University boasts small classes, more than 500 student organizations, and one of the safest campuses in the nation. The school's faculty includes 41 Pulitzer Prize winners and 10 Fulbright awardees. Ohio offers 250 academic programs across 11 campuses and centers, including one of the best social work undergraduate programs in the country.

Ohio's generalist-focused BA in social work includes courses such as research methods in social work, social welfare policy, and dynamics of human behavior. Students also complete liberal arts and sciences requirements, including two semesters of a foreign language. The program — available in on-campus and online formats — prepares learners to obtain state licensure and practice social work in rural areas.

Social work majors gain access to various support services and resources, such as academic advising, career services, and field placement assistance. Students may qualify for a variety of private social work scholarships, with incoming first-year students automatically considered for scholarships.

Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. They should have also completed two introductory social work courses and five non-social work prerequisite courses. Applicants must submit a personal statement, a human resources experience form, and a professional expectations for student behavior form.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
33

University of Mississippi 

University, MS

About this school

The University of Mississippi serves more than 24,000 students each year. Established in 1848, Ole Miss holds the R-1 designation from the Carnegie Classification System, which is awarded to the universities with the highest research activity. Ole Miss's 15 academic divisions include top-ranked schools of medicine, law, and social work.

The school's bachelor's degree in social work teaches students fundamental social work skills and knowledge. Experienced faculty with diverse professional backgrounds teach the program, which boasts a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The 120-credit degree includes general education and social work credits, and learners must take social work courses in a specific sequence. The program also includes an internship at an approved social work site.

Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. At an initial advising meeting, admitted students complete a social work contract, read the profession's code of ethics, and learn how to progress through the program in a timely manner. Social work majors can join the Student Social Work Organization — a volunteer group that helps students develop a peer network, leadership skills, and volunteerism. Members typically perform 20 hours of volunteer service each year.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
41%
34

University of South Carolina - Columbia 

Columbia, SC

About this school

Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina is the state's flagship university. The school boasts top-tier designations for community engagement and research from the Carnegie Foundation and is one of the largest producers of Fulbright scholars in the country.

The College of Social Work offers a bachelor of social work that prepares graduates for entry-level generalist social work jobs. The curriculum features general education and social work classes. Required social work courses include diversity and social justice in contemporary society, human behavior and the social environment, and advocacy for social and economic justice.

Students complete 50 hours of field education in the spring term of their junior year, 225 hours in the fall term of their senior year, and 225 hours in the spring term of their senior year. The College of Social Work offers scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid opportunities for students.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
77%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
35

Saint Louis University 

Saint Louis, MO

About this school

One of the country's oldest Catholic universities, Saint Louis University boasts top-ranked academics, a strong research program, and a focus on faith and service. SLU's accredited BS in social work teaches students the knowledge and skills they need to improve the social well-being of individuals and communities.

Offered through the College for Public Health and Social Justice, the 120-credit degree includes liberal arts and social work courses. The curriculum covers topics such as human behavior and the social environment; social policy for social justice; and social work practice with families, individuals, and organizations. Social work majors also complete fieldwork at a social service agency for two semesters during their senior year. Students have the option to study abroad for two weeks in places like Spain, Cuba, and Ghana.

The traditional BS in social work track takes four years to complete. Additionally, exceptional students may apply to an accelerated BS-to-MSW program during their junior year, allowing them to earn an MSW in just one additional year of study. All social work majors can access individualized advising and mentoring from faculty members.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
77%
Percent Receiving Loans
53%
36

University of Maine 

Orono, ME

About this school

Founded in 1895, the University of Maine offers 90 undergraduate majors, 85 master's degrees, and 35 doctoral programs. Students from around the world attend this land-, sea-, and space-grant university. The school's bachelor of social work program boasts small class sizes, expert faculty, and courses offered on multiple campuses. Graduates can apply for state licensure.

The BSW curriculum includes liberal arts and social work classes, preparing students for generalist social work careers. Courses cover topics like human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, and social work research. Students also complete supervised field education that allows them to apply classroom knowledge and skills to a practical social work setting. The School of Social Work places students in internships throughout the state.

Social work majors can participate in service activities through the Social Work Student Organization, and high-achieving students can become members of Phi Alpha — the social work honor society. The BSW program features a diverse student body, representing many ages, backgrounds, and interests.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
60%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
37

Binghamton University 

Vestal, NY

About this school

A public research university, Binghamton University is part of the State University of New York system. The school's social work department prioritizes economic and social justice, preparing students to serve diverse individuals, groups, and communities.

The university's BSW program prepares students for generalist social work careers, focusing on ethics, client empowerment, and human development. The program also emphasizes collaboration with community partners and recognition of each individual's strengths. The 126-credit program includes general education and social work requirements. Students take classes like social welfare policy and programs, generalist social work practice with organizations and communities, and foundations of scientific inquiry with social systems.

Students also complete a 510-hour supervised internship during their senior year, spending 15 hours a week gaining hands-on experience at a social service agency. Past internship placements have included mental health, criminal justice, and substance abuse agencies. Prerequisite courses for admission into the BSW program include introduction to social work, human biology, introduction to psychology, and introduction to statistics.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
81%
Percent Receiving Loans
51%
38

Kansas State University 

Manhattan, KS

About this school

Founded in 1863, Kansas State University is a comprehensive research institution. K-State's accredited BS and BA in social work programs prepare learners for generalist social work practice. Graduates can apply for licensure in Kansas and several other states. They can also pursue graduate study.

Both social work programs emphasize social work practice, research, policy, and human behavior. Social work majors complete general education requirements and take major classes like basic skills for working with people, social welfare as a social institution, and human behavior in the social environment.

The programs also require a 14-credit field practicum that includes a preparation course, a professional seminar, and supervised field experience. Students must pass several social work courses before they receive formal admission into the program in their junior year. Prospective social work majors must hold a minimum overall 2.3 GPA and a minimum 2.75 in core social work courses. They must also submit a personal statement and undergo an academic evaluation by the admissions committee.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
48%
39

Colorado State University - Fort Collins 

Fort Collins, CO

About this school

A land-grant institution, Colorado State University hosts eight colleges across fields like business, agricultural sciences, and liberal arts. Its College of Health and Human Sciences offers a bachelor of social work degree that focuses on promoting economic and social justice through social work practice. Students learn to navigate the social welfare system in the U.S. and work with diverse individuals, groups, and communities.

The 120-credit program includes liberal arts and social work requirements. Social work courses include dismantling privilege and oppression; research in applied professions; and social welfare policy, issues, and advocacy. During their senior year, students gain hands-on experience through a 10-credit field placement and a three-credit field seminar. The program places learners in community organizations that align with their professional interests. Students must undergo background checks before starting field placements.

The program requires that participants earn a "C" or higher in all required social work courses and a minimum 2.5 overall GPA in major coursework. Graduates can work in positions such as child welfare worker, crisis counselor, and domestic violence counselor.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
71%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
40

San Diego State University 

San Diego, CA

About this school

A public research institution, San Diego State University is the third-oldest school in the California State University system. The university serves about 36,000 students each year and boasts a diverse, veteran-friendly campus.

The School of Social Work offers a bachelor's degree in social work that prepares students to work with diverse populations in nonprofit and public social service agencies. Social work majors complete preparatory coursework in areas like human biology, statistics, and public health before enrolling in professional social work classes. The school offers two nine-credit specializations that allow students to customize the degree to their interests: criminal justice and environmental social work.

All students complete a field practicum at a local social service organization, gaining hands-on experience in the field. The program also includes elective seminars, covering special topics like aging, child welfare, and alcohol use. Students must complete all major requirements at SDSU; the program does not accept transfer credits toward upper-division social work requirements.

SDSU boasts eight student groups for social work majors, including the Undergraduate Social Work Association, the Black Social Work Student Caucus, and the Latino Social Work Student Association.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
74%
Percent Receiving Loans
31%
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Programs

Bachelor's in Social Work Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is social work?

Social workers provide counseling, therapy, and other support for people struggling with various challenges. Social workers also connect clients with useful social services.

What is a bachelor's in social work degree?

A bachelor's degree in social work prepares graduates for roles such as generalist social worker and case manager. Graduates can also apply to master's in social work programs.

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

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

What can you do with a bachelor's in social work?

A bachelor's in social work prepares graduates for jobs such as social workers, case managers, and social services managers. It also meets the education requirements needed to enter MSW programs.

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 support individuals, families, and communities struggling with issues such as poverty, mental health disorders, and behavioral issues.

Social workers can specialize in several fields. 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 include local and state government agencies, individual and family services, and ambulatory healthcare services. Social workers often specialize in child, family, or school social work. Individuals may also specialize in areas like healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse.

What Is a Bachelor's in Social Work Degree?

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in social work qualify for generalist social work jobs and graduate study. Students who pursue a bachelor's in social work gain foundational training in social work practice, case management, and client advocacy.

Some programs offer concentrations in career-ready fields, like clinical social work and school social work. Many of the best social work programs incorporate an internship or practicum to give students hands-on experience in a social service setting.

In addition to social work courses, undergraduates complete general education courses in areas such as communication, math, and English. A bachelor's in social work degree generally takes four years of full-time study to complete. Students with transfer credits or an associate degree often complete their bachelor's degree in significantly less time.

Choosing a Bachelor's in Social Work Program

Prospective students should consider several factors when researching the best schools for social work, including cost, available concentrations, and a program's reputation. For example, public, in-state schools typically offer the lowest tuition rates. However, some out-of-state schools offer tuition discounts to online students. The number of required credits can also influence the cost of a degree. By transferring prior college credits into a social work program, students can reduce costs significantly.

Learners should also make sure that a program's concentration options align with their career goals. Potential social work concentrations include mental health, substance abuse, family support, and school social work. Additionally, prospective students should choose a program with a strong reputation to maximize employment opportunities after graduation.

What Will I Learn in a Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

While earning a bachelor's in social work degree, students take courses on topics like research methods, human behavior and the social environment, and social work practice. The following list outlines several common social work courses.

Social Work Practice

Social work practice courses cover the different settings of social work jobs, the skills required for specialist and generalist social work, and the core values of the field. Students explore the modern social service system and different models for providing social work services. The course also covers topics like levels of intervention, theoretical social work foundations, and client services. As a foundational course, social work practice prepares majors for advanced social work classes.

Social Service Delivery Systems

This class introduces social work majors to U.S. social policy and service delivery systems. Students learn about social services, mental health, and healthcare systems, with an emphasis on the historical development of these systems and their current challenges. The course addresses specialized social services for distinct populations, such as the elderly and children. Coursework may also address the development of social service policy, social services financing issues, and service delivery challenges.

Research Methods in Social Work

In this course, students learn how to critically evaluate social work research and produce original research. The course covers how to formulate research questions, conduct a literature review, develop hypotheses, and identify variables that affect quantitative research. For example, students may learn to assess the influence of measurement issues, sampling, and data collection on results. Hands-on exercises, including data analysis and research design, help students develop strong research skills.

Foundations of Social Work Practice

This class covers the values, knowledge, and skills that are integral to the social work profession. Many social work courses blend theoretical and practical knowledge, with some courses using skill-building exercises to provide hands-on training. By studying social work practice, students strengthen their analytical and professional skills. This course prepares students to promote social and economic justice after graduation.

Human Behavior in the Social Environment

This course covers theories related to the development of social environments and human behavior within those environments. Students examine the role of culture in shaping individual values, worldviews, and beliefs. With a focus on the way society shapes personal identity, the course explores the role of human development across the lifespan. Through lectures, readings, and assignments, social work students learn to analyze human behavior in the social environment — an essential skill for social work practice.

Social Work Jobs

Graduates with a bachelor's in social work degree can qualify for jobs such as social worker, case worker, and social services manager. These jobs offer advancement opportunities for professionals with work experience and/or an advanced degree.

Social Workers

Social workers help clients solve problems and cope with challenges in their everyday lives. They assess clients' needs, determine goals, and develop treatment plans. Social workers may also refer clients to community services, provide advocacy, and offer psychotherapy services.

Some states will provide licenses to social workers who hold a bachelor's degree in social work; however, certain roles may require a graduate degree. For example, clinical social workers need a master's degree to practice.

Median Annual Salary

$49,470

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants offer client services in fields like social work, psychology, and rehabilitation. Also known as casework aides, clinical social work aides, and social work assistants, social and human service assistants determine clients' needs and connect them with appropriate services. They may coordinate with social workers to develop treatment plans and research potential services.

These professionals typically only need a high school diploma. However, earning a bachelor's degree in social work prepares social and human service assistants for career advancement.

Median Annual Salary

$33,750

Projected Growth Rate

13%

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers oversee social service programs and community organizations. They supervise staff and devise and implement improvements to programs and services, including analyzing data on a program's effectiveness and promoting programs through outreach activities. Social and community service managers also oversee budgets and help raise funds.

Most social and community service managers need a bachelor's degree in social work, public administration, or a related field, as well as work experience.

Median Annual Salary

$65,320

Projected Growth Rate

13%

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors support people suffering from substance use and behavioral disorders. They evaluate their clients' mental health and behaviors to develop and implement treatment plants. They also monitor client progress and alter treatment plans as needed. Most substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors hold a bachelor's degree in social work, counseling, or a related field. Some positions may require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary

$44,630

Projected Growth Rate

22%

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists offer social services to offenders in custody, on probation, and on parole. They interview clients to create a customized course of rehabilitation and connect clients with appropriate resources, such as job training or substance abuse counseling.

Most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists hold a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, or behavioral science.

Median Annual Salary

$53,020

Projected Growth Rate

3%

Accreditation for Bachelor's in Social Work Degrees

Aspiring social workers should only choose schools and programs with the appropriate accreditation. At the institutional level, regional accreditation stands as the preferred credential for liberal arts and research institutions. Regionally accredited colleges and universities meet high standards with respect to graduation requirements, faculty qualifications, and student learning outcomes. Schools must submit to regular reviews to maintain their accreditation.

In addition to regional accreditation, programs within a college may receive programmatic accreditation. The Council on Social Work Education accredits the best social work undergraduate programs. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. An accredited degree meets the requirements for state licensure and only accredited schools can offer federal financial aid. Employers may also require an accredited degree for social work jobs. Additionally, many graduate programs only admit students with an accredited undergraduate degree.

Social Work Professional Organizations

Professional organizations help social work students and professionals strengthen their skills and advance their careers, offering benefits like networking, professional development, and financial aid opportunities.

Clinical Social Work Association

CSWA offers professional support, advocacy, and resources to clinical social workers. Members include licensed clinical social workers, new professionals who earned their degree within the past four years, and social work students. Members benefit from access to up-to-date clinical information, an exclusive job board, and free consultations on legal and ethical questions. The association also offers a therapist finder for patients.

School Social Work Association of America

A professional organization for school social workers, SSWAA hosts a national conference with professional development and networking opportunities. Members receive access to professional discounts, industry newsletters, and advocacy and support services. The association's website also offers practice tools, position papers, and articles for school social workers. The SSWAA webinar series provides educational content for members and nonmembers.

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