The Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work 2020

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Completing an online 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 can help you achieve that goal.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that roles for social workers will grow 11% between 2018 and 2028 - much faster than the national average for all occupations. Approximately 81,000 new roles should be created during this timeframe.

Top 10 Online Bachelor's Programs in Social Work 2020

#1 University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA
#2 New York University New York, NY
#3 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI
#4 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
#5 University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA
#6 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#7 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#8 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
#9 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh, PA
#10 Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH

The Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs

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4

The University of Texas at Austin 

Austin, TX

About this school

The University of Texas at Austin's Steve Hicks School of Social Work offers a bachelor's degree in social work that combines social work and liberal arts coursework to prepare students for careers in human services. The program cultivates interview, assessment, advocacy, and problem-solving skills. Learners study topics like program evaluation, community organizing and outreach, and service planning.

Foundational social work classes include introduction to social work and social welfare, social work research methods, foundations of social justice, and generalist social work practice. All students also complete a practicum to gain field experience. The program also offers study abroad and service learning opportunities. Students have access to online continuing education programs, career services, and social work research programs and institutes.

Students must be admitted to UT Austin before applying to the social work program. Admission requirements include at least 45 credits, a minimum 2.0 overall GPA, and a minimum 2.5 GPA in all social work prerequisite courses. Applicants must also submit a personal statement and a recommendation from a social work instructor.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
87%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
5

University of Washington-Seattle Campus 

Seattle, WA

About this school

The University of Washington ranks among the best schools for social work in the country. The 180-credit bachelor of arts in social welfare program emphasizes social justice, applies a critical lens to social systems and human behavior, and gives students a foundational understanding of social work theory and practice. The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Students take classes in human behavior and the social environment, cultural diversity and social justice, evidence-based social work practice, and introduction to social welfare research. Social welfare majors gain professional experience through 480 hours of supervised practicums and service learning opportunities.

Graduates can pursue entry-level social welfare positions or further education. Qualifying students can enter the university's accelerated master of social work program. Applicants must be current UW students or transfer students with at least 65 transferable credits, a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA, and a minimum 2.0 GPA in prerequisite courses.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
65%
6

University of Iowa 

Iowa City, IA

About this school

The four-year BA in social work degree from the University of Iowa prepares students for social services careers working in child welfare, mental health, public welfare, and elderly services. The program also prepares students for graduate study in social work and related fields. The curriculum includes a strong liberal arts focus and emphasizes social work ethics and values.

The 120-credit program includes classes like social justice and social welfare in the United States, human behavior in the social environment, introduction to social work research, and social welfare policy and practice. The program also includes supervised field experiences, giving learners practical experience in the field. Social work majors gain interpersonal, problem-solving, and advocacy skills.

Students can apply to the social work program after completing two years of undergraduate coursework. Applicants must complete a social work prerequisite course with a grade of 'C' or higher and hold a cumulative 2.5 GPA to receive admission. The social work degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
7

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

About this school

The bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Social Work focuses on professional ethics and behavior, practice-informed research, social justice, and diversity.

The 120-credit program includes at least 53 social work credits. Classes cover social work statistics, doing good through the nonprofit sector, social work services for older adults, and social work and disability studies. All social work majors must complete 15 credits of combined internship and field seminar courses. Students have access to student-faculty committees and the local student chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Admission requirements include at least 50 hours of paid or volunteer experience at a social services agency, a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA, and evidence of strong interpersonal and communication skills. BSW students in the top 10% of their graduating class graduate with distinction. Graduates can work for advocacy programs, hospitals, and public health agencies. They can also pursue graduate study.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
92%
8

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY

About this school

One of the best schools for social work in the country, Syracuse University offers an accredited bachelor of science in social work program that prepares graduates for generalist social work practice and graduate study. The curriculum emphasizes human behavior in the social environment, social work practice and research, and social welfare policy and services.

This 120-credit bachelor's degree in social work includes classes in foundations of social work practice, human diversity in social contexts, foundations of social work research, and strategies of social work intervention. Students also complete two field practicums and two field seminars and can potentially earn academic credit for paid or volunteer work experience in social service agencies.

Admission requirements include a cumulative 2.8 GPA or higher and completion of at least 12 credits at Syracuse. Applicants must meet with the program director to discuss their interest in the program and create a degree plan. The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

School Type
Private Non Profit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
9

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus 

Pittsburgh, PA

About this school

The BA in social work degree from the University of Pittsburgh prepares students for generalist social work practice in child welfare, juvenile justice, hospitals, and family preservation. The School of Social Work boasts $30 million in externally funded research and offers more than 600 fieldwork opportunities.

The 120-credit bachelor's degree in social work requires classes in foundations of the welfare state, poverty and income inequality, global perspective in social work, and child welfare services. The program also requires a practicum that gives students practical professional experience. Students can add a concentration in anthropology, human biology, English composition, or statistics.

Admission to the social work bachelor's program requires at least 60 completed credits or an associate degree and a minimum 2.50 GPA. The school considers applicants with a lower GPA for provisional admission on a case-by-case basis. Students can apply to the program year-round.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
79%
10

Ohio State University-Main Campus 

Columbus, OH

About this school

Ohio State University offers a bachelor of science in social work program that prepares students for generalist social work practice, working with groups, families, individuals, and communities. Students learn to advocate for vulnerable populations, analyze social policy, work with diverse groups, and develop a professional identity.

The curriculum includes courses in research and statistics for understanding social work problems, social work practice with diverse populations, generalist practice with families, and professional values and ethics. The program also requires 15 credits of a supervised internship at a social work agency. Social work students can choose from 150 minors to add to their degree.

Students have access to career services, disability services, counseling services, and social work student organizations. The College of Social Work also offers a variety of scholarships for eligible students. Admission requirements include completion of required pre-major coursework and a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit a personal statement and degree audit. The program reviews applications on a rolling basis and admits new students each fall.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
78%
11

Michigan State University 

East Lansing, MI

About this school

The bachelor of arts in social work program from Michigan State University uses a systems perspective, focusing on social justice and service. Graduates can work in public service positions, serving diverse groups, individuals, organizations, and communities. The program also prepares students to pursue graduate study in social work and related disciplines.

The 120-credit program emphasizes research, outreach, service, and critical thinking. Students take courses in social work and social policy, research methods in social work, social welfare policy and services, and social work leadership in organizations. All senior social work majors must also complete a field experience. Students need a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.

Applicants must hold at least 42 transfer credits and submit an admission essay, social work professionalism and ethics agreement, a resume, and a criminal background statement of understanding. The admissions committee also considers applicants' volunteer and employment experience, academic record, and suitability for the profession and program.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
82%
12

University of Utah 

Salt Lake City, UT

About this school

Founded in 1937, the University of Utah's College of Social Work offers a bachelor's degree in social work that emphasizes professional ethics, social justice, policy practice, and diversity. The BSW is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The program prepares students to promote social and economic justice through social work practice.

The program includes classes in human behavior and the social environment, applied social work statistics, developmental impact of child abuse and neglect, and social work research and evaluation. Students also complete a 450-hour, supervised social work practicum. Many social service agencies that offer practicum opportunities require students to pass a criminal background check before beginning the practicum.

Admission requirements include a minimum overall 2.35 GPA, completion of all general education requirements, and completion of or registration for all social work pre-major courses. Students must earn a grade of 'C' or better in all pre-major coursework. Applicants must submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a social work-related resume.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
13

University of Missouri-Columbia 

Columbia, MO

About this school

The University of Missouri offers a bachelor's in social work degree that emphasizes research methods for social work, social statistics, and the theory and practice of social group work. The program holds accreditation from the Council of Social Work Education.

Students take classes in human behavior and the environment, social justice and social policy, introduction to community and organizational processes, and strategies of direct practice. They also complete a six-credit, 400-hour practicum, gaining professional experience at a local social services agency. Students usually spend three days per week at their internship sites.

Learners start this program by taking liberal arts prerequisite courses as pre-professional students. After they complete all prerequisites, they can apply for formal admission to the professional BSW program.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
85%
14

University of Kansas 

Lawrence, KS

About this school

The School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas offers a bachelor's in social work program that trains students to promote individual well-being and create a more just society. The program emphasizes social work practice, social policies, program analysis, and advocacy.

The 120-credit program includes classes in fundamentals of social work research; diversity, oppression, and social justice; community and organizational dynamics and human behavior; and fundamentals of social work practice.

Students also complete a 12-credit, 480-hour practicum that takes place two days per week in the fall and spring of the student's senior year. Students must earn a minimum 2.5 GPA in social work courses and complete at least 30 credits in residence at KU during their senior year to graduate.

To advance to 500-level courses, students must complete 54 general education credits, earn a cumulative minimum 2.5 GPA, and complete 20 hours of paid or volunteer work in a social service organization.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
85%
15

University of Georgia 

Athens, GA

About this school

The University of Georgia offers a bachelor of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The 120-credit program covers topics like oppression, power, evidence-informed practice, and advocacy.

Core courses include foundations of social work research, human behavior in the social environment, general practice of social work, and social welfare policy and services. Social work majors also complete a field internship in a social service setting and a capstone project during their senior year.

Students can apply to the professional BSW program after they finish the last required lower-division social work course. Applicants must be current UGA students, hold at least 60 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and earn a 'B-' or better in all social work classes.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
86%
16

Fordham University 

Bronx, NY

About this school

Fordham University offers a bachelor's degree in social work program that emphasizes social justice, human rights, and community and individual well-being. Fordham's School of Social Service also supports a number of research centers, including the Children and Families Institute, the Fordham Center for Nonprofit Leaders, and the National Center for Social Work Trauma Education and Workforce Development.

The curriculum for Fordham's BSW includes required courses in contemporary social welfare policy, integrating human rights and justice in practice, social work practice with individuals across the lifespan, and applied social work research and evaluation. During their senior year, social work majors must also complete a 600-hour fieldwork practicum and integrative seminar.

Applicants must be current Fordham students with at least 50 credits. The admissions committee prefers applicants with paid or volunteer experience in social service organizations. Accepted social work majors must complete the 33-credit program in two years. The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

School Type
Private Non Profit
Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
97%
17

Temple University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Temple University's bachelor of social work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Delivered through the College of Public Health, the program emphasizes professional ethics, social justice, research-informed practice, and social policy.

The 120-credit program includes classes in introduction to the social work profession, the social worker in the group, human behavior in the social environment, and social welfare in the United States. Students also complete at least 400 clock hours of supervised fieldwork. Students can complete fieldwork in areas like community planning, children and youth, family services, and substance abuse.

Graduation requirements include a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA and a grade of 'C' or better in all social work courses. Students can apply to Temple's BSW program as freshmen or as transfer students. The College of Public Health offers a variety of merit- and need-based financial aid opportunities for BSW students, including many scholarships.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
69%
18

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville 

Knoxville, TN

About this school

The College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers a bachelor of science in social work degree-completion program that prepares students for generalist social work practice. The program emphasizes relationships between people and their environments.

Required courses include social work practice with individuals and families, interviewing skills and the helping relationship in social work practice, and understanding diversity in a global society. Students can optionally complete the bachelor's in social work online. Learners gain access to career services, academic advising, and a student success center.

Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA, at least 45 previous credits, and completion of two social work prerequisite courses with a grade of 'C' or better. Applicants must also submit a personal essay. The College of Social Work also offers a five-year program in which students earn their undergraduate and graduate social work degrees concurrently.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
89%
19

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 

Cincinnati, OH

About this school

The College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Cincinnati offers a bachelor of social work degree that prepares students for generalist social work practice and graduate study. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Students start taking required major courses during their junior year. These classes include mental health perspectives in social work, generalist social work practice with communities and organizations, social work research, and human diversity and generalist social work practice. The program also requires social work field learning and a field seminar. BSW graduates can work in mental health clinics, nursing homes, schools, and hospitals.

The social work program also offers a child welfare training program that prepares qualified BSW and MSW students to become child welfare leaders. The child welfare program includes individualized mentoring, field practicums, and specialized coursework. Graduates of the child welfare program must agree to work for at least one year in an Ohio public agency serving children. They receive a $5,000 employment incentive.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
90%
20

Florida State University 

Tallahassee, FL

About this school

Florida State University's accredited bachelor of social work program prepares students for entry-level social work practice working with diverse clients. The College of Social Work has held continuous accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education since 1950.

Learners in this program study professional ethics, the role of social workers in promoting social justice, and institutional change. Required courses include interviewing and documentation, social welfare policy and programs, social work practice with groups, and human behavior and the social environment. Students also complete a 512-hour field experience and can add an optional certificate in child welfare practice or gerontology/aging studies.

Qualifying graduates can also earn FSU's MSW with just one additional year of study. Students can apply for social work scholarships, a social work undergraduate research award, and a social work honors program. The School of Social Work also offers study abroad, alternative spring break, and international field placement opportunities. Admission requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and completion of all required general education classes (60 credits).

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
94%
21

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 

Norman, OK

About this school

The Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at the University of Oklahoma offers a bachelor's in social work with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. The BA in social work focuses on case management, advocacy, and social justice. Students can pursue the degree full time or part time. Graduates can work in healthcare facilities, nonprofit agencies, and departments of human services or mental health.

The curriculum includes classes like generalist practice with individuals and families, human diversity and social justice, interviewing skills for generalist practice, and introduction to statistics. During their senior year, students complete a practicum to gain professional experience. The School of Social Work boasts numerous special centers and programs, including the Center for Social Work in Healthcare, the Center for Child Welfare Training and Simulation, and the Knee Center for Strong Families.

Students start social work major coursework during their junior year. Applicants must be admitted to OU, hold at least 60 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and complete prerequisite courses. Prerequisite courses include introduction to social work, introduction to sociology, and introduction to psychology.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
68%
Percent Receiving Loans
83%
22

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 

Baton Rouge, LA

About this school

Louisiana State University and A&M College offers a bachelor's degree in social work that prepares students for entry-level careers working in social policy, community organizations, family agencies, and healthcare. The program emphasizes written communication skills and evidence-based professional practice. Faculty research projects focus on children and families, addictive disorders, gerontology, and poverty.

The first two years of the program provide a liberal arts foundation through general education coursework. During their junior year, students take major-related courses like human development theory, direct practice with individuals and families, and practice-related evaluation and research. Students develop communication, critical thinking, research, and analytical skills.

The School of Social Work supports several student organizations, including the BSW Student Association, the National Association of Black Social Workers - LSU student chapter, and Phi Alpha. Applicants to the social work bachelor's program must be accepted to the College of Human Sciences and Education and hold at least 24 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The program also requires completion of prerequisite courses with a grade of 'C' or better.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
96%
23

University of Kentucky 

Lexington, KY

About this school

The University of Kentucky offers a bachelor's in social work degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The school's College of Social Work has many scholarship opportunities for social work students, with 97% of learners receiving some type of financial aid. The program offers fall and spring start dates each year.

Students must complete a field experience, for which UK offers strategic field advising, career preparation support, and flexible placement options. Students can choose from more than 300 field placement opportunities, including with the College of Social Work's research centers, like the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Children and Families, the Suicide Prevention and Exposure Lab, and the Kentucky Kinship Resource Center.

The program prepares graduates to work in hospitals, K-12 schools, and community-based nonprofit organizations. Many graduates also pursue graduate degrees in social work or related fields. Applicants must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA, a grade of 'B' or better in at least two prerequisite social work courses, and a passing grade in other prerequisites. The program also requires an application essay.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
95%
24

CUNY Hunter College 

New York, NY

About this school

The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College -- which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system -- offers a practice-based bachelor's degree in social work with a focus on care coordination and child welfare. Students gain skills in advocacy, engagement, assessment, and documentation. The program emphasizes human rights, professional identity, ethical principles, and research-informed practice.

Required courses include introduction to social work policy, human behavior in the social environment, social work practice in child welfare, and social work practice and learning laboratory. Social work majors can add a field of practice specialization in areas like sexuality and gender, criminal justice, child welfare, and school social work. Learners can access academic advising, writing help, counseling, and disability services.

Applicants must hold a minimum 2.75 GPA and complete the introduction to social work course with a grade of 'B' or better. They must also submit an essay or personal statement, a resume, and a fieldwork experience verification letter. The Silberman School of Social Work also offers an accelerated MSW degree pathway for eligible BSW students.

School Type
Public Non Profit
Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
96%
25

Catholic University of America 

Washington, DC

About this school

The bachelor of social work program from the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America provides a social work education grounded in Catholic social teaching.

Required courses include social welfare policy, social work research and statistics, human behavior and the social environment, and diversity in a multicultural society. Students also complete a 96-hour field placement in their junior year and a 480-hour field placement in their senior year.

Students have access to academic advising, campus ministry, counseling, and disability services. The social work school also offers research opportunities through its social work research centers, including the Center for the Promotion of Mental Health Well-Being and Catholics for Family Peace.

Admission requirements include official high school transcripts, at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, the Common App essay, and a secondary school report with a counselor letter.

School Type
Private Non Profit
Graduation Rate
66%
Percent Receiving Loans
95%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs Ranking Guidelines

We selected the following degree programs based on program quality and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

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.

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.

What Is a Bachelor's in Social Work Degree?

Pursuing a 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 bachelor of social work student has a passion for helping others. Some pursue a master's in social work immediately after graduating from 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.

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 a 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 bachelor's degree in social work curriculum often includes the following courses.

Diversity and Multiculturalism

All social workers assist clients from diverse backgrounds. To ensure each client feels comfortable and confident, social workers must have a nuanced understanding of human diversity and historic oppression. This class surveys social justice issues as they relate to a variety of populations. Learners examine theories and frameworks dedicated to creating equitable spaces for all people, regardless of how they identify.

Community Organization

Rather than focusing on one-on-one work with clients, this class takes a macro approach, exploring how to effectively engage with entire communities. Students learn how to identify common issues at the community and organizational levels, build relationships with important stakeholders, and develop appropriate programs to meet each community's needs.

Social Work Practice With Individuals and Families

This class provides students with practical and concrete tools for their everyday work. Students develop the interpersonal and communication skills required to work with clients of myriad backgrounds while also learning how to effectively conduct interviews and interventions, engage clients in appropriate ways, identify problem areas, and develop treatment plans.

Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Countless social, psychological, and physiological changes happen across the lifespan, making it important for social workers to understand how those changes affect client health. This course covers developmental milestones; how issues such as trauma, grief, and other intense emotions affect behavior; and how to provide effective treatments based on tests and assessments.

Social Welfare Policy

This class covers the history of social welfare policy, including current issues and trends affecting social workers. Students evaluate the effectiveness of previous service models and identify areas of weakness. They also learn how social welfare policy impacts major issues today, touching on mental health, eldercare, income maintenance, and correctional programs.

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

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.

Median Annual Salary

$50,090

Projected Growth Rate

22%

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

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.

Median Annual Salary

$53,020

Projected Growth Rate

3%

Social and Community Service Managers

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.

Median Annual Salary

$65,320

Projected Growth Rate

13%

Social Workers

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.

Median Annual Salary

$49,470

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

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.

Median Annual Salary

$44,630

Projected Growth Rate

22%

Social Work Professional Associations

There are many professional organizations that offer social workers networking opportunities, continuing education options, and leadership roles.

National Association of Social Workers

NASW is the leading professional organization for social workers in the United States. Founded in 1955, NASW currently serves more than 120,000 members, offering a career center, risk management training, networking opportunities, and advocacy. Members also gain access to scheduled events throughout the year, social media channels, and an active job board.

National Association of Black Social Workers

NABSW was founded during the Civil Rights Movement. Its mission is to ensure that African-American social work professionals receive equitable representation. Today, the group has more than 100 membership chapters, plus 30 student chapters headquartered at colleges and universities. Members benefit from committee leadership opportunities, trade publications, career center services, and opportunities for student involvement.

School Social Work Association of America

SSWAA is the premier membership organization for social workers employed in educational environments. It offers national and local awards, student programming, a webinar series, and opportunities for both online and in-person continuing education credits. SSWAA offers regional workshops and other professional development throughout the U.S., and members also gain access to its annual national conference, industry news, and university partnerships.

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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