Bachelor's Degrees in Social Work in California

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Updated January 4, 2023

Looking for the best Associate Degree in Social Work in California? You should consider these top-tier institutions and jobs in the social work field.

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Best Social Work Degrees in California

Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work in California

The best degrees in California for social work lead to increased salary and career prospects. There are many benefits to earning a bachelor's degree in a variety of fields. It is imperative that bachelor's degree candidates move forward in their field.

Those who hold a bachelor's degree typically earn about $1,334 per week.

Social Work Bachelor's Programs for You

Working and Living in California in the Social Work Profession

In order to become a social worker, one must earn a social work degree from an accredited university. There are many different types of social work degrees, but most programs cover common topics such as human behavior, social welfare policy, and research methods. Most social work programs also require students to complete a field placement, where they gain hands-on experience working with clients. Field placements can be completed in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools, or community organizations. After earning a social work degree, graduates can find jobs in a variety of settings, such as child welfare, mental health, and aging. Social workers often work in teams with other professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and case managers.

According to California's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all occupations is $47,920, or $23.04 an hour. This is true for the 16,529,810 workers in the state. According to the BLS, the lowest 10% of earners make about $29,780, while the highest 10% earn about $130,430. The following displays the earnings for social workers in California.

Key

Social Workers, All Other in California
Social Workers, All Other Nationally
All Occupations in California
All Occupations Nationally

Social Work Careers and Salaries in California

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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According to MERIC, California ranks number 49 out of 51 states (including Washington D.C.) in terms of the cost of living index. A cost of living index measures the average cost of living in specific states. As a whole, the U.S. average is set at 100, and every location in the U.S. has either a cost above (higher) or lower (lower) than the U.S. average. The cost of living index for California is 139.8, which is 39.8% higher than the national average. This table compares the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, and other items in California to the national average.

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Source: Missouri Research and Information Center
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There is an expected growth of 5.8% in social workers over the next decade. The BLS expects the occupation's total employment to change from 71,400 in 2020 to 75,500 in 2030. This position requires a bachelor's degree to qualify.

Best Social Work Degrees in California

#1 Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work in California

University of California, Berkeley

  • Berkeley, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

With its main campus in Berkeley, University of California, Berkeley facilitates in-person and online learning across 107 bachelor's programs. Students seeking the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the social work field can enroll in the school's online bachelor of arts in social welfare. Enrollees can also pivot to a master's program after their undergraduate studies.

Learners can access institutional support throughout the duration of the program. Students can meet with the financial aid office to explore funding opportunities and determine eligibility. The typical undergraduate receives an average of $19,323 in financial aid.

University of California, Berkeley at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 16%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $11,442

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $41,196

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $57,600

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
17%
Students Enrolled
42,327
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work in California

California State University, Long Beach

  • Long Beach, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

With its main campus in Long Beach, California State University, Long Beach facilitates in-person and online learning across 91 bachelor's programs. The bachelor of arts in social work is an impressive online program, equipping enrollees with industry-relevant knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a social work career. Degree-seekers can apply their learnings to a social work-specific career or toward a graduate degree.

Learners benefit from many resources throughout their studies, including career services and academic advising. Students seeking to defray the costs of their degree can meet with a financial aid counselor to discuss funding opportunities and determine eligibility. The institution reports that 81% of all degree candidates receive aid, with an average financial aid package totaling $9,098.

California State University, Long Beach at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 39%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 24-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $5,742

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $17,622

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $40,000

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
42%
Students Enrolled
40,069
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work in California

California State University, Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

With its main campus in Los Angeles, California State University, Los Angeles facilitates in-person and online learning across 67 bachelor's programs. The bachelor of arts in social work is one of many robust programs, equipping students with industry-relevant knowledge. The program also prepares enrollees for the discipline needed to complete graduate studies.

Degree candidates can access institutional support throughout the duration of the program. Prospective applicants can connect with financial aid counselors to explore funding opportunities, determine eligibility, and apply for student loans. The college reports that 94% of all students receive some form of financial aid, with $11,289 being the average award package.

California State University, Los Angeles at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 48%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 24-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $5,742

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $17,622

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $37,200

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
26,745
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#4 Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work in California

San Diego State University

  • San Diego, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

San Diego State University leads in hybrid education, supporting 92 bachelor's degrees, two of which are available online. The school's bachelor's in social work program prepares students for the demands of the social work field through rigorous study. Enrollees can apply their learnings to a social work-specific career or toward a graduate degree.

The college supports degree-seekers through institutional resources, including career services and academic advising. The college provides numerous funding opportunities to eligible students, including scholarships and fellowships. The college's undergraduate cohort receives an average of $8,233 in financial aid per person.

San Diego State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 34%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 27-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $5,742

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $17,622

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $41,600

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
36,334
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work in California

California State University, Fresno

  • Fresno, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California State University, Fresno, a public college located in Fresno, supports both in-person and online learning across 68 bachelor's programs. Enrollees seeking flexible study relevant to the social work field can benefit from the school's bachelor of arts in social work. Students can also apply their knowledge to further studies in social work, such as a master's degree.

Learners can receive guidance throughout their studies through career services, academic advising, and other resources. The financial aid office can assist students in connecting with funding opportunities and determine eligibility. The average financial aid package totals $10,256, with 89% of all enrollees receiving some form of aid.

California State University, Fresno at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 58%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 23-to-1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $5,742

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $17,622

Average Alumni Earnings After Six Years: $37,200

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
25,497
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Financing a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Financial aid is available to help students lower the cost of a degree. The financial aid you can obtain can help you pay for your degree. Some students also pay for their degree with federal and private student loans. You should also check with the colleges you are considering to find out if they offer scholarships to applicants. Therefore, you should research ahead of time to determine what kind of financial assistance is available to you.

Checklist for Maximizing Your Financial Aid:

Average Cost of Attending College in California

Depending on the institution, college costs in California vary. In spite of this, there are some commonalities that exist among institutions of all sizes. In order to determine whether attending a public institution is right for you, please review the information below.

Public 4-Year School Tuition Rates: California vs. National Average

Key

California
National Average

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The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
End of interactive chart.

Could you consider attending a private college or university? The costs of private schools tend to be higher in general, which is to be expected. You will find more information about attending private colleges in California below.

Private 4-Year School Tuition Rates: California vs. National Average

Key

California
National Average

Chart

Bar chart with 5 bars.
The chart has 1 X axis displaying salary types.
The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
End of interactive chart.

Federal Student Loan Information

Have you ever considered borrowing student loans to pay for your education? If you are considering taking out a loan, there are a few things you should consider.

Take a look at the following data to learn what students typically borrow.

Undergraduate Federal Loans
Demographic Percent who borrowed Amount borrowed
Total 66.6% $27,400
Female 69.6% $28,100
Male 62.5% $26,500
White, not Hispanic or Latino 66.1% $26,700
Black, not Hispanic or Latino 85.7% $34,800
Hispanic or Latino/a, of any race 67.7% $25,700
Asian, not Hispanic or Latino 43% $22,700
Other or Two or more races, not Hispanic or Latino 70.4% $28,300
Source: NCES

Online vs. On Campus

Pros and Cons: Online Degrees

Pros

  • Cheaper tuition
  • Flexible, asynchronous classwork
  • No on-campus fees for parking, tech, etc.

Cons

  • Less structure
  • Minimal peer-to-peer interaction
  • Less facetime with professor
  • No access to on-campus amenities

Pros and Cons: On-Campus Degrees

Pros

  • Gym, library, etc. access
  • Smaller class options
  • Face time with peers and professors

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Transportation or housing costs
  • Rigid scheduling
The primary differences between an online degree and a degree completed on-campus are cost and class size. There are many advantages to studying online, including flexibility, affordability, and convenience. Due to student fees being optional for distance learners, on-campus degrees are typically more expensive. For many students, there are advantages to attending classes on a regular basis.

Top Social Work Degree Options Available by State
State Degree Level
California Masters, Doctorate
Florida Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Georgia Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Illinois Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
New York Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
North Carolina Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Pennsylvania Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Texas Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Virginia Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Washington Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Private vs. Public

There are many differences that exist among both public and private colleges. Generally, public colleges charge lower tuition rates than private colleges. At public institutions, costs are set by the government and therefore covered by state-funded grants and scholarships. Based on the student's previous academic performance, private colleges often offer merit scholarships to them.

In addition, private colleges tend to have smaller classes, so students have more opportunity to speak with professors one-on-one and learn what's possible in their chosen field. An overview of the pros and cons of attending a private institution versus a public institution is provided below.

Pros and Cons

Private

  • Unique program offerings
  • Cultural or religious options
  • Local prestige
  • Higher costs
  • Less regulatory oversight

Public

  • Government-issued tuition costs
  • Government funding, benefits, and regulation
  • Oftentimes large classrooms

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the wages for social workers in California?

In California, social workers make a mean salary of $68,540.

Are occupations for social work graduates in high demand?

The total number of social workers is expected to change by 5.8% from 2020 to 2030.

Can you earn a bachelor's in social work online?

A bachelor's degree in social work can be earned online. In today's environment, most schools offer some type of online program.

In order to complete a bachelor's degree, how long does it typically take?

For full-time students, it takes an average of four years to complete a bachelor's degree. Some students complete the program faster than others.

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