Affordable Associate Degrees In Social Work

Social workers need strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. Students can pursue an AA, AS, or AAS in social work.

Updated August 29, 2023 · 5 Min Read is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Get Life Started with an Associate in Social Work

Individuals who value social justice and enjoy supporting other people often succeed as social workers. Interdisciplinary and versatile, social work degrees can lead to roles such as counselor, case manager, and clinical social worker. Social workers can specialize in a subfield such as forensic, geriatric, or pediatric social work. Licensed social workers often need at least a bachelor's degree. However, some states allow candidates to apply professional experience toward the education requirement.

Social workers earn a median annual salary of $50,470, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects a robust job growth rate of 13% for social workers from 2019-2029. Students earning an associate degree in social work receive a foundational education that can prepare them for advanced degrees and entry-level jobs. Common positions for professionals with an associate degree in social work include home health aide, community outreach worker, case management aid, and social work assistant.

Applicants to associate in social work programs typically need a high school or GED diploma and a minimum 2.0-3.0 GPA. Some programs also require above-average standardized test scores. This page features information about the requirements, benefits, and goals of social work associate degrees.

Featured Online Associate Degrees in Social Work

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Are the Goals of a Social Work Degree?

Students can pursue an AA, AS, or AAS in social work. AA programs typically include more general liberal arts coursework, while AS and AAS curricula focus more heavily on topics specific to social work. Graduates with an AA or AS in social work often earn a related bachelor's degree. AAS programs are ideal for learners who plan to pursue entry-level jobs after graduation.

Social work associate programs typically cover topics including psychology, crisis intervention, and public health issues. Some social work programs offer specialization options in areas such as direct practice and community practice.

Why Get a Social Work Degree?

Social work degrees often lead to many benefits, such as communication skills, meaningful and varied career options, and networking opportunities. Social work associate degrees also prepare learners for more advanced education in the field.

  • Useful Communication Skills

    Social work degrees help learners develop listening, speaking, and writing skills. Graduates can apply these abilities to many careers.
  • Meaningful Work

    Social workers often help people with mental and physical health problems and oppression. This work often proves difficult yet highly rewarding.
  • Diverse Career Directions

    An associate in social work can lead to diverse careers in counseling, administration, case management, and community organizing.
  • Networking Opportunities

    Many associate in social work programs offer opportunities for students to network with professionals and peers. Learners often form connections during group work and practicum experiences.
  • BSW and MSW Preparation

    Social work associate degrees prepare students for bachelor's in social work programs. Many bachelor's degree-holders pursue a master's in the field to qualify for clinical social work licensure.

What Are the Requirements for a Social Work Degree

Many social work programs accept recent high school graduates, GED-holders, and transfer students. The best social work programs usually prefer applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA, participation in extracurricular activities, and high SAT or ACT scores.

Associate degrees typically require about 60 credits of interdisciplinary coursework, including classes in sociology, psychology, and social work. Many programs also feature practicum experiences, which help students cultivate practical skills.

Professional Organizations for Social Work Students

Social work students and professionals often benefit from joining professional organizations. Many of these groups offer scholarships, networking opportunities, professional certifications, and career development resources. Professional organizations may also disseminate relevant research and provide information that can help students plan their career. The list below highlights three popular professional organizations for social workers.

The world's largest membership organization for social workers, NASW represents more than 120,000 members. The organization offers continuing education and a career center, and members can earn professional credentials from the association. NASW also establishes professional practice standards and advocates for just, effective social policies. This global organization comprises 141 social work associations and more than 3 million social workers. IFSW advocates for human rights, social justice, and social development in five major global regions. The organization provides information, hosts events, and maintains commissions focusing on certain issues. This nonprofit association represents more than 2,500 members, including social work schools and agencies. CSWE hosts conferences, offers leadership and development opportunities, and accredits social work programs in the United States.

Scholarships for Social Work Students

Like many college students, learners pursuing a social work associate degree often qualify for scholarships based on academic merit, financial need, and identity. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them an ideal form of funding. The following list features three scholarships available to qualifying social work degree-seekers.

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports college and professional school students who are passionate about progressive economic and social justice causes. Candidates who live and work in the U.S. receive preference. Applicants submit two reference letters, financial need documentation, and a personal statement.

Amount: Up to $15,000, renewable annually

Patty-Gibbs Wahlberg Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work awards this scholarship to chapter members attending accredited undergraduate social work programs. Candidates must demonstrate academic merit, leadership potential, and a strong service record.

Amount: $1,000-$3,000, plus conference funding

Pride Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports LGBTQ+ students and allies pursuing social work-related programs. Applicants must reside in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, or Idaho. Strong candidates usually demonstrate leadership potential and face educational access barriers.

Amount: Varies

Common Associates in Social Work Questions

Can I work as a social worker with an associate degree?

An associate degree in social work can help graduates qualify for entry-level roles, such as social and human service assistant and case management aide.

How much do social workers make with an associate degree?

According to the BLS, social and human service assistants earn a median annual salary of $35,060.

How long does a social work degree take?

Most associate in social work degrees require two years. However, some accelerated programs take only 12-15 months to complete.

What skills does a social worker need?

Social workers need strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. These professionals must also understand how various human service systems and agencies work.

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