The Best Online Degree Programs In Social Work 2020

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If you have a genuine desire to help others manage life’s challenges, a job as a social worker may suit you. Social workers help people cope with addiction, depression, homelessness, abandonment, and joblessness.

If you aspire to earn a social work degree but you wonder how to afford college, keep reading. This guide features the most affordable colleges, including the most affordable online social work degrees. Continue reading for answers to common questions about social work education such as program availability, accreditation, income potential, and career options.

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Top 10 Best Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Social Work

Rank School Location
1 Mary Baldwin University Staunton, VA
2 Huntington University Huntington, IN
3 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME
4 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
5 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
6 Ursuline College Pepper Pike, OH
7 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI
8 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA
9 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR
10 Aurora University Aurora, IL

The Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Social Work for 2020

Best Online Bachelor's

The schools in this ranking represent some of the most affordable online bachelor’s degree programs in social work.

Aside from affordability, these schools also score highly in several other relevant factors, such as availability of specialization areas, accreditation, and internship opportunities.

  1. Mary Baldwin University

    Staunton, VA



    MBU, a small private institution founded in 1842, offers more than 30 online distance learning degrees. The school's affordable online social work degree allows students to take concentrations in medical or school social work. Classes give degree-seekers practical skills to interview individuals and families, manage on-the-job stress, and conduct interventions. Students can take most classes online, except for five courses which learners must complete in a group setting at regional centers in Virginia. The program offers night and weekend class options. Additionally, degree-seekers must complete a 450-hour practicum in their senior year. The practicum takes about 14 weeks to complete and gives learners the option to work internationally in Haiti or Honduras. Mary Baldwin University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  2. Huntington University

    Huntington, IN



    Huntington University, a private Christian liberal arts school founded in 1897, features more than 70 undergraduate, graduate, and pre-professional programs. The university offers eight distance learning programs, including the online bachelor's in social work degree. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the program provides a Christian-based education that can lead to licensure in all states. The 128-credit degree helps working professionals grow in the field of social work. It also prepares them to earn a master's in counseling. With shortened five-week semesters, learners take weekly classes that follow an asynchronous format. The program covers social policy, intercultural immersion preparation, and professional interviewing. While courses take place online, students also participate in practicums and shadow social workers to get hands-on experience. The practicum requires students to complete 450 hours of fieldwork. Huntington University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  3. Saint Joseph's College of Maine

    Standish, ME



    A private Catholic school on a 474-acre campus on Sebago Lake, SJC offers several affordable online degrees. With a broad curriculum, the online bachelor's in social work degree prepares students to work as generalists. Courses teach students about quantitative methods and data analysis, writing for social work, addiction and abuse, research, and policy. The program's cohort format ensures that students can engage with faculty and classmates throughout their studies. Most online classes offer asynchronous formats which let learners tailor their school schedule. However, degree-seekers also must complete fieldwork. They gain practical skills through two internships, including a one-year position. After completing this degree, students can earn advanced standing in a master's social work program. The curriculum also prepares graduates to earn their social work license. SJC accepts employer tuition reimbursement. The application process is free. Saint Joseph's College of Maine is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

  4. University of Utah

    Salt Lake City, UT



    Established in 1850, the University of Utah features more than 100 undergraduate degrees, including an affordable online bachelor's in social work degree. Students receive flat-rate tuition. Out-of-state learners who take online classes can also benefit from in-state rates. The program consists of classes in social work statistics, social diversity, community-based research, social welfare policy, and research. On average, degree-seekers take 12-15 credits a semester and graduate in 3-4 semesters. Graduates find careers in family services, aging and gerontology, human services, and juvenile justice. Online classes at this affordable online college offer an interactive learning experience where students collaborate in group assignments. Learners also complete in-person fieldwork. Students who want to work with children and families can qualify for the Child Welfare Title IV-E Career Path grant, which includes in-state tuition, a stipend of $1,100, a $500 incentive, and job placement. The University of Utah is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

  5. Misericordia University

    Dallas, PA



    Based in northeast Pennsylvania, MU features a 121-credit online bachelor's in social work degree that provides students an accelerated path to graduate in as few as two years. With a blended hybrid and online format, the program appeals to working adults. Students can start at any time in the year and begin by taking prerequisites and elective classes in sequential order. Courses give degree-seekers a foundation in comparative sociology, social problems, cultural minorities, and basic statistics. MU maintains partnerships with agencies that allow students to complete their fieldwork on the weekends or in the evenings. Degree-seekers must complete 600 hours of supervised fieldwork. Graduates receive the training to earn their social work license in Pennsylvania and other states. After earning a degree, students can enter a master's in social work program with advanced standing. Online students receive discounted tuition. Misericordia University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  6. Ursuline College

    Pepper Pike, OH



    Ursuline College offers accelerated degrees available on campus in Pepper Pike, Ohio, and online. The online bachelor's in social work degree allows working adults to advance their careers and obtain licensure or enter grad school. Learners take 15-week semesters with classes that teach a generalist practice. Classes focus on research methods, theory, human behavior and social environment, and social welfare. In the final year, professors consider each student's career goals to place them in local agencies for their fieldwork. While in the program, students take 15 graduate-level classes that prepare them for advanced placement in a master's in social work program at Western Reserve University. Applicants must complete prerequisites, including taking the SW 338 theory course. Once they apply, degree-seekers receive an admission decision within two weeks. The application must include two recommendation letters. Ursuline College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  7. Spring Arbor University

    Spring Arbor, MI



    Established in 1873, SAU delivers a Christian-centered education with traditional on-campus and online classes. The university features online programs in nursing, business, communications, education, organizational management, and social work. SAU's online bachelor's in social work degree lets students complete their education entirely online. While learners study from a distance, they receive guidance from a faculty member throughout their education. The 124-credit program also requires an internship in which students must complete a minimum of 400 hours in the field. Courses provide degree-seekers with practical social work skills from a Christian perspective. Students take classes in racial and ethnic relations, interviewing, biblical perspectives, and social welfare policies. Eligible learners can also qualify for a child welfare endorsement and receive specialized training opportunities. Applicants must submit an online application, autobiographical essay, and writing sample. The admission office gives preference to students currently working in the field. Spring Arbor University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  8. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Natchitoches, LA



    NSU provides classes from its historic campus built more than 130 years ago in Natchitoches. The university also offers more than 40 online programs through eNSU. The school's 120-credit online bachelor's in social work degree, a program offered since 1970, teaches students a generalist approach that applies to a variety of different social work careers. In the program's final year, students complete two semesters in supervised fieldwork. Graduates can pursue entry-level positions in child welfare, aging, alcohol and substance abuse, and mental health and illness. Individuals can also transfer degree credits toward a master's in social work degree. Out-of-state students enrolled in an online degree do not pay out-of-state fees. NSU also discounts tuition after 12 credits. Students only pay $100 per credit after 12 credits. Northwestern State University of Louisiana is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

  9. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    Little Rock, AR



    UA Little Rock offers more than 60 undergraduate and 40 graduate programs. The online bachelor's in social work degree gives students a foundation in a generalist practice that can translate to many different careers. The 120-credit program includes required courses in social welfare policy, statistics, methods of social work research, addictions, and human behavior. In the fall and spring semesters of their final year, students must complete 16 hours a week for their internship. Learners complete a total of 240 hours in fieldwork every semester at local agencies. UA Little Rock maintains transfer agreements with local two-year schools which allows students with prior college credit to earn their degree in two years. All online students pay flat-rate tuition. The school's social work program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, only accepts Arkansas residents. University of Arkansas at Little Rock is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  10. Aurora University

    Aurora, IL



    Aurora University offers online degrees available in accelerated five- and eight-week sessions, specifically for working professionals. The online bachelor's in social work degree prepares students to become licensed social workers in Illinois or transfer with advanced standing to a master's in social work program. Depending on students' transfer credits, this 120-credit program takes 2-4 years to complete. Required classes include social welfare, human behavior in the social environment, individuals and families, and social work research. To qualify for the licensure exam, individuals need two years of work experience in addition to the degree. Degree-seekers can save money since instructors use free open education resource materials instead of textbooks. Applicants can transfer up to 68 credits from an associate degree or 90 credits from a four-year college. Aurora University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  • Methodology


    • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution
    • Offers at least one masters-level program in Communications
    • At least some portion of coursework may be taken via distance education

    Ranking Metrics:

    • Number of specializations available in Communications from the institution
    • Availability of internship, work experience, and/or practicum opportunities
    • Delivery method (fully online vs. online-campus hybrid)
    • Availability of academic and/or career counseling services
    • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates
    • Average 3-year student loan default rate
    • Tuition (determined by tuition costs to complete the program for in-state students, not including additional fees)

    PBV* is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.Data Sources

    • Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information. Most recent “Final Release” data available.
    • In addition, we use the Department of Education Federal Student Aid office’s (Link: data on 3-Year Student Default Rates. The most recent release date is September 2017.
    • Finally, additional data regarding delivery method and cost information has been verified on the institutions websites as of April 2018.

How Much Can You Make in a Social Work Career?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes a median annual salary of $49,470 for social workers in 2018, which is higher than the median salary of $38,640 for all other professions. The job outlook for social workers remains positive, with BLS projecting an 11% growth rate for the profession from 2018 to 2028. By contrast, the average projected growth rate for all other professions for the same period is only 5%.

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Where you establish your career as a social worker greatly impacts your income potential. The District of Columbia pays the highest median wage for social workers ($82,900) followed by Hawaii ($81,790), Rhode Island ($75,710), Massachusetts ($75,340), and Nevada ($75,020).

The table below illustrates the different jobs you may qualify for with a bachelor’s in social work from an accredited institution. Note that some jobs are in related professional arenas rather than strictly within the social work field.

  • Social Workers

    Social workers assist communities by helping individuals during transitional times, linking families to financial resources, and creating programs that address community issues. Social workers may also investigate child abuse reports or tend to mentally ill clients. Other responsibilities include record keeping, making return visits to homes to determine progress, and carefully considering each situation to identify specific needs.

    Median Annual Salary: $49,470

    Learn More

  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

    Counselors help people struggling with addiction or mental illness by assessing treatment needs and choosing applicable treatment programs. Additional tasks include discussing treatment plans with clients, informing clients of negative behavioral patterns, and recommending external programs that may help with recovery.

    Median Annual Salary: $44,630

    Learn More

  • Social and Human Service Assistants

    Professional responsibilities vary depending on a worker’s focus. For instance, some assistants help financially struggling parents acquire food stamps, while others help individuals with special needs locate rehabilitation organizations. These workers create treatment itineraries, assist clients with bathing or other common tasks, and touch base with clients to evaluate program effectiveness.

    Median Annual Salary: $33,750

    Learn More

  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

    These officers and specialists administer drug tests for people on probation or parole. They also discuss an individual’s progress with friends and family. Additional responsibilities may include assessing rehabilitation needs and providing information about helpful programs and organizations. At times, these workers may supply court testimonies regarding parolees and probationers; thus, they should keep updated records regarding their clients.

    Median Annual Salary: $53,020

    Learn More

  • Social and Community Service Managers

    Social and community service managers identify community issues by consulting local citizens and then oversee programs that tend to these needs. Specifically, managers recommend strategies to improve programs, assess the impact of programs, and help secure additional funding. These employees can work for organizations that focus on specific groups, including veterans, the elderly, or the homeless.

    Median Annual Salary: $65,320

    Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do social workers need a license?

    All states require doctorate-trained clinical social workers to obtain a license before they can practice. Most states require social workers with a master’s degree to be licensed as well, whether they engage in clinical practice or not. Many states issue an initial license for social workers who have completed a bachelor’s degree in the field from an accredited college or university.

  • How long does it take to become a social worker?

    A bachelor’s degree in social work typically takes four years to complete. Pursuing a master’s program usually means another two years of study. Some schools accept bachelor of social work (BSW) graduates as advanced-standing students, which means they can earn a master of social work (MSW) in just one year. Most doctoral programs in social work take 3-5 years to complete. Clinical psychologists need a doctor of social work (DSW) to practice in most states.

  • Will I need to complete fieldwork?

    The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requires BSW students to complete at least 400 fieldwork hours before graduation. MSW students must complete at least 900 fieldwork hours. Some states require more fieldwork hours. Most states require DSW students to complete at least two years of post-MSW supervised clinical practice prior to licensure.

  • What other occupations can I get if I pursue a master's?

    An MSW from an accredited institution qualifies you for a variety of client-focused jobs such as clinical mental health social worker, substance abuse counselor, child welfare case worker, and school case worker. You can also explore a career in academia as a postsecondary instructor. However, you likely must complete a Ph.D. in social work to qualify for tenure.

  • How should I select courses?

    Whether you pursue an on-campus or online social work program, you should enroll in courses that reflect your professional interests. Some schools allow students to create an individual plan of study. Learners take classes with a specific focus to create their own field of specialization. If you know what you want to cover in your thesis or dissertation, select the courses that expand your understanding of those topics.

Find the Best Online Social Work Program for You


Although colleges and universities do not need accreditation, schools throughout the country work hard to maintain their accreditation since it is a reliable and consistent measure of academic excellence. Schools complete the rigorous accreditation process to assure academic stakeholders of the quality of their educational programs and the soundness of their institution as a whole.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee organizations that grant regional, national, or programmatic accreditation. Regional accrediting bodies focus on degree-granting, nonprofit private and public institutions. National accrediting bodies focus more on vocational or trade for-profit schools and sectarian institutions. Programmatic accrediting bodies focus on specific fields or programs. In the social work field, CSWE accredits programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

If you plan to apply for financial aid, be sure to enroll in an accredited school since ED channels funding only through accredited colleges and universities.

Specialties and Fields of Study in Social Work

Majoring in social work opens up many professional avenues. You can work with a specific demographic such as the elderly or children, or you can specialize in a particular function or role such as case administrator, community organizer, or trauma and disaster expert. Many social work programs offer the five common specialty areas below.

Child and Family Social Workers

This popular specialization often requires providing intervention services to prevent the abuse or neglect of children and vulnerable family members. Child and family social workers help their clients find temporary or permanent housing and apply for and qualify for benefits. They also assist in adoptions and family unification.

Community Organizers

These social workers help organize groups around a common cause. They often take on advocacy roles and spearhead fundraising efforts. They also assist in grant writing efforts. Community organizers help bring a group’s message to a larger audience through various marketing, social media, and public relations initiatives.

Corrections Counselors

Social workers who choose to build a career in justice and corrections often work as crisis workers, juvenile probations counselors, or victim advocates. Many work in the public defender’s office, parole agencies, state and federal facilities, and women’s shelters.

Healthcare Social Workers

Patients who need assistance in dealing with illness or transitioning home from the hospital sometimes need the services of a healthcare social worker. These professionals provide services such as finding a reliable home health aide, locating a support group, and securing health benefits for their clients.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

These professionals help clients dealing with a variety of mental health problems or addiction issues. They also often work with the family and close associates of their clients to help them cope with their mentally ill or addicted loved one.

Common Courses Taken for an Online Social Work Degree

Social work encompasses several specialization areas. Since each school offers coursework that supports its social work specializations, courses vary by school. However, many institutions offer the five foundation classes below.

Diversity and Multiculturalism

Degree-seekers develop basic knowledge and skills necessary for work with culturally diverse populations. They study the theories of socioeconomic justice and how discrimination affects vulnerable populations. Students also learn how to engage in evidence-based social work practice.

Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Students learn about a variety of social environmental factors such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, and disability. They explore how these factors affect human behavior and lifespan development. Degree-seekers study the value of interacting with individuals, families, groups, and communities within the context of social environments.

Introduction to Social Work

Learners explore generalist social work practice and the different field settings where they can work. They also study emerging field issues, regulations and legal developments, and professional ethics and values.

Policy and Advocacy

Students learn how to analyze and formulate social policies and how to address policy issues in a collaborative manner. They study the legislative process and the values that underpin social policies. Degree-seekers learn how to develop effective advocacy plans that advance well-being.

Social Work Research

This course introduces students to quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research. Learners explore ethical research standards and methodology and how these concepts relate to social work practice. They learn how to use research to enrich and inform their own social work practice and address the diverse needs of the groups and individuals they serve.

Internships and Practicums in Social Work

Social work programs typically require students to complete an internship or practicum during their junior or senior year. Both experiences familiarize degree-seekers with the duties and responsibilities of social work practice in the real world. Under close supervision of a qualified social work practitioner, learners can perform the type of work they will complete as social workers.

Degree-seekers usually spend the same amount of time in a practicum setting as they would in a college class, which is normally just a few hours each week. Most practicum experiences last one semester. Internship programs often require more hours and often last an entire year. Facilities that accept interns tend to assign higher-level duties to them than they would to a student in a practicum program.

Colleges and universities work closely with social work agencies and other facilities in need of social work services to ensure that their students complete their internship or practicum in a safe and suitable environment. Online students may need to find their own internship or practicum provider, which they must submit to their school for approval.

Attending Online vs. On Campus

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that more than 6.6 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in online courses during the 2017-18 school year. This data reveals that online learning has become a permanent fixture in the U.S. educational arena.

Many students enroll in online courses because of geographical and scheduling flexibility. They can attend classes from anywhere with internet connection. And, since most schools offer asynchronous classes, learners can also access their courses at their convenience.

Distance learners also enjoy cost savings by pursuing cheap online degrees. They do not incur transportation and lodging costs or other on-campus expenses. You can make your affordable online social work degree even more cost-effective by researching a school’s tuition policy for online learners. Some universities charge online enrollees the same tuition as in-state students, no matter where they reside. Since tuition often comprises a major portion of college expenses, the savings can add up quickly.

Learn more about affordable online colleges on this website.

A Career in Social Work

Image of Dr. Amanda Keys

Dr. Amanda Keys is a licensed clinical social worker and is currently the BSW coordinator at Missouri State University. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a BSW and MSW from Missouri State University.

Dr. Keys has more than 10 years of experience as a local, regional, and national presenter and author. Prior to academia, she worked in a variety of child welfare positions in Missouri for more than a decade.

Why did you choose to pursue a social work career? Has this field always interested you?

I have always been passionate about helping others. However, it took changing my undergraduate major five different times for me to finally figure out what that looked like.

My last major prior to social work was elementary education. I chose this degree because I loved working with children. While this is an amazing degree option for some, I realized the semester I completed student teaching that it wasn’t the right option for me. During student teaching, I found myself wanting to spend more time helping students with social and emotional issues and less time addressing their academic needs.

By the end of the semester, I knew that I had to look for a different way to help others. I started asking anyone I knew who was in a helping job what degree I should get. Consistently, the answer was social work. I knew nothing about social work and spent several weeks researching what I could do with this degree. I learned that a social work degree was even better than I thought it would be.

This degree not only allows me to help children, but it also opened the door for me to help in other ways. Getting a social work degree provided me with job opportunities to work with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Therefore, I felt that choosing a social work degree gave me so many more options to demonstrate my passion for helping.

What was the job search like after completing your bachelor’s in social work?

I had a job offer before I graduated with my bachelor’s degree. I had three job offers before I graduated with my master’s degree. I have never applied for any social work job without someone contacting me and asking me to apply for it before the position opened. This experience is common for many social work professionals.

What jobs have you had in the social work field? Which did you prefer the most, and why?

I spent more than a decade in child welfare before becoming a professor. My first job was in case management, and my last job was as an administrator in a statewide child welfare agency. I also spent two years in part-time private practice, providing therapy to children and their families.

I have enjoyed aspects of each job. When I worked in case management, I loved getting to spend time in families’ homes, building rapport and witnessing first-hand their successes. In my role as an administrator, I enjoyed making agency policy changes that would help provide better service to our clients. I also loved setting my own schedule and being my own boss when I was working in private practice.

What are some crucial skills that you acquired through your BSW program?

My BSW program taught me how to engage, empathize, assess, advocate, and be a policy change agent for individuals, families, groups, communities, and the larger society. I learned how to work with any type of client system. Additionally, I learned how to be a social justice advocate. When I turn on the news and see stories of inequality, I feel fortunate to possess a skill set that helps me change this.

What are some of the day-to-day challenges you face in your work?

The biggest challenge is when someone makes a choice that hurts them or others. I have worked with individuals who were doing so well in sobriety and then sabotaged their own success. This can be challenging when you have built rapport with clients and have been their biggest advocate and empowerer.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of a social work career?

The most rewarding aspect for me is having the ability to impact generations that have yet to be born when we intervene and provide supportive services. I also like that social work can look different every day. Social workers seldom do the same activities each day. Therefore, if you get bored easily, you can explore social work jobs with a job description featuring “other duties as assigned.”

What changes would you like to see in the typical curriculum for a BSW program?

BSW programs should remember their roots in social justice. Our profession’s founder dedicated her life to advocating with and for people who did not have the same opportunities as she did. I wish all BSW programs required at least one class solely devoted to providing experiential activities for students to demonstrate ways to increase equality and access for all.

What advice would you give to students who are considering a bachelor’s degree in social work?

Don’t wait to contact your university’s social work program. Each BSW program has its own admission policies. Contact your desired school immediately to ensure that you have the prerequisite courses you need to apply. Also, make sure that you only consider CSWE-accredited programs. This is the only recognized social work accreditor for social work programs.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Social Work

Colleges and universities often give online students access to the same financial assistance packages as on-campus enrollees. Scholarship funding typically comes from colleges and universities, special-interest groups, and private organizations. Most grant packages come from state and federal governments and are often channeled through schools for disbursement. Federal student loans offer lower interest rates than private loans and easier repayment plans.

Begin your search for affordable online social work degrees by completing the FAFSA. The information you provide determines which federal financial aid program you qualify for and how much aid you are eligible to receive.

Scholarships for Social Work Students

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: Applicants must submit an essay of no more than 1,000 words explaining their involvement in the struggle against any form of oppression and their goals for social change. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: Up to $15,000/year

James M. & Erma T. Freemont Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students pursuing an accredited degree in a helping profession, including social work, may apply. Candidates must be enrolled in a historically black college or university.

Amount: Varies

National Association of Black Social Workers

Who Can Apply: NABSW administers several scholarship programs open to full-time students of African descent pursuing an accredited social work program. Applicants must present demonstrable service to the black community and have at least a 2.5 GPA.

Amount: Varies

National Pathfinder Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Social work majors with demonstrable special interest in preventing drug and alcohol abuse can apply for this scholarship sponsored by the National Federation of Republican Women.

Amount: $2,500

Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Sponsored by the Phi Alpha Society for Social Work, this scholarship accepts applications from members with outstanding scholastic achievement, strong leadership qualities, and a verifiable service record.

Amount: $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000

After Graduation: Options for Social Work

Advancing Your Social Work Degree

Master’s programs in social work typically take two years to complete. However, some schools give advanced-standing status to graduates of an accredited BSW program, which can lead to an MSW degree in just one year. MSW programs allow students to enroll in courses that center on their preferred area of social work practice.

A doctoral program in social work requires 45-60 credits beyond the master’s level. Ph.D. students typically enroll in 2-3 years of coursework before writing their dissertation, which can take another 2-3 years. Online master’s and Ph.D. social work programs maintain similar requirements for admission and completion as on-campus programs.

Certifications and Licensure

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) administers five exams for social work licensure at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalist, and clinical levels. All states require clinical social workers to obtain a license prior to practicing, but not all states support the five levels of licensure administered by the ASWB.

Every state maintains specific licensure requirements, which can vary greatly. However, all states require licensure applicants to show proof of completion of a CSWE-accredited program at the level required by the license for which they are applying. Be sure to check the licensure requirements of the state where you plan to establish your social work practice.

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