Best Online Social Work Degrees 2022

To become a licensed social worker, learners first pursue a bachelor's degree, which typically takes four years. Online courses offer greater flexibility.

January 3, 2022 , Modified on March 21, 2022

Best Online Social Work Degrees 2022

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Online Social Work Degree

Social work includes many career paths in public and private sectors. Many BSW graduates work for government or nonprofit organizations focused on social services. Some social workers serve specific populations, including students, aging adults, families, or people with substance use disorders.

To qualify for BSW programs, applicants need a high school or GED diploma and a good GPA. Application requirements include official transcripts and a personal essay. Some schools require standardized test scores and recommendation letters.

Online social work degrees feature sociology, human services, and psychology classes. Learners also take courses in the history of social work, policy development, and advocacy. Students have the option to complete specialized tracks in chosen fields, such as corrections, rehabilitation, families, trauma, or social work policy.

The BSW qualifies graduates for entry-level social work roles. Many BSW graduates go on to master's programs since licensed clinical social workers need an MSW for clinical licensure. Learn more about online social work programs and careers below.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work

How much does it cost to get an online degree?

As of August 2021, four-year public college tuition for in-state students averages $9,580 annually, totaling around $40,000 for a four-year bachelor's degree. Private or out-of-state tuition costs much more than in-state public school tuition.

How long does it take to earn a degree online?

Traditional BSW programs usually take four years of full-time enrollment. Transfer students or learners in accelerated programs lower their time-to-graduation.

How much do social workers make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a $51,760 median annual salary for social workers.

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Social Work Programs Online

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in Social Work?

Studying social work builds transferable skills in empathy, interpersonal communication, and cultural competence. The field prepares candidates to support individual clients and intervene with policy and management to address evolving societal systems. Many online social work programs let students participate asynchronously, while some offer live session classes. By completing schoolwork during after-work hours, online learners can keep working while advancing their education.

Online social work degrees support career possibilities in mental health, corrections and rehabilitation, and family services. The BLS projects an above-average growth rate of 12% for social workers during 2020-2030. Earning degrees in this field can help graduates qualify for in-demand, secure employment.

How Much Does a Social Work Degree Cost?

EducationData.org reports that total U.S. college costs currently average about $35,720 annually. Students pay about $53,950 at private nonprofit schools and about $25,620 at in-state public institutions annually. Online social work bachelor's degrees traditionally require four years, so the total degree costs could exceed $100,000. These amounts estimate the total attendance costs, including university fees, room and board, and school supplies.

Prices vary by school and location. Tuition at two-year colleges costs a fraction of what four-year schools charge. Many students earn associate degrees from community colleges before transferring to four-year schools. Aspiring BSWs save money on transportation and residency costs by pursuing their degrees online.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online students often pay less for college. Distance learners do not live on campus, so they do not pay on-campus room, board, and fees. However, online students may need to pay for good computers and internet service at home. Distance learners might also need to pay for technical support.

Other costs include books and supplies, graduation fees, and post-graduation certification or licensure fees. Some programs require online enrollees to visit campus periodically, sometimes for short residencies. Travel costs add up for faraway students, so check residency requirements for prospective programs before applying.

How Much Do Social Work Graduates Make?

Online social work degree-holders pursue many rewarding career paths, such as human services specialists or therapists. Many social workers provide direct support to clients navigating issues such as addiction, poverty, and incarceration.

Social worker salaries vary based on position, employer, and credentials. According to the BLS, the lowest-paid 10% of social workers earn less than $33,020. The top-paid 10% earn over $85,820. Social and community service managers make a $69,600 median annual wage. The highest-paid 10% of these managers earn more than $115,800 each year. Earning graduate degrees (MSW) helps social workers advance their careers and attain higher salaries.

Courses in Social Work

BSW programs require about 120 credits, including 60 credits of associate-level general education requirements. Online social work degrees feature interdisciplinary core and elective courses. Core classes include social work research methods and professional ethics. Learners study social welfare policy, human behavior, and child and family services. Social work programs include supervised internships building skills in case management, active listening, and research.

Many programs offer field specializations such as children and youth, corrections and rehabilitation, or aging services. Other concentration options may include school social work, social work leadership, or policy change. The following classes appear in many social work programs.

How to Become a Social Worker

Social workers assess and help clients facing challenges in their lives. Entry-level, direct-service social work positions typically require a BSW or related degree. Related fields include sociology, psychology, or human services. Online social work programs offer interdisciplinary classes in human behavior, social work ethics, and social welfare policy. Programs include supervised internships or fieldwork at approved sites near students' homes.

Aspiring clinical social workers usually need MSWs. Most MSW programs accept applicants with online social work degrees or other bachelor's degrees. MSW programs offer specialized concentrations and train enrollees in clinical assessment and management. Programs include advanced practicum or internship experiences. For clinical social work licensure, MSW graduates usually need an additional two years of supervised training. Clinical social workers must pass national social work licensure examinations.

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Licensure for Social Work

State social work boards oversee and provide social work licensing. License titles and requirements vary by state. Most states require social workers to hold Council on Social Work Education-accredited BSWs or MSWs. In most states, independent licensed clinical social workers need a graduate degree. Once licensed, candidates complete 30-36 hours of continuing education every two years to keep their license.

Candidates complete many experience hours under independent licensed social worker supervision. Social workers need 2,500-4,000 hours (depending on the state of origin) of supervised clinical experience to qualify for clinical licensure.

Eligible candidates must pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) national licensure examinations. ASWB provides undergraduate and graduate exams for different license levels. Bachelor's-level exams cost $230, while clinical exams cost $260. Some states award one-year provisional licenses to candidates as they prepare for their licensure exam. The license application process often costs another $200, depending on the classification of licensure sought.

Best Online Social Work Degrees 2022

  1. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    Location

    Little Rock, AR

    Tuition

    $13751

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: General social work
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    UA Little Rock delivers a bachelor of social work degree online. The curriculum comprises 120 credits and focuses on general social work practice. The school delivers online courses primarily asynchronously. Online learners can access IT help, library resources, a writing lab, and math tutoring.

    Students take general education and major courses. Degree-seekers complete field experiences in a human services agency. This supervised experiential learning helps students develop practical skills.

    Applicants must reside in Arkansas and must have completed prerequisite coursework with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Interested students apply by March 1. Application materials include official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

    Available Scholarships: Bachelor of Social Work Scholarship

  2. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $9807

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Clinical and community practice
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

    IUPUI delivers a master of social work in an online format. Learners pursuing the social work degree online can study full time, part time, or at an accelerated pace.

    Master's students begin with foundational coursework, which includes a supervised practicum. Degree-seekers then complete concentration courses in clinical theory and practice, along with two practicums. Finally, learners take courses in a focus area such as addictions, military, or telebehavioral health.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree and prerequisites in social sciences and math. Interested learners can attend information sessions or schedule an advising appointment. IUPUI students can access the career center online or on campus.

    Available Scholarships: Barbara Hirsch Bass Scholarship/Fellowship

  3. Daemen College
    Location

    Amherst, NY

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Children and families
    Accredited By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Located in Amherst, New York, Daemen College offers a fully online master of social work. The cohort-based program offers start dates in February and October. The curriculum comprises 60 credits. Advanced-standing admittees complete 30-33 credits.

    Synchronous sessions and field placements augment the program's asynchronous coursework. The interdisciplinary curriculum includes public health and leadership and innovation classes.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a 2.7 GPA. Prospective learners submit transcripts, GRE or MAT scores, a personal statement, and three reference letters. Admission requirements include prerequisite biology and statistics coursework. Advanced standing requires a bachelor of social work.

    Available Scholarships: Graduate Merit Scholarship

  4. Campbellsville University
    Location

    Campbellsville, KY

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: General social work
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    A Christian school, CU delivers an online bachelor of social work. The 120-credit curriculum features eight-week courses. Students learn practical skills and theories necessary to work with individuals, families, and groups. The interactive online classroom environment provides hands-on learning opportunities.

    The curriculum includes general education courses, social work core classes, electives, and practicum experiences. Elective options include aging, addictions, adoption and foster care, and human rights.

    Applicants submit official transcripts and three letters of reference. Transfer students can apply up to 72 credits toward the online social work degree.

    Available Scholarships: Transfer Scholarship

  5. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: General social work
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    A Baptist institution based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers a BS in social work. Learners pursuing the online social work degree complete 120 credits. Degree-seekers explore human psychology, complete a virtual intensive, and participate in field placements. The asynchronous courses cover topics including ethics in professional helping and human behavior and the social environment. Learners practice working with individuals, groups, and families.

    Admission requirements include transcripts, a high school self-certification form, and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students can transfer up to 75% of degree requirements into the program. Distance learners can access online student communities, library materials, and a writing center.

    Available Scholarships: Liberty University Online Scholarships

  6. University of New England
    Location

    Biddeford, ME

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Certificate in trauma-informed care
    Accredited By: New England Commission of Higher Education, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Maine-based UNE offers a master of social work program. Students earning the social work degree online complete asynchronous coursework emphasizing clinical skills and intervention strategies. Most enrollees complete 64 credits and two field placements. However, advanced-standing students complete 35 credits and one field placement.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Advanced standing requires a bachelor of social work, a minimum 3.0 graduate GPA, prerequisite coursework, and professional human services experience. Online students can access a career center, a writing tutoring, library services, and technology help.

    Available Scholarships: School of Social Work Scholarship Funding

  7. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
    Location

    Edinburg, TX

    Tuition

    $4654

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Direct practice with latino individuals, families, and groups; administration and community practice
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Based in Edinburg, Texas, UTRGV delivers a 63-credit master of science in social work. Most students complete the online social work degree in about 24 months. Advanced standing requires 33 credits. Degree-seekers can pursue accelerated and extended-study options.

    The curriculum prepares learners to meet the needs of binational and multicultural communities. Students complete foundational coursework before beginning advanced studies and practicums in their concentration area.

    Competitive applicants hold a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Advanced standing requires a bachelor of social work and a minimum 3.2 GPA. All applicants submit transcripts, a personal statement, and three recommendations. Admission requires prerequisite statistics coursework.

    Available Scholarships: UTRGV Graduate Scholarships

  8. New Mexico State University
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    Tuition

    $9930

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Public
    Concentrations Available: Advanced generalist
    Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Based in La Cruces, NMSU offers a master of social work program. The online degree in social work prepares learners to serve multicultural clients as advanced generalists. The School of Social Work houses the Center on Immigration and Child Welfare. Graduate students can earn a dual degree in social work and public health.

    Students complete field placement practicums with government, healthcare, and community organizations. Coursework covers topics such as human behavior, social welfare policy, and sociocultural concepts and populations of the Southwest.

    Resources for online learners include academic advising, technology assistance, and library services. Graduate applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Available Scholarships: Child Welfare Scholar Program

  9. Methodist University
    Location

    Fayetteville, NC

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: General social work
    Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, offers an online bachelor of social work that emphasizes social justice. The 124-credit curriculum includes foundational courses in American governments, applied statistics, and sociology. Core coursework explores human behavior, diversity, and at-risk populations.

    Degree-seekers gain professional writing and critical-thinking skills. Students complete most requirements asynchronously. The program features an internship and capstone seminar.

    Prospective students submit high school or GED transcripts. The university accepts up to 93 transfer credits. Online students receive access to technical support and Microsoft Office applications.

    Available Scholarships: Academic/merit scholarships

  10. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Fast Facts

    School Type: Private
    Concentrations Available: Clinical social work
    Accredited By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education,Council on Social Work Education
    Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? Yes

    Penn's doctorate of clinical social work allows working professionals to complete their coursework and dissertation simultaneously. The full-time program requires three years. Learners complete two five-day immersion experiences at the Philadelphia campus. Online students participate in videoconferencing two evenings each week. Learners devote their final year of studies to dissertation work.

    Degree-seekers gain the skills necessary to design and implement interventions and conduct evidence-based inquiries. Graduates can disseminate knowledge through practice and teaching.

    Applicants need a master's degree in social work and three years of post-MSW practice experience. Applicants submit three letters of reference, a writing sample, and an essay.

    Available Scholarships: Social Justice Scholars Program

AffordableCollegesOnline.org 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.

Featured Online MSW Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Online Social Work Degree Student Reviews

We believe the best people to share about online learning experiences are students who have really done it, which is why we surveyed 600 unique students. Filter to find a student like you or sort to read the good, the bad, and everything in between. By leaving a review, students were entered to win a sweepstakes.

* means this student may have had to visit the campus a few times a year for their program.

  • Age 29
  • Master's in Social Work
  • University of Denver
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
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What were the challenges of getting your degree online?

"Not being face to face with teachers and peers"

  • First generation student
Recommends
  • Age 22
  • Social Sciences: Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Central Washington University
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

What advice would you give to a student looking to enroll in an online program?

"Reach out to an advisor to stay on top of graduation requirements."

  • Financial assitance
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 29
  • Master of Social Work
  • Ohio State University
  • Online

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star

What did you like most about your online college experience?

"I was able to be flexible and complete school work around my work schedule"

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 45
  • Social Work
  • Stephen F. Austin State University
  • Online *

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

3.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"This was required for the job field I want to be in"

  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 40
  • Master's in Social Work
  • University of California
  • Online

Experience

4.0
green star green star green star green star blank star

Value

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

4.0
green star green star green star green star green star

What were the challenges of getting your degree online?

"It was difficult for me to balance school and work."

  • Financial assitance
  • Works in field of study
  • Has support system
Recommends
  • Age 61
  • Social Work
  • University of New England
  • Online

Experience

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Value

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Affordability

5.0
green star green star green star green star green star

Why did you decide to enroll in an online degree or certification program?

"Ability to complete from any location"

  • Financial assitance
  • First generation student
  • Has support system
Recommends

Online Students Survey Methodology

Student testimonials have generally been obtained with the offer of compensation for completion of a survey (e.g., entrance into a gift card drawing). Such testimonials are the opinions of such students and surveys are designed to avoid influencing such testimonials either positively or negatively. All student respondents were supplied by Lucid LLC.

Methodology:

All data was collected between 5/19/21 and 5/26/21 and respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. All respondents in the study were screened by multiple quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy. Survey participants include 622 individuals who graduated with an online degree in the past 6 years. Degrees ranged from certifications to associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level programs. Respondents are between 21 and 60 years of age and identified as 48% Female and 52% Male.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Melissa Russiano, LCSW, LISW

Melissa Russiano, LCSW, LISW

Melissa Russiano is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice that has organically developed into a specialty helping working professionals. Russiano has a proven track record of helping professionals avoid burnout in a unique way that holds clinicians accountable through laughter, tears, blunt (yet very supportive) feedback and quirky analogies that are grounded in solid theoretical research. Russiano practices solely in a virtual setting in the states of California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. In addition, Russiano is a professor at Simmons University online, imparting her experiences and knowledge in the field to graduate social work students.

Melissa Russiano is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

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