Bachelor of Social Work Online

By SocialWorkLicensure.org Staff



Social workers enjoy a bright economic outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of social workers could increase by over 90,000 positions by 2029. That's a 13% projected growth rate — much faster than the mean rate of growth for all other occupations combined.

Prospective social workers must hold a bachelor of social work (BSW) or master of social work (MSW) degree. Online social work degrees provide flexibility and convenience, allowing working professionals to enhance their marketability while remaining employed.

Most candidates can earn a bachelor of social work online in about four years. Many online social work degrees include asynchronous course components, which permit distance learners to stream lectures and participate in class discussions on their own time. Additionally, students save time and money by avoiding long commutes and facility fees.

Read on for a list of the best online bachelor's degrees in social work.

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The Best Online Bachelor of Social Work Programs

Eastern Washington University

American Express Company founder Benjamin Pierce Cheney established EWU in 1882. The social work major dates back to 1959 as part of the university's Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. Today, the university offers a partially online social work degree in the School of Social Work, featuring on-campus classes in Cheney, Washington.

Over two years, the partially online bachelor of social work (BSW) program prepares students for positions in criminal justice, public welfare, and school social work. Students take social work classes in research, data analysis, social policy, and assessments. While core courses typically are not available online, electives can be completed through distance learning. In their final year, BSW students complete three practicum placements at social work agencies.

Students interested in working with children can enter the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program, with post-college positions available through the Department of Children Youth and Families.

The department accepts applicants with a 2.5 grade point average (GPA) or higher, 40 volunteer or work experience hours at a human services agency, and two professional or academic references.

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University of Louisville

This historic Kentucky university offers an online social work degree through its Kent School of Social Work. The program features a specialized track in drug and alcohol counseling.

Faculty advisors beginning at the new student orientation help students pick electives and a practicum that benefits their future careers.

Candidates pursuing a bachelor's in social work online complete 30 upper division courses in human behavior and social environment in addition to issues in policy and service delivery. The 120-credit bachelor of social work online degree also includes four practicum courses and two labs. Future drug and addiction counselors intern at treatment centers and take electives in mental health and substance use as well as substance use disorders.

Like traditional on-campus students, online learners complete a field experience under master's-educated social workers. Students may be able to satisfy curriculum requirements by performing fieldwork at their workplaces.

UofL accepts 60 transfer credits from community colleges and 90 credits from four-year schools.

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Wayne State University

Based in Detroit, Michigan, WSU offers 350 degree and certificate programs, including an online social work degree.

Students enroll in the bachelor of social work online degree through the Where Online Works (WOW) program. WOW accepts college juniors who have completed at least 60 credits at WSU or another accredited college.

While online classes follow the same schedule as on-campus courses, they offer more flexibility for students managing family and work obligations. Students take 51 core credits and nine electives over four terms, gaining the academic foundation required to become generalist social workers.

Classes cover research methods, social work practice, human behaviors and the social environment, and social welfare policy and services. Seniors complete 460-hour internships, working with at-risk communities and people of color.

While they study remotely, degree seekers can access support services such as online tutoring, mentoring, and academic advice.

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Northern Arizona University

NAU opened in Flagstaff 120 years ago and continues to put students first, having offered online programs for more than 30 years.

Distance learners take either synchronous classes at scheduled times or competency-based classes that operate on a self-paced basis. Competency-based online classes let students pay a six-month subscription fee and complete as many programs as they like during that time. Students who select the traditionally structured online program pay a per-credit tuition rate.

One of NAU's 86 traditional online programs, the bachelor's degree in social work features courses in research methods, crisis intervention, and information technology literacy.

The major requires 75-76 credits, including 12 credits of field study and a senior capstone. Candidates can take classes on Southwest indigenous populations, gender, and social and economic justice.

NAU's online programs feature multiple start dates.

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Liberty University

Founded in 1971, Liberty boasts an academic catalog of more than 450 Christ-centered distance education programs. The university also offers a bachelor's in social work online that holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.

Exploring human psychology from a Christian perspective, the 120-credit bachelor of social work takes about 3.5 years to complete. Liberty's generous transfer policy lets students transfer up to 75% of their degree from another institution.

Social work students learn counseling strategies and intervention techniques to better help people and communities. They test their classroom knowledge during field placements which take place in their local areas. Online learners must attend a five-day intensive at Liberty's Lynchburg, Virginia campus.

Proud to offer affordable education, Liberty provides fixed tuition and free electronic textbooks. Applicants should possess a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) or higher for admittance.

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Angelo State University

Located in west Texas, ASU houses six colleges and boasts more than 100 majors and minors. ASU's Archer College of Health and Human Services offers a completely online bachelor's degree in social work that prepares students to take the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners test.

Transfer students and current ASU degree seekers must complete a pre-social work program before starting the 120-credit online social work degree. Prerequisites include an introduction to social work course, at least 30 general education credits, and 20 volunteer hours. The bachelor of social work online program emphasizes a biopsychosocial approach, with classes that explore biological, social, cultural, and psychological theories.

Students explore social work theory and evaluation methods during field education experiences. The internship, spread over two semesters, requires students to complete 500 hours. Online learners must get malpractice insurance before beginning fieldwork.

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Troy University

Troy opened in 1887 and continues to expand, with four campuses across Alabama and 123 online programs for students anywhere in the country.

The online bachelor's degree in social work lets students customize their studies with minors in case management and human services. In their freshmen and sophomore years, students declare social work as their major and begin taking prerequisites. Candidates need a 2.5 grade point average (GPA) and a minimum of 30 credits to apply for the program.

Incoming juniors take introduction to social work before enrolling in major courses like social work with individuals and families. Students must complete 400 internship hours by their senior year.

Coursework and field experience prepare graduates to sit for the Alabama licensure exam. Students also attend political events where they can witness social workers influencing policy. Candidates who earn their bachelor of social work online find jobs as healthcare social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health and substance abuse social workers.

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Spring Arbor University

One of the top Christian colleges to offer a degree in social work, Michigan's SAU has provided Christ-centered education since 1873.

Candidates who pursue the 124-credit online social work degree explore social work theory as they develop the practical counseling skills needed to help vulnerable communities. A faculty mentor guides online learners throughout the program. To graduate, distance learners must complete a 400-hour internship.

Along with classes like social work in research design and assessments, students take courses covering biblical perspectives and the Christian faith. Most classes operate asynchronously, but students can also attend live Zoom lectures. Qualified Michigan residents can apply for the child welfare endorsement, and graduates may apply for state social work licensure.

The program is open to students with at least 58 transferable credits. Graduates work for family and child services, domestic violence prevention, and community development. More than 95% of bachelor of social work candidates are accepted into SAU's graduate program.

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Misericordia University

This small public college draws on its history of Catholic service to offer a 121-credit online social work degree.

The program includes a flexible fieldwork requirement that can be completed in the evenings and on weekends. Learners earning their bachelor of social work online take courses such as comparative sociology, fulfilling both major and general education requirements and leaving them free to pursue minors. Misericordia offers minors in gerontology, addictions counseling, psychology, and religious studies.

The two-year program consists of mostly online courses, with a hybrid format option. Graduates can pursue social work licensure in Pennsylvania and several other states. Classes begin in the fall and students proceed through their studies alongside the same cohort of learners.

The admissions process begins with an interview in a student's sophomore year. Prospective social work majors need at least 45 credits and a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA).

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Aurora University

AU is a private school that offers more than 50 majors and minors. The university offers affordable tuition and ample financial aid, with about 98% of students at AU receiving financial awards.

Candidates enrolled in AU's online social work degree program benefit from free digital textbooks and materials through the Open Education Resources program. While students may pursue their bachelor of social work online, they can also take classes in person at AU's Woodstock Center.

This 40-credit degree takes 2-4 years to complete, depending on a student's previous college experience. Eight-week classes cover counseling techniques for groups, communities and organizations, and individuals and families. Degree seekers integrate their learning experiences in two field internships.

Graduates can apply for AU's master of social work program and earn advanced standing. The School of Social Work requires prospective students to hold an average 2.5 grade point average (GPA) and complete 60 general education credits. AU's application process is free.

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Bemidji State University

Founded in 1919 with 38 students, BSU now serves about 5,100 undergraduates through more than 65 majors.

While students earning an online bachelor's degree in social work at BSU complete most of their coursework through a digital learning platform, they must visit the university's Minnesota campus one Saturday a month.

This hybrid program, called the Social Work Integrated Model, welcomes 20-person cohorts. Students take 2-3 classes every semester and finish each term with an orientation to prepare them for a 480-hour internship. Part- and full-time internships offer practical experience over two semesters in the student's local community.

Online learners who complete their internship in a county- or tribal-level child welfare program, along with taking specialized courses, can become a child welfare scholar through the Title IV-E Child Welfare Scholars Program. At the same time, graduates hold the tools and practical skills to work as generalist social workers. An optional addictions certificate prepares students to become licensed alcohol and drug counselors.

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Huntington University

Chartered in 1897, HU offers 90 majors and minors that emphasize spiritual growth. The school's online bachelor's degree in social work stays true to this mission with a curriculum based in Christian principles.

The curriculum emphasizes the Council on Social Work Education's 10 core competency areas. Candidates learn ethical and professional behavior as well as how to advance human rights and engage in policy practice. Degree seekers develop specialized skills by taking classes on child welfare, addictions, and social policy.

Online learners log more than 400 practicum hours — 80 fewer than on-campus students. Prior to beginning their field placement, students must pass a three-part exam with written, oral, and case study components.

HU reports an 87% job placement rate among graduates. Bachelor of social work (BSW) students pursue careers in youth and family services, schools, and rehabilitation centers.

Individuals interested in earning a BSW online must submit a professional portfolio.

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

UA Little Rock began in 1927 as a junior college. The university's 120-credit online social work degree is open to Arkansas residents.

Candidates can earn their bachelor of social work online or take a combination of online and in-person courses. Degree seekers gain a firm understanding of social welfare policy, statistics, research methods, and addictions in social work.

Online learners synthesize and apply their classroom experience during their senior year internship. This field experience places students in a human services agency, where they work under a licensed social worker for about 16 hours a week. Classmates get the chance to discuss their internships during concurrent field seminars.

New students begin class in the fall and attend their courses in cohorts. Social work majors must complete prerequisites in psychology and the human experience, introduction to sociology, and introduction to social work. Admission also requires academic advising.

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University of North Dakota

UND opened in 1882, prior to the state's founding. The university's Department of Social Work began offering an accredited undergraduate program in 1974. Today, social work students can attend classes at UND's 521-acre campus in Grand Forks or online.

Students who pursue a bachelor's in social work online prepare to become licensed social workers in North Dakota. Candidates acquire research skills, explore advocacy opportunities, and learn to drive social change.

Synchronous online classes typically take place on weeknights. The program lasts 2-4 years, depending on a student's prior college experience. Individuals who hold a bachelor's degree in another field can earn their bachelor of social work online degree in one year.

The degree requires 120 credits, including two field placements in which students work 40 hours a week. Optional minors in gerontology and chemical dependency prepare students to help senior communities and individuals with drug and alcohol addictions.

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Millersville University

Millersville offers a two-year bachelor's in social work online for students who already hold an associate degree in human services or social services.

The broad curriculum explores social work research, law writing, and social welfare policy. The program includes 45 major courses and 15 electives and general education credits, along with 450 fieldwork hours. Classes occasionally meet online at set times, but otherwise function asynchronously, with students completing coursework on their own 10-15 hours a week.

Graduates find careers as healthcare social workers, probation officers, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. Online learners gain specialized work experience through minors in gerontology and social justice, which require about 15-18 additional credits.

Associate degree holders or those who have earned 60 credits can apply. This program does not accept bachelor's degree holders. New cohorts begin in the fall and spring.

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Applying to an Online Bachelor of Social Work Program

Online BSW programs typically feature the same admission requirements as traditional BSW programs, with the addition of a reliable home internet connection.

Generally speaking, prospective students should hold a high school diploma, although many schools consider applicants with GEDs. Students who already possess general education credits or an associate degree may be able to enroll in an accelerated program. Applicants are usually expected to hold a minimum GPA of 2.0-2.5.

In addition, many schools request ACT or SAT scores, a personal essay, or letters of recommendation. Although BSW applicants do not necessarily need work experience, detailing volunteer experience or extracurricular activities in an application can boost a candidate's chances of gaining admission.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a bachelor's degree in social work?

While licensed social workers must hold a master's degree, a bachelor's degree qualifies candidates for many different positions. BSW-holders take entry-level administrative jobs, or work as case workers or mental health assistants. Many graduates also enroll in master's-level social work programs.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

The accreditation system evaluates higher education institutions and academic programs to ensure that students receive a quality education. Many employers look for candidates with accredited degrees, and licensure applicants must hold an accredited degree. Look for programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Is an online bachelor's in social work worth it?

That depends on your career goals. Online BSW programs allow distance learners to schedule their studies around work, so students don't necessarily need to sacrifice their income. If you eventually find a job that you love, then a BSW is certainly worth the cost.

What type of social worker is the highest paid?

Social workers as a whole earn a median income of about $50,470. Healthcare social workers bring in higher median salaries, earning around $56,750 a year. However, the BLS categorizes the highest paid type of social worker as "all other" social workers, who enjoy a median income of more than $61,000. These social workers often find jobs with the federal government and community food and housing organizations.