Online Social Work Programs in Kentucky

Six social work programs in Kentucky offer online courses, including two bachelor's programs and four master's programs. After they graduate, students enjoy plenty of social work job opportunities throughout the state. According to 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 11,000 social work jobs in Kentucky.

Job titles for Kentucky social workers include child, family, and school social worker; mental health and substance abuse social worker; and healthcare social worker. Kentucky boasts the fourth-highest concentration of child, family, and school social workers out of all 50 states.

There are particularly strong opportunities in rural areas, with the East Kentucky and South Central nonmetropolitan areas offering some of the highest employment figures for child, family, and school social workers out of all of the nation's rural areas. Earning an online social work degree in Kentucky is the first step toward these career opportunities.

Social Work Programs by Degree Level


Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs

Online Master's in Social Work Programs


Education and Licensure Requirements for Social Workers in Kentucky

The Kentucky Board of Social Work oversees social work licensure in Kentucky. The board currently offers three types of social work licenses: licensed social worker (LSW), certified social worker (CSW), and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Learn more about these distinctions below.

Education Requirements

In Kentucky, an LSW permits social workers to practice non-clinically. To earn an LSW, candidates must hold a bachelor's in social work accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). CSW candidates must hold a master's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. The CSW is a prerequisite for the LCSW license, which also requires a master's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program.

Exam Application Process and Requirements

All of Kentucky's three social work licenses require candidates to pass an Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination. Each test consists of 170 multiple-choice questions, with graders only scoring 150 questions. LSW candidates must pass the ASWB bachelor's exam, which costs $230 and does not require any supervised experience, though it does require a CSWE-accredited BSW degree.

CSW candidates must pass the ASWB master's exam, which costs $230 and also does not require supervised experience, although candidates must hold a CSWE-accredited MSW degree.

However, LCSW candidates need two years of full-time or three years of part-time clinical experience. They also need a CSWE-accredited MSW degree and must pass the ASWB clinical exam, which costs $260. Students can register for all ASWB exams on the association's website.

Kentucky LSW certification includes a $25 application fee and a $75 licensure fee. The fees for MSW certification total $150 while LCSW fees are $225.

Continuing Education and Licensure Renewal

No matter what type of license they hold, Kentucky social workers must renew their licenses every three years. Renewal fees total $200 for LCSWs, $125 for CSWs, and $75 for LSWs. During each three-year renewal period, LSWs must complete 15 hours of approved continuing education courses, while CSWs and LCSWs must complete 40 hours. All social workers in Kentucky need six hours of courses in suicide prevention, identification, and management during each renewal period.


Why Choose an Online Social Work Program in Kentucky?

Online students enjoy many benefits, such as affordability and flexibility. The six online social work programs in the Bluegrass State offer affordable tuition, with rates ranging from $400-$800 per credit depending on residency status. Online learners also typically save on expenses like housing and commuting costs. Furthermore, the flexibility of online programs allows students to continue working while pursuing their degrees.

Ranking Methodology

Here is our list of online social work degree programs in Kentucky as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. We cover online bachelor's in social work, online master's in social work, and online doctorate in social work programs. All programs are regionally and CSWE accredited, and all are available entirely online.


Online Social Work Programs in Kentucky

Brescia University

Brescia University, located in Owensboro, is a Catholic liberal arts college. The school accommodates learners with a suite of online programs in various disciplines. The Marilyn Younger Conley School of Social Work offers bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. Since 2008, the school has administered an online bachelor of social work, a degree completion program that requires no visits on campus. BSW graduates can seamlessly transfer into the MSW, one of the best social work programs in Kentucky.


Brescia University's Bachelor of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: The 128-credit degree consists of 42 credits in the major. Students can complete courses asynchronously in an eight-week accelerated format.
  • Completion Time: Students who meet the school's general education requirements and transfer up to 86 credits can complete the degree in two years. First-year students can typically complete the degree in four years.
  • Field Education: Students can complete two field practicums at on-site agencies while concurrently participating in weekly seminars.
  • Exam Preparation: The program prepares students for BSW-level state board examinations, such as those administered by the Kentucky Board of Social Work.
  • Transfer Policies: Students may transfer up to 86 credits into this BSW. Brescia maintains articulation agreements with several colleges in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Kentucky to maximize the number of transfer credits.
  • Cost: $425/credit in-state and out-of-state. BU has frozen its tuition until 2022.
  • Admission Requirements: Admission requires at least 45 credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The program has five start dates: January, March, May, August, and October.

Brescia University's Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: Brescia offers an advanced standing track.
  • Credits and Courses: The program comprises 60 credits for traditional students and 30 credits for advanced standing students. Enrollees can participate in weekly synchronous chats required for all courses to have virtual, real-time interaction with faculty and peers in a small-class environment.
  • Completion Time: Full-time students can finish the regular online MSW in less than two years. Advanced standing students typically complete the MSW in nine months of full-time study.
  • Field Education: Regular MSW students should complete 900 hours of fieldwork. Advanced standing students, who can complete the program on a full-time or part-time basis, can complete 500 hours of fieldwork.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Cost: $600/credit in-state and out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Each applicant for the traditional track must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of the bachelor's program. A candidate pursuing the advanced standing track must have a minimum 3.2 GPA in the last 60 credits earned.

Brescia University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Brescia University's social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University is a Christian college that offers a full slate of online programs. The Carver School of Social Work features two online social work degrees in Kentucky that integrate Christian servant leadership principles. The bachelor of science in social work gives students a strong educational foundation to enter the social work field as mental health assistants or caseworkers.

The school also offers an MSW to advance scholarship, leadership, and Christian service for enrollees. Its social work faculty have designed the programs with working professionals and distance learners in mind to meet their need for comprehensive and hands-on social work education. Social work students can join XI Omega Phi Alpha, a National Social Work Honor Society, to meet peers and foster humanitarian goals and ideals.


Campbellsville University's Bachelor of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: As part of a 120-credit curriculum in total, students can complete a 51-credit social work major and six hours of electives covering topics such as aging, addictions, and human rights. Faculty members deliver the program asynchronously using eight-week courses. Campbellsville's virtual classroom allows students to interact with faculty and peers through video.
  • Completion Time: Full-time students can finish the online BSW in four years.
  • Field Education: A student can engage in a minimum 450 hours of field instruction during the last term of their senior year.
  • Exam Preparation: The program prepares students for BSW-level state board examinations.
  • Transfer Policies: Campbellsville allows students to transfer up to 72 credits from an accredited junior or community college into this bachelor's degree, so long as they have a minimum "D" grade.
  • Cost: $399/credit in-state and out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Applicants with fewer than 24 credits must submit ACT or SAT scores.

Campbellsville University's Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: The program offers advanced standing and clinical tracks.
  • Credits and Courses: The regular program comprises 60 credits. Students can complete 30 credits for either the advanced standing or clinical track. Faculty members deliver the MSW asynchronously. Many students in the clinical track plan to work in hospitals caring for patients with mental illnesses.
  • Completion Time: A full-time student can finish the online MSW in two years. An enrollee with a CSWE-accredited BSW can complete either the advanced standing or clinical track in one year.
  • Field Education: Students must find and secure their own placement site to complete 900 practicum hours. Note that fieldwork for the clinical track must take place in a hospital.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Transfer Policies: A student pursuing the regular program may transfer a maximum of six credits. Neither the advanced standing nor clinical track programs accept transfer credits.
  • Cost: $559/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Admission Requirements: Each applicant must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA for the full program or either track.

Campbellsville University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Campbellsville University's social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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University of Louisville

The University of Louisville's 12 schools and colleges administer more than 200 programs. The Kent School of Social Work is one of the top research social work programs in the nation. Among the 262 social work programs in the nation, Kent School ranks 44th on U.S. News & World Report's rankings, and first in the state.

The school offers a bachelor's, master's with nine specializations, and doctor of philosophy in social work. The robust program also offers dual degree programs in law, bioethics, ministry, Pan-African studies, and women and gender studies. Kent School encourages community involvement with 400 students providing approximately 190,000 hours of free social work services to individuals, groups, and communities.


University of Louisville's Master of Science in Social Work

  • Concentrations: The MSSW offers six of nine specializations online: Mental health, gerontology, psychosocial oncology, alcohol and drug counseling, military social work, and forensic social work.
  • Credits and Courses: 60 credits for the regular program. Students with a BSW earned within the last seven years can complete 30 credits for the advanced standing program. Overall, the MSSW trains social workers for practice with children and families; community and international practice; and health and mental health.
  • Completion Time: Students can finish the regular online MSW in 2-3 years, depending on full- or part-time enrollment status. Advanced standing students with CSWE-accredited BSWs can complete the program in 1-2 years.
  • Field Education: Each student can complete 900 hours of field education, including supervised practice at a social service organization in their state of residence.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Transfer Policies: Students may transfer up to six credits into the MSSW, one of the best social work programs in Kentucky, if completed within the last three years at an accredited institution.
  • Cost: $714/credit in-state and out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Applicants submit transcripts from prior colleges and no GRE scores are required for admission. An advanced standing applicant should possess a preferred minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA.

The University of Louisville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The University of Louisville's social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University, located in Bowling Green, offers a comprehensive catalog that includes 104 graduate degrees and certificates. Its Department of Social Work offers a bachelor of social work and master of social work. The department manages significant projects, such as the public child welfare certification program and the MSW cohort studies initiative.

The master of social work focuses on practice in non-urban areas, especially rural communities. It also provides social work practitioners with the education and training needed for advancement into supervisory and management positions within human service agencies. The online MSW option is an advanced-standing cohort, so students interested in the full program must attend classes on campus.


Western Kentucky University's Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: The program offers an advanced direct practice in rural settings concentration.
  • Credits and Courses: A student with a BSW from an accredited social work program can complete 33 credits in a cohort on a part-time basis only. The school offers this online option to students living in rural areas with limited access to advanced education. Each enrollee may elect to complete a thesis.
  • Completion Time: Students can complete the part-time online advanced standing option in two years.
  • Field Education: An advanced standing student can complete a minimum 500 hours at a social service agency.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Transfer Policies: The school accepts a maximum of nine credits with at least a minimum 3.0 GPA from CSWE-accredited MSW programs.
  • Cost: $707/credit in-state and out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: An advanced standing applicant must possess a BSW with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Western Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Western Kentucky University's social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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