Online Social Work Programs in Michigan

Social workers in Michigan can anticipate high wages, consistent employment growth, and rapidly improving social assistance programs. For example, in the Northwest Lower Peninsula nonmetropolitan area and Saginaw, child, family, and school social workers make an average annual wage of $53,540, higher than the national average of $48,430. Projections Central also predicts an 18% employment growth rate for mental health and substance abuse social workers in Michigan between by 2026.

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 Michigan

Candidates seeking social work jobs in Michigan must obtain licensure through the Michigan Board of Social Work. The board offers permanent licensure as a licensed bachelor of social work (LBSW) and licensed master of social work (LMSW). Prior to permanent licensure, graduates must gain experience with a limited license. Active licensees can also apply for endorsement in clinical or macro social work.

Education Requirements

LBSW candidates need a bachelor's degree accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) and 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. LMSW candidates need a master's degree from a CSWE-accredited program and 4,000 hours of supervised experience. To meet supervised experience requirements, candidates use their bachelor's or master's degree to obtain limited licensure, which they can renew up to six times while gaining experience. 

Exam Application Process and Requirements

LBSW candidates must pass the basic Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam after they obtain 4,000 hours of supervised experience. LMSW candidates must pass the intermediate ASWB exam after they complete supervised experience requirements. Applicants for clinical or macro practice licensure can take the clinical and advanced generalist exams after accumulating 2,000 hours of professional experience in their specialization.

Candidates can take the exam at any Pearson VUE center in Michigan. Candidates get four hours to complete the online exam. Both the basic and intermediate ASWB exams cost $230. Candidates can take an online practice test from Pearson for $85. The licensure application includes a $42.40 fee for LBSWs and LMSWs and $15.90 for specialty endorsement.

Continuing Education and Licensure Renewal

A social work license in Michigan remains valid for three years, expiring on April 30 of the third year. Licensees must log at least 45 board-approved continuing education hours within the three-year period. Five of these hours must cover ethics and two should cover pain and pain symptom management. At least half of the required continuing education hours must take place in-person, while the other half can take place online. The board expects licensees to retain records of continuing education for at least four years after renewing the license. Renewal at the bachelor's and master's level costs $62.40. 


Why Choose an Online Social Work Program in Michigan?

Students pursuing online social work degrees in Michigan enjoy many benefits, such as flexibility and affordability. The flexibility of an online degree allows students to balance school with work and family obligations. Online students can also typically complete field requirements at locations near them. Online learners also save on expenses that on-campus students incur, such as housing and commuting costs.

Ranking Methodology

Here is our list of online social work degree programs in Michigan 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 Michigan

Spring Arbor University

SAU, a private Christian institution established in 1873, now serves approximately 1,400 undergraduate students and offers a bachelor's degree in social work for distance learners. The program specializes in training students for work settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, churches, domestic violence centers, and substance abuse programs.

Bachelor's students can explore the essential skills to support families, groups, organizations, individuals, and communities. Distance learners also develop an understanding of social and economic justice and the values of service. Students can complete required courses entirely online, along with in-person field experiences in their local communities.


SAU's Bachelor of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: Required classes for this Michigan social work degree include racial and ethnic relations, practice with individuals and families, and social welfare policies. In total, a bachelor's student needs 124 credits.
  • Completion Time: Bachelor's degree seekers can complete the program in as little as 20 months.
  • Field Education: Students can complete their 400-hour fieldwork requirement with organizations in their community.
  • Online Student Support: Distance students can work with admissions representatives to find the best path through the bachelor's program. Additionally, each student receives a student success coach, academic advisor, and tech support team. Learners also have access to spiritual development services and professional development support through the career center.
  • Cost: $587/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Prospective online students must submit their official transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and an online application. Each incoming candidate also participates in an interview with a faculty member.

Spring Arbor University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Spring Arbor University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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Grand Valley State University

GVSU is a public liberal arts school established in 1960. Its Master of Social Work program prides itself on preparing social workers to shape and support social welfare policies and programs around Michigan state. This master's program follows a hybrid format, with in-person classes taking place at the Lake Superior State University campus in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Remote learners may enroll as full- or part-time students. Distance pupils at GVSU can develop advanced competencies through intensive study in areas such as social research methods, field education experiences, social welfare policy and services topics, and interpersonal communications. An interested student with a bachelor's degree in social work needs to apply for the advanced standing program.


GVSU's Master of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: Students in this Michigan social work program must complete 60 credits for graduation. Required classes include social policy on mental health, social research, psychopathology and social deviance, and cross-cultural service learning. Advanced standing students need 41 credits for graduation.
  • Completion Time: Most learners need five semesters to complete the program, while advanced standing students take three semesters.
  • Field Education: All pupils must complete 12 credits of field education. Master's students spend 21 hours per week in the field over three academic semesters.
  • Online Student Support: Remote learners enjoy various learning resources, tutoring, and online workshops through the student academic success center. Additionally, enrollees can take advantage of the writing center, academic advising services, and personal counseling.
  • Cost: $677/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Each prospective master's student must submit their official transcripts that reflects a history of at least 18 credits of college-level social or behavioral science courses. An applicant for the regular MSW program needs a 3.0 GPA or higher. Each candidate for the advanced standing program must possess a BSW. Applicants do not need to submit their GRE scores for consideration.

Grand Valley State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Grand Valley State University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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Michigan State University

MSU serves more than 50,000 students as a public research university located in East Lansing, Michigan. The school offers a regular and advanced standing MSW program for part-time hybrid students. Started in 2006, this cohort learning format combines face-to-face instruction, online learning, and video conferencing. Face-to-face classes take place during summer semesters. Additionally, learners can spend one weekend per month during the fall and spring semesters attending live video conferences.

Enrollees can complete all remaining coursework remotely online. The school prides itself on offering direct practice training to prepare MSW students for social work with couples, families, small groups, and individuals. Depending on the area of specialization, students can explore diverse areas of interest, from social issues, laws, or social and governmental institutions to supporting at-risk communities, marginalized populations, and ethnic minorities.


GVSU's Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: This social work master's program in Michigan offers specializations in clinical practice and organization and community leadership.
  • Credits and Courses: A learner in the regular program must complete 57 credits as a part-time learner. Each advanced standing student needs to complete 38 credits.
  • Completion Time: Regular program students typically need three years to complete the program, while advanced standing learners generally take two years.
  • Field Education: Each regular program MSW student can complete 960 hours of field education over four semesters, while an advanced standing pupil needs 600 hours of field education over 2.5 semesters.
  • Other Requirements: MSW students must reside within 50 miles of the Michigan border and 30 miles outside of the East Lansing, Oakland, and Mid-Michigan campuses.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Transfer Policies: A regular program MSW student may transfer up to 26 credits from an outside graduate social work program toward the master's degree.
  • Online Student Support: Distance students can take advantage of academic advising, tutoring, and academic success skills workshops through the collaborative learning center.
  • Cost: $755/credit in-state; $789/credit out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Each applicant for the regular program must possess a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. An advanced standing applicant needs a BSW with a 3.25 GPA. Students do not need to submit their GRE scores.

Michigan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Michigan State University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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Wayne State University

Established in 1868, WSU is a public research institution located in Detroit, Michigan. With approximately 27,300 students, WSU is the third largest university in the state. The school offers an online bachelor of social work program for distance learners. The curriculum focuses on four areas of concern for social workers, including values and ethics, oppression and discrimination, social justice, and at-risk populations.

Using the Canvas educational platform, online learners can follow the same sequence of classes and semesters as on-campus students. Distance learners can use online resources such as video lectures, social media, and discussion boards to keep up with class assignments, activities, and other weekly requirements for their synchronous coursework.

WSU is also one of the top graduate schools for social work in Michigan. The MSW online program helps future social workers learn how to serve vulnerable populations, strive for social and economic justice, and improve the lives of communities, families, and individuals. Each student can take core classes during their first year to develop the fundamentals of social work practice.

During their second year, master's students can build advanced skills that help them address complex social issues in their communities. Students may enroll as full-time or part-time learners. Each pupil can complete a field education component, which requires two days a week for two consecutive years. An incoming student with a bachelor's degree in social work should apply for the advanced standing program.


WSU's Bachelor of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: Accepted students must possess at least 60 general education credits. After they enter the program, bachelor's seekers complete 51 social work credits, and nine credits of electives. In total, students need 120 credits for graduation. Required classes include social work practice, research methods, social welfare policy and services, and human behavior in social environments.
  • Completion Time: Depending on their number of transfer credits, most distance students can complete the program in two years.
  • Field Education: Each student must complete a 460-hour internship experience during their senior year.
  • Exam Preparation: BSW holders can sit for the Michigan state licensure exam.
  • Transfer Policies: Incoming students' transcripts undergo a transfer credit evaluation. Each candidate needs at least 60 transferable credits to enter the online program.
  • Online Student Support: Michigan social work students at WSU receive online writing support, tutoring, opportunities for in-person activities on campus, and academic mentoring.
  • Cost: $657/credit in-state; $1,424/credit out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Each incoming student must possess a 2.5 GPA or higher. WSU expects learners to hold at least 60 college-level credits to transfer toward the degree.

WSU's Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: MSW students may pursue concentrations in innovation in community, policy, and leadership or interpersonal practice.
  • Credits and Courses: Each student in the regular MSW program needs to complete 60 semester credits of graduate coursework, while an advanced standing student needs 38 semester credits. Required courses for both groups include human behavior in social environments, foundations of macro theory and practice, research methods, and social welfare policy in the U.S.
  • Completion Time: Full-time students can complete the master's program in as few as four semesters.
  • Field Education: Each student in this Michigan social work program can complete a field experience for two hours a week over two consecutive years.
  • Transfer Policies: An incoming student may transfer up to 30 semester credits toward their master's degree.
  • Online Student Support: Distance pupils can take part in student success workshops, peer-assisted learning programs, and online tutoring services. Additionally, all master's students enjoy full-text library access and tech support.
  • Cost: $658/credit in-state; $1,424/credit out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: A prospective student must submit an online application containing a resume, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and their official transcripts. Each applicant needs a 2.75 GPA or higher and at least 30 transferable credits in the social and biological sciences and humanities.

Wayne State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Wayne State University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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