Online Social Work Programs in Minnesota

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), social work positions rank among the state's most in-demand occupations. DEED lists child, family, and school social workers as the 34th most in-demand professionals, and the department projects a 15.4% growth rate for mental health and substance abuse social workers over the next 10 years. DEED also reports that the state struggles to meet the growing need for mental health workers, especially in rural areas.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, known as the Twin Cities, ranks among the nation's urban areas with the highest levels of employment for healthcare social workers; mental health social workers; and child, family, and school healthcare workers.

Social workers in Minnesota typically earn mean salaries of more than $50,000 per year, according to the BLS. The state boasts a thriving healthcare sector, and healthcare social workers are among the highest-paid professionals in the state, earning mean annual salaries of $58,530.

Social Work Programs by Degree Level


Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs

Online Master's in Social Work Programs

Online Doctorate in Social Work Programs


Education and Licensure Requirements for Social Workers in Minnesota

The Minnesota Board of Social Work licenses social workers in the state. Minnesota offers four types of social work licensure: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed graduate social worker (LGSW), licensed independent social worker (LISW), and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW).

Education Requirements

Minnesota requires LSWs to hold a bachelor's degree; candidates for all other types of social work licensure must possess a master's. All applicants must hold a degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work.

To practice independently, Minnesota professionals must have completed a master's degree and 4,000 hours of supervised practice. Social workers wishing to enter clinical practice must also document 360 clinical clock hours.

Exam Application Process and Requirements

Social work students can apply for a social work license six months before graduation; the process to obtain licensure in Minnesota can take three months or more. LSW candidates must pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor's exam, and master's-level applicants must pass the ASWB master's exam. Applicants must submit a license application and fee, undergo a background check, and send official transcripts to the state board. The state reviews all documentation and notifies candidates when they become eligible to take the exam.

Once eligible, applicants register with ASWB to take the bachelor's or master's exam at a Pearson testing location. After passing the exam, applicants receive notification of their prorated license fee, since the state bases license renewal dates on birthdays. Two-year initial license fees range from $93.50-$325, depending on the license type.

Continuing Education and Licensure Renewal

Minnesota social workers must renew their license every two years, by the end of their birth month. Professionals renewing their license for the first time must do so by their birth month in the second year following their license's effective date. To qualify for renewal, professionals must document 40 continuing education hours and any supervision hours, if applicable. Candidates must also answer questions on ethical practice standards. As of July 2019, renewal fees range from $110 for LSWs to $325 for LICSWs.


Why Choose an Online Social Work Program in Minnesota?

Online Minnesota social work degrees offer students flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Online students can complete assignments at their convenience from any location. Distance learners can balance school with other responsibilities and save money and time on travel. Many schools offer full- and part-time options and allow online students to complete fieldwork locally. Some programs also offer accelerated or advanced-standing tracks.

Ranking Methodology

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

Bemidji State University

Bemidji State University serves 5,100 students with programs on campus in Bemidji, Minnesota, and online. The Social Work Department offers a hybrid bachelor of science in social work that enrolls about 20 students in a cohort every two years. Students can prepare for generalist social work practice that embraces scholarship, professional ethics, social and economic justice, and global interconnectedness.

The Social Work Department does not offer a graduate degree. Students may complete a minor in chemical and behavior health, a certificate for alcohol and drug counselors, or certificate in school social work preparation and licensure.


Bemidji State University's Bachelor of Science in Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: 69 credits. Students visit the BSU campus one Saturday each month for face-to-face learning and practical application of their skills. They can complete all of the remaining coursework online. The courses cover topics such as generalist practice, family dynamics, and social welfare policy.
  • Completion Time: Students can complete the program in two years by taking 2-3 classes per term. The department requires that students transfer an associate of arts into this BSW.
  • Field Education: 540 hours, including a culminating 480-hour block internship at a relevant agency.
  • Transfer Policies: Students must transfer an AA into this program.
  • Online Student Support: BSU offers online tutoring services through Tutor.com, assistance at its writing resource center, and online success coaches at the Distance Minnesota Support Center.
  • Cost: $450/credit
  • Admission Requirements: An associate of arts with a minimum 2.25 GPA.

Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Bemidji State University's bachelor of science in social work is CSWE-accredited.

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Minnesota State University - Mankato

Minnesota State University-Mankato offers a comprehensive catalog that includes 85 graduate programs. Faculty and students can perform cutting-edge research in state-of-the-art facilities. The Department of Social Work offers bachelor's and master's degrees with a broad, generalist social work focus.

Students can receive the theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to work with members of the community, from infants to the elderly. MSW graduates work with clients as clinicians helping them address issues such as child abuse, poverty, and mental illness.


Minnesota State University - Mankato's Master of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: Traditional MSW students can complete 59 credits. Advanced standing students can complete 34 credits. The hybrid program is available on a full-time basis with classes held on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. MSW participants must complete all courses in sequence.
  • Completion Time: Traditional MSW students can complete the program in two years. Advanced standing students finish the program over four semesters.
  • Field Education: 960 hours. During the foundation year students complete 460 hours, while the specialization year requires a 500-hour practicum.
  • Exam Preparation: This Minnesota social work master's prepares students for the ASWB exam, a prerequisite for Minnesota licensure as licensed graduate social workers, licensed independent clinical social workers, and licensed independent social workers.
  • Cost: $489/credit
  • Admission Requirements: A minimum 3.0 GPA. Advanced standing applicants must hold a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree.

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

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University of St. Thomas

University of St. Thomas, as the largest private college in Minnesota, provides 10,000 students with a rigorous Catholic education. The School of Social Work enrolls more than 500 social work students in bachelor of social work, master of social work, and doctorate in social work programs. The school launched the doctorate in 2014 to prepare college-level social work faculty. The program grooms scholar-practitioners skilled in transformative teaching, writing for publications, and pursuing social justice through service and leadership.


University of St. Thomas's Doctor in Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: This degree requires 45 semester credits, 15 courses. The program utilizes a cohort model to build a community of practitioners with strong personal and professional connections. Faculty use both synchronous and asynchronous modes of online delivery. Students must attend a two-week on-campus residency each summer in St. Paul. To culminate the program, students must complete a banded dissertation subject to the peer review process.
  • Completion Time: Students can complete the degree in three years as part of a cohort.
  • Cost: $1131/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Applicants must hold a CSWE-accredited master of social work with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA.

The University of St. Thomas is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The University of St. Thomas's social work programs are CSWE-accredited. However, CSWE does not accredit DSW and Ph.D. programs.

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