Bachelor of Social Work Online Degree

If you are interested in a profession that can make a big impact on people’s lives, consider a social work career.

To get started as a social worker, you need a bachelor’s degree in the field. An online bachelor’s in social work (BSW) offers flexibility and convenience for students who cannot necessarily commit to a traditional, on-campus degree.

Find out what to expect from an online bachelor of social work program and learn more about how it can prepare for this new career.

Featured Online Social Work Degrees

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Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree Overview

An online BSW explores how to work with and distribute essential aid to vulnerable people. Students learn about helping families or children in need of assistance and providing social services in schools and healthcare settings.

In addition to prerequisite general education courses like psychology and sociology, BSW programs cover issues, such as social justice and welfare services. Social work programs also require at least 400 hours of supervised field work. This allows students to gain professional, in-person experience in their chosen specialization.

Bachelor’s degrees typically require 120 credits for completion and last four years. Some schools may offer an online bachelor of social work degree at an accelerated pace or with part-time enrollment options.

A BSW serves as the first step in a student’s education. Some learners go on to pursue a master’s degree in the field, which qualifies them to become a licensed clinical social worker. Others go further, opting for a doctor of social work.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Programs

When researching prospective online degrees in social work, consider accredited programs only. The accreditation system evaluates colleges and higher education programs to ensure they offer students a valuable education. Employers value accredited degrees, and graduate schools do not even consider applicants with unaccredited degrees.

Regional accreditation agencies, such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges,evaluate schools within specific areas of the United States. In addition, look for programs that hold accreditation from the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).

Earning a Bachelor of Social Work Online

Online programs make social work degrees more accessible. If you are wondering whether an online degree is right for you, weigh considerations like your own schedule and what program format works best for your lifestyle.

While many schools offer fully online coursework, some programs require campus visits, such as orientation. Colleges may also facilitate hybrid degrees, which combine on-campus and online classes. Keep in mind that all fieldwork must be completed in person. Often, students can find fieldwork options at approved locations close to the student’s home.

Colleges may either run their programs through an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous courses allow learners to study at their own pace, whereas synchronous courses require students to join streaming lectures and classes at scheduled times.

You can also find full- and part-time options or enroll in an accelerated program, which allows you to graduate sooner but requires more intensive study.

Advantages of Earning a Bachelor’s in Social Work Online

An online degree can come with many advantages, especially for students who cannot commit to a traditional, on-campus program. Some benefits of pursuing an online bachelor of social work include:

  • Convenience: With on-campus programs, students may need to commute to class or relocate to attend class. Distance learners can study on their own schedule from home or any location convenient to them.
  • Cost Savings: Students can save money by avoiding commuting costs and on-campus fees. In addition, some schools offer special online rates or in-state tuition for online students.
  • Flexibility: If you have other commitments, such as working or caring for children, an online program offers more flexibility. Many schools offer asynchronous classes to fit students’ busy schedules. Plus, distance learning programs often give students the choice of enrolling part- or full-time.

Featured Online Social Work Degrees

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The Best Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Programs

Below, you’ll find our ranked list of the best online BSW programs.

We use a data-driven methodology to determine the best social work programs based on four primary factors: academic quality, overall cost, reputation, and accessibility.

1. University of Louisville

At Kentucky’s University of Louisville, learners can pursue a bachelor of social work (BSW) and complete all of their coursework online. Virtual learning is balanced with hands-on experiential learning and practicums. The 120-credit curriculum, which focuses on effective interventions to address complex social justice issues, features an optional drug and alcohol counseling specialization.

Graduates can enter UofL’s 30-credit master of science in social work program with advanced standing.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate, a 2.5 GPA, an ACT score of 20, and completion of pre-college coursework. Admitted students can transfer up to 60 community college and 90 four-year college credits.

2. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The online bachelor of science in social work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville serves transfer students with 60 transferable credits and an associate degree from a community college. Synchronous coursework, augmented by asynchronous content, includes electives in crisis intervention and suicidology, forensic social work, and working with active military and veterans.

Enrollees are assigned a field coordinator to help find field practicum placements, which they complete in person under the supervision of a professional social worker. The curriculum spans five terms with milestone courses, including Introduction to interpersonal social work practice and social welfare policy and programs, requiring a 2.5 GPA.

Admission requirements include college transcripts and a 2.0 GPA.

3. Northern Arizona University

North Arizona University offers a bachelor of social work (BSW) online or on campus that emphasizes advocacy for marginalized individuals and groups to further social justice. Students complete an onsite internship or fieldwork and a quantitative reasoning course. Graduates qualify to apply for state licensure.

In-person classes take place at the main campus in Flagstaff or in Yuma. Distance learners follow a traditional semester-based course schedule with deadlines for assignments.

BSW admission requires 24 credits in progress at NAU (including people to people: social welfare and social work) with a B grade, and a 2.25 GPA. Transfer students can apply up to 75 credits toward their degree.

4. Wayne State University

The online bachelor of social work (BSW) at Detroit, Michigan-based WSU features cohort-based part- or full-time learning options. Course delivery is asynchronous. The campus field education office arranges for students’ 460 hours of field training.

Students can opt to pursue a minor in social justice or law. Those with a 3.5 GPA can apply for departmental honors, which offer scholarships and undergraduate research opportunities.

BSW applicants must have completed at least 60 transferable college-level credits and pre-professional coursework in introduction to social work, American government, introduction to sociology, human biology, and introduction to psychology. Applicants also need a 2.5 GPA.

5. Huntington University

Indiana’s Huntington University offers a bachelor of social work online grounded in Christian faith and designed to prepare graduates for state licensure. Distance learners also complete in-person community service and field training, including an intercultural practicum and a senior practicum under the supervision of a social worker with at least three years of practice experience.

The 120-credit curriculum includes classes in child and adolescent development, introduction to addictions, and social policy.

Interested students should contact an online admissions counselor. Applicants complete an online degree application and submit high school and college transcripts. Those with 24 college credits do not need to provide high school transcripts.

How to Apply to an Online Bachelor of Social Work Program

When you apply for an undergraduate social work degree, make sure you submit all required materials. Begin by filling out an application with background on your biographical information and academic or extracurricular history.

Colleges typically require applicants to submit their high school transcripts, and some schools may set a minimum GPA for admission. You may need to write a personal essay outlining your academic or career goals or provide recommendation letters that highlight your ability to succeed in the program.

Finally, check any requirements for standardized tests. You may need to submit ACT or SAT scores with your application.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work?

An online bachelor’s degree in social work prepares students for careers that make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Social work graduates with a bachelor’s degree can work in nonclinical roles. An undergraduate program can also serve as a stepping stone for a master’s degree and eventually clinical social work roles. Social workers earned a median salary of about $50,390 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS).

Graduates can become counselors, guiding people with substance abuse or mental health issues. These professionals made a median pay of $48,520 in 2021, BLS data shows.

For greater earning potential, social work graduates might consider a career as a probation officer or treatment specialist. These professionals, who earned median pay of $60,250 in 2021, according to the BLS, work to rehabilitate people who have broken the law.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online BSW Programs

Can I become a social worker online?

Some steps to becoming a social worker can be completed online, such as enrolling in an online bachelor’s in social work. However, even though many schools offer distance learning programs, you must still complete your supervised fieldwork in person.

Is an online social work degree worth it?

If your goal is to enter the social work field, then earning a degree in social work is certainly worth it. For one, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification to find a job as a social worker. Many people find online degrees to be worth it for the flexibility and convenience that distance learning provides.

What can you do after completing an online social work degree?

Social work graduates can either go straight into the workforce, or they can pursue a master’s in social work to qualify for clinical positions. Even without graduate school, social work degree-holders can become social workers, counselors, probation officers and treatment specialists, or social and community service managers.

Can I make a living as a social worker?

Yes. In fact, the BLS reports there are more than 700,000 social workers in the United States. Social workers earn a median pay of about $50,000 per year. In addition, the BLS projects a job growth of 9% from 2021 to 2031.

Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.