An online bachelor's degree in social work provides learners with the knowledge needed to obtain entry-level positions in the field. Students learn how to empathize with their clients, communicate effectively, and solve problems. Learners are also taught about additional resources that can help their clients, such Alcoholics Anonymous.
There are many types of social work that professionals can pursue. Most students pursue the type of social work that aligns best with their personal and career interests. Many social work programs offer opportunities for specialization, which may focus on the type of social work in which a learner is most interested. Graduates have the skills to help others in the most efficient manner.
A bachelor's in social work also prepares students to pursue an advanced degree. Learners can choose to continue their education with a master's or doctoral degree in social work and acquire more career opportunities.
Pursuing online social work bachelor's degree programs is a good decision for students who need flexibility. Online programs are typically delivered asynchronously, meaning that students can complete their coursework on their own schedule. This helps students maintain personal and career responsibilities. Working while in college gives students the advantage of being able to pay for tuition and living expenses without having to take out as many student loans.
Some colleges and universities have a designated online tuition rate, which is usually lower than the on-campus student rate. Other universities offer the in-state tuition rate to all online students. Most bachelor's in social work programs require students to complete an internship, which online students can complete in their own communities.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online Bachelor's Degree in Social Work
The completion time for an online bachelor's degree in social work will vary between schools. Typically, the programs consist of about 125 credits. In addition to the required coursework, students also have to fulfill internship and fieldwork requirements, which usually takes around four years.
Social work bachelor's programs cover a wide range of topics. Students will learn different skills and topics through practical application. Some courses will focus on a specific type of social work, while others will provide broad perspective. Below is a list of common classes that students in social work programs complete.
|Generalist Social Work Practice||In this course, students get an introduction to social work practice while learning about the knowledge, skills, and values that are used daily in the profession. They learn what a typical day as a social worker looks like and about different situations they may encounter professionally.|
|Social Welfare Programs, Policies, and Issues||Students learn about policy analysis, service delivery systems, and the influences and effects of policy in regards to practice and planning decisions. They practice these elements during assignments.|
|Human Behavior and the Social Environment||Learners are taught the different theories within human behavior, including ecological perspective, social learning theory, and eco psychology emphasizing the life cycle.|
|Social Work Practice with Groups||In this course, students learn how to use teamwork in their chosen field. They are taught group dynamics and how to communicate with others. They also learn how to interact professionally and effectively.|
|Foundations of Social Justice||Students learn about the demographics and history of diverse cultural groups in the United States. They also learn about ethnic-sensitive social work practice and how to handle cultural diversity.|
Many students have the opportunity to pursue a concentration. Specializations typically focus on a specific field within social work, better preparing them for related careers. Here are some of the most common concentrations available to social work students:
School Social Work
Many bachelor's of social work students make the decision to continue their education and pursue their master of social work degree. Earning a master's in social work is an excellent next step for bachelor's students because it allows them to pursue a variety of licenses, which can lead to a career in clinical social work. Bachelor of social work programs are often geared toward being a first step for students interested in entering the social work field. The programs prepare students for what to expect during their master's program.
Because a master of social work degree opens more career and licensure opportunities, students who have a master's in social work are also able to earn a higher salary. Master's graduates also have the option to continue earn a doctorate in social work, which will prepare to work as a postsecondary teacher.
Bachelor's graduates are prepared for positions such as social and community service manager, substance abuse counselor, and caseworker. Careers in this field are about helping others; all social workers are interested in and dedicated to helping their patients, and they are always looking for ways to improve to ensure they are offering the best services and advice possible.
Caseworker (Bachelor's Social Worker)Caseworkers or bachelor's social workers help people identify, solve, and cope with the problems they face in their daily lives. They work in a number of different settings, including schools, child welfare and human service agencies, and hospitals.
Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment SpecialistProbation officers or correctional treatment specialists offer social services to help rehabilitate offenders who are either in custody, on parole, or on probation. They work in an intense work environment that sometimes requires fieldwork.
Social and Community Service ManagerSocial and community service managers organize, coordinate, and supervise different social service programs and community organizations. They work for nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and private social service companies.
Social and Human Service AssistantSocial and human service assistants provide client services of all types, including offering support to families, social work, and psychology. They provide assistance to social workers and help clients find community services and benefits.
Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder CounselorSubstance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors work with people who struggle with alcoholism, eating disorders, mental health issues, drug addiction, or other behavioral or mental problems. They provide treatment, support, and advice to their patients.
Salaries and Job Outlook for Social Workers
|Occupation||Minimum Degree Required||Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
|Caseworker (BSW Social Worker)||Bachelor's||682,100||$23.07||$47,980|
|Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist||Bachelor's||91,300||$24.71||$51,410|
|Social and Community Service Manager||Bachelor's||147,300||$30.82||$64,100|
|Social and Human Service Assistant||Associate||389,800||$15.92||$33,120|
|Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselor||Bachelor's||102,400||$20.82||$43,400|
In many states, graduates with an online bachelor's degree in social work can obtain entry-level positions without having to gain licensure. For more advanced positions, such as clinical social worker, graduates must obtain licensure, which requires them to hold at least a master's in social work, complete between 2,000 and 4,000 supervised clinical hours, and pass a state exam. Some states offer non-clinical, master's-level licenses, which have less strict requirements, but do not prepare students to practice independently.
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must obtain licensure in order to become qualified to work in most states. Other careers just have educational requirements. In most cases, a probation officer and caseworker must hold at least a bachelor's degree in the field.
The two most common types of accreditation are regional and national. Credits earned from regionally accredited institutions are more widely accepted by other college programs. Degrees earned from regionally accredited schools are also more desired by employers, as they usually have more rigorous standards. Students pursuing their online bachelor's degree in social work need to pay attention to accreditation. If bachelor's students wish to continue their education by earning a master of social work, they will need to have bachelor's credits from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited college or university. Licensing requirements outline that applicants must have earned their bachelor's or master's degree from a college or university that is CSWE-accredited.
Professional organizations offer many opportunities for students and graduates, such as events, which serve as networking opportunities. They can also help students find employment, and they provide a way to share ideas.
The NASW is the largest membership organization of social work professionals in the world, with over 120,000 members.
The IFSW represents more than three million social workers and 120 professional social work associations. The organization contributes to developing a social and just world.
The NABSW consists of African-American social workers who advocate for social justice, change, and the development of the black community.
The SSWR is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing social work research and improving the support that is given to social workers.
The SSWAA is an organization dedicated to empowering school social workers and promoting their profession in order to improve the emotional, social, and academic growth of students.
There are many scholarship opportunities available to social work students. Scholarships help alleviate the cost of higher education, and the funds do not have to be repaid. Students often have to meet GPA requirements and other criteria to become eligible for certain scholarships.
Social Work Scholarships
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Scholarship Funds $8,000
National Association of Black Social Workers Scholarships Varies
Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans $20,000 to $25,000
Freemont Foundation Scholarship Program Varies
SIP Scholarship Program Varies
Elizabeth J. Davis Scholarship $3,000
Senior Care Scholarship $3,000
Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship for Outreach and Health Communications $5,000
Bethesda Lutheran Communities Student Scholastic and Service Scholarship $3,000
NFRW National Pathfinder Scholarship $2,500
- Clinical Social Work Association The CSWA is an organization that works to keep clinical social workers and students enrolled in a master's or doctoral social work program informed on what is going on in the field.
- American Clinical Social Work Association The ACSWA offer online resources to serve as a place for social work students and professionals to connect with one another, sharing ideas and networking. The site posts trends in the industry and relevant news stories.
- American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry AAGP is a national association that serves and represents members in geriatric psychiatry. The organization offers networking and collaboration opportunities, access to the members-only website, free educational publications, and discounts on annual meetings.
- American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children APSAC works to improve society's response to the abuse and neglect of children by promoting approaches to the identification, intervention, treatment, and prevention of child maltreatment. The organization offers networking and education opportunities, access to publications and resources, and discounts on clinics.