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Social workers help people address health, employment, and relationship challenges. These professionals work with diverse populations in healthcare, marriage and family therapy, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and criminal corrections. Most of North Dakota’s social work professionals work with children, families, and schools. Many others serve as substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors.

In North Dakota, licensed social workers must possess a bachelor’s degree in social work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), community and social services employees in the far west North Dakota nonmetropolitan area earn a mean annual wage of $55,140. This is the nation’s second-highest pay rate for all nonmetropolitan areas. In North Dakota, licensed social workers must possess a bachelor’s degree in social work. Clinical social workers must hold a master’s.

Social work programs in North Dakota prepare in-state students for careers near home. Earning a social work degree here also connects students to professionals who understand the state’s unique licensure requirements. Students who earn a social work degree in North Dakota can also pursue careers in healthcare administration, community outreach, and life coaching.

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How to Become a Social Worker in North Dakota

To become a social worker in North Dakota, students must first earn a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Most BSW programs include a supervised fieldwork or practicum component. After earning a BSW, prospective social workers may apply for licensure by submitting transcripts, procuring professional references, undergoing a criminal background check, and passing the bachelor’s level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam.

licensed independent clinical social workers in North Dakota must possess at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience

Students interested in becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in North Dakota must first earn a a href=”/online-degrees/top-online-masters-in-social-work-programs/”>master’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited school. To enter an MSW program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject. BSW holders may enroll in an accelerated master’s program. After earning an MSW, graduates may apply for the LCSW credential. Licensure requirements include passing the master’s-level ASWB exam and submitting a background check.

In addition to fulfilling LCSW requirements, licensed independent clinical social workers (LICSWs) in North Dakota must possess at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience. To maintain licensure, North Dakota social workers must complete 30 years of continuing education every two years. At least 20 of these hours must be face-to-face, and two must relate to professional ethics.

Types of Social Work Degrees in North Dakota

Social work programs in North Dakota allow students to earn degrees ranging from the associate to doctoral level. Although advanced degrees in social work require more time and money, they also qualify students for more jobs, many of which boast higher salaries. Often, MSW programs also feature more opportunities for students to fund their learning through fellowships, research, and teaching.

Associate Degree

This two-year degree prepares students to earn a bachelor’s in social work. It may also qualify graduates for entry-level positions, as some states allow associate degree holders to become social work assistants.

Bachelor’s Degree

A BSW typically requires four years of school and qualifies North Dakota graduates to become licensed nonclinical social workers.

Master’s Degree

Most full-time MSW programs take two years to complete, though accelerated BSW to MSW tracks may require as little as one year. Earning an MSW part time may take closer to three years. In North Dakota, an MSW is the first step toward becoming an LCSW or LICSW.

Doctoral Degree

The Ph.D. and doctor of social work (DSW) are the field’s terminal degrees. While a DSW qualifies graduates for advanced clinical practice, a research-focused Ph.D. prepares students to teach in university settings.

Finding a Social Work Program in North Dakota

When researching social work programs in North Dakota, students should consider how each fits their academic needs and career aspirations. Social work schools in North Dakota offer differing specializations. First and foremost, students must ensure that their chosen program offers coursework in their area of interest.

Before enrolling in an on-campus program, students should also research its location. A school’s surrounding community can affect students’ fieldwork opportunities, support resources, and general college experience.

Students must also consider what they can afford. In-state students typically pay lower tuition than their out-of-state classmates. However, students who earn an online social work degree may pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live. Additionally, distance learners pay fewer fees related to transportation, housing costs, and unused campus facilities.

Online social work programs offer scheduling flexibility for working students and those with family obligations. While synchronous programs require learners to complete coursework according to a set schedule, asynchronous programs allow students to study at their own pace. Distance learners may sometimes earn their degrees more quickly than they would in an on-campus program.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in North Dakota?

Students interested in becoming social workers in North Dakota can complete a BSW or earn an MSW online through the University of North Dakota or through a variety of out-of-state online social work programs. UND allows students who already possess undergraduate credits to finish their BSW online. This two-year program prepares students to earn an MSW.

Top Online Social Work Program in North Dakota

Part-time UND students may also earn their MSW online. Students who hold a non-BSW undergraduate degree typically complete this program in three years. However, BSW holders may complete an accelerated MSW program in one to two years. Both UND programs are CSWE-accredited and prepare graduates for licensure.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in North Dakota?

Social work students typically spend two years earning an associate degree, four earning a bachelor’s, two earning a master’s, and four to six earning a Ph.D. However, additional licensure requirements may affect program length. For instance, becoming an LSW in North Dakota requires at least four years of school, while becoming an LCSW requires five to six years of school and at least two years of professional experience. Scheduling format, summer course availability, enrollment status, and transfer credit policies may also impact how long it takes students to become social workers.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in North Dakota?

Typically, in-state students earning their BSW from a public university pay approximately $8,500 per year in tuition. Out-of-state students at these schools may pay up to $21,000 yearly. Students earning an MSW have similar costs. For students pursuing a career in clinical social work, the cost of tuition to earn a BSW and an MSW may total between $50,000 and $120,000. Most MSW programs also require students to take the GRE, which costs $205.

After earning a degree, graduates must pay for licensure. In North Dakota, the LSW and LCSW require a $25 application fee, a $75 licensing fee, and a $40 criminal background check. Students must also take the bachelor’s- or master’s-level ASWB exam, which costs $230. The fees for becoming a LICSW are the same, except that the clinical-level ASWB exam costs $260. Post-licensure continuing education costs vary.

Types of Social Work Licenses in North Dakota

After becoming an LSW, LCSW, or LICSW, experienced social workers may earn certifications. Whereas licensure legally qualifies social workers to practice in their state, certification is voluntary. Certifications help social workers stand out by demonstrating expertise in a particular area of the field.

Although many organizations offer social work certifications, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) grants the credentials listed below. Only NASW members who possess an MSW may receive the association’s professional certifications, but anyone may apply for its advanced practice specialty credentials.

The following licenses and certifications are available to students who earn a social work degree in North Dakota.


Licensed clinical social workers can identify and treat clients with mental health, substance abuse, or behavioral disorders. All states require that clinical social workers possess at least a master’s degree in social work. One must also pass the ASWB clinical exam. The four-hour computer-based exam costs $260 and consists of 170 questions.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


This nonclinical credential requires a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree, a BSW-level license or passing score on the ASWB exam, three years of case management experience, and 4,500 hours of supervised experience.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

Social work graduates work in many fields. Some help those who suffer from drug abuse or mental health disorders, while others provide academic guidance to underperforming students. Social work employment settings include hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, and schools.

Graduates of social work programs in North Dakota may seek one of the careers listed below.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

These counselors assist people suffering from behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse issues. They help clients access recovery resources and manage their lifestyles. Most mental health counselors possess a master’s degree.

Marriage and Family Therapist

These therapists assist couples and families. They provide relationship guidance, suggest coping strategies, and encourage behavioral changes. They help clients navigate difficult life transitions. They typically possess a master’s degree and licensure.

Rehabilitation Counselor

These counselors help people with physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional disabilities become independent. They help clients access wellness resources, develop coping strategies, and transition to the workplace. Most hold a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or social work.

Probation Officer

These professionals assist in the rehabilitation of law offenders. They evaluate probationer progress, testify in court, and facilitate access to resources such as job training and substance abuse counseling.

School or Career Counselor

School counselors work with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students identify and achieve academic goals. Career counselors help clients choose a career path and find employment. Most possess a master’s degree and licensure.


 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers650$55,320
Healthcare Social Workers370$50,560
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers260$54,200
Social Workers, All Other500$58,630

Source: BLS

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Scholarships for Social Work Majors in North Dakota

Social work students in North Dakota can apply for general and degree-specific scholarships at the state and national level. Most scholarship organizations recognize students’ academic achievement, but others consider factors such as ethnicity, career interests, or community involvement.

Students attending social work schools in North Dakota may qualify for one of the scholarships listed below.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: This UND scholarship is available to MSW graduate students who demonstrate leadership acumen in social work public policy and administration. Application materials include a resume, recommendation letters, and an essay exploring a social work public policy issue. Applicants who plan to practice in North Dakota receive priority. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in North Dakota

  • National Association of Social Workers – North Dakota Chapter NASWND addresses social work policy, licensure, continuing education, and legislation. Members include social workers from healthcare, government, business, and academic settings.
  • Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota This organization connects licensed social workers to North Dakota’s neediest communities. LSSND professionals assist families through youth interventions, therapy services, senior independence initiatives, affordable housing assistance, and humanitarian outreach.
  • North Dakota Conference of Social Welfare This organization promotes nonpartisan social welfare reform, advocates for social welfare programs, and connects members to professional resources. Its annual conference features lectures, panels, and networking events.