Social Work Degrees in Rhode Island is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

A social work degree prepares students to provide services such as therapy and counseling. Social workers improve the safety and well-being of community members by connecting them to resources. Social work is a division of the growing healthcare industry, and demand for social workers is increasing; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects social work positions to increase 16% by 2026.

the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects social work positions in Rhode Island to increase 16% by 2026

Mental health clinics, schools, human services agencies, and hospitals hire social workers, and according to the BLS, social workers in Rhode Island earn some of the highest salaries in the country. Child, family, and school social workers in the state earn a mean wage of $61,530 per year; the annual mean wage for all other industries in Rhode Island is $53,110. With a population of slightly more than one million, the competition for social work jobs in Rhode Island is lower than in more populous states.

Healthcare facilities consistently hire social workers to help coordinate patient services, and many graduates of social work schools in Rhode Island work with the elderly, hospice patients, people with mental disorders, and those with substance abuse issues. Clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and generally have more career opportunities than professionals with lower levels of education.

Featured Online Programs in Social Work

How to Become a Social Worker in Rhode Island

Aspiring social workers should pursue the level of education that aligns with their career goals. Graduates then obtain state licensure to qualify for social work positions. The Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) creates and distributes social work exams throughout the United States. Candidates must submit ASWB exam scores to receive a social work license in Rhode Island. ASWB offers several exams based on the candidate’s education level. Candidates taking the ASWB clinical exam must have at least two years of post-graduate experience.

Students in master of social work programs complete a supervised practicum or internship. Graduates psychology or sociology degrees can complete required exams to obtain a social work license. In Rhode Island, licensed clinical social workers must have a master or doctor of social work. Licensed independent clinical social workers must have a master’s or doctorate, must complete at least 3,000 practicum hours, and must pass the ASWB clinical exam. The Rhode Island Board of Social Work Examiners reviews applications and distributes licenses. Licensed social workers must renew their license and complete at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Rhode Island

Students may pursue a bachelor, master, or doctor of social work, depending on their career goals. Licensed clinical social workers need a master’s or doctorate and typically earn the highest salaries in the field. Some students choose to earn an associate degree, which typically takes two years and qualifies holders for support positions as social and human service assistants.

Most full-time students complete a bachelor of social work program in four years, and associate degree holders typically need only two years to earn a BSW. Graduates of bachelor’s programs often work in case and program management or as community organizers. Graduates with a master of social work are eligible for state licensure and often supervise other social workers.

Associate Degree

An associate degree in the field requires introductory coursework in psychology, sociology, and other social sciences. Full-time students typically earn their associate in two years, and associate degree holders qualify for support positions in the human services field. These positions provide knowledge and experience; graduates work under the supervision of licensed clinical social workers.

Bachelor’s Degree

Full-time students typically complete BSW programs in four years; most associate degree holders need only two years. Bachelor’s students gain interpersonal and professional skills needed to provide direct client care as case managers and mental health assistants.

Master’s Degree

A master of social work qualifies graduates to become licensed clinical social workers. Master’s programs require a practicum, and full-time students typically earn the degree in two years. Students learn assessment and management techniques to prepare for supervisory and administrative roles.

Doctoral Degree

Social workers interested in research roles often pursue doctoral degrees. A doctor of social work is designed for professionals with a master’s degree and years of experience in the industry. Doctoral degrees require five to nine years, and candidates complete a dissertation project.

Finding a Social Work Program in Rhode Island

When selecting a social work program, prospective students should consider several factors, including cost. Most students need financial assistance, such as loans, grants, and scholarships. Social work programs in Rhode Island are available from community colleges and the state’s top universities. Students on a budget should look for programs in an affordable price range. Learners should also consider the program’s location and its proximity to support resources and internship sites. Even for students attending online social work programs in Rhode Island, location can affect available resources.

Program lengths also vary. Some schools offer accelerated bachelor’s programs, and others offer dual bachelor’s and master’s programs that allow students to earn both degrees simultaneously. Prospective students should also consider available specializations, and online learners should find out whether the program helps arrange internships. To save money, many students earn an associate degree at a community college before transferring to a four-year program. Working students often choose online programs for the flexible scheduling options.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Rhode Island?

Graduates with a social work degree in Rhode Island pursue a variety of lucrative careers. However, candidates for licensure must hold a degree from an accredited institution. Most reputable on-campus and online social work programs hold accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which holds programs to rigorous standards. CSWE-accredited programs prepare students to work in challenging settings with individuals from various backgrounds.

Online learners use technology to communicate with instructors and peers. Program counselors help students register for supervised field placements and locate job opportunities. After earning a master of social work, graduates can apply for a license through the Rhode Island Board of Social Work Examiners. Graduates of accredited on-campus or online social work programs in Rhode Island qualify for licensure.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges awards regional accreditation to Rhode Island institutions. CSWE provides specialized accreditation for social work programs. Both NEASC and CSWE accredit online programs. Contact the prospective school’s admissions office to determine its accreditation status.

See The Best Online MSW Programs

How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Rhode Island?

Degree completion time varies by enrollment status and program requirements. Most full-time student searn their master’s in two years, while part-time students may require three years. Credit requirements also impact completion time; most master of social work programs comprise 40 to 60 credits.

Field placements are integral to social work programs. Known as a practicum or internship, MSW field placements comprise up to 1,000 hours of supervised fieldwork. Many BSW programs also include a practicum component.

Online programs have different formats. Students in individually paced, asynchronous classes complete coursework at their convenience. Learners in cohort-based programs, on the other hand, move through the curriculum in small groups of peers. During synchronous classes, students must log in at a specified time and participate in real-time discussions.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Rhode Island?

The cost of a social work degree varies widely. Some schools offer discounted tuition rates for online courses. Other schools charge the same tuition rate for online and on-campus courses; however, distance learners often save on costs including campus housing and transportation.

Applicants to master of social work programs must take an entrance exam; the GRE costs $160. Before practicing, graduates must obtain state licensure, which requires candidates to take an ASWB exam; the ASWB clinical exam costs $230, and the advanced generalist exam costs $260.

To register with the state, applicants must submit payment and documentation to the Rhode Island Board of Social Work Examiners. The state license application costs $70. Licensed social workers must complete continuing education and must periodically renew their license, which costs $100. Some employers pay for continuing education courses.

Types of Social Work Licenses in Rhode Island

To provide counseling services, social workers must be registered and licensed in the state. Nonclinical social workers provide support services to clients under the supervision of a licensed social worker. Many states also require nonclinical social workers to hold licensure, however Rhode Island does not. Graduates with a social work degree in Rhode Island qualify for many support positions.

The licensing process takes several weeks and involves a review of the applicant’s test scores and professional documents

Licensed clinical independent social workers must complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised practice to qualify for NASW certification and state licensure. Licensed social workers can legally counsel and diagnose clients. The licensing process takes several weeks and involves a review of the applicant’s test scores and professional documents. Candidates in Rhode Island can obtain the licensed clinical social worker credential (LCSW) or the licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) credential. Organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offer certifications that demonstrate knowledge and expertise in the field. Candidates for NASW certification must be NASW members and must have completed certain educational and practicum requirements. Members can apply for multiple certifications.

Applicants for most social work certifications must have an advanced degree and a certain number of continuing education hours in a social work specialty. NASW offers certifications in leadership, addiction, case management, and gerontology and a certification for military social workers. ASWB offers resources to help social workers find local continuing education courses. ASWB members have access to professional training seminars that may qualify them for certification. NASW offers the licenses and certifications listed below.


Applicants must have a master of social work and must have completed at least 3,000 hours of practicum experience. Applicants must submit college transcripts, ASWB exam results, a supervised practice form, and professional references. This license qualifies social workers to counsel and assess clients.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


The NASW awards this credential to BSW graduates who have a passing score on the ASWB bachelor’s exam, an LBSW license, and 4,500 hours of supervised professional experience. Social work case managers evaluate clients’ emotional well-being within the social welfare system. This credential demonstrates biopsychosocial assessment skills.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

An online social work degree provides psychological and sociological knowledge. Social workers must understand human behavior and the social welfare system. Graduates may work directly with clients or may develop resources as program administrators. Most social work occupations involve researching and connecting clients with social services.

Healthcare Social Workers

Healthcare social workers act as liaisons between healthcare providers and patients. They offer psychosocial support to clients battling illnesses. These professionals typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

These social workers deal with children and families in home and school settings. They facilitate adoptions and remove children from abusive environments. They also work with schools to eliminate bullying and teen pregnancy.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

These counselors provide individual or group therapy for clients battling addiction or suffering from mental health disorders. They organize 12-step programs and Alcoholics Anonymous chapters, and they locate resources for clients.

Social and Human Services Assistants

This entry-level position is ideal for individuals with an associate or bachelor’s degree in social work. Assistants work with social workers and other healthcare provides to complete paperwork and determine the type of services a client needs.

Social and Community Service Managers

After earning a bachelor of social work, graduates qualify for roles as social services managers. These managers implement social services programs in the community and supervise social workers and social services assistants.


 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,520$61,530
Healthcare Social Workers690$52,090
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers650$47,780
Social Workers, All Other110$75,710

Source: BLS

Featured Programs in Social Work

Scholarships for Social Work Majors in Rhode Island

Students attending social work schools in Rhode Island often apply for scholarships to offset the cost of tuition and expenses. The Rhode Island Foundation website highlights scholarships and fellowships in the state. The scholarships below are available to students attending on-campus and online social work programs in Rhode Island.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: Applicants must be state residents pursuing a master of social work from Rhode Island College. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in Rhode Island

  • Association of Social Work Boards The ASWB website offers resources for current and prospective social workers. Individuals can apply and study for ASWB exams and learn about continuing education opportunities. ASWB also distributes a monthly newsletter with information about organization meetings and conferences.
  • State of Rhode Island Department of Health The Board of Social Work Examiners is a division of Rhode Island’s department of health. The board offers licensing forms and information about state social work regulations and statutes. The website provides a database of licensed social workers and general health and wellness information.
  • National Association of Social Workers Rhode Island Chapter The Rhode Island chapter of NASW supports local social workers.The chapter provides consultation services to help members understand the organization’s ethical standards. The chapter also hosts an annual awards celebration and maintains a charity foundation.
  • Rhode Island Hospital Rhode Island Hospital founded its social work program in 1911 to help patients and their families cope with illness. Today, the hospital has expanded its program to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and local outpatient clinics. The hospital’s hotline connects patients and families with local social workers.
  • Day One RI Day One works to address and prevent sexual abuse and violence within the state. The organization provides comprehensive services to victims, including individual and group counseling, legal aid, educational workshops, and a 24-hour helpline. Day One also works with students at Rhode Island colleges to reduce sexual assault.