Top Online Social Work Degree Programs

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WHAT IS AN ONLINE SOCIAL WORK DEGREE?

Online social work degree programs offer flexible course work on how to help others. You may also pursue an in person practicum or internship, which could be near home.

Social work programs cover areas like human behavior and diverse populations. They explore how to assist individuals with challenges like unemployment, addiction, and illness. And, they could help you prepare for roles in the fast growing social work field.

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TYPES OF ONLINE SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAMS

Master of Social Work – Mental Health

M.S. Work – Families and Children

Master of Science in Human Services – Organizational and Social Services

This MSW program focuses on the mental health needs of adults across their life span. The program also covers the foundations in social work, like professional competencies.This MSW program covers the needs of children, youth, and their families. You’ll study core social work skill areas, plus ways to foster supportive social environments for children.This program focuses on how to improve the quality of life for diverse populations. In this focus, you’ll study how to manage resources and run programs that meet community needs.
Course Examples:

  • Theories of Health and Mental Health
  • Policy in Integrated Care
  • Research and Evaluation for Social Work
Course Examples:

  • Social Work Practice with Children and Families Across Settings
  • Policy and Macro Practice in Child, Youth and Family Services
Course Examples:

  • History and Diversity in Human Services
  • Human Development
Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)Program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)No specific program accreditation

ONLINE SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAMS

Online social work degree programs can be found at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD levels. What each program has in common is a focus on others’ well being. You will explore the needs of diverse communities and populations. And, you’ll discover ways you could make a difference.

ONLINE BACHELOR’S

In an online BSW program, you’ll pursue a broad overview of the social work field. Courses in human behavior, psych, and social policy lay the ground work for more in depth studies. Research and statistics may also be key at this level.

You may be able to choose electives or a focus area that interests you. Some of these include addiction, criminal justice, health care, and child welfare.

Bachelor’s in social work programs include courses like:

  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment
  • Ethics in Professional Helping
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Diversity and Multi culturalism
  • Social Work Research
  • Victimology
  • Working with Aging Populations
  • Intro to Field Work

Although course work is online, programs often feature in person field work and practicums. 400 to 600 hours of field work is normal for a BSW program. This is a chance to apply your knowledge in a social work setting, with professional supervision.

ONLINE MASTER’S

An online MSW program delves deeper than a BSW and may help you prepare for clinical, specialist, and advanced practice career paths. (A BSW is not needed to pursue an MSW degree program. But, students with a BSW could pursue Advanced Practice MSW programs and potentially earn the degree in less time.)

Course work explores many applications and settings for social work, like schools and mental health clinics. Expect to study not just social work practice, but the theory and policies that inform practice. And, you could choose a focus like Clinical Practice or Policy, Planning & Administration.

Social work master’s programs include courses like:

  • Social Work History and Welfare Policy
  • Diversity and Oppression
  • Program and Strategic Planning
  • LGBT Psycho/Social/Political Issues
  • Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees

Finally, field work plays a big role in most MSW programs. 900 hours of field education is typical. You could pursue this experience at a local hospital, local health agency, school, or other facilities.

ONLINE DOCTORATE

Online PhD programs focus on social work theory, policy, and advanced topics. They often require a dissertation or research project in your area of interest.

You may deal with two main types of social work doctorate. A Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program is usually practice based. It may be aimed at those pursuing clinical or admin roles. A PhD in Social Work program focuses more on research and methods. It may be ideal for you if you have an interest in an academic career path.

WHAT DO SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM COURSES LOOK LIKE?

Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Study how human behavior affects our daily lives. You may learn the way different groups live side by side with positive and negative results.

Ethics in Professional Helping: Every person has basic human rights. This course aims to teach how certain factors protect our rights or threaten them.

Chemical Dependency: Using drugs and other substances the wrong way can cause problems. You may learn to recognize and treat those problems to improve people’s lives.

Oppression and the Struggle for Human Rights: The world includes people from many different groups. You could learn to help those who are treated unfairly because of things like race, gender, health and age.

Social Work Research: You may learn to use science to research social issues. Your own studies could spot problems, offer solutions and help people see things differently.

Violence and the Community: This course looks at how violence affects people in neighborhoods. You may learn about child abuse, drug trafficking, war and other forms of violence.

Working with Aging Populations: Older people may develop mental and physical problems. You could learn to recognize those problems and help them live better lives.

Intro to Fieldwork: What you learn in class could be used to help people in the field. You may visit places to meet people and find ways to support them.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SOCIAL WORK DEGREE ONLINE?

Earning a BSW degree takes about four years for full time students. These programs are usually around 120 credits long.

An online MSW program calls for around 36 to 60 credits. Program length depends on whether you have earned a BSW and are eligible for Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing students could earn an MSW in as little as one year. If you didn’t earn a BSW and you don’t qualify for Advanced Standing, it could take two or more years to earn your MSW.

Online DSW or PhD in Social Work programs may require 42 to 52 credits. They take about two to three and a half years to earn.

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SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAM EXAMPLES

School# of Credits RequiredMinimum Months to Complete
Simmons University6516
University of Southern California37 (advanced standing)12
University of Louisville6024

HOW MUCH DOES AN ONLINE SOCIAL WORK DEGREE PROGRAM COST?

Last check, social work students paid median in state public tuition of $6,670 per year. Out of state private tuition was $29,160 per year.

Often, online social work degree programs charge by the credit. Compare the cost per credit at these schools with online social work programs:

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
Regis College60$875$52,500
Northcentral University60$2,163 (per course)$43,260
Purdue University Global45$420$18,900

TOP SCHOOLS FOR SOCIAL WORK DEGREE ONLINE PROGRAMS

According to the most recent data, 794 schools offered social work programs. From those schools, 53,773 degrees were awarded to students. Most of these were Master’s degrees.

School2017 Degrees awarded2019/20 Tuition (out of state unless *)
University of Southern California1478$58,195*
Rutgers University New Brunswick767$32,189
The University of Texas at Arlington726$28,129
Fordham University649$54,393*
New York University612$53,308*
Aurora University515$25,060*
Wayne State University514$28,887
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis481$30,710
CUNY Hunter College465$15,332
Columbia University in the City of New York460$61,788*

Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students

CHOOSING AN ACCREDITED ONLINE SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM

The Counsel on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in social work. Accreditation is based on many factors, like faculty qualifications and student diversity.

Accredited programs must have a program that teaches at least nine social work competencies. These include how to demonstrate ethical and professional behavior, how to advance human rights, and more.

In other words, choosing an accredited program can help you ensure the quality of your education. You can also look for regionally accredited schools. Choosing an accredited school is needed to qualify for federal financial aid. (Financial aid may be available for those who qualify.)

WHAT CAN I DO WITH A SOCIAL WORK DEGREE?

Social work grads in the work force were 763,692 in 2017. This number is growing by 3.87% (one year growth). In fact, projected job growth for social workers is over twice the average for all occupations. 11% more jobs are expected to be added between 2018 and 2028.

Do you fit the profile of a social work degree holder? The majority (87%) are female. And, the average age of a degree holder in this field is 43.1.

TOP SALARIES BY STATE FOR SOCIAL WORK DEGREE HOLDERS

The following data is for Child, Family, and School Social Workers. The numbers will differ for other social work career paths.

StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
District of Columbia2,250$71,590
New Jersey4,910$68,830
Connecticut5,360$68,360
Rhode Island1,660$63,310
Maryland4,610$61,910

SOCIAL WORK CAREER PATHS AND POTENTIAL SALARIES

SOCIAL WORKERS

This is the umbrella term for those who may work in schools, health care or directly with people struggling with many psychological troubles. The requirements for employment are different from one place to another, but the commonality is that all social workers actively try to assist people and find the help they need to overcome everyday problems.

Median Salary: $49,470 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 11% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree or higher

SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND BEHAVIORAL DISORDER COUNSELORS

These pros assist victims with addiction and those with issues that may affect physical and mental health. They put together programs and provide treatment and support for those that need it in order to put them on a track toward recovery. Advising individuals may continue long after behaviors have been successfully modified.

Median Salary: $44,630 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 22% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree

SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE MANAGERS

The public and private organizations where social workers are employed must be managed somehow. That’s where an administrative staff of social service managers comes into play. These pros focus on the bigger picture. They coordinate social service programs and direct the staff that provide assistance to the broader public. They direct where funds for the organizations goes and put together outreach programs to raise awareness and get people the help they need.

Median Salary: $65,320 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 13% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree

© Education Connection 2019. All Rights Reserved.

EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features.

Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.