A Comprehensive Guide to an Online Social Work Degree

Social workers dedicate their careers to helping people, often working with at-risk or vulnerable populations. Earning a social work degree online prepares graduates for a wide range of career opportunities, including working with individual clients, providing social services through government or nonprofit agencies, or working as a school social worker to help students succeed and cope with their problems. Social workers specialize in areas such as healthcare, mental health, poverty, and addiction.

Students interested in social work can pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in the field. After earning a social work degree, graduates can pursue jobs in social work, obtain licenses and certificates, and/or provide social work services to specialized groups. Social workers with a master’s degree can earn the clinical social worker license, which is required to diagnose and treat mental and behavioral issues.

The BLS projects that employment in this field will grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026, representing more than 100,000 new jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in this field will grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026, representing more than 100,000 new jobs. In addition to job growth, an online degree in social work is one of the most versatile degrees. Graduates can become counselors, managers, and administrators, in addition to pursuing many specialties. While earning an online social work degree, students can take specialized coursework related to children and families, healthcare, gerontology and aging, and mental health counseling.

Individuals with a passion for helping others and an interest in social welfare can pursue a range of careers by earning a social work degree online.

An online social work degree prepares graduates for many career opportunities in social work and related fields. There are several advantages to choosing an online degree in social work compared to enrolling in a traditional program. Students earning a social work degree online benefit from a flexible program that more readily accommodates working students, and individuals interested in online social work degrees can choose from top programs throughout the country rather than limiting their search to local schools.

Accessibility

An online social work degree allows students to access course lectures and materials anywhere, which lets learners work at their own pace. While some online social work degree programs hold scheduled class meetings, others provide continual access to course materials.

Flexibility

Earning a social work degree online provides flexibility, allowing students to begin a program on multiple dates throughout the year. By comparison, traditional programs may only enroll students at the start of the fall semester. An online social work degree program may also offer part-time or accelerated options.

School Options

Due to relocation restrictions, traditional students may be limited to local programs, but online social work degree tracks allow prospective learners to attend the top programs in the country, regardless of where they live. This can increase a graduate’s earning potential and job opportunities.

Diversity

Students from across the country, and around the world, enroll in online social work degree programs. These individuals bring a range of backgrounds and experiences to a degree program. Thus, students who earn an online degree in social work can benefit from an expansive professional network.

Technology

The curriculum encountered while enrolled in a social work online degree program incorporates a great deal of technology into the educational experience. This technology allows students to connect with their fellow classmates and faculty members, providing opportunities to interact and collaborate. Online learners also benefit from university resources specifically geared toward online programming.

Prospective social workers can pursue several different degrees, depending on their interests and career objectives. An online social work associate degree can prepare graduates to enter a bachelor’s program or pursue work immediately after graduation. The BLS considers a four-year bachelor’s the entry-level degree in this field, and an online bachelor’s degree in social work allows graduates to continue their education or find jobs in social work, government, or nonprofit organizations.

Many social work positions require at least a master’s in social work. Earning a master’s degree in social work online prepares graduates to apply for the clinical social work license or pursue careers in mental health counseling, healthcare social work, or other specialities in the field. The highest degree in social work is a doctorate, which requires a major time commitment.

Median Salary for a Social Worker by Degree
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work $40,000
Master’s Degree in Social Work $50,000

Associate Degree in Social Work

Online social work associate degrees prepare graduates for entry-level jobs in the field of human services. Although many social work careers require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, an associate degree allows students to learn about the field and potentially transfer into a four-year program. Degree seekers may also consider an online associate in human services, which can be transferred toward a bachelor’s in social work.

In order to earn an associate degree in social work, prospective students need a high school diploma or equivalent. Most associate-granting institutions do not require SAT or ACT scores. An online social work associate degree typically requires 60 credits, and full-time students can earn the degree in two years. Many associate degree holders who transfer to a four-year program have already completed the general education requirements needed for a bachelor’s degree.

The associate degree focuses on introducing students to the best practices in social work, training individuals to provide important social services. This degree is an ideal choice for students interested in social work who want to learn more about the field before committing to several years of school.

Example Courses:

Introduction to Social Work

This course serves as an introduction to the field of social work and focuses on social welfare services and policies, social work codes of ethics, and policy issues. Students may also learn about at-risk populations.

Contemporary Social Problems

Students taking this class learn about important social problems, their impact and significance to society, and the theories behind addressing and improving these issues.

Social Services

Social services coursework focuses on the historical development of social services, as well as basic practices within the field of social services and methods of treatment.

Abnormal Behavior

This class introduces students to the characteristics and classification of abnormal behavior, including the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions. Coursework also covers defining and identifying maladaptive behaviors.

Social Work For Youth

This course examines the problems faced by youth, including issues related to alcohol and drugs, as well as ways to deliver social work services to this population.

Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

A bachelor’s degree in social work prepares graduates to apply for a state license as a bachelor’s social worker. The BLS considers a bachelor’s degree the entry-level education required for many social work-related positions, such as a caseworker or mental health assistant. An online bachelor’s degree in social work also allows graduates to apply to a master’s program in social work.

Applicants should have a high school diploma or equivalent, and many schools require students to submit ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students may need to submit essays and letters of recommendation. An online bachelor’s degree in social work typically requires 120 credits of coursework, and majors can complete the degree in four years. Students with transfer credits, such as associate degree holders, may be able to earn their degree in less time. Learners may need to complete an internship or practicum with field experience, depending on the program. Internships provide practical social work experience and help graduates meet the requirements for a state license as a bachelor’s social worker.

Example Courses:

Introduction to Social Work

This course is a survey of the field, covering social services, social welfare organizations, major social problems, at-risk population groups, and social work methods.

Social Work Practice Methods

Students taking this class learn an overview of social work practices and interventions with individuals, groups, and communities, including ethical principles of the profession and how to develop professional relationships.

Diversity and Society

Classes that emphasize diversity explore issues of identity, culture, prejudice, and discrimination in the context of a diverse society, including the social construction and implications of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Social Work Services for the Aging

This course focuses on the special needs of older adults, the aging process, and the role of social workers in serving older adult populations, including person-centered care.

Practicum

Supervised field practice experiences for advanced undergraduates allow students to apply their knowledge and skills directly to the social work field. This type of class may also incorporate a senior seminar.

Master’s Degree in Social Work

Earning a master’s degree in social work opens additional career possibilities. This degree allows graduates to become licensed clinical social workers, pursue a doctorate in social work, or earn advanced credentials in social work-related specialities. Earning a master’s degree in social work online helps individuals advance their career goals and pursue job opportunities in counseling, social services, and social work policy.

To enroll in a master’s program, applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field. Some programs also require students to submit their GRE scores. Once enrolled, full-time students can earn degrees in two to three years. Distance learners pursuing a master’s degree in social work online typically finish 60 credits of coursework, which includes a substantial internship that allows master’s candidates to gain practical field experience. These clinical hours also meet the requirements needed to earn a clinical social work license or a master’s social work license. Online programs allow students to complete these internship requirements at a local agency or program.

Students interested in MSW programs should research the top online master’s in social work programs in order to find the program that best fits their academic interests and career goals.

Example Courses:

Social Work Research Methods

This class provides an overview of social science research and research principles, including methods of data collection and preparing reports.

Statistics for Social Work

This mathematics-related course introduces students to basic concepts in statistics, emphasizing the application of these methods in social work research. Statistics is an important skill, particularly for individuals interested in a career in research or public policy.

Social Work with Women

Students taking this course focus on mental health, social welfare, and social work practices geared toward women, including cultural belief systems related to gender and policies and practices that support women.

Child Welfare Issues

This course examines child welfare practices, including current issues in the field, the roles and functions of child welfare workers, and intervention and assessment tools.

Family Therapy

Learners cover the family therapy process, issues in assessment, and the values and ethics of family therapy. This class may also include participation in a family therapy practicum.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

A doctorate in social work is the highest degree in the field, preparing graduates to work in academia, assume high-level administration positions, and serve as social work researchers. Doctoral candidates need to focus on a specialty within the field of social work. Students interested in a doctoral degree can choose between a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D) in social work or a doctoral degree in social work (DSW). DSWs are more practice-focused, while Ph.D programs emphasize research and require substantial original work in the form of a dissertation. However, both degrees prepare graduates for advanced positions in clinical and research fields.

Most doctoral programs require applicants to hold a master’s in social work. Students may also need to meet certain work experience and GRE score requirements. While it is possible to finish a doctorate in social work in three years, most students require five or more years to complete the degree requirements and defend their dissertations. DSW programs typically feature a required internship component with field experience related to a social work specialty. Students pursuing a doctorate in social work online can complete their internship requirements locally.

For students interested in clinical practice, a doctoral degree may not fit their career goals. However, social workers who want to teach at the college level, conduct original research, or hold administrative positions in human services organizations should benefit from earning a doctoral degree in social work.

Example Courses:

Social Work Theories

This course features advanced analysis of the theories behind social work practices, including different theoretical frameworks, evaluating processes and outcomes, and intervention methods.

Social Work Teaching Seminar

Students learn about social work education and methods of teaching at the college level, including course development and the history of social work education. This seminar prepares graduates for academic careers in social work.

Social Welfare Policy

Distance learners study social welfare policy by looking at policy research, implementation, and evaluation. Students may need to conduct a policy research project and address government and political issues in social welfare policy.

Quantitative Research Design

This class prepares students to design and implement original quantitative research. It also provides students with some of the tools needed to complete their dissertations.

Individual Research

Doctoral students work with a faculty member to conduct research, including synthesizing social work research, conducting a literature review, analyzing data, and writing a research report.

Social Work Concentrations and Specialties

Students can pursue multiple concentrations within the field of social work to increase their career opportunities. Many of these specialities focus on populations served by social workers, such as child and family services or aging services, while others focus on areas like healthcare social work or mental health counseling. An online social work degree prepares graduates to pursue careers focusing on any of these specialities.

Child and Family Social Worker

Social workers specializing in child and family services assist families in need of assistance and protect vulnerable children. They may be involved in housing, childcare, or benefits, and they may need to intervene when children are at risk of neglect or abuse.

School Social Worker

School social workers coordinate with teachers, parents, and administrators to assist students’ social development and help improve their academic performance. They may deal with aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.

Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers help patients navigate the medical system, including understanding a diagnosis, adjusting their lifestyles, and accessing services. They may also work with doctors to support patients’ mental and emotional health.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

Social workers who specialize in mental health and substance abuse provide information about available services, help a client cope with their illness, and provide support services.


Median Salaries For Social Work Specialties
Clinical Social Worker $55,326
Medical Social Worker $51,148
School Social Worker $48,281
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker $42,700
Child and Family Social Worker $39,925

All states mandate that clinical social workers be licensed, and many also require other types of social workers to hold a license. The state in which a social worker practices issues these licenses, and state requirements vary depending on the license. For example, in order to earn a clinical social work license, applicants in most states must earn a master’s in social work from an accredited program, complete two years of supervised work experience, and pass a clinical exam administered by the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB).

While a license may be required by a state in order to work as a social worker, certifications allow professionals to prove that they have advanced skills in a particular area. Certifications typically require several years of work experience in addition to educational experience and passing an examination. Several organizations offer certifications for social workers, including the options listed below from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Social workers can choose to earn credentials in a specific practice area (e.g., gerontology or children, youth, and family services) or for particular skills (e.g., case management).

Social Work Licensure

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): Licensed clinical social workers must earn a license through a state-level social work licensing board. The specific requirements vary by state, but most require a master’s degree in social work, two years of clinical work experience, and passing a licensing examination. Some states may also require additional coursework.
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): Licensed social workers must receive a license from their state social work licensing board. The requirements vary by state, but most require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work, as well as a certain amount of work experience. Applicants must also pass a licensing examination. Some states may provide a provisional license while social workers endeavor to complete these requirements.
  • Licensed Bachelor’s Social Worker (LBSW): A licensed bachelor’s social worker must have a bachelor’s degree in social work and pass the bachelor’s exam created by the ASWB. Many states do not require specific work experience to earn the LBSW designation, which social workers can obtain after graduating from an accredited BSW program.
  • Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW): Licensed master’s social workers need to hold a master’s degree in social work and pass the master’s exam created by the ASWB. The state-administered license may also require additional education in topics not covered during an MSW program. Specific work requirements vary by state.
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): Licensed independent clinical social workers must hold a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, meet state-determined work experience requirements, and pass an examination. The license is issued by state boards and requirements vary by state.

Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials

  • Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM): Certified social work case managers must have a bachelor’s degree in social work, at least three years of post-bachelor’s professional experience, and a current bachelor’s social worker license. Applicants who have passed ASWB’s bachelor’s exam can also apply for this credential.
  • Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW): To earn the certified advanced credential in children, youth, and family social work, applicants must have a master’s degree in social work, two years of work experience, 20 contact hours of continuing professional education, and a current state MSW-level license.
  • Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, & Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW): Applicants for the credential in clinical alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs social worker certification must have an MSW, two years of experience working with substance use disorders, 180 contact hours of professional continuing education, and a current state clinical social work license.
  • Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G): Clinical social workers seeking a gerontology credential must have a master’s degree in social work, two years of work experience with aging populations, 30 contact hours of professional education, and a current state clinical social work license.
  • Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS): Certified school social work specialists must hold a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program, have two years of work experience as a school social worker, and hold either an MSW-level state social work license or a current exam-based social work license issued by the state.
  • Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW): In order to earn a credential as an advanced certified hospice and palliative social worker, applicants must hold a master’s degree in social work. They must also have two years of relevant work experience, 20 contact hours in hospice and palliative care, and a current state social work license.

Graduates with a degree in social work can pursue several career paths, depending on their interests and level of education. With a bachelor’s degree, graduates can become social workers at a school, social service agency, or a nonprofit organization. Clinical social workers, who diagnose and treat mental and behavioral issues, must hold a master’s degree. An online social work degree can also prepare graduates for careers in counseling and social services management. Some social work-related careers may require individuals to work evening and weekend hours.

Social Worker

Social workers help people solve problems in their everyday lives. These professionals may work at schools, human service agencies, or private practices. Social workers require a bachelor’s degree.

Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. They must hold a master’s in social work, have two years of clinical work experience, and be licensed in the state in which they practice.

School Counselor

School counselors help students develop their academic and social skills; most need to have a master’s degree as well as a state-issued credential.

Social Service Managers

Social service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs, often working for nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors advise people who struggle with mental health issues, which can also include substance abuse or behavioral disorders. Many positions require a master’s degree.

Social Workers’ Salaries by Experience
  Entry Level Mid-Career Experienced Late-Career
Social Work Supervisor $46,000 $51,000 $57,000 $66,000
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) $50,000 $56,000 $60,000 $64,000
Medical Social Worker $50,000 $54,000 $58,000 $61,000
Social Worker (MSW) $44,000 $49,000 $53,000 $60,000
The Best States for Social Work Careers
Click Here to View The Full List of States
State Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Alabama 350 $29.53 $61,430
Alaska 190 $29.29 $60,920
Arizona 1,440 $26.57 $55,260
Arkansas 580 $22.23 $46,240
California 10,890 $31.46 $65,440
Colorado 1,170 $25.14 $52,290
Connecticut N/A $27.32 $56,820
Delaware 100 $28.94 $60,190
Florida 1,590 $32.15 $66,880
Georgia 1,130 $30.90 $59,220
Hawaii 270 $34.74 $72,260
Idaho 80 $33.73 $70,150
Illinois 5,210 $31.37 $65,240
Indiana 450 $28.39 $59,050
Iowa 390 $28.48 $59,250
Kansas 570 $23.88 $49,680
Kentucky 620 $26.41 $54,940
Lousiana 870 $25.39 $52,810
Maine 500 $24.86 $51,700
Maryland 1,040 $31.56 $65,640
Massachusetts 660 $35.22 $73,270
Michigan 780 $28.93 $60,170
Minnesota 920 $25.79 $53,640
Mississippi 710 $22.75 $47,320
Missouri 950 $23.14 $48,120
Montana 610 $20.11 $41,820
Nebraska 150 $29.43 $61,210
Nevada 280 $33.46 $69,600
New Hampshire 80 $28.75 $59,790
New Jersey 510 $33.20 $69,050
New Mexico 520 $26.63 $55,380
New York 8,150 $30.59 $63,630
North Carolina N/A N/A N/A
North Dakota 340 $27.43 $57,040
Ohio 3,210 $23.05 $47,940
Oklahoma 380 $26.70 $55,530
Oregon 1,740 $24.08 $50,090
Pennsylvania 1,210 $28.18 $58,610
Rhode Island 90 $36.67 $76,280
South Carolina 2,980 $20.90 $43,480
South Dakota 90 $32.41 $67,420
Tennessee 940 $25.55 $53,150
Texas 1,680 $32.62 $67,860
Utah 480 $23.34 $48,550
Vermont 100 $29.83 $62,050
Virginia 560 $31.11 $64,700
Washington 750 $31.86 $66,280
West Virginia 270 $30.44 $63,320
Wisconsin 890 $28.40 $59,080
Wyoming 170 $26.51 $55,140

Joy Acaso Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Private Practice

Joy Acaso is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker by trade. She owns a private practice where she specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety in women. She also offers online coaching services to parents as a parent-child relationship specialist. She has been a social worker since 2006. Acaso lives with her husband and two kids in Miami, Florida.

What types of job skills are necessary for a career in social work?

It’s a must that a person in this field develops effective interviewing skills and resourcefulness.

How did your clinical internship help prepare you for your job?

I was assigned to a community center for my clinical internship. I was under the direct supervision of one of the top professors in the program. She designed the program herself. This particular internship allowed me to serve a diverse population. I was able to apply skills I’d learned in school.

What was the job search like after graduating?

I actually saw an ad posted inside our department building regarding a position for an MSW at a community center. I called and scheduled an interview.

What tips can graduates keep in mind when applying and interviewing for a job?

Decide which population you want to work with or you can ask yourself which population would you rather not work with. You don’t want to end up doing a job that you never really wanted in the first place. When interviewing for a job, ensure that you research the company and the position you are applying for so that you can prepare well. Ask a friend to do a mock interview with you if you’re not comfortable with interviews. I have been an interviewer in the past and I understand how much interviewers depend on reading a candidate’s energy and vibe. In other words, let them feel your passion and enthusiasm. Communicate these through your answers.

How important are advanced credentials in the field of social work?

Depending on the lifestyle that you want to build for yourself, you can choose to go as far as getting your LCSW. It gives you the flexibility to work in different areas such as hospitals, administration, management, opening up your private practice, and even further studies.

How important is networking in this field and what is the best way to stay connected with other social workers in your community?

It is important to network. If you happen to work for a company who sponsors or organizes special functions for social workers, you should attend. Be open to attending events both in person and virtually.

How do you stay up to date with the latest research in trends in world of social work?

When I worked as a Dialysis Social Worker, I became a member of a local Nephrology Social Work chapter. That helped me tremendously in my profession as well as in my personal growth. Nowadays, I read the news or scholarly articles.

What advice would you give to undergrad students considering a graduate degree in social work?

You won’t regret it! It will open up so many opportunities for you. You will learn valuable skills as a grad student. Today, I have a private practice and I specialize in treating depression and anxiety in women. I also have an online service for coaching parents. I’ve done projects with different companies. The sky’s the limit.


Social work students at all levels can apply for scholarships to help fund their degrees. These financial awards may be oriented toward a particular field of social work (e.g., community service or services for people with intellectual disabilities) or toward specific groups of students (e.g., low-income mothers or minority social workers). Whether earning an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work, students can find scholarship opportunities.

Social Work Scholarships for Associate Degree Students

Elizabeth J. Davis Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Vermont residents earning an associate degree in social work who plan to work in the medical field or in home healthcare can apply for this award.
Amount: $1,000-$3,000

The Senior Care Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Senior Care scholarship, offered by A Place for Mom, awards funds to students interested in the fields of aging and gerontology. The scholarship requires a video submission.
Amount: $1,000

Jackie Spellman Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Jackie Spellman Scholarship offers awards to students who have been impacted by leukemia or lymphoma, including family members of people with leukemia or lymphoma.
Amount: $5,000

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Support Awards

Who Can Apply: The Patsy Takemoto Mink Foundation offers awards to low-income mothers of minors who are attending accredited institutions to earn a degree.
Amount: Varies


Social Work Scholarships for Bachelor’s Degree Students

Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Truth Initiative offers the Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship to undergraduates working to reduce tobacco use through community service.
Amount: $5,000

NABSW Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Black Social Workers offers a number of scholarships to members; these awards can be used to cover the cost of tuition or books for a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Amount: Up to $2,500

James F. Reville Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Arc New York offers the James F. Reville Scholarship to college students pursuing training related to intellectual or developmental disabilities. Applicants must be New York residents or attending school in New York.
Amount: $3,000

Bethesda Lutheran Community Services Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Bethesda Auxiliary offers scholarships to undergraduates pursuing training in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Applicants must be Lutherans.
Amount: $3,000


Social Work Scholarships for Master’s Degree Students

Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Social Workers offers the Verne LaMarr Lyons memorial scholarship for master’s degree candidates committed to working in African American communities and who have experience with mental health practices.
Amount: $5,500

Judith Holm Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Clinical Social Work Association offers the Holm Award to master’s degree candidates in their final year of an MSW program.
Amount: $1,000

Leopold Schepp Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Leopold Schepp Foundation offers scholarships to students with demonstrated financial need pursuing a graduate degree in a field related to community service.
Amount: $9,000

Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered by the National Association of Social Workers, the Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship awards funds to master’s degree candidates with a demonstrated commitment to working with American Indian or Latino populations.
Amount: up to $4,000


Social Work Scholarships for Doctoral Degree Students

Social Work HEALS Doctoral Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Social Workers offers the Social Work Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars Fellowship to doctoral students in social work committed to health-related endeavors. Applicants must be NASW members.
Amount: $17,900

Melanie Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Melanie Foundation offers scholarships to students currently enrolled in doctoral programs in mental health fields. Scholarship recipients can reapply for additional years of funding.
Amount: $2,500

Minority Fellowship Program

Who Can Apply: The Council on Social Work Education offers minority fellowships to doctoral students earning a degree in social work. The program is targeted toward racial or ethnic minorities but is not limited to these groups.
Amount: Varies

Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Social Workers offers the Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship to doctoral candidates working on welfare policy and practice.
Amount: $4,000-$6,500


Resources for Social Work Students

General Guides

  • Social Work Resources: We have compiled a collection of the best academic journals, websites, and open courses available to those in social work.

Professional Social Work Organizations

Social workers benefit from joining professional organizations, which can provide networking opportunities, access to publications, and job opportunities. The largest professional organization is the NASW, which offers a range of benefits to its members, including free or discounted continuing education credits; these may be required to earn some social work licenses.

Many professional organizations provide scholarships for members, including students currently earning a social work degree online. They may also offer certifications and other professional resources for social workers. In order to take advantage of the many opportunities open to social workers, students should investigate some of the best resources for social workers.

  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW): Founded in 1955, the NASW is dedicated to the professional growth and development of social workers. Members gain access to free or discounted continuing education materials; a subscription to Social Work, which is an important journal in the field; and HIPAA resources.
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE): Dedicated to social work education since 1952, the CSWE represents accredited social work programs and individual social workers. It represents the only accredited agency for social work education in the United States.
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA): The SSWAA represents school social workers, providing professional support to assist students and resources for social workers in schools. Members receive liability insurance, access to the organization’s professional advocacy services, and discounts on conferences and publications.
  • Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB): The ASWB operates the social work licensing examinations used to test a social worker’s competence. As the only nonprofit organization dedicated to social work regulation, the ASWB provides information and support to social work regulatory boards.

2018 Accredited Programs

Top Bachelor's in Social Work
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 University of North Dakota ND BS in Social Work $15,457
2 Northwestern State University of Louisiana LA Bachelor of Social Work $12,141
3 Brandman University CA BA in Social Work $17,042
4 Touro University Worldwide CA BA in Social Work $12,084
5 University of Utah UT BA in Social Work $14,574
6 Indiana Wesleyan University - Marion IN Bachelor of Social Work $24,741
7 Brescia University KY BA in Social Work $10,663
8 Northern Arizona University AZ BA in Social Work $14,253
9 Eastern New Mexico University NM BA in Social Work $11,051
10 Limestone College SC BA in Social Work $22,175
11 Campbellsville University KY BA in Social Work $14,573
12 Metropolitan State University of Denver CO BS in Social Work $11,146
13 Union Institute & University OH BA in Social Work $23,289
14 Wayne State University MI BA in Social Work $14,173
15 Huntington University IN BA in Social Work $17,288


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Top Master's in Social Work
Rank School State Degree Cost
1 Boston University MA MBA $30,047
2 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley TX MSW $5,983
3 Columbia University in the City of New York NY MSW $15,970
4 University of Southern California CA MSW $26,234
5 Case Western Reserve University OH MSW $24,658
6 Rutgers University-New Brunswick NJ MSW $19,894
7 University of South Florida FL MSW $11,341
8 Florida State University FL MSW $16,159
9 University of Central Florida FL MSW $14,386
10 Arizona State University-Skysong AZ MSW $15,479
11 California State University-Northridge CA MSW $12,404
12 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IL MSW $17,932
13 Fordham University NY MSW $31,128
14 University of Denver CO MSW $27,723
15 University of Houston TX MSW $14,633
16 University of Louisville KY MSW $14,453
17 University of Arkansas AR MSW $14,307
18 California State University-San Bernardino CA MSW $9,441
19 Temple University PA MSW $19,182
20 Louisiana State University LA MSW $12,132
21 Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis IN MBA $13,647
22 University at Buffalo NY MBA $16,358
23 The University of Texas at Arlington TX MSW $15,271
24 Simmons College MA MSW $25,231
25 San Jose State University CA MSW $14,492


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Top Doctorate in Social Work
School State Degree Cost
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville TN Doctor of Social Work in Clinical Practice and Leadership $16,470
University of Pennsylvania PA Doctor of Social Work $16,731
University of Southern California CA Doctor of Social Work $26,234
University of St Thomas MN Doctor of Social Work $26,849


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