Which College Social Work Programs Make Graduates the Most Money?

Social work bachelor's and associate degrees from New York and California institutions lead to higher median earnings post-graduation.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on July 25, 2023
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  • A degree in social work is necessary for many jobs in the field.
  • Where students earn their degrees can impact the salary they can expect post-graduation.
  • Data shows that a bachelor's degree in social work typically nets higher salaries than an associate degree.

The vast majority of social work jobs require a degree, making college a necessity for most looking to enter the field.

Social work, often described as a field of passion, isn't known for leading to extraordinarily high incomes post-graduation. However, students may get a leg up depending on what university they study at and which state they ultimately work in after earning their degree.

BestColleges used HEA Group data, compiled from the Department of Education's College Scorecard database, to understand which associate and bachelor's programs produce graduates who go on to earn the highest incomes post-graduation.

Associate Degree in Social Work Earnings

It can take as little as two years to break into the social work field.

While aspiring social workers go on to earn bachelor's or master's degrees in social work, there are a handful of jobs in the industry that can be achieved with an associate degree. Those potential positions include student aide, patient advocate, and social services assistant.

Unlicensed social workers may even be case managers in some circumstances.

Here are some social work programs that lead to higher salaries four years after earning an associate degree from each institution:

Public Colleges and Universities
Institution State Median earnings four years after graduation Number of students in the cohort
Austin Community College District Texas $46,281 24
Rowan College of South Jersey — Gloucester Campus New Jersey $41,408 37
Brookdale Community College New Jersey $39,650 32
Jefferson Community College New York $39,139 19
San Antonio College Texas $38,540 20


It's worth noting that these earnings are calculated four years after earning the associate degree. That means many students potentially went on to earn a bachelor's degree before entering the workforce, so the figures do not report what a student may make with just an associate degree.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work Earnings

A bachelor's degree in social work opens graduates to more opportunities in the field.

Most notably, a bachelor's degree is what's required at many agencies to become a caseworker or case manager. It may also qualify graduates for work as family social workers.

Some graduates with a bachelor's degree may opt to continue their education to earn a master's in social work (MSW) so that they can provide clinical services. But even with a four-year degree, graduates often earn incomes higher than or equal to the median income of all U.S. workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data from HEA Group shows that higher salaries tend to be earned by graduates from schools in California and New York:

Public Colleges and Universities
Institution State Median earnings four years after graduation Number of students in the cohort
University of Nevada — Reno Nevada $63,320 79
University of California — Berkeley California $60,405 63
California State University — Long Beach California $59,826 86
City University of New York (CUNY) — York College New York $58,778 27
San Jose State University California $58,152 30
Stony Brook University New York $57,000 54
CUNY — College of Staten Island New York $56,620 44
San Francisco State University California $56,474 25
University of Nevada — Las Vegas Nevada $55,652 47
California State University — San Bernardino California $54,364 44
Private, Nonprofit Colleges and Universities
Institution State Median earnings four years after graduation Number of students in the cohort
Molloy College New York $65,182 23
New York University New York $64,289 32
La Sierra University California $60,961 16
Simmons University Massachusetts $58,336 20
Texas Christian University Texas $57,255 21
Davenport University Michigan $56,867 22
Adelphi University New York $55,710 55
St. Catherine University Minnesota $55,686 43
Monmouth University New Jersey $55,265 67
Long Island University New York $54,857 46