Fastest Online Social Work Programs

Social workers support the social and emotional health of their communities. Discover the fastest online social work degree programs.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on July 19, 2022 · Updated on July 27, 2022

Reviewed by Melissa Russiano, LCSW, LISW

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Accelerated degree programs allow students to fast-track their studies. This allows them to graduate in less time than traditional students and start their careers sooner. The accelerated bachelor's programs' format varies, but they typically condense four years of schooling into about 2-3 years.

Degree completion programs feature reduced credit requirements and costs for transfer students with at least an associate degree. In contrast, accelerated programs usually cost the same as standard four-year programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of undergraduate tuition and fees was $9,349 in public schools and $32,769 in private schools in 2019-20.

www.bestcolleges.com 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.

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With an accelerated degree in social work, graduates can pursue community and social service occupations. This page explores the bachelor's in social work in detail, including school search tips, application processes, and potential career opportunities. We also rank the fastest online bachelor's in social work from the top online schools.

How Fast Can I Get an Online Bachelor's in Social Work?

The length of an accelerated degree in social work varies, but many schools condense full bachelor's programs into about two years of training. These programs usually feature 120 credits as standard programs, just in more condensed class sessions. For example, courses in an accelerated online bachelor's in social work may run for 5-8 weeks rather than the traditional 14-16 weeks.

Every program and student is different, but learners can expect to take about 10 courses per semester in an accelerated bachelor's in social work, doubling the standard course load. As a result, accelerated students might spend as much as 30 hours in class and 60 hours studying each week.

Learners who have already completed some college coursework can earn their degree more quickly through a degree completion program. These programs are designed for students who did not finish their bachelor's degrees. Degree completion programs allow learners to transfer most, if not all, of their credits to finish their degree.

Explore More Social Work Pathways

What Can I Expect From an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

A bachelor's in social work attracts all types of students, but many tend to be compassionate and empathetic. Degree-seekers in this field tend to have strong skills in time management, communication, and problem-solving. When choosing an accelerated program, learners also need a strong work ethic and the ability to handle a heavy workload.

In an online bachelor's degree in social work, students learn to use their skills to improve human rights and bring social justice to disadvantaged people and communities. Depending on their program, learners might specialize in children, families, gerontology, schools, the prison system, or mental health direct-service positions in residential programs.

Upon program completion, schools may award a bachelor of social work (BSW), BA, or BS degree. The BSW is the most common pathway and provides focused entry-level theoretical and practical training. A BA program offers more interdisciplinary and humanities training, while a BS features more analytical training.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

Social Welfare Policies

Students in this course learn about the development and implementation of social work policies. They study how policies impact people and communities and the role social workers have in shaping and delivering them.

Social Work Ethics

In this course, students learn about the ethical frameworks and standards used in the social work profession. They explore ways of solving ethical challenges and using their professional code of ethics to identify issues and improve decision-making.

Human Behavior

This course examines how human behavior influences how we perceive and respond to events. Learners also study how society, culture, and development alter behavior and how to analyze that behavior.

Social Work Practice

In this course, degree-seekers explore the various professional roles available to social workers. They also apply their schooling to practical situations, such as leading group sessions and working with community organizations.

Working with Trauma

Students in this course study various types of trauma and its effects. Learners also look at programs and methods for providing trauma-informed care and implementing management strategies. The BSW-level student can identify and educate clients on the impact of trauma, but they need additional graduate training to provide clinical intervention.

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What Are Admission Requirements for an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

Prospective students may encounter different admission requirements depending on their school and program. Most accelerated online bachelor's in social work require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED certificate. While competitive programs may ask for a minimum GPA and course prerequisites.

Compared to on-campus programs, online programs usually feature the same requirements. However, online applicants need to meet the school and program's minimum technological requirements.

Application

Prospective students must complete and submit their undergraduate applicationthrough their school's online portal or a college application system, such as the Common App. These systems make it easier for applicants to apply to multiple schools without replicating all the general information and resubmitting materials.

Test Scores

Test scores from college entrance exams help schools choose between similar applicants. At the undergraduate level, results from the SAT and ACT provide insight into a prospective student's math, verbal, writing, and analytical abilities. While schools may provide waivers for these tests, others require applicants to meet minimum scores for entry.

Letters of Recommendation

Most school applications require 1-3letters of recommendationfrom professionals who know the applicant. The most effective letters come from teachers, school counselors, or employers from relevant fields. They should speak to the candidate's academic strengths and program readiness.

Essays

College application essays can help prospective students stand out among the other applicants. These essays typically take on a personal topic, such as a defining moment or what makes the applicant unique. Schools may provide essay prompts or give students the freedom to select their own.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts are a major requirement for nearly all college applications. Schools need these records to see how applicants fared in their previous training and what prerequisites they have and need. For transfer students, previous college coursework may lead to transfer credits, which can save degree-seekers time and money.

What Can I Do With an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Work Degree?

Career Outlook

With an accelerated degree in social work, graduates can apply to various community and social service jobs. As one of the most popular college majors, social work programs equip graduates with applicable skills to use in a fast-growing sector.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 12% growth for community and social service occupations between 2020 and 2030, adding about 350,000 new jobs over that time. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $48,410 in May 2021, more than the median annual wage for all occupations.

Bachelor's degree graduates can also use their training as a foundation for careers in education or counseling if they wish to pursue more advanced degrees.

Career Paths

Social Workers

Social workers provide support to people, families, and communities. They identify and evaluate client needs, connect them to resources and social services, and monitor and report on developments and progress. For clinical social worker roles, professionals need a master's degree, experience, and licensure.

Median Annual Salary: $50,390

Substance Misuse, Behavioral Disorders, and Mental Health Counselors

These counselors provide support and assistance to clients experiencing substance misuse, mental health conditions, and other physical, intellectual or behavioral challenges. They offer education to clients, plus the skills and strategies to better understand and manage their situations. They also connect clients with other services and support programs if needed.

Median Annual Salary: $48,520

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists oversee the rehabilitation programs for law offenders. They monitor and assess their clients' progress, help connect them with helpful services and resources, and provide reports to the courts. These professionals may need additional training for employment, such as completing a government-sponsored program.

Median Annual Salary: $60,250

Social and Community Service Managers

The professionals manage social and community service programs and organizations, often specializing in a certain location or demographic. They may work with organizations and communities to identify areas or people in need and help design programs as a response. They may also conduct outreach and advocacy to raise money and support for organizations, causes, and communities. Organizations may prefer that candidates hold a master's degree for these positions.

Median Annual Salary: $74,000

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

These social workers specialize in working with children and families. They may help families find services, protect children from dangerous situations and settings, and provide proactive education to families. Depending on the employer, the position, and the state, professionals in this field may need additional training or licensure.

Median Annual Salary: $49,150

Social Work Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

After completing a bachelor's in social work, graduates can take their careers in many directions with continuing education. Those aiming for a career as a clinical social worker can pursue a master's in social work. These degrees equip learners with the necessary training and supervised clinical hours to meet state requirements for licensure.

Aspiring counselors can also complete a master's in counseling. Those with a specialization in mind have several options, such as a master's in addiction counseling, a master's in Christian counseling, a master's in marriage and family counseling, or a master's in school counseling.

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Work Program?

Cost

Cost almost always plays a central role in the college decision process. Prospective students might compare online vs. on-campus program costs, public and private school tuition, or the differences between in-state and out-of-state rates. Learners in an accelerated bachelor's in social work might also want to consider how their schedule impacts their ability to work.

Program Format

Since schools offer a variety of program formats, students should evaluate which delivery method, style, and schedule meet their needs best. For example, they might weigh the pros and cons of synchronous and asynchronous learning or see if full-time or part-time studies fit their schedules best. Accelerated bachelor's degrees, in particular, require considerable schedule flexibility.

Location

Students in online or on-campus programs should include location on their list of school considerations. Online learners may need to satisfy on-campus residencies to graduate, or they may want to use the campus facilities and events. In-state schools also offer tuition discounts to residents, though some online schools provide online rates.

Accreditation

Choosing a school with college accreditation is essential. Attending an unaccredited school can negatively impact students' federal financial aid, employment, or continuing education opportunities. Social work students can also look for programs recognized by the Council on Social Work Education.

Student Support

High-quality student services can significantly improve a student's experience. In particular, online student services might provide learners with academic, career, and wellness support. Schools might offer mentorship programs, internships and practicums, and networking opportunities.

Fastest Accredited Online Bachelor's in Social Work Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

School Information
Location Little Rock, Arkansas
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $280
Out of State | N/A

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

The online bachelor of social work program at UA Little Rock teaches participants from a "person-in-environment" perspective about human behavior and social problems. This online program is only available to residents of Arkansas. 

Enrollees develop the practical skills needed to work with individuals, families, and groups. The curriculum covers topics like social welfare policy, social work practice, and addictions in social work. 

Degree-seekers put classroom knowledge to practice during required field experiences. Admission into this bachelor's in social work program requires completion of prerequisite coursework and a minimum 2.5 GPA.

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#2

Campbellsville University

School Information
Location Campbellsville, Kentucky
Admission Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 36%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 77% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $410
Out of State | $410

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Students can complete CU's bachelor of social work in two years if they transfer in a block of credits from an associate degree. The 51-credit major covers topics like human diversity and social policy and planning. Students learn how to work with different populations, such as families and larger groups.

Enrollees can use elective credits to explore issues such as crisis intervention or human rights. Participants receive field instruction that provides practical experience. Eight-week sessions can accelerate degree completion.

Enrollees can transfer up to 72 credits into this online bachelor's in social work program. Admission requires transcripts and three letters of reference.

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#3

Liberty University

School Information
Location Lynchburg, Virginia
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 47%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $390
Out of State | $390

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Liberty's generous credit transfer policy makes earning a BS in social work a good option for degree-seekers with previous college experience. Students earn their degree in 3.5 years, on average.

The curriculum covers topics such as ethics in the helping professions, chemical dependency, and social work in mental health. The program features a virtual intensive and two semesters of field placements, giving participants practical experience.

Students can apply up to 90 transfer credits to this accelerated degree in social work. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and transcripts.

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#4

University of North Dakota

School Information
Location Grand Forks, North Dakota
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 61%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $391
Out of State | $586

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Depending on their academic experience, students can earn UND's BS in social work in 1-4 years. Online learners complete synchronous classes and make limited on-campus visits. Part-time enrollees can complete the 450-hour field placement over two semesters in their community.

Students transfer an average of 80 credits into UND's programs, and they can bring in up to 90 transfer credits. Online students pay the same affordable tuition regardless of where they live. Admission into this accelerated degree program in social work requires a minimum 2.0 GPA.

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#5

Brescia University

School Information
Location Owensboro, Kentucky
Admission Rate 42%
Graduation Rate 34%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $425
Out of State | $425

Credits to Graduate
128

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Brescia offers an accelerated bachelor of social work for nontraditional learners, and many individuals who join this program are working students. Enrollees who have already completed general education requirements can earn their social work degree in two years. 

The major features 42 credits of courses examining topics such as social welfare policy and human behavior in the social environment. A series of courses also cover developing social work practice skills. Students get hands-on experience during field practice.

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#6

Aurora University

School Information
Location Aurora, Illinois
Admission Rate 87%
Graduation Rate 54%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 20% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $425
Out of State | $425

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Located in Illinois, AU offers an online bachelor of social work. Students complete this fast online bachelor's in social work by taking eight-week courses. Enrollees with previous college experience can graduate in as little as two years.

The 40-credit major covers issues like social work practice with individuals and families, research methods in social work, and social work institutions and policies. The program also offers a child welfare track for those who want to work in this area. Field instruction provides practical training. 

AU accepts up to 90 transfer credits from accredited colleges. Admission requires a minimum 2.5 GPA.

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#7

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

School Information
Location Marion, Indiana
Graduation Rate 38%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $426
Out of State | $426

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

The bachelor of social work program at IWU features a faith-based curriculum. Students who enroll in this degree-completion program prepare for licensure in Indiana and other states. Students complete the flexible 22-course curriculum in 32 months by taking one six-week course at a time.

The program teaches social work practice skills for working with individuals, families, and larger groups. All enrollees complete an internship or field placement at a social service agency. Admission into this bachelor's in social work program requires at least 45 credits from a regionally accredited college.

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#8

Angelo State University

School Information
Location San Angelo, Texas
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 40%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $310
Out of State | $718

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

ASU offers a bachelor of social work through a degree-completion program. This pathway prepares generalist social workers for Texas board licensure. Enrollees learn how to assess and evaluate clients and implement intervention strategies. Participants apply their knowledge during fieldwork at local agencies.

Students can also build their practical knowledge by conducting research with faculty. 

The accelerated degree in social work offers a summer study abroad trip to Europe. Admission requires pre-social work requirements, such as 30 college credits earned with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

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#9

Ursuline College

School Information
Location Pepper Pike, Ohio
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 53%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit In State | $535 Out of State | $535

Credits to Graduate 120

Program Information Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Ursuline offers an accelerated BA in social work through its Ursuline College Accelerated Program. Participants enroll as third-year students. Enrollees learn the social work skills needed to work with various populations, taking classes like sociological theory and social welfare as a social institution. Participants can use electives to explore issues such as addiction or domestic violence.  

Students complete fieldwork at organizations doing work that matches their interests. Students interested in earning this accelerated degree in social work must meet prerequisites, sit for an interview, and submit two letters of recommendation.

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#10

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

School Information
Location Millersville, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $431
Out of State | $927

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Council on Social Work Education

Millersville's BA in social work program is a degree-completion option that enrolls students with an associate degree. Students choose a two-year or three-year degree completion pathway. Participants develop extensive training related to social work practice through simulations, role-playing, and other tools.

Participants can explore areas of interest, such as mental health or women's issues. Students pursuing this accelerated degree in social work also complete 450 hours of field experience at an agency. Admission requirements include an associate degree in human services or social services and a minimum 2.0 GPA.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Fastest Online Social Work Programs

Can I get a bachelor's degree in one year?

Yes. Transfer credits allow students to receive a bachelor's degree in one year. Many schools allow undergraduate transfer students to apply up to 90 credits, leaving only about 30 credits remaining for a bachelor's degree. Some degree completion programs require students to finish in one year.

Without any transfer credits, however, students typically take two years to complete an accelerated degree in social work. Condensing about 120 credits into 2-3 years may be too demanding for students.

Are accelerated degree classes worth it?

Students must determine a degree's value for themselves, as it can vary depending on their perspective and goals. Accelerated degree classes provide substantial value for students who need to complete their studies quickly.

Since accelerated courses cover the same material as standard courses, there is no difference between them other than the time it takes to complete. Students in accelerated programs might gain additional value from an online degree, as online training offers flexible study schedules and reduced travel requirements.

Are accelerated bachelor's degrees as valuable as traditional degrees?

Yes. An accelerated degree in social work should be as valuable as a traditional degree as long as it is accredited. These programs provide the same schooling and credentials in a more condensed package. The accelerated training may be even more valuable for those who need an earlier graduation date.

Degrees do not typically disclose if students attended a traditional or accelerated program. However, graduates can provide this information to prospective employers, showcasing a high commitment and determination level.

Is an accelerated bachelor degree in social work right for me?

To determine if an accelerated degree in social work is right for them, prospective students need to consider their learning style and schedule. Students can complete an accelerated bachelor's in social work in about half the time of a standard program, but it may require twice the amount of studying each week.

Students with other commitments also have to think about scheduling. Accelerated programs often require full-time enrollment, making it very difficult to maintain a full-time job.

Are accelerated degree programs affordable?

Tuition for an accelerated degree in social work depends on the school and the type of program. Typically, accelerated programs feature the same credits and costs as traditional programs.

Some schools may charge more for accelerated programs. Conversely, accelerated programs can cost less than standard programs, particularly in schools that charge by semester or year. Degree completion programs may also cost less because of the reduced credit requirements.

BestColleges.com 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.

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