Why This Matters

  • MANY AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION ARE AVAILABLE

    Social workers work with many populations, including children, families, the elderly, and those with mental health issues. They may work in schools, hospitals, community agencies, or private practices.

  • OVERALL DEMAND INCREASING 9% BY 2031

    Job growth in social work is increasing at a faster-than-average pace. The highest demand is for social workers specializing in either healthcare or mental health and substance abuse issues (the projected job growth for both of these specialties is 11%).

  • EARN UP TO $80,000+ PER YEAR

    The median salary for social workers is currently $50,390, and the top 10% of workers in this field earn more than $82,840.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online social work degree programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list are available at institutions accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, a national association representing social work education in the U.S.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online social work degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Top 49 Online Social Work Degree Programs

Best Social Work Degree Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
Liberty University
01
Best Bachelor Degree Program
University of North Dakota
01
Most Innovative Curriculum
Simmons University
01
Best in the South
The University of Alabama
01
Best Private Institution
Aurora University
01
Most Affordable
The University of Utah
01
Best Public Institution
University of Louisville
01
Best for Adult Learners
Wayne State University
01
Most Flexible Admissions
Portland State University
01
Best Part-Time Program
Georgia State University
01

University of Arkansas at Little Rock
01

University of Cincinnati
01

Touro University Worldwide
01

Bemidji State University
01

University of Kentucky
01

Spring Arbor University
01

Troy University
01

Washburn University
01

Misericordia University
01

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
01

Western New Mexico University
01

Angelo State University
01

Western Kentucky University
01

Colorado State University
01

Daemen College
01

The College of St. Scholastica
01

Campbellsville University
01

Huntington University
01

King University
01

University of New England
01

Fort Hays State University
01

Union Institute & University
01

Indiana Wesleyan University
01

Methodist University
01

Briar Cliff University

What You Should Know About This Degree

As social work is a human services field, learning how to work with people is a key component of your education. Therefore, even if coursework for programs can be fully completed online, all accredited social work programs have hands-on learning components, such as internships. When researching programs, find out what their expectations are for field experiences, and make sure you can fit this element of the program into your schedule and lifestyle.

Licensure is another major consideration for social workers. In order to be considered a clinical social worker, you must have a master’s degree and a state-issued license. Licensure regulations vary by state, and they may affect where and how you earn your degree. At the exploratory stage, it’s important to research what the licensure requirements are in your state, and check with your programs of interest to make sure you will be eligible for licensure if you earn your degree at their institution.

While a BSW is the minimum level of education needed for social work employment, more job opportunities are available to those with an MSW, including the ability to run a private practice. If you’re considering going into social work at the undergraduate level, it’s worth remembering that earning an advanced degree will likely be necessary to further your career.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online Social Work programs:

  • Does this program offer the specialization I want? Specialization in an area like healthcare, substance abuse, or educational settings is often required at the Master’s level, so it’s important to make sure the program you’re reviewing offers the concentration you are seeking.
  • Does this program have an advanced track? Many MSW programs offer “traditional” and “advanced” tracks. Traditional tracks are aimed at those who do not have a BSW and need to complete foundational coursework before moving on to advanced training. These programs usually take additional time to complete. Individuals who already have a BSW can enroll in an advanced track program, which involve fewer credits and take less time to complete.

Once you’ve selected the programs that interest you, research their application requirements and admissions procedures. This information is typically available on the program’s website. You can also contact the program directly if you have any questions.

Financing your graduate education is another important consideration. Research what scholarships and financial aid options are available to you. If you are currently employed, you can also check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement.