Why This Matters

Our Research

This list covers undergraduate programs in social work that prepare graduates for governmental and community agencies specializing in social change. Degrees offered include Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Bachelor of Social Work. All programs are delivered online.

Accreditation is given to educational institutions that uphold a high academic standard. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the leading national accreditor of undergraduate and graduate social work degree programs. They also provided leadership and professional development opportunities in the field. Other programs on our list are accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Social Work Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 64 hours to write this article
  • 201 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 394 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Social Work Degree Programs

Best Social Work Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

When choosing a career path focused on helping others, you should also consider pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology. While both programs focus on human behavior and well-being, the field of psychology focuses closely on mental health. Social workers provide counseling and work with individuals and groups to identify and implement solutions that help them deal with problems. Psychologists work most frequently with individuals and use diagnostic testing to uncover and treat specific issues. Both social work and psychology require students to complete a master’s degree and licensure to practice and treat patients legally. Licensing for social workers is provided by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers certifications that provide graduates with specialized training in different social work areas. Certifications also help graduates demonstrate their expertise for potential employers. Students should consider obtaining certifications such as Certified Social Work Case Manager, Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager, and Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Social Worker. Certain credentials such as the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) and Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) certifications require NASW membership.

The job outlook for social workers over the next decade is positive. The demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow by 17%, which is significantly higher than the predicted job growth for all other occupations.

What’s Next?

Ask yourself these questions when researching degree programs in social work:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Students from all educational backgrounds can pursue an undergraduate degree in social work. Most programs require students to hold a high school diploma or GED. Some programs may also require a minimum GPA and standardized test scores.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Undergraduate programs in social work take four years of full-time study. Many aspiring professionals will also pursue a two-year master’s degree program. The programs on our list require 120 credits to graduate.

Entry requirements and application deadlines vary for each program. Visit the school’s website or contact the admissions department for detailed information about the program to which you’re applying.

Consider how you’ll cover the cost of your education. Funding opportunities include scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. You might also be eligible for federal funds; submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out.