Why This Matters

Our Research

This list features some of the best 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 accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a national organization that assesses social work programs for educational excellence and a commitment to quality education.

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 on-campus 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 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 50 Social Work Degree Programs

Best Social Work Degree Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
The University of Texas at Austin
01
Best Research University
Indiana University Bloomington
01
Best for First-Generation Students
California State University Fresno
01
Best for Global Study
University of Chicago
01
Best Public Institution
California State University at Bakersfield
01
Best for Transfer Students
California State University Los Angeles
01
Best Scholarship Opportunities
University of Michigan School of Social Work
01
Best Range of Programs
University of Connecticut
01
Best Faith-Based Institution
Samford University
01
Best Faculty
Colorado State University at Fort Collins
01

Savannah State University
01

The University of Texas at Arlington
01

Texas Tech University
01

West Virginia University School of Social Work
01

DePaul University
01

Washington University in St. Louis
01

Gallaudet University
01

University of Washington
01

University of Hawaii at Manoa
01

Columbia University School of Social Work
01

Youngstown State University
01

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
01

Western Carolina University
01

Ohio University
01

Temple University
01

Case Western Reserve University
01

Saint Leo University
01

University of Pittsburgh
01

George Fox University
01

University of Illinois School of Social Work
01

University of Wisconsin at Madison
01

Florida International University
01

University of Central Florida
01

Boston College
01

Syracuse University
01

University of Vermont
01

Fordham University
01

NYU Silver School of Social Work
01

University of South Dakota
01

Virginia Commonwealth University
01

Indiana University School of Social Work

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.