Social work is a broad umbrella term used to describe any human services fields helping clients overcome challenges and injustices in their lives. Whether you’re interested in family, medical, addiction, military, gerontological, or psychiatric social work, training must begin with at least a Bachelor of Social Work. Investing in this undergrad major pays off because the demand for social workers will grow faster-than-average by 12 percent through 2024. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that these roughly 74,800 new BSW-level jobs will provide median pay of $45,900. Preparing for the satisfying career takes 4+ years, but coursework can be easily accessed at online colleges.
The following article outlines the Top 15 Online Bachelor of Social Work Programs that can fulfill basic LBSW licensing requirements. Our search started with the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) directory of 795 schools. We filtered results down to generalist BSW programs launched with online coursework and minimal campus commutes. Next, we selected the accredited schools offering the highest freshmen retention rates since this signals student satisfaction. We recorded the online tuition from each college’s website and looked for notable rankings with the U.S. News and World Report. Other considerations were flexibility, credit transfer, practicum opportunities, work-life balance, and exam pass rates.
1. University of Utah
Established as the University of Deseret in 1850, the University of Utah is a public, space-grant RU/VH APLU member conferring 190+ programs to more than 31,500 Utes from headquarters in Salt Lake City. The USNWR ranked Utah as America’s 111th best university and 73rd best for vets school. Within the College of Social Work, a CSWE-accredited, 51-credit Bachelor of Social Work degree completion program is delivered via Canvas.
Retention Rate: 89%
Tuition: $3,841.33 (in-state) and $10,817.33 (out-of-state) per semester
2. California State University – Chico
Endowed for $53.9 million, California State University-Chico is the 23-campus system’s second-oldest public, co-educational master’s institution with 17,500 Wildcats studying north of Sacramento and online. CSU-Chico was ranked the West’s 37th best college and eighth top public school by the U.S. News. The CSWE-accredited School of Social Work offers junior-level transfers a part-time, three-year Bachelor of Arts in Social Work online with only two campus weekends.
Retention Rate: 86%
Tuition: $3,513 (in-state) and 5,751 (out-of-state) per term
3. Salisbury University
Located 30 miles west of Ocean City’s shoreline, Salisbury University is a public, co-educational USM constituent educating around 8,700 Sea Gulls on-site and online with a $45.7 million endowment. According to the U.S. News, Salisbury is the North’s 67th best college and 20th top public university. Expanded in 2006, the CSWE-accredited Social Work Department offers a BASW online or using interactive TV technology for non-urban residents with 60+ transfer credits.
Retention Rate: 82%
Tuition: $3,423 (in-state) and $7,629 (out-of-state) per semester
4. Huntington University
Belonging to the Crossroads League, Huntington University is a private, Protestant liberal arts institution opened in 1897 that’s now enlightening over 1,200 Foresters yearly in north-central Indiana and online. The U.S. News applauded Huntington as the Midwest’s 13th best college and 11th top investment value. Rooted in holistic Christian principles, the CSWE-accredited, 120-credit Bachelor of Social Work is available primarily online with 600+ hours of community fieldwork.
Retention Rate: 80%
Tuition: $368 per credit + $100 tech fee
5. Indiana Wesleyan University
Led by Chancellor Dr. Henry Smith, Indiana Wesleyan University is the CCCU’s largest private, Methodist liberal arts member endowed for $107.3 million with 15,800 Wildcats in Muncie, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and beyond. The U.S. News ranked IWU as the Midwest’s 27th best university, but Niche ranked them 36th for “Best Christian Colleges” nationwide. The College of Adult and Professional Studies awards an affordable, CSWE-accredited BSW online with a six-month field placement.
Retention Rate: 79%
Tuition: $383 per credit hour
6. University of North Dakota
Governed by the ND State Board of Higher Education, the University of North Dakota is the flagship public, space-grant RU/VH institution serving nearly 15,000 Fighting Hawks in Grand Forks, Crookston, and online. The U.S. News positioned UND as America’s 202nd best university and 110th top public college. Maintaining CSWE accreditation, the Online BSSW completion program starts every August with synchronous evening courses for students holding 45+ credits.
Retention Rate: 78%
Tuition: $339.04 per credit (in-state regardless of residency)
7. Liberty University
Devoted to “Training Champions for Christ,” Liberty University is a private, nonprofit Baptist NAICU member endowed for $1.05 billion and based in Lynchburg, Virginia, to nurture nearly 115,000 Flames worldwide. The U.S. News recognized Liberty for the 148th best online bachelor’s degrees, while Niche crowned them the 12th top online school. Undergoing CSWE review, the 120-credit Online B.S. in Social Work program teaches human rights advocates with just one on-site intensive.
Retention Rate: 77%
Tuition: $390 (full-time) and $455 (part-time) per hour
8. Wayne State University
Attracting around 27,200 Warriors, Wayne State University is among the United States’ 100 largest public, co-educational research colleges based in Detroit with six Metro extensions and an online division. The U.S. News lauds WSU for the 28th best online bachelor’s options with 76 percent retention. The CSWE-accredited School of Social Work admits upper-division transfers into the BSW Where Online Works! program for earning limited LLBSW licensure.
Retention Rate: 76%
Tuition: $360 (in-state) and $825 (out-of-state) per hour
9. University of Alaska – Fairbanks
Belonging to the UArctic Network, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks is a public, land-grant RU/H institution founded in 1917 that’s now educating over 10,200 Nanooks across Interior Alaska and online. According to the U.S. News, UAF is the United States’ 202nd best university awarding the 132nd best online bachelor’s degrees. Cohorts can obtain the CSWE-accredited, 120-credit B.A. in Social Work in their own villages via web conferencing.
Retention Rate: 76%
Tuition: $3,588 (in-state) and $11,216 (out-of-state) per semester
10. Humboldt State University
Located near Redwood National Park in Arcata, Humboldt State University enrolls over 8,500 Lumberjacks from California’s Northern Coast and beyond as a public, four-year teaching institution endowed for $27.1 million. The U.S. News crowned HSU the West’s 52nd best school and 12th top public university. Online learners with 60+ credits can enter the CSWE-accredited B.A. in Social Work program for three years of part-time study focused on rural practice.
Retention Rate: 75%
Tuition: $7,209 (in-state) and $18,369 (out-of-state) yearly
11. Northern Arizona University
Perched 6,950 feet above sea level in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University offers 155 academic programs to over 30,300 Lumberjacks on-site and online as a public, state-related RU/H institution. The U.S. News picked NAU for America’s 226th best online bachelor’s degrees, while Niche positioned them as the 94th best big college. Entry-level generalist social workers are trained for serving disenfranchised populations in the 75-unit, CSWE-accredited BSW major online.
Retention Rate: 74%
Tuition: $387 (in-state) and $833 (out-of-state) per unit
12. Bemidji State University
Founded in 1919 as a teacher’s college, Bemidji State University has expanded as a public, co-educational liberal arts institution with over 6,300 Beavers from 40 global nations studying in northern Minnesota and online. According to the U.S. News, BSU is the Midwest’s 115th best university and 35th top public school. With a 480-hour internship, the CSWE-accredited Social Work Integrated Model (SWIM) program confers a cohort-based BSW online.
Retention Rate: 68%
Tuition: $305 per credit (in-state regardless of residency)
13. Campbellsville University
Affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Campbellsville University is a private, nonprofit baccalaureate institution established in 1906 that’s enrolling around 3,200 Tigers on-site near Green River Lake and online. The U.S. News ranked Campbellsville as the South’s 98th best regional school with 68 percent retention. Real-world social services preparation is delivered through the CSWE-accredited, 120-credit Bachelor of Social Work online with 450 direct fieldwork hours at approved agencies.
Retention Rate: 68%
Tuition: $399 per hour +$125 online course fee
14. Briar Cliff University
Operated by the Sisters of Saint Francis of Dubuque since 1930, Briar Cliff University is a private, Catholic liberal arts school endowed for $9.5 million to educate 1,100 Chargers in Sioux City, Iowa, and online. The U.S. News congratulated Briar Cliff for becoming the Midwest’s 30th best college and sixth most veteran-friendly university. For 47 credits and 450 internship hours, transfers can finish the CSWE-accredited BSW degree completion program online.
Retention Rate: 62%
Tuition: $399 per credit + $35 student fees
15. Brescia University
Named after the Italian city where St. Angelia Merici founded the Company of St. Ursula, Brescia University is a private, co-educational Catholic ACCU member with 875 Bearcats studying in northwestern Kentucky and online. Brescia is the South’s 32nd best college with the 226th best online bachelor’s degrees nationwide according to the USNWR. The CSWE-accredited, 75-credit Bachelor of Social Work degree completion begins five times annually for online courses like human diversity and aging.
Retention Rate: 60%
Tuition: $425 per credit