Social work is a gratifying human services profession that requires a bachelor’s degree for entry-level generalist practice. Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programs develop the essential skills for promoting social equality and justice in underprivileged communities. All 50 states mandate accredited baccalaureate-level training for fulfilling licensing requirements. Earning a BSW is smart for compassionate students wishing to help society’s marginalized citizens. The United States employs around 649,300 social workers in diverse settings, including hospitals, welfare agencies, clinics, geriatric centers, and military bases. Social work jobs will keep growing faster-than-average by 12 percent through 2024! In this article, we’ll highlight the 10 Best Accredited Online BSW Programs that make training easily accessible.
Finding high-quality online bachelor’s degrees in social work can be tricky. To begin, we sorted through U.S. universities accredited at the baccalaureate level by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Only 13 online BSW programs currently exist nationwide. Next, we narrowed the list to 10 by surveying each degree’s curriculum. Bachelor of Social Work programs had to be primarily online with limited on-campus residency. Using the U.S. News and World Report rankings, we judged the academic rigor of each university. Supervised field practice was a must-have to satisfy experience hours required for licensing. Other factors considered were transfer eligibility, financial aid, student-faculty ratio, pass rates, specializations, and online technology.
Studying social work online is a great alternative for non-traditional students looking to maximize scheduling flexibility while lowering commute times and tuition costs. Although online BSW programs aren’t numerous, there are several accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) for excellence. Pursuing any of these 10 Best Accredited Online BSW Programs will lay the foundation for a rewarding, in-demand helping profession with an average yearly salary of $45,900.
1. University of Utah
Located on a sprawling 1,534-acre campus in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah is a flagship public, space-grant research institution founded in 1850 and educating over 31,600 learners. The U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Utah as America’s 115th National University and 55th Top Public School. Within the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited College of Social Work, an online Bachelor of Social Work completion program is available. The 51-credit, five-semester curriculum serves entry-level social work practitioners who already hold an associate degree. Online coursework culminates with an applied field practicum in students’ own communities.
Tuition: $8,197 (in-state) or $26,022 (out-of-state)
2. University of Alaska Fairbanks
Enrolling over 10,200 students, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is a public, sea-grant research institution based just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Named the West’s 80th Best College by Forbes, the University of Alaska Fairbanks was recognized in the U.S. News and World Report survey for America’s 164th Top Online Bachelor’s Degrees. The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program offers a distance, cohort-based option for rural residents across the Alaskan bush. Following the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) guidelines, the 120-credit program uses Adobe Connect for online audio-conferences. Seniors must complete a 400-hour practicum in local service agencies.
Tuition: $5,674 (in-state)
3. Northern Arizona University
Endowed for $136 million, Northern Arizona University is a public, state-funded RU/H research institution enrolling over 27,700 students from its 740-acre campus in Flagstaff. Highly rated by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) for educating Native Americans, Northern Arizona University is acclaimed for America’s 159th Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by the U.S. News. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Bachelor of Social Work equips online learners for resolving societal problems like domestic violence and discrimination. Fourth-year students in the 120-unit program must complete two 240-hour field placements. There’s also a Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Project.
Tuition: $10,358 (in-state) or $23,348 (out-of-state)
4. Indiana Wesleyan University
Affiliated with the Wesleyan Church, Indiana Wesleyan University educates over 15,800 total students as a private, Christian liberal arts institution in Marion along the Mississinewa River. With a student-faculty ratio of 14:1, the U.S. News and World Report crowned Indiana Wesleyan University the 30th Best Midwestern College and 12th Top Value. The College of Adult and Professional Studies grants an online Bachelor of Social Work with Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. Cohort-based classes on Pearson LearningStudio have flexible start dates every month. Field placement accompanies online coursework on human behavior, social welfare, group relations, and sociology.
5. California State University – Chico
Established in 1887, California State University – Chico is the 23-campus system’s second oldest public education institution with over 17,200 students studying in the Sacramento Valley and beyond. The U.S. News and World Report distinguished California State University Chico as the West’s 42nd Best University and ninth Top Public School. Holding Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation, the Bachelor of Social Work program has a “distributed learning” option for Web-based instruction. Online students enroll in the three-year program starting their junior year and attend just two face-to-face intensives each semester. Field practicum in Northern California is included.
Tuition: $7,022 (in-state) or $18,182 (out-of-state)
6. Briar Cliff University
Grounded in Franciscan values, Briar Cliff University is a private, non-profit Catholic liberal arts institution enlightening around 1,100 students from its 70-acre campus in Sioux City, Iowa. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Briar Cliff is the 38th Best University and 27th Top School for Former Military in the Midwest. Fully Council on Social Work (CSWE) accredited since 1974, the Bachelor of Social Work program has an online degree completion option. Requiring 47 credits, the 24-month curriculum contains a mandatory 450-hour community internship. Online Briar Cliff students benefit from weekly, one-on-one mentorship meetings with advisors.
7. Humboldt State University
Among the Redwoods, Humboldt State University stands in Arcata, California, as the northernmost CSU-affiliated public institution with over 8,700 students. Named among the Princeton Review’s “Colleges with a Conscience,” Humboldt is ranked the 57th Best Western University by the U.S. News. To produce entry-level generalists, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program is offered online. Undergraduates participate in live, online course meetings every Thursday evening and attend just one January intensive. The two-year, upper-division Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program includes two semesters of field experience.
Tuition: $7,195 (in-state) or $18,364 (out-of-state)
8. Brescia University
With an acceptance rate of 49 percent, Brescia University is a selective private, Catholic institution educating around 1,000 students in the Ursuline tradition from Owensboro, Kentucky. Honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Brescia is ranked the South’s 50th Best College by the U.S. News and World Report. Among Brescia’s 15 online programs is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Bachelor of Social Work Degree Completion. Five start dates are available for transfers holding at least 45 credits from regionally accredited colleges. Online courses integrate social work knowledge, values, and skills with two on-site agency practica.
9. Bemidji State University
Founded in 1919, Bemidji State University has grown into a public, co-educational higher learning institution educating over 6,300 students from its headquarters in northwestern Minnesota. With the country’s 187th Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, Bemidji State University is the 99th Best Midwestern School according to the U.S. News and World Report. Students with an A.A. degree can join the College of Health Sciences’ Online BSW in Social Work program. Consisting of 69 credits, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited curriculum offers an optional Alcohol & Drug Counseling Certificate. Bemidji graduates have an average licensing exam pass rate of 96 percent.
10. Metropolitan State University of Denver
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Metropolitan State University of Denver is an accredited public, space-grant research institution enrolling over 23,900 students on-site in Denver’s Auraria neighborhood and online. Crowned a “Best for Vets” college, Metro State is recognized for America’s 123rd Best Social Work Ddepartment by the U.S. News and World Report. Starting Fall 2016, the COuncil on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited BSSW program will offer Colorado residents a fully online option. The 55-credit major includes two professional field experiences. Minors in Chicano Studies, Criminal Justice, Human Services, or Native American Studies could be added.
Tuition: $6,420 (in-state)