Online degrees are growing in number and popularity, as students attempt to balance work and family obligations while continuing their education. For those who want to establish careers in the field of social work, obtaining their degree online offers a flexibility and practicality unlike traditional on campus programs. Online programs do not require students to put the rest of their life on hold as they pursue their educational and professional aspirations. Plus they allow students to maintain work responsibilities and family obligations as they achieve their goals.
The following list represents the 10 Best Accredited Online Social Work Degree Programs to help you find the undergraduate or graduate program which best aligns with your financial, educational, and professional situation. Each program is based on tuition rates, accreditation which confirms the program meets the highest academic standards, and rank among other colleges offering similar degrees. In some cases, the school may have a unique history or program that makes them stand out among other online colleges, while others offer the prestige of a well-known higher education institution. All of the programs offer the flexibility students need in order to keep a good balance between the needs of their family, part- or full-time work responsibilities, and the recreational activities that often interfere with continuing education. For anyone seeking a social work degree, these online programs provide more than an excellent education, but also the ability to attend class at times that suit a busy schedule while ensuring students gain the proper skills and knowledge upon graduation.
Without further delay here’s the list:
1. University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) is one of the first research universities to offer an online social work degree program at the Master’s level. The program is offered through the college Virtual Academic Center and mirrors the on-campus program. Unlike the on-campus program, classes are offered in a more flexible, interactive learning program that is web-based, giving students the same degree as that earned on-campus with better accessibility for those who cannot take on-campus classes. The college arranges supervised internships where the student lives, so there is no need to relocate to southern California for field training. USC began in 1880, the dream of Judge Robert Maclay Widney, who formed a board of trustees and obtained donations of 308 lots of land for a campus in southern California. The doors opened to 53 students and ten teachers, but was so remote there were no paved streets, electric lights or reliable fire alarms. Today, USC houses more than 33,000 students, 3,200 full-time faculty members and is surrounded by one of the biggest cities in the world. Tuition for the online social work degree at USC is $1,536 per unit for part-time students (1-14 units) and $22,801 for full-time students (15-18 units). In addition, there is a $225 social work lab fee. In 2012, US News and World Report ranked USC eleventh in advanced social work curriculum. The Council on Social Work (CSWE) and the Western Association of Colleges and Schools (WASC) accredits the program. (http://msw.usc.edu)
2. University of California at Berkeley
The University of California at Berkeley Extension Program offers online classes in Behavioral Health Sciences, Humanities, Language and Personal Development. In addition, the college offers certificates and specialized programs of study in Clinical Research Conduct and Management. There are also a limited number of undergraduate courses available online. Costs vary by course and certificate program. UC Berkeley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and ranks seventh on the US News and World Report list of top social work colleges. The gold rush helped to found UC Berkeley, and the tenacity and innovation of the early California settlers continues at the college which is renowned for their push for economic growth and social innovation. As early as 1897, “needy and deserving” students received financial aid in order to attend the college, and the school reports educating more Pell Grant recipients than all other Ivy League schools. Almost 30 percent of students are the first in their family to attend college.
3. Northeastern University
Northeastern University offers a Master of Science in Human Services online program that allows students to work and collaborate via the internet. The program reflects Northeastern’s philosophy of work-based applications and capstone service-learning projects to enhance student learning. The cost per credit hour for this online program is $572, with an estimated tuition of $25,740. Northeastern University was founded in 1898 in the heart of Boston, and has been offering online education since 1974 to non-traditional learners, as well as those working professionals who cannot attend on-campus classes full-time. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). Northeastern University is ranked in the top 100 universities by US News and World Report.
4. Indiana University
The Indiana University online Advanced Generalist Master’s in Social Work degree prepares graduates to work in the many different practices available for today’s social worker. In addition, the electives included in the course provide specialized knowledge that other online programs do not offer. The Council on Social Work Education accredits the program, and the college is ranked in the top 100 colleges through US News and World Report. For less than six credit hours, tuition is $500 per credit hour for Indiana residents and $600 per credit hour for non-residents. Founded in 1820 as the State Seminary, officially became Indiana University in 1838. The first graduating class from the school was in 1830, and in 1867 became one of the first state universities to admit women.
5. Boston University
The Boston University Online Master of Social Work Program in Clinical Social Work Practice offers two options for completing a degree. For students with a minimum of two-years of human service experience, may be considered for the Human Service with Experience Track which requires them to complete 65 credits within eight consecutive semesters and one field internship of 1,000 hours. The traditional track requires 65 credits in eight consecutive semesters plus two field internships totaling 1,200 hours. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Tuition is $695 per credit hour. There is also a student services fee and a technology fee of $60 per credit hour each. This program is fairly new as it was only established in 2011. Boston University ranks 16th on the US News and World Report listing of social work colleges.
6. University of Tennessee at Knoxville
The online Master of Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville ranked second among those listed in the 2013 “Best Buy Online Master’s in Psychology and Social Services” listing from the GetEducated consumer organization. The program was also awarded an Innovative Credit Programming Award from the Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education. Students can attend full- or part-time, and there are several options as far as programs. Founded in 1794, the University of Tennessee was the first public university west of the Applachias, ranks in the top 50 of all public universities in the country. The university is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. (http://www.csw.utk.edu/studentsmssw/online.html)
7. Fordham University
Ranked the #1 online Master of Social Work program by BestSchools.org and by the U.S. News and World Report, Fordham University has focused on social justice and human rights since its foundation in 1916. In order to participate in the program, students must be residents of New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, and live within 50 miles from any Fordham campus. Tuition to attend the online program is $859 per credit hour, with additional fees required for each year of the program. There is a $500 “placeholder” fee that is refunded once the student matriculates. Fordham University is an accredited member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Learning (MSCHE), and the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
8. Columbia College
Founded in 1851, Columbia College offers several options for online associate and bachelor degrees in Human Services, as well as bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. The college also offers a dual degree in Criminal Justice and Human Services. Plus it’s reputation for changing with the needs of students is remarkable. The college originally began as the Christian Female College, was the first female college west of the Mississippi River to be chartered by a state, and was also one of the first institutes of higher learning to place campuses on military bases.. The college’s transition from an all female to co-ed college occurred in 1970 when it became a four-year school and changed its name to Columbia College. The Higher Learning Commission accredits the college, and they have been a member of the North Central Association since 1918. Tuition for their online programs are an affordable $245 per credit hour, and the school ranks in the top 100 schools in the US News and World Report list.
9. Rutgers University
Rutgers offers a Master’s in Social Work degree that is completely online, allowing students to obtain their advanced degree in a self-directed method that permits flexibility and convenience. The program is a three-year course of study, and field placement at a social science agency begins during the summer after the student completes their first year, continuing until the program is complete. At the present time, Rutgers cannot enroll residents of all states in the online social work program, and requests that students contact an enrollment coach to determine eligibility. Rutgers is the eight oldest institution in the United States, established before the American Revolution. Originally chartered as an all-male college in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1766, then known as Queen’s College, the university was renamed Rutgers College in 1825 in honor of Colonel Henry Rutgers, a trustee and Revolutionary War veteran. Rutgers is ranked 26th on the US News and World Report list of top social work colleges. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits Rutgers University.
10. University of New England
The University of New England has a long history of dedicated student and faculty volunteers. Their dedication has been able to help staff the Biddeford Free Clinic with medical student volunteers plus prove the school’s ultimate mission: to promote well-being for all. Aligned with the school’s mission, it’s Social Work programs are much different from the other social work schools. It embraces diversity and the acceptance of all people as they are and promotes the well-being of everyone regardless of their economic or social status. Their MSW program was one of the first to go 100 percent online and is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. They also have great financial resources, with over 90 percent of students receiving financial aid each semester and tuition rates beginning at $32,755 (37 credits) for Advanced Standing students and $56,195 (64 credits) for in and out of state students following the Traditional Track.