2022 Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW) Programs
An online bachelor's degree in social work immerses students in lessons on social policy and caring intervention. A social work degree might qualify graduates for several careers in community and social service so they can help improve the lives of at-risk individuals and families in their community. Many colleges offer online social work bachelor's degrees that allow students to start down this path.
The list below highlights the best online bachelor’s degree programs in social work based on alumni salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cited above, social worker positions are expected to increase by 12% between 2020 and 2030, which is significantly above the US average across all occupations. This amounts to 346,900 new job openings in this period.
2022 Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW) Programs
|Rank||School||Salary Score||Median Starting Salary|
|# 1||University of North Dakota||95||$38,598|
|# 2||University of Utah||83||$35,854|
|# 3||Metropolitan State University of Denver||75||$34,646|
|# 4||Mary Baldwin University||74||$34,555|
|# 5||Brescia University||73||$34,450|
|# 6||University of Louisville||70||$34,088|
|# 7||Northern Arizona University||68||$33,882|
|# 8||Eastern Kentucky University||65||$33,448|
|# 9||Spring Arbor University Online||64||$33,424|
|# 10||Mount Vernon Nazarene University||59||$32,843|
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2022 Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's Degrees
#1 University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota's (UND) online Bachelor of Science in Social Work is taught from a social justice perspective with a curriculum that includes conceptual courses on human behavior and social policy, as well as hands-on courses in research and social work practices. Coursework is designed to prepare students for state certification exams. Students can expect to take core courses, such as Social Work Research, Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families, and Social Policy. Students must complete a field internship under the supervision of a licensed field instructor.
At UND, the Home to the Children and Family Services Training Center provides research and training with a strong rural focus. The Center certifies all new child welfare practitioners and all North Dakota foster parents. Alumni pursue careers in family prevention services, disaster relief, and homeless family assistance.
#2 University of Utah
The University of Utah (UU) is a public, four-year institution offering an online Bachelor of Social Work. The program prepares students to become professional social workers. It emphasizes social justice and building supportive relationships with marginalized communities to help develop community leaders as well as programs that strive toward social justice and improving the lives of community members. In addition to a core curriculum — which includes courses such as Social Work as a Profession, Social Work Research and Evaluation, and Advanced Social Work Writing — the program requires two semesters of practicum field experience.
Students interested in working with children and families can apply for the Child Welfare Title IV-E Career Path program, a grant administered by the Utah State Division of Child and Family Services. Graduates may pursue careers in fields like juvenile justice, aging and gerontology, child welfare, and human services.
#3 Metropolitan State University of Denver
Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSUD) is a public, four-year institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Social Work. The program provides a social work education that’s value-driven, research-informed, culturally responsive, and academically rigorous. It connects social work theory with real-world practice. To graduate, students must complete 480 hours of field experience over two semesters. To fulfill the requirement, students can choose field placement at one of over 700 organizations in Colorado, including mental health clinics, public schools, state and local departments of human services, police departments, or health care settings like hospitals and clinics. Among the core program courses are Philosophy of Social Work, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social Policy and Social Justice.
Online students at MSUD have access to student groups, including the Student Association of Social Workers, Phi Alpha honor society, and Building Allies of Diversity, where they can connect with their peers.
#4 Mary Baldwin University
Mary Baldwin University (MBU) — a private, nonprofit, four-year institution — offers Virginia residents an online Bachelor of Social Work. This program aims to provide graduates with the foundation they need to enter generalist practice, including the knowledge and practical skills required to become agents of change in their communities and society. It requires a 450-hour practicum in the final semester. Students may also pursue international fieldwork, such as recent program study-abroad trips to Haiti and Honduras.
At MBU, online students can enhance their learning experience by earning entry into the Phi Alpha honor society, joining the Social Work Club, or networking with industry professionals and alumni.
#5 Brescia University
Brescia University (BU) is a private, nonprofit, Catholic institution offering an online Bachelor of Social Work that helps provide graduates with the theoretical knowledge and hands-on social work experience they need to work in various human services agencies, such as child protection, anti-poverty programs, and criminal justice. Grounded in the school's Catholic, liberal arts roots, this BU program emphasizes respect for all and servant leadership.
In addition to courses like Social Issues in Diversity, Social Welfare Policy, and Social Work and Aging, students must complete two field practicums in which they’ll integrate what they’ve learned with real-life experiences. Depending on program offerings, students may also take advantage of the school's study abroad programs to expand the breadth of their expertise and provide a look at social work from a global perspective.
#6 University of Louisville
The University of Louisville (UofL) is a public, four-year institution offering an online Bachelor of Social Work that focuses on skills and knowledge related to the impact of social work on families, institutions, and communities. Through core courses — like Introduction to Social Work Policy, Social Welfare Institutions and Policy, Policies and Social Justice Practice — this bachelor's program prepares students to practice social work with people who have suffered oppression, such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, and ableism at the individual, community, and institutional levels of society. Additionally, students must complete a seminar, lab, and a 450-hour practicum.
After completing the program, students can seek careers as school social workers, mental health social workers, and clinical social workers.
#7 Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University (NAU) offers an online Bachelor of Social Work program to prepare students to become licensed generalist social workers in many states. Students will take courses in areas such as ethnicity, gender, human biology, social and economic justice, and indigenous populations of the southwest. Students must complete a senior seminar course to meet the online program’s capstone requirement. Alumni are prepared to earn certification in industry niches, such as victim advocacy, health care services, elderly care, and community advocacy.
At NAU, online students may access the student library, 24/7 tech support, financial aid opportunities, and tutoring services. Additionally, online students may seek guidance from dedicated faculty.
#8 Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is a public, four-year institution that offers an online Bachelor of Social Work that provides students with a solid academic foundation to become ethical leaders who advocate for social and economic justice. EKU’s bachelor's degree is a versatile program that focuses on the critical skills needed to advance professionally. Social Welfare Policy History, Addictions, and Social Work Practice are among the program’s core courses that help prepare students for careers working with adults and children affected by issues, such as mental health or substance abuse. With a focus on real-world application, the degree requires the completion of several practicums aimed at providing online students with an up-close look at different career options.
At EKU, online students have access to free tutoring and career services. Additionally EKU Online offers a range of scholarships designed to assist students with financial need.
#9 Spring Arbor University Online
The online Bachelor of Social Work at Spring Arbor University (SAU), a Christian liberal arts college, is designed to teach core principles and concepts and build applicable skills through practice. Courses vary in length, from 6-15 weeks. The curriculum includes courses on racial and ethnic relations, social welfare policies, and social work practices among individuals and families. This bachelor's program also prepares qualified Michigan residents to earn a Child Welfare Endorsement.
Enrolled online students are assigned a program mentor and a student success coach who can assist with personal and professional development. Upon graduating, students are prepared to work in domestic violence centers, hospitals, child welfare offices, and nursing homes, to name a few areas.
#10 Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) is a private, nonprofit, four-year institution offering a Bachelor of Social Work. The curriculum aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to become influential social work professionals. Core courses include Social Justice and Advocacy, Social Work Practice with Families, Cultural and Human Diversity, and Preparation for Field Experience. The latter course helps students prepare for their social work practicum. After completing the program, graduates can pursue social work careers as victim advocates, public policy specialists, child welfare social workers, and healthcare social workers.
At MVNU, coursework is 100% online, and a student's schedule can be flexibly altered to suit their busy lives. Additionally, online students can go on to pursue social work licensure and graduate-level education.