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Top Online Bachelor's Degrees in Social Work (BSW) for 2024

Combined with your enthusiasm and desire to help others, an online social work degree can put you in a career where you make a positive impact daily. An online bachelor’s degree in social work can launch your career or serve as a stepping stone to getting your MSW.

Author: Shannon Daigle
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A woman is holding a baby while sitting on a beige sofa, and a young boy with curly hair is next to her, clutching a blue pillow. Opposite them sits another curly-haired woman with a clipboard, appearing to listen attentively, likely drawing from her background in social work.

If you want to make a meaningful impact on the mental health and social well-being of diverse populations, an online social work degree is a path you’ll want to explore. Social workers are already in high demand in the United States, and this is expected to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of social workers is expected to increase by 7% between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than average.

An online bachelor’s degree in social work is an excellent first step in building a career in social work as a social worker, case worker, or mental healthcare provider. Even if your ultimate goal is to get your master’s in social work and become a licensed clinical social worker, getting your bachelor’s in social work degree online is a strong start.

Read our guide to the best online social work degrees in 2024 to learn more about our top picks, tips for choosing the right program, and helpful resources that will guide you along the way.

Spotlight on Online Social Work Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Earning an online social work degree makes getting your bachelor’s in the field flexible, convenient, and approachable. Even if you can’t find a completely online social work degree, there are hybrid options that support partial online learning. We’ve compiled a list of the best options for getting your social work degree online. These fully accredited programs offer you the opportunity to earn an online bachelor’s degree in social work that can launch your career in the field or prepare you for earning your master’s in social work. Keep reading for our top picks.

At Aurora University, students can get an online social work degree that gives them the background and field experience they need to launch a successful career in social work. After acceptance to the bachelor’s of social work program, students can earn all 120 degree credits at Aurora or transfer more than half of the required credits from another institution. This CSWE-accredited program offers specializations in addiction and child welfare. Depending on existing credits and full- or part-time status, students will graduate in two to four years. After that, they can enter the field or apply for advanced standing in a master of social work program.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor in Social Work

Graduate Programs:

  • Master in Social Work

Specialization Options:

  • Addictions
  • Child Welfare

Walden University offers a unique opportunity for nontraditional students to earn a social work degree online. The school’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program is designed with students 21 and older in mind, offering flexible courses, affordable tuition, and no SAT or ACT requirement for admission. After gaining a solid foundation in social work, students can tailor their degree with electives in addiction, forensics & the criminal justice system, crisis & trauma, courts & the legal system, or healthcare settings. The school’s skills lab gives students a place to build confidence in a safe environment before moving into fieldwork placement. After graduation, students who maintain a minimum B average can enter Walden’s MSW with advanced standing.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor in Social Work

Graduate Programs:

  • Master in Social Work

Specialization Options:

  • Addiction
  • Forensics & the Criminal Justice System
  • Crisis & Trauma
  • Courts & the Legal System
  • Healthcare Settings

At Touro University, students can get an online bachelor’s degree in social work that prepares them to become entry-level social workers or to enroll in advanced-standing MSW programs. The program coursework teaches students to provide their clients with vital counseling, referrals, and practical human services. Each course is 100% online in an accelerated, eight-week format. An in-person fieldwork placement rounds out the degree, allowing students to gain hands-on experience. Placements are available in schools, counseling centers, senior centers, and social service charitable organizations. Full-time students can earn their online social work degree in as little as three and a half years, though most take four years to finish the program.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor in Social Work

Graduate Programs:

  • Master in Social Work

What You’ll Learn in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

While the exact classes you’ll take will depend on your program and specialization, there are many courses that online social work degrees have in common. In addition to general requirements, you’ll take classes that provide a strong foundation in social work and allow you to explore different areas of the field. At some schools, like Campbellsville University, online classes are accelerated, offering the same course information in as little as eight weeks. Below, we’ve described five standard courses for students earning an online bachelor’s degree in social work.

Common Courses in Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Programs

Introduction to Social Work

In this beginner-level course, you’ll learn about the social work profession. You’ll study the field’s historical development and the overarching context and frameworks used by social workers. By the end of the class, you’ll have a more robust understanding of what a social worker is and what they do.

Social Work Practice with Individuals

A crucial part of any social work curriculum is learning to apply the profession’s principles to the individuals you’ll be supporting and helping. In this course, you’ll learn more about methods and processes for social work practice with individuals. You’ll also learn the frameworks for providing social work services.

Social Work Practice with Families

Offering social work services to families is a distinct type of care that takes special consideration and training. In this course, you’ll learn about family therapy and the approaches that social workers use in these settings. You’ll also learn how to perform family assessments and interventions.

Human Behavior and Development

In this class, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of human development and behavior throughout life. You’ll examine how different life stages, life events, and cultural differences affect people on the psychological, social, and biological levels. You may also learn how to assess clients in human services settings.

Field Work

Fieldwork is a requirement in most bachelor of social work programs. While you’ll need a master’s in social work and further field hours to become licensed, you can begin accumulating practical hours in the field at the bachelor’s level. Many BSW degrees require 400 hours of fieldwork.

Accreditation for your Online BSW Program

An accredited degree is a must for any college student, especially if you’re working in the healthcare field as a social worker. Regional accreditation from one of the seven regional accreditors authorized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation indicates that a college meets a consistent standard of education. Also, attending a recognized accredited program is required to apply for federal financial aid or transfer credits between schools.

Programmatic accreditation is awarded to individual programs within schools as recognition that they meet industry-standard benchmarks for education and training. The Council on Social Work Education is the programmatic accrediting body for online social work degrees. Earning an online bachelor’s degree in social work accredited by CSWE is a requirement for enrolling in advanced standing master’s in social work programs.

FAQs About an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

Students have many compelling questions they need the answers to before deciding to earn a social work degree online. In this section, we’ll address some of the most common queries.

How long does earning a bachelor’s in Social Work degree online take?

That depends on several factors, including how much time you can devote to your studies and how many undergraduate credits you’ve already earned. Full-time students with minimal college credits usually graduate in four years. However, if you’ve earned some credits before enrolling in your online bachelor’s degree in social work program, it will take less time. If you choose to take classes part-time, it will take five or six years.

How much does an online Social Work bachelor’s degree cost?

Tuition varies by school, residency status, and whether you’re a full- or part-time student. See the table below for three examples from schools offering a social work degree online. Grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities can lower your overall tuition costs. If you’d like to find out more about funding your online bachelor’s degree in social work, check out our in-depth financial aid guide.

SCHOOL NAME# of CreditsCost/CreditTotal Tuition
Angelo State University120$187.30 (resident) | $607.30 (non-resident)$22,476 – $72,876
Liberty University120$390 (full-time) | $455 (part-time)$46,800 – $54,600
East Central University124$321.80 (resident) | $638.80 (non-resident)$39,903 – $79,211

What are the admissions requirements for online BSW degrees?

Check with each school to get the exact admissions requirements for getting a social work degree online. Here are some standard requirements students need to apply for an online bachelor’s degree in social work program:

  • Application for admission
  • Application fee
  • Official transcripts from high school or college
  • Essay
  • ACT or SAT scores
  • Letters of recommendation

Can I earn my Bachelor in Social Work 100% online?

Yes, you can. Remember that earning an online bachelor’s degree in social work requires in-person fieldwork. For example, East Tennessee State University offers students 100% online coursework but requires 430 hours of in-person experience. Usually, you can arrange to fulfill your experience hours in a place convenient to your current residence.

How much can you make with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work?

Let’s examine three typical jobs you can do with your social work degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers make $55,350 per year, health education specialists earn $59,990, and social and community service managers earn $74,240 annually. The National Association of Social Workers reports that each year of experience results in a $419 salary increase.

Do I need certification or licensure to work as a social worker?

In general, yes. You’ll often need a master’s in social work to become a social worker. Some online bachelor’s degree in social work programs, like the one at Walden University, will prepare you to take the ASWB licensing exam after getting a BSW if your state allows. Explore state requirements on the Association of Social Work Boards website.

Similar Programs You May Be Interested In

Additional Resources for Social Work Students and Professionals

As you earn your online social work degree, you’ll need plenty of resources to help you make the most of your education. We’ve put together this list of resources to help you along the way.

  • Association of Social Work Boards
    This is the national board that develops and manages social worker licensing exams. Their website includes exam prep information, study guides, and information on licensing requirements.
  • Clinical Social Work Association
    CWSA is a professional organization for practicing clinical social workers. The website provides professional resources, information on advocacy efforts, and opportunities to network and connect with other social workers.
  • Council on Social Work Education
    CSWE is the programmatic accrediting authority for social work education programs in U.S. colleges and universities. Visit their website for information on accredited programs and educational resources.
  • How to Become a Social Worker
    If you’re interested in a career as a social worker, read our step-by-step guide to becoming one. This article walks you through everything from choosing a degree to getting licensed.
  • National Association of Social Workers
    The NASW is the largest professional association of social workers in the United States. On its website, you can find professional resources, advocacy information, and professional networking opportunities.
  • National Institute of Mental Health
    A federal research agency that conducts studies on mental health disorders and provides resources to professionals and the general public.
  • Social Work Licensure by State
    Each state has slightly different licensing requirements for social workers. This article explains the rules in your state, how to qualify, and how to apply.
  • Social Work Scholarships
    Looking for ways to fund your online social work degree? We have the information on the best social work scholarships on this page.
  • Social Work Today
    An online magazine offering articles, news, and resources for social workers, it covers topics such as healthcare, mental health, and policy issues in the field.
  • What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree
    Whether you’re exploring your degree options or searching for your first job, this guide to using your social work degree has you covered.