2017 Top Online Schools for Social Work

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges offering social work degrees online.

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Advertisement This search widget accesses a list of schools that help sponsor this site by paying a small fee for student inquiries. They are all accredited not-for-profit institutions. Some may be included in our rankings but it is not related to their participation as an advertiser. In general, evaluating as many schools as possible will help you find the best fit.

Evaluating Online Social Work Degrees

Because of state licensure requirements, you won’t find many 100% online social work degrees. Instead, schools provide a hybrid of online courses and supervised work experience/internship opportunities in a student’s local area. A few points to note:

  • Online bachelor’s degrees in social work are most common.
  • Online master’s degrees are rarer and concentrations are sometimes limited to Advanced Generalist or Clinical Social Work Practice. However, you may be able to specialize in an area of particular interest (e.g. urban family practice, family social work).

If you’re hoping to use your BSW or MSW as the basis for licensure, you should check if your online program:

  • Meets State Social Work Regulatory Board requirements
  • Is CSWE-accredited (view the CSWE Directory of Accredited Programs)
  • Fulfills your state’s supervised work experience requirements (universities often arrange for fieldwork in a local social services setting)
  • Prepares you for ASWB licensure exams (don’t be afraid to ask the department for recent pass rates)

If you’re not interested in licensure, then you have considerably more flexibility. For example, you could consider an online master’s degree in social services, social science, human services or other related disciplines.

School Rankings

1

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers a Master of Social Work online. The program focuses on smaller, seminar-style classes, and online classes are live and taught by the same highly experienced faculty that teaches the on-campus classes. Students will complete the field placement portion of the degree within their own communities, and these placements will be overseen by the USC School of Social Work. The program is offered in a number of concentrations including Mental Health, Families and Children, and Health as well as sub-concentrations such as Military Social Work and School Settings. Graduates often go on to become social workers in a number of settings including schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, and more.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

2

Fordham University

The Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University offers an online Master of Social Work, and it is the same as the traditional M.S.W. program offered by Fordham University, which was ranked #11 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The online M.S.W. program is ideal for students with busy schedules who require a certain amount of flexibility and convenience. Students are able to complete field placements in their own areas with supervision of the Fordham University faculty.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

3

Boston University

The School of Social Work at Boston University offers a Master of Social Work online, and the school is dedicated to economic justice in all of its programs. The goal of the program is to further the education of social workers and equip them to be unique leaders in a diverse, complex, and multicultural society. This online program is specifically geared towards students that have work and/or family responsibilities. The degree is available in three tracks: the traditional M.S.W. track, the human service experience track, and the advanced standing track. In this program, students will complete one or two field internships in their own communities.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

4

University of New England

The University of New England offers an online Master of Social Work, and it is one of the few online programs that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The mission of the School of Social Work is to contribute to a world where social workers mobilize efforts to end exploitation, violence, and inequality. The program is available in a traditional track, which is ideal for students who do not have a bachelor's degree in social work. Students who do have a bachelor's degree in social work may be interested in the advanced standing track. Students in the advanced standing track will take courses such as Integrating Clinical/Community Practice Framework and Administration and Supervision.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

5

Salisbury University

The Department of Social Work at Salisbury University offers an online Master of Social Work program, and it is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. All of the courses in the program are offered in seven-week blocks, and most students complete the program in three years. Students must complete an online orientation, and there is an assessment on the Salisbury University website to help students determine whether or not online learning is for them. Students enrolled in the program will take courses such as Psychopathology and Ethics, and all students are required to complete a field work component for the program.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

6

The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee Knoxville has three options for an online Master of Science in Social Work. The Advanced Standing program is open to students with a bachelor degree in social work and a GPA of at least 3.0. The 36-credit program can be completed in 12 months of full-time study or 18 to 24 months of part-time study. The program starts in the summer. The full-time online option starts classes in the fall, and students can complete the 60-credit program in four semesters. Part-time students begin in the fall, take six credits per semester and earn the degree in three or four years. Advanced standing students complete one field placement and other students complete two field placements.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,386 Students

7

University of Missouri-Columbia

The College of Human Environmental Studies at University of Missouri offers an online Master of Social Work program for students who have earned their Bachelor of Social Work from an institution that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Graduates of this program have gone on to pursue careers in advanced clinical practices or policy, planning, and administration in human services, among other things. Students enrolled in the program will take courses such as Advanced Social Work Practice in Integrated Health Care, Problems in Social Work, Helping Strategies with Children and Adolescents, and Military Culture: Issues for Helping Professionals.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

35,425 Students

8

Texas State University-San Marcos

The School of Social Work at Texas State offers a Master of Social Work degree online. The online courses are taught by the same highly qualified, experience faculty as the on-campus courses. The program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and it is available in two different tracks. The foundation track offers courses that are comparable to upper-level BSW courses, and the advanced track is for students who already have a solid foundation of social work skills and knowledge.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,739 Students

9

Virginia Commonwealth University

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work offers a Master of Social Work degree online. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and the goal of the program is the educate individuals who wish to pursue advanced practice in social work administration or clinical social work. The VCU School of Social Work places emphasis on critical thinking, data-based decision making, and self-awareness. Students in the program will be equipped with a foundation of skills, knowledge, values, and ethics that are essential for working in a social work context.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

10

The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers a Master of Social Work online, and the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students in the M.S.W. program will have an increased knowledge of social problems and also their solutions, develop the necessary skills to promote human dignity and social justice, and understand how to improve social conditions for individuals and communities throughout the nation. Students who have a B.S.W. are able to pursue the 42-credit advanced-standing program. Students enrolled in this program will take such courses as Models and Methods of Social Work Practice with Adults in Mental Health, Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis, and Human Behavior and Social Environments.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

11

Case Western Reserve University

The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University offers a Master of Science in Social Administration online, and the school is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work. The degree is available in three different concentrations: Direct Practice (Children Youth and Families), Direct Practice (Adult Mental Health), and Community Practice for Social Change. All students are required to complete a field education portion of the program. The traditional track for students who do not have a B.S.W. is a total of 60 credits, and the advanced standing track is a total of 45 credits.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

12

University of North Dakota

The Department of Social Work of the University of North Dakota offers an online Bachelor of Social Work, an online Master of Social Work for B.S.W. students, and an online Master of Social Work for non-B.S.W. students. The online M.S.W. for B.S.W. students takes two years to complete where the online M.S.W. for non-B.S.W. students takes three years to complete. Both programs feature live web classes held in the evenings, and both programs require one to two campus visits. The goal of these programs is to equip social workers with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to positively contribute to the profession and the field of social work.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

13

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

The University of New Hampshire online offers a Master of Social Work that can be completed entirely online, and it is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program takes 28 months to complete, and it focuses on four fields of practice: health and mental health, youth and families, disabilities, and addictions and substance abuse. Students are required to participate in two field internships in their local areas. These will both be nine months each. Students enrolled in the program will take courses such as History of Social Welfare Policy, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social Welfare Policy.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

14

Our Lady of the Lake University-San Antonio

The Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University offers an online Master of Social Work program. The goal of this degree program is to equip individuals with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to contribute to pursue fulfilling careers in social service leadership and also advanced direct practice. The program can help students to achieve their goals of fighting for justice and helping society. There are two options: the M.S.W. Concentration track, which is geared towards students who already have a B.S.W. and can be completed in two years, and the M.S.W. Foundation track, specifically designed for students with a bachelor's degree in something other than social work.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

15

Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University offers a Master of Social Work program entirely online in two different concentrations: Advanced Clinical Practice Concentration and Advanced Standing Program. The Advanced Standing Program takes one year to complete, and it is meant for students who have completed a B.S.W. degree from a CSWE-accredited program within the last five years. In both of these programs, classes are attended via webcam and presented online, which allows students the opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with professors from the convenience of their own homes. Students enrolled in the M.S.W. online program will take courses such as Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, and Social Work Research Methods.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

16

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University offers a Master of Social Work degree program online. This program enables students to seek rewarding careers as social workers in areas such as gerontology, substance abuse treatment, child welfare, and more. Online courses are taught in seven-week sessions, and the degree can be completed in two years or in one year if the student has a bachelor's degree in social work. There is a thesis option and a non-thesis option for M.S.W. students. In the first year, students will take foundational courses such as Social Welfare History and Policy, and in the second year (otherwise known as the advanced year), students will participate in field internships with the approval of the expert faculty.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

31,044 Students

17

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa offers a Master of Social Work entirely online in online courses and interactive videos. Students are required to travel to O'ahu once a year for on-site training. Classes are typically held in the evenings, and students are usually able to maintain employment while pursuing their M.S.W. The M.S.W. can be completed in four consecutive fall-spring semesters. Students enrolled in the program will take courses such as Social Work Practice with Families and Groups and Social Welfare Policy and Services. They will have the option to take electives such as Treatment of Chemical Dependency, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Social Determinants of Health.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

19,507 Students

18

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

The School of Graduate Studies and Research at Edinboro University offers a Master of Social Work program entirely online, and it prepares students to work in a variety of settings and contexts. Some of these settings may include schools, addiction treatment centers, family-based and mental health agencies, medical and psychiatric facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes. The M.S.W. program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students are required to complete a field education component of the program.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

19

Brescia University

Brescia University offers a Master of Social Work online. Professional social workers are in high demand, and the M.S.W. program at BU is designed to prepare individuals for successful careers in the field of social work. Weekly, evening synchronous chats are required for all students so there are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face interactions with classmates and professors. The M.S.W. program can be completed within two years. Students who have a B.S.W. may qualify for the advanced standing track, which may be completed in one year. Students enrolled in this program will take courses such as Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Ethical Decision Making in Social Work, and Psychopathology.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

20

Baylor University

Baylor University offers a Ph.D. in Social Work online. The program uses a combination of online courses with classes taught in virtual classrooms by synchronous, high definition videoconferencing. The program takes three years to complete and requires 60 credit hours, and only seven students are admitted to the program every year. Students who have an M.S.W. from an accredited school of social work will be considered for the program. Baylor University has a unique approach to the field of social work that combines faith and ethics. Students in this program will take courses such as Theory and Model Development for Social Work Practice and Religious and Cultural Diversity.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

21

Indiana Wesleyan University

The College of Adult and Professional Studies at Indian Wesleyan University offers a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Social Work online. Both programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). With both of these programs, IWU combines their Christian mission and values with accredited social work programs to prepare students for successful careers in the field of social work. The B.S.W. prepares student for entry-level positions in the field of social work whereas the M.S.W. degree prepares students for leadership roles or advanced clinical roles. The M.S.W. program is designed to offer a professional and personal experience to all students seeking to practice social work at an advanced clinical level.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

22

Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff University has an online program that allows adult learners to complete their undergraduate degree in social work. There is no requirement to go to campus. Students complete coursework online and have a weekly one-on-one meeting with a faculty mentor, which is conducted via Skype. Courses are asynchronous, allowing students to log in and view coursework at their convenience as long as they meet weekly deadlines. Students must also complete a 450-hour hands-on field experience, which they can do in their own community. Students may enter the program in the fall or spring term. Applicants must have at least 77 credits and meet prerequisites; an associate degree in social work typically meets most of these requirements.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

23

Brandman University

Brandman University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work online. The program focuses on the diverse areas of political, cultural, social, economic, organizational, and technological processes that create change in society. The program has professional accreditation candidacy status from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and graduates of the program will be prepared for entry-level positions in the field of social work in areas such as developmental disabilities, community mental health, child welfare, addiction, and more. Students enrolled in the program will take courses such as Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Diversity and Social Justice in a Global Society, and Interviewing and Assessment Skills.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

24

Union Institute & University

Union Institute and University has an online Bachelor of Science in Social Work that students can complete on a full-time or part-time basis. Graduates of the program are prepared for a generalist social work job in a community or organization. The social work curriculum includes courses in human behavior and the social environment, ethical issues, working with families, multicultural issues, social welfare policy, and research methods. Students are able to complete practicum hours by working with a social work agency in their home community. UIU will accept up to 90 transfer credits, and the university allows students to enter the social work program at three points during the year.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

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