Affordable Social Work Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable social work degrees, as well as info on the different types of social work degrees and social work program accreditation.

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

Find online programs

Tell us what you're looking for and we'll get you started!

School Rankings

1

University of Minnesota-Duluth

The College of Education and Human Service Professions at the University of Minnesota Duluth houses the Department of Social Work. The department offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program that can be completed primarily online. The required 430 hours of field placement/internship can be completed in the student's home community. The department also has a Master of Social Work (MSW) program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This program has a Child Welfare Curriculum Option, an American Indian focus and meets the Minnesota Licensure requirements for Clinical Content. MSW students interested in becoming an advanced child welfare practitioner can apply to the Center for Regional and Tribal Welfare Studies' ICWA Scholars Program ($18,000 training stipend).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 97.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

10,878 Students

2

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill has a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Students can choose to earn their MSW degree full-time on campus or as a three-year distance education program. MSW students have the option of pursuing dual degrees through a joint degree program that the School of Social Work coordinates with the School of Public Health, School of Law, Department of Public Administration, and Duke University's Divinity School. The school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work program.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,084 Students

3

Rutgers University

Through its School of Social Work, Rutgers University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, a Master of Social Work, a Doctor of Social Work and a Ph.D. in Social Work. The B.A. in Social Work prepares students for a generalist social work practice through 60 credits of major coursework that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The Master of Social Work is available in several formats: a traditional M.S.W., a 100% online M.S.W., a blended online M.S.W. and an intensive weekend M.S.W. All M.S.W. students complete 30 credits of professional foundation coursework and choose a concentration in either clinical social work or management and policy. Students can also choose from six areas of emphasis, including social policy, mental and behavioral health, international social work, and health.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,720 Students

4

University of Illinois at Chicago

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at UIC's Jane Addams College of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) until 2020. The MSW program has four areas of concentrations: mental health, child and family services, community health and urban development, and social work practice. The college offers a joint degree program with the School of Public Health (MSW/MPH), in addition to a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (Ph.D.) degree. The college also has a Certificate in Evidence-Based Mental Health Practice with Children and a Post-MSW Type 73 non-degree program. Individuals who complete the Post-MSW program become eligible for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Type 73 School Social Worker Endorsement.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,048 Students

5

University of California-Los Angeles

The Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA offers a Master of Social Welfare program with two tracks. The micro track emphasizes social work with individuals, families, and groups, while the macro track concentrates on organizations, communities, and policy. Additionally, students can choose to specialize in one of the following focus areas: child welfare, aging, substance abuse, immigration, youth/families, interventions, social services, welfare reform, mental health, and multiculturalism. After completing the first-year foundation seminars, students admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare program design their own study plan and take the courses that support their professional and academic goals. Partner agencies provide funding for fieldwork in public child welfare, veterans affairs, mental health, and gerontology.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,908 Students

6

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

At the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the School of Social Work is part of the College of Education and Human Development. Established in 1917, it is the oldest public school of social work in the country. The school offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Through joint degree programs with other schools and colleges within the University of Minnesota, MSW students have the option of pursuing the following dual degrees: MSW/MPP (Master of Public Policy), MSW/MURP (Master of Urban and Regional Planning), and MSW/MPH (Master of Public Health). The school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work program.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,678 Students

7

Buffalo State SUNY

Buffalo State has the largest undergraduate social work program in the SUNY system, with annual student enrollment of about 300. Students cannot enter the program that leads to the Bachelor of Science in Social Work until they have completed at least 45 academic credits and are close to completing required Intellectual Foundations classes. The social work degree requires students to complete at least 51 credits in major classes, which cover topics such as poverty and public policy, human behavior and the social environment, social service organizations, social welfare policy, and intervention methods. Some of the classes are offered in the evenings. Students are required to complete two field practicums, which are scheduled with agencies in western New York.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

10,330 Students

8

Appalachian State University

The Department of Social Work at Appalachian State University offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and a Master of Social Work (MSW). The Bachelor of Social Work is a professional program that requires 52 semester hours of major coursework and prepares students for generalist social work practice. The Master of Social Work is a 60-semester-hour program that is offered in two concentrations: an individuals and families concentration and a community and organizational practice concentration. The MSW program can be completed on a full or part-time basis in an on-campus or hybrid format. Social work students at Appalachian State are eligible for four major-specific scholarships, including the $1,500 Delia and Marshall Courtney Scholarship and the $1,000 Leadership in Equity and Empowerment (LEE) Scholarship.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,932 Students

9

Westfield State University

Westfield State's Social Work degrees are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and thanks to a 400-hour practicum, graduates of the BSW program can become licensed social workers. Most do. Others go onto the MSW program, which boasts a placement rate above 95 percent. Students can complete the degree on campus or at the Worcester YWCA, in addition to two 450-hour practicums. Students interested in even more time on topic can join the Social Work Association.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,496 Students

10

University of California-Berkeley

UC Berkeley offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare degree through the College of Letters and Science. The Master of Social Welfare program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and offers concentrations in aging, child and family services, community mental health, health, and management and planning. The university offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Welfare program with specialized research areas that include behavioral health and prevention intervention, community, organization and policy development, violence and victimization, health and healthcare disparities, and race, class, and gender. Two concurrent degrees are available - MSW/MPH (Master of Public Health) and MSW/MPP (Master of Public Policy). The James Midgley Leadership Award ($1,000) supports students with strong leadership qualities.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

38,189 Students

11

Saint Cloud State University

Both the Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW) and the Master of Social Work (MSW) offered by Saint Cloud State University's Department of Social Work are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The BSW curriculum utilizes the generalist model of social work practice with a focus on diversity and social justice. The MSW program offers a full-time and part-time track of study for students who have BSW degrees and a full-time and part-time track of study for students with bachelor's degrees in other disciplines. Social work students are eligible for at least four major specific scholarships, including the $1,000 Patricia Nemec Endowed Scholarship and the $1,000 Olga Satre Hart "Giving Back" Scholarship.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,096 Students

12

Castleton University

Students who enter the Bachelor of Social Work program at Castleton University are required to perform 40 hours of supervised work in a social service agency in their first year so they can decide if social work is the right career choice. During their senior year, social work majors work two days a week in actual practice to accumulate 400 hours of practice experience. Castleton's program has a rural emphasis, but students who want to practice in a more urban environment will gain the necessary skills and knowledge. Castleton has a chapter of the Phi Alpha social work national honor society, and students have many opportunities to perform service learning that applies toward a Castleton Civic Engagement Certificate.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,246 Students

13

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University's School of Social Welfare offers several degree options for undergraduate and graduate social work students. The Bachelor of Science in Social Work is a two-year, upper-division program that includes 12 credit hours of supervised field work at a social service agency. The Master of Social Work is a two-year program with a generalist focus the first year and a second year concentration in health, substance abuse, trauma, social work in higher education or community and political social action. The PhD in Social Welfare is a policy research degree that emphasizes social welfare issues like poverty, health, violence and aging. Underrepresented graduate students are eligible for the W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship, which provides a full-tuition scholarship and a $10,000 per year stipend.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,272 Students

14

SUNY at Albany

The social work program at SUNY University at Albany is in the School of Social Welfare, which is considered a leader in social welfare research. Three social work degrees are available. The Bachelor of Social Work is a generalist program that includes a field placement to prepare students for their career. The master's program has two tracks: organizational management or clinical practice, and both require field experiences. The Ph.D. program has a focus on research, with faculty research strengths including aging, diversity, and addiction. Both undergraduate and graduate students perform field placements at hundreds of agencies in the Capital Region. About two dozen named scholarships are available, including the Zox Scholarship, which is need based.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,178 Students

15

Winona State University

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Winona State University houses the Department of Social Work. The department offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1984. Graduates of WSU's BSW program are eligible for "advanced standing" in Master of Social Work programs, allowing them to earn an MSW degree in a shorter amount of time. BSW students who are preparing to work with vulnerable children who are at risk of foster care may be eligible to receive IV-E Child Welfare Funding stipend of $1,900 per semester. Students who receive this stipend must complete their Practicum at a county child welfare setting.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,490 Students

16

McDaniel College

McDaniel College offers an undergraduate major in social work that is nationally accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The Social Work program prepares students for state licensure and generalist social work practice serving individuals, families, small groups, communities and organizations. Social work majors are required to complete a total of 44 program credits, including courses in social welfare policy, human behavior, organizational and community social work, marginalized cultures, and social work for small groups and families. Students are also required to take two-semesters of field instruction in which they practice generalist social work at a community social agency under the supervision of a licensed social worker. Additionally, social work students have the opportunity to participate in the Social Work Action Team and Phi Alpha, the national social work honor society.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,003 Students

17

Western Illinois University

Half a dozen scholarships are tied to the Bachelor of Social Work at Western Illinois University's Macomb campus, among them the renewable Zoerink Scholarship for upperclassmen with financial need, worth $1,000. The program also distributes $100 Coney Field Education Grants so seniors working on their practicum don't have to sweat the small stuff, such as transportation costs. Two groups - the Social Work Student Association and the Phi Alpha Honor Society - meet regularly, and the program selects a liaison to the National Association of Social Workers.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,094 Students

18

California State University-Long Beach

The Bachelor of Social Work program at CSU Long Beach prepares students for generalist social work practice as well as graduate studies, including advanced standing. Students can take the required courses for the major following a daytime or an evening sequence. The Master of Social Work degree offers the following concentration areas: child and family wellbeing, adulthood and aging, and integrated health. Students can pursue the MSW program at off-campus locations where courses are taught face-to-face, via interactive television, or online. Full-time BASW students who are in their senior year in the program and who plan to work in a public child welfare agency after graduation, may be eligible to receive the Title IV-E stipend, which is currently $18,500 per year.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

37,446 Students

19

Midwestern State University

Midwestern State University has a Bachelor of Social Work that requires students to earn 50 credits within the major. Students are required to complete field experiences as well as coursework, and the degree plan includes two full-semester field experiences during the senior year, with students working at least 200 contact hours and attending a seminar. Outside the classroom, you can mingle with fellow social work majors by joining the Social Workers Acting Together, or SWAT, service organization. If you make the required grades, you'll be invited to join the Phi Alpha social work honor society.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,043 Students

20

Ferris State University

Ferris State University's Department of Social Sciences provides undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field of social work. The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) combines a liberal arts foundation with social work core courses that help students develop skills related to interviewing, problem solving, social research and understanding social welfare policies and services. The Master of Social Work (MSW) has a curriculum focused on clinical practice and can be completed on a full or part-time basis through traditional or advanced standing degree options. Five scholarships are reserved specifically for social work students, including the Karen D. Boochard Social Work Scholarship for a full-time social work major and the Rex Dew Memorial Textbook Scholarship for a social work major with financial need.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,715 Students

21

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

North Carolina State University was one of the first colleges in the U.S. with an accredited Bachelor of Social Work. Since then, the college has added an undergraduate minor in social work. NC State also has two options for a Master of Social Work: a 12-month, intensive, full-time course of study and a traditional two-year plan. The social work faculty has a notable record of research. Much of this research is supported with funding, and graduate students can seek a paid position assisting in research. The Social Work Department also grants the Leland and Nancy Garret Scholarship for graduate study and has an award to help fund study abroad.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,015 Students

22

University of Iowa

Home to the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice, the School of Social Work at Iowa runs baccalaureate, master's and doctoral programs. It provides five annual scholarships to undergrad Social Work majors, the largest being the Odem Award. The $4,000 scholarship goes to a junior from the state. Students with an associate degree can transfer to the Des Moines campus, potentially saving on relocation costs. University of Iowa's MSW and PhD in Social Work placed just outside the top 50 on U.S. News & World Report's 2018 rankings. Students who enroll in them simultaneously can finish in five years instead of six. Grad students also have nine scholarships to shoot for, including the Moeller Community Service Award, worth $1,000.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,844 Students

23

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

UIUC offers Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work degrees that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CEPH). The MSW program prepares students for advanced social work practice in one of the following areas: leadership and social change, children, youth, and family services, mental health, health care, and school social work. Students have the option of pursuing their MSW degree online. There is also a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work degree available. The joint MSW/PhD in Social Work program is designed for students who already have a master's degree in a related field, but who have not earned an MSW degree. Doctoral students can also pursue a concurrent degree in public health (MSW/MPH).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,842 Students

24

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

UWSP's Bachelor of Social Work program encourages its students to do more than just show up to class. Social work majors are well represented in the Undergraduate Research Symposium, where they present alongside faculty advisors. Away from campus, the Wolensky Family International Scholarship helps BSW students take a semester abroad, provided they are eligible for financial aid. Less advertised is the Social Work Support Fund, which is used to support undergrads participating in research and professional development activities. Students can also pursue other service and career interests through membership in the Sociology and Social Work Student Organization or the Phi Alpha Honor Society.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,265 Students

25

SUNY at Fredonia

SUNY Fredonia grants a Bachelor of Science in Social Work that requires students to gain at least 500 hours of field experience during their senior year, working a supervised internship at a social service or community agency. The internship is part time and lasts for two semesters. Social work majors must complete prerequisites in sociology, psychology, biology, and statistics before taking advanced social work classes. Required classes cover human behavior in the social environment, generalist practice skills, social welfare policy, and working with individuals, families, small groups, and large organizations. The program is designed for full-time students and is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,842 Students

26

SUNY at Binghamton

The Department of Social Work at Binghamton University offers a 64 credit Master of Social Work (MSW) degree that can be completed on a full or part-time basis. The full-time program can be completed in two years by taking a total of 16 credits per semester. The part-time program can be completed in 3.5 years by taking six or seven credits per semester and is offered as a blended program that allows students to fulfill half of their course requirements online. An advanced standing program is also available to students with an undergraduate degree in social work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Graduate assistantships are available to MSW students through the Department of Social Work.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,913 Students

27

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The Department of Social Work at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro offers a bachelor's degree in social work with one of the largest and oldest BSW programs in the state of North Carolina. The department also offers a Master's degree in social work in conjunction with North Carolina A&T State University. The programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and 80% of graduates of the BSW program will be employed in the social work field within one year of completing the program. Students enrolled in the BSW program may be members of the National Association of Social Workers Student Organization or the Phi Alpha Honor Society.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

19,393 Students

28

Minnesota State University-Mankato

The Department of Social Work at Minnesota State University-Mankato offers a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) and a Master of Social Work (MSW). The BSSW program includes coursework on the topics of social work values and ethics, diversity, social and economic justice, populations at risk, and social welfare policy. BSSW students are required to complete a 120 hour internship their junior year and a practicum experience of 440-480 hours their senior year. The MSW curriculum prepares students for advanced generalist social work practice, with a second year concentration on small and rural communities. MSUM offers over ten scholarships for social work students, including the $1,000 Dr. Jane Ann Roberts Memorial Stipend, the $1,000 MSW Capstone Project Scholarship and the $500 Bill Anderson New Student Scholarship.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,313 Students

29

Michigan State University

The School of Social Work at Michigan State University offers social work programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) prepares students for generalist social work practice with a curriculum that has a special focus on diversity. Students are even required to complete a diversity-themed project their junior year. The Master of Social Work (MSW) can be taken on a full or part-time basis and is offered in two concentrations: clinical social work and organizational and community leadership. A PhD in Social Work is also available. Nine scholarships are reserved for social work students, including the Social Work Diversity Scholarship Fund and the Janet Sisson Tift Endowed Scholarship, which are both open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,538 Students

30

University of Nebraska at Omaha

The Grace Abbott School of Social Work is part of UNO's College of Public Affairs and Community Service. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) program. There is also a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree available. UNO's MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It is the only accredited MSW program in Nebraska. MSW students can pursue dual degrees in the following programs: Master of Public Administration (MSW/MPA), Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice (MSW/MSCRCJ), and Master of Public Health (MSW/MPH). BSSW students may be eligible for the Alice L. King Memorial Scholarship ($700), while MSW students can apply for the Barbara Veach Weitz Fellowship Awards ($1,800).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,526 Students

31

West Virginia University

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and the Master of Social Work (MSW) programs offered by the School of Social Work at West Virginia University are both accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students admitted to the school's MSW program can choose the Direct Practice Curriculum (working with individuals, families and groups) or the Community Organization and Social Administration Curriculum. There are a number of SSW scholarships for undergraduates including the Terry E. Armentrout Scholarship and the Kirby Lee Brawner Scholarship. Students specializing in integrated mental and behavioral health may be eligible to receive funding for their training from the Integrated Mental and Behavioral Health Training Program (IMBTP). Trainees receive a $10,000 stipend.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,776 Students

32

Texas Woman's University

The Social Work Program offered by the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Texas Woman's University has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) since 1974. Its current accreditation is good until June 2021. The department offers a Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) program. Students who are interested in a career as a social worker in the child welfare field may be qualified to receive assistance from the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program. This federally funded initiative supports child welfare specialists with direct financial assistance in the form of stipends, as well as development materials and a variety of enhancement opportunities (conferences, training and outreach programs).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,286 Students

33

CUNY Hunter College

The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College grants a Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Social Work, and Ph.D. in Social Welfare. The B.S.W. program is new, opening fall 2016, and prepares students for work in child welfare or care coordination. Several programs lead to the M.S.W., including a two-year full-time program, in which students attend class two days a week and work in a field placement three days a week. The One-Year Residency program allows students with social work experience to have a field placement internship with their current employer. Hunter also has several accelerated programs for M.S.W. students. Several scholarships are available, such as the Hugh Downs Endowment for students specializing in gerontology.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

22,918 Students

34

Brigham Young University-Idaho

Through the Department of Sociology and Social Work's bachelor's program, Brigham Young University-Idaho prepares undergraduate students for generalist social work practice. The BS in Social Work requires at least 70 major credits in subjects like social work research methods, social work practice, human behavior in the social environment and social welfare policy. Social work majors are also required to complete two 250 hour internships during their senior year. Social work students at BYUI can get involved with the school's Social Work Society, which is an election-based organization that provides resources for students who want to become social workers by collaborating with faculty to get the needs of social work students met and preparing students for licensure, graduate school and networking.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

43,803 Students

35

California State University-Fullerton

The Department of Social Work at the California State University Fullerton offers a Master of Social Work program that can be completed on a full-time (Fullerton campus) or part-time (Irvine campus) basis. Students pursuing a full-time plan of study can expect to earn their MSW degree in two years, while those pursuing a part-time plan typically finish the program in three years. Both programs offer specializations in child welfare and in community mental health and are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The Title IV-E Stipend program provides two years of financial assistance to full-time new or continuing MSW students who have declared child welfare as their area of specialization. The current stipend amount is $18,500 per year.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

38,948 Students

36

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

UNC Charlotte grants a Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work. The undergraduate degree prepares students for entry-level jobs in the field. Students must complete 65 major credits, including 44 credits in social work classes and 21 credits in other subjects. Social work majors must apply to progress to the upper level of coursework. All social work majors complete field education during their senior year. Master of Social Work students choose an area of emphasis: children and families, health/mental health, or aging. M.S.W. students can complete the program in two years of full-time study, three years of part-time study, or in one year if they have Advanced Standing (earned a B.S.W. in the last seven years).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,983 Students

37

University of North Texas

The College of Public Affairs & Community Service at the University of North Texas offers a bachelor's degree in social work. Graduates of this degree program often work in community mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, human service programs, retirement centers or nursing homes, school or community programs, and child welfare and family service agencies. Courses in the social work program concentrate on human behavior, practice methods, social welfare policy, research, and ethnic and cultural diversity. All students must participate in an internship at an approved practicum site such as a women's shelter or mental health center.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

37,299 Students

38

SUNY College at Plattsburgh

The Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSW) program offered at SUNY Plattsburgh is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Graduates of this program are eligible for membership in the National Association of Social Workers. They also qualify for advanced standing MSW programs which enables them to complete an MSW degree in one year. A minimum of 450 hours of supervised field experience is required to complete the program. BSW students at SUNY Plattsburgh can apply for the following scholarships: ARC Foundation ($2,000), Merrihew Scholarship (up to $6,500), and the Carroll Income/Grace Barber Scholarship (up to $1,500).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,718 Students

39

University of Georgia

UGA's School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The following degree programs are available: Bachelor in Social Work (BSW), Master of Social Work (MSW), and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work. The school's MSW program is ranked by U.S. News & World Report (2015) among the top 50 in the country (#37). Students can also pursue dual degrees: MSW/JD (Juris Doctor); MSW/MPH (Master of Public Health); and MSW/MDiv (Master of Divinity). Students have a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Heather Christina Wright Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship, the Pauline D. Lide Scholarship for MSW students, and the Kenneth Whiddon Scholarship for students interested in clinical practice in the field of mental health.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,130 Students

40

California State University-Northridge

The Master of Social Work degree at CSUN follows a generalist approach with a focus on urban families. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) until February 2020. There are two on-campus MSW programs available: a full-time, two-year day program and a part-time, three-year evening program. There is also a full-time, two-year MSW program that is offered online. All classes are asynchronous, however students are required to attend a weekly one-hour synchronous field education class. The MSW program is also available at an off-campus location (College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, CA). This is a part-time, three-year program. Graduate students preparing for clinical social work practice can apply for the Judith Holm Memorial Student Awards Program ($1,000).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,548 Students

41

California State University-Fresno

The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program prepares students for generalist social work practice. Students are trained to meet complex client needs in a variety of public and private service settings. Fresno State also offers a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Both programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Certificate programs are available in the following areas: cross-cultural competency, alcohol/drug studies, racial understanding, and gerontological specialist. Students entering their senior year of field internship and who are preparing for careers in child welfare practice are considered for the BSW Title IV-E Social Work Program ($15,000 per year). An MSW Child Welfare (Title IV-E) program is also available for full-time MSW students (up to $18,500 per year).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

24,136 Students

42

California State University-Stanislaus

Students accepted to the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Stanislaus have the option of pursuing either a two- or three-year plan of study. The MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Required courses cover a wide range of relevant social work topics that include human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services for social justice, and social work research methods. The Title IV-E Stipend Program awards $37,000 to qualified students admitted to the two-year MSW program. Qualified students admitted to the three-year MSW program and who are employees of a county/state social services agency receive support from the program in the form of reimbursement of educational expenses and transportation costs.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,282 Students

43

University at Buffalo

Students interested in a degree in social work can apply for admission to the joint Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences (with a concentration in health and human services) and Master of Social Work (MSW) program at SUNY Buffalo. This five-year program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The university also offers an MSW degree that can be pursued online. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Welfare program is available, and students have the option of pursuing a combined MSW/PhD degree. MSW students can also pursue a second master's degree concurrently with their MSW degree. The following dual degree options are currently offered: MSW/MBA (Master of Business Administration), MSW/JD (Juris Doctor), and MSW/MPH (Master of Public Health).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,796 Students

44

San Diego State University

The School of Social Work at San Diego State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree with specializations in environmental social work and in community corrections case management. Students admitted to the Master of Social Work (MSW) program can choose the direct practice/clinical concentration or the administration and community development concentration. At the current time, two joint degree programs are available: MSW/MPH (Master of Public health) and MSW/JD (Juris Doctor). There is also a Certificate in Social Work program, and the school is authorized to offer two Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) credentials - one in School Social Work and also in Child Welfare and Attendance. Social work undergrads can apply for the David C. Pritchard Memorial Scholarship ($1,000).

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,254 Students

45

Niagara University

Niagara University offers a Bachelor of Science in Social Work that requires students to work a field practicum in their senior year. During the practicum, students are supervised while working in a social service agency and they perform original research to present at a conference. The curriculum for the social work program has two parts. The pre-professional sequence includes introductory classes in subjects such as the history of social services, human behavior, sociology, psychology, and diversity and social justice. The professional sequence covers subjects such as social policy analysis, helping skills, research methods, and two field practicums. Outstanding students are invited to join the Niagara University chapter of Phi Alpha, the national social work honor society.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,128 Students

46

University of South Florida-Main Campus

The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at USF offers a Bachelor of Social Work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The curriculum includes courses in human behavior and social environment, the American social welfare system, and social work practice in mental health and health care. Master of Social Work and Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work degrees are also available. Students accepted to the MSW program have the option of earning a concurrent Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. MSW/MPH students can concentrate in behavioral health or in maternal and child health. Students can apply for scholarships which offer varying amounts, including the Social Work Scholarship Fund and the Margaret Wright Scholarship.

Accreditation: Council on Social Work Education

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

42,067 Students

Social work is one of the hardest and most rewarding careers you can choose to pursue. With your affordable degree in hand, you’ll be qualified to care for some of the most vulnerable and deserving people in your neighborhood.

But what kind of degree in social work do you need? What kinds of accreditations should a program have? What about requirements for licenses like LCSW? We answer all of these questions (and more) in the guide below.

Types of Social Work Degrees

Associate’s Degree in Social Work

An associate’s degree in social work is a two-year (60 credit hours) program that can be used as the starting point for an entry-level job or the foundation for a bachelor’s degree further down the track.

  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Social Work: Includes supervised fieldwork and foundational courses in social work, psychology and communication. Often obtained by students who want to go straight into work.
  • Associate of Arts (AA) in Social Work: A more general degree with courses in psychology, sociology and communication. Typically earned by students who wish to pursue a BSW.

Careers with an associate’s degree are available, but limited. AAS-holders might work as preschool degree teachers, social work assistants, social service technicians or residential counselors. However, a BSW is the standard starting point for most social workers.

View a list of professional licenses available for holders of associate degrees.

Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

A bachelor’s in social work is a 4-year (120 credit hours) degree aimed at giving students a strong foundation in the field. Some BSW graduates choose to work in direct service positions; others use the BSW as a stepping-stone to an MSW and professional licensure.

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW): Includes courses such as social work methods, policy, child welfare, communications and psychology. CSWE-accredited programs must provide a minimum of 400 hours of field experience under professional supervision.

If you’re not interested in a BSW, you could also consider a bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology, Education, Early Childhood/Child Development. This will qualify you for certain entry-level jobs. However, if you wish to pursue an MSW sometime in the future, a BSW is your best bet.

View a list of professional licenses available for BSW holders.

Master’s Degree in Social Work

A master’s degree in social work is a practical 1-4 year program that prepares social workers for a variety of professional licenses, including the LCSW. Licensed MSW graduates are qualified to work in hospitals, schools, healthcare settings and independent practices.

  • Master of Social Work (MSW): Includes research, courses and training in skills such as interviewing and counseling. Students can choose concentrations in a wide variety of topics, including mental health, families and children, geriatrics, physical health and more. CSWE-accredited programs must provide a minimum of 900 hours of field experience under professional supervision.

The MSW comes in a variety of flavors:

  • Full-Time: 2 years
  • Advanced Standing/Accelerated Master’s: Less than 2 years (only offered to BSW holders)
  • Part-Time: 3-4 years

Common Questions about the MSW

Do you need a BSW to obtain an MSW? Not necessarily, but you will need prerequisite courses like psychology, biology and social sciences. If you don’t have these undergraduate credits, you may be required to earn them at a local university before you can begin the graduate program.

Does you need to focus on a clinical concentration in order to become an LCSW? Not necessarily, but you may need to complete additional clinical courses to meet state licensing requirements.

Read more about LCSW requirements or view a list of other social worker licenses for MSW graduates.

Certificate in Social Work

Certificate programs in social work take two years or less and are intended to help professionals hone specific skills (e.g. leadership, conflict resolution, etc.). Social workers use them to gain course credits, advance up the career ladder, train for management positions and build their knowledge.

Certificates are available to both undergraduate and graduate social work students. If you wish to use a certificate for credits, be sure that your credit hours will be transferable to your chosen degree.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

A doctoral degree in social work is an intensive 2-4 year degree designed to prepare social workers for careers as university professors, researchers and leadership positions (e.g. policy analyst, independent consulting). Most doctoral programs have a strong focus on clinical psychology.

There isn’t a lot of difference between the PhD and DSW – each university decides how much coursework and independent research is required.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Social Work: Usually research-focused. Students are required to complete a dissertation. Time ranges from 2-4 years.
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW): Often geared towards working professionals. Students work on advanced clinical practice, clinical research and leadership. Typically 3 years.
  • Combined MSW/PhD Program: Allow applicants to obtain an MSW and PhD in a shorter time period. Includes fieldwork, coursework and a dissertation. Typically 4 years full-time.

Unless you’re applying for a combined MSW/PhD program, schools will generally expect you to hold an MSW.

Important Accreditations

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is granted to schools, colleges and universities by one of six regional accrediting bodies (e.g. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). This is the most commonly accepted accreditation for public and non-profit institutions.

Learn more about the difference between national and regional accreditation in: Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

Regional accreditation is important for a variety of reasons. It:

  • Guarantees your schools meets an acceptable level of educational quality
  • May be a requirement of your State Social Work Regulatory Board
  • Helps you qualify for student loans, scholarships, federal financial aid and company-sponsored education benefits
  • Makes it much easier to transfer credits or apply to graduate programs in other regionally-accredited institutions (some universities won’t accept credits from schools with national accreditation)

You can view a list of each college and university’s accreditation in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Post-Secondary Education (OPE) Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Note: If you are thinking of pursuing a BSW or MSW, you should also look for CSWE accreditation.

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Accreditation

Want to practice as a social worker? Choose a CSWE-accredited program.

The Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) is the sole accrediting body for social work programs in the country. CSWE accredits bachelor’s and master’s programs (including programs with online components). However, it does not accredit doctoral programs in social work.

CSWE accreditation tells you that your program meets a high standard of education in its curriculum, student services and overall quality. Here’s why we recommend it:

  • In order to obtain a state license, almost every state mandates that you attend a CSWE-accredited program. If you don’t attend a CSWE-accredited program, you may be required to prove that your BSW or MSW meets a lengthy list of standards.
  • CSWE-accredited programs incorporate supervised work experience into their curricula. This experience is often required for licensure.
  • Without a CSWE-accredited BSW, you may lose out on advanced placement opportunities.

View the CSWE Directory of Accredited Programs.

Note: Make sure that your program is accredited by and not just a member of CSWE.

Doctoral Programs

Since the CSWE only accredits bachelor’s and master’s programs, some universities have chosen to join the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE Social Work).

However, GADE is not an accreditation body. Instead, it’s a member organization made up of 80+ social work doctoral program directors. GADE’s goal is to foster excellence in doctoral education in social work. View a list of members.

Licensure & Certification

What is Licensure?

Licensure ensures that social workers meet a high set of professional standards and can provide the appropriate level of care to vulnerable clients.

To ensure social workers are up to par, each State Social Work Regulatory Board has developed a variety of licenses (e.g. LCSW) and licensure requirements. In your search for jobs in social work, you’ll find that licenses are needed for clinical positions.

Each license will have its own special requirements. You may be expected to:

  • Earn a degree from a CSWE-accredited program (this only applies to BSW and MSW degrees)
  • Pass a licensing exam developed by ASWB (Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist or Clinical)
  • Show proof of supervised work experience (this requirement varies from license to license)
  • Complete continuing education (CE) credits
  • Gain state board approval

Clinical vs. Direct Contact vs. Macro

Clinical Social Workers

Clinical social workers deal with the ADT of client care. They Assess, Diagnose and Treat clients with emotional and mental health problems. Because clinical social workers often deal with complex psychological issues and vulnerable patients, most State Social Work Regulatory Boards require these professionals to complete an MSW and supervised clinical work experience. Anyone who wishes to use the title of clinical social worker must be licensed by the state.

Direct Contact/Service/Care Social Workers

Unlike clinical social workers, direct contact (a.k.a. direct care or direct service) social workers do not provide mental treatment. Instead, they may work as case managers with children and families, act as mediators or counsel mentally healthy individuals. Their jobs are often focused on helping clients with everyday problems.

Some states may not require licensure or registration for direct contact social workers. However, we recommend you check with your individual State Social Work Regulatory Board. A BSW is generally expected.

Macro Social Workers

Macro social workers focus on larger systems such as communities and organizations. They investigate topics like:

  • Public planning
  • Community organizing/education
  • Policy analysis
  • Human services management
  • Legislation

And they work in places like universities, non-profit institutions and government think tanks.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Requirements

The LCSW certifies that a social worker is able to deal with psychological issues in a social context. LCSW-holders work with clients who have mental and emotional health issues such as substance abuse, previous trauma, family issues and mental illness. Details are provided in NASW Standards for the Practice of Clinical Social Work.

Most states will expect LCSW candidates to:

  • Hold a CSWE-accredited master’s degree in social work (MSW)
  • Complete 2 years (3,000 hours) of post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting
  • Pass ASWB’s Clinical exam
  • Gain approval from State Licensing Board
  • Regularly fulfill continuing education (CE) credits

Each state has slightly different LCSW requirements, so please check with your State Social Work Regulatory Board to make sure your MSW program (whether online or on-campus) meets their standards.

Other Licenses for MSW & DSW Holders

In addition to the LCSW, each state has developed a variety of professional licenses for MSW and DSW holders. For the most part, states expect that your MSW or DSW will be CSWE-accredited.

State licenses are tiered by level of experience and education – in Alabama, for instance, the LGSW is lower on the professional pole than the LCSW and the PIP. Unfortunately, license titles are not standardized throughout the country. You may find that similar licenses (e.g. advanced practice) are known by a variety of names.

Here are license acronyms matched with their states:

  • Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW): California
  • Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW): Wisconsin
  • Certified Independent Practice Social Worker (CIPSW): South Dakota
  • Certified Independent Social Worker (CISW): Wisconsin
  • Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW): Florida, Nebraska & North Carolina
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW): South Dakota, Utah & Wisconsin
  • Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA): Oregon
  • Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM): North Carolina
  • Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker (LAMSW): Missouri
  • Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW): Tennessee
  • Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW): Washington
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW):
    Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, Minnesota & West Virginia
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Washington & West Virginia
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW): District of Columbia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico & Ohio
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker – Advanced Practice (LISW-AP): South Carolina
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker – Clinical Practice (LISW-CP): South Carolina
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW): Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee & Texas
  • Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Practice (LMSW-AP): Texasn
  • Licensed Social Work Associate-Advanced & Independent Clinical (LSWAIC): Washington
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania & Virginia
  • Licensed Social Worker – Administration (LSW-Adm): Oklahoma
  • Private Independent Practice (PIP): Alabama & South Dakota

Each license will have specific professional aims and prerequisites (e.g. passing the Masters or Advanced Generalist exam; taking ethics courses; providing proof of supervised work experience, etc.). Please check with your State Social Work Regulatory Board to learn more about individual license requirements.

Licenses for BSW Holders

There are a smaller number of professional licenses available to BSW graduates.

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW): Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Wisconsin & Wyoming
  • Certified Social Worker Manager: North Carolina
  • Licensed Bachelor/Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee & Texas
  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker – Independent Practice (LBSW-IP): Missouri
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia & West Virginia
  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA): District of Columbia, Maryland & Oklahoma
  • Licensed Social Worker – Conditional (LSW-C): Maine
  • Licensed Social Worker Independent (LSWI): Idaho
  • Provisional Baccalaureate Social Worker (PBSW): Missouri
  • Provisional Social Worker (PSW): Pennsylvania
  • Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW): Oregon
  • Registered Social Worker (RSW): Louisiana
  • Social Worker (SW): South Dakota
  • Social Service Worker (SSW): Utah

Don’t have a BSW? Some states (e.g. Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, etc.) will allow license applicants to hold a BA/BS in a related field if they have supervised clinical experience.

Please check with your State Social Work Regulatory Board to learn more about individual license requirements.

Licenses for Associate’s Degree Holders

A few states have have developed licenses for candidates who have gained an associate’s degree in social work or a related field.

  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA): Massachusetts
  • Registered Social Work Assistant (SWA): Ohio
  • Social Work Associate (SWA): South Dakota
  • Social Service Technician (SWT): Michigan

Please check with your State Social Work Regulatory Board to learn more about individual license requirements.

Credentialing & Specialty Certification

Unlike state licenses, credentials are voluntary. Social workers usually gain them in order to demonstrate they have expertise in a particular area of social work.

For example, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers professional social work credentials to NASW members and advance practice specialty certifications to non-members. Qualified social workers can gain specialty credentials in gerontology, youth and family, case management and more. Professionals must have a BSW or MSW. No other degrees are accepted.

Helpful Licensure & Exam Resources

Biology

View Colleges

Exercise Science

View Colleges

Health Administration

View Colleges

Nursing

View Colleges

Pharmacy

View Colleges

Psychology

View Colleges

Public Health

View Colleges