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Best Online Associate in Social Work Programs 2021


An associate in social work (ASW) degree qualifies graduates for entry-level social service employment while providing the foundation for further education. Many ASW-holders continue their studies with the intent of becoming licensed social workers.

Other ASW graduates choose to enter the workforce directly after completing their degree, finding employment as social and human service assistants or in related social work support fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17% job growth rate for these assistants from 2019-29, a much faster rate than the national average for all occupations.

The ASW, which typically takes two years, covers basic social science and social work concepts alongside general education requirements. Students enrolled in a social worker associate degree online or on campus follow the same basic curriculum taught by the same faculty. The flexibility of online programs holds particular appeal for employed professionals, enabling them to manage personal or work responsibilities while earning a degree.

Best Online Associate in Social Work Degree Programs

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South Texas College

Developed to match the first two years of a four-year bachelor's degree, the core curriculum of the associate degree in social work from South Texas College allows students hoping to pursue a BSW to easily transfer their credits to a four-year program. Graduates are also eligible for a number of entry-level positions in the field.

The social worker associate degree program caters to students who plan to practice in Texas or the American Southwest. The curriculum includes the option to complete two courses on Mexican-American history and a course on Texas government, as well as core courses on sociology, social work, psychology, statistics, and science.

  • Program(s): Associate of Arts in Social Work
  • Campus: McAllen, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $77/credit hour for Texas residents; $200/credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
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Barton County Community College

Barton County Community College's associate of arts in social work program offers courses in blocks of six, eight, or 16 weeks, as well as the option of four-week intensive intersessions. The unique structure gives students flexibility in coordinating work, family, and school commitments.

The preprofessional program is designed for transfer, meaning that it prepares students to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor's degree. Available courses for the associate degree in social work include communications, sociology, math, anthropology, history, and economics.

  • Program(s): Associate of Arts in Social Work
  • Campus: Great Bend, Kansas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $150/credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
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Vincennes University

The associate of science in social work at Vincennes University is a transfer program designed to prepare students to transfer to a four-year program in social work. Specifically developed for students looking to transfer to Indiana schools, the program encourages enrollees to consider the requirements for the particular bachelor's program they wish to attend as they plan their courses.

The curriculum for the associate degree in social work includes coursework in sociology, history, government, psychology, and ethics, as well as general courses in communications, science, and math.

  • Program(s): Associate of Science in Social Work
  • Campus: Vincennes, Indiana
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $220/credit hour for Indiana or Illinois residents; $275/credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
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Georgia Military College

Georgia Military College offers a social work concentration for both an associate of arts degree and an associate of science degree. Both associate degrees in social work prepare students for jobs as mental health technicians and eligibility determination specialists or to continue their education with a BSW degree from a four-year college.

Courses include communications, sociology, math and quantitative skills, laboratory sciences, social sciences, and languages. The specific requirements vary based on whether the student is pursuing an associate of arts or science degree.

Learners do not need to be in the military or ROTC to attend Georgia Military College.

  • Program(s): Associate of Arts or Associate of Science in Social Work
  • Campus: Milledgeville, Georgia
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $159/credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
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Reading Area Community College

The Reading Area Community College associate of arts in social work prepares students to transfer to an accredited four-year program in social work to earn a BSW. The associate degree in social work curriculum includes general course requirements in communications, the humanities, mathematics, and science, as well as courses in sociology, psychology, anthropology, and other relevant social sciences.

The school urges students to consider the requirements of the four-year social work program they plan to attend as they choose elective courses. Learners can take advantage of the program's guidance opportunities by discussing their plans with their academic advisor.

  • Program(s): Associate of Arts in Social Work
  • Campus: Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $194/credit hour for Reading County residents; $333/credit hour Pennsylvania residents; $367/credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
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Applying to an Online Associate of Social Work Program

The majority of community colleges that confer associate degrees in social work offer an open enrollment policy, admitting all students who have completed a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must submit official transcripts, but admission does not require a minimum GPA or SAT or ACT scores.

Almost all programs require new students to take placement tests, usually in English and math. The ASW degree consists of specific general education requirements and coursework specific to social work. While each ASW program determines its own curriculum, classes typically include social work practice, ethics, statistics, psychology, and sociology. Students who plan to become licensed social workers may transfer up to 60 credits of their ASW general education and pre-professional coursework to a bachelor of social work program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an associate degree in social work?

ASW graduates find employment in social service support roles and related fields, working as social service assistants, community outreach workers, case management aides, and home health and personal care aides. While ASW degree-holders work as licensed social workers, many continue their education to earn a bachelor's degree in social work, which serves as the minimum educational requirement for state licensure.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accredited schools approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation ensures that schools meet national standards for quality education. Accreditation determines financial aid eligibility and facilitates credit transfer. While the Council on Social Work Education offers specialized accreditation to bachelor's and master's programs that prepare graduates for professional practice as licensed social workers, it excludes associate degrees from this designation.

Is an online associate degree in social work worth it?

An online associate degree in social work offers many advantages. The convenient access to course materials allows students to earn a degree while managing personal commitments. Distance learning saves on transportation and housing costs, offering an affordable option for earning credits before transferring to a four-year college. The degree also provides a fast track to the job market, preparing graduates for entry-level positions.

How long does it take to become a social worker?

An associate in social work degree takes between 18-24 months to complete. ASW graduates can find several job opportunities but may not obtain state licensure. To become a licensed social worker, ASW-holders must spend approximately two more years earning a bachelor's degree. A master's degree, which requires an additional two years and supervised work experience, prepares graduates for advanced social work positions in clinical settings.