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Best Online BSW Degree Programs 2021


If you want to dedicate your career to making a difference in people's lives, social work may be the field for you. Social workers connect vulnerable people to resources and help individuals overcome challenges like poverty and addiction.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers make an annual median wage of about $50,470. There are about 713,000 social work professionals employed in the U.S., and that number could increase by 90,700 jobs -- or 13% -- from 2019-29.

Aspiring social workers need both a bachelor's and master's degree in order to qualify for licensure. This guide explores bachelor's degrees in social work (BSW); specifically, online social work degrees. Pursuing a BSW degree online allows students to invest in their education while attending to jobs or other responsibilities.

If earning a bachelor of social work online appeals to you, read on for a list of the best online BSW programs.

View ranking methodology here.

University of Louisville — Online Bachelor of Social Work

Founded in 1798 as the first city-owned public university, UofL boasts a diverse student body with enrollees from all 50 states and nearly 120 different countries. The university offers a variety of innovative programs, including an online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW). Designed for adult learners interested in careers in social work, the BSW emphasizes critical analysis and social justice dynamics.

The 120-credit hour curriculum explores a variety of topics including substance use and substance use disorders, special issues in alcohol and drug counseling, and motivation and change. Along with the required coursework, learners must participate in a supervised practicum experience.

  • Program: Online Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $499 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; 2.5 minimum GPA; composite ACT score of 20 or higher
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Liberty University — Bachelor of Science in Social Work

Designed for learners interested in helping individuals and families face various social challenges, Liberty's online bachelor's degree in social work provides enrollees with field experience alongside flexible coursework.

Degree-seekers enjoy primarily online coursework with one five-day, on-campus intensive. Students explore complex social work concepts including social work practice with groups, human behavior and the social environment, and social work practice with individuals and families. Learners also enjoy access to electronic textbooks, cutting the total program cost by between $800-$2,000 each year.

  • Program: Bachelor of Science in Social Work
  • Campus: Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $390 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; 2.0 minimum GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

University of North Dakota — Bachelor of Science in Social Work

Grand Forks-based UND sprawls across a 521-acre campus -- the largest in the state. Since its founding in 1883, UND has become the only university in the state with law and medical schools. Enrollees can explore a variety of program opportunities across disciplines and degree levels. Learners interested in social work can enroll in the university's bachelor of social work online degree.

Taking between 2-4 years to complete, the flexible degree allows learners to enroll in an online or on-campus format. This professional degree prepares graduates to provide services for communities and individuals, emphasizing rural settings.

  • Program: Bachelor of Science in Social Work
  • Campus: Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $361 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; 2.75 minimum GPA; SAT or ACT test scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Huntington University — Bachelor of Science in Social Work

Located in Huntington, Indiana, HU offers an online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) with a flexible format. Learners enjoy five-week online courses, community service opportunities, and field training. The Christian-focused curriculum follows a liberal arts focus and allows learners to connect with faculty members about their faith.

The rigorous curriculum meets licensing standards, preparing graduates for a variety of entry-level career opportunities in the field. After earning their BSW at HU, learners can advance their careers and knowledge by enrolling in the university's master of arts in counseling degree.

  • Program: Bachelor of Science in Social Work
  • Campus: Huntington, Indiana
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $390 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Aurora University — Online Bachelor of Social Work

AU prepares students to work with individuals, communities, and families across settings in the online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) program. BSW graduates can apply for advanced standing in AU's master of social work option. Learners enjoy access to digital resources in many courses, eliminating the cost of textbooks.

Taking between 2-4 years to complete, the 120-credit curriculum explores a variety of topics including social work with communities and organizations, social welfare institutions and policies, and individuals and families. Courses last eight weeks and include two field instruction requirements.

  • Program: Online Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Aurora, Illinois
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $425 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; 2.5 minimum GPA; resume demonstrating two or more years of work or military experience; personal statement
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Misericordia University — Bachelor of Social Work

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy more than 95 years ago, Misericordia emphasizes affordable and accessible degree programs across undergraduate and graduate levels. Boasting a unique accelerated format, the university's online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) prepares graduates for licensing through a professional curriculum.

Offering the only accelerated BSW in the region, Misericodia features part- and full-time enrollment options. Enrollees benefit from the combination of practical experience within social welfare agencies and social work theory. The unique format allows BSW graduates to pursue advanced standing master's programs in the discipline across several graduate schools.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Dallas, Pennsylvania
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $34,100 per year
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; 2.5 minimum GPA; SAT or ACT test scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Spring Arbor University — Bachelor of Social Work

Boasting entirely online coursework with no residency requirement, SAU's online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) also offers a child welfare endorsement to qualified students who reside in Michigan. The unique curriculum emphasizes skill development and theory, providing learners with a holistic approach to the discipline.

Enrollees must satisfy 120 credits of rigorous coursework, focusing on topics such as social welfare policies, practice with individuals and families, and racial and ethnic relations. The curriculum comprises 400 internship hours and 48 credits of coursework. Learners pursuing a child welfare endorsement complete an additional 22 credits.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Spring Arbor, Michigan
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $30,440 per year
  • Admission Requirements: Cumulative college GPA of 2.5 or higher; completion of a college writing course with a minimum C grade; completion of the introduction to social work course with a C+ grade or higher; personal interview with social work faculty
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

University of Nebraska Kearney — Bachelor of Science in Social Work

UNK's online bachelor's degree in social work prepares learners to pursue licensing and certification opportunities after graduation, serving communities and individuals from a variety of backgrounds. The 120-credit curriculum explores topics including social work in legal settings, violence across the lifespan, and child welfare services.

Learners enjoy a traditional four-year schedule and typically complete 15 credits of coursework during each semester. Enrollees satisfy 30-45 credit hours of general studies with the remaining credit requirements comprising elective subjects. Students also participate in field placement opportunities.

  • Program: Bachelor of Science in Social Work
  • Campus: Kearney, Nebraska
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $209 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; ACT or SAT test scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 4 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Northern Arizona University — Bachelor of Social Work

Since its founding 120 years ago, NAU focuses on delivering innovative program options to undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines. Learners interested in becoming licensed social workers can enroll in NAU's flexible online bachelor's degree in social work.

Degree-seekers must complete 75 units of major requirements, nine units of liberal studies courses, and enough elective courses to reach a total of 120 credits. Enrollees also participate in an internship or fieldwork experience. The generalist practice approach emphasizes social work values, knowledge, and skills within indigenous and rural populations. Graduates leave their program prepared to seek licensure.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $455 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; 2.5 minimum GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Bemidji State University — Bachelor of Social Work

Operating as part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, BSU began as a preparatory institution for teachers in 1919. The university boasts a variety of unique and innovative program options including a flexible bachelor's degree in social work (BSW).

The BSW integrates face-to-face learning with online courses. Learners must participate in one on-campus meeting each month on a Saturday; all other coursework is completed online. Enrollees follow a cohort format that allows them to begin and end their program with the same group of students.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Bemidji, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition:
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; 2.0 minimum GPA; completion of 30 semester hours of liberal education coursework
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Millersville University — Bachelor of Arts in Social Work Online Degree Completion Program

Founded in 1855, Millersville is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university comprises seven colleges and offers degree options across degree levels and disciplines. Learners who want to pursue careers as social workers can enroll in Millersville's online bachelor's degree in social work.

The online degree completion program serves learners who earned associate degrees in human services or social services. Millersville features three clubs and organizations for social work students including the Psychology Club, the Social Work Organization, and the Sociology Club.

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Social Work Online Degree Completion Program
  • Campus: Millersville, Pennsylvania
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $4,785 per semester for residents; $9,645 per semester for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; 2.8 minimum GPA; completion of a basic skills test
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Wayne State University — Bachelor of Social Work

WSU, located in Detroit, Michigan, comprises 13 colleges and schools and offers over 350 programs to nearly 30,000 students. The third-largest university in the state, WSU features a wide variety of program opportunities, including a fully online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW).

The BSW follows the same sequence of classes as its on-campus counterpart. Learners use the online learning platform Canvas to complete coursework and access online mentoring, tutoring, and writing support.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Detroit, Michigan
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $397 per credit for residents; $909 per credit for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum of 60 college-level transferable credits; 2.5 minimum GPA; completion of an online skills assessment
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Angelo State University — Bachelor of Social Work

Part of the Texas Tech University System, ASU offers an online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) that prepares graduates for jobs as licensed social workers.

The 120-credit curriculum follows a four-year traditional degree plan and comprises major courses, support courses, a core curriculum, and electives. BSW students must pass a comprehensive exam at the end of their program with a C grade or higher to graduate.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: San Angelo, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $50 per credit hour for residents; $459 per credit hour for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: 30 credit hours of completed college work; completion of core education curriculum; 2.0 minimum GPA; 2.5 minimum GPA on any social work courses; 20 hours of volunteer experience; resume; a personal narrative
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 4 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Indiana Wesleyan University — Bachelor of Social Work

The largest private university in Indiana, IWU's innovative online bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) trains students to utilize scientific inquiry and integrate worldview and faith into active service. The program is tailored to meet the needs of working students.

The BSW emphasizes research-informed practice, social justice, and a respect for human diversity. The program's virtual classroom focuses on the same content as the on-campus counterpart and uses various media platforms to prepare graduates for a wide range of social work scenarios.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Marion, Indiana
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $426 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; prior completion of a minimum of 45 transferable credits from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Troy University — Bachelor of Social Work

Located in Troy, Alabama, Troy offers associate, baccalaureate, master's, education specialist, and doctoral degrees across disciplines and formats. Among the university's most innovative programs is the bachelor of social work online (BSW).

The BSW curriculum features courses designed to prepare students for real-world experiences. Students complete upper-level coursework, a 400-hour supervised practicum, and community projects. Courses explore topics including ethical and professional behavior, diversity and difference in practice, and policy in practice.

  • Program: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Campus: Troy, Alabama
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • Tuition: $325 per credit hour for residents; $650 per credit hour for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED; 2.0 minimum GPA; ACT or SAT test scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: N/A
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Applying to an Online Bachelor of Social Work Program

Online BSW programs maintain slightly different expectations for incoming students. However, applicants can generally expect to meet certain standard admission requirements.

Candidates should possess a high school diploma, with a minimum GPA of 2.0-3.0. Many schools also accept GED certificate-holders. Colleges look for students whose transcripts and resumes demonstrate advanced classes, volunteer hours, and extracurricular activities.

In addition, most institutions expect students to take the SAT or ACT exams. Applicants typically need to achieve a minimum test score, but can improve their admission chances with higher scores. Finally, some colleges and universities ask students to provide additional materials like letters of recommendation and personal essays.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a bachelor's degree in social work?

In most cases, social workers need a master's in social work to earn state licensure. However, a bachelor's degree in social work can prepare graduates for other roles. Graduates work in entry-level administrative positions, as case workers, or as mental health assistants, to name a few examples.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accreditation gives your degree value. Accreditation agencies evaluate colleges and academic programs to ensure they offer students a high-quality education. Graduates without an accredited degree cannot apply to graduate school or seek licensure. Employers often prefer job candidates with accredited degrees. When searching for social work programs, look for those with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Is an online bachelor's in social work worth it?

An online bachelor's degree in social work is certainly worth it for working students, or any other learners seeking flexibility. Distance learning programs offer a certain degree of independence, making education more accessible.

What is the highest paid social worker?

The highest paid social workers fall into the "other" category, earning a median annual wage of about $61,230. Healthcare social workers enjoy median earnings of $56,750, while child, family, and school social workers earn median salaries of about $47,390.