Iowa – Featured Online Programs in Social Work


There are many undergraduate and graduate social work schools in Iowa that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and will prepare you for a career in social work. A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the minimum degree you will need to start your career, and a master’s degree in social work (MSW) will help you specialize as you progress in the field. Iowa social work programs offer various concentrations, including rural social work. You can even complete a CSWE-accredited social work degree online at either the bachelor’s or master’s level in Iowa. Briar Cliff University offers its BSW program online and the University of Northern Iowa offers its MSW program fully online.

Quick Facts

  • 17 schools offering social work programs in Iowa are in our database (see below)
  • Of the social work schools in Iowa, 2 offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 14 offer bachelor’s degrees, and 4 offer a master’s or advanced degree1
  • 1 school ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges
  • 3 schools ranked in US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
  • No schools ranked in Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs4
  • Across 13 schools, 16 bachelor’s and master’s social work degree programs in Iowa are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)5

Featured Online Programs in Social Work

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Top-Ranked Schools with Social Work Programs in Iowa

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges

  • University of Iowa (#55 in-state, #92 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs

  • University of Iowa (#54 tie)
  • University of Northern Iowa (#147 tie)
  • Clarke University (#201 tie)

Schools with Social Work Programs Accredited by the CSWE

  • Briar Cliff University
  • Buena Vista University
  • Clarke University
  • Dordt College
  • Grand View University
  • Loras College
  • Luther College
  • Mount Mercy University
  • Northwestern College
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Wartburg College

Schools in Iowa with Social Work Degree Programs

BSW and Other Undergraduate Programs

Briar Cliff University

Located in Sioux City, Briar Cliff University is a small Roman Catholic college with a CSWE-accredited Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) program. The Department of Social Work’s BASW is offered partially online as a degree completion program, meaning students complete prerequisite courses at another college and then apply to transfer their credits and finish their degree through Briar Cliff. Once admitted, both the coursework and the field placement can be done anywhere in the country. The online program offers fall and spring start dates. Students who plan to work with the growing older adult population can complete a minor in gerontology. As part of the program, students can apply to go on mission trips or study abroad programs around the world. The field education placement includes 450 supervised hours in a local social service organization. The college was ranked #38 among regional colleges in the Midwest by US News & World Report in 2016.

Northwestern College

Northwestern College is a private Christian institution in the northwestern town of Orange City near the Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska state borders. The Christian foundation is important to the Social Work Department; in addition to the social work major, students can complete an interdisciplinary program in Christian Community Development. Field experience is also an important part of the program. At the beginning of the program, students volunteer at local agencies and shadow social workers to learn about the day-to-day activities of professionals. In the senior year, students complete 400 hours of supervised fieldwork in Iowa or neighboring states. The school offers three exchange programs in urban areas of the US (Denver, Chicago, and Philadelphia) that allow students to take distance courses and participate in urban social service projects. In 2016 Northwestern College was tied for #5 among regional colleges in the Midwest by US News & World Report.

MSW and Other Graduate Programs

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa is a large, research-intensive university with an active student body. UIowa’s School of Social Work offers CSWE-accredited MSW programs at several campuses across the state: Iowa City, Des Moines, Quad Cities, and Sioux City. Iowa City and Des Moines offer traditional full-time and part-time programs with new intakes each year, while the Quad Cities and Sioux City locations offer three-year, part-time programs with new applicants admitted once every three years. Advanced standing admission is available in all programs for students who completed a BSW program accredited by the CSWE. Students interested in social work research careers can apply for the MSW/PhD combined program and finish both degrees in five years instead of six. In 2016 the University of Iowa social work graduate program was ranked in a tie for #44 among social work graduate schools in the US by US News & World Report.

University of Northern Iowa

Founded in 1876, the University of Northern Iowa is a public institution located in Cedar Falls. The university focuses on the needs of the rural northern Iowa communities surrounding the school and trains social workers to engage with rural issues. The Department of Social Work offers CSWE-accredited BSW and MSW programs. The MSW program focuses on Trauma-Informed Practice. The trauma-informed curriculum is well-suited to a social work career in mental health, children and families, domestic violence, or corrections services. In addition to coursework and a field placement, students must complete a graduate-level research paper as a capstone project. The MSW program is also available fully online. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university in a tie at #18 among regional universities in the Midwest.

St. Ambrose University

St. Ambrose University has a Master of Social Work program with a strong reputation and history of alumni success. Options for completing the MSW include full-time, part-time, and advanced standing study; all program tracks include a concentration in empowerment. The coursework for this MSW prepares students to provide services to diverse populations in various settings, with emphases on social justice and critical thinking. Advocacy is another important focus for this program. Admitted students participate in rural and urban generalist field education while taking classes and have access to placement assistance. The MSW faculty at St. Ambrose University are recognized for their scholarship on empowerment, community organizing, and various other fields within the context of social work and mental health.

Accreditation Information for Iowa Social Work Schools

SchoolGraduation Rate1Transfer-Out Rate1Associate’s SW ProgramBachelor’s SW ProgramGraduate SW ProgramCSWE Accred.5US News Best Social Work Grad Schools Ranking3Net Price*1
Briar Cliff University47%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$19,271
Buena Vista University46%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$19,264
Clarke University74%N/ANoYesYesYes#201 tie$23,407
Dordt College66%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$24,187
Graceland University-Lamoni54%N/ANoYesNoNoNot Ranked$17,969
Grand View UniversityN/AN/ANoYesNoYesNot RankedN/A
Iowa Central Community College37%26%YesNoNoNoNot Ranked$7,471
Kirkwood Community College22%8%YesNoNoNoNot Ranked$11,347
Loras College64%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$20,018
Luther College82%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$25,645
Mount Mercy University72%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$20,163
Northeast Iowa Community College34%17%YesNoNoNoNot Ranked$10,438
Northwestern College63%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$21,390
Saint Ambrose University57%32%NoNoYesYes#220 tie$24,409
University of Iowa70%24%NoYesYesYes#54 tie$14,315
University of Northern Iowa64%24%NoYesYesYesNot Ranked$14,026
Upper Iowa University38%5%YesYesNoNoNot Ranked$17,513
Wartburg College71%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$22,619

*The net price is calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics by subtracting the average amount of aid (including grants and scholarships) from the total published cost of attendance for in-state/in-district students, which includes tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses. To gain a better understanding of how to interpret the statistics discussed in this table, see our list of important definitions.

Featured Online Programs in Social Work

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Directory of Iowa Social Work School Programs

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

Schools with an asterisk (*) have programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Briar Cliff University*
3303 Rebecca St
Sioux City, IA 51104
(712) 279-5321

Buena Vista University*
610 W 4th St
Storm Lake, IA 50588
(712) 749-2400

Clarke University*
1550 Clarke Dr
Dubuque, IA 52001-3198
(563) 588-6300

Dordt College*
498 4th Ave NE
Sioux Center, IA 51250-1697
(712) 722-6000

Graceland University-Lamoni
1 University Pl
Lamoni, IA 50140
(641) 784-5000

Grand View University*
1200 Grandview Ave
Des Moines, IA 50316

Iowa Central Community College
One Triton Circle
Fort Dodge, IA 50501
(515) 576-7201

Kirkwood Community College
6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-2068
(319) 398-5411

Loras College*
1450 Alta Vista
Dubuque, IA 52004-0178
(563) 588-7100

Luther College*
700 College Dr
Decorah, IA 52101-1045
(563) 387-2000

Mount Mercy University*
1330 Elmhurst Dr NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-4797
(319) 363-8213

Student Review: “Over the course of my academic plan in the Social Work program, I do not think I could’ve made it as far as I did without my amazing advisor and professors. Mount Mercy University is the only college that not only offered the Social Work program but since I went back to school being a full-time mom, I also needed somewhere close to home. Throughout the courses, I keep going back to SW Practice I and II. For SWP I, we focused on origins of social work and the in-class discussions were inspiring. We were also the last class that Prof Z had before retirement. As a transfer with an AAS in human services, I kept getting suggestions to enter the SW program to become an LISW. My internship proved my heart was not able to work with children, but MMU gave me ample time to complete projects, even when admitted to the hospital and a death in the family. The college itself is ancient with not many renovations. The halls were hardwood floors, no central air, and wooden doors to the offices. All of the staff were so inviting, and they focused on what was best for me. An open door policy was nice – IF you could find them. The SW program itself is very structured with classes and internships, and transitioning from a 10-week online program to a 3-month in the class program was the only drawback. I preferred the fast-paced online programs, but at the same time I’ve retained much more information by physically going to class.” – Student at Mount Mercy University

Northeast Iowa Community College
1625 Hwy 150
Calmar, IA 52132-0400
(563) 562-3263

Northwestern College*
101 Seventh St SW
Orange City, IA 51041
(712) 707-7000

Saint Ambrose University*
518 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52803-2898
(563) 333-6000

University of Iowa*
101 Jessup Hall
Iowa City, IA 52242-1316
(319) 335-3500

University of Northern Iowa*
1227 W 27th St
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0005
(319) 273-2311

Upper Iowa University
605 Washington St
Fayette, IA 52142-1857
(563) 425-5200

Wartburg College*
100 Wartburg Blvd
Waverly, IA 50677-0903
(319) 352-8200

Student Review: “Wartburg’s social work program set me up for success. Wartburg is academic calendar has a May term, where students take one class during the month of May, once you declare as a social work major you are required to do a field placement during May term. This was really helpful because it allowed you to make sure you got hands on experience before finishing all the classes. Additionally, the covers work was very well rounded. It provided both direct service and community organizing education. When I went to graduate school I was more advanced than the rest of my peers. The final ways the program set me us for success was by allowing me to do my field placement in Colorado. Wartburg’s social work program is one of the best and has led to all of my success in my career.” – Student at Wartburg College

Schools with an asterisk (*) have programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

1. National Center for Education Statistics:
2. Kiplinger’s Best College Values:
3. US News & World Report Social Work Best Grad Schools Rankings:
4. Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs: /degrees/masters/online/
5. Council on Social Work Education: