Minnesota – Featured Online Programs in Social Work

By: SocialWorkGuide.org Staff
Last Updated: April 2020

Social workers come alongside the elderly, children, or terminally ill patients to offer resources and guidance that can help these clients thrive. The broad range of clients allows these counselors to specialize their careers based on interest areas and target groups when pursuing social work jobs in Minnesota.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% increase in social work positions from 2018-28. While this number does not guarantee work for graduates, the continued growth indicates more positions for higher employment odds.

Social work programs can prepare learners to pursue Minnesota social work licenses and qualify them for related careers that do not require certification. These careers include social and community service managers, which boast a projection of 13% growth by 2028.

Featured Online Programs in Social Work

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Online Social Work Degree Programs in Minnesota

UniversityDegree Program
Bemidji State University – MNBachelor’s in Social Work (BSW)
Minnesota State University-Mankato – MNMaster’s in Social Work (MSW)
University of St. Thomas – MNDoctorate in Social Work (DSW)

Employment Outlook for Social Workers in Minnesota

Projected Job Growth and Average Salaries for Social Workers in Minnesota
Social Work CareerJob Growth (2016-26)Average Annual Salary
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers15.7%$55,460
Healthcare Social Workers12.4%$58,670
Child, Family, and School Social Workers9.5%$55,560
Social Workers, All Other9.4%$64,300
Median Salaries for Social Workers by Degree Level (U.S.)
Bachelor of Social Work$49,000
Master of Social Work$52,000
Doctor of Social Work$68,000

Social Work Licensure in Minnesota

Candidates can pursue four Minnesota social work licenses: the licensed social worker (LSW), licensed graduate social worker (LGSW), licensed independent social worker (LISW), and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW).

The LSW requires a social work bachelor’s degree, while other licenses call for at least a master’s. Accreditation for these degrees must come from the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work or the Council on Social Work Education.

Applicants for all licenses must take an exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The LSW calls for the bachelor’s exam, while other credentials require more advanced examinations, such as clinical and advanced generalist assessments. All ASWB exams are multiple choice, with registration costing $230-$260. Each candidate must also pass a criminal record check.

The LISW and the LICSW require 4,000 supervised hours. However, only the LICSW’s experience requirement includes clinical hours. The LICSW may also call for 360 hours in designated learning areas.

For more social work licensing information in your state, visit this page on social work licensing in Minnesota.

Featured Online Programs in Social Work

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Should You Earn an Online Social Work Degree in Minnesota?

Online degrees give learners experience with technology through course assignments. For instance, distance learners may post on discussion boards, complete group wikis, electronically submit papers, and maintain class blogs. This expertise prepares individuals for virtual and technological social work tasks, such as organizing files, conducting online sessions, and researching community resources.

Distance learners can lower the cost of social work degrees by paying resident tuition at in-state schools. Candidates may also find colleges and universities that charge online students resident tuition.

Students should determine the type of social work they want to provide and select the program with the most relevantcoursework.

Other considerations when choosing schools include program focus, given the diversity of the social work field. For instance, social workers can assist veterans, children, and families on addiction, marriage guidance, and child safety. Students should determine the type of social work they want to provide and select the program with the most relevant coursework.

However, skills developed in these programs can help learners excel in careers outside of social work. Public speakers need communication skills, event planners benefit from organizational skills, and marketing managers use research and observation skills when designing campaigns. These professions, though, do require unique degrees and credentials.

The Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area is one of the top-paying nonmetropolitan locations in the country for mental health and substance abuse social workers. Candidates in this area earn, on average, $65,510 each year, which surpasses the national average for mental health and substance abuse social workers by more than $15,000.

Online Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) Programs in Minnesota

Bemidji State University – Bachelor’s in Social Work

Founded in 1919, Bemidji State University — with a campus located in northern Minnesota on the shores of Lake Bemidji — offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees.

This Minnesota social work degree, called the social work integrated model (SWIM), offers mostly online courses with one in-person Saturday class, which students must take every month.

Students enrolled in this program study social welfare policy, social work research, and statistics for research. They gain hands-on practice through the field experience in social work and a 480-hour internship at a social service organization, where learners incorporate theory and practical experience.

Bemidji State University also offers an 880-hour internship in chemical dependency, which allows students to complete the alcohol and drug counselor certificate and prepares them to take the Minnesota licensure.

To graduate with a Minnesota social work degree from Bemidji State University, students must complete 69 credits and earn at least a “C” grade in each major course.

This highly competitive program runs over two years, or six semesters, with a cohort of 20 students. Applicants for this Minnesota social work degree must hold an associate degree. They must also submit transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA.


  • Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Bemidji State University’s bachelor of social work degree is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).


  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Prerequisites: Applicants need an associate degree at the time of applying.
  • GRE Required?: No
  • Other Admission Requirements: Candidates must take two social work courses, SOWK 2110 and SOWK 2120, before applying.


  • Average Undergraduate Tuition per Credit (In-State/Out-of-State): $304
  • Average Graduate Tuition per Credit (In-state/Out-of-State): $462
  • Notes: All BSU distance learners pay the same rate.


  • Social Work Program Accreditation: CSWE
  • Program Length: 2 years, 69 credits

Social Work Coursework

  • Tracks/Concentrations: Substance addictions, behavioral issues, minor; alcohol and drug counselor, certification; school social work preparation and licensure.
  • Field Education/Practicum Required?: Yes
  • Capstone/Thesis Required?: No
  • Core Courses: Research methods and statistics for criminal justice; basic statistics for research or social statistics; introduction to social welfare; field experience in social work; human behavior in social environment I and II; family: dynamics and intervention; social welfare policy, generalist practice 1-3; social work research seminar, internship orientation, internship.
  • In-Person Requirements: Yes, one Saturday per month.

Student Support

  • Technical Support?: Yes
  • Special Services Provided to Online Students: Tutoring, tech support, and advising success center.

Online Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Programs in Minnesota

Minnesota State University-Mankato – Master’s in Social Work

With a history dating back more than 150 years, Minnesota State University-Mankato sits on a 303-acre campus in the Minnesota River valley.

Minnesota State Mankato offers 130 undergraduate programs and 85 graduate programs and certifications, including an accredited master’s in social work degree with a traditional or an advanced-standing track. The 59-credit traditional program runs over two years, or six semesters, and suits students who do not hold bachelor’s degrees in social work. The advanced-standing program, designed for bachelor’s in social work students, requires 34 credits, which students complete in four semesters.

This program, created with working professionals in mind, offers mostly online classes, but students typically meet in-person on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Students should prepare to meet on-campus at least two to three times a week. The program advises students not to work full-time since they need to complete field practicums.

To apply, students must submit application materials to the college of graduate students and research, and the department of social work. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a professional statement. This degree, one of the best online social work degrees in Minnesota, accepts 32-40 students every year.


  • Minnesota State University-Mankato is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Minnesota State University-Mankato’s master of social work degree is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).


  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • GRE Required?: No
  • Other Admission Requirements: Applicants to the traditional program must have 21 credits in social and behavioral sciences. They must have also completed classes in social and behavioral sciences, human biology, and statistics. Advanced-standing candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program. They also need to have complete human biology and statistics courses.


  • Average Undergraduate Tuition per Credit (In-State/Out-of-State): $289/$621
  • Average Graduate Tuition per Credit (In-state/Out-of-State): $483
  • Notes: The university offers a reciprocity agreement to students living in Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Also, online students receive discounted tuition.


  • Social Work Program Accreditation: CSWE
  • Online Social Work Programs: Bachelor’s in social work with some online classes.
  • Program Length: 1-2 years; 34-59 credits

Social Work Coursework

  • Tracks/Concentrations: Advanced-Standing MSW; Traditional MSW
  • Field Education/Practicum Required?: Yes
  • Capstone/Thesis Required?: Yes
  • Core Courses: Foundations of general practice; human behavior in the social environment; social welfare policy and services; macro social work practice and theory; foundation practicum and seminar I & II; applied social work research; advanced standing preparation seminar; advanced social work practice with individuals; social welfare policy practice; advanced social work practice with couples and families; advanced social work administration; advanced practice with groups; advanced practicum and seminar I & II; advanced social work evaluation; and MSW capstone project.
  • In-Person Requirements: Yes. Two to three times a week, depending on the semester.

Student Support

  • Technical Support?: Yes
  • Special Services Provided to Online Students: Tutoring and career development assistance.

Online Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) Programs in Minnesota

University of St. Thomas – Doctorate in Social Work

With three campuses in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Rome, the 1885-founded University of St. Thomas features eight schools and colleges. Students can pick from more than 150 undergraduate majors and minors and more than 55 graduate degrees.

The doctorate in social work, which began in 2014, offers a focus on “education as practice” with fully online classes that appeal to students who want to teach and serve as leaders in the field of social work. Students learn in a cohort format over the course of three years with the same classmates.

This Minnesota social work program requires students to complete 45 credits, which breaks down into 15 classes. Most classes run in eight-week sessions. Courses follow both asynchronous and synchronous formats, with students sometimes required to attend online classes at set times. Additionally, every summer for two weeks, students must complete a mandatory residency at the St. Paul campus.

Learners also must complete the first course, history of social work and social work education, on the St. Thomas campus.

Eligible applicants must hold a master of social work degree from a Counsel of Social Work Education (CSWE) program. They also need two years of social work experience and teaching experience at the college level.


  • The University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • The University of St. Thomas’ doctorate of social work is approved by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.


  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Prerequisites: A CSWE-accredited master of social work degree, two years of social work experience, and teaching experience on the college level.
  • GRE Required?: No
  • Other Admission Requirements: Students must commit to teach and lead in the field of social work.


  • Average Undergraduate Tuition: $22,390 per term
  • Average Graduate Tuition per Credit: $1,131 (for a doctorate in social work)
  • Notes: Students must also pay $35 per night to stay in apartment dorms every year for the mandatory two-week summer residency.


  • Social Work Program Accreditation: Approved by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Online Social Work Programs: Master of social work with a blended format.
  • Program Length: 3 years; 45 credits

Social Work Coursework

  • Field Education/Practicum Required?: Yes
  • Capstone/Thesis Required?: No
  • Core Courses: History of social work and social work education; social work education; pedagogies in social work education: theory and practice; mission and purpose through curriculum; social work theoretical perspectives; teaching social work; engaged scholarship; career development practicum; writing for publication; banded dissertation and scholarship, research and scholarship I & II; banded dissertation I & II
  • In-Person Requirements: Yes. Two-week summer residency

Student Support

  • Technical Support?: Yes
  • Special Services Provided to Online Students: Tutoring and technology assistance

Accreditation Information for Minnesota Social Work Schools

School NameGraduation Rate1Transfer-Out Rate1Associate’s SW ProgramBachelor’s SW ProgramGraduate SW ProgramCSWE Accred.5US News Best Social Work Grad Schools Ranking3Net Price*1
Augsburg University63%N/ANoYesYesYes#201 tie$18,460
Bemidji State University46%35%NoYesNoYesNot Ranked$13,488
Bethel University74%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$26,624
College of Saint Scholastica61%N/ANoYesYesYesNot Ranked$22,124
Concordia College at Moorhead72%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$22,827
Metropolitan State University34%37%NoYesYesYesNot Ranked$13,654
Minnesota State University-Mankato50%34%NoYesYesYes#174 tie$12,464
Minnesota State University-Moorhead42%33%NoYesNoYesNot Ranked$14,349
North Central University47%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$20,078
Southwest Minnesota State University43%32%NoYesNoYesNot Ranked$14,551
St. Catherine University59%36%NoYesYesYes#72 tie$22,146
St. Cloud State University45%36%NoYesYesYes#220 tie$13,426
St. Olaf College89%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$28,019
University of Minnesota-Duluth59%30%NoYesYesYes#88 tie$15,681
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities78%13%NoNoYesYes#50 tie$15,589
University of St. Thomas72%21%NoYesYesYes#72 tie$30,606
Winona State University57%35%NoYesNoYesNot Ranked$16,773

*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.

Directory of Minnesota 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).

Augsburg College*
2211 Riverside Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55454
(612) 330-1000

Bemidji State University*
1500 Birchmont Dr
Bemidji, MN 56601
(800) 475-2001

Bethel University*
3900 Bethel Dr
Saint Paul, MN 55112
(651) 638-6400

College of Saint Scholastica*
1200 Kenwood Ave
Duluth, MN 55811-4199
(218) 723-6000

Concordia College at Moorhead*
901 S 8th St
Moorhead, MN 56562
(218) 299-4200

Metropolitan State University*
700 East Seventh St
Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000
(651) 793-1212

Minnesota State University-Mankato*
1651 Warren St
Mankato, MN 56001
(507) 389-1866

Minnesota State University-Moorhead*
1104 Seventh Ave South
Moorhead, MN 56563
(800) 593-7246

Student Review: “I’m currently in the social work program at my university. I really like the professors in our program and the courses offered. I’ve been able to explore graduation options through my NASW membership and internship resources in our social work office. Overall I’d recommend our program since it is one of the only Social Work programs in North Dakota/Minnesota Region.”
– Student at Minnesota State University-Moorhead

North Central University*
910 Elliot Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404-1391
(612) 343-4400

Southwest Minnesota State University*
1501 State St
Marshall, MN 56258-5468
(507) 537-7678

St. Catherine University*
2004 Randolph Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55105
(651) 690-6000

Student Review: “At St. Catherine University, I was in the Social Work program and I enjoyed it. The component of the program that I learned most from is the field placements that we had to complete. This is when we go out in the field to work as a social worker to get that experience and see what type of work we want to go into. This has also been a challenging part of the program because it requires being in the professional field, which can be tough at first but you get more comfortable over time. I was also thankful that we talked about micro-level work as well as macro level. Overall, learning about the importance of social justice was the most meaningful part of the program.”
– Student at St. Catherine University

St. Cloud State University*
720 Fourth Ave S
Saint Cloud, MN 56301-4498
(320) 308-0121

St. Olaf College*
1520 St Olaf Ave
Northfield, MN 55057-1098
(507) 786-2222

University of Minnesota-Duluth*
1049 University Dr
Duluth, MN 55812
(218) 726-8000

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities*
100 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0213
(612) 625-5000

Student Review: “The University Of Minnesota social work program was a very great opportunity for me to say the least. I had a wonderful time, not only did I have fun during this program, but I also gained more wisdom and knowledge that I can now apply to my career. Not to mention that the professors at the University of Minnesota were all very approachable, and were always firm believers that ever student should never be afraid to ask questions. With that being said I loved all my professors at the University of Minnesota. The program was nice, once every two weeks we would have a guest speaker who would share experiences with us. If I could change one thing about this program I would say that they should offer more online classes at the University of Minnesota, they had very few to choose from, and it would be nice my schedule, I really lost some income due to this. But overall my experience in this program was amazing, I have learned a lot that I can now apply toward my career.”
– Student at University of Minnesota

University of St Thomas*
2115 Summit Ave
Saint Paul, MN 55105-1078
(651) 962-5000

Winona State University*
175 West Mark St
Winona, MN 55987-5838
(507) 457-5000

Student Review: “I really enjoyed participating in the social work program at WSU, and I’m very proud of the education that I received from this institution. They taught me the true value of helping others, and I learned various techniques that allow me to do so in my everyday life. The social work program provided me with several in-depth courses, both online and face-to-face. Though I enjoyed learning through each delivery method, I developed a liking for online courses, and I believe that I ultimately performed better outside of the classroom. To better prepare students for the social work field, we completed an internship at Family Service of Rochester, Minnesota. I loved the experience! Before interning, I had no idea just how many people I would come in contact with and how much of an impact I was capable of making in the lives of those in my community. While I really have no complaints about the social work program at WSU, my only comment for improvement would be the lack of assistance with finding a job after graduation. I struggled with getting an interview for anything more than intern, which was really tough as I was trying to pay back my student loans. Overall, however, kudos to Winona State University for providing a quality education that will last me a lifetime!” – Student at California State University-Monterey Bay

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

1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Kiplinger’s Best College Values: https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-private-colleges/index.php?table=all
3. US News & World Report Social Work Best Grad Schools Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/social-work-rankings
4. Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs: /degrees/masters/online/
5. Council on Social Work Education: https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx