A Guide to North Carolina Social Work Programs
By Janice Monti
One of the best known helping professions, social work offers a multitude of career possibilities for compassionate and socially-driven individuals.
Undergraduate social work degrees can lead to entry-level positions in case management, public and community health, and substance abuse counseling. A master's prepares graduates for clinical roles in child welfare and family services, school social work, and mental health areas, providing direct services to individuals, families, and groups. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an overall 11% job growth rate for social workers through 2028.
Read on for a look at the best online social work programs in North Carolina and the careers you can pursue with a social work degree.
In This Article
- Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work
- What Can I Do With a Social Work Degree in NC?
- Top-Ranked Schools with Social Work Programs in NC
- Schools in North Carolina with Social Work Degree Programs
- Accreditation Information for NC Social Work Schools
- Directory of NC Social Work School Programs
Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work
- What does a social worker do?
Social workers help people cope with hardships and challenges. Social workers find employment in a variety of settings, from schools and hospitals to nursing homes and mental health facilities. They may work with adults dealing with divorce, teenagers struggling with substance abuse, or children in foster care.
- How is a social worker different from a therapist?
While a master's and state licensure serve as essential qualifications for both professions, their degrees and responsibilities differ. Therapists hold counseling degrees that prepare them to diagnose emotional and behavioral disorders and administer psychotherapy. In contrast, a master's in social work emphasizes case management and advocacy. Social workers may provide counseling, but spend most of their time locating resources for their clients from government, community, and social service agencies.
- What does it mean to be a mandated reporter?
State law requires social workers, educators, mental health staff, and law enforcement officers to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. Some states require social workers to report elder abuse or institutional wrongdoing. Social workers who fail to report suspected cases may face civil or criminal liability.
- Is social work a good career?
Forbes Magazine has ranked social work among the country's most meaningful professions. Social workers help people confront and find life-changing solutions to challenges. While social workers may not earn the highest salaries, they receive considerable personal and professional satisfaction from guiding their clients to a better quality of life, shaping social policy, and promoting social justice.
- Why is accreditation important?
The Council on Social Work Education accredits baccalaureate and master of social work programs in the United States. CSWE accreditation ensures that the program meets nationally recognized standards and curriculum competencies, maintains ethical educational practices, and provides adequate field experiences. Social workers seeking state licenses must graduate from a CSWE-accredited program.
- How do I become a social worker?
While a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) or a related field prepares graduates for entry-level positions, many employers require candidates to hold a master's in social work (MSW). Although students can enter MSW programs after earning a non-social work bachelor's, a BSW provides a sound educational foundation for an MSW program and may shorten the time needed to finish the degree.
What Can I Do With a Social Work Degree in NC?
Employment projections for North Carolina social workers indicate strong growth through 2026, including a 21.5% increase for mental health and substance abuse social workers, and a 14% growth rate for child, family, school and healthcare specialties. Most of these careers require either a BSW or an MSW.
BSW programs prepare graduates for entry-level positions in child welfare, family services, and community and public health, while an MSW leads to a broader array of careers as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). LCSWs must hold an MSW and pass the Association of Social Work Boards' master's-level exam to earn state licensure.
Top-Ranked Schools with Social Work Programs in NC
Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*
- Appalachian State University (#29 in-state, #22 out-of-state)
- North Carolina State University (#9 in-state, #7 out-of-state)
- University of North Carolina-Asheville (#61 in-state, #71 out-of-state)
- University of North Carolina-Wilmington (#62 in-state, #68 out-of-state)
- Western Carolina University (#58 in-state, #48 out-of-state)
US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs 2018
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (#5 tie)
- University of North Carolina-Charlotte (#54 tie)
- North Carolina State University (#75 tie)
- University of North Carolina-Wilmington (#75 tie)
- University of North Carolina-Greensboro / North Carolina A&T State University Collaborative (#88 tie)
- East Carolina University (#147 tie)
- Appalachian State University (#174 tie)
- University of North Carolina-Pembroke (#174 tie)
- Western Carolina University (#174 tie)
- North Carolina Central University (#201 tie)
- Fayetteville State University (#220 tie)
Schools with Social Work Programs Accredited by the CSWE
- Appalachian State University
- Barton College
- Bennett College
- Campbell University
- East Carolina University
- Elizabeth City State University
- Fayetteville State University
- Johnson C. Smith University
- Livingstone College
- Mars Hill University
- Meredith College
- Methodist University
- North Carolina A&T State University
- North Carolina A&T State University / University of North Carolina at Greensboro Collaborative
- North Carolina Central University
- North Carolina State University
- Shaw University
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
- University of North Carolina-Charlotte
- University of North Carolina-Greensboro
- University of North Carolina-Pembroke
- University of North Carolina-Wilmington
- Warren Wilson College
- Western Carolina University
- Winston Salem State University
Schools in North Carolina with Social Work Degree Programs
BSW and Other Undergraduate Programs
Meredith College is a private college located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The school was recently ranked 5th among regional colleges in the southern U.S. by U.S. News & World Report. The Department of Psychology and Social Work offers female-only liberal arts education at the undergraduate level, including a CSWE-accredited BSW program that surveys the history, values, and ethics of social work and social justice.
All students take core biology, psychology, and political science courses, along with social work courses on policy, research, human behavior, and generalist social work theory. Honors students enjoy the option of completing an undergraduate thesis. All learners must complete at least 430 hours of supervised generalist social work practice in their final semester while completing related coursework. The college also offers a minor in social work, although the minor coursework alone does not meet the CSWE accreditation requirements and will not qualify graduates to become licensed social workers in North Carolina.
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is a public institution, ranked 16th among southern regional colleges and 6th among public regional colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report. UNCW’s School of Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited BSW program that prepares students for many social work career paths, including generalist practice, policy analysis, or graduate social work education and research. Students learn the skills necessary to practice with individuals, families, groups, communities, and macro institutions.
Candidates also complete core biology, sociology, psychology, and politics courses. Social work course content reflects the region's diversity and specifically addresses social justice issues relevant to local populations. Students must complete both a service-learning project during their junior year and a supervised field education placement during their senior year. Both placements can be completed in a variety of settings to provide a broader experience. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington also offers a CSWE-accredited MSW program.
MSW and Other Graduate Programs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Located close to the state capital, Raleigh, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill houses a social work graduate school offering a CSWE-accredited MSW degree program and a Ph.D. in social work. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the social work graduate school 5th in the country. The MSW program at the UNC School of Social Work prepares students for advanced generalist practice and organizational leadership in the social services.
Individuals with a recently-conferred, CSWE-accredited BSW degree can complete the degree in as little as one year through advanced standing. Other candidates may earn the MSW in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time online study. Dual degree programs in cooperation with the public health, law, or public administration graduate schools within the University of North Carolina or the Duke University graduate program in divinity are also available. The school occasionally offers a study abroad opportunity in the summer for students interested in international social work. Previous destinations include China, Mexico, and Ireland.
Appalachian State University
Based near Boone, Appalachian State University offers CSWE-accredited BSW and MSW degree programs. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university 10th in the Regional Universities (South) category. App State’s Department of Social Work offers an MSW program focused on advanced clinical practice, leadership, and social service administration skills. Graduates are qualified to apply for clinical social work licensure in North Carolina. Candidates may choose a concentration in individuals and families or community and organizational practice.
Advanced standing status is available for students with an accredited BSW degree conferred within the past seven years. App State began offering a hybrid program featuring up to 50% online learning capability in Fall 2016. Face-to-face portions of the program are based at the university’s Hickory, North Carolina distance education campus. All students complete field education placements in various settings across the state, which can be individualized based on student interests and future career plans.
East Carolina University
East Carolina University offers an MSW for students interested in becoming advanced practitioners. The program's clinical community social work can be further developed through elective courses. Students may also earn graduate certificates in gerontology or substance abuse while completing the MSW curriculum, or pursue a minor in gerontology.
Students may follow a full-time two-year course of study or a full-time one-year advanced standing track for those with an undergraduate degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited school. Part-time degree tracks are also available. Students may elect to join the Graduate Association of Social workers or the Phi Alpha Honor Society and gain access to the school’s social work skills lab. East Carolina University's MSW program is accredited by the CSWE.
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University's MSW program builds leadership skills and lays the foundation for contributing to the field through research and responsible practice. This MSW follows an advanced generalist program of study with two tracks: traditional full time or advanced standing full time. Summer courses are available to potentially reduce regular semester course loads.
The traditional admissions track requires 60 credit hours to complete, while the advanced standing admissions track consists of 39 credit hours. Students on both tracks complete field placements during each year of study. Field experiences are scheduled around the assigned course sequence. North Carolina State University’s MSW program holds CSWE accreditation.
Accreditation Information for NC Social Work Schools
|School||Graduation Rate1||Transfer-Out Rate1||Associate’s SW Program||Bachelor’s SW Program||Graduate SW Program||CSWE Accred.5||US News Best Social Work Grad Schools Ranking3||Net Price*1|
|Appalachian State University||70%||12%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#174 tie||$11,508|
|Barton College||44%||N/A||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$20,199|
|Bennett College||45%||N/A||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$21,505|
|Campbell University||51%||40%||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$26,865|
|East Carolina University||59%||17%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#147 tie||$12,908|
|Elizabeth City State University||39%||17%||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$2,490|
|Fayetteville State University||35%||22%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#220 tie||$6,848|
|Gaston College||21%||18%||Yes||No||No||No||Not Ranked||$10,580|
|Johnson C. Smith University||44%||39%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Ranked||$19,032|
|Livingstone College||24%||N/A||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$15,812|
|Mars Hill University||37%||42%||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$17,657|
|Meredith College||62%||N/A||No||Yes||No||No||Not Ranked||$22,642|
|Methodist University||34%||N/A||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$21,487|
|North Carolina A&T State University||48%||13%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Not Ranked||$10,145|
|North Carolina Central University||47%||19%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#201 tie||$9,701|
|North Carolina State University at Raleigh||75%||9%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#75 tie||$13,579|
|Piedmont Community College||14%||20%||Yes||No||No||No||Not Ranked||$8,671|
|Shaw University||25%||N/A||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$19,342|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||90%||2%||No||No||Yes||Yes||#5 tie||$10,936|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||55%||18%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#54 tie||$10,196|
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro||56%||19%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#88 tie||$10,076|
|University of North Carolina at Pembroke||34%||28%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#174 tie||$10,686|
|University of North Carolina at Wilmington||71%||14%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#75 tie||$14,418|
|Warren Wilson College||51%||N/A||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$23,617|
|Western Carolina University||58%||20%||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||#174 tie||$12,916|
|Winston-Salem State University||46%||19%||No||Yes||No||Yes||Not Ranked||$7,737|
Directory of NC Social Work School Programs
Appalachian State University*
287 Rivers St
Boone, NC 28608
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
340 Victoria Rd
Asheville, NC 28801
200 E ACC Dr
Wilson, NC 27893-7000
900 E Washington St
Greensboro, NC 27401-3239
450 Leslie Campbell Ave
Buies Creek, NC 27506
East Carolina University*
1001 East 5th St
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Elizabeth City State University*
1704 Weeksville Rd
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Fayetteville State University*
1200 Murchison Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28301-4298
201 Hwy 321 S
Dallas, NC 28034
Johnson C. Smith University*
100 Beatties Ford Rd
Charlotte, NC 28216-5398
701 W Monroe St
Salisbury, NC 28144
Mars Hill University*
100 Athletic St
Mars Hill, NC 28754
3800 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27607-5298
5400 Ramsey St
Fayetteville, NC 28311-1420
North Carolina A&T State University*
1601 E Market St
Greensboro, NC 27411
North Carolina Central University*
1801 Fayetteville St
Durham, NC 27707
North Carolina State University at Raleigh*
2101 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27695-7001
Piedmont Community College
1715 College Dr
Roxboro, NC 27573
118 E South St
Raleigh, NC 27601
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill*
103 South Bldg Cb 9100
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
University of North Carolina at Charlotte*
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
University of North Carolina at Greensboro*
1400 Spring Garden St
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
University of North Carolina at Pembroke*
One University Dr
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
University of North Carolina at Wilmington*
601 S College Rd
Wilmington, NC 28403-5963
Warren Wilson College*
701 Warren Wilson Rd
Swannanoa, NC 28778-2099
Western Carolina University*
92 Catamount Rd
Cullowhee, NC 28723-9646
Winston-Salem State University*
601 Martin Luther King Jr Dr
Winston-Salem, NC 27110-0001
Schools with an asterisk (*) have programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).