Tennessee – Featured Online Programs in Social Work

In Tennessee, you must have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or Master of Social Work (MSW) accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to be licensed and practice as a social worker. Social work schools in Tennessee will prepare you for generalist, advanced generalist, or clinical social work careers and offer many specializations. Tennessee social work degrees are primarily offered as traditional on-campus programs, although the University of Tennessee at Knoxville does offer an online CSWE-accredited MSW degree.

Quick Facts

  • 18 schools offering social work programs in Tennessee are in our database (see below)
  • Of the social work schools in Tennessee, none offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 18 offer bachelor’s degrees, and 8 offer a master’s or advanced degree1
  • 1 school ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges
  • 4 schools ranked in US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
  • 2 schools ranked in Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs4
  • Across 17 schools, 24 bachelor’s and master’s social work degree programs in Tennessee 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 Tennessee

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges

  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville (#85 in-state, #76 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs

  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville (#38 tie)
  • University of Memphis (#88 tie)
  • East Tennessee State University (#174 tie)
  • Middle Tennessee State University (#174 tie)

Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs

  • Austin Peay State University
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Schools with Social Work Programs Accredited by the CSWE

  • Austin Peay State University
  • Belmont University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Freed-Hardeman University
  • King University
  • Lincoln Memorial University
  • Lipscomb University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Mid-Tennessee Collaborative (Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State University, and Tennessee State University)
  • Southern Adventist University
  • Tennessee State University
  • Tennessee Wesleyan University
  • Trevecca Nazarene University
  • Union University
  • University of Memphis
  • University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville
  • University of Tennessee-Martin

Schools in Tennessee with Social Work Degree Programs

BSW and Other Undergraduate Programs

Belmont University

Located in Nashville, Belmont University is a private Christian university ranked #5 among regional universities in the South by US News & World Report. Belmont’s College of Health Sciences offers a four-year CSWE-accredited BSW program. The religious orientation of the school is reflected in the program’s attention to spirituality in social work practice and social justice. Students in the social work program may apply for study abroad programs and participate in the Student Social Work Club. For those interested in a career in school social work the university offers a School Social Work certificate that qualifies graduates to work with the Tennessee school board upon graduation. The university organizes social work field placements in Nashville or can help candidates secure a placement elsewhere in the US or abroad. Past placements have been with such organizations as the American Cancer Society, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.

Lipscomb University

Lipscomb University, located in Nashville, was tied for #18 among regional universities in the South by US News & World Report in 2016. All BSW students in the School of Social Work and Sociology must take courses in the university’s core religious studies program as well as social work courses in psychology, child welfare, and human behavior. Additionally, all students must pass a technology proficiency exam and complete two service learning experiences. It is also possible to combine the major in social work with a minor in many other fields. All students complete a field education placement totaling at least 360 supervised hours in a local social service organization. Adult students are given additional support through the university’s Adult Degree Program, which helps reduce barriers non-traditional students face when completing an undergraduate degree. Possible support options include approving online classes to meet course requirements and assigning a faculty advisor to help keep students on track.

MSW and Other Graduate Programs

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville offers a CSWE-accredited Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) degree. US News & World Report ranked the social work graduate school in a tie for #37 among all social work graduate schools across the country. The UT College of Social Work MSSW program has two specializations, clinical or macro practice, and the format is flexible. Either concentration can be completed through in-person classes or fully online. The MSSW can be completed in two years of full-time study, three to four years of part-time study, or as little as one year for those who already have a CSWE-accredited BSW degree. Students can also complete certificate programs to deepen their knowledge in one specific area of social work practice. Certificate options include gerontology, school social work, trauma, and veterinary social work, which examines the unique emotional relationships between humans and animals. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville also offers a CSWE-accredited BSW program as well as PhD in Social Work and Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs.

Union University

Union University is a private institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2016, US News & World Report ranked the university #14 among regional universities in the South. The school’s CSWE-accredited MSW program within the College of Education & Human Studies School of Social Work is available at either the Jackson or Germantown/Memphis campus locations. In the first year of the program, students develop foundational knowledge and skills to work in generalist practice and complete 300 hours of supervised field education. The second year of the program has an advanced generalist curriculum to prepare students for a variety of practice settings at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Students must complete 600 hours of field education placements to meet degree requirements. Individuals with a CSWE-accredited BSW degree may be able to skip the foundational year through advanced standing admission. For those interested in child welfare, the university offers a child welfare program in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services that offers tuition and employment assistance to qualified candidates.

East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University’s Department of Social Work offers a Master of Social Work degree that focuses on advanced clinical professional practice in service of diverse populations, especially those in Northeast Tennessee. Both full- and part-time degree plans are available, with advanced standing offered to students with a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree. Most classes are held during the evening hours to allow working students scheduling flexibility. Field internships are intensive but flexible to student schedules and are completed during both the foundation and concentration year. Students are advised prior to beginning the MSW course of study and each semester thereafter. The MSW program at East Tennessee State is CSWE-accredited and the majority of courses are taught by full-time faculty.

Accreditation Information for Tennessee 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
Austin Peay State University37%13%NoYesYesYesNot Ranked$11,417
Belmont University70%24%NoYesNoYesNot Ranked$30,581
East Tennessee State University43%19%NoYesYesYes#174 tie$14,708
Freed-Hardeman University52%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$16,851
King UniversityN/AN/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$26,480
Le Moyne-Owen College20%N/ANoYesNoNoNot Ranked$12,914
Lincoln Memorial University47%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$12,484
Lipscomb University62%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$23,176
Middle Tennessee State University46%17%NoYesYesYes#174 tie$10,910
Southern Adventist University52%23%NoYesYesYesNot Ranked$21,110
Tennessee State University42%9%YesYesYesYesNot Ranked$8,888
Trevecca Nazarene University51%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$17,487
Union University66%N/ANoYesYesYesNot Ranked$26,286
University of Memphis44%16%NoYesYesYesNot Ranked$12,369
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga40%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$12,267
University of Tennessee-Knoxville69%N/AYesYesYesYes#38 tie$17,863
University of Tennessee-Martin47%N/ANoYesNoYesNot Ranked$8,512

*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 Tennessee 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).

Austin Peay State University*
601 College St
Clarksville, TN 37044
(931) 221-7011

Belmont University*
1900 Belmont Blvd
Nashville, TN 37212-3757
(615) 460-6000

East Tennessee State University*
1276 Gilbreath Dr
Johnson City, TN 37614
(423) 439-1000

Freed-Hardeman University*
158 E Main St
Henderson, TN 38340-2399
(800) 348-3481

King University*
1350 King College Rd
Bristol, TN 37620
(423) 652-4861

Le Moyne-Owen College
807 Walker Ave
Memphis, TN 38126-6595
(901) 435-1000

Lincoln Memorial University*
6965 Cumberland Gap Pkwy
Harrogate, TN 37752-9900
(423) 869-3611

Lipscomb University*
One University Park Dr
Nashville, TN 37204-3951
(615) 966-1000

Middle Tennessee State University*
1301 E Main St
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
(615) 898-2300

Student Review: “The program at Middle Tennessee State University for a social work degree is very comprehensive. You will get a broad range of classes to choose from with varying degrees of concentration. It is nice that you can tailor your degree to your own specific needs and desires. This often leads to the fact that no two degrees will be exactly the same, so you can really feel like you got an education tailored to you. They allow multiple classes to fit each requirement, so you aren’t pigeonholed into one particular field of study. In particular, I took classes that would help me provide social work for minority families. This allowed me to specialize, and in the end, provide a much better experience when I started working than if I had only taken a generic degree program.” – Student at Middle Tennessee State University

Southern Adventist University*
4881 Taylor Cir
Collegedale, TN 37315-0370
(423) 236-2000

Tennessee State University*
3500 John A Merritt Blvd
Nashville, TN 37209-1561
(615) 963-5111

Trevecca Nazarene University*
333 Murfreesboro Rd
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 248-1200

Union University*
1050 Union University Dr
Jackson, TN 38305-3697
(731) 668-1818

University of Memphis*
Southern Ave
Memphis, TN 38152
(901) 678-2000

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga*
615 McCallie Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598
(423) 425-4111

University of Tennessee-Knoxville*
527 Andy Holt Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-1000

Student Review: “Overall, I felt that the program was great. However, I was an online student, and I feel that most of the attention was given to the face-to-face students. I feel that the online students are not given the same opportunities as the face-to-face students. The program was really good otherwise. I liked that the program was flexible and that I had time to live my life. I guess that was the trade-off. Some of the professors made the program seem cookie cutter, and you could tell that they did not put a lot of time into the grading. Sometimes, I felt like they were herding cattle, but there were a few professors that made the program worthwhile. I do not regret my decision to go to the University of Tennessee. However, If I had it to do over I would not have entered the online program. This program is what you make it, but don’t expect the same amount of support that you get in face-to-face classes. I did like that the program provided great support for field placements. However, don’t expect to find the best placement for your career goals. Overall, I feel that the program was worthwhile, but there are still issues that have to be addressed to make the program successful for all students, including those who attend classes online.” – Student at University of Tennessee-Knoxville

University of Tennessee-Martin*
544 University St
Martin, TN 38238-0002
(731) 881-7000

Student Review: “The UTM Social Work program saved me and my college career. I was floundering and had lost my passion for learning until I happened to take a Human Diversity class and the topics and professor sparked something in me again. The next day I changed my major and found my home. I have grown my knowledge and passion for equality and human rights while also gaining a very valued support system in my professors and peers. They have furthered my compassion, understanding of human situations, and desire to assist people in dire situations.” – Student at University of Tennessee-Martin

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