Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Work (BSW) Online

2020 Accredited Online MSW Programs

From helping clients to adjust to major life changes to connecting them with government agencies that provide benefits to developing crisis intervention plans, social workers are trained to provide solutions in a wide range of situations. Before obtaining an advanced degree in this field, many professionals earn a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW). 

BSW programs can be taken either online or in person. The decision to get your BSW online or in person is up to your schedule, personal obligations, and your desired program’s requirements. We have compiled a list of all accredited online BSW programs, allowing you to compare and pick the BSW program that is right for you.

A BSW is not always required for admission into a master’s in social work (MSW) program. But those with a BSW looking to continue their studies and expand their professional opportunities, may find that their primary degree gives them an edge as a number of MSW courses build on the foundational social work knowledge they acquired as a BSW major.

Table of Contents

All Accredited Online BSW Degree Programs

Bemidji State University

Bemidji, MN

Program Overview

Bemidji State University offers a CSWE-accredited Bachelor of Social Work program both on-campus and online. Their courses are taught by highly credited faculty and involve the option of focusing on 3 areas of specialization.

Brandman University

Irvine, CA

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Brandman University
  • Accreditation: CSWE
  • Credits: 42 total credits
  • Concentrations: Students may choose 2 electives from the following - Domestic Violence, Victim Advocacy, Youth at Risk, Child Abuse, Military Social Work, International Social Work, Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Social Work and Social Work with Older Adults

Brandman University offers a CSWE-accredited BASW program that prepares students for a future in the field of social work. The curriculum includes a mix of general education requirements, core requirements, social work electives and more.

Brescia University

Owensboro, KY

Program Overview

Brescia University’s Bachelor of Social Work Degree CSWE-accredited program is designed to provide students with high quality knowledge of the field through research and courses. Students can start the program in either January, March, May, August and October.

Briar Cliff University

Sioux City, IA

Program Overview

Briar Cliff University’s Bachelor of Social Work program allows true, intensive study through their coursework and field work, which can be completed in the comfort of your own home/area. They have resources like field directors and experienced instructors who will provide you with guidance every step of the way to completing the program’s requirements.

California State University, Chico

Chico, CA

Program Overview

The BSW in Social Work at California State University (Chico) provides students with the knowledge and resources they need to practice social work at a professional and ethical standard. Completing your BSW at California State University (Chico) can be done in a traditional, face-to-face way or through online delivery.

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville, KY

Program Overview

  • Program Name: Online BSW at Campbellsville University
  • Accreditation: CSWE
  • Credits: 120 total credit hours
  • Concentrations: Throughout the course, students may choose two from the following elective list which includes: Crisis intervention, marriage and family, human rights, values and ethics in social work, school social work, medical social work and more.

The online BSW program at Campbellsville University requires two major steps: applying to Campbellsville University and then applying to their Carver School of Social Work. Financial aid assistance is available to help students explore financial options.

Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond, KY

Program Overview

Eastern Kentucky University’s BSW program provides students with a fully online and unique experience to allow them to explore career options upon graduation. They have been accredited by the CSWE since 1977.

Huntington University

Huntington, IN

Program Overview

Students interested in earning their BSW at Huntington University can do so through their university's 5-week online course. The program aims to provide students with real-world knowledge and skills to enhance their career options in social work upon graduating.

Indiana Wesleyan University

Mayfield Heights, OH

Program Overview

The BSW program at Indiana Wesleyan University has the goal of providing students with what they need to obtain entry-level positions in social work. Once students complete this program, they will become eligible for Advanced Standing in an accredited MSW program, meaning they will be able to obtain their MSW due to obtaining their BSW through this program.

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA

Program Overview

Liberty University’s online BSW program serves as a first step in achieving your state license as a social worker. Students in this program will learn about current social problems and solutions, human behavioral patterns, how to be a responsible caregiver and more.

Malone University

Canton, OH

Program Overview

Malone University prepares students to pass the licensed social worker exam in their state through their rigorous online courses. Once students graduate from this program, they will be eligible to go on to receive their master’s degree in social work (MSW).

Millersville University

Millersville, PA

Program Overview

All courses for Millersville University’s BSW program can be taken online to fit your personal schedule. Fieldwork for the program’s requirements can be completed in person, within your local area without having to travel to Millersville University’s physical campus.

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Denver, CO

Program Overview

Since 1997, the MSU Denver BSSW program has been CSWE-accredited. This program will prepare students for entry-level work in the field, while teaching them skills such as problem-solving, personal and interpersonal skills and how to create solutions to societal problems.

Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, AZ

Program Overview

The Northern Arizona University Online BSW program has the mission of providing the knowledge, skills and values into students so that they can apply those to a variety of populations in the professional field of social work. This program will enhance the learning outcome of their students so that they can address all needs of the people and communities they are serving.

Northwestern State University

Flagstaff, AZ

Program Overview

The online BSW program at Northwestern State University has been CSWE-accredited since 1970. Their program provides students with the knowledge they can use to apply to various work environments in the field of social work. This may be useful to those who are unsure of what kind of social work they want to go into.

Salisbury University

Salisbury, MD

Program Overview

The BASW program at Salisbury University aims to prepare students for generalist practice in the social work field. This allows students to apply their knowledge and skills to various areas in social work.

Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, MI

Program Overview

The BSW program at Spring Arbor University is a CSWE accredited program that ensures that students in the program meet those standards. Earning your online BSW at Spring Arbor University will prepare students to work in fields such as: hospitals, nursing homes, churches, schools, domestic violence centers and more.

Stephen F. Austin State University

Nacogdoches, TX

Program Overview

The online BSW program at Stephen F. Austin State University provides students with hands-on experience through research projects and internships. They promote the generalist practice of social work, which allows students to support individuals and communities at all levels.

Union Institute and University

Nacogdoches, TX

Program Overview

The online social work program at Union Institute and University uses a combination of online and fieldwork to provide training to students. They use a generalist method in their program so that their students will be fully prepared to take on real-word, social work careers.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Little Rock, AR

Program Overview

The online BSW program at University of Arkansas and Little Rock is fully accredited by the CSWE. The program is designed to provide students with general social work skills such as: critical thinking, problem-solving, assessment and more.

University of Cincinnati

Little Rock, AR

Program Overview

The BSW social work program at University of Cincinnati Online is fully CSWE-accredited. It provides students with the knowledge and experience needed to succeed as a community social worker. Those who have a 2-year associate degree in pre-social work, or a similar major are encouraged to apply to this program.

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Program Overview

The online BSW program at University of Louisville will teach students the impact that social work has on families, institutions and communities. The program will encourage students to advocate on behalf of those who are in need of living safer lives.

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Kearney, NE

Program Overview

The social work program at University of Nebraska at Kearney will provide you with the skills, knowledge and values used to assist people who are struggling to live a safe and healthy life. Once completing this program, you will have access to social work careers such as: family services, adoption services, medical social work, child welfare and more.

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Program Overview

The online BSW program at University of Utah will allow students to complete coursework online and through internships. Students in this program can expect to complete the program in 3-4 semesters if they take 12-15 credits per semester.

Ursuline College

Pepper Pike, OH

Program Overview

The BSW program at Ursuline college is both CSWE-accredited and accredited by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Because of this, students have the option to earn advanced placement in a master’s degree program once they complete the BSW program.

Western New Mexico University

Silver City, NM

Program Overview

Graduates of the BSW program at Western New Mexico University have gone on to work in hospitals, schools, government agencies, non-profit organizations and more. All social work courses in this program are taught by licensed professional social workers.

Last updated: April 2020

What is a Bachelor of Social Work Degree?

A Bachelor of Social Work is an undergraduate degree that equips students with the knowledge, skills and expertise to start their professional career as a social worker. While earning a bachelor’s in sociology or psychology may open the door to entry-level positions in the social work field, BSW degree students benefit from a rigorous curriculum that covers areas such as human behavior and teaches them how to employ social work research methods in everyday life.

Every BSW program is different. When doing your research to find the best BSW program for you, there are a few factors you may wish to keep in mind such as social work degree accreditation, general BSW program requirements, curriculum, scholarships and more.

On-Campus vs Online Social Work Degrees

If you choose to earn your social work degree on campus, you will be in a traditional classroom setting on designated days of the week. However, when you earn your social work degree online, you enjoy location flexibility. As a distance learner, you avoid daily commutes to and from campus and can complete coursework at your own pace.

Many social work positions involve direct client services. Both on-campus and online BSW programs reflect that, with field work requirements. Supervised field work is an essential component of social work education. Be mindful of this when selecting your BSW program and be sure that you can balance personal obligations with field work requirements even if you are an online student.

Accreditation of Social Work Degrees

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States. All CSWE-accredited baccalaureate and master’s social work programs meet high level educational standards that prepare graduates for professional work in the field. More importantly, an accredited program sets students up to obtain the correct social work licensure for your state. These are the reasons why you should select an accredited BSW program over one without accreditations.

General Admission Requirements

Every social work program will differ in terms of requirements, however, some general admissions requirements may include:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • SAT or ACT scores (acceptable scores for the program will vary)
  • GPA (standard GPA for the program will vary)

Some programs may also require letter(s) of recommendation, high school transcripts, or a personal essay. When researching for your desired BSW program, either on-campus or online, familiarize yourself with the admission requirements to be prepared for what to expect when you make the decision to apply.

Internships, Practicums & Field Work

All accredited social work programs require field work which may be in the form of an internship or practicums. CSWE-accredited BSW programs usually require a minimum of 400 hours of field work. But note that, the number of hours required for internships or practicums vary from program to program—some may stick with the minimum and others will require more than the minimum. Field work hours may also vary depending on your state.

Field work is important when working toward your BSW because it grants you the opportunity to get real, hands-on experience. This will prepare you for entry-level social work jobs as well as give you a feel for what to expect as a social worker.

Though supervised internships and practicums are temporary, you can still have an impact on the individuals you are working with and the communities you are serving.

Scholarships

Whether you decide to get your BSW online or on-campus, you’ll still have access to general scholarships and specific social work scholarships. Funding for scholarships may come from your program’s college or university as well as from your state or federal government.

The amount of scholarships that exist, their eligibility requirements, and the amount of money being offered varies, however, as you do your research, you’ll be able to discover scholarships that are exclusively available to social work students.

BSW Coursework and Specializations

BSW coursework and program curricula are all different depending on the program you choose. In general, you can expect to fulfill coursework on topics such as social work research methods, policy and advocacy, the history of social work, and more.

While working towards your BSW, you’ll have the opportunity to determine what area of specialization within social work you’re most interested in. There are different types of social work. Depending on your desired specialization, the coursework will differ to meet those needs.

Some BSW specializations that you can explore are:

  • Case management
  • Human services
  • Community outreach
  • Juvenile liaison

And many more.

Core Concepts You Will Encounter During Your BSW Studies

A lot of the core concepts you can expect to encounter during your BSW studies may stem from subjects like psychology, sociology, and research and public policy. Oftentimes, those subjects serve as foundations to help you understand general social work theories and the other specializations within the field. The profession of social work requires ample amounts of research in the field in order to prepare you to serve individuals and communities to the best of your ability.

Why You Might Consider a BSW and a Career in Social Work

Through coursework, field placement and more, your BSW can prepare you to work in a variety of settings. Whether you find yourself meeting with clients in their homes or attending court hearings, your daily efforts can have a positive and wide-reaching impact, and this is what drives many professionals in the field. If you’re an active listener, possess strong organizational skills, and empathy comes naturally to you, you may want to consider a career in social work.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s in Social Work?

While all social workers aim to improve the quality of life for their clients, how they work to achieve this goal may look different. One social worker might be employed by a community organization that works with policymakers to develop or improve programs, services, policies and social conditions, while another might carry out their daily tasks in a group home.

Other social work positions include the following:

  • Case manager
  • Mental health assistant
  • Residential counselor

Pursuing Licensing With a BSW

Social work state licensing is important in social work as it ensures that social workers are meeting professional standards. The education requirements for social work licensure varies depending on the level of licensure you’d like to get. Some states provide licensure to BSW holders.

Every state has different licensing rules and requirements, so you will need to spend time learning about them. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is a good starting point to review your state’s licensing and testing requirements.

Higher Social Work Degrees

A BSW is often the first step in becoming a social worker, however, there are higher social work degree options available that may help you elevate your social work career. Some programs even combine on-campus and online instruction. If you are interested in becoming a clinical social worker for example, you must earn a master’s degree in social work (MSW) in order to provide clinical services.

Once you receive your BSW which typically takes around four years to complete, you can then go on to obtain your MSW. An MSW can be completed in two years either at an on-campus or an online program.

Master’s Degree in Social Work

A master’s degree in social work is the degree you earn upon graduation from an accredited MSW program. While a BSW allows you to explore entry-level positions within social work, an MSW allows you to explore more advanced career options, and potentially higher pay.

Upon obtaining your MSW, you are then eligible to gain the proper licensing in your state.

Advantages of BSW: Advanced Standing MSW Programs

One of the advantages of earning your BSW is that you have access to advanced standing MSW programs. These are programs that are designed for students who have earned their BSW from an accredited social work program. They tend to take a shorter amount of time to complete than the traditional MSW program and build on your existing BSW education.

Jobs Available With an MSW

Earning your MSW may open up a greater range of social work careers to you. Like in BSW programs, MSW students have the opportunity to specialize depending on their interests. Some of MSW jobs are listed below:

  • Clinical social worker
  • Hospice/palliative social worker
  • Pediatric social worker
  • Policy analyst
  • Mental health counselor
  • Substance use and recovery treatment counselor

Doctorate in Social Work (DSW)

A doctorate in social work or DSW is another educational path within the field of social work. A DSW offers advanced training in a specific social work practice and prepares students for advanced positions in the field, mainly leadership and management roles.

Often, one of the main areas of focus when working toward earning a DSW is clinical social work. Requirements for DSW programs vary, however, prospective students must have their master’s degree. Whether or not your master’s degree has to be in social work, is dependent upon your desired program.

What Can You Do With a DSW?

If interested in obtaining a DSW, you can look forward to numerous career options such as:

  • Advanced Practice Clinical Social Worker
  • Social and Community Service Manager
  • Human Services Administrator
  • Social Work Administrator

PhD in Social Work

A PhD in social work is another advanced educational option that prepares candidates for research positions in the social work field.

A PhD allows students to practice social work to a level outside of just the academic aspect. Not to be confused with a DSW, a PhD focuses on research while a DSW will prepare students to work in different environments and provide high-level support to other social work personnel.

Who Should Consider a PhD?

If you are interested in going into teaching or social work research may want to consider a PhD. While you may not have the same amount of freedom in different work environments as you would with other social work degrees, your work with a PhD can serve as a foundation for social workers all across the field.

Why Social Work is Important

From identifying client needs to maintaining files and records to drafting evidence-based research, the social work practice is important as it how everyday problems within our society and communities, big or small, are addressed. As a social worker, you will support clients across the lifespan, from various ethnic backgrounds, and at times, with illnesses, disabilities or behavioral issues.

Clinical social work in particular, aligns with and in some ways is very similar to mental health roles like psychologist, counselor and therapist.

While schooling plays a role in your preparedness for social work practice, qualities such as good communication, problem-solving and emotional balance can make a difference in your daily work.

National Social Work Organizations

National social work organizations are important as they give students and practitioners access to resources needed to enhance their professional development. There are a vast number of national social work organizations that exist, and they range from large ones to smaller ones. Some social work organizations may focus on specific groups of people based on their race or ethnicity, or even certain religious affiliations. Others focus on specialty.

Whatever work environment you find yourself in or population you work with, try to find an organization that supports your growth and allows you to network with like-minded individuals. Start your search for a social work organization by exploring our small selection below:

National Association of Social Workers

One of the more well-known national social work organizations is the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). This organization has over 120,000 members and has been around since 1955.

Their mission includes enhancing the personal development of their members as well as implementing a high level of standards for members to follow in social work.

National Association of Black Social Workers

The National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) was established in 1968. Their mission is to empower and enhance the quality of life for people of African ancestry by providing resources, research and advocacy. They have over 100 membership chapters, and over 30 university and college chapters.

School Social Work Association of America

The School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) is an organization that was established in 1994 to connect and empower social workers in schools. Since 1996, the Kentucky-based organization continues to hold summer leadership and legislative meetings annually.

American Clinical Social Work Association

The American Clinical Social Work Association (ACSWA) is devoted to clinical social workers in the country. The organization operates as a board to bring a sense of community to clinical social workers all over the nation, providing them with resources, tools and news.

International Association of Schools of Social Work

The International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) brings social work educators together and fosters international exchange. In their words, they promote “the development of social work education throughout the world.” Creating standards to enhance the quality of social work education, is one way that they fulfill their mission.

FAQs

Is a BSW worth it?

Earning a BSW is the first step you can take to enter the social work field. If you are interested in working in the social work field within an entry-level role, a BSW might be a viable option for you. However, a BSW does not grant you access to all career or pay options in the field.

If you plan on continuing your studies in social work, a BSW is a stepping stone to a master’s in social work (MSW).

Can you get an MSW without a BSW?

If you don’t have a BSW and are interested in getting your MSW, you may be curious if that is a possibility. In short, the answer is yes. You can obtain your MSW without a BSW as it is not generally an admission requirement. If you do not have your BSW, you may want to research to find a traditional standing MSW program, instead of an advanced standing MSW program which is for students who have earned their BSW.

Is a BSW a BA or a BS?

Whether your BSW is considered a BA or a BS is dependent upon your desired program’s educational standards and requirements. This information is often provided through your desired BSW program’s website.

What is the best online college for social work?

While there are many program rankings out there, the best online college for social work differs depending on the student’s individual needs. A program that works best for one individual may differ for another. This is why it is important to do your own research to find what program meets your needs best.