Best Social Work Degrees

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What are the Best Social Work Degrees?

Our College Choice rankings, which will help you find the best social work degree, are made from a few different sources. Our first consideration was data taken from a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA where students evaluated academic reputation as well as school costs and post-graduate achievements on the job market.

Next, these pieces of data were then weighted with data from other public sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com. Happy hunting!

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If you’re interested in working to better the quality of life for families or individuals, then you should consider becoming a social worker.

As a social worker you’ll get to work in an engaging interpersonal environment advocating for people in social systems, therapy settings, and other areas where folks are in need of representation so they can receive much-needed care and support.

Top 10 Best Social Work Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
2 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
3 New York University New York, NY
4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
5 University of Washington-Seattle Seattle, WA
6 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI
7 University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
8 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
9 University of Georgia Athens, GA
10 Simmons College Boston, MA

What kind of Social Work degree should you get?

Social workers divide their time between counseling, research, education, and policy making as they work to secure provisions for people from all different walks of life.

At College Choice, we’re committed to providing you with up-to-date, easy-to-understand information concerning Social Work education. Below, you will find our rankings for the best Bachelor’s in Social Work, complete with information about tuition, scholarships, and other necessary facts to help you make an informed decision about your future career. And if you’re thinking online, we’ve got you covered there too with our Best Online BSW Degrees.

How much money will you make with a degree in Social Work?

While becoming a social worker isn’t easy, it can be an incredibly rewarding job. Social workers often feel a sense of professional satisfaction while they help people manage extenuating life circumstances.

As well, earning a degree in social work will grant you access to a growing profession: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that social work professionals earn an average of $63,530 with a Bachelor’s degree, and that the profession on the whole will experience a faster than average growth rate at 10% between the years 2014 and 2024.

What can you do with a degree in Social Work?

Social workers enjoy stable jobs and satisfying professional activities as they help people understand their rights, provide diagnoses for people experiencing mental, behavioral, and social instability, and manage cases to assist people in accessing charitable and healthcare benefits.

Social workers often exist in nonprofit organizations, private for-profit companies, and government agencies to provide care and support for people stuck in cycles of exploitation, like substance or physical abuse, as well as work with couples and families to provide therapy services.

What are the requirements for a degree in Social Work?

While completing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW), students will fulfill the qualifications of licensing through hours of onsite practicum work.

The practicum offers hands-on, guided training with clients in need of special services, all under the watchful care of experienced professionals. During this time, you will become familiar with real-world procedures and practices within the profession.

It should be noted that each state has different licensing requirements, but all states require a degree and practicum experience before you can begin a career as a social worker. The Social Work License Map can help you understand the specific requirements for your state and give you the opportunity to plan your career path.

Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Pennsylvania takes top honors on this list. This school confers the BA/MSW program for social work students, and it is one of the most popular destinations for students who are interested in becoming professionals in this field. This university is regionally accredited by the MSCHE and is further accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This program takes a total of five years to complete. At the end of the program, students will have both an undergraduate and graduate degree as well as work and volunteer experience within social work that they can then put on their resume. This is an exciting program for students who want to receive their education quickly so they can move into their career path. Sample courses include:

    • History and Philosophy of Social Work and Social Welfare
    • American Racism and Social Work Practice
    • and Foundations of Social Work and Practice and Field

    Notables

    The BA/MSW program at the University of Pennsylvania requires a total of 194 credit hours of coursework. Field work experience hours will vary, depending on a student’s concentration, so students are advised to speak with a department admission advisor about this requirement.

  2. James Madison University
    Location

    Harrisonburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    James Madison University has an undergraduate social worker degree that is perfect for students who are interested in becoming generalist social workers. The BSW program is also one of the most popular degrees at the school and is a hallmark of the university. This school is regionally accredited by the SACS COC. The program is independently accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This BSW has a field practice requirement. This consists of a student working within an agency four days a week for one semester during their senior year, with placement being approved by a faculty field instructor. As this is a large part of the requirements for the degree, students are advised not to work during their senior year to make room for this field work experience. Sample courses include:

    • Human Behavior in the Social Environment
    • Social Work Research Methods
    • and Skills for Generalist Social Work

    Notables

    The BSW program at James Madison requires 120 total credit hours and the field work in order to apply for graduation. There will also be a research project that students will need to complete.

  3. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    New York University, one of the leading universities in the country, is also one of the only schools to confer an undergraduate degree in social work. NYU is based in Manhattan and is top-ranked across many categories and departments.

    Features

    NYU also requires students to complete 700 hours of field work experience and practicum throughout their time at the school. This includes 100 hours during the junior year and 600 hours during the senior year. This field experience prepares students for a real-world social work experience and exposes them to different career prospects prior to graduation. Sample courses include:

    • Social Welfare Programs and Policies
    • Homelessness
    • and Services to Children and Families

    Notables

    The BSW at NYU requires 128 credit hours of academic coursework and the field experience work hours. This is a highly selective private school that will buoy a student’s employment chances once they have graduated. This university is regionally accredited through the MSCHE. The program is independently accredited through the CSWE.

  4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers undergraduates the opportunity to pursue a BSW degree within the School of Social Work. This degree is based on generalist practices and can serve as a solid foundation for graduate study. This degree is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. The program is separately accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    A social work major at this university will be required to take on an internship during their senior year. This internship amounts to a full-time placement within an agency for four months. Because of the full-time status of the internship, students are advised not take a job during their final year. Sample courses include:

    • Diversity Identity and Issues
    • International Perspectives
    • and Cities and Immigrants

    Notables

    This BSW requires 120 credit hours and the field work experience. A research project, as part of the capstone course, will also be required. The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is a flagship university and one of the best in the Midwest. It is globally and nationally ranked.

  5. University of Washington-Seattle
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Washington at Seattle confers the bachelors in social work through the School of Social Work. This program is a practice degree, meaning students will be prepared to take on entry-level work as social workers once they’ve graduated. This university is regionally accredited by the NWCCU. The BASW program is separately accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This program is focused on general social work practices, making it a great fit for students who need a foundation in social work to further their studies at the graduate level. Students will find that many courses deal with the history and philosophy of social work, including social justice history and community policy changes throughout the years. Sample courses include:

    • Social Welfare History and Policy
    • Community Service Learning
    • and Cultural Diversity and Social Justice

    Notables

    Field work experience is a cornerstone of the program, and all students must complete at least 500 clock hours of field work experience prior to graduation. Placement is based on approval by the department; however, many students will find that the department will work hard to ensure that they are placed in an agency that aligns with their interests and goals.

  6. University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Wisconsin at Madison confers the BSW degree to undergraduate students through its School of Social Work. This program focuses on generalist social work practice and was designed to prepare students for entry-level work in this field. This university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. The BSW program is independently accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This is a highly competitive program, with only 30 students being admitted into the program in any given academic year. It is so competitive that applications are only accepted by sophomore students who meet the General Education Core requirements. Sample courses include:

    • Foundations of Generalist Social Work Practice
    • Introduction to Social Policy
    • Introduction to the Field of Social Work

    Notables

    Students will also have to meet the 512 field work experience hours requirement that must be completed during their final year. Because this requirement amounts to the equivalent of a part-time job, students are advised not to work during their senior year.

  7. University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Texas at Austin, known colloquially as UTA, is home to one of the strongest social work programs in the country. This was designed for passionate and ambitious students who love to take on a challenge. The university is regionally accredited by the SACS COC. The BSW program is specially accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This is a collaborative program that mirrors the social work field. Unlike other programs on this list, students spend much of their education working with other students, faculty members, and real agencies to learn the skills needed to become successful social work professionals. Team and research projects are common at this school, and students will find that the practice-based approach to this program will serve them throughout their career. Sample courses include:

    • Social Work Practice in Organizations and Communities
    • Foundations of Social Justice
    • Social Welfare Programs
    • Policies and Issues

    Notables

    UTA offers social work students the chance to study abroad in a special program that was built especially for the department. Students can spend time in Europe, Africa, Asia, or Latin America, learning about how social work affects different societies. It’s a great learning opportunity for any student and gives them a fresh perspective on social work.

  8. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Ohio State University offers students the chance to get an undergraduate degree in social work from an outstanding faculty. The College of Social Work, which confers the Bachelor of Science in Social Work, is one of the only schools on this list to have this particular degree. This university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. The program has special accreditation by the CSWE.

    Features

    As a social work major at OSU, each student has a wide range of possibilities that are open to them. Students can take part in the university’s partnership with the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program, a specialized certificate within the program required to have field place within a children services agency. Sample courses include:

    • Engagement and Interviewing Skills
    • Lifespan Development
    • Professional Values and Ethics

    Notables

    Students can also choose to take an international study track, enabling them to study abroad with faculty and learn about the dynamics of social work across borders and cultures. This will be especially useful for students who wish to work in law or government. Students may also take on an optional internship to benefit their resume.

  9. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Georgia confers the Bachelors in Social Work for students who are interested in obtaining a career in social justice. With small class sizes and a renown faculty, UG is a great place to begin a foundation in social work. This university is regionally accredited by the SACS COC. The BSW program holds independent accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This is a liberal arts-based degree, ensuring that students understand not only current policy and law as it relates to social work, but also the history and philosophy behind the field. Students will also spend time learning about how community organizations can affect families and children as well as acquiring the necessary interpersonal and reasoning skills needed to become an effective social worker. Sample courses include:

    • Social Welfare Policy and Services
    • Foundations of Social Work Research
    • General Practice and Issues Surrounding Social Work

    Notables

    Students of the BSW program will be required to take on a field work experience, or “hands-on” internship, during their senior year. This consists of 20 hours a week in a single placement, totaling up to 560 total clock hours of field experience. While it is not always the case, some students have been hired by the agency they interned with during their education.

  10. Simmons College
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Simmons College confers an undergraduate social worker degree through the Department of Social Work. This is an exceptional program for all students, but in particular students who wish to go on to graduate study. This university is regionally accredited by the NEASC and this program is independently accredited by the CSWE.

    Features

    This program has unique opportunities for students who would like to be licensed. Upon graduation, Simmons students can apply to the school’s MSW program with advance standing. They may also sit for the licensing exam for social workers, as well as pursue additional, specialized credentials within the field, such as a Certified Social Work Case Manager or a Social Worker in Gerontology. Sample courses include:

    • Social Welfare Policy
    • Introduction to Social Research
    • Social Inequality

    Notables

    Simmons also offers ambitious students the possibility to apply for the 3+1 BSW/MSW option with additional minors. This enables students to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree in the same four years it normally takes to get a bachelors degree. This is the only program on this list that requires students to do field work every year of their education.

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