Top 25 Christian Colleges for a Social Work Degree Program 2015

Social Work Degree Guide - Top Christian CollegesBy SWDG Staff

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Editor’s Note:

Because it failed to consider all possible eligible institutions and also included some non-CSWE accredited programs, this ranking has been superseded.

For our expanded recommendations focusing on CSWE-accredited social work programs at Christian colleges, please see:

35 Best Value Christian Colleges with CSWE-accredited Programs 2015

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Christian colleges hold a unique appeal to students of faith, and social work degrees are becoming more of a staple on Christian college campuses. They provide a safe environment full of like-minded peers and strong moral guidance, and they often feature small class sizes and highly motivated professors. Depending on what you want to study, a Christian school might be an even smarter choice. For example, students who want to major in a helping profession, such as social work or psychology, may enjoy the spiritually focused coursework that supplements traditional classes in sociology and human behavior at religious universities.

If you’re looking to get social work degree at a Christian college, the ranking below is a great starting point. The twenty-five schools we have included here cover a range of degree levels, denominations, and budgets, hopefully meaning that there’s something here for everyone!

Methodology for Ranking the Top 25 Social Work Degree Programs at Christian Colleges

We developed our ranking as follows.

Average Tuition: We used College Navigator to look at school’s tuition prices and determine their affordability. In order to maintain consistency we used graduate tuition costs, but please note that many of these schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work. Also note that your individual financial situation may qualify you for aid packages that we did not consider here. Because we did not want cost to be the primary driver behind the ranking, we only weighted this category as 10% of the total.

Return on Investment: These figures come from Pay Scale, an independent organization that provides a plethora of salary and career information about postsecondary schools. The online website ranks colleges based on their 20-year “ROI,” which considers upfront tuition costs as well as average income up to two decades after graduation. In order to be conservative we looked at the values for undergraduate degrees, but that only means that you could expect to earn even more with an MSW! We weighted this category 15%.

Student to Faculty Ratio: We used Princeton Review to collect data about schools’ average number of students per faculty member. This category is important because it sheds light on how much personalized attention and mentoring religious students can expect to get from their professors and spiritual advisors. Again we focused on undergraduate numbers; graduate students may enjoy even smaller classes! We weighted this category 20%.

Accreditation: One of the most important features when searching for a social work degree is program accreditation. Schools whose programs have full curriculum approval from the Council on Social Work Education produce well-educated graduates who often qualify for state licensure or advanced standing in master’s programs. In regards to accreditation, we gave schools points based on their status, awarding additional points to universities with multiple accredited degrees. We weighted this category 25%.

A Note About CSWE Accreditation and Legal Protection for the Professional Title “Social Worker”:

We must stress that not all programs represented in this list bear full CSWE approval. We urge prospective students to contact institutions of interest to verify that the program will meet their needs. While this ranking looks broadly at a variety of types of social work degrees, experts are of the opinion that individuals pursuing a social work career should only consider a social work degree from a CSWE-accredited program. In connection, we also urge students to check state laws regarding use of the professional title “social worker,” and look closely at the implications of choosing to get a degree from a non CSWE-accredited program.

Religious Coursework: Lastly, we took into account the fact that many religious students would enjoy social work classes that integrate spirituality and other faith-based pedagogy into the curriculum. The more “cross-disciplinary” courses schools offered students (including elective options and both undergraduate and graduate degree levels), the more points we gave them. We weighted this category 30%.

At the end of the day, we tallied up all the points and determined that the maximum possible score a school could receive was 240. Most schools didn’t even come close to this number. This is due to the fact that data was not available for every college in every area, and in these cases we gave them average scores that didn’t help or hurt their final position. What’s more, the schools listed here score significantly higher than many of the other institutions we researched, validating their status as the best Christian colleges for social work available.


NYACK College Christian Social Work Degree

25. NYACK

New York, New York

Christian/Missionary Alliance

Website

As “New York’s Christian College,” NYACK has a proud history of offering religious education to people in Manhattan and Rockland, New York. The school offers a bachelor’s degree in social work that focuses primarily on generalist psychological principles, but does also incorporate teachings in compassion and ethical integrity. The undergraduate program has CSWE accreditation and gives students plenty of opportunities to participate in internships or field experiences. In order to help students incorporate their faith in counseling, NYACK offers cross-disciplinary classes in Christian Thought, Old/New Testament Literature, and Social Work & Christianity.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $23,700/yr
Score: 115.8

Concordia University New York Christian Social Work Degree

24. Concordia University New York

Bronxville, New York

Christian

Concordia’s New York location is just one of several campuses this top Christian college for social work offers. The baccalaureate program at Concordia includes a wide array of classes that will have particular appeal to aspiring religious counselors, such as Services to Families and Children, Working with Special Populations, and Social Welfare as a Social Institution. Students also get practice in skills such as writing case notes and can apply to field experiences as well. In addition, study abroad programs help young students develop a more global perspective and learn to appreciate other cultures and artistic styles around the world.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate; Masters (Candidacy)
Tuition: $28,718/yr
Score: 117.2

Trinity College Christian Social Work Degree

23. Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, Illinois

Christian

Website

Students who seek a degree a Christian college social work program that focuses on others’ well being and emphasizes the common good will have a great experience at TCC. Small class sizes (the student-to-faculty ratio is just 11:1) and rigorous courses that have CSWE accreditation combine to create an experience that is both comfortable and academically challenging. Trinity Christian College is committed to its students’ long-term success, and annual outcomes reveal that the vast majority of graduates identify as professional social workers and feel that they can successfully apply ethical principles and critical thinking skills in their work.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $25,515/yr
Score: 117.4

Bethel University Christian Social Work Degree

22. Bethel University

St. Paul, Minnesota

Christian

Website

The Christian college Social Work Department at Bethel University is one of the best, providing unique experiences and engaging classes that make the somewhat high tuition well worth it. During their time as a BSW program member at Bethel, students complete 600 hours of community based service in the community; work in field practicums that expose them to poverty, stress, illness, and abuse in the surrounding area; and apply for leadership opportunities on campus. Students can also practice their social work skills abroad in countries such as India, Uganda, or Mexico. Graduates tend to be open-minded and deep thinkers, more than 95% of whom engage diversity and apply human behavior knowledge in their practices after graduation.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $32,990/yr
Score: 117.6

Spring Arbor University Christian Social Work Degree

21. Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, Michigan

Methodist

Website

In addition to offering a standard undergraduate degree in Social Work, Spring Arbor University also includes a unique Christian college MSW that allows students to tackle advanced topics in the field. Graduate students can take classes at multiple sites throughout the state and even have the option to choose a “micro-concentration” in Clinical Orientation. In addition to traditional psychology classes and field practicums, SAU students also take an online course in “Ethics and Christianity’ that can help them determine the best way to combine their profession with their spiritual beliefs. SAU also has one of the least expensive tuition rates of any Christian college and has a top 200 ROI score, according to Pay Scale.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate; Masters (Candidacy)
Tuition: $6,379/yr
Score: 119.6

Mount Mary University Christian Social Work Degree

20. Mount Mary University

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Catholic

Website

As a Catholic institution, Mount Mary University has some different features than other Christian college social work programs. Many students enjoy MMU’s opportunities outside the classroom, which include three student organizations and honors societies specific to BSW majors, as well as an informative Social Work News newsletter. Undergraduates can also apply for special SW scholarships to offset the higher-than-average tuition costs. In terms of curriculum, this CSWE-accredited program includes traditional classes in Social Welfare Policies and Services, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Developmental Psychology. Students also complete 500 hours of required fieldwork prior to graduation and complete “social action” and capstone projects that ready graduates for state certification.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $25,852/yr
Score: 121.2

Northwest Nazarene University Christian Social Work Degree

19. Northwest Nazarene University

Nampa, Idaho

Church of the Nazarene

Website

Students who want a Christian college MSW degree also have a great choice in Northwest Nazarene University, a top religious school with roots in Wesleyan/Arminian teachings. This affordable graduate program boasts a comfortable 14:1 student-teacher ratio and CSWE accreditations for both its bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Students primarily work together in “cohorts” and can concentrate in one of two areas at the master’s level: Community Mental Health Practice or Medical Social Work Practice with Adults. At the undergraduate level, students can choose social work as either a major or minor and will enjoy classes in Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Child Welfare Services, and Gerontology and Geriatric Social Work, as well as a number of field experiences, practicums, and seminars.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $9,920/yr
Score: 122.4

Barry University Christian Social Work Degree

18. Barry University

Miami Shores, Florida

Catholic

Website

Barry University is one of the more comprehensive universities on this list, with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees available within its Christian college social work department. The BSW features field experiences and service learning opportunities, as well as classes in Trauma and Resiliency, Human Development, and Social Work Practice, among others. The MSW tackles advanced topics in Psychopathology, Clinical Practice, Leadership, and Advocacy, and provides additional avenues for field experiences. Barry’s student-to-faculty ratio is just 13:1, and both its baccalaureate and graduate programs have received CSWE accreditation. Pay Scale also includes BU on its list of top ROI colleges, noting a 20-year return on investment of more than $230,000.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $28,160/yr
Score: 122.8

Anderson University Christian Social Work Degree

17. Anderson University

Anderson, Indiana

Christian

The great minds behind Anderson University’s growth understand that to be a top Christian college for social work, they need to craft a program that appeals to applicants’ faith, personal values, and natural desire to help others. The school’s BSW holds CSWE accreditation and prepares graduates for entry-level positions in the counseling and psychology fields. Students have the freedom to work with adults or children, in family services or mental health facilities, and for secular or religious organizations once they earn their degree. Many AU students secure internships while still in undergrad, and some gain experience at the nearby Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $23,750/yr
Score: 125.2

Judson College Christian Social Work Degree

16. Judson College

Marion, Alabama

Baptist

Website

Judson College is one of just a few Baptist institutions on this list, and it further distinguishes itself with unique Christian college social work courses. The Social Work undergraduate program aligns closely with the school’s core values to pursue knowledge, faith, tradition, and “ethical choices based on the life of Christ.” The BSW is relatively new at Judson, but since 2009 has grown into an impressive degree that incorporates 129 hours of coursework as well as internship requirements. Through the CSWE-accredited program, students gain all the experience they need to take the state licensure exam and qualify for “advanced standing” into an MSW degree.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $16,258/yr
Score: 126

Union University Christian Social Work Degree

15. Union University

Jackson, Tennessee

Baptist

Website

Combining a liberal arts education with traditional religious values, Union University represents a Christian college social work program that will appeal to many students of faith. UU offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field, both of which have full approval from the Council on Social Work Education. The student-to-faculty ratio is just 11:1, so learners benefit from individualized attention and support that extends beyond the classroom. Potential classes include Faith-based Social Services, Families Across Cultures, Counseling Theories, and Populations at Risk. Many students at both the BSW and MSW levels also choose to take courses in research and complete engaging field practicums.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $6,566/yr
Score: 126.2

Grove City College Christian Social Work Degree

14. Grove City College

Grove City, Pennsylvania

Christian

Website

Grove City College’s approach to social work education differs somewhat from the other schools listed here; rather than target an entire degree toward the profession, GCC instead offers a B.A. in Sociology that incorporates a minor in Social Work. In addition to typical classes in Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy Analysis, and Child Welfare, GCC students can also explore topics in White Collar Crime, the Sociology of Religion, Law and Society, and the Sociology of Deviant Behavior. Especially capable students may also choose to pursue honors in the major or develop an independent study course.
CSWE Accreditation: None
Tuition: $15,550/yr
Score: 127.4

Gannon University Christian Social Work Degree

13. Gannon University

Erie, Pennsylvania

Catholic

Website
As a top Christian college for social work, Gannon University proudly encourages its students to “Believe in the Possibilities.” Following a commitment to the NASW Code of Ethics and the guiding principles of Catholic Social Thought, the Gannon social work program works to produce graduates who will be compassionate, ethical leaders in their field. The fully accredited undergraduate program engages a global perspective that covers topics as diverse as international poverty and economic justice. Potential classes include The Juvenile Justice System, Victimology, Mental Health and the Elderly, and Research Methods. Students can also pursue “special topics” or create an independent study course, and those who graduate with a B average or better have the opportunity to attain “Advanced Standing” in an MSW program.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $28,368/yr
Score: 130

Calvin College Christian Social Work Degree

12. Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Christian Reformed

Website
Calvin’s Christian college social work degree has it all, from community field education experiences to generous scholarships for worthy students. Coursework spans topics in diversity and inequality, statistics, global issues and perspectives, research, policy analysis, family and group work, and much more. Undergraduates must complete a minimum of 400 hours of service learning with a community agency and are also required to complete a Capstone Course that integrates their recent learning with a Christian worldview. Other classes that consider religious values include “The Helping Interview” and “Diversity and Inequality in the United States.” Calvin has a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1 and boasts a 20-year ROI of nearly $300k.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $29,635/yr
Score: 134

Cedarville University Christian Social Work Degree

11. Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio

Baptist

Website
Students can indulge their desire to help others and get in touch with their Baptist roots at Cedarville University, another great choice in Christian college social work degrees. Despite its somewhat pricey tuition, CU gives dedicated students plenty of opportunities to make that money back, and the school touts a 20-year ROI of $310,000. For their initial investment, students receive a high caliber education in a fully accredited program and enjoy small classes (the student-to-faculty ratio is just 12:1). The school emphasizes the need to integrate Christian ideals into the social work major, and many classes use faith to inform proper behavior and ethics within the profession, including the basic need to “treat everyone as Jesus Christ would have them treated.”
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition: $26,420/yr
Score: 134.4

Campbellsville University Christian Social Work Degree

10. Campbellsville University

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Christian

Website
Another Christian college MSW option is at Campbellsville University, an affordable, Midwestern institution with plenty of opportunities for religious learners. Students can take classes in an online format or through multiple regional locations. The 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio enables professors to give each student personalized attention, while CSWE-accredited classes ensure that program members get the best curriculum possible. Potential classes include Community and Organizational Practice, Research Methods, Human Development, Grant Writing, and Psychopathology, plus useful practicums that prepare advanced students for professional work. In general, all of CU’s classes focus on purposefully improving others’ quality of life, an admirable objective grounded “in the spirit of Christian service.”
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $8,370/yr
Score: 134.8

Roberts Wesleyan College Christian Social Work College

9. Roberts Wesleyan College

Rochester, New York

Wesleyan

Website
Students who need an advanced degree in social work should also consider Roberts Wesleyan College, a top religious school with a top Christian college social work department. Program members in this CSWE-accredited program can complete all their courses in two years of full-time study or four years of part-time study, progressing through a “spiritually-enhanced ecological systems model” in the process. Classes include Social & Cultural Diversity, Psychopathology, Family Therapy, and more. Elective courses give students multiple opportunities to branch out, from Death and Bereavement to Managing Conflict. Graduate students can also choose between concentrations in Mental Health and Child & Family Services, depending on their career goals.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $29,000/yr
Score: 135.8

Providence College Christian Social Work Degree

8. Providence College

Providence, Rhode Island

Catholic/Dominican

Website
Providence’s Christian college social work degree meets rigorous academic standards, and as of 2012 received accreditation from the Council of Social Work Education that is guaranteed through 2020. As with many other undergraduate programs in social work, Providence’s courses cover diversity and culture, human behavior, children and families, social policy, and community practice. Students benefit from numerous opportunities to engage in research, attend seminars, and participate in off-campus, supervised practicums. At the culmination of their studies, senior BSW majors complete a Capstone course by focusing on a specific problem area in the field, and some also develop independent study projects.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate
Tuition:$25,680/yr
Score: 136.6

Azusa Pacific University Christian Social Work Degree

7. Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, California

Evangelical Christian

Website
Azusa Pacific University’s BSW and MSW programs both feature dual accreditation from the CSWE and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school has one of the lowest tuition rates on this list and has also been labeled as a “Yellow Ribbon” university – an indication of its friendliness to military members and veterans. Undergraduate students take classes in Child Welfare, Community Transformation, and Proposal Writing, and can also explore their religious values through a course in Suffering: Theological and Practical Perspectives on Disabilities. Alternatively, graduate students complete coursework in Social Welfare Policy, Research Methods, and Children and Adolescents. Many of the classes include Christian perspectives and prepare students for work in both secular and religious organizations.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $11,776.yr
Score: 139.6

Abilene Christian University Christian Social Work Degree

6. Abilene Christian University

Abilene, Texas

Churches of Christ

Website
Abilene Christian University, or ACU, is yet another choice that has both BSW and MSW degree options. Both programs are academically rigorous, and the graduate program is one of just 5% of schools that requires a master’s thesis. Coursework is challenging and engaging, and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 14:1 makes it easy for students to access their professors for extra help. Abilene Christian also stands out for its impressive ROI statistics; according to Pay Scale, its 20-year return on investment value exceeds $150,000. The social work curriculum covers everything from Globalization and Social Justice to Spirituality and Social Work Practice, and it also allows to explore their own interests through practicums and field work.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $18,228/yr
Score: 142.8

Baylor University Christian Social Work Degree

5. Baylor University

Waco, Texas

Christian

Website
Baylor University earns high points as top ROI university, with a 20-year return on investment topping $250k, according to Pay Scale. Along with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1 and BSW and MSW programs that both holds CSWE accreditation, it’s no wonder the school makes this list. Religious students in particular choose Baylor’s social work program for its specialized concentration options, which include Church Social Work, Global Mission Leadership, Gerontology, and general Social Work. Undergraduate students do not have the same concentration options, but the rigorous coursework will prepare them for state licensure or advancement to a master’s program. In addition, students at both levels can apply to Phi Alpha, a prestigious honors society for qualifying program members.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $25,866/yr
Score: 147.8

Lancaster Bible College Christian Social Work Degree

4. Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Christian

Website
This university’s Christian college social work courses are perfect for students who have a strong desire to see faith-based classes integrated into their academic experience. The curriculum at Lancaster Bible College include Engaging Faith & Life, Christian Narrative, Christianity & Culture, and “Biblical Electives,” in addition to major-specific courses in Human Behavior and the Principles of Sociology, among others. LBC also stands out for its strong emphasis on social work-related degrees, and students may alternatively choose to major in Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, School Counseling, or Pastoral Ministry.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate (Candidacy)
Tuition: $18,800/yr
Score: 153

St. Catherine University and University of Saint Thomas Collaborative

3. St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas Collaborative

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Catholic

Website
Students at all levels of study can learn about social work at the St. Catherine University – University of St. Thomas School of Social Work. The school offers degree options at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral level through a partnership between two religious universities. Although the annual price tag is somewhat steep, the school’s ROI breaks Pay Scale’s top 500 ranking and is valued at nearly $300,000 two decades after graduation. St. Thomas also has a social work alumni network of nearly 2,000 graduates, ensuring that students have a strong basis of support and connections by the time they are ready to enter the job market.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $30,000/yr
Score: 163.2

Catholic University of America Christian Social Work Degree

2. The Catholic University of America

Washington, District of Columbia

Catholic

Website
As the highest-ranked Catholic institution on this list, the Catholic University of America has plenty to offer religious students. Like other private Christian schools, its high tuition is just an investment that pays off big time later; CUA’s 20-year ROI is an impressive $335,000. Along with a cozy student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and two CSWE-accredited social work programs, its obvious students’ annual payments give them access to an unparalleled learning experience. The most ambitious learners also have the opportunity to pursue a PhD program in social work on campus, and students at multiple levels of experience can partner with a “field advisor” to acquire the hands-on practice the school labels “the signature pedagogy of the social work profession.”
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $40,200/yr
Score: 164.4

Asbury University Christian Social Work Degree

1. Asbury University

Wilmore, Kentucky

Wesleyan

Website
Coming in at number one on this ranking is Asbury University, a Wesleyan institution with a proud history of producing some of the finest social work professionals. Asbury’s moderately priced tuition and strong, accredited programs make it an obvious choice for students who truly want a “best value” school. Learners work together in small classes to explore the intricacies of marriage and family dynamics, international social issues, urban and rural studies, juvenile delinquency, and the sociology of religion, to name just a few. Students also have plenty of opportunities to engage in independent study and attend seminars that expand their knowledge beyond the traditional expectations for Christian college social work courses.
CSWE Accreditation: Baccalaureate & Masters
Tuition: $16,740/yr
Score: 170.6

Sources:
College Navigator
Pay Scale
Princeton Review
Council on Social Work Education

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