The Most Affordable Online Schools for a BSW 2020

Written by: SocialWorkDegreeGuide.com Staff
Last updated: October 20, 2020

Social work graduates can expect a flourishing job market throughout the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an overall 13% increase in social work positions between 2019-2029. Most of these roles require at least a bachelor's degree in social work. A BSW degree also serves as the first step to earning a master of social work (MSW), which is required for state licensure and advanced positions.

A bachelor's degree in social work can take up to four years to complete. Graduates are prepared for employment in a variety of settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to community health and government agencies. Popular career options include caseworkers, human services specialists, and rehabilitation assistants

Distance learning offers an affordable way to acquire the necessary education to enter the social work arena. Students enrolled in online programs save time and money working from home instead of commuting to campus. Non-traditional students can also maintain their family or job responsibilities while pursuing an online BSW degree.

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The Most Affordable Online Schools for a BSW 2020


1. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

NSU offers an affordable social work degree for bachelor's students interested in social work and human services career paths. The rigorous program prepares degree-seekers to pursue entry-level careers after graduation or advance into a master's program.

The program boasts accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education and explores social work values and ethics, state and urban government, and statistics in social research. The curriculum comprises 120 credit hours and typically takes degree-seekers four years of full-time study to complete. 

Learners can earn their bachelor's degree in social work through a flexible online format or take on-campus courses. To graduate, each degree-seeker must maintain an overall minimum 2.0 GPA, earning at least a 2.5 in all social work courses.


2. Eastern New Mexico University

Learners interested in earning their bachelor's in social work online can consider the distance learning options at ENMU. BSW students promote a respect for human diversity as they learn to enhance the quality of life across diverse communities. The program adheres to the guidelines and standards of the Council on Social Work Education to prepare learners to become competent, ethical, and caring social workers.

Degree-seekers complete practical experiences during their senior year. All coursework operates through a flexible online format that allows learners to complete their requirements as efficiently as possible. Students enjoy access to academic advising phone and email appointments to help them stay on track for graduation. 

ENMU offers several financial aid opportunities to help make the program more affordable for learners, including several scholarship options.


3. Mary Baldwin University

Students exploring affordable social work programs can apply to the bachelor of science in social work at MBU. This university boasts accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its social work program features specialized accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. 

Degree-seekers enjoy a flexible online learning environment during their program and affordable tuition rates of $460 per credit hour. The curriculum comprises 126 credit hours of coursework and features a home base in Staunton, Virginia. 

Each applicant must hold a high school diploma with a 2.5 minimum GPA. During the admissions process, a prospective student should provide a completed application and official transcripts. The university accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions and does not require candidates to submit standardized test scores.


4. Ursuline College

One of the most affordable schools for social work, Ursuline offers an online social work bachelor's degree that prepares degree-seekers for licensure after graduation. The flexible online format provides learners with the opportunity to earn their degree while they continue working.

This rigorous program, fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, prepares each graduate to pursue advanced placement in a master's program by requiring 15 credits of graduate-level coursework during the bachelor's curriculum. Along with 15-week semesters, the college matches each learner with organizations and agencies to complete fieldwork experience. 

Degree-seekers explore social welfare as a social institution; human behavior and the social environment; and policies, programs, and issues. Each applicant must complete an admissions application, provide high school transcripts, and submit ACT or SAT scores.


5. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Learners can earn an affordable social work degree at UA Little Rock. The bachelor of science in social work prepares degree-seekers to work with diverse families, individuals, groups, and communities. Coursework focuses on social problems and human behavior. 

UA Little Rock only offers its Council on Social Work Education-accredited program to residents of Arkansas. Learners must complete 120 credit hours of coursework comprising university standard core courses, college core courses, and required courses. During the curriculum, degree-seekers explore methods of social work research, social work and diversity, and addictions in social work. 

Each learner must maintain a 2.5 minimum GPA in social work courses and a 2.5 or higher cumulative GPA. All students must complete an internship during their senior year that includes at least 16 hours each week during the fall and spring semesters.


6. Misericordia University

Degree-seekers interested in earning their bachelor's in social work online can enroll in Misericordia's accelerated bachelor of social work program. BSW students focus on practical experience and theory. This Council on Social Work Education-accredited program prepares learners to pursue advanced standing in several graduate programs in the field. 

The accelerated format caters to learners with family and career obligations, providing most courses through a flexible online format. While most bachelor's programs take learners about four years to complete, the accelerated track allows degree-seekers to earn their bachelor's in as little as two years.

Misericordia offers the only accelerated BSW opportunity in the entire region. Students benefit from rolling admissions, allowing them to take prerequisite, core, and elective classes any time during the year before joining a cohort of students each fall. Each applicant must hold a 2.0 minimum GPA and complete a criminal background check.


7. Briar Cliff University

BCU offers one of the most affordable social work programs in the nation. The online program features a cutting-edge learning platform and boasts accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. Along with the required coursework, each degree-seeker completes a 450-hour field internship to gain hands-on experience in their community.

This affordable degree-completion program features tuition costs of $415 per credit. The curriculum comprises 124 credit hours total, with at least 77 credit hours earned before admission to the program. Learners can explore several specialized topics, including history and general method of social work, human behavior and the social environment, and social work research methods.

Each prospective student must hold an associate degree in human services, general studies, or social work. An applicant needs to complete an admissions application, a FAFSA, provide two letters of recommendation, and submit a personal statement.


8. Huntington University

HU features a Council on Social Work Education-accredited BSW as one of the most affordable schools for social work. The curriculum allows degree-seekers to meet licensing standards and explore the Christian faith. 

The flexible program allows learners to continue working as they earn their degrees, gaining the skills and knowledge they need to pursue successful careers. The broad liberal arts curriculum provides degree-seekers with the option to earn credit for experience. 

Students can earn their degree within three years. Upon admission, each degree-seeker must complete a FAFSA and schedule a campus visit. Learners can work with advisors through the admissions and enrollment processes to ensure they meet all necessary steps and requirements.


9. Troy University

Troy offers an affordable social work degree for students interested in pursuing careers as social workers. The bachelor's program boasts specialized accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. Each degree-seeker completes upper-level practice courses, a 400-hour practicum in a supervised environment, and hands-on community projects.

Enrollees can visit agencies in the industry that serve people of all backgrounds, ages, and nationalities. Students also attend political events to experience how social workers can help during the legislative process. Degree-seekers interview and meet real social workers across several settings to determine their ideal work environment.

The 120-credit curriculum explores social work with organizations and communities, social work with individuals and families, and social policy and planning.


10. Rutgers University-Newark

Students can pursue a bachelor's in social work online at Rutgers University-Newark. The school's department of social work prepares degree-seekers to become BSW-level generalist professionals and serve the most vulnerable members of society. The unique program focuses on the urban environment and caters to students who respect diversity and demonstrate cultural competence and awareness. 

The program boasts accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education and features a liberal arts foundation. Degree-seekers can pursue part- or full-time enrollment, depending on their scheduling needs. The rigorous curriculum includes general education requirements, internships, and social work courses. 

Upon completing the program, learners earn a bachelor of arts in social work degree. To enroll in the social work program, each prospective student must hold a minimum 2.7 GPA. Learners must maintain a grade of "C" or higher in social work courses.


11. Spring Arbor University

At SAU, degree-seekers can earn bachelor of social work degrees at one of the most affordable schools for social work in the United States. Learners focus on social and economic justice, service, and the dignity of human relationships. This program, which features specialized accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education, requires an immersive internship along with coursework.

Each enrollee must complete 51 credit hours of coursework, along with a 400-hour internship, which typically takes about two years total. Students can complete their courses entirely online with no residency requirements. Graduates explore career opportunities in child welfare, substance abuse programs, and criminal justice agencies. 

The rigorous curriculum explores social welfare policies, practice with individuals and families, and racial and ethnic relations. During the program, each student works with a program mentor to help navigate their upper-level coursework and internship.


12. Union Institute and University

Learners who want to earn an affordable social work degree can pursue the Council on Social Work Education-accredited bachelor's degree in social work at Union. The social work major prepares learners for generalist social work practice serving communities, groups, individuals, and organizations. The curriculum follows a practical approach and includes on-the-job training experiences through a combination of online courses and fieldwork. 

Learners focus on generalist methods, clinical processes, and interventions used in community-based organizations, along with the private and public sectors. Social work coursework emphasizes core competencies in social welfare policy and services, human behavior and the social environment, and multicultural social work. 

Degree-seekers benefit from the chance to build connections with experienced, licensed social work faculty members and field practitioners. Union allows students to complete training experiences during social work practicums within their communities, enabling them to apply their knowledge of social work generalist practices and demonstrate their leadership abilities.


13. Wayne State University

Students interested in earning their bachelor's in social work online can pursue the bachelor of social work program at WSU. The program prepares degree-seekers to pursue entry-level career opportunities in social work, with about two-thirds of the program focused on professional courses. The rest of the curriculum allows learners to explore co-requisite and elective courses. 

The flexible program offers part-time and full-time enrollment options, along with day, evening, and Saturday course options. The curriculum emphasizes generalist social work skills, preparing learners to work with groups, individuals, families, and organizations. 

BSW students apply social work principles to advance economic and social justice, along with human rights. Students engage in practice-informed research during their curriculum, analyzing the effect of urban contexts on a range of client systems.


14. University of Utah

Students in search of affordable social work programs can consider the bachelor of social work degree at the U. The BSW focuses on training and educating professional social workers to work with marginalized communities, people with mental illness, and rural communities to help develop programs and community leaders to achieve social justice. 

Boasting specialized accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education, the BSW features a Child Welfare Title IV-E Career Path grant opportunity for degree-seekers interested in working with children and families. Social work majors must complete courses in physical science, humanities, and behavioral science. 

During the rigorous curriculum, learners explore social work as a profession, general psychology, and U.S. national government. Each enrollee must complete 48 credits of social work courses, including an internship. Undergraduate tuition is a flat rate of $260 per credit hour for both resident and non-resident students.


15. Western New Mexico University

WNMU, as one of the most affordable schools for social work, offers a bachelor of social work degree that enrollees can complete on campus or online. The BSW program, with accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education, prepares students for social work generalist practice and career opportunities within community mental health clinics, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and government agencies.

Learners complete social work core courses and electives, focusing on ethics in social work and human services, theoretical foundations and techniques in social work, and social work in mental health settings. Along with their required courses, degree-seekers must complete field practicums. 

Each applicant must hold a 2.5 minimum GPA, complete an admissions application, and provide transcripts. WNMU accepts applications all year. Enrollees interested in working with children and families can take advantage of the Title IV-E Stipend Program to help pay for tuition.


16. Angelo State University

Learners can earn affordable social work degrees at ASU in San Angelo, Texas. The Council on Social Work Education-accredited program prepares degree-seekers to explore generalist social work practice, helping cultural groups, including individuals with mental illness, substance abuse, and chronic physical issues. 

Students can explore part- or full-time enrollment options, depending on their scheduling needs. Learners can earn their BSWs on campus or from a flexible, online format. Degree-seekers at ASU can complete their BSW program in as little as two years.

In addition to the affordable bachelor's degree, learners can also consider advancing into the school's master of social work program to expand their knowledge and advance their career prospects. The master's program also offers on-campus and online options, allowing advanced standing students to complete their degree requirements in one year.


17. Aurora University

AU offers a bachelor's in social work online program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The online BSW prepares learners for generalist social work practice with individuals, groups, families, and communities across several settings. 

Graduates become eligible to take the Illinois state social work license exam once they satisfy two years of work experience and apply for advanced standing within the university's master of social work program.

Instead of traditional textbooks, instructors in the BSW program use open education resources, making openly licensed content accessible to students for free. Along with the traditional bachelor's program, learners can pursue the adult degree-completion program in social work.

The eight-week courses comprise 120 credit hours of classwork, exposing learners to topics like social work with groups, survey of social work, and social work research. Learners enjoy affordable tuition rates of $425 per credit hour and typically take between 2-4 years to complete their degree requirements.


18. University of Nebraska Kearney

UNK offers one of the most affordable social work programs in the nation. Its social work degree provides learners with the skills, knowledge, ethics, and values they need to help individuals improve their lives. Graduates can explore career opportunities in domestic violence programs and shelters, residential treatment facilities, and aging services and gerontology. 

The four-year program comprises 120 credits of coursework. Learners can complete 15 credits each semester to complete their degrees within eight semesters. Degree-seekers focus on human service ethics and experience, human behavior and the social environment, and diversity and social justice. 

Each candidate must complete an application and pay the associated $45 fee. Along with a completed application, prospective students must provide SAT or ACT scores, official transcripts, and complete the necessary prerequisites.


19. University of North Dakota

UND is one of the most affordable schools for social work. It offers a bachelor of science in social work to prepare learners for careers as entry-level professionals in the field. The program offers online and on-campus options, typically taking students 2-4 years to complete their requirements. 

The specialized curriculum comprises 120 credits in case management, psychotherapy, crisis intervention, and more. Enrollees explore human behavior and the social environment, generalist social work practice with individuals and families, and social work research. 

Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the BSSW degree continuously updates the curriculum to adhere to its standards. In addition to the required courses, each degree-seeker must complete a field internship supervised by a licensed field instructor.


20. University of Louisville

UofL offers an affordable social work degree for bachelor's students. The online bachelor of social work program serves adult learners interested in gaining foundational knowledge of social work issues and practice. The unique program emphasizes critical analysis and social justice dynamics, along with planning and implementation skills. 

The 120-credit program offers entirely online courses and features specialized accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. Learners enjoy tuition rates of $539 per credit, and active-duty military students experience discounted tuition rates of $250 per credit. Each applicant can transfer up to 60 credit hours from a community college and up to 90 credit hours from a regionally accredited four-year college or university.

Once learners complete their BSW program, they can advance their education by enrolling in an online master of science in social work. BSW degree-holders can enroll in the university's advanced standing master's program to complete an additional 30 credit hours of coursework.


21. Bemidji State University

Students can earn their bachelor's in social work online at BSU. Using an innovative online learning platform, the program boasts experienced instructors who provide learners with the individualized attention they need to succeed. 

Social work applicants can apply during or after their sophomore year. Each candidate must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and earn a "C" grade or higher in the introduction to social welfare course, field experience, and diversity requirement. Prospective students should complete no less than 30 credit hours of liberal arts coursework before they apply. Along with a completed application, each learner should submit a statement of interest and two letters of recommendation.

Social work students can tailor their curriculum to their interests and career goals. Learners can also consider earning an alcohol and drug counselor certificate or a substance and behavior addictions minor.


22. Northern Arizona University

NAU offers one of the most affordable social work programs for bachelor's students. The bachelor of social work program prepares learners to help people with life challenges, including child abuse, substance abuse, and homelessness. The rigorous program, with accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education, requires 120 credits of coursework. 

Graduates leave the program equipped with the skills needed to explore career opportunities in family support services, case management services, and healthcare services. Each enrollee must complete 30 credits of upper-division courses. Degree-seekers should earn at least 30 credits of coursework through NAU, with at least 18 credits of upper-division coursework included. To graduate, each learner must maintain a 2.0 minimum GPA.

The 120-credit curriculum comprises 75 major requirements, up to nine credits of liberal studies, and the remaining credit requirements in elective courses. During the program, degree-seekers focus on social justice and diversity in social work, social policy and legislation, and developmental psychology.


23. Brescia University

Brescia, as one of the most affordable schools for social work students, features a bachelor of social work degree to provide learners with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue generalist social work careers. The university features program start dates each year in January, March, May, August, and October.

Degree-seekers can earn their associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in social work through entirely online formats at Brescia. The online bachelor's program provides learners with the flexibility they need to complete their degree requirements in as little as two years. The Council on Social Work Education-accredited program boasts low tuition costs and offers federal and state financial aid opportunities to qualifying students.

Consistently at the forefront of adult-centered education, Brescia prepares learners from all backgrounds with the abilities to thrive in the social work profession after graduation. The rigorous curriculum includes 42 credit hours of major requirements, focusing on topics like social issues in diversity, human behavior and the social environment, and social work and aging.


24. Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Students interested in earning an affordable social work degree can pursue the online bachelor of social work program at SJC. The program emphasizes a relevant and rigorous curriculum to provide learners with the skills, values, and knowledge required for generalist social work careers.

The online BSW prepares degree-seekers to pursue licensure as professional social workers or advance their education further by enrolling in master of social work programs. Following a cohort model, the unique program fosters peer-support by allowing learners to begin and end their program with the same group of students.

BSW students enjoy access to immediate networking opportunities by joining the National Association of Social Workers and the Phi Alpha National Honor Society for Social Work. The program features programmatic accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.


25. University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Learners who want to earn their bachelor's in social work online can enroll in UT Knoxville's social work program. This degree equips each degree-seeker with the necessary skills to pursue jobs in case management, community organization, and careers working with children and families.

The rigorous curriculum includes field practice internship experiences and is firmly grounded in a professional code of ethics. Throughout their coursework, learners focus on advancing human rights, engaging in diversity practice, and engaging in practice-informed research and policy practice.

UT Knoxville's social work program best suits a transfer student who holds at least 60 credit hours and an associate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The program allows learners to complete their bachelor's degrees in an accelerated environment, enabling social work students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.

Applying to an Affordable Online Bachelor in Social Work Program

Like most baccalaureate degrees, admission to a BSW degree requires a high school diploma or GED and a cumulative minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts, two or more letters of reference, and a personal essay that describes their interest in the field and their professional goals. Some schools may ask for SAT or ACT scores.

Because entrance requirements vary by school, prospective students should always check with the admissions representative at their intended program. Online BSW programs sometimes award credits for prior learning, work experiences, or test results that show mastery in a core subject area. Whether accepted into a traditional or online BSW degree, students must complete on-site supervised practicum hours, required for the licensed bachelor of social work certification.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can you do with a bachelor's degree in social work?

    Although many social work positions require an MSW and a clinical license, BSW graduates can find several positions immediately following graduation. Bachelor's degree-holders enter fulfilling careers in human services and nonprofit agencies, healthcare organizations, correctional facilities, community centers, and schools. Social workers assist diverse populations coping with various life challenges including domestic violence, homelessness, and substance abuse.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    The process of accreditation, administered by regional accrediting agencies, ensures that schools meet recognized academic standards. Attending a regionally accredited institution grants students access to federal financial aid, eases the transfer of credits, and ensures the quality of conferred degrees to prospective employers and graduate programs. In addition to regional accreditation, the best BSW degrees hold programmatic accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education, which is required for state licensure and specializations.

  • Is a bachelor's in social work worth it?

    While social workers may not earn the highest salaries, they assume essential roles and responsibilities in the helping professions, and empower people to improve their situation in life. As the need for healthcare and mental health services continues to expand across the U.S., a bachelor's degree in social work provides the training for a growing number of personally and professionally fulfilling careers.

  • What is the highest paid type of social worker?

    The BLS reports the median annual wage for all social workers as $50,470 but salaries vary significantly by employer, educational level, and years of experience. The top earners, who make a median annual salary of $61,280, include those classified by the BLS as "other social workers" in private practice and local or state government. This is followed by healthcare social workers who earn a median income of $56,750.

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