Top 50 Social Work Degrees

By Staff
Last Updated: December 11, 2020

As a field, social work continues to flourish. The profession boasts a projected growth rate of 13% from 2019-29 — much faster than average — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Data from the BLS indicates that social workers earn a median annual salary of about $50,470.

A bachelor of social work (BSW) degree prepares graduates to work in entry-level social work positions, including certain administrative jobs, caseworkers, and mental health assistants. However, most social workers need at least a master of social work (MSW) degree.

Social workers also need to obtain licensure from their state in order to legally work, and candidates must earn degrees with accreditation in order to qualify for licensure. Currently, students can choose from 533 accredited BSW and 291 accredited MSW programs in the U.S., according to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

A BSW takes four years for full-time students to complete and covers the foundations of social work and general education courses. MSWs require more advanced classes, exploring social work techniques and theories in further depth and often allowing for specialization in a particular topic.

Online Social Work Programs For You

Social workers lead fulfilling careers, dedicating their time to helping some of the country's most vulnerable populations. If you're interested in becoming a social worker, you can find a list of the best colleges for social work below.


View ranking methodology here.

50. Skidmore College

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $25,254

Score: 68.00

Skidmore takes pride in having one of the few liberal arts colleges with a social work program. Skidmore's program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education for over 30 years. The program has a history of placing alumni in successful careers and graduate programs. As a liberal arts program, coursework can include broader topics such as Microeconomics, Civil Rights, and Multicultural Expression. In addition, many students in this program have been able to participate in a study abroad program in Denmark, Australia, and Spain, among others.

Importantly, students apply for admission to the Social Work program during their sophomore year – admission contingent on factors including academic performance. Skidmore also believes strongly in integrating classroom learning with hands-on experience. So to cap off seven semesters of study, the final semester is a field practicum. Students work over 400 hours in the field as regular staff, with a weekly seminar to debrief and continue professional development.

49. University of Vermont

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $19,815

Score: 77.70

The Social Work program at the University of Vermont has impressively placed 94 percent of its 2017 graduates in careers within 6 months of graduation. Students are well prepared to embrace roles in a field that works with people since the academic model at the University of Vermont is people-oriented. Graduates have raved about the benefits of their small class sizes and small cohort. They also speak highly of faculty members who are more than just advisors, but also mentors. Courses are structured around an interactive classroom – meaning to say that discussions are as valuable as lectures.

At the University of Vermont, you will have the opportunity to meet social workers from various fields. You will also engage in 450 hours of a field practicum during your senior year in order to get hands-on experience and have a better sense of the field of social work as a career. Specialized coursework includes Human Needs, Issues and Policies in Welfare, Working with Refugees, and Racism.

48. University of Northern Iowa

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $15,942

Score: 81.07

Building on a liberal arts foundation, the Social Work program at the University of Northern Iowa equips students to engage a broad range of issues from child and adolescent care, to family practice, to working with the elderly. Seniors participate in a hands-on internship in a social agency, overseen by a practicing social worker. UNI provides six scholarships aimed specifically at social work majors. These are oriented at rewarding academic performance, leadership, and service.

Along with establishing a foundational framework for careers in social work, the program at UNI seeks to teach values and ethics during the academic journey. This way, graduates will be able to implement these in practice. Elective coursework covers topics such as Conflict Resolution, Stress Management, and Addictions Treatment

47. St. Olaf College

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $27,587

Score: 70.25

St. Olaf College has a program in Social Work that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and has been since the year 1990. Like many other programs on this website, this social work degree builds on a liberal arts foundation. Students must complete certain course requirements with adequate grades before their application to the major can be considered. On campus is the Serving Our Society (SOS) club which organizes events and speakers aimed at social work interests.

In addition, students have a yearly opportunity to attend "Day at the Capitol," and seniors attend a "Senior Reflection Retreat." These opportunities enhance the major experience and add a heightened awareness of how social work fits in the broader context of society. The program is designed to easily incorporate study-abroad experiences if a student desires. Twenty-five percent of graduates from St. Olaf College go onto graduate school within three years of attaining their undergraduate degree.

46. Virginia Commonwealth University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $20,741

Score: 77.26

Virginia Commonwealth University's social work program prepares students for generalist beginner-level social work. Approximately one third of the 120 credits required for the degree are within the major and they range from Psychology to Legislation. The curriculum exposes students to a breadth of areas within social work that focus on families, individuals, organizations, communities, groups, and diversity. Ultimately one of the main goals of the program is to advance human rights and justice on the social, economic, and environmental fronts.

A field placement requirement takes place during the senior year, and it requires 14 hours a week. This program also features an honors distinction which is awarded to students who maintain a GPA greater than or equal to 3.50, earn an A in two specific courses (and at least a B in all other major courses), and research, write, and defend an honors thesis.

45. Monmouth University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $31,300

Score: 70.85

Monmouth University is another school with a social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. It has had that standing since 1975, and maintains it through its success in preparing its students for entry into social work professions. In the classroom, students learn theory, knowledge, values, and ethics. But a major aspect of this particular program is the number of hours spent in the field. Sophomores complete 30 volunteer hours; juniors complete 100 internship hours; seniors complete 448 internship hours. This is significantly more than other typical social work programs require.

Curriculum focuses on areas such as human behavior, social environments, field placement, social work practices and techniques, research, and social welfare policies and services. Ultimately, Monmouth's program in social work equips its students for assimilation into the professional world.

44. Texas Christian University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: Not reported

Score: 72.27

The Bachelor of Social Work at Texas Christian builds a firmament that supports and sustains lifelong careers in social work. This program is offered through TCU's Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences, and provides a broad education. Unlike other programs, students may declare the major of social work at any time; however, if a student aspires to advance standing within the major, he or she must be at least a junior, maintain a 2.25 overall GPA, maintain a 2.50 major GPA, and be admitted following the submission of an application.

A benefit to a larger school such as TCU is that students can easily double major. Common pairings have included Religious Studies and Psychology. Another additional benefit is the study abroad opportunities offered through TCU. As with other programs, field work is required, and this occurs under the supervision of a field instructor.

43. Portland State University

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: Not reported

Score: 75.34

Portland State University's program in Social Work features unique aspects that other programs ranked so far do not incorporate. First, PSU offers a "Four-Year Degree Guarantee" that ensures students in select majors – social work included – have the resources, advising, and course offerings to complete their degree in four years. If not, the school will substitute comparable courses, allow for independent study, or pay for tuition of additional semesters. Second, PSU offers a hybrid BSW program in which all junior level courses can be taken online, and senior courses can be taken in Eugene, Oregon.

Though most programs ranked here are also accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, PSU has the only accredited program in the state of Oregon. Students also complete a hands-on field experience of 500 hours which seeks to provide experiences in public or private, community-based, human services organizations.

42. The University of Texas at Austin

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $14,356

Score: 74.03

The Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin offers a bachelor's degree that prepares students for professional human service positions. Before being admitted to the major, students are classified as "pre-social work majors," as they complete the general education requirements in areas such as mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and language arts. After two years of this standing, students apply to the upper-division professional sequence – this is when major courses are undertaken.

Class sizes range from 25 to 35 students, field seminar sizes range from 15 to 20 students, and in total, the program has around 300 undergraduates enrolled per year. Study abroad opportunities are available, as is an honors program. Uniquely, UT-Austin's program in social work offers a certificate in Public Safety. Faculty emphasize the importance of social work curriculum within the context of the justice system.

41. Goshen College

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $19,446

Score: 86.57

Based in Indiana, Goshen College provides a social work program that is unmatched in the surrounding region. Every alumni surveyed affirmed that faculty are invested in students; 97 percent of them are satisfied or very satisfied with their undergraduate education; 100 percent of recent graduates were placed in careers within four months of graduation, and 90 percent of those who went to graduate school attained advanced standing in their programs. Curriculum is geared towards developing a holistic perspective with which students can examine social problems and implement social justice, incorporate anti-oppressive practice, and engage across differences.

In addition, Goshen College takes many attributes of solid social work programs and makes them accessible to working individuals. More specifically, it's intended for those with at least three years of work experience, and preferably an associates degree. Working professionals can take night classes at a discounted rate of $450/credit. This can be completed in as little as 18 months.

40. Fordham University

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $38,503

Score: 77.67

One of Fordham University's slogans is "New York is my campus. Fordham is my school." There are few better places to learn about and wrestle with social work issues than in a densely populated metropolitan area. After a general education foundation, the social work major at Fordham takes 33 credits to complete. Keeping the diversity of student schedules in mind, Fordham allows students to takes these credits at a full-time, part-time, or weekend pace, all while maintaining guidance from attentive faculty members.

The field practicum is a total of 600 hours. Thirty hours take the form of a seminar, while the remaining 570 hours are spend in the field. Fordham's undergraduate program can flow in a seamless and accelerated manner into its master's degree program. Students that choose to embark on this academic journey will achieve advanced standing in Fordham's graduate school.

39. Adelphi University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $27,925

Score: 76.61

Adelphi University has offered its Bachelor's in Social Work for over 50 years. It prides itself on its close-knit community, as well as its ever-evolving curriculum. Some factors set this program apart from others. For instance, majors can undertake either a concentration or a minor in Child and Family Studies. Or there's a unique option to take certain evening classes in Manhattan or Hauppauge. And if graduate study is on a student's horizon, he or she can apply for the accelerated master's program, completing both degrees in as little as five years.

The program at Adelphi University treats its undergraduates as professionals. Students are welcome to attend workshops on professional development. There they are exposed to nuanced and innovative areas in the field and they can network with graduate students and working professionals.

38. Loyola University of Chicago

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $34,526

Score: 71.48

At the Loyola University of Chicago, students learn from a balanced blend of experienced faculty, professionals, and a well-curated curriculum. Beneath this specialized learning lies a foundational liberal arts education. Graduates will be able to assimilate into careers that range from child welfare, to substance abuse rehabilitation, to mental health, and even disabilities. Students are exposed to a myriad of opportunities to serve during their 480 hours of field work, given that Chicago is another large metropolitan area.

Having been established for over 100 years, Loyola's School of Social Work has developed various certificate programs such as Alcohol and Other Drug Counseling and Advanced Study in Philanthropy. The School of Social Work also has a master's degree program, and highly-motivated undergraduates can apply for a five-year accelerated BSW/MSW program. The master's degree also has certificates such as School Social Worker Endorsements and Advanced School Mental Health Practice.

37. University of South Florida – Main Campus

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $11,766

Score: 82.01

A preeminent research university, the University of South Florida – Main Campus offers a limited access social work program. Considering that it's a research university, it makes sense that undergraduates studying social work have access to unique research opportunities. Faculty research projects are commonly grant funded. Not only is the curriculum accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, but it is also developed in light of recommendations made by the National Association of Social Workers.

The program seeks to develop student understanding of human behavior, and how that fits into different contexts – answering questions about social, economic, and political factors that can contribute to social work. The field program requires 460 hours which is about 32 hours for 15 weeks. In order to stay in this competitive program, students must maintain above a 2.75 GPA in major courses, and cannot earn a C- or lower in any course.

36. Cedarville University

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $23,520

Score: 82.81

Cedarville University prides itself on being a "distinctly Christian" university, and as such their social work program seeks to equip students to display the humility and love of Christ. It is a fully accredited program, and it is completely rooted on a biblical foundation – integrating theology with social practice. Every single 2017 graduate was placed in a career within six months of graduation. Others in the past have been accepted to prestigious master's degree programs.

The field internship requires 150 hours during junior year and 450 hours during senior year. Because of the missional perspective of the school, students can complete these hours abroad in the international contexts of Romania, Uganda, or India. Students have the opportunities to attend conferences with professionals in social work. The program keeps in mind that students may attend graduate school, or go directly into the employment field.

35. University of Oklahoma – Norman Campus

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work or Bachelor in Social Work


Tuition: $20,003

Score: 82.28

At the Norman Campus of the University of Oklahoma, undergraduates can pursue a typical Bachelor in Social Work degree, or they can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. As it's a bigger university, an option exists where students can also undertake a dual bachelor/master's program – pairing social work with a master's in Public Health, International Studies, or generic Social work. In addition, students can also minor in areas such as African and African American Studies, Native American Studies, Social Justice, or Women's and Gender Studies.

If these options are a little much, undergraduates also have an option of pursuing certificates in areas including Public Health or American Indians. This doesn't add more work, but it directs the electives students. Uniquely, students and faculty have the opportunity to travel to Israel for a Child Welfare Exchange Program. This is a week-long transformative learning experience.

34. Chatham University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $25,525

Score: 78.35

Chatham University's social work program is founded on the liberal arts. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, Chatham's program equips students for generalist social work practices and the pursuit of graduate study. Field placement requires 500 hours during senior year. Past field placements have been in areas that include addictions, mental health, rape crisis services, and domestic violence.

Coursework can cover topics such as Social Welfare and Social Justice, Social Welfare: Women and Policy, and Integrative Capstone. Small class sizes allows students and faculty to develop helpful relationships, and faculty are known to be accessible and approachable. In addition, students can choose to minor in Social Service Administration. This would help to achieve one of the learning outcomes of engaging, assessing, and intervening in situations where one or more individuals can benefit from competent social work.

33. University of North Carolina Wilmington

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $16,831

Score: 82.54

The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers their Bachelor of Social Work through its College of Health & Human Services. This program teaches its undergraduates to properly engage in community service and scholarly inquiry. Though it is based in Wilmington, the program is also offered at the university's Onslow extension site in Jacksonville. The department gives itself an assessment every semester to ensure the quality of faculty, curricula, and department goals.

In preparing students for a generalist practice, the social work program takes a strengths-based approach to education. During the field practicum, students also attend a strengths-based seminar where they discuss, among other things, how their strengths and weaknesses affect their ability to be effective in their internship contexts.

32. Syracuse University

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $35,306

Score: 78.14

Syracuse University offers a BS in Social Work predicated on the concept of ecological systems. This is to say that the foundation of social work lies in the understanding of human transactions and reciprocity. An understanding such as this one influences the program's instruction in areas of social welfare policy, social work practice, research, human behavior in social environments, and the field practicum. Unlike other programs that feature field practica that take one semester, seniors at Syracuse complete their field practicum over the whole academic year with less hours per week.

If planned for early enough, students can choose to study abroad in France, England, Germany, Chile, Italy, Israel, Spain, Hong Kong, or Australia. There they can complete courses of the general education type – i.e. art, history, literature, etc. Students need to have this in mind early in order to plan on graduating on time.

31. University of Washington – Seattle Campus

Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare


Tuition: $9,443

Score: 94.40

At the Seattle Campus of the University of Washington, the School of Social Work offers a bachelor of arts degree that prepares students for work in multicultural contexts. In most cases, students at the University of Washington apply to the School of Social Work during the Spring of their sophomore year, and they find out later that semester if they have been admitted. Specific coursework for the Social Welfare major begins in the Fall of junior year.

The School of Social Work also maintains a partnership with Cambodia's Royal University in Phnom Penh, giving students in the department a unique opportunity for cross-cultural learning. In addition, there is the Carol LaMare Scholars Program which "supports education and research efforts in oncology social work, and palliative care for people with cancer and other life-threatening conditions." This program has progressed to become a national model for programs that address medical oncology social work.

30. University of Missouri – Columbia

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $17,762

Score: 84.13

The University of Missouri has a social work program that "prepares students to help participate more fully in relationships, work, and community life." This is evidenced in their offering of classes such as Theory & Practice of Social Group Work, Introduction to Community Organization Processes, and Social Statistics. Mizzou also provides opportunities to study abroad in Australia and Greece. The former studies Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems, while the latter explores Culture, Public Health, and Social Services.

Those who may be concerned about rising tuition costs may be interested in this program seeing as its website lists at least 28 different scholarship opportunities. Some honor academic standing; some honor a commitment to military service; others honor those with interest in specific areas of social work, including public policy, public health, and rural social work.

29. University of Arkansas

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $15,966

Score: 83.63

The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas has offered its Bachelor of Social Work since 1940 – making it one of the oldest programs in the country. It stands for alleviating oppression and poverty, as well as enhancing human well-being. The effect of this vision is demonstrated through courses such as Contemporary Issues in Juvenile Delinquency, Problems of Child Welfare, and Addictions & The Family.

Building on a liberal arts core, the curriculum is centered around eight areas of study including ethics and values, at-risk and economic justice, research, social welfare, and human behavior. The Field Program takes place over the entire school year, with 220 hours required per semester. This helps achieve one of the educational goals of understanding the social work profession and its contemporary issues.

28. Colorado State University – Fort Collins

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $17,191

Score: 85.41

Those who want to attend college in Colorado need to look no further than Colorado State University – Fort Collins for a degree in Social Work. This program in CSU Fort Collins' College of Health and Human Services seeks to prepare students for generalist social work across all typical career areas. A Social Work Ambassador Program and an Honors Program exist for students who take their academic ambitions seriously.

Study abroad opportunities are available in Costa Rica and India. While there, undergraduates can see first-hand how social work can positively affect people internationally. On campus, advisors support students throughout their academic journeys. Additionally, the College of Health and Human Services awards over $430,000 in scholarships every year – an incentive that is hard to pass up. This program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and also adheres to standards set forth by the National Association of Social Workers.

27. University of New Hampshire – Main Campus

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $22,888

Score: 86.34

The University of New Hampshire's College of Health and Human Services maintains a top-ranked Social Work program. With an impressive 95 percent graduate placement rate, UNH's program provides a solid return on investment. Students complete 40 hours of volunteer work and 450 hours of internship, and they also have the opportunity to participate in faculty research. Study abroad opportunities are available for Ireland and the Dominican Republic.

Coursework includes Social Welfare in a Global Context, Research Methods in Social Work, and Social Welfare Policy: History of Social and Economic Justice. Students also take four liberal arts courses which can cover topics such as anthropology, zoology, and diversity. Uniquely, UNH offers the only dual-degree adventure-based therapy program.

26. Marist College

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $37,576

Score: 76.49

Based in Poughkeepsie, New York, the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Marist College offers a BS in Social Work that prepares its students to help youth, adults, elderly, addicts, who are hungry and impoverished. This program follows a small-cohort model so when students enter the major junior year, their classmates are their companions until graduation. Faculty members include students in research, mentoring them through opportunities such as conference presentations. The program as a whole is oriented towards social justice, grounded in sociology.

Field education placement programs are year-long, and students work in clinics and agencies on Mondays and Wednesdays. If undergraduates earn a GPA of 3.0 or above, the master's program at Marist is reduced from two years to one year. In addition, the college maintains strong relationships with alumni, as many of them return to speak at professional development events, and to be advisors to students.

25. University of South Carolina – Columbia

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $20,271

Score: 84.86

The Bachelor of Social Work program at the University of South Carolina – Columbia may only be 10 years old; however, that doesn't stop it from being a contender with some of the best programs in the nation. The 122 credits required to earn a social work degree from the University of South Carolina are categorized into four areas: Carolina Core, College Requirements, Program Requirements, and Major Requirements. Among those requirements are the field experiences which require 50 clock hours during junior year, and 450 clock hours during senior year.

Fortunately the program places over 100 students in agencies and clinics per year. Field education is monitored by college liaisons who ensure that all requirements are being met. Admission to this program is separate from admission to the university itself. Students apply during their sophomore year, and they are admitted to begin specific coursework during their junior year.

24. Baylor University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $37,745

Score: 80.23

Baylor University in Waco, Texas offers a Bachelor of Social Work through its Diana R. Garland School of Social Work. The curriculum covers areas of social policies, advocacy, social justice, theories of individuals, families, and community development, research, social work methods, and an internship. The internship requirement is met with 480 hours during senior year. Baylor students apply to the Social Work program during the Spring of their sophomore year.

Apart from typical financial aid, the department lists 15 scholarship opportunities on its website. These incentivize the pursuit of social work, excellent academic standing, and other ideals. In addition, it is common for many undergraduates to partake in the five-year dual bachelor's / master's degree program. Even further down the road, Baylor offers a PhD program in Social Work as well. For those who are interested, an Integrative Behavioral Health Certificate exists in Baylor's program.

23. The University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $20,995

Score: 86.53

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville has offered a Bachelor of Science in Social work on campus, but beginning in the Fall of 2019, its program will also be available online. The online program is geared towards those with an associate's degree from an accredited regional college. An honors program is also offered, as is a five-year joint masters program. Apart from typical degrees, UT – Knoxville awards certificates in Gerontology, School Social Work Licensure, and Veterinary Social Work.

On its scholarship application form, the College of Social Work lists 37 scholarships or fellowships that can provide funding supplemental to financial aid. In fact, the funding directed towards this college is vast, evidenced by its Office of Research and Public Service, which last year contracted over three million dollars of work. Students benefit from this office as they are exposed to many avenues to pursue research opportunities.

22. Rutgers University – Newark

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $12,020

Score: 85.11

The BA in Social Work from Rutgers University – Newark prepares graduates for social work by providing an exceptional academic foundation. Students apply to the program during the second half of their sophomore year, and must have general prerequisites – including courses in sociology, biology, social statistics, and psychology. Various study abroad programs can send undergraduates to China, Israel, Yucatan, and Romania.

This program meets the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards set forth by the Council on Social Work Education. As such, coursework spans areas from Human Sexuality, to Social Welfare Policy, to Human Behavior in the Social Environment, to Groups at Risk in Contemporary Society. In addition, a Social Work and Social Justice minor is also available. The ultimate goal is to produce graduates who will positively impact individuals, families, and communities through different social work agencies.

21. The University of Alabama

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $19,993

Score: 85.31

The University of Alabama's School of Social Work has developed into a successful program since its inception in 1965. It offers degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. At the undergraduate level, 120 hours are needed to graduate, and 48 of those must be in major courses. Students are not lacking in interesting major courses – the catalog lists classes such as Chemical Dependency, Forensic Social Work, Traumatic Stress in Social Work, and Oppression and Social Justice.

If a student wishes to pursue an academic field not traditionally offered by the university, he or she can arrange for an independent study within the School of Social Work. In order for this to be accommodated, it must be signed off by a supervising instructor, the department chair, and the assistant dean. The BSW program at the University of Alabama also includes a field education requirement.

20. University of Kansas

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $18,365

Score: 86.51

An aim of the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas is to shape student capacities for care of others. This involves a curriculum that educates on developing human potential, bringing about justice in society, and promoting the well-being of individuals. Among other notable classes is "Diversity, Oppression, and Social Justice: Culturally Competent Social Work."

The School of Social Welfare also grants a certificate in Child Welfare. Attaining this certificate involves choosing a field practicum agency that is involved in the child welfare system. It additionally involves specified courses. This university also has a Multicultural Scholars Program that aids students of color and first-generation college students. Special interest extends to transfer students from Haskell Indian Nations University and community colleges in Kansas.

19. George Mason University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $18,629

Score: 88.89

Within the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University is a noteworthy social work program. As it is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the program expects much of its students – not only in academics, but also in social core values and ethics. The goal is to produce capable students who utilize methods, techniques, and technologies in the field to resolve ethical dilemmas in a culturally sensitive social practice.

Aside from a field practicum that requires 450 hours of supervised work, students have the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty members and graduate-level researchers through research. George Mason University maintains and operates the Social Work Integrative Research Lab (SWiRL), which has been featured in the Journal on Social Work Education. The lab was founded in 2015, and its projects cover issues such as juvenile justice and child welfare, intergenerational mobility, kinship care, advanced care planning, and health inequities. Undergraduates come alongside researchers and develop skills and experience to become valuable members of the research team.

18. University of Iowa

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $14,845

Score: 90.57

Though the Midwest can have cold winters, the social work program at the University of Iowa is more than enough of a reason to learn to love them. As a large school, Iowa offers degrees at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. Apart from general financial aid, four scholarships specific to social work are available to undergraduates.

Students can additionally choose to become certified in Aging and Longevity Studies, Critical Cultural Competence, and Resilience and Trauma-Informed Perspectives. They can also be involved in the Social Work Student Association which provides fundraising, community, social, and educational events. On top of all these, highly-motivated undergraduates can apply for honors, and complete the vigorous requirements set forth by the university's School of Social Work.

17. Arizona State University – Tempe

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $12,947

Score: 85.51

Arizona State University – Tempe offers a Bachelor of Social Work. Having one of the lowest tuition rates of these top-50 schools for social work, ASU – Tempe in an incredible value. More so, out-of-state students from the western half of the country are eligible for reduced tuition through the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program. Students have the option to study abroad in many areas of the world due to ASU – Tempe's vast reach.

A unique feature of this program is the sheer amount of research within the School of Social Work. Fourteen offices, centers, or collaborations are supported in this department, covering topics that include American Indian Projects, Forensic Social Work Research and Training, Office of Sex Trafficking and Intervention, and Child Wellbeing. All of this funded research gives undergraduates many opportunities to gain research experience in myriad of social work sub-fields.

16. University of Central Florida

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $15,341

Score: 89.57

The School of Social Work at the University of Central Florida features a Bachelor of Social Work that prepares students to engage with various social agencies. Prior to undertaking major-specific courses, students must take classes in general areas that include, biology, psychology, sociology, economics, and government. This provides a stable foundation from which the study of social issues and solutions can be accessed.

UCF also offers undergraduate certificates in Aging Studies, as well as Children's Services. These inform the elective courses and field placement options applicable to students pursuing these programs. In 2017, the School of Social Work established the Center for Behavioral Health Research and Training. Students can work with faculty to research best-practices for improving the behavioral health outcomes of individuals and groups in different contexts. The research experience, paired with the field practicum, is a valuable addition for those looking to continue in graduate study.

15. University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Campus

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $22,848

Score: 89.15

The University of Pittsburgh offers a BA in Social work that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1973, and this program is consistently ranked highly at the national level. Aside from the major, this program also features the Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates and the Child Welfare Education for Leadership Programs – both of which can help prepare undergraduates for employment in public child welfare agencies.

On the other end of the age spectrum, the university offers Aging Initiatives and Programs. These prepare students to develop and support agencies focused on older adults in society. Other coursework focuses on areas such as African-American Health Issues, Global Perspectives in Social Work, Economics and Social Work, Ethnicity and Social Welfare, and Policy Analysis. In addition, the University of Pittsburgh is a productive research institution. Undergraduates are highly encouraged to participate in the novel work taking place.

14. Florida State University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $16,450

Score: 90.04

The Bachelor of Social Work at Florida State University is available at either the Tallahassee campus or the Panama City Campus. This exciting program has incredible opportunities for students on the international front. Students can study abroad in London, Prague, Australia, or Sweden. Or they can complete the field practicum internationally in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, British Columbia, or the Eastern Caribbean. If those opportunities take longer than a student wants to be abroad, he or she can settle for an "alternative spring break" in Grenada.

On the domestic front, FSU is set apart by its certificate programs that include Child Welfare Practice, Gerontology/Aging Studies, and LEAD in Social Work. The program website lists 31 scholarship opportunities that are provided to students specifically in the social work major, making this a lucrative program. Outside the classroom, students can engage with the CSW Ambassadors Program, the FSU Association of Student Social Works, the National Association of Social Workers, and Phi Alpha.

13. Appalachian State University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $10,473

Score: 95.07

Based in North Carolina, Appalachian State University offers an accredited Bachelor of Social Work degree through its Beaver College of Health Sciences. Though one of the goals of the Department of Social Work is to address social work issues in the local Boone Community, the department also sponsors international trips. These can range from one to three weeks, count for elective credit, and take students to Costa Rica, Germany, India, and Uganda. Other long-term study abroad options are available through the university, but can only count for general education credit.

In order to apply to the Department of Social Work, students must have completed all the foundational coursework. Once accepted to the major, students can begin to take major courses. This department also offers an honors program which requires a 3.50 cumulative GPA, a 3.50 department GPA, and a B or higher in all major coursework. Field placements are within 150 miles of campus, and require 440 hours during the final semester.

12. California State University, Long Beach

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $9,654

Score: 92.79

While the Social Work program at California State University, Long Beach is the most affordable in these rankings that does not diminish the quality of its education. The program prepares its graduates well for serving communities. A perk of Cal State Long Beach is that courses are available for both a daytime sequence and an evening sequence – making it accessible to those affected by different life situations.

The program requires 80 hours of practicum during junior year, as well as 450 hours of field work during senior year. Like other programs, this professional degree requires an application after foundational prerequisites are met; however, unlike other programs, the application is due in the Fall, as opposed to the Spring semester.

11. San Diego State University

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $13,363

Score: 90.14

San Diego State University offers a BA in Social Work that requires 65 hours of major-specific coursework, on top of a liberal arts basis that includes courses in psychology, biology, economics, and statistics. While other programs make international opportunities available to students, SDSU makes international experience a requirement for their degree. This can take place through a study abroad, student exchange, student travel, or specific global-oriented courses.

Another distinguishing feature of SDSU's program is its offering of specializations. Students can choose from Community Corrections Case Management or Environmental Social Work. The former studies forensic social work and criminal justice, while the latter focuses on providing equal access to quality living conditions. Students committed to careers in Social Work can apply for a Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend program which can help fund their collegiate journeys.

10. University of Utah

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $12,363

Score: 95.51

The Social Work program at the University of Utah is available on campus, as well as online – making it one of only 16 accredited online programs nationwide. There are 45 required major courses to go along with a 450 hours of field practicum. As this is a closed major, students must apply for admission during their sophomore year.

The university offers certificates in Substance Use Disorder Treatment Training, as well as Social Justice Advocacy. Over the 2018-2019 academic year, the department of Social Work granted 112 financial awards to students at the bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. The amount of funding was nearly $300,000. The department lists over 15 scholarship opportunities set apart for social work undergraduates. Mandatory academic advising takes place ensuring that all students in this program are on track to successfully complete their degree.

9. New York University

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $36,256

Score: 88.04

NYU has a history of academic excellence, so it is no surprise that it makes it in the top-10 for undergraduate social work degrees. Located in the heart of metropolitan New York City, opportunities are vast for improving the welfare of individuals and groups. NYU's program takes advantage of this by requiring 600 hours of field work. In addition, an option exists for a dual degree alongside a BS in Global Public Health.

NYU offers opportunities for international study and travel in Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Puebla, Tel Aviv, and Paris. Students can receive supplementary funding for these through the Study Abroad Course Scholarship and the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights. The program requires 128 credit hours – 64 in Liberal Arts, and the other 64 in the major.

8. Stony Brook University

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $14,330

Score: 93.25

Based in Long Island in New York, Stony Brook University maintains its School of Social Welfare which grants degrees from the undergraduate to the doctoral levels. The program is known for its flexibility, showing care for students by providing for them in light of their needs. For instance, field placement opportunities span from the east end of Long Island to New York City – about 120 miles.

The curriculum includes courses such as: Overview of Family Violence, Gambling & Addictive Behaviors, Spirituality and Self-Care in Social Work, and The Impact of Sexual Assault. Faculty members are equipped and qualified to provide courses that are useful and relevant to contemporary issues in society. If students wish to continue to graduate study at SBU, they can earn a joint Master's in Social Work / Juris Doctor degree in Law as well.

7. Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $16,016

Score: 95.87

Rutgers University – New Brunswick aspires to prepare students for developing solutions to social problems while also strengthening the wellbeing of communities, groups, and individuals. It achieves this goal by teaching a generalist intervention model. Students apply to the program during their sophomore year, and if accepted, specific coursework begins in the Fall of junior year. Prerequisites to the major include courses in economics, sociology, psychology, statistics, and biology.

Rutgers offers courses such as Diversity and Oppression, Groups at Risk in Contemporary Society, and Global Health Perspectives: Vulnerability, Human Health, and Wellbeing. Program goals are for graduates to understand and practice ethical and professional behavior, engage with difference and embrace diversity, and assess and intervene with individuals, communities, and groups.

6. Michigan State University

Bachelor of Arts in Social Work


Tuition: $16,684

Score: 94.82

The BA in Social Work at Michigan State University is designed to prioritize three key areas: teaching, research, and outreach/service. Professors seek to develop students who are innovative, professional, ethical, responsive, and competent, so they take seriously their roles as mentors and advisors. Students must take seven courses before applying to the program, but upon admission to the social work program, students are asked if they want to participate in research. They are then assigned to a professor and a project that they can work on for two years.

MSU also offers three certificates that inform elective and placement options: Aging, Diversity Achievement, and Child Welfare. Students can also opt to take summer electives – some of which are offered on campus, but most of which are offered online.

5. Ohio State University – Main Campus

Bachelor of Science in Social Work


Tuition: $18,042

Score: 95.88

Impressively, the College of Social Work at Ohio State University is the oldest program that has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. As such, it offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Undergraduate students can also complete a joint BSSW / MSW program in five years. OSU also makes available certain study abroad options that have included Guatemala, India, and Australia.

In terms of departmental funding and scholarships, the College of Social Work awards as many scholarships as possible to its students. Each scholarship averages between $2,500 – $3,000. Field placements are required for this program, but students can complete them out-of-state if they desire. 420 hours of internship are necessary to fulfill the standards set forth by OSU's social work program.

4. University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $16,638

Score: 96.94

The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign offers an excellent Bachelor of Social work that sets students on one of three trajectories: social work practice, graduate school, other career areas. Prior to being admitted to the School of Social Work, students must have already completed 50 hours of volunteer or paid internship at a social work agency. After being accepted to the major, another 512 hours of field experience is required.

The School of Social Work supports many students financially, but it prioritizes the greatest achievers through Achievement Awards, as well as five other undergraduate social work scholarships. High achievers can also partake in the James Scholar Honors Program which requires a 3.60 cumulative GPA. Post-MSW students can take the Illinois Professional Educator License with Endorsement in School Social Work through this program as well.

3. University of Wisconsin – Madison

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $15,910

Score: 98.77

Exceptional degrees in Social Work are offered by the University of Wisconsin – Madison. About 30 – 35 students are admitted to the program each year, so class sizes can range from 10 – 70 students. Unlike other programs that typically admit students at the end of sophomore year, the University of Wisconsin – Madison requires students to be second-semester juniors to be admitted.

Resources for students in the School of Social Work are vast. An example is the Practice Skills Lab which "provides students with a state-of-the-art technological environment that fosters learning, offers an arena for demonstration of skill acquisition, and promotes professional social work practice." In addition, faculty members engage in research through the Waisman Center, The Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center for Demography of Health and Aging, and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. This gives students many opportunities to develop research skills.

2. North Carolina State University


Tuition: $13,442

Score: 98.44

North Carolina State University features one of the oldest accredited programs in Social Work. An objective is not to simply prepare students for entry-level practices or for graduate study, but to create leaders who will enter those practices and graduate programs. An aspect that sets NC State apart from others is its academic engagement with the social work community, mostly in the form of faculty research which publishes its findings frequently. This gives students in the program an exceptional opportunity to participate in ground-breaking work. In addition, NC State hosts an annual summit through its Department of Social Work.

Faculty are true experts in their fields, which make them invaluable mentors and academic advisors to their undergraduate students. Advising is a collaborative process that takes into account short-term academic goals, as well as long-term career goals, so the value of NC State's quality faculty cannot be overstated.

1. University of Georgia

Bachelor of Social Work


Tuition: $15,934

Score: 100.00

Taking the top spot in this rankings is the University of Georgia. It offers degrees at the doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate level. In addition to these, students can earn certificates in Disability Studies, Gerontology, Global Health, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and Marriage and Family Therapy. Through UGA's "Double Dawgs" program, undergraduates in the BSW program can also tack on an extra year and earn an MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership.

One reason why UGA makes the top of this list is its quality of education versus in conjunction with its relatively low tuition. Supplementing an already low tuition rate are over 15 departmental scholarships available to undergraduates. Field education requirements are 280 hours per semester during senior year. Research at UGA is rigorous, but whether it's academics, research, or field-work, the program is focused on its commitment to social justice. This is evidenced by UGA's Institute for Nonprofit Organizations.

Applying to a Social Work Degree Program

BSW programs require prospective students to possess a high school diploma, usually with a GPA of at least 2.0. Applicants may often apply with a GED. Undergraduate programs usually ask students to submit ACT or SAT scores as well.

Social work master's programs typically do not require applicants to hold a BSW degree. Instead, they consider candidates with a variety of undergraduate backgrounds. However, advanced standing or accelerated MSW programs only consider BSW-holders.

Social work master's programs usually require a minimum undergraduate GPA ranging from 2.5-3.2. Prospective students typically need to submit GRE scores, personal essays, and recommendation letters.

Online social work programs, which hold the same requirements, allow you to expand your pool of prospective schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to become a social worker?

    Aspiring clinical social workers need six years of schooling (a four-year BSW and two-year MSW) and two years of supervised work experience. Social workers usually take eight years to become fully licensed. However, this timeline can vary. Some students might enroll part time and take longer to graduate, while others choose accelerated social work programs.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation ensures that students receive a quality education. Accreditation agencies evaluate whether higher education institutions and programs offer students valuable degrees. When searching for social work programs, pay particular attention to degrees accredited by the CSWE.

  • What are the different types of social workers?

    Social workers can work in many different specialties; the National Association of Social Workers defines a list of 16 types of social work. Many choose to become clinical social workers, who can assess and treat mental and behavioral disorders. Other social work specialties include healthcare, substance abuse, child and family, school, and international social work.

  • Is a BSW required to enter an MSW program?

    Not necessarily. Advanced standing and accelerated MSW programs do require incoming students to hold a BSW, and some MSW programs may prefer applicants with an academic background in social work. However, many social work graduate programs consider and accept prospective students with a bachelor's degree in another academic area.