Last updated on August 29th, 2023.
So you have decided that you want to have a career in social work. You start looking into social work programs but realize that traditional degrees can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and expensive. You would love to find a program that you can complete online, but you may be wondering what the best online degrees in social work are.
The five best online degree programs in social work are from the following universities:
- University of Utah
- University of North Dakota
- University of Tennessee
- Aurora University
- Northern Arizona University
With the sheer volume of online social work degree programs available on the internet, it can be difficult to navigate your way through to find the best program to help you reach your full potential. Keep reading to find out what each of these five social work degree programs has to offer.
Can You Get a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work Online?
There are multiple avenues to getting an online degree in the social work field of study, but accredited social work degree programs are available online and can give you the same educational advantages as traditional in-classroom social work programs.
So, whether you’re a busy stay-at-home mom or have a complicated schedule, know that you do have plenty of online options to choose from should you feel ready to accelerate your career in social work.
Is an Online Social Work Degree Worth It?
Online social work degrees are not only worth the effort, but they can allow you to get a degree when you otherwise won’t have been able to.
An online social work degree can save you time, money on on-campus or commuting expenses, and allow you to earn your degree even with a busy home life.
Online social work degrees are just as respected as in-person degrees as long as they are from accredited programs. This is because social work employers want to ensure that their social workers have proper licensure and can assist their community appropriately.
Is Social Work a Stressful Job?
Unfortunately, social work can be a very stressful job, especially if there is high demand, too few workers, and low funding in the company that can lead to minimal resources for the social workers.
Here are some of the stresses social workers can endure on the job:
- Emotional exhaustion or burnout
- Secondary trauma
- Stressful work environments
According to a survey taken in the United Kingdom, 60% of social workers surveyed admitted that on-the-job stresses led them to emotional eating, and 35% admitted abusing alcohol.
However, healthy and consistent self-care practices, such as setting healthy boundaries, taking adequate time off, and following a healthy diet and exercise plan, can all aid you in having a fulfilling lifestyle and career in social work.
What is the Best Degree for Social Work?
Although some social workers choose to major in psychology or sociology in their path to becoming a social worker, the best degree for social work is a degree in social work from an accredited school.
There are three bachelor’s degree paths that you can take to becoming a social worker:
- Bachelor of Social Work (BSW): This is a standard social work degree and the most common and simple to achieve.
- Bachelor of Art in Social Welfare (BASW): This bachelor’s degree is a lot like the Bachelor of Social Work, but it requires more educational content studies within the social work coursework.
- Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW): This bachelor’s degree focuses on research methods in social work and requires classes in science and math, in addition to required internships and field practice.
Each of these social work degrees can provide the education for you to sharpen your skills and build a promising career that will help improve your community and the families within.
The 5 Best Online Degrees in Social Work
There are many accredited and respected online social work degree programs that can be tailored to fit your lifestyle. The credit requirements and core coursework materials vary by program and student status, but the best online degree programs in social work have high educational standards and offer various educational paths within their programs.
1. Bachelor of Social Work Degree at the University of Utah
The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah has a College of Social Work where they offer a Bachelor of Social Work program, a Master of Social Work program, and a Social Work Ph.D. program if you want to pursue higher education.
The mission of the University of Utah College of Social Work is to establish a relationship with marginalized communities that is supportive and mutually respectful.
To earn your bachelor’s degree, you will be required to successfully complete 48 credit hours of core coursework and a practicum/internship with a GPA of 2.35 or higher. They also offer a Child Welfare Title IV-E Career Path for aspiring social workers wanting to work exclusively with children and families.
The University of Utah College of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and is one of the most well-known colleges for social work education in the country.
2. Bachelor of Science in Social Work at the University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota offers a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) degree program that has been accredited by CSWE since 1974, when accreditation began and was re-accredited in 2014.
The BSSW program is a 1-to-4-year program, contingent on the student’s prior credits and student standing. If you have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, you can get your BSSW in as little as one year. If you are a freshman or transfer student, getting your BSSW can take up to four years.
All students aspiring to be admitted to this program must meet with the Director of the BSSW Program before starting their coursework.
Students who successfully enter the program will be required to complete 120 credits or less, which is based on the student’s prior academic progress. If you have your general elective courses complete, you will only need to complete 72 core credit hours to fulfill the requirements to finish your degree.
3. Bachelor of Science in Social Work at the University of Tennessee
The Bachelor of Science in Social Work program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee is a generalist program that focuses on relationships between people and the environments that they live in.
The University of Tennessee not only offers you the chance to get an accredited bachelor’s degree, but their College of Social Work also presents you with a way to complete their bachelor’s and master’s programs in as little as five years.
The Ph.D. program is available after that if you want a higher education beyond your Masters.
You can obtain your BSSW degree online, but the program mostly targets transfer students who have completed 60 credit hours and have an AA or AS from an accredited institution. The program also offers the following unique elective courses if you want to go in-depth in your field:
- Forensic social work
- Crisis intervention
Before you can enroll in this program, your transfer GPA should be a minimum of 2.5, and you should have completed an Introduction to Social Work course before registration.
4. Bachelor of Social Work at Aurora University
Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois is an accredited private, nonprofit institution that offers an online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and advanced standing in their Master of Social Work program for those who got their BSW first.
At Aurora University, you can follow the offered Child Welfare track and choose to get your Child Welfare Employee License (CWEL).
You can complete Aurora University’s BSW program by earning 120 total credit hours with 40 core coursework hours for the major. You are expected to enter with and maintain a 2.5 GPA, and you must have 60 credit hours before you can apply to the School of Social Work.
Instructors of the Aurora University social work program take environmental friendliness a step further by using a textbook-free system that is free for students and saves you money on textbooks.
5. Bachelor of Social Work at Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University is a CSWE accredited university that offers an online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program that seeks to practice a generalist approach to educate social workers based on knowledge, values, and skills to help the rural, indigenous, and other vulnerable communities in the Southwest.
To complete this degree, you must hold at least a GPA of 2.0 on all general and core coursework, and an internship should be completed before the end of the program.
The Bachelor of Social Work online program requires 120 total credit hours with 75 credit hours dedicated to the social work program. Sixty credit hours of the 75 core credits should be in professional courses, while the last 15 credits should be in behavioral science cognates.
Northern Arizona University has a two-pathway learning style for online students:
- Path 1: You can follow the traditional online, semester-based pathway with assignment deadlines like a traditional in-person college experience. You also pay tuition based on credit hours.
- Path 2: You can follow a competency-based online schedule, where you choose your start date and your schedule, and pay a six-month, flat subscription rate. With this plan, you can work as slowly or as quickly as you need to complete your degree.
With whichever pathway you choose, you will be held to the same GPA and credit hour requirements for the Bachelor of Social Work program as someone completing the program in person, but you can speed up or slow down your progress as you see fit, and you can choose how you want to pay for your education.
Social work is not for the faint-hearted, but there are accredited schools that offer Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Art in Social Welfare, and Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree programs that allow you to complete your degree online and in the comfort of your own home.
The best online program for you will depend on your needs and budget, but you’re sure to find the perfect fit among the options above. Regardless of the school you choose, you can earn your degree quickly so that you can start helping others in need!