Social work is a profession dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. With the increasing demand for skilled social workers, an online degree in social work from an accredited college is an excellent first step towards a fulfilling and rewarding career. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of pursuing an online social work degree, the courses you can expect to take, the requirements for admission, and the top online colleges that offer social work programs.
The Rising Demand for Social Workers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a significant increase in the demand for qualified social workers, with a projected 9% rise in demand through 2028. This growth is expected to result in the creation of 81,200 new positions. The need for social workers is not limited to traditional roles; related occupations such as marriage and family therapists and psychologists are also expected to see a 22% and 14% rise, respectively. This trend emphasizes the importance of obtaining a degree from an accredited online college for social work to ensure long-term job security and career growth.
Online Classes: The Backbone of a Social Work Degree Program
An online degree in social work offers the flexibility and convenience of digital learning while providing a comprehensive curriculum that prepares students for the challenges and responsibilities of the profession. Online classes cover a range of core topics, including social policy, social justice, social welfare, improving the social environment, ethics, and diversity. These courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the complex social issues they will encounter in their careers.
In addition to these core courses, many online social work programs offer a variety of elective courses. These electives allow students to specialize in specific areas of interest, such as working with children, the elderly, or marginalized communities. The courses offered may vary from one school to another, but they all aim to provide students with a well-rounded education and practical skills for the working world.
Admission Requirements for Online Social Work Programs
To pursue a social work degree online, there are certain requirements you must fulfill. For entry into an online bachelor’s degree program, you need a high school diploma or a GED. Some programs may also require a minimum GPA, typically between 2.5 and 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, some online programs may request SAT or ACT scores, official transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, and letters of reference.
For those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, pursuing a master’s program in social work (MSW) may be an option. However, admission requirements for MSW programs vary, and you will need to meet the specific criteria set by each institution. Typically, you will need to provide official transcripts, a personal statement, letters of reference, and may be required to have a minimum GPA.
Accredited Online Colleges for Social Work
When choosing an online college for social work, it is crucial to consider factors such as affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered. To help you in your school search, we have compiled a list of the top accredited online colleges for social work based on data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
1. Liberty University
Liberty University is known for its specialization in online programs and holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Their Bachelor of Science in Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and offers a solid foundation for future social workers. The program requires 120 credit hours, which can be completed in approximately 3.5 years. Liberty University also offers affordable tuition rates, with full-time students paying $390 per credit hour and part-time students paying $455 per credit hour.
2. Walden University
Walden University, founded in 1970, holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and is specifically accredited by the Council on Social Work Education for its online social work programs. Walden’s Master of Social Work program offers three options: standard, accelerated, and advanced standing. The standard option allows students to complete 1-2 courses per term, while the accelerated option offers a full-time study load of 3 courses per term. The advanced standing option is available to students who hold a bachelor’s degree in social work and allows for a reduced completion time. Tuition for the Master of Social Work program is $482 per credit hour.
3. University of Utah
The University of Utah offers an online Bachelor of Social Work program through its College of Social Work. The program is specifically designed to focus on supporting marginalized communities, improving social justice, and making a positive impact on the social environment. The University of Utah is one of only 16 online bachelor of social work programs directly accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Tuition for online learners is a flat rate of $260 per credit hour, regardless of residency status. The program requires a total of 48 credit hours for successful degree completion.
4. University at Buffalo
The University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work offers a nationally-ranked Master of Social Work program that emphasizes integrated trauma-informed and human rights perspectives. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and offers both traditional and advanced standing paths. Tuition for full-time distance learners is $7,950 for New York residents and $12,515 for non-residents. Part-time tuition rates are $745.01 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,125.01 per credit hour for out-of-state students. The program requires either 60 or 35 credits, depending on the chosen path.
5. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota offers both a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Social Work program online. The online bachelor’s program can be completed in two or four years, requiring a total of 120 credit hours. The master’s program can be completed in one to three years. Tuition for the online bachelor’s program is $417.87 per credit hour for North Dakota residents and $591.55 per credit hour for non-resident distance learners. The master’s program tuition is $516.76 per credit hour for residents and $739.89 per credit hour for non-residents.
These online colleges offer comprehensive social work programs that provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the field. By obtaining a degree from one of these accredited institutions, you will be well-equipped to make a positive impact on individuals, families, and communities.
Pursuing an online social work degree can open doors to a rewarding career dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. The demand for skilled social workers is on the rise, and an online degree provides the flexibility and convenience needed to balance your education with other commitments. By selecting an accredited online college for social work, you can ensure that you receive a quality education and gain the necessary skills to succeed in this vital profession. Take the first step towards your future by exploring the online social work programs offered by these top colleges and start your journey towards a fulfilling career in social work.