Studying any of the best online social work programs can lead to a meaningful career working with individuals, children, and families.
While studying the best online social work programs, students learn to diagnose behavioural issues, advocate for at-risk communities and above all, help individuals and groups manage challenges in their daily lives.
A growing number of the population is falling into poverty, this has led to the need for a growing number of professionals who will support the struggling community.
In this article, we will therefore discuss the best online social work programs and other important things that you should take note of.
Becoming a Social worker
Becoming a social worker is a big decision that requires making a commitment to completing specific educational and training requirements.
For most states, a social work license will require you to earn a Master of Social Work (MSW).
If you are thinking about becoming a social worker but aren’t sure what the process entails, this guide provides information on becoming a social worker and also gives you insight on the schools to get the best online social work programs.
It all starts with research on which career in social work is right for you. The first step is to complete the educational requirements-that is where you start to consider the best online social work programs.
While is it not a terminal degree, the Bachelor of social work(BSW) may suffice for a number of entry-level positions.
When you have completed your BSW program or earned a bachelor’s degree in any field, you may choose to research available graduate education options and pursue an accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program.
The steps are a must if you are hoping to obtain a social work role.
After that, you need to start planning on how to apply for licensure in your state and most times it requires that you pass some examinations and also meet some other state-specific requirements.
Then you are ready to practice. Once you are licensed as a social worker, you will need to complete continuing education requirements for license renewals.
The steps that we are about to list are just the common steps to take in order to begin your career as a social worker.
- Research if a Career in Social Work is Right For You
- Complete Undergraduate Education Requirements
- Research Graduate Education Options
- Pursue Accredited MSW Graduate Education
- Complete the ASWB Examination
- Apply for Licensure as a Social Worker in Your State
- Begin Career as a Social Worker
- Complete Continuing Education Requirements
Research if a Career in Social Work is Right For You
To determine whether becoming a social worker is right for you, carefully go through the commitments involved which includes education.
There are offline social work programs and some best online social work programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Whichever you choose among those depends on your career ambitions as well as how many years you are willing to spend in school.
Another thing to consider is the specialties available in the field as well as career opportunities.
Some social work programs-the best online social work programs inclusive-allow concentrations that can prepare you with a particular demographic, such as school children or members of the military.
During your research, it is important to consider and understand the job outlook, salary expectations and the potential work environments that is associated with being a social worker.
Complete Undergraduate Education Requirements
Although jobs in the social work field are available to those with just a bachelors degree, you won’t be able to practice in a clinical capacity without completing a master’s in social work-you can go for the best online social work programs for masters.
Also without a master’s degree in social work, your career options could be limited and that is why oftentimes people choose to pursue a master of social work.
Undergraduate education requirements will vary between graduate programs. Not all of them require a BSW for admission, but some like advanced standing MSW programs do.
If you decide that you want to be a social worker after completing your undergraduate degree and your bachelor’s degree is not in Social work, you can still pursue social work at the graduate level.
Students who do not have a BSW but wish to earn an MSW can enrol in a graduate program, which usually takes two years to complete for students who are enrolled full time.
Both BSW and MSW programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and states typically require applicants to graduate from a program that has CSWE accreditation, if they wish to be licensed and practice as social workers.
Research Graduate Education Options
After you have obtained your bachelor’s degree in social work or any field-the next step is to start your search for available options for earning your master’s in social work with the best online social work programs being a more flexible option for students.
Since there are several types of programs available, it is important that you consider which one best suits your career goals and personal circumstances.
You need to consider if being a part-time or full-time student will be best for you, if you choose the part-time option, it is best to consider the best online social work programs.
In order to make this decision, you need to consider your financial situation, and whether you plan to work full-or part-time while pursuing your social work education.
Also, you will need to consider how quickly you want to complete your program.
While making these considerations, you must also consider if you will pursue your degree online-that is considering the best online social work programs-or in-person.
Pursue Accredited MSW Graduate Education
After conducting your research and deciding whether you are going for the best offline or the best online social work programs, it is important to look for accredited program options.
Pursuing an MSW may open up a variety of career opportunities that would not have been available without completing a graduate program.
Either from the healthcare settings to non-profits, obtaining an MSW can unlock opportunities to practice in a wide range of settings.
Complete the ASWB Examination
To become licensed as a social worker, most states require applicants to complete the association of Social Work Boards(ASWB) social work licensing examination, along with any required jurisprudence examinations.
Students may be required to obtain approval from their state social work board to register for the ASWB examination. It is best to check with your state’s board for specific examination requirements.
There are different levels of social work examinations issued by the ASWB—bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalist, and clinical.
For each of them, there is a minimum educational requirement, and each exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions, with the difficulty and subject matter varying by level.
Apply for Licensure as a Social Worker in Your State
Once you have completed the educational and examination requirements, you will need to obtain social work licensure in your state in order to begin your career as a social worker.
Licensing requirements are in place to ensure that social workers meet specific requirements and are qualified based on the key standards.
Begin Career as a Social Worker
After you have obtained the necessary licensure from your state, you will be able to begin working.
The career opportunities in social work are broad and there are a variety of settings where social workers can work.
Complete Continuing Education Requirements
to renew and maintain your social work license, you will need to obtain continuing education units in accordance with the requirements outlined by your jurisdiction.
Requirements vary by state. Some require social workers to complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education, while others look for the completion of certain courses.
It’s important to research the continuing education you’ll need to maintain your license.
The Best Online Master’s in Social Work
Detailed below is also another set of the best online social work programs for masters.
- University of Central Florida
- University of South Florida
- University of North Dakota
- Arizona State University
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
- University of Arkansas
- Eastern Washington University
- Missouri State University
- University of Southern California
- New Mexico State University
University of Central Florida
This public university currently offers an online masters in social work that typically takes 2-3 years to complete.
UCF’s online MSW program offers two tracks: a 32-credit advanced and a 62-credit traditional program.
Both programs take a generalist approach to social work ethics, practice, and philosophy.
Course topics include diverse client populations, clinical practice with LGBTQ+ clients, and family practice.
Accreditation: AccreditationUCF’s online MSW programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of South Florida
The online master’s in social work at USF consists of 35-60 credits and is regarded as one of the best online social work programs.
The program’s curriculum begins with 17 credits of foundational study, followed by more advanced scholarly study in clinical work for individuals, families, and small groups.
The experience culminates with a field practicum where students apply theory to client interactions at a partnering agency.
Accreditation: AccreditationUniversity of South Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of North Dakota
The 36-60 credit program takes 1-3 years to complete and tailors its formatting to working students.
Course topics include human behaviour in the social environment, social policy, and field education.
The school currently offers over 120 online degree and certificate programs, and students can earn a master’s in social work online.
Accreditation: AccreditationUND’s social work programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Arizona State University
ASU’s 51-60 credit online social work master’s degree allows learners to choose a portfolio, applied project, thesis, or integrative capstone at the culmination of the degree.
Course topics in the curriculum include research methods in social work, social policy and services, and macro social work practice.
Accreditation: AccreditationASU’s online MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The two-year, 63-credit online master’s in social work at UTRGV prepares learners for advanced practice with majority-Latino populations and comes in an accelerated format. The program also offers an optional concentration in administration and community practice.
Accreditation: AccreditationUTRGV is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
University of Arkansas
UA’s 39-credit, online, advanced standing master’s in social work takes one year to complete and only allows students to take courses full time.
At the University of Arkansas, being one of the schools with the best online social work programs, the learning experience here culminates with a year-long internship at an approved setting. The school sometimes allows students to complete their internships at their current workplaces.
Course topics include social work research and technology, social work policy, and social work practice.
Eastern Washington University
EWU’s 51-90-credit online social work master’s degree examines the social work field through a generalist or advanced generalist lens.
The curriculum gives added emphasis to leadership skills in social work and explores social justice aspects of treating diverse populations.
Course topics include human development in contemporary environments, social work practice in a diverse society, and foundations of professional social work practice.
Missouri State University
Missouri State students can take a 34-62-credit master’s in social work online, focusing on advanced generalist courses. Students can enrol either part or full time.
The program’s curriculum includes coursework in rural health, substance use and social work practice, and grant writing in health and human services.
Accreditation: AccreditationMissouri State’s online MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
University of Southern California
USC’s online master’s in social work is one of the best online social work programs that typically takes two years to complete and requires students to choose a focus in one of three departmental areas: adult mental health and awareness; children, youth, and families; or social change and innovation.
The program culminates with students completing field placements within their own communities.
Accreditation: AccreditationUniversity of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
New Mexico State University
NMSU’s 60-credit online master’s in social work is also one of the best online social work programs that takes two years to complete and use both asynchronous and synchronous course delivery formats.
The program takes an advanced generalist focus that prepares learners for work with Latino-majority and Native American populations.
Course topics include policy analysis and change, socio-cultural concepts and populations of the Southwest, and social work research.
Accreditation: AccreditationNew Mexico State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
Below are some sponsored best online social work programs
- University of Denvev
- Simmons University
- Howard University
- University of Southern California (USC)
- Fordham University
- Syracuse University
- Case Western Reserve University
- Baylor University
Now let us review some of these best online social work programs.
The CSWE-accredited Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) at the University of Denver is ranked #1 in Colorado¹ and #17 in the nation² by U.S. News & World Report. The University of Denvev has one of the best online social work programs.
With a focus on social justice, the MSW@Denver curriculum will teach you to advocate for individuals, families and communities impacted by oppression and prepare you for a career that creates social change.
You will focus your studies on advanced interventions and trauma-informed care through a concentration in Mental Health and Trauma or on the mind-body connection and integrative approaches to health care through a concentration in Health, Equity and Wellness.
Lastly, you will earn an MSW in as few as 18 months with the advanced standing program, if you have obtained a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) at any point in time.
Scholarships of up to $10,000 are available for students who are admitted and enrol in the MSW@Denver program.
The accredited online Master of Social Work (MSW) program from Simmons School of Social Work, prepares aspiring social workers through a clinically focused curriculum to make a difference for those in need.
SocialWork@Simmons’ is one of the schools with the best online social work programs that allows aspiring social workers to pursue a Simmons education from anywhere in the U.S.
The program’s format fosters collaboration and community among students both in and outside of the program’s seminar-style classes.
Their classes are live, face-to-face online classes with students from across the country. They have class sizes of 20 or fewer students. Their courses are engaging and rigorous and is available 24/7.
Howard University School of Social Work has some of the best online social work programs that prepare aspiring social workers for advanced professional practice in direct clinical and macro environments.
Howard-prepared leaders know social work is social justice. Through research, practice and advocacy, we’re transforming systems of injustice and affirming the strengths of Black people, culturally diverse populations and others who experience oppression.
They are ranked 25th school of social work by U..S News and World Report.
Their 60-credit Traditional MSW program can be completed in as few as 36 months part-time or as few as 20 months full time, which will be available in September 2022.
As part of your studies, you’ll complete 1,000 hours (52 weeks) of fieldwork at an approved placement site in your community.
The top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is the first elite research institution in the country to offer a Master of Social Work program online, solidifying our legacy of social work education and innovation in the field.
Here are some reasons to choose this school for your online social work program-being one of the schools with the best online social work programs:
Build relationships with classmates and professors in face-to-face online classes.
Receive dedicated support; we work with you to find field internships near your community.
Earn your MSW in under one year with the advanced standing program.
Pursue licensure upon graduation and start improving lives after you finish the program.
Tailor your degree with specializations in mental health, children and families, or social change and innovation.
Complete the online program full time or part-time to balance graduate school with your personal commitments.
Receive 24/7 access to course materials online and via mobile app for on-the-go study.
Join the Trojan Family, an expansive alumni network with more than 300,000 graduates worldwide.
Pursue licensure and become a social work leader with an online Master of Social Work (MSW) from Fordham University’s top-ranked Graduate School of Social Service.
Featuring a future-focused, skills-based curriculum, OnlineMSW@Fordham gives you the freedom to choose classes based on your interests while fully preparing you to deliver responsive, 21st-century practice.
Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service is ranked #25 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of top social work graduate schools in the United States.
To earn your degree, you will attend online classes, complete interactive coursework, and gain hands-on, in-person experience applying skills at placement sites near your community.
You will learn CSWE-accredited integrated social work competencies and customize your education to your professional interests while working with the following clients.
Syracuse University’s Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited online Master of Social Work program is one of the best online social work programs that is preparing new types of social workers: social workers who know how to use the power of technology to advocate for vulnerable communities. A leader who is an expert in change and walks toward discomfort, not away.
Their program enables you to align your degree with your experience level and goals.
They offer a Traditional and an accelerated Advanced Standing online MSW track.
- No GRE Required
- Advanced Standing Available
Case Western Reserve University’s Master of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and fulfils the requirements of social work licensure as outlined by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
Their Master of Social Work is designed for aspiring social work leaders who want to drive systemic change.
Their hallmark combination of hands-on fieldwork, rigorous online coursework and faculty of field-shaping researchers will help prepare you to make a lasting impact on your community and world. Here are some reasons to choose them:
Coursework is 100% online, with three paths of specialization to choose from and they are being considered to be one of the schools with the best online social work programs.
Their faculty members are leading researchers in the social work field.
They partner with field placement sites across the United States where you can develop your skills and confidence in real-life social work scenarios alongside a dedicated advisor.
They offer two program track options: a 60-credit Traditional track and an Advanced Standing Track for those who have earned a bachelor’s in social work.
Applicants will be automatically considered for a merit-based scholarship.
Baylor University’s program
Baylor University Diana R. Garland School of Social Work’s Master of Social Work (MSW) online program, MSW@Baylor, prepares dedicated social work professionals to serve and empower vulnerable populations worldwide and address the needs of their communities from a strengths-based perspective.
They offer two online programs that can be completed in 12 to 24 months: the standard MSW and the advanced standing MSW.
MSW@Baylor is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and will prepare you to pursue licensure after graduation.
You can choose one of two specializations to focus on during your advanced studies: Clinical Practice or Community Practice.
What do you think about these best online social work programs? Please leave a comment below.