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Online Bachelor’s in Social Work | The Top Programs

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There are millions of people worldwide who need help, your help, right this very moment. Life-altering events, struggling with abuse, or facing the loss of a loved one are things people need help navigating. They could also be battling unemployment, financial difficulties, or homelessness. And others may be suffering from mental health issues. All these people require professional aid to help them navigate those challenging situations and improve their quality of life. The education you gain from an online bachelor’s in social work degree program will give you the knowledge you need to help society.

Becoming a social worker is a financially and emotionally rewarding career. This article covers all you should know about this career path.

Let’s dive right into it!

What is a Bachelor’s in Social Work Program?

A Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) is a four-year degree that prepares students to work as social workers that help individuals in dire need. A BSW program teaches the overall social text to students, enabling them to improve the situation of such individuals.

A Bachelor’s degree in social work prepares graduates for entry-level job positions and provides the opportunity to attain licensure. Graduates of a BSW program have the skill and knowledge to succeed in social work. Degree seekers become a part of the broad foundation of generalist social work practice and learn to serve communities, groups, families, and individuals without prejudice or bias. They primarily focus on the oppressed, undeserved, or minority populations.

There are three types of social work practice:

  • Micro-level practice (working with and helping individual clients deal with their difficult life situations)
  • Macro-level practice (working with and leading extensive administrative work and policy changes aimed at bringing about large scale social change)
  • Mezzo-level practice (working with and helping a group of people at once)

A BSW program prepares students to work on the micro-level. However, they can work on the mezzo level with the required experience and skill set.

BSW Curriculum

A BSW program focuses primarily on human behavior, research methods, human lifespan, group practice methods, individual and familial practice methods, and social welfare policies. Curriculums vary from one program to program. Therefore, some programs include practicum courses or a form of community service. These courses are where students gain first-hand experience under the direct supervision of a licensed and experienced social worker.

BSW coursework includes courses where students learn about how dominant social issues affect the lives of individuals. Students will also learn about the factors that alter human behavior and development and how various social assistance programs help improve the lives of communities.

Some standard BSW degree courses are as follows:

  • Human Behavior and the Lifespan
  • Community Social Structures
  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Case Management Practice
  • Welfare Policy
  • Research Methods
  • Cultural Diversity and Justice
  • Social Welfare Programs in the United States
  • Diversity and Diverse Populations
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction
  • Social Work Seminar and Practicum
  • Ethics

BSW programs typically comprise 120 credits, and students can also declare minors that may prove helpful in their practice and career. Some popular minor programs include:

Psychology

Students attain an in-depth understanding of the human motivations and psychological aspects of the human brain, which aids immensely in dealing with people.

Related Resource: APA Accredited Online Psychology Programs: A Complete Guide

Spanish

The United States has a large majority of Spanish-speaking populations, a significant number of which include members of the underprivileged communities. Choosing Spanish as your minor can help you a great deal in communicating with these people personally. Being bi-lingual is an often sought-after skill by employers.

Sociology

Sociology is the study of social and group behaviors. Choosing it as a major can enhance your knowledge base and social work practice.

Political Science

Since several social outreach programs are funded and backed by government agencies, many students choose political science as a minor to better understand policymaking. This field also helps secure employment in the public sector and efficiently navigate the intricacies.

Related Resource: Jobs for Political Science Majors: The Highest Paying

BSW Specializations

Various universities offer various specializations and concentrations, and students can choose one of their choices for fieldwork. Working in a field means interacting with professional social workers, dealing with clients, and understanding the daily needs of a specific organization. Students may also take courses and seminars pertinent to their specialization. Some popular disciplines offered by most universities include:

  • School-based programs
  • Correctional and Rehabilitation programs
  • Children and Youth programs
  • Hospital or relevant Health-based programs
  • Legal Services
  • Substance Abuse
  • Domestic or other kinds of Violence
    Prevention and Counseling
  • Aging Services
  • Family Services
  • Community Organization and Planning
  • Mental and Behavioral Health

Is a BSW The Same as BA or BS in Social Work?

Social work programs are commonly known as Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW), or Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW), depending upon the school. Universities choose different names for these degrees depending upon where they fit the best. Organizations with a fully developed social work department usually offer BSW programs. In contrast, those who don’t may call it a “BASW or BSSW,” depending upon whether the courses fit better in arts or science departments.

Although these programs hold specific differences in course work, practical courses, or other general education requirements, any of them can prepare students for a career in social work. It is recommended to thoroughly look through a degree before choosing to align with your interests and requirements.

Are Online Bachelors in Social Work Programs Accredited?

The Council on Social Work Education accredits a majority of Bachelors in Social Work programs. Therefore, choosing an accredited university for online BSW programs is essential to ensure high-quality education and practicum courses. There are three main kinds of accreditation:

National Accreditation

The United States recognizes ten national accreditation organizations, including the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). National accreditation is typically for for-profit organizations focused on vocational, technical, or career-focused training programs.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation holds more credibility and importance than national accreditation. The United States recognizes seven regionally accrediting organizations, including the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Regional accreditation ensures public and private universities uphold specific educational standards.

Programmatic Accreditation

The programmatic organization has to do with an institution’s academic program or a school dedicated to a particular educational area of focus, for example, the American Bar Association (ABA) for law schools and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Top 10 Online Bachelor’s in Social Work With CSWE Accreditation

1. Liberty University

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It provides a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree.

This program includes 120 hours of coursework, out of which 36 to 42 hours are dedicated to Core Competency courses, 24 hours to Christian Life and Thought studies, and about 57 to the major of social work. In addition, the program includes a range of courses from social welfare policy to statistics.

Students can apply for an entirely online program. Still, practical in-person fieldwork with a certified and experienced social worker is necessary for a total of 40 hours. Graduates can work in several fields, including case management, ministry, counseling, and several others.

View More about the BSW at Liberty University

2. Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University offers one of the best Social Work online programs in the US. It offers a top-notch online Bachelor of Social Work program to complete 100% online. Students from all around the States can benefit from it as homework is submitted entirely online. In addition, however, students are required to work on specific local task-based projects in their area, which is quite similar to an in-person BSW program.

The program includes 49 credit hours and social work electives that include Social Work for the Homeless, Child Welfare, Advanced Social Work Practice with the Military, and several others. The coursework prepares graduates to work in vast settings, including health clinics, hospitals, and correction facilities.

View More about the BSW at Western New Mexico University

3. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

The Northwestern State University of Louisiana, accredited by the Council on Social Work, dates to 1884. Its Social Work program has been in function since 1970 and is one of the top-ranking programs across the nation.

“Creation, dissemination, and acquisition of knowledge” form the foundation of all coursework at Northwestern State University. The BSW program includes 120 credit hours of coursework completed in four years. The first year comprises introductory classes with an entire semester of fieldwork during the final semester. This program allows students to enter the workforce directly from the very day of their graduation.

Courses in this online program highlight social work issues like community and neighborhood work, social policy, alcohol abuse, and youth services. However, they also include generalist education programs transferable to several social work applications.

View More about the BSW at Northwestern State University of Louisiana

4. Indiana Wesleyan University

Formerly known as Marion College, Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian school. It is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and boasts a gorgeous 350-acre campus. Despite that, it still offers a convenient and top-level BSW program that students can complete in as little as 24 months.

Graduates are provided with theoretical and practical education and can go through the licensing process in any state. This expedited program offers significant benefits to students looking to complete a Master’s program as quickly as possible.

The Indiana Wesleyan University, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, offers various social policy, basic economics, and general psychology courses. This program provides well-rounded and prime education that pushes students forward in their practice.

View More about the BSW at Indiana Wesleyan University

5. Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University is a Christian school established in 1906. Located in Campbellsville, Kentucky, the institute offers an online BSW degree comprising 120 credit hours that students can complete in two years. However, the degree length depends upon the number of credit hours a student transfers in this program.

The program included comprehensive social work requiring 42 credit hours of course curriculum, including research methods, Human Diversity, and Introduction to Social Work. Students must also complete approximately nine credit hours of elective courses and choose from Conflict Resolution, Aging, and Crisis Intervention courses.

The coursework focuses primarily on crisis intervention, social policies, and familial relationships. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits this institute which trains students to deal with social work situations related to Christian ideals and ethics.

View More about the BSW at Campbellsville University

6. Touro University

Touro University, regionally accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (a Jewish-sponsored non-profit center for higher learning), is a relatively recent institution that offers several academically sound online Bachelor’s degrees. It was the first institution to provide online regionally accredited doctorate programs without residency requirements. In addition, its BSW program is one of the top online Bachelors in Social Work programs.

The Online Bachelor’s in Social Work program offered by this institution comprises 120 credit hours. You can complete it within eight weeks. However, students with their completed core education and electives can complete it in a few months. This program offers various courses and prepares students for equally diverse work positions such as case manager, classroom counselor, and adoption social worker.

View More about the BSW at Touro University

7. The University of Utah

Initially established as the University of Deseret, this is a space-grant and flagship school with a student enrollment nearing 33,000.

The Social Work College at the University of Utah offers one of the top online Bachelors in Social Work programs. In addition, it holds the fame of being the only one of sixteen online BSW programs to have been awarded CSWE accreditation. The program requires completing 48 credit hours of social work curriculum and completing a work-related internship.

View More about the BSW at The University of Utah

8. Limestone College

Limestone College, located in South Carolina, maintains one of the most extensive social work programs in South Carolina accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It offers a top online BSW program that the CSWE has accredited since 1999. The program requires completing 400 hours of supervised social work for graduation. These extensive social work hours prepare students for career challenges by applying classroom learning directly.

The course focuses on preparing students for a continuously changing social environment. Graduates of this program can work as substance abuse counselors, hospice social workers, community action workers, gerontologists, and much more.

View More about the BSW at Limestone College

9. New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University, established as a land-grant school in 1888, is the oldest public higher learning space-grant school. It offers a Bachelor of Social Work degree that is considered one of the best online social work degrees in New Mexico. This degree is CSWE accredited and offers foundational coursework in several classes, including humanistic philosophy, liberal arts, social sciences, etc. The degree prepares students for a glittering career in diverse workplace settings.

View More about New Mexico State University

 

Related Resource: CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs: A Comprehensive Review

10. Troy University

Troy University is a state-funded school for teacher training in the nearby growing population. It offers one of the top online Bachelor’s in Social Work programs in Alabama. Students can complete the program 100% online but must complete at least 120-semester units for graduation.

Coursework for this degree includes professional communication skills, social work with individuals/families, social policy and planning, diversity, social work research, and many others, along with two six-hour practicums. This program provides students with a bulk of education that aids them in landing job positions at several workplaces, some even unconventional.

View More about the BSW at Troy University

Choosing an Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Program – 5 Things to Consider

A Bachelor’s degree in Social Work can be quite financially and emotionally taxing and calls for years of hard work and dedication. When choosing an online BSW program, it is essential to view it as a substantial investment and opt for a program that makes the investment worth it.

A thorough examination of the course work, practicum courses, classes, school location, tuition rates, and many more is essential to choosing a top-notch program at par with your future objectives.

Let us look at five essential elements that you need to consider before choosing an online BSW program.

1. Mandated Application Requirements

Different universities have various mandated application requirements, such as a specific GPA. It is crucial to look through these mandated requirements for two primary reasons. Firstly, it allows you to ensure that you satisfy all these requirements and also enables you to chalk out your prospective admission acceptance rate. Secondly, a school’s mandated application requirements can tell a great deal about its quality of education.

A school with low application requirements would have a similar student and teaching lot, which can prove detrimental to the learning of a devoted student. Therefore, it is wise to choose a school with substantial application requirements to translate to the overall standing.

2. Specialized Courses Availability

There are a variety of specialized courses available in a BSW program, but not all universities offer all of them. Therefore, if you have particular career objectives in mind, it is vital to choose a school that offers courses you wish to specialize in. In addition, it is wise to look into whether a school’s curriculum meets your state’s licensure requirement before pursuing a degree. Many social work positions require specific licensure.

3. Current Accreditation Status

Accreditation is one of the foremost factors you need to consider before opting for an online BSW degree. Choosing a school with proper accreditation guarantees an educational and practical pathway meeting the national mandates.

In addition, most advanced degrees, such as an advanced standing Master of Social Work program, require Bachelor’s degrees from an accredited institution for admission. Accredited degrees are also a prerequisite for several licenses.

4. Tuition Cost, Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid

Calculating the tuition per credit cost before opting for an online BSW program is an obvious and vital step. However, it is also essential to look through national or university-based organizations that offer grants, financial aid, or scholarships to deserving students, and if you fall in that criteria. Loans are also available from private lenders or the government. Still, you should consider filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine if you are eligible for it.

5. Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Exam Pass Rate

The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) exam pass rate of an institution speaks volumes about its educational standing. Therefore, choosing an institution with exam pass rates is higher than the national average.

How Much Do Social Workers Earn?

Social work is a financially promising career, but the salary can depend significantly on the location, employer, and the industry in which they practice. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for social workers was $51,760 in 2020.

For example, the local government-employed social worker earned a mean yearly income of $69,520 in 2020. In contrast, those working in the state government made $49,810 annually.

Social Work Career Outlook and Growth

A bachelor’s degree in Social Work from a CSWE accredited institution can open various prospects for further opportunities, including an advanced standing MSW degree.

A BSW degree can lead to entry-level social work licensure in many states and augment earning potential. After attaining proper licensure, graduates of a BSW program can gain influential positions in communities, government agencies, schools, and non-profit organizations.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data states that the top 10% of social workers earned an annual income of more than $85,820. A BSW degree also provides graduates with the fundamental education and skills required to pursue a graduate degree, such as a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) program or a Doctor of Social Work (DSW).

According to the BLS, employment rates for all occupations will increase by 8% from 2020 to 2030. However, BLS expects that social workers’ employment rates may grow by 12% during the same time.

Careers With a BSW Degree

The scope of social work practice is very diverse. Graduates of a BSW program can find career opportunities in several fields. Because of this broad field, graduates often opt for more than one focus area for practice. Some common focus areas include Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Work, Child, Family, and School Social Work, and Healthcare Social Work. Specific position titles within these fields include:

  • Group Home Social Worker
  • Family Service Worker
  • Case Manager
  • Community Outreach Worker
  • Residential Counselor
  • Mental Health Assistant
  • Human Services Specialist
  • Juvenile Court Liaison
  • Adoption Agency Administrator

Related Resource: How to Become a Social Worker with Online Degree Programs

Can I Become A Social Worker Without Licensing?

Getting a job as a social worker without licensing is difficult. For example, many positions require licensure, including health centers, probation or parole departments, adoption agencies, and government jobs.

However, the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) recognizes some work settings and roles exempt from such requirements in particular states. Typically, a Master’s of Social Work is required to obtain licensure for social work. However, some states provide an initial license or separate certification or designation after a BSW degree.

There are many options for online Bachelors in Social Work graduates that do not require licensing. For example, general work positions focused on improving community relations and not direct counseling or support, such as youth service specialist and program manager for clinics and centers, do not require a license.

An online BSW is a broad education program that gives you group communication, problem-solving, empathy, and organizational skills. For this reason, it can be favorable for diverse careers that include human resources, business management, sales, and customer service.

Apply For An Online Social Work Program Today!

The online BSW program is a sought-after degree that provides problem-solving skills, group communication, organizational skills, and empathy that prove immensely useful for diverse careers. You can attain this in-demand online, right from the comfort of your home.

Visit GetEducated.com right this instant to get to know more about the top online Bachelor’s in Social Work programs and make an informed decision about the next chapter of your life!

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FAQs

Question: How long does it take to get a BSW?
Answer: A BSW program typically takes four years to complete. However, the time may vary depending on whether you take the part-time or full-time program.

Question: Is a BSW degree worth it?
Answer: A BSW degree is a financially and emotionally rewarding career. Social workers can attain job positions in diverse workplace settings with promising annual salaries.

Question: In which professional organizations can social workers work?
Answer: There are several professional organizations where social workers can work. The Council on Social Work Education, the Network for Social Work Management, and the National Association of Social Workers include a few.

Question: Where can BSW social workers find jobs?
Answer: Diverse job positions are available at the BSW level, including non-profit agencies, healthcare facilities, correctional facilities, schools, human services, and community centers.