The social work profession, unlike some other mental health fields, has a career ladder beginning at the baccalaureate level. There are two main reasons to pursue a social work degree at the bachelor’s, or BSW, level. The first is that there is likely to be a job waiting for you at graduation. The second is that if you do decide to continue your social work education at the graduate level, your BSW may put you at a significant advantage. Each state has the privilege of setting the scope of practice for social workers at different steps on the career ladder. Baccalaureate social workers often do case management and intake and connect individuals with resources in their community.

This profession may test your altruistic values since the job entails working closely with patients and their families to assess and treat a myriad of issues, and to help in understanding and coping with emotional and social problems of various natures. However, your altruism may not be substantially compensated. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for social workers was $45,500 annually in May 2014. The job outlook through 2024 is expected to grow at a rate of 12% or a total of 74,800 jobs. The BLS salary tracks closely with PayScale which lists the median income at $42,000 with the highest wages being paid by those in psychiatric, hospice and patient counseling positions.

1. Brandman University

In 1958, Brandman was established by Chapman University – a prestigious private institution in Orange, California that was founded in 1861 and consistently ranks among the top universities in the country. Formerly named Chapman University College, Brandman’s original purpose was delivering high quality education to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Today, we are as proud of our rich academic past as we are of our technology-driven future. For four consecutive years (2012-2015), U.S. News and World Report ranked Brandman’s online programs among the Best in the nation. The school offers more than 50 accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees, teaching credentials and extended education programs offered online and on campus.

The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program seeks to encompass the diverse areas of social, political, cultural, economic, organizational and technological processes that affect change in societal dynamics. It is a professional program that requires 400 on-site hours of supervised field practice in a social service agency and is based in liberal arts education that promotes scientific inquiry. Graduates will have the foundation for entry-level social work careers in areas such as child welfare, community mental health, developmental disabilities, criminal justice and other settings and/or have the preparation needed to begin a higher level of study in the field. Their BASW degree requires a minimum of 120 credits with at least 27 credits of coursework in the BASW program with a grade of “C” or higher. Also, applicants must have a 12 or more transferable baccalaureate level credits or the equivalent. The Social Work program has candidacy accreditation status by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Accreditation: The Western Association of Schools & Colleges
Tuition: $500 per credit hour; $250 Active Military & Spouses

2. Humboldt State University

Humboldt State was founded as a teacher’s college in 1913. Today, there are just over 8,700 students and 570 faculty members. We offer a wide array of academic choices, with 48 majors and 12 graduate programs in 3 Colleges. Faculty members are among the top teachers and researchers in their fields. This university is a public institution and part of the 23-campus California State University system. With full-time undergraduate tuition of just $7,194 annually, it boasts one of the best higher education values in the nation.

The mission of the Bachelors of Arts in Social Work program is to prepare students for beginning generalist social work practice responsive to the challenges and resources present in rural areas in particular and in more populated areas in general. The BA Program is designed to help meet the need for entry-level practitioners in northern coastal California and the United States for entry-level generalist social work professionals. The program requires the coursework be completed in the order listed in the Course of Study. Coursework builds upon content from prior semesters and cannot be taken out of sequence.  All undergraduate Distance Learning students participate in the annual Campus Intensive and live online course meetings each Thursday from 6-9pm during the semester.  Also, all accepted students will be required to attend an on-campus orientation the first week of fall semester. Their program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Accreditation: The Western Association of Schools & Colleges
Tuition: $1,587 (0-6 Units); $2,736 (6.1 + Units)

3. Liberty University

In 1971, Pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. challenged his congregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. to establish a Christian college whose students would “go out in all walks of life to impact this world for God.” Soon after, Lynchburg Baptist College became a reality.  Subsequently, the school’s name officially changed to Liberty Baptist College in 1975 and the colors were changed to red, white, and blue.  In 1985, Liberty Baptist launched Liberty University Online. It has become a world-class liberal arts university with 16 schools and colleges, offering more than 520 programs from the certificate to the doctoral level ranging from medicine, biology, chemistry, and engineering, to design, music, religion, law, and more. The school currently offers 247 online programs: 208 undergraduate, 138 graduate, and 20 doctoral.

The online Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) allows you to evaluate, engage, and intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Students will learn ethical principles and develop critical thinking skills needed to adapt in a diverse world, providing care to hurting people. Courses will examine human behavior, social environments, human rights, and social and economic justice. This online program consists of a total of 120 hours and graduates must attain a grade of 2.0 or higher and a “C” or higher for all courses in the major. There are 27 hours of Core Competency Courses, 9 hours devoted to Christian Life and Thought, 9 hours of Skills and Knowledge, 60 hours dedicated on the Major, and 15 hours of electives.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tuition: $435 per hour part-time; $375 full-time

4. Huntington University

Huntington University (HU) is a Christ-centered liberal arts institution of higher education with a strong historic and ongoing relationship with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Chartered in 1897 as Central College, it was renamed Huntington College in 1917, and the current name in 2005. The school offers over 70 programs at the bachelor and master’s level. HU, located in rural Indiana, near Fort Wayne, has added over $30 million in new facilities since 1990, including a state-of-the-art science building, arts center, and residence halls. According to national student satisfaction surveys, Huntington delivers one of the best college experiences in the country. In 2015, HU has been ranked as Indiana’s best online school, as well as one of America’s best online adult degree programs.

Huntington’s nationally accredited Social Work program addresses the current needs of individuals, families, groups and communities, allowing students to be globally aware and locally active. Through course instruction, community service, global connections and over 600 hours of field experience, residential and adult students are provided entry into the social work field and the capacity to become licensed in any U.S. state and are prepared for pursuit of a master’s degree. The school’s  social work program focuses on the foundational values of the profession which are service, justice, integrity, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, and competence. Our nationally-accredited program addresses the current needs of individuals, families, groups and communities, allowing students to be globally aware and locally active. There are a total of 218 credit hours required in the Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work.

Accreditation: The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Tuition: $365 per credit hour 

5. Southeastern Louisiana University

Southeastern Louisiana University began in 1925 as Hammond Junior College operating under the auspices of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. Hammond Junior College became Southeastern Louisiana College in 1928 when it was formally adopted into the state educational system under the control of the State Board of Education. The purchase of sixty acres adjoining the original fifteen-acre plot provided the space to develop a suitable campus. Today, there are close to 15,000 students enrolled on its Hammond, Louisiana 363 acres. The school offers over 270 100% online distance education course selections of which there are 43 undergraduate degree programs.

Southeastern’s Social Work program follows a generalist practice model, providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to work with clients with a variety of social problems on multiple levels. In addition to understanding global and international ramifications of contemporary social and political realities, students are trained to work effectively with diverse individuals, groups, families, organizations and small communities in rural areas. This online bachelor’s degree program requires a total of 120 semester hours, plus 430 hours in a field internship at a social service agency. Graduates of the program are able to apply to graduate advanced standing social work programs at any university that has an accredited Masters of Social Work degree program. This program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (B.A. in Social Work).

Accreditation: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tuition: $659.75 (3 credit hours); $1,319.50 (6 credit hours)

6. Touro University Worldwide

In 1790, George Washington visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and spoke eloquently of democracy, ethics, equal opportunity and the American ideal. Touro is a system of Jewish-sponsored nonprofit higher and professional education institutions. The Touro College and University System is the parent of Touro University Worldwide (TUW), headquartered in Los Alamitos, California.  Dr. Yoram Neumann and Dr. Edith Neumann established Touro University International (TUI) in 1998; it was the first university in the world to offer a regionally accredited doctorate program online with no residency requirements. Drs. Neumann led TUI for 11 years (1998 to 2009); during their time, 14,000 students graduated and the university built a catalog of more than 50,000 courses. In 2007, TUI was sold to a private equity group. In 2008, Dr. Bernard Luskin founded Touro University Worldwide to replace the educational void that the sale of TUI left.

The B.A. in Social Work degree from Touro University Worldwide prepares students for a rewarding career as a generalist helping individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations by providing guidance, counseling, referrals and practical human services. The fully online format makes the degree accessible to more students and presents a flexible alternative to traditional on-ground degree programs. The duration of the program depends on several factors, including the number of credits accepted for transfer and whether or not students take time off between courses. Students who enroll full-time (12 credits per semester for 3 semesters each academic year) can complete the degree in three and half (3-1/2) years. Students who enroll part-time (6 credits per semester for 3 semesters each academic year) will complete the program in seven (7) years. The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work requires a total of 120 credit hours for completion.

Accreditation: The Western Association of Schools & Colleges
Tuition: $400 per credit

7. University of North Dakota

Located in Grand Forks, the school was established by the Dakota Territorial Assembly in 1883, six years before the establishment of the state of North Dakota. The University of North Dakota (UND) is the oldest and largest university in the state. It currently has one of the top 100 doctoral research universities in the US and is lauded for its reputation in research of health sciences, energy, the environment and aerospace. Today, there are nearly 15,000 students enrolled in 225+ fields of study, including 40 online degree programs.

The school’s online Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) can be completed in a little over two years. This program is ideal for individuals with undergraduate college credits, an associate’s degree or a bachelors in another field. UND offers online course options for those who need to fulfill Essential Studies or additional degree requirements. One option is the self-paced independent study courses available online or through correspondence by mail. Enroll at any time and take between 3 to 9 months to complete your course. Courses do not qualify for financial aid. The other option is the semester-based online courses that follow the standard University schedule. Interact in a virtual classroom with your instructor and other students, follow deadlines for lessons and exams. These courses qualify for financial aid. A reflection of their Department of Social Work is the fact that UND’s Masters in Social Work was rated a Best Online Program in this field for 2015.

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Tuition: $331.85 per credit (resident & non-resident of North Dakota)

8. Brescia University

Brescia University was founded by the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in 1950. Its origins are in Mount Saint Joseph Junior College for Women, established at Maple Mount, Kentucky, in 1925. Between 1925 and 1950, coeducational extension courses in Owensboro led to the creation of a second campus and, after 1949, consolidation of the two campuses in Owensboro. In 1951, Brescia began operating as a four-year Catholic , liberal arts institution founded in the Ursuline tradition of personal and social transformation through education. Founded in 1535 by St. Angela Merici as a community of women devoted to loving God and doing good works, the Ursuline Sisters soon devoted themselves almost exclusively to education. Today, their “Ursuline” tradition has become synonymous with the highest quality education for the current enrollment of 949 students.

The Bachelor of Social Work Degree Completion Program is designed to provide a high quality delivery of social work theory and practice courses. This online degree completion opportunity provides degree-seeking students with the knowledge required for becoming a social worker, as well as opportunities for practical application. Students can start working towards the BSW degree at any of the five start dates a year: January, March, May, August and October. Because the program is a “degree completion,” individuals who are not currently in the human services field and are considering a degree in Social Work must have an associate degree or required transferable credits. A minimum of 45 credits need to be transferred to Brescia University before the Social Work degree completion program is initiated.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tuition: $405 per credit hour

9. Northwestern State-University of Louisiana

Northwestern was established in 1884 in the old Bullard Mansion atop a hill overlooking the bustling river port city of Natchitoches. The campus grew as the school expanded from a two-year degree for teachers at Louisiana State Normal School to the four-year education degree at Louisiana Normal College in 1921. In 1944, the school became Northwestern State College and Northwestern State University in 1970.

The university’s Social Work Department has been in existence since 1970. Their Bachelor of Social Work degree (BSW) prepares graduates for immediate entry into direct social work and human services positions. Additionally, their BSW degree allows graduates going on to Masters-level (MSW) social work programs, in many cases, to pass over approximately one-half of the MSW courses. Their bachelor’s program provides a generalist foundation that is transferable among the different fields of practice, populations, and problem areas. This allows students to chose a specialty area in Social Work during the Master’s degree program or once employed as a social worker. Students have the opportunity to develop their interests in this profession outside the classroom, as well as through standard course work. The social work club is open to all social work majors and brings a social work perspective to university, agency, and community projects, putting students’ care and concern for others into action.

Accreditation: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Tuition: $325 per credit hour up to 12 hours, then $100 per credit thereafter

10. Wayne State University

Founded in 1868, Wayne State University (WSU) is a nationally recognized metropolitan research institution offering more than 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 27,000 students. Wayne State’s main campus in Midtown Detroit comprises 100 buildings over 200 acres; its six extension centers offer higher education to students throughout Southeast Michigan. Seventy-five percent of WSU’s 245,000 alumni live in Michigan, providing leadership for the state’s economic renewal.

The Bachelor of Social Work degree requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 120 credits. These consist of 60 credits in the freshman and sophomore years, including University General Education requirements, and social work prerequisite course for admission to the professional component for the program. The remaining 60 credits in the junior and senior years include 49 credits of required social work courses and field work and 11 credit hours of general education elective course offering.

The undergraduate social work curriculum is structured to provide the knowledge, values and skills essential for entry level generalist social work practice. It is composed of five curricular areas:

  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Research Methods
  • Social work practice
  • Social welfare policy and services
  • Field education

Field education takes place in a wide variety of social service agencies and students may work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities.

Accreditation: The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Tuition: $347.20 per hour (in-state); $795.20 (out-of-state )

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