25 Best Colleges for a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work 2020

Ranking Badge

This list highlights the best 24 colleges for a Bachelor's in Social Work in order of highest median salary for graduates with this major one year after college. University of Nevada - Reno tops the list with a starting salary of $41,700 for BSW graduates. CUNY Lehman College has the lowest median debt on the list, at $11,400. Starting median salaries for graduates from the top 24 schools range from $36,100-$41,700.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 University of Nevada - Reno $22,236 $20,000 $41,700
#2 #2 Minot State University $7,064 $15,000 $41,200
#3 #3 St. Catherine University $39,554 $30,343 $40,700
#4 #4 The College of Saint Scholastica $37,212 $19,775 $40,500
#5 #5 University of North Dakota $20,759 $24,031 $40,300
#6 #6 $19,140 Not Reported $39,600
#7 #7 $23,132 $26,510 $39,400
#8 #8 $15,348 $25,000 $38,600
#9 #9 $27,970 $27,200 $38,600
#10 #10 $42,736 Not Reported $38,500
#11 #11 $14,980 $18,287 $38,400
#12 #12 $8,696 $24,982 $38,300
#13 #13 $23,464 $26,348 $38,100
#14 #14 $16,235 $23,250 $38,000
#15 #15 $15,906 $21,500 $37,300
#16 #16 $18,802 $15,000 $37,000
#17 #17 $25,887 $24,875 $36,900
#18 #18 $37,300 $21,773 $36,800
#19 #19 $17,490 $15,000 $36,500
#20 #20 $14,960 $18,536 $36,400
#21 #21 $17,082 $25,458 $36,400
#22 #22 $43,176 $14,504 $36,300
#23 #23 $20,847 $23,285 $36,200
#24 #24 $14,880 $11,400 $36,100

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top five colleges for a Bachelor's in Social Work degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Median Debt
$20,000
Median Salary
$41,700

The School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Reno focuses on honoring diversity, recognizing strengths, and challenging injustices, with a special emphasis on characteristics unique to the state of Nevada. The curriculum for its Bachelor of Social Work program examines subjects such as micro and mezzo systems, human development, and social welfare history, all while building an understanding of how social work practice and policy are influenced by historical, cultural, economic, political, and social forces.

The program also requires a 450-hour internship with a social service agency and a series of classes that work in conjunction with the experience, developing important skills for entry-level Social Work practice. For students who live in rural parts of Nevada and are interested in pursuing a BSW, the University of Nevada has collaborated with Great Basin College to offer a 3 + 1 program. This means students do three years of academic study at GBC, and then complete their final year through the University of Nevada. Students must be accepted into the University to complete the final coursework, which includes a combination of online courses, face-to-face weekend labs, and field internships. In order to qualify for a majority of Social Work positions, graduates must also pass a licensing exam. They may also choose to work towards becoming a clinical social work by pursuing a Master of Social Work. 

Visit University of Nevada - Reno's website

Median Debt
$15,000
Median Salary
$41,200

The Bachelor of Social Work program at Minot State University prepares students to become effective generalist social workers in the Northern Great Plains. by equipping them with the necessary knowledge, professional values, and skills. Core courses include Interpersonal Skills, Development of Social Welfare, Family Dynamics, Social Welfare Policy, Contemporary Issues with Native American Families, and Human Behavior and the Social Environment. There are also general education requirements in Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, and Biology, as well as support courses in Microeconomics, American Government, Statistics, Abnormal Psychology, and the Dynamics of Addiction. Students may choose electives that meet their specific areas of interest, including Gender Communication, Countries and Cultures, American Indian History, Culture and Sexuality, Diversity in Families, Sociology of Gender, and Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in America.

The four-year BSW program is offered at program sites in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo with a two-year cohort model, and most classes are delivered face-to-face or over Interactive Video, not online. Students must also complete a total of 465 hours of field education in a human or social service agency.

Visit Minot State University's website.

Median Debt
$30,343
Median Salary
$40,700

The curriculum for St. Catherine University’s Bachelor of Social Work program is grounded in ten principles of social justice and has been adopted by many other programs in the country. The coursework of the CSWE-accredited program focuses on social welfare policy and advocacy, community outreach, communication and interview skills, case management and basic counseling, group work, strengths-based intervention, social work research, and support for individuals, families, and communities. Students also receive a fair amount of hands-on experience, including 600 hours of field placement during junior and senior years, which prepares graduates to take the licensure exam required for professionals to practice social work in the state of Minnesota.

Graduates are prepared to start careers in community organizing and social justice, hospice and palliative care, community mental health, chemical dependency and substance abuse, crisis intervention, and more. The program also offers minors in Social Services Management, Chemical Dependency Counseling: Addiction and Recovery, and Social Welfare. Students in their third year in the BSW program are also able to take advantage of the school’s accelerated MSW admission process, streamlining the admission process, and waiving the application fee.

Visit St. Catherine University's website.

Median Debt
$19,775
Median Salary
$40,500

There are many different paths students can take to obtain their Bachelor’s in Social Work at the College of St. Scholastica, including accelerated learning options from 16 months to two years, based on location, and mixes of on-campus and online courses through four extended campus locations throughout Minnesota.

The BA in Social Work program prepares students to not only embark on generalist professional practice, but also qualifying for advanced standing in a majority of Master of Social Work programs should they be interested in more mid- and senior-level social work positions. The values-based curriculum includes interprofessional education, as well as 570 hours of in-field service receiving real-world social work experience. The traditional day program is offered through the college’s main campus in Duluth, Minnesota. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College offers a blended format that features weekly online classes and twice-a-month, on-campus classes on Friday afternoons/evenings and Saturdays. Central Lakes College in Brainerd offers the degree through a mostly online program, requiring students to only participate in two, four-day intensives in the Brainerd Lakes area. CLC also has opportunities for students to take part in service-learning trips to Mexico or Jamaica to practice social work and explore social justice concerns in those areas. Inver Hills Community College offers both a 16-month track and a two-year track, with courses delivered in an accelerated evening format on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hybrid format classes are available through Riverland Community College in Austin, combining online and on-campus meetings.

Visit The College of Saint Scholastica's website.

Median Debt
$24,031
Median Salary
$40,300

The University of North Dakota’s top ranking Bachelor’s in Social Work is offered through both on-campus and online formats, and can be completed in two to four years. UND’s online BSSW program was the first in the state to use web-based videoconferencing technology. Core courses focus on such subjects as Generalist Social Work Practice with Individuals & Families, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Policy, Social Work Research, and Generalist Social Work Practice with Communities & Organizations.

Students also complete a field internship while supervised by a licensed field instructor, allowing them to connect the theoretical and conceptual contributions of the classroom to the practical world in an internship setting. Those in the program may also choose to be a part of nationally-recognized student clubs, Student Social Work Association and Phi Alpha, the social work honor society. Graduates of the CSWE accredited program are ready to explore rapidly growing career opportunities in such areas as adoption services, child welfare, disability services, gerontology, mental health and substance abuse, social welfare policy, corrections, and schools. The BSSW also prepares to apply for continued learning opportunities, such as a Master’s of Social Work degree. 

Visit University of North Dakota's website.

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