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2020 Best Online Bachelor's in Social Work Degree Programs

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

These are the best 20 colleges that offer an online Bachelor's Degree in Social Work, based on median salary one year after graduation. The top ranked school is University of North Dakota, with a median salary of $40,300. University of Tennessee — Knoxville students with this major graduate with $17,875 of student debt, the lowest median debt out of the schools ranked in the top 20 for salary. The range of median salaries for the top 25 schools is $29,000-$40,300.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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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 Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Grand Forks (ND) Grand Forks (ND) $20,759 $24,031 $40,300
#2 #2 Denver (CO) Denver (CO) $20,847 $23,285 $36,200
#3 #3 San Antonio (TX) San Antonio (TX) $28,740 $28,000 $34,100
#4 #4 Honolulu (HI) Honolulu (HI) $34,002 $20,000 $32,900
#5 #5 Kearney (NE) Kearney (NE) $13,742 $19,500 $32,600
#6 #6 Flagstaff (AZ) Flagstaff (AZ) $25,828 $20,500 $32,500
#7 #7 San Angelo (TX) San Angelo (TX) $17,396 $22,875 $32,300
#8 #8 Owensboro (KY) Owensboro (KY) $22,100 $35,227 $32,200
#9 #9 Cincinnati (OH) (and 1 other) Cincinnati (OH) (and 1 other) $27,334 $25,648 $32,000
#10 #10 Toledo (OH) Toledo (OH) $19,653 $27,000 $31,700
#11 #11 Detroit (MI) Detroit (MI) $27,991 $28,326 $31,400
#12 #12 Aurora (IL) Aurora (IL) $24,260 $22,000 $30,700
#13 #13 Richmond (KY) Richmond (KY) $19,444 $25,150 $30,300
#14 #14 Troy (AL) Troy (AL) $13,520 $29,668 $30,100
#15 #15 Spring Arbor (MI) Spring Arbor (MI) $28,810 $26,625 $29,900
#16 #16 Millersville (PA) Millersville (PA) $22,196 $24,125 $29,500
#17 #17 Gaffney (SC) Gaffney (SC) $25,025 $30,125 $29,300
#18 #18 Knoxville (TN) Knoxville (TN) $31,426 $17,875 $29,100
#19 #19 Little Rock (AR) Little Rock (AR) $21,754 $20,500 $29,100
#20 #20 Arcata (CA) Arcata (CA) $19,555 $21,818 $29,000

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for an online 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.

#1
Grand Forks (ND)
Median Salary $40,300
Median Debt $24,031
Annual Tuition $20,759
Graduation Rate 55%

University of North Dakota's online Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) is intended to prepare students for the social work profession, with a special focus on serving rural communities. The program is available to freshman and transfer students as a traditional four-year degree, and an accelerated format is available to students who already hold a related bachelor's degree. Classes are delivered online in real-time, and fieldwork takes place in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Eastern Montana, or Southern Manitoba.

Some of the courses students can expect to take include Social Work Research, Generalist Social Work Practice with Task and Treatment Groups, Social Policy, and Generalist Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations. In a traditional four year plan, the final semester will consist of field education and field education seminars. Field education allows students to apply theoretical concepts by completing an internship at a human services organization. Students can also choose to pursue a related academic minor in an area they're interested in, like Gerontology or Chemical Dependency. In total, 120 credit hours are required to earn a bachelor's degree from UND.

Visit University of North Dakota's website.

Median Salary $36,200
Median Debt $23,285
Annual Tuition $20,847
Graduation Rate 28%

The Social Work Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver offers a CSWE-accredited Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) delivered either in a hybrid format or fully online. The program aims to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a career creating positive change and making an impact in their community. Students who are interested in the BSSW program should first declare their major as Undeclared Seeking Social Work (UNSW) and work on fulfilling prerequisites. Then, in the spring semester before the fall semester they intend to start the program, they can submit an application. For students who prefer to start their degree at a community college, MSU Denver's Social Work Department also has partnerships with all Colorado community colleges.

Required upper-division coursework includes classes like Social Work Experience, Practice & Communication, Philosophy of Social Work, Privilege, Oppression & Power, Research Methods, and Research Statistics. The major also requires 480 hours of professional fieldwork, spread across two semesters. MSU Denver students must complete at least 120 credits total to earn a bachelor's degree, and BSSW students are required to complete 54 social work credits.

Visit Metropolitan State University of Denver's website.

#3
San Antonio (TX)
Median Salary $34,100
Median Debt $28,000
Annual Tuition $28,740
Graduation Rate 37%

Our Lady of the Lake University's Online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree employs a flexible online learning format. The CSWE-accredited program requires a total of 120 credits, with 60 credit hours in major courses and 60 in general education and elective courses.

The BSW program includes courses like Social Welfare Policy: Analysis and Practice, Human Behavior: Individuals and Families, Human Behavior and Diverse Population, and Social Work Research Methods. Students are also required to complete field work in an agency under the supervision of an experienced social worker. The degree program intends to prepare students with the required skills and education to make a positive impact through a career in social work.

OLLU's online BSW program is available either part-time or full-time, and requires 450 hours of field work. To complete field work, students are placed in an agency under the supervision of a licensed master level social worker.

Visit Our Lady of the Lake University's website.

#4
Median Salary $32,900
Median Debt $20,000
Annual Tuition $34,002
Graduation Rate 59%

The University of Hawaii at Manoa offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Distance Education (DE) Option through the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. The program, available either part-time or full-time, includes both online classes and field education at agencies in the community. To earn the degree, students must complete a total of at least 120 credit hours, with 41 credits from major courses, 21 credits from upper-division liberal arts electives, and 2-4 other electives.

The BSW program is designed to provide students with not only a broad framework for social work practice, but also with information and skills that will prepare them to serve populations native to Hawaii. The curriculum includes courses such as History of Social Welfare, Human Development and Behavior for Social Work Practice, Research Development in Social Welfare, Social Services with Children, and Social Welfare Concepts and Issues in Gerontology. Additionally, students will gain field experience by applying their knowledge in a Senior Practicum.

To be considered for admission to the BSW program, students must first complete the general education core requirements of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earn at least a grade of C in knowledge-base courses specified by the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Students are encouraged to emphasize their personal motivations for pursuing a career in social work and demonstrate their commitment to the field in their application.

Visit University of Hawaii at Manoa's website.

Median Salary $32,600
Median Debt $19,500
Annual Tuition $13,742
Graduation Rate 58%

An online Social Work Comprehensive, Bachelor of Science program is available through University of Nebraska at Kearney eCampus. The degree program requires 120 credit hours, with 36 credits from required major courses and 12 from elective major courses. UNK's CSWE-accredited Department of Social Work aims to prepare students for human services careers in areas such as mental health; child, family and school; medical and publish health; and geriatrics.

The core Social Work Comprehensive curriculum includes courses like Human Service Ethics and Experience, Social Policy & Program, Diversity and Social Justice, and Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities. Elective courses allow students to explore specific areas of social work they are interested in, like mental health issues, aging services, child welfare services, school social work, medical social work, and social work in legal settings. The Social Work Comprehensive program also requires 400 hours of supervised work in a social services agency, where students will gain practical experience, starting with observation and moving to hands-on participation.

Visit University of Nebraska at Kearney's website.