Skip to main content bachelor social-work-bsw 536x322

Compare online bachelor’s in social work (BSW) degree programs

Gain the foundational skills in psychology you need to advance in the social work field.

Explore BSW programs

Why earn a bachelor’s degree in social work online?

Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work online represents an important first step toward a career in the field. By earning your degree online you’ll be able to invest in your education without putting your career on hold, connect with a wide range of new professors and classmates from around the United States, and possibly earn the same degree as on-campus learners.

Learn on your own schedule

Emphasize flexibility by attending online classes at times that work for you and your unique career goals.

Join a passionate network

Connect with psychology professionals across fields and industries.

Explore BSW programs New

What is a BSW degree?

A bachelor’s in social work, sometimes referred to as Bachelor of Science in Social Work or a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, is an undergraduate degree program designed to prepare learners for entry-level practice roles in the social work field. A bachelor’s in social work program typically covers a variety of foundational topics within the social work profession with an emphasis on social practice, research, and welfare. 

It is important to note that Bachelor of Arts programs may focus more on the humanities aspect within the social work field. In comparison, Bachelor of Science programs may put more emphasis on data analysis applications of social work. Online bachelor’s in social work programs are also offered and sometimes feature the same curriculum as on-campus programs, but delivered in a more flexible, online format that allows professionals to invest in their career without putting it on hold.

Admissions requirements for a BSW Program

Admissions requirements for bachelor’s in social work programs will vary by institution. This can include letters of recommendation, prerequisite course credits, or standardized test scores such as the SAT or ACT, which can be waived in some instances. Learn about the specific requirements for any online BSW programs in which you are interested by requesting information from the universities, or by visiting their admissions pages to learn more.

These are some typical requirements for BSW programs: 

Application form: Typically a general application form for the MSW program, providing contact information and other relevant identification.

Official transcripts: High school transcripts and any previous college transcripts are typical requirements.

Personal essay: An essay detailing why you are interested in the program and your career goals in social work is common. This can help admissions to see the individual learner behind the grades.

Letters of recommendation: Letters from academic contacts, teachers, or advisors are generally required. 

Prerequisites: Some colleges and universities may require introductory social work classes to be completed prior to starting a BSW program.

GPA: A minimum grade point average such as 2.5 or 3.0 may be required to apply.

Test scores: Standardized tests scores such as the ACT or SAT may be required, or in some cases can be waived.

Bachelor’s in social work curriculum

Bachelor’s in social work curricula vary depending on the program and university, but the general goal of the degree is to prepare learners for entry-level social work jobs in the field. BSW curricula cover a range of foundational social work subjects that give learners a strong understanding in practice, research, ethics, and social justice. 

Depending on the program, bachelor’s in social work curricula could also include concentrations or specializations so you can further tailor your education to match your career goals. Online BSW programs may cover subjects like:

  • Clinical practice 

  • Diversity in social work practice

  • Ethics of social work

  • Economic justice

  • Environmental justice

  • Policy practice

  • Research and practice

  • Social justice

  • Social work policy

To discover other online bachelor degrees that may align with your unique career goals, visit the bachelor’s degree page here.

What can you do with a bachelor’s degree in social work? 

A bachelor’s in social work is typically the first step to pursuing jobs in the social work field, which means that after earning your degree you may be qualified for a variety of entry-level social work positions in fields such as healthcare, elderly services, community outreach, and mental health. In addition, BSW graduates may choose to become a licensed social worker to increase their career opportunities. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides licensing exams for those interested, bearing in mind that licensing requirements may differ by state. 

Finally, graduates can continue their education with a master’s in social work. Earning a master’s degree can prepare you to become a clinical social worker or pursue further career opportunities in leadership social work positions.

Jobs you can get with a BSW degree

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 annual median pay for social workers was $50,390 and the growth rate for employment is projected to be 9% between 2021 and 2031Footnote 1 — considered faster than average. Bachelor’s in social work graduates can pursue a range of positions within this growing field, such as:

  • Child, family, and school social workers

  • Healthcare social workers

  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers

  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

  • Social and community service managers

Find the best online BSW program for your social work career 

An online BSW program can give you the tools to succeed as an entry-level social work professional, add new connections to your network, and further your passion for helping improve lives — all without putting your current career on hold. 

As an online learner, you can invest in your education on a schedule that fits your busy life and works for your unique career goals. Choose a program that best matches your social work values, regardless of location, and create lifelong professional connections across the United States. And last but not least, many online BSW programs feature the same curriculum as their on-campus counterpart, meaning your résumé will be just as competitive.

Frequently asked questions

There are a variety of differences that separate a bachelor’s in social work program from a master’s in social work program. Not only are the two programs a different level of education, one being a bachelor’s degree and the other being a master’s degree, but they are also designed to prepare professionals for different levels of positions in the social work field. A BSW is designed to prepare entry-level social workers for the field, while a MSW typically focuses on preparing future social work leaders for more advanced positions or management roles.

Earning a bachelor’s in social work may be what you need to accomplish your unique career goals and expand your job opportunities in a wide range of fields. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 annual median pay for social workers was $50,3901Footnote 1 and the growth rate for employment is projected to be 9% between 2021 and 2031Footnote 1 — which means you’ll be entering a field that is growing faster than the national average. Be sure to contact career advisors at the college or university you’re interested in attending to learn more.

The duration of a bachelor’s in social work online varies depending on whether the learner is earning their degree part time or full time, the specifics of the curriculum, and any required prerequisite courses. However, online BSW programs can typically take 12 to 36 months to complete.

An online BSW program is of course tailored to prepare learners for entry-level social work jobs, but there are also a variety of roles that BSW graduates can pursue. Fields that require a strong set of social skills include school counseling, conflict resolution, mediation, human resources, and consulting. While the skills gained in a bachelor’s in social work online apply within these fields, some roles will require additional education or certifications.

Tuition and cost per credit vary by program and university. Consult the tuition and financial aid pages of the specific online BSW program in which you are interested. These resources will help you evaluate your career needs and the investment costs to achieve them.

Yes. There are a variety of completely online bachelor’s in social work programs available for professionals who want to continue working while earning their degree. To learn more about 100% online bachelor’s in social work programs, visit the link below.

Explore everything else edX has to offer