Colleges for Social Workers with Degree Program Summaries

Social workers help children, teens and adults in need. Several 4-year colleges and universities offer social work degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Some schools even provide fully or partially online programs.

How to Select Social Work Colleges

The social work field is diverse, allowing people to seek careers in the medical, mental health, education and government sectors. These professionals work with clients to improve issues, such as domestic, financial and mental problems, that may be detrimental to their quality of life. While a bachelor's degree is typically sufficient for entry-level social work careers, a master's degree and license are required for social workers in the clinical field. When choosing a social work school, students frequently consider the specializations or concentrations, which may include aging, mental health and adolescent development. Aspiring social workers should also select a college that has institutional accreditation and one that provides numerous fieldwork and internship opportunities. The following items should be noted when looking for a social work program or school:

  • In addition to state and federal accreditation agencies, programs or schools might be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • Prospective students who are evaluating colleges for social work also need to consider the types of degrees available.
  • Some schools have relationships with social service agencies or they're located in an area with a higher demand for social services so students have a better chance of participating in practical experience opportunities.

Social Work Program Overviews

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Undergraduate students commonly need to participate in fieldwork as they prepare for entry-level careers or advanced learning opportunities. After approximately four years, this program may lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Social Work; another option is the professional Bachelor of Social Work option. Some common course lessons include:

  • Social work research
  • Social work methods
  • Introduction to sociology

Master's Degree in Social Work

At the master's degree level, schools award Master of Arts, Master of Science and professional Master of Social Work degrees. Individuals can choose to concentrate their studies in areas such as clinical social work practice, social administration or policy practice. Students receive hands-on field education in addition to completing both core and specialized courses. Examples of subject areas are:

  • Families and children
  • Social intervention
  • Public school services

Ph.D. in Social Work

Those who wish to pursue careers as social work educators or researchers can earn a doctoral degree in the social work field. A Ph.D. program typically involves completing coursework, creating an original dissertation and passing a qualifying exam on social work theory and methodology. Some programs also include research and teaching internships or assistantships. Coursework focuses on research and the social sciences, and students may encounter courses such as:

  • Social work theories
  • Research methods
  • Statistics

10 Schools with Social Work Programs

College/University Institution Type
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 4-year, Public
Washington University in St. Louis 4-year, Private
University of Chicago 4-year, Private
University of Washington 4-year, Public
Columbia University 4-year, Private
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 4-year, Public
University of California--Berkeley 4-year, Public
University of Texas-Austin 4-year, Public
Case Western Reserve University 4-year, Private
Boston College 4-year, Private

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