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Colleges for Social Workers with Degree Program Summaries

Social workers are able to help children, teens and adults improve issues that harm their quality of life - such as domestic, financial and mental problems. The social work field is diverse, allowing people to seek careers in the medical, mental health, education and government sectors. 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.

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How to Select Social Work Colleges

Several 4-year colleges and universities offer social work degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Some schools also provide fully or partially online programs.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Accreditation
  • Degree type and career goals
  • Specialization options
  • Practical experience opportunities


Aspiring social workers should select a college that has institutional accreditation. In addition to state and federal accreditation agencies, programs or schools might have approval from the Council on Social Work Education.

Degree Type and Career Goals

Prospective students who are evaluating colleges for social work also need to consider the types of degrees available. Those who seek direct-service careers as assistants or caseworkers should select a school that offers a bachelor's degree program in social work, while those who intend to work for schools, health centers or social service agencies as clinicians or supervisors should choose from schools with graduate degree programs.

Specialization Options

When choosing a social work school, students frequently consider the specializations or concentrations that a college offers. Specializations within the field of social work include aging, mental health and adolescent development.

Practical Experience Opportunities

Fieldwork and internship opportunities are also important to prospective students. Professional experience, which reinforces the lessons learned in the classroom, is valuable to employers. In terms of career prospects, some schools have relationships with social service agencies or they're located in an area with a higher demand for social services.

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
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