Social Work Schools and Colleges with Program Overviews

Social work schools and colleges offer associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. Read on for tips on choosing a school or college for social work.

While programs exist on many levels, the Master of Social Work program is one of the most popular as it leads to licensure in most cases. There are additional requirements and recommended coursework that all students should consider in order to be adequately prepared.

10 Schools with Social Work Programs

While many programs can prepare students for different careers in social work, below are some of the most reputable.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered In-State Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Master's, Certificate $20,638
Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO 4-year, Private Master's, Doctor $47,300
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Master's, Doctor $51,624
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor $15,207
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Master's, Doctor, Certificate $42,280
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public Master's, Doctor $9,143
University of California-Berkeley Berkley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor, Certificate $11,220
University of Texas-Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor $10,934
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 4-year, Private Master's, Doctor $41,137
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctor $26,172

School Selection Criteria

Some important considerations when choosing a school include:

  • Check to be sure your chosen college or university is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), because it assures that a program offers a rigorous education and is accepted by financial aid programs, state licensing boards and graduate schools.
  • If you are considering an undergraduate program and intend to pursue an advanced degree after graduation, you can inquire about the acceptance rate of their social work students applying to graduate schools.
  • When considering a graduate program, find out how many graduate students get their necessary supervised practice hours and their licenses.
  • Look at the social work program's curriculum to determine if courses match the training needs of your career choice.

Program Summaries

Associate Degree

The 2-year associate degree in social work program prepares graduates for entry-level caseworker positions in various human service agencies. The curriculum includes courses covering social welfare programs, U.S. government and statistics. Foreign language fluency is also very useful in social work, and many schools require some study.

Bachelor's Degree

Students earning a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) often intend to earn a master's degree, and many enroll in dual-degree programs which award both in five years. Graduates with a BSW are qualified to work as case managers in community mental health and human service programs. The curriculum includes courses on psychology and psychopathology, race and culture, oppression and social welfare systems. Foreign language courses may also be required. Field placements provide professional experience.

Master's Degree

The Master of Social Work (MSW) is a terminal degree in that most graduates do not need a doctorate for advanced practice. Students study human behavior in the social environment though extensive psychotherapy training and clinical field placements 2-3 days per week. Some schools offer a management track with courses in community organizing and supervision. Field placements with a management or organizing emphasis may also be required. Graduates of these programs sometimes choose to get a Ph.D. and teach social work at the collegiate level.

Associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in social work all prepare prospective students for a number of different careers in the field. In order to pick the most appropriate school, students must decide on such factors such as career goals, program cost and location, among others.

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