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Top Rated Schools with Social Work Degrees in the U.S.

Learn about the top-rated schools for social work, which include a number of high-ranking national universities. Read about the degree options at three top-notch institutions, and find a table with at-a-glance information about other schools in the U.S. that provide training for social workers.

Here we'll review the top-rated schools with social work degrees, a few of them also being ranked high in general. These programs or schools are typically noted for their research contributions, scholarly initiatives, or diverse degree options.

School Overviews

The following schools offer programs that have been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which can lead to a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in social work. They include Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the University of Georgia in Athens and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. All four of these schools are nationally ranked in general, specifically ranked for their social work programs or both. Unique to the individual schools are graduate areas of concentration or the opportunity to pursue a dual-degree program.

Washington University in Saint Louis, MO

School Highlight: The 3/2 social work program allows undergraduates to earn an MSW with an additional year of study.

According to U.S. News & World Report for 2017, Washington University in St. Louis had tied as the number two social work grad program in the U.S. This private research school also ranked as the 19th-best college in the country by USN&WR for 2017. Through the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, students can pursue an accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program; the school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work, as well as a dual MSW/Master of Public Health (MPH). Aspiring social workers enrolled in the master's degree program can focus on one of seven concentrations, including individualized; social and economic development; children, youth and families; American Indian and Alaska Native; mental health; general health or older adults and aging societies.

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

School Highlight: The Master's International program in social work is offered in collaboration with the Peace Corps.

The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor ranked first in the nation for 2017, as designated by U.S. News & World Report. The school also placed 27th on the USN&WR list of best universities. Programs include an undergraduate minor in social work, an MSW and a Ph.D. in Social Work. The school also offers nine concentrations separated into two categories. The first practice methods category includes concentrations in social policy and evaluation, interpersonal finance, community organization and human service management. The second practice area category offers concentrations in aging, children and youth studies; communities and social systems; health and mental health.

University of Georgia in Athens, GA

School Highlight: Social work students can pursue study abroad programs in Ghana, Northern Ireland and Mexico.

In 2017, the University of Georgia was ranked as one of the top 20 public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The university's School of Social Work offers accredited programs leading to a BSW, MSW or Ph.D. in Social Work. Additional programs include a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Nonprofit Organizations and a combined MSW/Juris Doctor (J.D.). Unique to the school is its Burn Camp, offered in conjunction with the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation, in which students work with children who've suffered fire-related injuries.

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH

School Highlight: Number one school of social work in the state of Ohio, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

In addition to holding the ninth position in social work programs, Case Western Reserve University is also tied at the #37 place for best national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017. The Mandel School, the first university-affiliated social work program in the country, offers a social work minor, master's degree, and a Ph.D in social welfare. Study abroad, civic engagement, and online options are available for certain degrees. Certificates in school social work and nonprofit management are also offered.

Top Social Work Programs

These schools are well-regarded for their superb social work programs:

  • Columbia University, in New York, NY, has a School of Social Work which includes the Field Education Department.
  • The University of California in Berkeley, CA, offers a dual Master of Social Work and Public Policy program.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC, has the Jordan Institute of Families.
  • The University of Pittsburgh, located in Pittsburgh, PA, is nationally recognized for their Center on Race and Social Problems.
  • The University of Texas at Austin, located in Austin, TX, tied for the seventh best ranking among social work programs for 2017, according to U.S. News & World Report.
  • The School of Social Work has a partnership with Cambodia's Royal University in Phnom Penh (RUPP) at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.

The four main schools discussed have some of the strongest social work programs in the U.S., and some of them also hold high national rankings. Other universities also provide top-notch social work programs with plenty of offerings and opportunities.


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