Best Online Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW): Students Before Profits Award 2015-2016

Best-Online-Bachelor’s-of-Social-Work-(BSW)-Students-Before-Profits-Award-2015-2016The Students Before Profits Award was created to promote nonprofit colleges and universities offering online degree programs that put students before profits and education before the bottom line.

For our 2015/2016 Online Bachelor’s in Social Work award winners, we selected online programs from accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities with objectively lower than average tuition cost and have ranked the programs according to their affordability.

While affordability, accreditation and nonprofit status are our primary criteria when it comes to ranking these programs, many of these programs are consistently ranked at the top by other national publications and we believe they deserve to be considered among the best online bachelor’s in social work programs available.

The social work profession shows up in all areas of social life: in schools, hospitals, the work place, health care settings, prisons, and beyond. Social workers serve individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities, helping people navigate a range of problems that occur across the human life span. Social workers assist veterans, persons with developmental disabilities, and people with mental health needs. Social workers engage in social advocacy, social planning, and administration. Above all else, social work is a profession that places value on individuals life and works to maximize the quality of life for the populations it serves.  Thus, social work can be a highly rewarding profession.  Additionally, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the social work is an area of labor expecting 19% growth between 2012 and 2022 which puts it above average so social workers are and will continue to be in high demand.

Among the programs ranked here are several non-traditional social work degree programs that are not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and thus will not lead to licensure as social worker, yet are still focus on equipping individuals for human service and other social work related careers.  We believe these programs are still valuable educational opportunities though they will not necessarily credential students for work with the kind of social work agencies that many students pursuing these degrees will need.  Make sure to check that the program is accredited not only by regional accrediting bodies, but also by the CSWE if your career goals include licensure as a practicing social worker.

Some of these programs are degree completion programs, meaning a substantial amount of college credit or the completion of an associate’s degree is expected to be earned at a regionally accredited 2 or 4 year institution prior to admission in the program, where the student will then complete the remainder of their bachelor requirements (typically the social work program specific requirements).  Degree completion programs in this ranking have been noted as such and tuition rates are calculated based on the national average tuition cost per semester completed at 2 year institutions with the assumption that the majority of students enrolling in completion programs will earn the credits required at local community colleges before transferring into the online program.  This national average (as reported by Collegeboard.org) is $3,347 per semester.  This figure was multiplied by the number of full-time semester required to complete all prerequisite coursework before entering each given completion program then added to the cost per credit multiplied by the remaining required credits of each completion program to determine a reasonable estimate for total cost of the degree and placement within our ranking.

Note that tuition rates listed below are based on cost per credit and individual programs may have additional fees.

#1. Humbolt State University

Humbolt State University

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Humbolt State University is a public research university located in Arcata, California and is a member of the 23 campus California State University System.  The University was founded in 1913 as a teacher’s college and today the University enrolls over 8,300 students in programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.  HSU was named in the Princeton Review as a “College with a Conscience,” due to its outstanding service learning opportunities and blending of academics with community work.

Program Overview
The Department of Social Work at Humbolt State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree program where most coursework can be  completed online. One required course in the program is only offered on-campus. The program is designed to prepare students for beginning generalist social work practice responsive to the challenges and resources present in rural areas in particular and in more populated areas in general.  Students will be equipped for entry level social work positions in the United States.  A minimum of 120 credits are required for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree.

Accreditation: Humbolt State University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.  Social Work programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 40.5%

Tuition: $21,888

#2. Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff University

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Briar Cliff University is a private, Franciscan, Roman Catholic University located in Sioux City, Iowa.  Briar Cliff offers four year academic and preprofessional programs in over 30 fields of study.  Committed to Franciscan values, the school is recognized for having a very strong dedication to integrating service into its programs of study.

Program Overview
Briar Cliff University offers a degree completion program leading to a Bachelor of Social Work degree open to students who have completed 77 college credits or an associate’s degree in social work or human services.  The program consists of 47 credits of coursework and a culminating internship of 450 hours of hands on experience that impacts your home community.  A minimum of 124 credits are required for completion of the degree.

Accreditation: Briar Cliff University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  Social Work programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 43.2%

Tuition: $34,360

#3. Bemidji State University

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Founded in 1919 as a Teachers’ College, BSU is a public university located on the shores of Lake Bemidji in northern Minnesota.  BSU enrolls over 5,300 students and offers about 80 degree programs and certificates.  Ranked by U.S. News #92 in Best Regional Universities (Midwest) and #32 Top Public Schools, Bemidji State is considered a top-tier university.

Program Overview
The Department of Social Work at Bemidji State University offers a program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Social Work through SWIM (Social Work Integrated Model) which is available mostly online with once a month on-campus visits.  The program prepares students for professional social work practice and for graduate study. Course work in sociology, psychology, political science, and biology is included in the Social Work major.  A minimum of 129 credits are required for completion of the degree.

Accreditation: Bemidji State University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Social Work programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 48%

Tuition: $36,100

#4. Utah State University

Utah State University

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Founded in 1888 as an agricultural college, Utah State University is a public research university located in Logan, Utah.  USU maintains a focus on agricultural studies to this day, but also has strong programs in domestic arts and mechanic arts.  Utah State University enrolls over 28,800 students at its main campus in Logan and across its multiple satellite campuses across the state of Utah.

Program Overview
Utah State University offers online Bachelor of Science degree programs in Communicative Disorders & Deaf Education, and Family Consumer Development, both of which are designed to prepare students for entry level positions in particular areas of social work.  The bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders is a first step for students who desire a career in Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology. It is also required to work as a speech/language or audiology technician or assistant. The Family, Consumer and Human Development major is designed to prepare students for successful careers serving individuals and families across the lifespan. Through classroom study and applied experiences, the major studies how human development, family relationships, family economics, and consumer issues affect the individual and family.  Both program require 120 credits for completion.

Accreditation:Utah State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 52.5%

Tuition
In-State: $25,240
Out-of-State: $35,880

#5. Southern New Hampshire University

Southern Newhampshire University

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Founded in 1933 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Service, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit university located between Manchester and Hookset, New Hampshire. The state granted the college its charter in 1963, and the first baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 1966. Its online campus boasts over 200 regionally accredited undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, and also has specialized accreditation for some of its degrees and programs.

Program Overview
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Human Services designed to teach the art of advocacy and provide students with the fundamentals to effectively help others in need. The program  gives students more than an understanding of how compassion meets policy and process. It offers the personal rewards that come from improving the lives of individuals, families or entire populations.  The program requires 120 credits for completion of the degree.

Accreditation: SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 59.4%

Tuition: $38,400

#6. Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

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Located in Clarion, Pennsylvania, Clarion University is a public university and part of the University of Pennsylvania System.  The school was founded in 1867 as a normal school for the preparation of teachers in the region operating out of Carrier Seminary.  Today the university enrolls close to 7,000 students in associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level degree programs.

Program Requirements
Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers an online Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Community Services. The degree is designed to meet a variety of student needs. Having a transdisciplinary orientation, combining rehabilitation, psychology and sociology, the program allows students to select courses from these disciplines based upon specific interests and future career goals. Those who have an interest in human services, sociology, or psychology but have not targeted a specific post-graduate outcome would also benefit from the interdisciplinary approach of the concentration. This concentration targets students who seek work in a variety of community agencies after graduation, or who want to continues their education with graduate study.  The program requires 138 credits for completion.

Accreditation: Clarion University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 53%

Tuition: $39,192

#7. Washburn University

Washburn University

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Washburn University is a public university founded in 1865 and located in Topeka, Kansas.  The school enrolls nearly 7,000 students in over 200 certificate, baccalaureate, master’s and juris doctor programs of study through the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Schools of Law, Business, Nursing, and Applied Science.

Program Overview
The Bachelor of Science in Social Work offered through the school of applied studies at Washburn University features a large percentage of coursework which can be taken online.  Some courses in this program are only offered on-campus. The program is committed to providing opportunities to students who may otherwise experience barriers to higher education.  The BSW program is strongly linked to the core values of the profession. The program  maintains its mission by integrating content throughout the curriculum relevant to the pursuit of social and economic justice, as well as its dedication to the value, worth, and dignity of all persons.  The BSW program is designed to prepare undergraduate social work students for a generalist practice that will meet the multi-level needs of clients. A  minimum of 124 credits are required for completion of the BSW program.

Accreditation: Washburn University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The Social Programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 33.5%

Tuition:$39,556

#8. Appalachian State University

Applachian State University

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Located in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State University is a comprehensive public university enrolling over 17,500 students.  ASU was founded in 1899 as a teacher’s college and now offers 103 undergraduate and 49 graduate majors as well as a doctoral program in educational leadership.

Program Overview
The Bachelor of Social Work degree completion program offered through Appalachian State University’s Distance Education is a hybrid program of study with much of the coursework completed online. The program is designed to prepare students for entry level professional practice in a wide variety public and private social welfare agencies, organizations, and programs. Study includes the social, economic, and political processes involved in the development and change of social service institutions, the dynamics of human behavior, and the intervention methods and their applications to a wide variety of situations and clients.

Tuition
In-State: $19,992
Out-of-State: $43,132

#9. Brescia University

Brescia University

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Brescia University is a private, Catholic university located in Owensboro, Kentucky.  The school was founded in 1925 as a women’s college, but is now a coeducational university offering undergraduate and master’s degree programs.

Program Overview
Brescia University Online offers a degree completion program leading to a Bachelor in Social Work,  The program requires a minimum of 45 credits to be transferred in or that prospective students hold an Associate degree in Human Services or a related field.  Students may choose to complete their Associate in Human Services through Brescia Online in order to meet these requirements.

Accreditation: Brescia University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Social Work programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 45.8%

Tuition: $43,656

#10. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan U

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Indiana Wesleyan University is a private Christian university founded in 1920 by the Wesleyan Church Denomination.  The University has a total enrollment of over 15,000 students, a large portion of which are enrolled in IWU’s many online degree program.  U.S. News ranks Indiana Wesleyan University at #17 in Regional Universities (Midwest) and #6 in Best Value Schools.

Program Overview
Indiana Wesleyan University offers a fully online Bachelor of Social Work degree designed  to equip students to enhance human well being and to meet basic human needs. Students gain first-hand knowledge regarding individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations in order to better understand the way humans are impacted by their environments. Graduates will be prepared for entry-level social work practice through a variety of classroom, volunteer, and practicum experiences. A minimum of 124 credits are required for graduation from the program.

Accreditation: Indiana Wesleyan University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The Programs in social work are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 71.4%

Tuition: $46,500

#11. Touro University Worldwide

Touro University Worldwide

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Part of the Touro College and University System, Touro University Worldwide is a standalone nonprofit and fully online institution of higher learning.  Touro University Worldwide is noted as being the first university in the world to offer a regionally accredited doctoral degree fully online with no residency requirements.  A member of the Touro College and University system which enrolls over 19,000 students, TUW is committed to Judaic foundation and values including social justice, intellectual pursuit, and service of the underserved.

Program Overview
The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Touro Worldwide is offered in a fully online format.  The program prepares culturally competent entry level social workers and inspires students to be advocates for social change and a more just and equitable society. Students will enter rewarding careers as generalist social workers helping individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations by providing guidance, counseling, referrals and practical human services.  The program requires 120 credits for completion.

Accreditation: Tuoro University Worldwide is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 80%

Tuition: $48,000

#12. Pennsylvania State University

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Established in 1855, Pennsylvania State University is a state-related research university with 24 statewide campuses. In 2010, the university’s enrollment, including online learners, totaled 94,300 students. Pennsylvania State University World Campus is often referred to as “Penn State Online” and is the virtual campus of Pennsylvania State University. The World Campus was founded in 1998, but Pennsylvania State University has been offering distance education courses since 1892, when it developed one of the nation’s pioneer correspondence study programs for statewide farmers.

Program Overview
Pennsylvania State University offers an online degree program leading to a Bachelor of  Science in Human Development and Family Studies is designed to can help students learn how individuals change from birth to old age, how families and communities influence these processes, and how to apply this knowledge in order to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions designed to improve people’s lives and will prepare students for entry level positions with agencies dealing in this particular area of social work.  The program requires 120 credits for completion.

Accreditation: Pennsylvania State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 85.6%

Tuition: $52,048

#13. Union Institute & University

Union Institute University

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A private, non-profit university specializing in low-residency and distance education programs, Union Institute University is located in Cincinnati, Ohio and has satellite campuses across Ohio and in Vermont, Florida, and California.  UIU currently enrolls over 2,000 students in programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

Program Overview
Union Institute & University offers an online option for its Bachelor of Science in Social Work Program which provides grounding in social work knowledge, values, and competency skills, with an emphasis on evidence-based practice. The social work major requires knowledge about human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, multicultural social work, human diversity, social and economic justice, social work ethical standards, strengths-based practice, and research.  The program requires 120 credits for completion.

Accreditation: Union Institute & University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 26.7%

Tuition: $58,800

#14. Thomas University

ThomasUniversity

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Thomas University is a private, not-for-profit university located in Thomasville, Georgia. The school was founded by the Primitive Baptist Church in 1954, but became officially nonsectarian and independent (of the Primitive Baptists) in 1979. The university began offering graduate degrees in 1998.

Program Overview
Thomas University offers a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Studies available online. The program is designed to prepare students to provide rehabilitation services in public and private agencies to persons with various disabilities.  Concentrations are available in School to Work Transitions, Addictions, Gerontology, and Criminal Justice.  A minimum of 120 credits are required for completion of the program.
$7,400/semester $493/credit (roughly)

Accreditation: Thomas University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  Social Work programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 14.3%

Tuition: $59,200

#15. University of Maryland University College

UniversityofMarylandUniversityCollege

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University of Maryland University College is a development of the University of Maryland’s evening program for adults that began in the 1920’s. UMUC is an open university and one of the largest distance learning institutions in the world. The school serves over 90,000 students worldwide in a combination of on-campus courses and online courses and has campuses located all over the world. UMUC offers face-to-face courses to deployed military at bases in Afghanistan and Djibouti, Africa.

The University of Maryland University College offers a Bachelor of Science in Gerontology and Aging Services available online.  The program is designed to prepare students to implement and manage health and human service programs in gerontology and aging services. It combines a foundation in the psychosocial and physiological aspects of aging with an understanding of programs, services, and policies related to aging and older adults. Graduates are prepared for careers such as gerontological services or program manager, program and policy analyst, services developer, and housing or facilities manager.  A minimum of 120 credits are required for completion of the program.

prepares students to implement and manage health and human service programs in gerontology and aging services. It combines a foundation in the psychosocial and physiological aspects of aging with an understanding of programs, services, and policies related to aging and older adults. Graduates are prepared for careers such as gerontological services or program manager, program and policy analyst, services developer, and housing or facilities manager.

Accreditation: UMUC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 4.3%

Tuition
In-State: $33,480
Out-of-State: $59,880
Note: Other tuition rates apply for a variety of different circumstances. See program website for various rates.

#16. Brandman University

Brandman University

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Brandman university is a private, nonprofit university with multiple campuses in California and Washington as well as extensive virtual offerings.  The university’s primary focus is on providing educational opportunities to working adults.  BU offers over 50 degree, certificate, and professional programs in business, arts and sciences, health, and education.  The university was founded in 1958 and currently enrolls over 11,000 students.  

Program Overview
Brandman University’s Bachelor of Arts in Social Work degree program offers fully online courses of study and is a professional program that requires 400 on-site hours of supervised field practice in a social service agency and is based in liberal arts education that promotes scientific inquiry. Graduates will have the foundation for entry-level social work careers in areas such as child welfare, community mental health, developmental disabilities, criminal justice and other settings and/or have the preparation needed to begin a higher level of study in the field. A minimum of 120 credits are required for completion.

Accreditation: Brandman University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

6 Year Graduation Rate: Data not available

Tuition: $60,000

#17. Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University

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Western New Mexico University is a public university located in Silver City, New Mexico. The university was founded in 1893 as a normal school for the preparation of teachers in the state and surrounding areas and has since developed into a comprehensive university enrolling over 3,500 students.  WNMU offers more than 70 areas of study and over 150 courses online and is known for its programs in Education, Criminal Justice, Occupational Therapy, Business Management, Nursing, and Social Work.

Program Overview
The Bachelor of Social Work degree offered by Western New Mexico University includes online study options.  The program emphasizes the core social work values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence in a caring and nurturing environment.  Graduates will be prepared as generalists who get jobs in hospitals, schools, government agencies, non-profit organizations, correctional facilities, community mental health clinics, nursing facilities, child welfare agencies, drug & alcohol treatment facilities, out-patient clinics, and more.

Accreditation: Western New Mexico University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Its programs in Social Work are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 16.8%

Tuition
In-State: $25,664
Out-of-State: $60,120

#18. Saint Louis University

SLUcampus

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Saint Louis University of St. Louis, Missouri, is a private research university founded in 1818. A member institution of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Saint Louis University is the second-oldest Jesuit university in the nation. The school’s historic campus is comprised of 271 urban acres and includes libraries, museums, and the relatively new clock tower that has become the heart of Saint Louis University’s on-campus life.

Program Overview
The School for Professional Studies and School of Social Work at Saint Louis University offer a collaborative Bachelor of Social Work degree program through a convenient and accelerated online learning format. This Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work program is intended to provide an excellent foundation for those who wish to pursue graduate education in social work or in other graduate programs and will equip students with necessary skills and credentials to begin work as a generalist social worker. A minimum of 120 credits are required for completion of the degree.

Accreditation: Saint Louis University is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  Social Work programs are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 70,2%

Tuition: $74,100

#19. Metropolitan State University of Denver

Metro State University of Denver

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MSU is a public university located in Denver, Colorado founded in 1965.  The school has the second-largest enrollment of undergraduates of any college in Colorado enrolling over 24,000 students.  MSU offers 56 different major programs of study at the undergraduate level and recently began offering master’s programs in teacher education, accounting and social work.  

Program Overview
The Bachelor or Science in Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver offers opportunities for distance online and video broadcast courses.  The program offers a wide variety of concentrations to further prepare students for their particular career goals in social work: Child Welfare, Developmental Disabilities, Early Intervention, Child/Adolescent Mental Health, Gender and Sexuality, Women, and Aging concentrations are options available. A minimum of 120 credits are required for completion of the degree.

Accreditation: Metro State University of Denver is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The programs in Social Work are recognized by the Council on Social Work Education Office of Social work Accreditation.

6 Year Graduation Rate: 25%

Tuition
In-State: $24,280
Out-of-State: $75,552

#20. Goodwin College

Goodwin College

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Goodwin College is a private, nonprofit college located in Hartford, Connecticut.  The school began as the Data Institute Business School in 1962 and became Goodwin College in 1999.  Goodwin College transitioned to nonprofit status in 2004 at which time it was granted accreditation the New England Association of Colleges and Schools.  The school enrolls over 3,000 students in a variety of associate’s and bachelor’s degree and certificate programs.

Program Overview
Goodwin College’s Bachelor in Human Services degree offers opportunities for much of the program to be completed through online course offerings.  The program is designed to equip students with necessary knowledge and skills to enter a career as a Human Services professional. working to improve the quality of living of various populations of vulnerable individuals. The program requires a minimum of 120 credits for completion.Accreditation: Goodwin College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.6 Year Graduation Rate: 21%

Tuition: $75,600