A Guide to Online Social Work Degrees Accredited Online Degree Programs in Social Work

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Considering an online degree in social work? What is social work about? Social work is based on the development and cohesion of society. Practitioners empower people and communities. When you work as a social worker, you first gain understanding of human development including the economic and social forces that result in cultural interactions and institutions.

What is social work about? Keep reading to find out more about what social workers do and how to become one.

What Does a Social Worker Do?

The best way to find out what social workers do is to look at an example job description for a social worker. In job descriptions of a social worker, you can see that they help people cope with changing circumstances and challenges in life. This could include patients with a terminal illness, a couple adopting a child or those recovering from substance abuse trying to reintegrate into society.

What does a social worker do?  Here is a sample social worker job description.

Social workers are compassionate and serve the community. they assist clients impacted by child abuse, neglect, mental illness, substance abuse and other factors. Casework involves in person and by phone interviews with their charges. As a social worker, you might assess clients and gather information about their circumstances with an aim to prevent crises and make referrals to agencies that provide support.

A social worker job description holds the key to succeeding in the role. Social workers must stay calm and show empathy to their clients. Many times, clients will be upset because of their circumstances and in desperate need of help. Other reactions such as anger or resentment also require patience and empathy.

Responsibilities listed on one job description for a social worker include the following:

  • Assisting clients in person or by telephone
  • Encouraging clients to take part in beneficial activities
  • Evaluating clients by collecting information
  • Offer support and referrals to families or individuals in need
  • Contact other agencies to obtain services for clients
  • Document interactions and reports and various software systems
  • Take part in supervision and training related to the job
  • Provide intervention for crisis and be aware of possible signs of child abuse

Requirements on job descriptions of a social worker typically include a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education in social work, psychology or a closely related field.

Other requirements may include:

  • Experience working with children or adults who have been the victim of abuse, violence, mental health issues or related trauma.
  • Communication skills and active listening skills to better understand the needs in questions of social service clients.
  • Ability to weigh the costs and benefits of social services and health care to choose the best course of action
  • Licensed to practice as a clinical social worker.

Most Popular Schools with Online Social Work Degree Programs

Quick Facts: Social Workers
2019 Median Pay$50,470 per year
$24.26 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationSee How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 2019713,200
Job Outlook, 2019-2913% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-2990,700
BLS, 2021

Most Affordable Online Social Work Degree Programs

How Do I Become a Social Worker?

For those looking for how to become a social worker, the basic steps are outlined below. How long does it take to become a social worker? It may take as long as 7-9 years, depending on what you would like to do with your education.

Earn Your Undergraduate Degree

How do you become a social worker? Someone fresh out of high school looking forward to a career as a social worker will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree for most jobs in the field. It’s not a deal breaker if you have a degree in another field and wish to pursue a master’s in social work. However, most programs expect students to complete courses in psychology and other subjects that are crucial to mastering social work. Most importantly, choose a baccalaureate degree with the appropriate regional and national accreditation. Otherwise, your credits aren’t likely to transfer.

Volunteer Experience

How do I become a social worker? During your undergraduate degree or immediately after, get some volunteer experience in the area in which you wish to work. You need to show your commitment and dedication to those who need to make a mark on perspective employers in this competitive field. Dedicate at least six months to appropriate volunteer work in order to gain acceptance into a CSWE-accredited master’s program.

Master’s Degree Program

For those searching for how to become a social worker, a master’s degree greatly improves the choices for employment. The areas of study for master’s programs include mental health, families, business social work and community planning. Social work requires licensing at the state level for most positions.

Licensing Supervision

After completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree, you will need to gain clinical experience for two to three years in order to work towards your own license.

How long does it take to become a social worker? Count on a minimum of 5 years. If you can work while you study, you may be able to pay down some of your debt and gain the volunteer experience needed to get into a good social work program. How do you become a social worker without interrupting my career? Many students choose an accredited online degree in social work to fast-track their education while gaining valuable work experience.

How do I become a social worker? Explore different levels of education and available online programs to determine the one that’s best for you.

What Can You Do with a Social Work Degree?

Social work degree jobs range in variety and responsibilities. Some jobs with social work degrees may require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. Other jobs with a social work degree require a license or certification in specific practice areas, such as clinical alcohol and drug abuse treatment.

Social work degree jobs outside of clinical and state and local agencies include the following examples:

College Admissions Counseling

Jobs with a social work degree include college admissions counselors work for private businesses or public institutions that help college students get through the difficult and sometimes confusing admissions process. This gives graduates an opportunity to work with students without the intensity of substance abuse or mental health issues.

Community Service Managers

Many social workers find jobs in nonprofit organizations. This includes advocacy agencies and requires placing an objective lens on human behavior. These jobs require analysis of social systems and objectivity in a variety of potentially stressful situations.

Human Resources Managers

Becoming an HR manager is one of the most rewarding alternative jobs with social work degrees. In this role you need communication skills and empathy. Your job is to advocate for employees in difficult situations such as sexual harassment, hiring processes and disciplinary policies and procedures.

Business Owner

Many graduates of social work programs end up becoming successful business owners. A degree in social work helps you develop communication skills and empathy, which help you succeed in gaining people’s trust and partnering with vendors and other resources to solve problems.

High School Teacher or College Professor

Social workers develop counseling skills when they work with clients or patients. For those wishing to switch careers, these transferable skills can be leveraged in high school and college teaching careers. An additional degree may be needed to make this transition successfully. however, depending on the student’s prior performance, accelerated education programs can help shorten the timeline to transition into a new job.

Degree Types: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral 

The level of education that you obtain affects the jobs available to you. In social work, many hiring institutions require advanced degrees due to the complicated nature of the work, which requires a combination of psychology and clinical aspects.


An associate’s degree in social work online can help you determine if this field is right for you. While there are limited jobs for online social work associates degree graduates, you can use your education as a steppingstone for entry-level work in a relevant organization.

With an associate’s degree in social work online, graduates begin to prepare for higher education or careers in public service. For example, students can become social worker assistants and provide services to agencies that support families and communities.

An online associate’s degree in social work enables graduates to find careers working with mental health social workers and helping those with mental illness. Most of the work involves administrative duties to support licensed social workers. With an online social work associates degree, you can look for work in administrative and clinical settings. Also, an online associates degree in social work is a great step toward completing a four-year degree since most credits are transferrable.


Online bachelor degrees in social work are the minimum required by many employers at state and local agencies. Private employers also typically require a bachelor in social work online degree for entry level positions. A bachelor of social work degree online followed by a master’s degree can qualify students to obtain their license in most states.

With a bachelor degree in social work online, students can apply for volunteer and internship opportunities at nonprofits and other organizations requiring individuals with an understanding of social work and psychology.

An online bachelors of social work degree is a great Way to build upon an associates degree in the humanities or a related field. With online bachelor degrees in social work, students gain a knowledge of the cultural, economic, social and mental health issues that individuals deal with.

While getting a bachelor in social work online degree, students have more flexibility than attending in class courses alone. In fact, many students work while studying for a bachelor of social work degree online. Many students complete their bachelor degree in social work online part-time to accommodate their schedule.


The University of Southern California offers a masters in social work online and has a graduation rate of 92%. Columbia University has a 96% graduation rate and also offers a master of social work online.

Other schools that offer masters in social work online programs include the University of South Florida and Boston University. Finding the right master of social work online is not limited by geography or personal obligations. Students choose what courses to take and when to study for them.


Students can choose from many schools offering an accredited online PhD in social work.

When choosing an online social work Ph.D., students should consider the online PhD in social work that best fits their future career goals. Selecting the right social work PhD online is crucial as it can impact the decisions of hiring managers for good or ill.

An online social work PhD also prepares students who wish to teach at the college level.


The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) evaluates accredited online degrees in social work in the USA. CSWE Accreditation accredits programs that meet its strict standards. Additionally, the Department of Education has a database where students can research accredited online social work degrees.

Ensure that the school you choose offers accredited online social work degrees. Educational institutions and employers typically require accredited online degrees in social work as a contingency of admissions or employment, respectively.


Many employers require specific certification or licenses. If you have decided on a specific course for your career, it may be a good idea to research the appropriate requirements for government, private and public institutions and agencies.

Some certification for social work programs are geared toward students with a master’s degree in counseling. This includes pastors and activists hoping to promote change. With certifications in social work, students can prepare for their state licensing requirements, and social work certifications help mid-career individuals boost their prospects of promotion or higher paying employment.

With a certificate in social work, students can catch up on concepts they missed while obtaining a degree in a related field. A certificate for social work Is also a great way to prepare for master’s or doctoral degrees. With a certification for social work, practitioners can learn the latest theories and practices after an absence such as taking time off to raise children.

Certifications in social work combined with licensure in the state of choice pave the way for successful social work career. Social work certifications are a great way for those switching careers to come up to speed quickly.


There are many scholarship opportunities for those who wish to help others through social work. Social work scholarships Defray the cost of higher education and reduce the amount of loans that students have to pay back. Many scholarships for social work rely on the student’s GPA from high school or undergraduate coursework.

However, some social work scholarships are based on financial need. Find scholarships for social work that best apply to your experience and needs.

Related Rankings:

Best Online Associate’s in Social Work

Best Online Bachelor’s in Social Work

Best Online Master’s in Social Work

Best Online Social Work Doctorates

Best Social Work Scholarships

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?