CSWE Accredited Online Bachelor of Social Work Programs

BSWDespite the fact that every state requires its licensed social workers to earn at least a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree to qualify, the Bachelor of Social Work degree is still more popular according to the basic numbers. According to the Annual Survey on Social Work Education that is put together by the Council on Social Work Education, there were nearly 100,000 students enrolled in a social work degree program full-time and more than half of those students were enrolled in a BSW degree program. Now, those numbers are slightly misleading because more BSW programs were surveyed for the project, but the fact still stands that BSW degrees continue to be the most popular and prevalent degree when it comes to social work.

However, that statement is completely the opposite when it comes to accredited online social work programs. In fact, according to data from the same survey. Only nine BSW programs said the program was available entirely online, 162 schools said part of the program is online or hybrid and a whopping 263 schools said that they didn’t offer online degrees or coursework at the BSW level. In sum, more than half of all BSW degree programs interviewed didn’t offer any online coursework while just 22.8 percent of MSW degree programs said the same.

This isn’t good news for aspiring social workers who are looking for a diverse group of accredited online BSW degree programs but it shouldn’t be bad news either. Whereas students looking into online MSW degree programsCSWE accredited MSW programs, and CSWE accredited online MSW programs need to sift through more than 100 schools to find the right fit, there are far fewer worthwhile options for students looking at the online BSW degree program. This is in large part because, despite the fact that more than 100 BSW programs do offer some online coursework, there are only eight accredited online BSW degree programs according to the only source that matters – the CSWE. Only one of the eight programs is a part-time BSW degree completion program, only four of the eight programs are fully online degrees and only four of the eight programs are available to students across the United States. The programs are all unique in different ways but before breaking down and analyzing the differences in the programs, it is important for students to understand what accreditation is and why it is important.

What Exactly Is Accreditation?

Social workers are responsible for the care of other people physically, emotionally and mentally. This means they not only need to be trained effectively and diligently, but it also means they should be educated correctly. There are obviously different ways to correctly educate an aspiring social worker, but there are also some agreed upon standards that all programs must meet. This is the crux of the accreditation process.

The goal is to advance academic quality, demonstrate accountability and demonstrate review of the practice. Essentially, accreditation is the process of ensuring that the degree program at a specific school meets the standards for preparing students for careers in the field. In laymen’s terms, the accreditation process is designed to ensure that the program applying for accreditation meets the minimum standards that will prepare students for a career as a social worker. The CSWE is the only recognized accrediting body for social workers and so it is important that students interested in accredited online BSW programs rely on information from the organization as their primary resource. The CSWE uses “Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS)” to accredit online programs the same way they would for traditional programs. These EPAS are comprised of four categories of curriculum design: program mission and goals’ explicit curriculum; implicit curriculum; and assessment. A more specific description of what specific characteristics are a part of the EPAS can be found here.

Accredited Online BSW Degree Programs

It would be impossible to profile and outline each online MSW degree program because there are so many different options and each option is unique. This is not the case for online BSW degree programs. According to the CSWE database, there are just eight accredited online BSW degree programs available throughout the country, but the CSWE also admits the list they have compiled is not intended to be exhaustive because they do not currently keep track of all the programs. They do encourage programs to report the information to them however, so it is a accurate overview of the landscape. Let’s review each school individually.

Brescia University

Located in Owensboro, KY, Brescia University is home to a BSW program that has been accredited since 1999. Obviously the online program is much newer but it just goes to show that the folks running the program are experienced and organized. The program at Brescia is unique in that it is an online degree-completion program for students who have already completed 45 credit hours. Students can finish their Associate in Human Services degree, BSW and MSW without ever having to attend a class on the campus. The program boasts flexible scheduling but is designed to be completed in two years. Coursework is taught through weekly online chats, ongoing discussion forums and interactive classrooms.

Websitehttp://online.brescia.edu/online-degrees/bachelor-of-social-work-bsw/

Briar Cliff University

Briar Cliff is the other accredited online BSW degree program that is actually a degree-completion program. Like the program at Brescia, the program at Briar Cliff is designed to be completed in two years via a part-time schedule and is only open to students with at least 77 completed credit hours. It is open to any student in the country and is fully online, meaning students do not have to visit campus and can receive one-on-one mentoring through online video sessions. The program culminates in a 450-hour field internship that can be completed where the student lives. The school is in Sioux City, IA.

Briar Cliff University is not authorized to offer its online degree programs to the residents of the following states: CT, DE, KY, MA, NY, SC, UT, and WI

Websitehttps://www.briarcliff.edu/online-social-work-degree/ 

California State University, Chico

This is the first not-really fully online BSW degree program that is accredited by the CSWE. The program at Chico State is commonly referred to as a Distributed Learning Program that is a three-year program involving 3-9 credit hours per semester that begins junior year. In other words, it is very similar to a degree-completion program. The program is primarily completed online but each student must make two weekend intensive visits to the campus each semester and students must also complete field practicums in a designated county in Northern California. This, as you might imagine, means the program really only makes sense for students in Northern California already.

Websitehttp://www.csuchico.edu/swrk/programs/bsw/

Humboldt State University

The other distributed learning program in Northern California, Humboldt State offers two-year and three-year program options where classes are taught through a combination of online discussions, video conferencing, chats, small online group work and virtual projects. The program has a specific emphasis on Indigenous and rural community and each online section is limited to just 25 students, so it can be difficult to get into. Students are required to be on campus once per year for an orientation intensive and classes are held weekly for three hours and can be flexibly adapted to fit student schedules.

Websitehttps://www2.humboldt.edu/socialwork/programs/bachelors-degree-social-work

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Accredited since 1995, the BSW degree program at Metropolitan State University of Denver is one of the school’s most popular programs and now its online version is growing in popularity as well. The program will officially open in the Fall of 2016 with a fully online BSW degree option that is, unfortunately, only open to students in Colorado. It has also offered a part-time online degree option as well. There may be times when synchronous activities may be required but for the most part, classes are asynchronous. Extracurricular online seminars may be required in an effort to create a sense of community for students and faculty.

Websitehttp://www.msudenver.edu/socialwork/programscurriculum/bsswprogram/

Salisbury University

A small private school in Maryland, Salisbury University is home to a well-respected social work degree program at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The school offers courses on satellite campuses throughout the state but it also offers an online BSW degree program to students in rural parts of the state. Classes are simulcast and broadcast using interactive television, online and hybrid technology. The school is relatively small itself so the program is, as expected, also small.

Websitehttp://www.salisbury.edu/socialwork/programs/basw/basw.html

University of Utah

Utah is one of the leaders in online education and so it should come as no surprise that the University of Utah is one of the leaders in online social work degree programs. The online BSW degree program is comprehensive. It offers full-time and part-time options, it doesn’t require any campus visits, offers coursework through online discussions and forums and direct online interaction with professors. The only catch is that the university does not yet offer its core requirement courses online, so anyone who wishes to earn their BSW degree online must first have completed the core requirements in a traditional setting or have received an Associate’s degree from a regionally accredited university.

Websitehttps://online.utah.edu/ug-programs/social-work/

Western New Mexico University

Located somewhat out of the way in Silver City, Western New Mexico University luckily is one of the few accredited online programs that doesn’t require students to ever visit the campus. Some students use Skype-like technology to communicate with professors, review coursework and ask questions. Other students, the ones already in the state, go to branch locations and use instructional television to proceed through the program. Students in state and in surrounding states can get tuition waivers and the program allows students to even take their field practicum from a distance as well.

Websitehttp://socialwork.wnmu.edu/bsw/

CSWE Online Accredited Schools

Explore CSWE accredited programs and request information from our full list of schools.

Schools 

Boise State University

Online Program
Phone: (208) 426-1000

Brescia University

Online Program
Phone: (877) 273-7242

Briar Cliff University

Online Program
Phone: (800) 662-3303

California State University, Chico

Online Program
Phone: (530) 898-6204

Humboldt State University

Online Program
Phone: (707) 826-4448

Humboldt State University

Online Program
Phone: (707) 826-4448

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Online Program
Phone: (303) 556-5740

Michigan State University

Online Program
Phone: (517) 353-8622

Salisbury University

Online Program
Phone: (410) 543-6000

University of Alabama

Online Program
Phone: (205) 348-6010

University of Texas at Arlington

Online Program
Phone: (817) 272-3181

University of Utah

Online Program
Phone: (801) 581-8761

University of Utah

Online Program
Phone: (801) 581-8761

Virginia Commonwealth University

Online Program
Phone: (804) 828-1030

Western Kentucky University

Online Program
Phone: (270) 745-5312

Western New Mexico University

Online Program
Phone: (575) 538-6011

See our Best Online BSW Programs.