Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Michigan

In the constant rivalry between Michigan and Ohio, Ohio has Michigan beat when it comes to social work degree options, but not by much. Ohio has 35 accredited social work degree programs but Michigan isn't far behind with 31 accredited programs itself according to the Council on Social Work Education. The perhaps disappointing part about that number is that only nine of those programs are Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree programs and most of those programs are Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree programs.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the professional social work community in Michigan is quite large as well. As of May 2014, Michigan was home to at least 23,000 professional social workers. Roughly half of those social workers are child, family, and school social workers (12,260) but there are also approximately 5,890 healthcare social workers, 4,430 substance abuse social workers and 990 specialty social workers employed across the state. Michigan is in the middle of the pack when it comes to paying its social workers. The annual average salary of social workers in Michigan ranges between $44,490 for substance abuse social workers and $55,080 for specialty social workers.

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Under the Michigan Social Work Licensure Act, there are three different levels of licenses available through the Michigan Board of Social Work. The Licensed Bachelor’s Social Worker (LBSW) and Registered Social Service Technician (RSST) are licenses for social workers without a Masters in Social Work (MSW). These are entry-level positions in the field. Social workers who wish to provide clinical therapy or work in a management position will be required to obtain the Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) credentials. This includes:

  • An MSW from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program
  • A passing grade on the appropriate ASWB exam, which means earning a 75 percent or better
  • Completing 4,000 post-graduate hours of employment as a social worker while under supervision

While working to earn the LMSW, an applicant must hold the limited license while accruing the hours required to gain credentialing.


Michigan Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers

Michigan offers nine colleges with the CSWE-accredited MSW program. There are no programs available in the Upper Peninsula. Although most of them are in Southern Michigan, in Big Rapids, Ferris State University is in its candidacy stage for accreditation, and fully expects to receive full status in February, 2016.

Heading up the rankings in Social Work, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor holds the No. 1 spot in the entire country according U.S. News & World Report. It also holds a number of top-ten rankings for many of its programs. Although known for its football team, it has excellent academic opportunities. Students at U of M have the option for more than 10 dual degree programs, and it offers many different concentration areas.

In Berrien Springs, near Benton Harbor, MI, Andrews University offers the MSW with concentration areas in school social work, mental health, administration, and gerontology. AU earned the No. 148 ranking in Social Work in U.S. News & World Report. Also on the western side of the state is Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. Ranked No. 104 GVSU is a good choice for the MSW. It offers a dual degree in Public Health Administration.

Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo ranks No. 66. Students at WMU can choose to focus on clinical practice or management and administration. In the center of the state, in the capital, Michigan State University in Lansing offers the MSW with options for a dual degree in Law or Public Health. It holds the No. 26 ranking and it is a top-ranked college in many other areas.

Finally, in the Detroit area, Wayne State University also has a long list of concentration areas for students. WSU is ranked No. 37 in the nation. Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, has concentration areas in gerontology and children, youth, and families. EMU holds the No. 89.


All of those schools offer undergraduate degree programs as well, but there are other schools in the state that only offer BSW degree programs. Those schools include Adrian College in Adrian, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Hope College in Holland and Marygrove College in Detroit and those are just a sampling.

Online Social Work Schools in Michigan

Michigan State is the only school in Michigan that offers an accredited online social work degree program and even that program comes with caveats. For example, it is only a part-time program using interactive video or video conferencing at locations around the state. It offers a clinical social work concentration but is also only available to people who live more than 50 miles from BOTH the East Lansing AND Flint campuses. It offers hybrid or blended program combining face-to-face, videoconferencing, and online instruction.

Fortunately, there are a number of other colleges across the United States offer the MSW via the Internet. With most of these programs, fieldwork can be completed in the student’s home community, but coursework is completed through the online portal of the college at the student’s convenience. Indiana University in Indianapolis is a top-ranked program with the MSW. Students should be expected to attend a short orientation at the start of the program, but no other college visit is required.

Boston University offers a part-time online program for MSW students. Their program starts in January, May or September. Two internships are completed over the course of the program totaling 1,200 hours, but the fieldwork is completed in the home community.

Humboldt State University offers a full-time online BSW option with very few in-person and on-campus requirements and Western New Mexico University is the other online BSW degree provider that is accredited. Schools like Arizona State, Fordham University and Columbia University all offer online MSW programs that do not have stringent on-campus requirements for any part of the program.

Career Opportunities for Social Workers in Michigan

The field of social work is growing by about 19 percent annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Urban areas, such as Detroit or Lansing, do tend to have higher salaries than rural areas, but social workers can find employment in most places with hospitals or community mental health centers.

The Federal Government is the largest employer of social workers. The VA, Social Security Administration, and Department of Justice all employ large numbers of LMSWs. Hospitals and schools are also in need of social workers to help vulnerable individuals who need resources to assist them to cope with daily life. Some LMSWs even operate independently as therapists who provide mental health or substance abuse services.

Social work has traditionally been a field for women, but both men and women are needed to provide services in today’s society. For people who like to help others, becoming a social worker provides a rewarding career.

For more information about the process of becoming a social worker in Michigan, visit our page on Michigan social worker license requirements.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers Salary in Michigan

United States$27,800$34,230$43,250$56,740$75,140
Ann Arbor, MI$23,970$34,310$45,640$58,350$75,660
Battle Creek, MI$30,530$34,570$41,230$50,980$59,890
Bay City, MI$28,900$33,890$41,800$50,550$60,590
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Division$28,770$34,530$43,420$55,090$62,740
Flint, MI$28,790$41,640$51,410$61,780$71,750
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI$27,840$33,630$43,000$53,560$67,780
Holland-Grand Haven, MI$37,390$44,140$52,580$60,430$74,010
Jackson, MI$16,560$18,310$40,700$48,140$59,020
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI$31,690$37,340$45,980$55,580$62,560
Lansing-East Lansing, MI$31,640$35,660$45,990$57,360$70,650
Muskegon-Norton Shores, MI$38,960$43,150$49,740$58,250$65,520
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI$32,510$37,470$46,070$55,170$61,370
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI Metropolitan Division$27,250$33,480$46,170$57,820$70,830

Table data taken from 2016 BLS (

Healthcare Social Workers Salary in Michigan

United States$32,750$41,620$53,760$65,860$80,020
Ann Arbor, MI$36,640$43,120$52,680$66,940$81,410
Battle Creek, MI$28,910$34,360$40,240$48,140$59,270
Bay City, MI$36,230$40,960$45,570$51,980$59,980
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Division$34,220$40,990$48,810$60,180$72,390
Flint, MI$41,160$48,830$57,220$67,000$74,540
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI$33,000$39,640$48,350$57,140$62,830
Holland-Grand Haven, MI$34,530$41,890$51,200$57,950$64,070
Jackson, MI$37,360$42,830$50,620$59,020$69,410
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI$35,540$42,920$54,460$67,220$77,820
Lansing-East Lansing, MI$35,720$41,990$49,670$66,720$81,510
Muskegon-Norton Shores, MI$32,620$37,610$43,490$51,370$61,470
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI$32,090$41,320$50,210$59,100$67,940
Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, MI$37,430$46,800$55,880$64,650$75,800
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI Metropolitan Division$36,370$45,230$56,890$68,870$76,470

Table data taken from 2016 BLS (

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Salary in Michigan

United States$26,730$33,240$42,700$56,610$74,650
Ann Arbor, MI$30,890$37,060$43,850$50,760$57,630
Battle Creek, MI$27,640$36,140$50,020$58,340$65,710
Bay City, MI$34,680$48,140$57,470$66,220$72,240
Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Division$28,720$33,160$39,020$47,680$56,650
Flint, MI$35,770$41,280$46,000$52,010$58,450
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI$29,990$34,090$39,450$51,060$60,070
Holland-Grand Haven, MI$33,560$42,810$56,130$67,000$72,550
Jackson, MI$28,470$34,560$47,910$60,070$91,510
Kalamazoo-Portage, MI$31,770$37,190$44,240$52,370$58,590
Lansing-East Lansing, MI$32,140$37,900$49,180$56,200$60,250
Muskegon-Norton Shores, MI$27,600$31,480$36,380$44,500$53,780
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI$31,810$37,110$44,020$52,470$65,410
Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, MI$40,650$44,220$49,650$55,570$59,230
Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, MI Metropolitan Division$34,540$40,540$47,700$55,620$60,330

Table data taken from 2016 BLS (

Featured Michigan Schools with Social Work Degree Programs