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Cost is an issue when a person wants to earn a degree in social work. Fortunately, there are ways to find affordable social work degree programs and decrease the cost of earning a degree. First and foremost, a person may want to begin by searching “affordable social work degree programs in your area” or “cheap social work degree programs in your area.” Next, a person needs to weed through the results because they might not be the most affordable social work degree programs.

Once a person compares his or her options based on affordability, a person can further reduce the cost by applying for grants and scholarships. A person can find scholarships through the school in many cases. There’s also the option of private scholarships. The state and federal government offer grants as so do private organizations. A person also has the option of looking into employer reimbursement, which is when an employer reimburses part of the cost of a student’s tuition.

Featured Schools

Methodology: How We Ranked the Most Affordable Social Work Degree Programs

For students who are looking for an affordable bachelor’s in social work, cost isn’t everything. For the ranking of the most affordable social work degrees, Bachelor’s Degree Center editors began with accredited, legitimate programs, then ranked them according to the key factor: tuition cost, according to IPEDS data.

1. California State University, Los Angeles

California State University, Los Angeles’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work (BASW) helps students learn about and comprehend what it takes to practice social work with multiple ethnic groups. The course for the degree is designed so a student can complete it in two years. Students who earn their degree have the option to enter entry level positions in the social work field or move onto graduate classes in schools that offer social work or similar human services. Those who complete the program for their BASW can work in many areas of social work including mental health, older adults and in schools.

As its name suggests, California State University, Los Angeles is part of the state public university system. It opened its doors in 1947 and today offers 129 bachelor’s degrees, 112 master’s degrees, and four doctoral degrees. Over 26,000 students are served by California State University-LA and it has one of the lowest rates of admittance, making it a tough school to get into. It’s considered one of the most affordable social work degree programs in California. U.S. News and World Reports ranks the social work program at #25 on its list of social work schools in the United States, putting it in the top tier of social work schools.

Degree: Social work, BA

California State University, Los Angeles BA in Social Work

2. University of Washington – Tacoma

The University of Washington-Tacoma BA in Social Work program teaches students how to help those who are underserved and poor while maintaining sensitivity to the individual they’re helping. The program prepares students to become generalist social workers and provide invaluable services to those who are in need along with advocating for those who are at risk of undergoing injustices and inequalities. It’s an affordable bachelors in social work degree program for students interested in become a social worker.

In 1985, the state of Washington created the Higher Education Coordinating Board to improve access to higher education for residents of the state. One of the direct results of this effort was the creation of the University of Washington — Tacoma campus which opened in 1997. Initially the campus was defined as a liberal arts program, but was redefined as an interdisciplinary arts and sciences program. Residents of the Puget Sound have benefited from the services provided by campus graduates as many have stayed in the area after completing their education and found employment in their fields.

Degree: Social Work, BA

University of Washington-Tacoma BA in Social Work

3. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program has a primary objective of preparing a graduate to become a social work generalist at the beginning level. A student will learn about human behaviors, social and cultural influences, social welfare systems, and how to use basic research skills to aid social work efforts. It’s also an accelerated degree program as the Social Work major is designed to be completed in 3 semesters without the need for summer classes.

Founded in 1957, the University of South Florida has spent its time building up a reputation for being one of the top research universities in the U.S. It holds so many patents for intellectual property that it ranks first in the state and seventh in the nation among public universities. The school hasn’t let up on its drive to innovate and has received many awards along with holding high standing in many foundations and associations. U.S. News and World Reports ranks University of South Florida at #44 among public universities and at #104 among all private and public univerisites in the U.S.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

University of South Florida Bachelor of Social Work

4. Troy University

The social work major at Troy University focuses on teaching students to work in communities that need their help and showing people how to live better lives. One of the ways in which the school helps students become social workers is the requirement of spending 400 hours practicing their skills in a supervised environment prior to graduation. Students also get the opportunity to talk to professionals in the field and learn more about what to expect when starting their own careers.

Troy University was founded in 1887 as a public university and has become the premier campus in the state university system. Its original mission was to educate and train teachers, but evolved over time to become a four-year college. In 1957, the college was given the right to issue master’s degrees. Today, the university has a reputation for innovative academic programs offered in classroom and online settings. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranked it at #19 for being one of the most innovative schools in the U.S.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

Troy University Bachelor of Social Work

5. Utah State University

Utah State University’s social work program seeks to teach its graduates to respect and commit to the values of their profession by helping others in need. The school recognizes the need for social welfare and how it helps people and communities heal, rise up, and function. Its educational program trains students to become generalist practitioners and offers the opportunity for students to earn a master’s degree. The program is also ranked as the #2 most affordable degree in the state which means it’s also an affordable bachelors in social work program.

If you’ve been thinking about going to a school that offers beautiful scenery, look no further than Utah State University. This highly-regarded university is located in the Northern Utah mountains and a short distance from six national parks. It’s also home to 14 Carnegie Professors of the Year, has sent more student experiments into space than any other university, and has over 75% of its students in internships or in field experience settings by the time they’re seniors. The undergraduate research program is the second oldest in the nation with MIT being the oldest.

Degree: Social Work, BA/BS

Utah State University Social Work, BA/BS

6. Rutgers University

The BA in Social Work at Rutgers University has limited spots for students and entry isn’t guaranteed even if students declare their major by the deadline. Students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor and are required to maintain a 3.0 grade-point average in all social work courses. Rutgers also offers a masters and doctorate of social work along with a doctorate of philosophy in social work. A study abroad program gives students the chance to live in another country for a semester while earning credit hours.

Rutgers is one of the oldest universities in the United States with a founding year of 1766 and is the largest university in the state of New Jersey. The school belongs to the Big 10 Academic Alliance which is a network of 14 world-class research universities. Students who attend Rutgers gain access to databases, library collections, and conferences in the network that aren’t readily available to universities outside of the alliance.

Degree: Social Work, BA

BA in Social Work – Rutgers University

7. Humboldt State University

The Social Work program at Humboldt State University offers a bachelors and master of social work degree. Students learn how to work with a diverse group of people and be sensitive to their needs and cultures, but also learn how to use critical thinking skills, engage in ethical behavior and find peaceful resolutions to conflicts. The program is designed to help students become generalist social workers upon graduation. School tuition is among the lowest in the state and makes it one of the most affordable social work degree programs in California.

Humboldt State University is part of the California State University system and is located just under 300 miles north of San Francisco in Arcata, California. The school is divided into three colleges and is balanced between liberal arts, natural resource and science, and professional studies programs. It also offers a Forestry program that highlights the fact the school is located in the northern part of the state where forests and related industries are plentiful and the need for skilled forestry workers is high.

Degree: Social Work, BA

Social Work – Humboldt State University

8. Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University’s social work program helps prepare students to help people help themselves. Students learn how to become advocates for people, their families, and communities in need of social assistance and justice. Graduates can apply their education to entry-level positions in the social work field or advance their education and earn their master of social work (MSW) at Appalachian State University. The MSW program focuses on clinical and direct practice education which allows graduates to work with individuals and small groups.

Originally founded in 1899 as a teacher’s school, Appalachian State University has developed into a full-fledged university that dominates the town of Boone, N.C. It’s also the highest campus east of the Mississippi at 3,333 feet above sea level. The school prides itself on innovation and looking to the future through its academic programs that include installing the world’s highest weather station on Mount Everest and creating a solar-powered car.

Degree: Bachelors of Social Work

Appalachian State University Bachelors of Social Work

9. The Ohio State University

The social work program at Ohio State University is a bachelors of science instead of a bachelor of arts program. Students taking this major are required to take biology courses along with psychology and sociology classes prior to working on the social work major. Students who want to get their master of social work can apply to the 4+1 BSSW/MSW Program. This program lets students apply for both programs at the same time and earn a masters in five years instead of six.

Ohio State University (OSU) is home to the Buckeyes football team and part of the Big 10 university association. U.S. News and World Reports ranks OSU at #54 on its list of national universities. It’s total enrollment capacity is just over 46,000 students, but it can be difficult to attend as the university is somewhat selective about accepting students. The average teacher/student ratio is 1:19 which creates a quality learning environment for students.

Degree: Social Work, BS

Ohio State University Social Work, BS

10. University of Oklahoma at Norman

University of Oklahoma’s Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work offers a bachelor of social work degree along with a master of social work. The program educates students on the importance of providing assistance to underserved individuals and larger populations. Students are taught to become generalist social workers upon graduation and are encouraged to find a specialty to focus on as their career advances. The school offers a dual degree program for those who want to earn a master of social work along with a related masters degree.

The University of Oklahoma at Norman is part of the public university system in Oklahoma and is home to a student body numbering 20,000. The Norman campus is home to many liberal art majors including arts and sciences, communications, law, engineering, liberal studies and architecture to name a few. The largest school, the College of Arts & Sciences, enrolls over 35% of the total students on campus at any given time.

Degree: Social Work, BA

University of Oklahoma Social Work, BA

What Kind of Job Can I Get Out of School?

While some individuals are lucky enough to land an entry-level social work position, it’s sometimes difficult to land social worker positions as entry-level social work positions. Fortunately, there are a variety of entry-level social worker positions that aren’t actually working as social workers. One example of an entry-level social work position is a group home attendent.

Other social worker entry-level jobs include substance abuse counselors and mental health workers. Social worker entry-level jobs may also include family intervention specialist positions.

Social worker entry-level jobs could be in a variety of fields, such as substance abuse, child services, or mental health.

Social work jobs for new graduates could also include jobs in education. For instance, one of the social work jobs for new graduates in education is an academic advisor.

Entry-level social services jobs are highly in need. Therefore, people may have no trouble finding entry-level social services jobs.

Additionally, once a person gains experience from entry-level jobs for social workers, more opportunities become available. For instance, it’s much easier to land a position as a social worker after having experience from entry-level jobs for social workers.

Do I Need a License to Be a Social Worker?

In every state, social worker licensure is necessary. A person can’t work as a social worker in any state without social worker licensure. In many states, social workers licensure is also necessary to work in a nonclinical setting. In some cases, a person’s state may require a certification rather than social workers licensure to work in a nonclinical setting.

Before a person applies for jobs, he or she should contact the state Board to determine what licensure for social workers is required for the positions a person is interested in.

Keep in mind that to gain licensure for social workers, a person must complete his or her master’s degree. Additionally, to obtain a license to be a social worker, a person must complete supervised experience. Generally, a person can only obtain a license to be a social worker after completing two years of supervised experience.

How Do I Get a License to Be a Social Worker?

The social worker credentials necessary vary based on whether a person wants to be a clinical or nonclinical social worker. A master’s degree is necessary as social worker credentials for those who want to work as a clinical social worker. On the other hand, bachelors degrees are the necessary social worker credentials for those who want to work in a nonclinical setting as a social worker.

In addition to a degree, there are other social worker licensure requirements. For instance, one of the social worker licensure requirements for those want to work in a clinical setting is to have experience working underneath a licensed social worker. Generally, social worker licensure requirements deem it necessary for a person to have two years of experience working underneath a social worker.

Licensing requirements for social workers make it necessary for a person to complete an exam. As part of the licensing requirements for social workers, a person must complete a clinical exam. The licensing requirements for social workers vary per state, so it’s important for a person to check with his or her state Board. The social work licensing requirements may require a person to pass with a certain percentage. For instance, the social worker license requirements for the pass rate vary from state to state.

A person may wonder do you need a license to be a social worker. The answer to do you need a license to be a social worker in any state is yes if the person wants to work in a clinical setting. In some cases, a person also needs one in a nonclinical setting.

To summarize how to get a license in social work, a person must first earn a minimum of a bachelor’s to work in a nonclinical setting. Moreover, how to get a license in social requires a person to have a master’s to work in a clinical setting.

Additionally, how to be a licensed social worker may require a person to work under a licensed social worker. However, how to be a licensed social worker for someone who doesn’t want to be a clinical social worker does not require experience working under a social worker.

Is the Social Worker Licensure Exam Hard?

A person may wonder about the licensure exam for social workers. Fortunately, if a person studies hard during school, the licensure exam for social workers isn’t hard. However, the test is rather entailed. The social worker licensure exam is rather lengthy. A person will need to study hard prior to taking the social worker licensure exam.

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