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If you are trying to decide what to major in at a college or university, you might ask yourself, “Should I become a Social Worker?” For those with qualities needed to help people, social work job options could work. What jobs do social workers do and what are the different fields of social work? Keep reading to learn more. You may be wondering, “Should I be a social worker?” If you care about people and want to help them, then this might be a good field for you to consider. In order to decide, “Is social work for me?”, consider whether you are a good active listener. If you are self-aware and have a good sense of social perceptiveness you could do well in this field.

So are you asking yourself, “Should I become a social worker?” If you want to be part of a fast-changing field that impacts people’s professional and personal lives than you might answer yes to this question. You may still wonder, Should I be a social worker? Keep reading for more information on what you can do with a degree in social work and the types of jobs that are available.

Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Degrees for Social Work

For prospective social work professionals, it all starts with the bachelor’s degree, which is why Bachelor’s Degree Center wants to point students to the best programs for their goals. BDC editors ranked programs according to real data from College Scorecard, IPEDS, and Niche, focusing on cost, reputation, and salary potential.

1. University of Georgia

When choosing the best degrees for social work, prospective students need to have the University of Georgia at the top of their lists. The University of Georgia’s Bachelor of Social Work program focuses on preparing students to work in social service settings. Within the challenging curriculum, students focus on topics such as social justice, advocacy work, diversity in communities, and outreach programs. The traditional bachelor degree program takes approximately four years to complete and has more than an 85 percent success rate.

The University of Georgia is a public college with low tuition rates for resident students. Out-of-state residents enrolled at the University of Georgia are still able to access reasonable tuition prices while attending competitive academic programs. The University of Georgia is located in Atlanta with a city-like campus. The University of Georgia has highly ranked programs in technology and the liberal arts. Admission is competitive with only 49 percent of applicants gaining acceptance.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

2. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University is considered one of the best schools for social work degrees for a variety of reasons. For starters, NCSU’s Bachelor of Social Work well prepares students for entry-level positions in social service settings. The program is also a stepping stone to earning a master-level degree in the discipline. A total of 34 credits toward the 120 credits needed for graduation must be done through the NC State’s Department of Social Work. The competitive program has a high return on investment due to a low cost per credit and a positive post-graduation placement rate.

North Carolina State University is a public college that acts as one of the state’s most prominent research facilities. The University is part of the North Carolina University System of colleges and is considered a land, sea, and space grant institution. The agricultural science program is ranked as one of the best in the nation.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

3. The University of Texas at Austin

Receive a Bachelor of Social Work through the University of Texas at Austin to prepare for a career in social services. The undergraduate degree blends a liberal arts foundation with social work core courses. Subjects covered in the 120-credit program include crisis intervention, advocacy, social work networking skills, community outreach, and case management. For the last semester, a 480-hour internship is required for graduation with placement at a social services office. The University of Texas provides real-world experience to future social workers.

The University of Texas at Austin is centrally located in the state’s capitol city. The public college was founded in the late 19th century and is the site of many federal research projects. The college is the flagship university of the University of Texas with multiple satellite campuses operating around the state. The college is very competitive with an acceptance rate of less than 40 percent. Retention and graduation rates are exceptionally high with almost 80 percent of all enrolled students completing their degree requirements.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

4. University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University of Wisconsin is one of the best schools for bachelor’s in social work due to the ability to customize degree program. The bachelor degree program awards students with a baccalaureate in social welfare upon completion. Social science concentration is available within the department. Required courses include Introduction to Social Work, Field Work, Social Justice, and Human Behavior. A BSW is also available from the University of Wisconsin for those who want to focus on social work.

The University of Wisconsin at Madison is a major public college within the Midwest. The Madison campus is the flagship site of the largest public school in the state. The college’s academic programs are competitive with only 54 percent of all applicants gaining acceptance. As a research college, the university has notable studies in the fields of science and technology. The college’s NCAA Division I team are title holders in multiple athletic competitions.

Degree: Social Work, BA/BS

5. University of Washington

Through the University of Washington, students can pursue a BA in Social Welfare. The program is accredited through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) with 120 credits needed for graduation. Topics explored through the major include social justice, community outreach, casework management, welfare assessments, and more. Many graduates of the program move on to become clinical social workers by attending the accelerated MSW from the University of Washington.

The University of Washington is located within the city of Seattle. The public research college funds multiple studies and is ranked as the number five university in the nation for funding. The college is known for sponsoring many economic programs to help those in financial need attend the university at a very low cost. The college has a very competitive athletic department and participates in NCAA Division I sports.

Degree: Social Welfare, BA

6. George Mason University

George Mason University consistently makes ranked list after list as the best schools for social work degrees. George Mason’s Bachelor of Social Work is fully accredited through the CSWE and has a comprehensive curriculum. A field work requirement is needed to graduate from the four-year BSW program with 450 hours at a supervised social work assignment. George Mason University is unique in that the college offers access to a dedicated social work laboratory where students take part in research projects and mentoring opportunities.

George Mason University is a public college with an enrollment of just under 25,000 students. The college has a high graduation rate with retention numbers at close to 70 percent. The college is located in Fairfax with a total of four campuses throughout the Northern Virginia area. The college also has a campus in South Korea and runs an active student exchange program.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

7. Ohio State University

Receive a BS in Social Work by attending Ohio State University’s competitive undergraduate program. Ohio State University offers the best degrees for social work in the Midwest due to its 4+1 program option. Students are able to earn both a BSW and MSW in just five years of full-time study. Double majors are also permitted in the College of Social Work. Another benefit of Ohio State University is dedicated social work scholarships with an average award amount between $2,500 and $3,000.

Ohio State University is the highest ranked college within the state. The public research college provides affordable tuition rates and challenging academic programs. The college is especially well-known for having top ranked education, engineering, and technology departments. The college’s Buckeyes are a top team within athletics and have won national titles in the NCAA Division I. Admissions is selective with less than half of all applicants gaining acceptance.

Degree: Social Work, BS

8. New York University

Earn a BS in Social Work from New York University to gain an entry-level position in the field of social services. During the curriculum, students are taught strategies on how to deal with a variety of social problems impacting people in our communities. The fully-accredited program has been approved by the CSWE and features 600 hours of on-site work-study at a social service agency located in the metropolitan area. The program has more than 90 percent of enrolled students meet required benchmarks needed to prove competency for graduation.

New York University is located in the storied Greenwich Village in New York City. The private college was first founded in the early 1800s in Lower Manhattan. Year after year, NYU is ranked as one of the most competitive colleges in the United States. Only about a quarter of all applicants gain acceptance to one of the college’s dozens of major programs. There are approximately 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students in attendance at NYU.

Degree: Social Work, BS

9. Skidmore College

Skidmore College provides a comprehensive program for social work majors. A total of 10 core courses must be completed within the social work field to receive the undergraduate degree. Subjects of study include diversity, social sciences, social assessments, social problems and solutions, and case management. For graduation, students must present a clinical portfolio with assessments and studies on real-world cases. Skidmore College has a 100 percent success rate in social work majors achieving all benchmark requirements within the program.

Skidmore College is a small, liberal arts college located in Saratoga Springs, New York. There are just over 2,600 students enrolled at the private university. The college has 60+ degree programs to choose from with highly ranked programs in the field of psychology, social sciences, and education. Skidmore College has a very selective admissions department with only about 25 percent of applicants gaining acceptance.

Degree: Bachelors of Social Work

10. Michigan State University

Choose Michigan State University as a top pick when comparing the best degrees for social work. Michigan State’s BA in Social Work appeals to students looking for personalized field placements and small classes with less than 24 students. An honors program is available for students within the School of Social Work. The BSW program is accredited through the CSWE with undergraduates able to take part in an accelerated MSW degree track upon graduation.

Michigan State University has the distinction of being the country’s first land grant college. The research college was one of the first to develop agricultural education programs. Michigan State University has a very popular study abroad program with dozens of options for students to choose from. Michigan State University is part of the Big Ten Conference for college sports and has an avid following. The college is one of the largest in the state with more than 50,000 students in attendance.

Degree: Social Work, BA

11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Receive a bachelor degree at one of the best schools for social work degrees by attending the University of Illinois. The Bachelor of Social Work prepares students to meet one of three goals: gain an entry-level position in social services, gain acceptance into a MSW program, or seek career opportunities in related fields such as criminal justice, health care, human resources, or government. A total of 120 credit hours are needed for graduation with a field assignment required for degree conferment. Approximately 85 percent of students enrolled in the BSW program finish all benchmarks for graduation.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the flagship university of the University of Illinois system. The college was established in 1867 as a public land grant institution. The college is home to the second largest library system, following Harvard University. A combined total of 250 undergraduate and graduate majors are offered on campus to give students as many options as possible.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

12. University of Central Florida

Earn a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Central Florida’s School of Social Work. The program has accreditation through the CSWE and has a curriculum that covers topics such as child welfare, immigration, underserved populations, case management, human behavior, and social welfare practices. An internship is required as part of the four-year traditional BSW program. The University of Central Florida has a high post-graduation placement rate with graduates finding employment as a child welfare specialist, court advocate, domestic violence advocate, foster care worker, victims counselor, and generalist social worker.

The University of Central Florida is located mid-state in beautiful Orlando. The college has more students than any other university in the entire country with current enrollments equaling more than 56,000 students. The public college has a very low tuition rate for in-state students with an average acceptance rate of 50 percent. The college is home to a highly ranked technology department.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

13. Chatham University

Chatham University has one of the best degrees for social work due to the college’s high graduation and retention rate. The Bachelor of Social Work includes social science courses with a foundation in liberal arts. Minors are encouraged for social work majors with options such as criminology, psychology, or public policy. Students must obtain 120 credits for graduation and complete a capstone seminar. Chatham University provides students with personalized guidance to help connect them with field assignments and post-graduation job placements.

Chatham University is a small college with only 2,000 total students. The small size of the college allows for faculty to provide mentoring to enrolled students. The private college has multiple campuses throughout the industrial area of Pittsburgh. Multiple majors are high ranking, but the college’s creative writing program is considered among the top five in the country. The college is home to multiple outreach centers, including those dedicated to career advancement for women.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

14. Florida State University

Florida State University is one of the best schools for bachelor’s in social work because of high return on investment. The Bachelor of Social Work requires 120 credits and takes approximately four years of full-time study. A minor option is available in social welfare to BSW students. Graduates can go on to earn a MSW in just one year through the college’s accelerated program or look for an entry-level position in social services.

Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University is a sea and space grant public institution. The college is one of the oldest in the state with a founding year of 1851. The college is made up of 16 different schools with dozens of undergraduate and graduate majors. The college was ranked as the 18th Best National University by U.S. News & World Report. Academic programs are well-regarded and the college is home to state-of-the-art marine laboratories.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

15. James Madison University

Students can pursue a Bachelor of Social Work by attending James Madison University in Virginia. Within the 120-credit graduation requirement, students must take 36 credits of social work courses, 1 credit of interpersonal education, and 6 elective credits in social sciences. During senior year, the BSW student must work four days a week at a social work field assignment for one semester. The curriculum and field assignments prepare the student for job placements after graduation with a high number of students working in the Washington DC metro area.

James Madison University was founded as a women’s college at the turn of the 20th century. The public college has a modest tuition rate and a high overall graduation rate of more than 83 percent. Course options are versatile with almost 140 majors to choose from. Top majors from the college are from the School of Art, Design, and Art History.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

16. San Diego State University

The BA in Social Work at San Diego State University is one of the best degrees for social work due to the flexibility of the program. To help advance a student’s career, multiple specializations are offered including community corrections case management and environmental social work. An international component is required that must include a study abroad or study travel program. Major courses needed for graduation include Cultural Pluralism, Human Behaviors, Social Policies and Social Issues, and Methods of Social Work Research. The program has a solid ROI due to high retention and graduation rates.

San Diego State University is a public research college located in Southern California. The college has a large campus with over 35,000 students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Known for improving the economy, 60 percent of graduates choosing to work in the city after graduation. The research institution is home to numerous scientific studies at laboratories such as the Coastal and Marine Institute Lab and the Mount Laguna Observatory.

Degree: Social Work, BA

17. University of South Carolina

In the South, the University of South Carolina is ranked among the best schools for bachelors in social work. Students must apply separately to gain admission to the BSW department due to the competitive nature of the major. Field education is a large component with a junior and senior year field assignment required for graduation. The courses within the BSW program is designed to prepare student to take and pass the licensure exam for social workers in the state.

The flagship campus of the University of South Carolina is located within the city of Columbia. The main campus is located downtown and canvasses more than 300 acres. The public research college is over 200 years old and has some of the world’s largest collections from renowned artists and authors. Highlights of the collections include works by Robert Burns and Ernest Hemingway. Campus life is very active with 600+ clubs and organizations to join.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

18. University of Northern Iowa

Undergraduate students can earn a BA in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa through the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Classes within the major include human behavior, human growth and development, social policy, and social work best practices. A practical is required and includes placement at a social work agency during the student’s senior year. The college offers numerous benefits for social work students including a dedicated work association, study abroad opportunities, and scholarship programs.

As a public college in Cedar Falls, the University of Northern Iowa provides more than 90 majors for students to choose from. The college is very popular with state residents, which make up almost 90 percent of the student body. Tuition rates are very low with in-state costs applied to residents. The basketball team for the university has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 Division multiple times over the last several years.

Degree: Social Work, BA

19. University of North Carolina at Wilmington

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Bachelor of Social Work degree program is considered among the best in the state. The college has an academically rigorous social work curriculum with a heavy focus on topics such as community outreach, child abuse, family welfare concerns, safety assessments, and effective case management. Upon completion of the CSWE accredited program, graduates are able to apply for social work licensure in North Carolina.

The University of North Carolina has multiple campuses throughout the state, including Wilmington. With its coastal location, the college is well-known for being home to challenging marine academic programs and research studies. The university was first launched in the 1940s to assist veterans with furthering their educations. Today, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington still offers benefits, including support services and scholarships, to veterans looking to earn their degrees.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

20. Goshen College

Goshen College is the ideal school for those looking to attend a niche university with the best degrees for social work. A BA in Social Work from Goshen College prepares the student for entry-level licensed positions in social service departments or to continue and earn an MSW. Over 90 percent of BSW graduates from Goshen College have advanced placement in MSW programs. Core courses cover subjects that include domestic violence, advocacy, social issues and reform, social policies, and case assessments/management. Over 94 percent of BSW students achieve the benchmarks at Goshen College.

Goshen College is a private Christian school located in Indiana. Student body size is very small with only 855 undergraduates enrolled in the degree programs offered. Mennonites make up almost half of all students attending the college, but the school welcomes those from all backgrounds. A study abroad semester or an intercultural study project is a requirement for all students attending Goshen College.

Degree: BA in Social Work

21. Calvin University

Jump start a career in social services by earning a Bachelor of Social Work from Calvin University. The CSWE-accredited program includes liberal arts classes, social work major courses, and a field experience project. A large part of the curriculum is teaching students how to use Christian values to help others through counseling and advocacy. Field education placements are available around Grand Rapids at agencies such as outreach centers, Christian ministries, social service agencies, and local charities.

Calvin University is a small Christian college founded by the Christian Reformed Church in 1876. Christian values and a religious education is a strong component at Calvin College with the school even being names after Protestant Reformer John Calvin. There are over 100 majors with most students choosing to pursue degrees in the following disciplines: education, engineering, nursing, and business.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

22. Cedarville University

Advance career opportunities with a BS in Social Work from Cedarville University. The program uses biblical studies as part of its foundation in teaching methods to assist those in need of social services. The college only offers a 120-credit undergraduate program for bachelor degree seekers, but does help students transfer to MSW-granting graduate schools such as Georgetown University and University of Michigan.

The private college of Cedarville University is a private Baptist university in Ohio with a charter gained in the late 19th century. There are more than 130 programs to study with most undergraduates pursuing degrees in the field of liberal arts and business.

Degree: Social Work, BS

23. University of Missouri

The University of Missouri is one of the best schools for bachelors in social work degree options. Mizzou’s Bachelor of Social Work includes 43 credits in core courses such as Social Justice, Social Work Practice, Human Behaviors, Social Statistics, and Research Methods for Social Work. During the fall semester of the student’s senior year, a field practicum is required for graduation. The University of Missouri has a record of near perfect positive outcomes for those who have graduated with a BSW.

The University of Missouri is a public research college that was recognized as a land and space grant institution. The college is made up of 13 different academic departments with 300 undergraduate and graduate majors available. The college is considered the first to offer journalism as a major and continues to have a top-ranking journalism/writing department. The university’s NCAA Division I team mascot is the tiger and the school now participates in the Southeastern Conference after departing the Big 12 Conference in 2012.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

24. Thomas University

Thomas University tops the list as one of the best schools for social work degrees in colleges located in Georgia. By earning a Bachelor of Social Work from Thomas University, students are preparing to work within the field of social services including direct counseling to high-risk groups such as child abuse victims and domestic violence survivors. The program requires four years of full-time study and 120 credits to complete. To reduce degree costs, Thomas University partners with Tallahassee Community College to accept two years of credit toward BSW graduation requirements. This helps increase the value of earning a social work degree from Thomas University.

Thomas University is a private college in Georgia with an enrollment of just 1,000 students. The college offers numerous major programs at the associate, bachelor, and master level. First launched as a junior college, Thomas University began granting four-year degrees in 1988. Thomas University develops programs to assist non-traditional students with furthering their education and has an active Move on When Ready program.

Degree: Bachelor of Social Work

25. Colorado State University

Attend Colorado State University at a low tuition cost and pursue one of the best degrees for social work. The bachelor degree program for social work at Colorado State University focuses on providing a generalist background in the field. For those who want to pursue a specialization, an addiction counselor concentration is offered. A total of 120 credits are needed for graduation with 42 credits needed from 300- and 400-level social work courses. BSW graduates find placement in social work settings or go on to pursue a master or doctoral degree from Colorado State University.

Colorado State University has the distinction of being one of the few public research colleges in the state. The university is the only land grant institution located in Colorado. Each year, more than $300 million is spent on research projects at the university with advancements in agriculture, healthcare, technology, energy, and weather. The competitive college has a rigorous academic reputation with past alumni including astronauts, Fortune 500 CEOs, and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Degree: Bachelor of Social work

What Can I Do with a Degree in Social Work?

You can get a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in social work. With a degree in social work, you can work with children, adults, and families in various clinical and professional settings. What is a degree in social work for the job you want? The type of degree you need depends on the specialization you decide to pursue. Generally, the higher the degree, the higher your salary will be.

To answer the question, “What job can I do with a social work degree?”, you first have to determine if you want to work as soon as you get a bachelor’s or pursue a higher degree. If you want to work as a therapist or social worker, a master’s degree is often required.

Examples for those wondering, “What job can I do with a social work degree?”:

  • Therapist/Counselor
  • Child Welfare Worker
  • Substance Abuse Social Worker
  • Social Worker
  • Social Work Supervisor
  • School Social Worker
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Behavior Analyst
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

What Can I Do with a Social Work Degree at the Doctoral Level?

If you achieve the highest level of education, the answer to “What job can I do with a social worker degree?” really opens up.

Examples of “What jobs can I do with a social work degree?”:

  • Psychologist
  • Behavior Supervisor
  • Professor

This is a partial list of jobs for social workers with PhDs. Now that you see types of jobs available you can confidently consider, What can I do with a social work degree?

Can I Get a Good Job in Social Work with Just a Bachelor’s Degree?

Employment for social workers include many social work jobs with a bachelor degree.

Jobs you can get with a bachelors in social work include:

  • Eligibility Worker
  • Case Management Aide
  • Community Outreach Worker
  • Probation officer
  • Human Services Specialist
  • Juvenile court Liaison
  • Behavioral Management Aide
  • Rehabilitation Case Worker

Getting internship and co-op positions in social work while still in school helps you land better social work jobs with a bachelor degree. The area you live in also influences jobs you can get with a bachelor’s in social work.

Where Do Social Workers Work?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of projected jobs in different fields in social work will increase to nearly 800,000 by 2026. Where does a social worker work? BLS data indicates that social workers are needed in every state. If you’re wondering, “Where can I work as a social worker after graduation?” consider the salary ranges available in different states. Where social workers work impacts their earning potential, with those in Connecticut projected to have the highest wages at over $61,000 a year.

Physical locations of where social workers work include schools, hospitals, companies, and mental health facilities, among other locations. If you want to stay in your area, chances are you can find work, but if you wish to increase your salary, you have to decide, “Where can I work as a social worker to make the most money? New York, California, Michigan, and Illinois all offer competitive salaries for all kinds of social work, according to the BLS. Where does a social worker work? That depends on your interest and job availability in your area, but the possibilities are wide open.

Are There Different Fields of Social Work?

As discussed in previous sections, positions in social work vary greatly. For recent graduates seeking employment for social workers, work as a social worker can be very rewarding. We’ve already seen a list of jobs for social workers based on your level of education. Different social work fields include specializations in mental health, medical/public health, child welfare, substance abuse, and school social work. However, there is a plethora of different fields in social work for those called to help children, women, prisoners, and other under-represented groups.

Volunteering at local nonprofits can help you determine the kinds of social work you might wish to pursue. Different careers in social work involve different salary levels. If you’re wondering what jobs do social workers do, check out popular job boards for listings in the area you wish to live. At the master’s and doctoral degrees, you’ll likely be required to choose research projects that can help you learn what are the different fields of social work. Research opportunities can also help you determine the social work job options best suited to your personal strengths.

There are better ways to make money than work as a social worker. However, different careers in social work allow graduates in this field to change lives for the better. While taking undergraduate courses, be sure to explore different social work fields so that you are ready to pursue a specialization if you go on to achieve higher degrees.

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