How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s in Social Work?
Online colleges for social work require students to earn at least 120 credit hours to graduate. This usually takes four years of full-time enrollment. Students who have previous college credits can complete their bachelor’s in social work in about two years. Some online programs exclusively provide a degree completion track and require applicants to have at least 60 hours worth of college experience before they can enroll in the program.
Other factors that affect length are whether or not a program adheres to a cohort or individual learning model. Most programs have aspects of both in their curriculum. Cohort learning usually means distance learners advance through a linear degree plan with a group of peers, enabling them to build relationships and support each other during the learning process. This also means that certain classes are only available during certain semesters, which can be challenging for online students with full-time jobs or other obligations. An asynchronous, individual program allows the most flexibility and can be completed quickly.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Degrees
National accreditation is the most popular and comes from either the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education (DOE). Regional accreditation is the highest available from of accreditation. It ensures a school meets the educational requirements of the state or group-of-states within that particular area, a marker that almost all employers look for. There are six agencies recognized by CHEA and USDE as having the power to grant this designation. Fully accredited online schools for social work should have approval from the Council of Social Work Education, a private body that creates academic and professional standards of education in this field and ensures that programs meet certain standards. You should look for a program that has all three forms of accreditation.
The most popular accreditation for nonprofit colleges and universities is at the national level and comes from either the DOE or the CHEA. The DOE recognizes seven regional accreditation organizations, while the CHEA only recognizes six. DOE approval is more important, though you should look for a social work degree online program that has both. For a list of accredited colleges and universities, see the DOE’s and CHEA’s websites.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Social Work Graduates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited online schools for social work is a requirement for most entry-level positions in the field. This is because a bachelor’s degree prepares individuals for the challenges and opportunities of serving as a social worker, case manager, substance abuse counselor, or a related professional.
All states also require social workers to be licensed and licensure is typically an option restricted to those who have completed a relevant four-year degree. As a result, individuals who have achieved an associate degree will not be able to practice in the field.
Bachelor’s in Social Work Salary
While entry-level salaries for those who have received a degree from one of the online colleges for social work tend to be comparatively low, more experience translates to higher salaries. Consider the data below on median salaries for social workers and related professions from Payscale.