Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Social workers must have at least a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) in order to apply for entry-level positions in the field. Most have a master's degree, but a bachelor's of social work can give you a firm understanding on how to provide basic support services and work on cases independently. You will need to find a school that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). These programs are designed to help students develop the critical-thinking, research, problem-solving, and analytic skills to assist clients with all types of challenges they are facing in their daily lives. Bachelor's of social work programs are typically four years in length and some students continue on to a master's degree program upon completion.

Getting a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

You can enroll in this type of degree program right after you have received your high school diploma or GED. Most of the courses you take in this program will serve as an introduction to the social work profession. You'll learn how the case management process works, take courses about diversity and human rights, learn about social and economic justice in society today, and also explore the history and philosophy of social welfare. Many bachelor's of social work programs also introduce students to social research methods and theories.

The primary goals of a bachelor's degree program in this field are to:

  • Provide students with training in ethics and a code of conduct that applies to the social work profession
  • Increase competencies
  • Prepare students for entry-level positions in the field
  • Apply critical thinking skills and learn how to exercise professional judgment
  • Learn the basics of social work practice in a variety of settings, especially in urban environments with a high population of poor, oppressed, and vulnerable families, groups, organizations, and communities

Prerequisites for this degree program typically include courses such as sociology, physical science, introductory psychology, and history. The professional curriculum will include courses in the following five areas:

  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Social work practice
  • Social work research methods
  • Social welfare policy (policymaking) and services
  • Field education or practicum

Some courses also focus on social justice discrimination, ethics and values, and courses centered around populations-at-risk. Field work studies give students the valuable experience they need to work with social service agencies and interact with a variety of populations.

Completing a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work Online

It is possible to complete your bachelor's degree in social work completely online. Only a handful of accredited schools offer an online program, and a portion of this type of degree program involves a practicum or in-person training at an approved facility. You can take the remainder of your courses completely online, and even on your own schedule. If you are working part-time or full-time, or you are taking care of a family, an online degree can give you some flexibility with your schedule and help you get ahead with your education and career.