Bachelor of Social Work

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Online Bachelor's in Social Work

Learn to create a world of good —
from wherever you are.

Social workers advocate for the underrepresented. They teach resilience, and they help people persevere and grow through the most challenging circumstances. They dedicate their lives to serving those in need — children, aging adults, victims of crime or trauma, people suffering from addiction, and those facing challenges related to any dimension of diversity. They act as advocates for social justice, and they give a voice to marginalized individuals, families, organizations, and communities.

As an aspiring social worker, you’re pursuing more than a career. You’re pursuing a passion.

When you earn your online Bachelor of Social Work from Maryville, you’ll have the opportunity to enhance your skill set and knowledge base to build a meaningful career. Your passion can be your life’s work as you commit yourself to the well-being of others and the greater community good. We’ll help.

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Apply with no fee and no SAT/ACT required

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Explore financial aid and transfer credit friendly admission

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Access coursework 100% online

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Benefit from a curriculum that aligns with the 9 CSWE competencies

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Learn from industry professionals and experienced practitioners

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Get field-ready with experiential learning and practicum opportunities

Why earn your Bachelor of Social Work online?

Social work isn’t just a rewarding field. It’s a growing field. Factors like increased school enrollment, aging and retiring populations, and better diagnosis of mental illness mean more people than ever need qualified, caring social work professionals to help them through challenging times and circumstances.

When you earn your BSW online from Maryville, you can work with our virtual community of like-minded students and experienced professionals, including Licensed Clinical Social Workers, as you learn to serve your own community. When you study online, you have the flexibility to do it all on your schedule.

Our BSW focuses on diversity, generalist social work practice, self-care and social justice, experiential projects, and real-world scenarios, so you can graduate ready for whatever comes your way.

We offer a program designed to prepare you for social work leadership, and built to align with the nine Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) competencies. Our program follows the educational policy standards that define nine competencies forming the foundation of your education, which are fundamental to becoming a professionally competent social worker.

You have the drive to change the world around you. Now, get the education to back it up.

What are the nine CSWE competencies?

The CSWE has outlined a series of crucial skills and learning outcomes for social workers. We designed our online BSW to align with these nine competencies to ensure that our students get the best education possible so they can graduate ready for professional practice. The nine competencies are:*

  1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
  2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
  3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
  4. Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
  5. Engage in Policy Practice
  6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  7. Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
  9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

*CSWE.org

Flexible, affordable, and highly personalized.


Study on your schedule with 100% online coursework, and apply with no fees or entrance exams.


Benefit from transfer credit friendly admission and explore financial aid options.


Build your modern social work foundation with an emphasis on self-care, social justice, and diversity.


Prepare for the ASWB social work licensing exam.*


Blend theory and real-world training through in-class projects and an immersive experiential practicum.


Join our virtual community and learn from top social work experts, including Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs).

*While a master’s degree may be required for advanced clinical practice, your bachelor’s degree can help you pursue licensure in your state or start your generalist social work practice. Licensure may not be required in all states to practice at the BSW level, as licensure requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Please check with your local licensing/certification board for details.

What can you do with your online Bachelor of Social Work?

When you pursue a social work career, you can find yourself uniquely positioned to make an immediate and much-needed impact. With your BSW, you can help serve those in need, regardless of and with consideration of age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status.

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), there’s a chronic shortage of qualified social work professionals in the United States that disproportionately affects rural populations. This comes as the need for social workers is on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of careers in the field is projected to grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026, with some specialties growing even more quickly.

The need is so stark in some places that advocacy groups and state governments are working to enact legislative solutions. These proposals are aimed at streamlining licensing processes, easing recruitment of qualified professionals, and even helping prospective social workers with tuition and other costs.*

That means there’s plenty of opportunity for people who seek a rewarding career in almost any setting. Whether you practice in a city or rural community, you can pursue work in hospitals, schools, military settings, and correctional facilities, just to name a few. Earn your BSW and begin making a positive difference for individuals and communities. We can help you get there.

*The Herald Bulletin, “Indiana, other states ponder solutions to growing shortage of social workers”

What types of careers can I pursue?

While a master’s degree may be required for advanced clinical practice, your bachelor’s degree can help you pursue licensure in your state or start your generalist social work practice. Licensure may not be required in all states to practice at the BSW level, as licensure requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Please check with your local licensing/certification board for details.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your BSW can help you qualify for administrative and caseworker roles in direct-service and nonclinical settings. Or, it can set you up to pursue further education — and, in some cases, finish your graduate degree more quickly.

Put your BSW to work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Schools and children’s services
  • Hospitals, clinics, and assisted living facilities
  • State and local governments
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Substance abuse facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Military locations and VA offices
  • Private practice and individual/family services
  • In-home/virtual care

Career opportunities for BSW grads include:

  • General social worker
  • Behavioral management aide
  • Child, family, and school social worker
  • Healthcare social worker
  • Social or human services manager
  • Mental health/substance abuse social worker
  • Community outreach worker
  • Case manager/case worker
  • Probation officer
  • Correctional treatment specialist
  • Youth advocate/counselor

What’s the market outlook for online BSW graduates?

social worker at someone's home

Discover great opportunities.

When you pursue a career in social work, your main motivation is to serve those in need with compassion and dignity while still having the opportunity to earn a competitive salary.

Salaries vary based on factors like location, continued education, licensure, and experience level, but the median pay for all social workers is around $50,000. That’s more than 25% higher than the median salary across all careers, which stands at $38,640.* Some specific careers you might pursue include mental health/substance abuse worker ($44,630) and probation officer/correctional treatment specialist ($53,020).*

Your BSW can also help you earn your graduate-level degree quicker through advanced standing. (Note that participation and specifics on advanced standing vary by master’s program.) With a master’s in social work, you can pursue higher-paying careers like healthcare social work ($54,870). You can also aim for higher salaries across the board: The top 10% of social workers earn more than $81,000.* Learn more about advanced standing in the curriculum section below.

social worker talking to people

Benefit from high demand.

The combination of high growth in the field and a shortage of qualified workers means demand is high for compassionate, dedicated people like you. By earning your BSW, you can build the proper foundation to help address this need.

Overall, the BLS projects high growth for the social work field in the coming years. But certain segments are expected to grow between two and three times the rate for all careers in the U.S. Demand for healthcare social workers is projected to increase by 20%, while demand for mental health/substance abuse professionals is projected to rise by 19%. If you hope to work with children, families, and schools, you can benefit from a projected 14% increase.*

In our program, we focus on generalist social work. That means our graduates are qualified to work across a number of specialties and settings. Social workers are in demand across many locations and types of communities, and our program can help prepare you to address needs in dense cities, rural areas, and everywhere in between. Our flexible online format means you can study and complete coursework from wherever you are.

social worker in front of group

Prepare for a rewarding career.

You want to pursue a career where you can make a difference in the world, and feel good about what you’ve accomplished. Few careers give you that opportunity like social work.

Whether you’re starting in an entry-level position or moving up in the field through experience and education, you stand to make a lasting impact on individuals’ lives and community well-being. That’s why many social workers consider their job to be both meaningful and rewarding.

Social work features prominently on lists of the most fulfilling work, with several positions being cited on U.S. News & World Report’s “26 Best Social Services Jobs” and Forbes’ “Most Meaningful Job” lists. And a recent PayScale.com survey of current and former employees lists several social work titles — including mental health counselor, child/family/school counselor, substance abuse/behavioral counselor, and medical/public health social worker — among the highest in both meaning and personal satisfaction.**

*Salary and growth data collected by the BLS.
**PayScale.com, “The Most and Least Meaningful Jobs”

Why choose Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Social Work?

When you earn your online Bachelor of Social Work from Maryville, you join a program designed around collaboration and experience. Our goal is to provide a top-tier learning environment where a diverse community can practice and grow into tomorrow’s social work leaders.

Here, we help you build your generalist foundation as a social worker, so you can pursue a rewarding career — or further education through graduate school. And we’re with you every step of the way — from application through graduation and beyond.

Why Maryville?

Join our supportive virtual community.

We designed our BSW to serve you — so you can better serve others. That’s why our program is centered around a virtual community model. Here, you’ll find support and camaraderie from future social work professionals just like you, as well as our faculty of experienced practitioners and experts in the field.

We emphasize self-care so you can learn to practice at your highest level in this challenging field. In addition, as a social worker it’s important for you to know how to approach your work with empathy and sympathy. We’ll help you build your emotional intelligence, so you can serve your community with care and compassion while addressing your own personal and professional needs.

Not only that, but we also provide you with a number of resources to promote your success as a student. These include dedicated support from application through graduation, access to life coaches who can help you with academic and career success, 24/7 technical assistance from our Help Desk, and access to your professors during virtual office hours.

Social work is all about
real-world experience.
So is our degree.

When you earn your BSW from Maryville, you have the opportunity to build your theoretical and practical social work knowledge. And that’s not just because you’re learning from top experts in the field.

In our program, you can benefit from innovative coursework that focuses on collaboration, engagement, and experience. Every social work course is designed to immerse you in practice through experiential components or projects based on real-world scenarios. What you learn in your courses can help you take on real-world challenges and opportunities in your practice.

You’ll also have the chance to build your understanding of the field through a practicum in your chosen social work setting, and create a portfolio or accomplish your own project through a capstone experience. It’s all aimed at helping you prepare for your career.

Put our reputation to work.

Maryville University was founded in 1872 and has been helping brave, motivated professionals launch or enhance their careers with industry expertise ever since. Ninety percent of our full-time faculty holds a doctorate or terminal degree, and our BSW program is taught by experienced practitioners and experts in the field.

We’re proud of our reputation for quality academics, accelerated growth, and affordability, because it demonstrates our commitment to excellence.

We’re recognized for excellence. So you can be, too.

Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
Forbes America's Top Colleges 2019 Badge
Kiplinger Best College Values 2019 Badge
Money Best Colleges 2019 Badge

When you earn your online Bachelor of Social Work from Maryville, you graduate from a highly ranked and respected university. As a BSW student, you get the opportunity to learn from a social work program designed to the highest standards of quality.

That’s why our BSW is in pre-candidacy for accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). We aim to provide the best possible education for you, so you can pursue further study or find a fulfilling career in social work. The accreditation process typically takes three years. If granted, accreditation is applied retroactively for students who entered or graduated from the program during candidacy.

Bachelor of Social Work faculty spotlight

Dr. Catharine E. Mennes

Dr. Catharine E. Mennes

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Program Director, and Associate Professor of Social Work

When you earn your online BSW from Maryville, you have the opportunity to learn from top social work professionals like Dr. Catharine Mennes — or Dr. Kate, as she’s known by her students.

Dr. Kate was instrumental in designing our online BSW program, and she continues to serve as program director and associate professor. With her input, we created a program focused on promoting social work values like service, social justice, dignity of the individual, importance of human relationships, emotional intelligence, integrity and competence, and self-care.

Dr. Kate is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has worked with populations struggling with addiction and exposure to HIV. She also has served in academic roles like director of field education, and she spent seven years doing research as the director of assessments for the Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group at Washington University’s School of Medicine.

Dr. Kate brings more than 18 years of social work practice, research, and teaching experience to her classroom — and she’s as enthusiastic about teaching tomorrow’s social work professionals as she is about learning from their perspectives.

Online Bachelor of Social Work curriculum

The coursework in our online Bachelor of Social Work was created based on the nine CSWE competencies, so you can prepare to perform at the highest level and with best practices in your social work career. We focus on emerging trends in social work — giving special attention to topics like self-care and emotional literacy — and we work with the most up-to-date tools and tech in the field.

Maryville features coursework that emphasizes important topics like advocacy, social justice, financial literacy, and evidence-based practices. We also incorporate extensive experiential learning in the form of class projects, a practicum, and a capstone.

When you choose Maryville, you choose an online BSW that adheres to the highest standards of social work education. This prepares you to take what you learn and make an immediate impact in the world.

Our program combines core coursework specific to social work, as well as a number of electives that let you tailor your degree to your interests or career aspirations. The program comprises 128 credit hours and includes core social work courses, electives, and general education requirements.

Build your foundation in social work.

Learn to be the best advocate you can be. Complete core courses in integral areas like social work theory, ethics in social work, research methods, statistics, human behavior, social justice, and more.

Specialize your social work knowledge through your choice of electives.

Want a deeper dive into specific areas of social work? Maryville features a robust list of possible electives to help you. Choose from courses in sociology of healthcare, human sexuality, mental health in society, juvenile delinquency, and more.

Put your knowledge to work.

Work on your schedule to complete a practicum in your preferred local setting, and apply what you learn — in the classroom and in the field — to your capstone project. This type of hands-on experience lets you get a feel for how what you learn here can help you serve people and communities in the real world.

Want to take your education further?

If you want to reach the highest levels of the social work profession, you may need your Master of Social Work (MSW). With your BSW from Maryville, you may be able to earn it in significantly less time.

Many MSW programs offer an advanced standing track for students who hold a BSW. Requirements and total credits awarded vary by institution, but if you choose an MSW program that offers an advanced standing track, you should be able to use your BSW to finish your graduate degree considerably faster.

We want to ensure you get the most out of your educational experience at Maryville. If you have questions or want more info about how your BSW can help you go further faster, check out our advanced standing information page.

Learn more about the online Bachelor of Social Work at Maryville University.