Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Work Degrees

The best social work liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best social work degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding social work faculty.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Work Degrees

A bachelor’s degree in social work is an excellent starting point for a career in counseling, case work, rehabilitation, and numerous other important areas of public health and welfare. As a social work major, you’ll learn about the administration of social services, distribution of resources for social welfare, and public outreach to vulnerable groups. As a social worker, you’ll be working closely with communities, populations, families and individuals who are facing challenge, disadvantage, and crisis. The best schools for social work are those which are regionally accredited, which offer a full array of social work concentrations, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work Bachelor’s Degrees

Social work covers a lot of ground. Your degree in social work could lead down any number of professional paths. Whether you see yourself in addiction counseling, community organization, health policy analysis, children’s protective services or beyond, there are countless different ways to channel your social work degree education into a career. And if you continue into a master’s degree program, you could become a licensed social worker in a clinical setting like a hospital or mental health facility.

Social workers have a profound impact on the lives they touch. Through methods like outreach, activism, and policy development, social work majors have the opportunity to change the lives of many for the better. Today, top influencers in social work are making strides in Children’s Care, Disability Rights, Substance Use Disorders, and much more.

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Social work is a popular major because it can provide a pathway into several high-demand fields and career opportunities. With so many vulnerable Americans facing unprecedented challenges today, the need for qualified social workers has never been greater. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of social work jobs is expected to grow at a remarkable rate of 13% by 2029. With 90,700 new jobs expected during that time, opportunities abound for professional social workers. If you’re looking for a well-paying and secure job, a social work degree is a great place to start.

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Once you’ve declared your major in social work, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in a number of public health and service-related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized social work electives, there are several common courses that most social work majors will be required to take, including:

  • Race and Justice
  • Social Work Research Methods
  • Social Psychology
  • Community Organizing
  • Public Health Outreach
  • Social Services Administration
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Family and Youth Intervention

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The high-growth field of social work offers a wide range of professional opportunities. If you wish to become a licensed social worker in a clinical setting, you will likely need to earn your advanced degree from a graduate school with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). However, there are a number of rewarding contexts for practicing outreach, case management, counseling and intervention with an undergraduate degree. Depending on your skills, interests and desired workplace setting, you have plenty of options, including these top jobs:

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Related: How to Major in Social Work

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Work Degree Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in social work.

How do we determine the best social work liberal arts colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Influence”.

The influence of a college or university is based on the schools’ top academic influencers related to the discipline in this ranking. We track the influence of faculty and alumni affialiate with these school counting not only the publicaitons and citations of the school’s affiliated people, but we also consider the overall web presense of the faculty and alumni. The greater the citations, authority of web links, web searches, and pageviews, the greater the individuals’ influence. Those combined make up the departments’ influence in the field of study. We believe tracking the academic influence of the people affiliated with a school is the best indicator of academic excellence.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and misuesed performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is more insulated from manipulation, and more reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Ranking: Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Work Bachelor’s Degree Programs

  1. #2

    Hunter College

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    40%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    19K

    What is Hunter College known for?

    Hunter College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    Hunter College Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  2. Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    965/17

    What is Savannah State University known for?

    Savannah State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Literature

    SSU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  3. #4

    Tuskegee University

    Tuskegee , AL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    989/20

    What is Tuskegee University known for?

    Tuskegee University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing

    TU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  4. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Southern University at New Orleans known for?

    Southern University at New Orleans’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    SUNO Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #6

    Ashland University

    Ashland , OH

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/21

    What is Ashland University known for?

    Ashland University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Economics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    Ashland University Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #7

    Skidmore College

    Saratoga Springs , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/30

    What is Skidmore College known for?

    Skidmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science

    Skidmore College Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #8

    Niagara University

    Niagara University , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    What is Niagara University known for?

    Niagara University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Biology

    Niagara University Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  8. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    915/16

    What is South Carolina State University known for?

    South Carolina State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

    SCSU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #10

    Nyack College

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    945/20

    What is Nyack College known for?

    Nyack College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    Nyack College Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  10. #11

    Earlham College

    Richmond , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    What is Earlham College known for?

    Earlham College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science

    Earlham College Social Work Major:

    • Applied Minor Only
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #12

    Hope College

    Holland , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    What is Hope College known for?

    Hope College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Economics
    • Political Science

    Hope College Social Work Major:

    • Social work major, CSWE
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  12. Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    849/15

    What is Virginia Union University known for?

    Virginia Union University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    VUU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #14

    Meredith College

    Raleigh , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/21

    What is Meredith College known for?

    Meredith College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    Meredith College Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  14. #15

    Hood College

    Frederick , MD

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Hood College known for?

    Hood College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Literature

    Hood College Social Work Major:

    • BA in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #16

    Shaw University

    Raleigh , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Shaw University known for?

    Shaw University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

    Shaw University Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  16. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    What is Minot State University known for?

    Minot State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    MSU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  17. #18

    Alabama State University

    Montgomery , AL

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    950/17

    What is Alabama State University known for?

    Alabama State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • History
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work

    ASU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  18. #19

    Loras College

    Dubuque , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/22

    What is Loras College known for?

    Loras College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Medical
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry

    Loras College Social Work Major:

    • BA in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  19. #20

    Southern University

    Baton Rouge , LA

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    43%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/18

    What is Southern University known for?

    Southern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Psychology

    Southern University Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  20. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/21

    What is Salem State University known for?

    Salem State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    SSU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  21. #22

    University of Portland

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/26

    What is University of Portland known for?

    University of Portland’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Portland Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  22. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    950/18

    What is Norfolk State University known for?

    Norfolk State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Communications
    • History
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Portland Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  23. Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1122/24

    What is Abilene Christian University known for?

    Abilene Christian University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Portland Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  24. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/23

    What is California State University, Long Beach known for?

    California State University, Long Beach’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Portland Social Work Major:

    • BA in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO

Go to all Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Work programs

The Best Social Work Schools in Your State

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