Best Research Universities for Social Work Degrees

The best social work research universities 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 Research Universities 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 Research Universities for Social Work Degrees 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 liberal arts college may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best liberal arts colleges for a bachelor’s in social work.

How do we determine the best social work research universities?

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 Research Universities for Social Work Bachelor’s Degree Programs

  1. #1

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    What is University of Pennsylvania known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Pennsylvania Social Work Major:

    • BA Social Work
    Source
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

    What is University of California, Berkeley known for?

    University of California, Berkeley’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    UC Berkeley Social Work Major:

    • BA in Social Welfare
    Source
  3. #3

    New York University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    49K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/32

    What is New York University known for?

    New York University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    NYU Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1355/30

    What is University of Texas at Austin known for?

    University of Texas at Austin’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    UT Austin Social Work Major:

    • BS in Social Work
    Source
  5. #5

    University of Washington

    Seattle , WA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is University of Washington known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Washington Social Work Major:

    • BA Social Welfare
    Source
  6. #10

    University of Alabama

    Tuscaloosa , AL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    35K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/27

    What is University of Alabama known for?

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

    • Law
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Alabama Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
  7. #11

    Baylor University

    Waco , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/29

    What is Baylor University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Business
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    Baylor University Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
  8. #12

    Miami University

    Oxford , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/27

    What is Miami University known for?

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

    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

    Miami University Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #13

    Texas A&M University

    College Station , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    59K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/28

    What is Texas A&M University known for?

    Texas A&M University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    TA&M Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
  10. #14

    Florida State University

    Tallahassee , FL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    What is Florida State University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Earth Sciences
    • Social Work
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    FSU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor in Social Work
    Source
  11. #16

    Loyola University Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    What is Loyola University Chicago known for?

    Loyola University Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    LUC Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  12. #17

    San Diego State University

    San Diego , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/25

    What is San Diego State University known for?

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

    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Social Work
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    SDSU Social Work Major:

    • BA in Social Work
    Source
  13. #18

    Texas Christian University

    Fort Worth , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    What is Texas Christian University known for?

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

    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    TCU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  14. #19

    Florida A&M University

    Tallahassee , FL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/21

    What is Florida A&M University known for?

    Florida A&M University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Law
    • History
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    FAMU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
  15. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    60K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    What is University of Central Florida known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    UCF Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
  16. #21

    Liberty University

    Lynchburg , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    75K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/24

    What is Liberty University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    LU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  17. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    31K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/29

    What is North Carolina State University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    NCSU Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
  18. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    48K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    What is Florida International University known for?

    Florida International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Economics
    • Business
    • Law
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

    FIU Social Work Major:

    • BS Social Work
    Source
  19. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    54K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1340/29

    What is University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign known for?

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    UIUC Social Work Major:

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source
  20. #25

    University of Detroit Mercy

    Detroit , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    What is University of Detroit Mercy known for?

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

    • Law
    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    University of Detroit Mercy Social Work Major

    • Bachelor of Social Work
    Source

Go to all Research Universities for Social Work programs

The Best Social Work Schools in Your State

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