Online social work degree programs offer students interested in launching a career as a social worker another option for earning their degree. With the flexibility of an online program, students can attend school while still working, taking courses from wherever they have an internet connection.

An online option is good news for residents of Wisconsin and other states who want to earn their degrees but face roadblocks through a traditional campus program. Obstacles can include work obligations, family responsibilities, and living too far from campus. It’s also good news for agencies that hire social workers. Demand is great for social workers in Wisconsin and around the country.

Dr. Leslie Jaber-Wilson, DSW, CAPSW, is a professor and Social Work Program Director at Marian University, which recently added an online Bachelor of Social Work in addition to its existing on-campus program.

“The world needs social workers now more than ever,” Dr. Jaber-Wilson said. “This accredited online option allows students to continue to work while completing this important degree.”

The Need for Social Workers

Demand for skilled and knowledgeable social workers is expected to remain high in the coming years. Social work attracts dedicated professionals interested in serving the needs of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

A career as a social worker requires empathy hard work, ethics, and dedication. Most of those entering social work pursue a commitment to help solve society’s problems. They may focus their careers on serving specific segments of the population, including children and families.

The National Association of Social Workers wrote that those seeking a career that provides “meaning, action, diversity, [and] satisfaction” should consider making social work their profession.

“The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty,” the association wrote.

The federal government projects a 12 percent increase in the number of social workers by 2030 nationwide. The average compensation for social workers reached $64,940 in May 2020.

Who Can Earn an Online Social Work Degree?

At Marian University, the online Bachelor of Social Work program is open to students with some college credits and students coming right out of high school. No previous college credit is required.

Those who have earned an associate degree – in any discipline – may be eligible to transfer credits. Students who have earned an associate degree can complete the online Bachelor of Social Work in as little as two years (some students may require preparatory mathematics courses, extending the time to graduation).

What Do Students Learn in an Online Social Work Degree Program?

The Marian University online Bachelor of Social Work program offers all courses 100% online. Students complete some work outside of the classroom, such as service learning which involves client experiences. The direct practice experience also includes a required 450 hours of a faculty-coordinated field internship experience in the student’s final year. Placement for this experience can often occur in the student’s home community. 

Marian University offers social work courses primarily in a 15-week model. Some general education and cognate courses may be offered in a seven-week model. Admission is open for summer, fall, and spring sessions.

“Students will experience engagement with course materials and be able to practice important skills with their classmates and in their home communities from their first social work course,” said Dr. Jaber-Wilson. “Courses are primarily asynchronous but will include engagement with other classmates and individual meetings with faculty to ensure demonstration of the necessary social work competencies.”

The Marian University program prepares students with the following skills that help them accomplish common goals shared by social workers in Wisconsin and around the country.

  • Assist diverse populations as they manage life’s challenges.
  • Develop strong critical thinking skills–become better problem-solvers and advocates for social and economic justice
  • Concentrate on the elimination of social barriers such as poverty, injustice, oppression, and other conditions that limit human rights
  • Social workers may apply their skills to many different clients, including those coping with illness, substance abuse, mental health challenges, finding affordable housing, finding employment, and solving a family crisis.

Social work is one of the few professions where people focus 100 percent of their efforts on making the world a better place to live. For those who want to dedicate themselves to this important career, an online social work degree offers a convenient, high-quality option for achieving their career goals.