2023-2024 Guide to Online CSWE Accredited Online BSW Programs
An individual who obtains a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is well on their way to practicing a variety of social work-related jobs. Indeed, a BSW or equivalent is a minimum requirement for professional social work positions.
Fortunately, there are many ways to earn a BSW online. If an individual is interested in pursuing such a program, their best chances of getting the educational background that they need are by finding a CSWE-accredited program. An online BSW program that is accredited by CSWE will have the academic standards to ensure that students get the training they need.
What Is CSWE Accreditation?
A CSWE accreditation is an accreditation process that the Council on Social Work Education manages. This organization, which was founded in 1952, works with social work programs and ensure that they meets all minimum and appropriate standards. It assesses programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, ensuring that programs they accredit will appropriately prepare students for a career in social work.
As you can imagine, such an accreditation process is not easy. Programs seeking this level of accreditation must meet certain academic standards and employ qualified instructors. Individuals who attend an accredited school can be guaranteed that their program meets these levels and can prepare them for the rigors of the real world or for continuing their education.
To qualify for accreditation, a CSWE program must:
- Instruct students in nine different competencies, including such areas as ethical and professional behavior and advancing social justice.
- Meet explicit and implicit curriculum standards in practice and field education.
- Have appropriate measures to assess the competency of students who are enrolled in such a course.
A CSWE accreditation is available for schools that are in-person and online. Indeed, online BSW online programs that are accredited by CSWE have become more common of late.
What Is an Online CSWE-Accredited BSW Program?
A CSWE-accredited online BSW program is an excellent option for students interested in pursuing their BSW.
As you would imagine, different CSWE accredited online BSW programs have different program requirements. One relatively common example is CSWE accredited online BSW programs requiring students to complete 40 hours of general academics, followed by 40-50 hours of social work courses. This means that students can obtain their BSW in four years by sticking to a normal academic course load. BSW courses will almost always require some sort of fieldwork. This fieldwork cannot be done online and just be supervised by an agency that has experience teaching social work students how to obtain the necessary skills and experience.
From an academic perspective, most schools — including CSWE accredited online BSW programs — typically require students to complete specific courses in various subjects. A review of the available literature reveals that the following courses are often prerequisites for getting a degree:
- Research methods or practices
- Human behavior
- Social work practice
- Social work policy
- Alcoholism, addiction, or drug abuse
CSWE-accredited online BSW programs teach students the skills they need to complete their fieldwork and get their degree. It is incumbent upon any student examining online programs to confirm what the specific fieldwork requirements are, then make sure that the requirements set out by the school can be executed in a manner that is compatible with their career choice.
Another benefit of CSWE-accredited online BSW programs is that they give you the same access to career opportunities you would have if you were taking an in-person accredited course. Indeed, a CSWE accredited online BSW program should prepare you to find a career that fits your goals and your skills. Examples include:
- Working in a wide array of child-related fields, including as an adoption specialist, case manager, children & youth worker, therapist, or more.
- Working directly with families, including as a family therapist or advocacy representative.
- Working in the non-profit sector.
- Continuing education. Many people who earn their BSW move on to earn an MSW, thus putting them in a better position to learn new skills, take on advanced roles, and increase their earning potential.
It is also worth noting that careers in social work are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work employment is projected to grow 12% every year for the next eight years. This growth is faster than in other occupations. Furthermore, there are a projected 78,300 social worker job openings every year, and not enough social workers to fill these jobs.
What Are the Benefits of a CSWE-Accredited Online BSW Degree?
A CSWE-accredited online BSW program has many benefits.
Quality of Education
Long gone are the days in which online schools were considered by some to be diploma mills. Quite the opposite is true — some of the best schools in the world offer online programs and modules. This option allows you to get a CSWE accredited online BSW program from a world-class institution.
Many online programs are asynchronous, meaning that you take a class when you want and when you have time. Alternatively, you may be able to take live classes, even on weekends or in the late evening. This flexibility allows you to take CSWE accredited online BSW programs at your chosen time and place.
Range of Options
The same flexibility noted above also allows for a range of options for CSWE-accredited online BSW programs. You can take stand-alone classes that help you fulfill a graduation requirement, or enroll in a program that prepares you for an advanced degree.
Many CSWE-accredited online BSW programs offer “hybrid” programs. This term means that they have real-world and online components, which may be preferable for many individuals who do not want an exclusively online education. These integrated programs can allow individuals to get the “best of both worlds” and have an education that is both online and real-world based.
- BSW programs are offered both online and in-person.
- A BSW prepares students for entry-level social work positions and/or a graduate degree program
- Accelerated programs that combine BSW and MSW training are available
- High levels of flexibility and the chance to work at the speed of your choosing, potentially allowing you to work intensively and earn a BSW in as little as two years.
- The chance to work on or off-campus while getting your degree.
- The opportunity to use the online component of these classes to earn your degree at any school in the country.
The costs of these programs typically total around $50,000. However, that represents a major saving on in-person costs:
- Tuition rates for online programs are competitive with those for full-time, in-person learning.
- Online programs can help you save on housing and travel expenses.
- Online programs can enable students to work at full-time jobs.