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2021 Best Colleges for Social Work

Approximately 56,195 social work degrees were granted to students last year in the United States. With so many options it can be a challenge finding the best choice. This year's Best Colleges for Social Work ranking analyzed 274 colleges and universities that offer a bachelor's degree in social work. We look at over 20 factors to determine the top 25 colleges for Social Work students.

Choosing a Great Social Work School

Best Colleges for Social Work Your choice of social work school matters. This section explores some of the factors we include in our ranking and how much they vary depending on the school you select. Below we explain some of the most important factors to consider before making your choice:

Quality Overall is Important

A school that excels in educating for a particular major must be a great school overall as well. To make it into this list a school must rank well in our overall Best Colleges ranking. This ranking considered factors such as graduation rates, overall graduate earnings and other educational resources to identify great colleges and universities.

Over 80% of the schools in this list are in the top 22% of our overall quality ranking while the lowest ranked school on the list is still in the top 30%.

Overall Best Colleges Rank  ( 349 to 86 )
Lowest Ranked Overall
Top Ranked Overall

Graduates Earn More After College

A social work degree from schools on this list typically results in higher than average income following graduation. While the average social work bachelors degree from U.S. colleges results in an average starting salary of $30,412, graduates of colleges on this list average $34,124.

Starting Salary  ( 29387 to 36812 )
$0
$41,700

Other Factors We Consider

In addition to the above, you should consider some of the following factors:

  • Major Focus - How much a school focuses on Social Work students vs. other majors.
  • Major Popularity - How many other social work students choose this school.
  • Accreditation - Whether a school is regionally accredited and/or a recognized social work related accrediting body.

Our complete ranking methodology documents in more detail how we consider these factors to identify the best colleges for Social Work students.

Best Schools to Study Social Work in United States

Below you'll see a list of the best colleges and universities to study social work. Only those schools that rank in the top 15% of all the schools we analyze get awarded with a place on this list. Of the 274 schools analyzed, only 25 earned the distinction of being on this list.

Top 25 Best Social Work Colleges

It's hard to beat University of California - Berkeley if you want to study social work. Located in the city Berkeley, UC Berkeley is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 69 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means UC Berkeley is a great college overall.

A popular major for social work undergrads, there are approximately 222 learners enrolled in this program at UC Berkeley. Graduates from the social work major at University of California - Berkeley make $2,176 more than the typical graduate with the same degree when they enter the workforce.

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#2

St Catherine University

Saint Paul, MN

St Catherine University is a great option for individuals pursuing a Social Work major. St. Kate's is a small private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Saint Paul. This school ranks 515th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Minnesota.

St Catherine University is a fairly popular school to study social work in United States with more than 186 graduations last year. Students from the social work major at St Catherine University make $6,576 above the average college graduate with the same degree shortly after graduation.

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Any student pursuing a degree in social work has to check out University of St Thomas Minnesota. Located in the large city Saint Paul, UST MN is a private not-for-profit college with a medium-sized student population. A Best Colleges rank of 184 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means UST MN is a great school overall.

A favorite major for social work undergraduates, there are approximately 162 students enrolled in this degree at UST MN. Social Work majors from University of St Thomas Minnesota get a earnings boost of about $4,376 over the typical income of social work majors.

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It is difficult to beat Arizona State University - Downtown Phoenix if you want to study social work. ASU - Downtown Phoenix is a fairly large public school located in the city of Phoenix. This school ranks 365th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Arizona.

There are approximately 352 social work undergraduates studying this degree at ASU - Downtown Phoenix. Graduates of the social work program report average early career wages of $35,700.

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Located in the small city Duluth, St. Scholastica is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population. This college ranks 387th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Minnesota.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, St. Scholastica also offers a Master's Degree in social work. Social Work students from The College of Saint Scholastica earn a boost of approximately $6,376 over the typical earnings of social work majors.

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UW Seattle is a very large public school located in the large city of Seattle. A Best Colleges rank of 97 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means UW Seattle is a great school overall.

There are roughly 292 social work undergrads enrolled in this degree at UW Seattle. Grads of the social work program report average early career wages of $34,900.

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Rutgers New Brunswick is a fairly large public school located in the small city of New Brunswick. A Best Colleges rank of 183 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Rutgers New Brunswick is a great school overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Rutgers New Brunswick also offers 2 different higher degree levels in social work, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Graduates of the social work program state that they receive average early career earnings of $31,700.

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Located in the large city Columbus, Ohio State is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 175 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means Ohio State is a great college overall.

There are approximately 461 social work undergrads studying this program at Ohio State. Graduates of the social work program report average early career earnings of $31,000.

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Located in the large city Madison, Wisconsin is a public school with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 76 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Wisconsin is a great college overall.

For those interested in something more advanced, Wisconsin also offers 2 different higher degree levels in social work, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Graduates of the social work program make an average of $32,300 for their early career.

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Located in the city Austin, UT Austin is a public school with a very large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 91 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means UT Austin is a great college overall.

A popular choice for social work undergrads, there are approximately 226 students studying this program at UT Austin. Students who graduate from this degree report average early career earnings of $29,900.

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#11

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND

Located in the small city Grand Forks, UND is a public school with a large student population. This college ranks 452nd out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of North Dakota.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, UND also offers a Master's Degree in social work. Social Work students from University of North Dakota get a earnings boost of about $6,176 above the typical income of social work graduates.

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Located in the city Reno, UNR is a public college with a very large student population. This college ranks 512th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Nevada.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, UNR also offers a Master's Degree in social work. Graduates from the social work degree program at University of Nevada - Reno earn $7,576 above the standard college graduate in this field shortly after graduation.

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Located in the city Fort Collins, Colorado State is a public school with a very large student population. This school ranks 239th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Colorado.

For those interested in something more advanced, Colorado State also offers 2 different higher degree levels in social work, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from the social work program earn about $33,700 in the first couple years of their career.

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Pitt is a fairly large public school located in the large city of Pittsburgh. A Best Colleges rank of 129 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Pitt is a great college overall.

A popular major for social work undergrads, there are about 276 students studying this degree at Pitt. Graduates of the social work program make about $30,300 in the first couple years of working.

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#15

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

Located in the city Tuscaloosa, UA is a public school with a fairly large student population. This school ranks 305th out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Alabama.

There are about 297 social work undergraduates enrolled in this degree at UA. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, social work students typically earn about $33,900 in the first five years of their career.

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#16

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS

KU is a very large public school located in the small city of Lawrence. This college ranks 254th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Kansas.

For those interested in something more advanced, KU also offers 2 different higher degree levels in social work, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Graduates of the social work program earn around $33,000 in their early career salary.

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Located in the suburb Norman, University of Oklahoma is a public school with a fairly large student population. This college ranks 266th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Oklahoma.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, University of Oklahoma also offers a Master's Degree in social work. After graduation, social work students usually earn an average of $35,900 at the beginning of their careers.

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Located in the city Knoxville, UT Knoxville is a public college with a very large student population. This school ranks 251st out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of Tennessee.

For those interested in something more advanced, UT Knoxville also offers 2 different higher degree levels in social work, the most popular of which is a Master's Degree. Students who graduate from the social work program earn about $29,100 in their early career salary.

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#19

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

Iowa is a very large public school located in the small city of Iowa City. A Best Colleges rank of 190 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Iowa is a great school overall.

There are about 132 social work undergraduates enrolled in this degree at Iowa. Students who complete this degree state that they receive average early career income of $32,500.

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#20

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Located in the city East Lansing, Michigan State is a public college with a fairly large student population. A Best Colleges rank of 107 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means Michigan State is a great college overall.

Michigan State University is a fairly popular school to study social work in United States exceeding 71 graduations last year. Students who graduate from this degree report average early career income of $31,300.

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#21

Nazareth College

Rochester, NY

Located in the large suburb Rochester, Nazareth is a private not-for-profit school with a small student population. This school ranks 333rd out of 1,715 schools for overall quality in the state of New York.

A popular major for social work undergraduates, there are roughly 72 individuals studying this degree at Nazareth. After graduation, social work students typically make around $33,600 in the first five years of their career.

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NC State is a fairly large public school located in the city of Raleigh. A Best Colleges rank of 105 out of 1,715 colleges nationwide means NC State is a great school overall.

There are approximately 161 social work undergraduates enrolled in this program at NC State. Soon after getting their bachelor's degree, social work students typically make around $31,100 in the first five years of their career.

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U of NH is a large public school located in the suburb of Durham. A Best Colleges rank of 211 out of 1,715 schools nationwide means U of NH is a great school overall.

For those interested in pursuing a higher degree, U of NH also offers a Master's Degree in social work. Students who graduate from the social work program earn about $32,300 in the first couple years of their career.

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#24

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA

UNI is a large public school located in the small city of Cedar Falls. This college ranks 325th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Iowa.

In addition to its bachelor's programs, UNI offers a Master's Degree in social work. Graduates of the social work program make an average of $33,100 for their early career.

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USF Tampa is a very large public school located in the city of Tampa. This school ranks 218th out of 1,715 colleges for overall quality in the state of Florida.

University of South Florida - Main Campus is one of the most popular college to study social work in United States with more than 225 graduates last year. Students who graduate from this program state that they receive average early career earnings of $29,800.

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Rest of the Top Best Colleges for Social Work

#26

Winona State University

Winona, MN
#29

Keuka College

Keuka Park, NY
#30

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA
#32

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA
#37

Bethel University Minnesota

Saint Paul, MN
#38

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA
#40

Stockton University

Galloway, NJ

Additional Noteworthy Schools

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Colleges for Social Work award.

Rank College Location
42 Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
43 University of Georgia Athens, GA
44 Union University Jackson, TN
45 Rutgers University - Newark Newark, NJ
46 University of Wyoming Laramie, WY
47 Wayne State University Detroit, MI
48 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
49 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
50 San Jose State University San Jose, CA
51 University of Washington - Tacoma Campus Tacoma, WA
52 University of Vermont Burlington, VT
53 University of Cincinnati - Main Campus Cincinnati, OH
54 Salisbury University Salisbury, MD

Social Work by Region

View the Best Colleges for Social Work for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
The Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

One of 5 majors within the Public Administration & Social Service area of study, Social Work has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Public Administration 17,444
Human Services 13,768
Public Policy 6,021
Community Organization & Advocacy 2,832
Other Public Administration 971

View All Social Work Related Majors >

Notes and References

  • The bars on the spread charts above show the distribution of the schools on this list +/- one standard deviation from the mean.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to Army Medicine. More about our data sources and methodologies.

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