Top Universities for Social Work in 2022-23

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Best Social Work Colleges and Universities in the World

About Social Work

Today’s age is ridden with many systemic and individual problems. Families and communities need guidance to enhance their harmony and functioning. As an academic discipline and profession, social work is all about making a positive impact. Social work is interdisciplinary; it requires adequate knowledge of any aspect that has the power to affect the quality of human lives. Social workers aim to address and remedy concerns from an individual to a societal level through psychology, health, biology, social science, politics, history, and law.

Duties of a Social Worker

Social work is a dynamic field. Monotony is rarely a feature as different situations may demand a varied course of action. But, the process of attending a case can be generalized as follows:

  • Assessing the client and understanding their situation through meetings
  • Conducting interviews or further meetings with people relevant to the client
  • Planning a remedy or a course of action to address the client’s situation
  • Communicating the treatment plan through written or oral communication
  • Reviewing progress or attending to any challenges
  • Referring to appropriate individuals, services, or agencies as appropriate
  • Take actions on behalf of the client when the need arises

Qualities of a Good Social Worker

Understanding another person’s point of view is a valuable asset to a social worker. Being empathetic forms the basis of every action performed as part of social work, and communication is key to understanding humans. 

A social worker is expected to be able to communicate with people regardless of their cultural background, analyze their issues, and effectively reach a solution. The art of critical thinking while staying emotionally balanced and prioritizing ethics in every situation and decision can be daunting, but it comes naturally to social workers. 

A typical workday demands time management and organizational skills. In addition, social workers must acknowledge the value of self-care, as the work can get emotionally, physically, and mentally stressful.

Popular degrees for a career in Social Work

Bachelor’s level

Undergraduate level degrees in social work are primarily:

  • Bachelor in Social Work
  • Bachelor in Social Work and Human Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Work
  • Bachelor of Science in Social Work

Some other bachelor’s degrees, although different but still relevant to the field of social work, are listed below:

  • BSc Honours Psychology with Counseling Skills
  • Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Services
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Scheme in Applied Social Sciences
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Ethics and Contemporary Social Issues

Master’s level

  • Master of Social Work
  • MSc Social Work
  • Master of Arts in Social Work

Doctoral level

  • Doctor of Social Work
  • P.h.D in Social Work

Specializations under Social Work

Child and family welfare

Child welfare specialists play a vital role in understanding vulnerable children who may have undergone abuse, neglect, or trauma. They work towards creating a safe and assuring environment for children and shaping their personalities. They also work with the family to better ties with the client and build meaningful relations. Social workers also ensure child protection when the family environment deems unfit for the child’s well-being.

Mental health and substance abuse

There has been a growing awareness of the need to address and heal mental health issues globally. Mental health social workers work directly with clients undergoing emotional and mental imbalances and understand and assess their situations for diagnosis and guidance. In addition, they recognize behavioral patterns and motivate clients to overcome harmful tendencies such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or self-harm.

Social Work administrator

Administrators and managers in social work oversee the activities of private and public organizations. Their work is directed towards supporting the activities of the organization. Therefore, business and managerial skills are necessary for such roles. In addition, a keen understanding of social work’s financial and legal aspects is essential for smooth functioning.

Community Social Work

Diversity is an inherent part of communities. But such diversity can lead to unrest within the community when people differ on issues of varying degrees. Community social workers understand the community’s demographics and develop practical solutions to restore harmony. They encourage community members to actively participate in activities that unite them towards a common goal.

Geriatric Social Work

Gerontological social workers, also known as Geriatric social workers, specialize in caring for individuals over 60. The growing distances between generations can isolate the older population and cut them from required attention and care. Geriatric social workers are humans with an empathetic mind and the skills needed to attend to seniors.

Developmental disabilities social work

Having disabilities can be a plight that emotionally and physically affects a person and those around them. Social workers dealing with developmental disabilities educate physically-challenged individuals about their legal rights. They help them connect to special services and agencies that can help them become independent. They also train parents of differently-abled children to be their advocates and guide them.

The average salary of Social Workers

Several social work professions or specializations pay above the median salary. However, the ability to draw high incomes from social work professions is dependent on years of experience. Entry-level social workers with a bachelor’s in social work tend to attract lower salaries than licensed social workers, who obtain their license after completing a Master’s in social work. The location also plays a role in determining the compensation, as some countries or cities tend to pay more. For example, the demand for social workers in the UK is relatively high. Therefore, those who wish to graduate in social work can plan to study in the UK and be exposed to ample professional opportunities. The average salary of social workers across some countries is listed below.

United States– $52,442

Canada– $50,217

United Kingdom– $53,933

Australia– $52,000

Note: All prices mentioned in USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and country to country

Duration of completing Social Work studies

Country Bachelor’s Level Master’s Level Doctoral Level
United States 4 years 2-3 years 3-5 years
Canada 4 years 1-2 years 4-5 years
United Kingdom 3-4 years 1-2 years 3 years
Australia 3-4 years 1-2 years 4 years

Top Social Work universities based on various rankings

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
13 15 13 University of Pennsylvania United States Click here Click here
16 38 32 The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom Click here Click here
19 8 6 Columbia University United States Click here Click here
23 26 19 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor United States Click here Click here
26 22 16 University of Toronto Canada Click here Click here
27 67 51 McGill University Canada Click here Click here
32 5 4 University of California, Berkeley United States Click here Click here
37 33 25 University of Melbourne Australia Click here Click here
38 69 28 University of Sydney Australia Click here Click here
39 101-150 NA Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong Click here Click here
40 14 14 University of California, Los Angeles United States Click here Click here
46 42 35 University of British Columbia Canada Click here Click here
47 51 36 University of Queensland Australia Click here Click here
58 80 40 Monash University Australia Click here Click here
62 78 92 University of Bristol United Kingdom Click here Click here
66 151-200 124 Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong Click here Click here
67 41 43 University of Texas at Austin United States Click here Click here
75 31 52 University of Wisconsin-Madison United States Click here Click here
82 55 72 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign United States Click here Click here
85 19 7 University of Washington United States Click here Click here
85 201-300 118 University of Auckland Australia Click here Click here
87 151-200 95 Lund University Sweden Click here Click here
90 101-150 91 University of Birmingham United Kingdom Click here Click here
100 29 39 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill United States Click here Click here
132 301-400 187 Lancaster University United Kingdom Click here Click here
140 92 133 McMaster University Canada Click here Click here
148 74 123 Stockholm University Sweden Click here Click here
151 401-500 260 University of York United Kingdom Click here Click here
166 301-400 412 University of Bath United Kingdom Click here Click here
198 90 224 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel Click here Click here
206 301-400 244 RMIT University Australia Click here Click here
226 151-200 163 University of Sussex United Kingdom Click here Click here
235 151-200 169 University of Calgary Canada Click here Click here
283 201-300 218 Deakin University Australia Click here Click here
284 701-800 556 Massey University New Zealand Click here Click here
290 201-300 201 Griffith University Australia Click here Click here
701-750 501-600 668 University of Haifa Israel Click here Click here

Top Social Work universities in USA

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
13 15 13 University of Pennsylvania Click here Click here
19 8 6 Columbia University Click here Click here
23 26 19 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Click here Click here
32 5 4 University of California, Berkeley Click here Click here
40 14 14 University of California, Los Angeles Click here Click here

Top Social Work universities in Canada

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
26 22 16 University of Toronto Click here Click here
27 67 51 McGill University Click here Click here
46 42 35 University of British Columbia Click here Click here
140 92 133 McMaster University Click here Click here
235 151-200 169 University of Calgary Click here Click here

Top Social Work universities in UK

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
16 38 32 The University of Edinburgh Click here Click here
62 78 92 University of Bristol Click here Click here
90 101-150 91 University of Birmingham Click here Click here
132 301-400 187 Lancaster University Click here Click here
151 401-500 260 University of York Click here Click here

Top Social Work universities in Australia

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
37 33 25 University of Melbourne Click here Click here
38 69 28 University of Sydney Click here Click here
47 51 36 University of Queensland Click here Click here
58 80 40 Monash University Click here Click here
85 201-300 118 University of Auckland Click here Click here

Admission requirements for pursuing Social Work at top-ranked universities

Bachelor’s level

Most universities list the below-mentioned entry requirements for a bachelor’s level course in social work:

  • At least 80% in 12th standard, with a minimum grade 4 in Mathematics and English (Some universities may mention a lower cut-off for 12th standard percentage of up to 65%)
  • Proof of English language proficiency with an IELTS score of at least 7.0 overall and 6.5 in each component
  • Personal statement
  • Written essay

Applicants may be invited for an interview as part of the selection process.

Master’s level

The entry requirements for a master’s in Social Work include:

  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Academic Transcripts
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Admission Essay
  • Resume
  • Letters of recommendation

Some universities require students to provide proof of work experience in a social care setting. In addition, an interview may be included in the selection process.

Doctoral level

The applications for doctoral programs in social work may be assessed on a case-to-case basis. However, some of the standard admission requirements are mentioned below:

  • A postgraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Academic transcripts
  • A report of GRE scores
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Proof of at least two years of work experience
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample

Licenses for Social Work practice

Anyone willing to further their career in Social Work should consider registering themselves for a license. A social work license validates the applicant’s education and work experience. Through their official website and other official information outlets, each country specifies the requirements and procedures for license registration.

In the United States, license requirements vary for each state. There are several different kinds of licenses available. Applicants are free to register for any of the following:

  • Licensed social workers (LSWs).
  • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).
  • Licensed independent social workers (LISWs).
  • Licensed independent clinical social workers (LICSWs).

The minimum educational requirement for obtaining a social work license is a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW). However, applicants must consider enrolling for a master’s degree in social work in the US, as most licenses require a postgraduate level of education. Ensure that the social work degrees are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

For social work in the UK, one needs to register with ‘Social Work England’ after verifying whether they meet the eligibility criteria. A postgraduate level of education from an accredited university is essential.

In Canada, the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) is responsible for verifying the eligibility of applicants, issuing them licenses, and maintaining the quality and standard of the social work profession.

The governing body’s website guides foreign-trained social workers to work in a country. Aspiring social workers are advised to check their preferred county’s license eligibility and enroll in courses approved by the right board. Most licenses require the applicant to prove good work experience in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Social workers are needed in every field of life. Micro social workers are trained to deal with individual clients. Macro social workers address issues on a larger scale that can impact a group of people or community. There is, however, a certain degree of overlap between both types of social work.

Online education can be an excellent alternative to full-time or part-time programs without compromising practical experience or fieldwork. However, it is crucial to ensure that the governing board accredits the online social work courses.

Usually, universities do not require applicants to submit their GRE scores during admissions. However, some universities may request GRE scores if they consider an applicant’s credentials to be falling short of minimum requirements. The need for GRE scores is based on each university’s selection criteria.