The 12 Best Associate's Degree in Social Work - Best Value Schools

The 12 Best Associate’s Degree in Social Work

Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

Social workers are often motivated by a desire to help others and make a difference in society. If you dream of creating social change or helping individuals through difficult circumstances, you may find fulfillment in social work. They help people cope with and overcome problems in their everyday lives.

An associate degree in social worker can be the beginning of a great career. Positions available with an associate’s degree include case management aid, community outreach worker, and social work assistants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that these positions will grow by 17% in the next decade, which is much higher than the average for career growth.

Career Opportunities with an Associate Degree in Social Work

In most states, becoming a licensed social worker requires a bachelor’s degree. Licensed social workers can treat individuals with emotional, behavioral, and mental issues. They often work with individuals who struggle with homelessness, depression, and addiction.

An associate degree as a social worker does qualify you for assistant or outreach positions. Many students get their associate degree and continue their education while working in the field. This allows them to gain job experience while they are furthering their education.

Career opportunities with an associate degree in social work include:

  • Human services assistant
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Victim advocate
  • Social services assistant
  • Healthcare social worker

What Should You Look for When Choosing a College for Your Associate’s Degree in Social Work?

Once you’ve chosen the career field that you want, the next step is choosing a college to get your degree. There are several things you should consider when deciding which school is right for you.

How Do You Want to Attend?

Do you want to attend classes online, on campus, or both? Both online classes and in-person ones have their advantages. Online classes offer more flexibility and they can be more convenient. They also allow you to attend a college that is outside of your local area, which gives you a broader choice of schools.

Attending classes on campus provides you with the opportunity to interact with other students and faculty. It can be easier to ask questions or contact your professor in person. Hybrid programs allow you to take some classes online for convenience and offer others in person.

If you choose to attend classes in person, you’ll also need to consider your schedule. Do you have a job or family obligations that make day or evening classes more convenient? Does the school you are considering offer them?

Do You Want Associates of Art, Science, or Applied Science?

Most social work associate degrees are an Associate of Arts degree, or AA. Social work falls under Humanities, and an AA has a greater concentration of Humanities courses.  An Associate of Science degree, or AS, has a greater concentration of math and science classes. An Associate of Applied Sciences degree typically has a greater focus on training for a career once you finish the program.

Rank School Location
1Community College of AlleghenyPittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2Western New Mexico UniversitySilver City, New Mexico
3Northampton Community CollegeBethlehem, Pennsylvania
4Northeast Mississippi CollegeBooneville, Mississippi
5Rogue Community CollegeGrant Pass, Oregon

The Best Schools for an Associate’s Degree in Social Work

1

Community College of Allegheny

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 18%

Community College of Allegheny offers a Social Work Foundations Applied Science Associate degree. This prepares students for entry-level positions in social work as paraprofessionals. They may work in group homes, drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and within other social services organizations.

The college has agreements with many 4 year universities that allow students to transfer and continue their education by pursuing a Bachelor’s of Social Work after getting their Associate’s degree.

Students will learn how to understand and use social work terminology, and the core concept of social work. Students will learn the theoretical perspectives of social work, and gain an understanding of diversity. They will learn how to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills in real-world situations, and how to use technology in the social work setting.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 18:1
Tuition: $6,300 in state , $9,100
Accreditation: Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE)
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2

Western New Mexico University

  • Silver City, New Mexico
  • Graduation Rate: 24%

Western New Mexico University offers an Associate of Science degree. The 60-hour program is fully transferable to Eastern New Mexico University’s Bachelor of Social Work program. Western New Mexico University doesn’t offer a specialized degree in social work, but they do have behavioral science electives. This gives students some freedom in choosing which courses they wish to take and can help them specialize in a particular aspect of social work. Electives make up 28 of the program hours. The core curriculum also includes courses on social sciences.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 29:1
Tuition: $1,700 in state, $1,900 out of state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
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3

Northampton Community College

  • Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 26%

Northampton Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Social Work. Courses can be taken completely online, or at either of their two Pennsylvania campuses. It’s a two-year program. It provides a strong foundation in liberal arts. Major courses including sociology, psychology, anthropology, and introduction to social work. In addition to classwork, the college offers hands-on social work experiences. The social work club provides real-world service learning. Students may also participate in conferences and international trips.

Northampton is a good choice if you want to continue your education and get your bachelor’s degree. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). They have agreements with several local universities to ensure a smooth transition. If you intend to attend four of your college outside the local area, your academic advisor will help you navigate course requirements.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 21:1
Tuition: $4,400 in state, $6,800 out of state
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
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4

Northeast Mississippi College

  • Booneville, Mississippi
  • Graduation Rate: 35%

The Northeast Mississippi College Social Work Associate of Arts degree requires 62 credit hours. 32 credit hours are devoted to core studies, including English, Lab Science, History, and Humanities. The program’s focus is providing a solid introduction to behavioral science, and the needed coursework to transfer to a 4-year University. The college has agreements with nearby Universities that will accept all the credit hours earned at Northeast Mississippi College upon completion of an Associate’s degree.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 23:1
Tuition: $2,300 in state, $4,500 out of state
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)
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5

Rogue Community College

  • Grant Pass, Oregon
  • Graduation Rate: 20%

Rogue Community College offers 3 Associate degree programs so students can choose the path that is right for them. Some programs are available online as well as on campus.

The Articulated Associate of Science degree prepares students to transfer to Southern Oregon University’s School of Social Sciences, Health, and Physical Education’s Human Services Program. This is an interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree that prepares students for many careers in social work.  Students are required to complete 90-100 credit hours including 8 credit hours (264 hours) of practice or internship.

Students may also choose an Associate of Arts Transfer Degree. When you graduate from the program, credits are transferable to a 4-year University in Oregon, and you will be admitted as a Junior. The program is 90 credits, making it more extensive than most Associate’s degree programs.

For students who desire to enter the field after they obtain their Associate’s degree, the college also offers an Associate’s of Applied Science degree. This program focuses on career training. Students will gain the knowledge they need for entry-level positions in social work or human resources. There’s a focus on substance abuse counseling. Students who complete the program are eligible for Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor (CADC) Level 1 certification. This degree requires 100 credit hours.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 25:1
Tuition: $3,800 in state, $4,500 out of state
Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
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6

Community College of Beaver County

  • Monaca, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 31%

The purpose of the Community College of Beaver County Social Work Associate Degree program is to prepare students to transfer to a four-year program. It is part of the Transfer and Articulation Center Program. This allows students to transfer seamlessly to a participating University in Pennsylvania. The program is only offered during the day on campus.

It is based on four key aspects. Students will learn the history of social work and how the field’s values were established. Students are introduced to social work concepts and their practical application. They will also learn about human development and the strengths of different life stages, and develop cultural understanding and awareness. The program is 60 credits.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 27:1
Tuition: $8,800 in state, 13,000
Accreditation: Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSCES)
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7

Ivy Tech Community College

  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Graduation Rate: 13%

Ivy Tech Community College is the second-largest community college in Indiana. They offer associate’s degree programs that can be transferred to four-year colleges to pursue a bachelor’s degree. They also offer programs designed to prepare students for a career upon graduation.

Ivy Tech takes a unique approach with its Human Services Associate of Science degree. Most colleges focus on preparing students to transfer to a four-year university or hands-on work and career preparation. Ivy Tech does both. The Transfer as a Junior program allows you to easily transfer to a University as a Junior after getting your Associate’s degree. However, the program also focuses on hands-on learning. It requires at least two internships. Course work includes case studies and problem-solving activities.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 34:1
Tuition: $4,000 in state, $8,000 out of state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
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8

Mesa Community College

  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Graduation Rate: 10%

An Associate degree in Social Work from Mesa Community College can prepare you for many rewarding careers. Career opportunities include mental and substance abuse counseling, family and social service worker, community health worker, and correctional treatment specialist.

The college also has transfer agreements with many other Arizona colleges, enabling students to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work once they have completed the program. They work closely with Arizona State University, but students may transfer to Universities across the country.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 38:1
Tuition: $2,100 in state, $7,900 out of state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
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9

Perimeter College at Georgia State

  • Decatur, Georgia
  • Graduation Rate: 14%

Perimeter College at Georgia State offers a Social Work Associate of Science degree. The focus of the program is prepared to continue to a bachelor’s degree. 42 of the credit hours are devoted to the core curriculum, and 18 are pathway courses for social work. Perimeter College is part of Georgia State, so students can transfer to Georgia State to pursue their Bachelor’s degree easily. Students may study on campus or complete the associate’s degree program completely online.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 35:1
Tuition: $3,000 in state, $9,000 out of state
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
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10

Austin Community College

  • Austin, Texas
  • Graduation Rate: 7%

Austin Community College’s Social Work Associate of Arts degree prepares students for an entry-level career in social work or pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in social work. They take a balanced approach, providing core general education and a concentration in social work. Students will gain 15 credit hours in general education and 45 hours in the Social Work major.

The college places an emphasis on hands-on experience and education. The faculty has real-world field experience. The program provides field experience that helps students learn and prepares them for a career.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 43:1
Tuition: $3,000 in state, $15,600 out of state
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
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11

City Colleges of Chicago

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 25%

City of Colleges of Chicago offers a Social Work Associate of Arts degree. Most of the program comprises general education requirements which make up 45 hours of the 60-hour program. It is designed to meet the general education requirements needed to transfer to a 4-year university upon completion. Elective pathway courses include Sociology, Psychology, and Introduction to Social Work. Classes are available online or on campus. However, students must follow the class syllabus and complete assignments on time if they choose to utilize online learning.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 44:1
Tuition: $6,400 in state, $8,000 out of state
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
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12

San Diego City College

  • San Diego, California
  • Graduation Rate: 17%

San Diego City College offers a Social Work Associate of Arts degree. The program has a dual focus. It is designed to prepare students to pursue an entry-level career in social work or move on to a Bachelor’s degree program after obtaining an Associate degree. The second focus is to provide a basic knowledge of behavioral science to give students a wider knowledge base.

Social work is an applied behavioral science. It requires critical thinking, logic, and knowledge of behavioral science theories. Students will learn how to apply these theories to specific problems, and understand the roles that cultural, economic, and other factors impact individuals and communities.

School Overview

Student to teacher ratio: 51:1
Tuition: $1,200 in state, $5,800 out of state
Accreditation:  Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
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We rank colleges based on the student to teacher ratio, accreditation status, and the overall reputation of the school and program. We then factor in tuition, to determine if the school is a good value. A school with a higher tuition rate may rank higher than one with a lower rate if the other factors suggest that it is a good value. A school with a lower tuition rate may climb higher on the list because it presents a good value based on what it offers.

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