Online Social Work Programs in Arkansas


The demand for social workers in Arkansas continues to outpace national rates, with the greatest need in mental health and substance abuse social work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 19% growth in employment from 2016 through 2026 for these specialized mental health workers, but in Arkansas, the agency anticipates more than 27% job growth. The state reports about 1,020 mental health and substance abuse social workers are currently employed in Arkansas, earning a mean salary of $40,560.

Individuals interested in other social work jobs in Arkansas may find an array of opportunities, as well. Healthcare social workers who help patients navigate treatment plans and access support services anticipate a 22.5% growth from 2016 through 2026, according to the BLS. Currently, the 1,220 healthcare social workers in Arkansas earn $46,310 annually. Social workers in general practice earn about $49,680 each year and anticipate an 11.3% growth.

Child and family social workers expect a 19.3% growth in employment. These dedicated caseworkers ensure children have healthy, safe home environments and offer supports to strengthen families.

Social Work Programs by Degree Level

Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Programs

Online Master’s in Social Work Programs

Featured Online Programs

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Education and Licensure Requirements for Social Workers in Arkansas

The Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board administers licenses for the state. The board follows standards established by the state for education, testing, and training for social workers, ensuring clients receive services from qualified practitioners. The state offers the following social work licenses: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed master social worker (LMSW), and licensed certified social worker (LCSW).

Education Requirements

Arkansas social work programs can receive accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to demonstrate that they meet educational requirements for social work licensure. Courses often include human behavior, social welfare policy and services, research methods, social work practice, and field education. Field education offers hands-on work experience with vulnerable individuals and groups, communities, or geographic areas. For clinical social work students, fieldwork may include providing diagnostic or therapeutic services to clients.

The LSW license requires at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. LMSW and LCSW licenses require a master’s degree.

Exam Application Process and Requirements

The Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board requires a $100 application fee for all levels of licensure. First-time applicants must also undergo a criminal background check from the Arkansas State Police. Applicants begin the licensure process after graduating from their social work program. First-time applicants for both the LSW and LMSW licenses qualify for provisional licenses. These allow graduates to begin working while completing other requirements, and they remain valid for one year.

Applicants seeking an LCSW license must graduate from an approved master’s social work program with a curriculum focused on diagnosing and treating clients. After graduation, clinical applicants complete a two-year, 4,000-hour supervised work experience in which they provide services to clients and work directly with licensed supervisors to gain clinical expertise.

After candidates have applied for their license, the state issues permission for them to sit for a national licensing exam. Arkansas recognizes the Association of Social Work Board’s examinations. Exam fees range from $230 for the bachelor’s and master’s exams to $260 for clinical exams.

Continuing Education and Licensure Renewal

Arkansas social work licenses remain valid for two years. Social workers should renew their licenses early to avoid a lapse in licensure, which incurs additional fees. The board also requires social workers to complete 48 hours of continuing education before renewing their license.

State-approved continuing education includes formal activities focused on developing social work knowledge and skills that apply in education, social planning, administration, and direct service. Social workers may enroll in or audit college-level courses, take part in short academic sessions, attend workshops or seminars, or choose independent study or online course options. At least three hours must focus on professional ethics.

Why Choose an Online Social Work Program in Arkansas?

Several colleges and universities offer online social work programs in Arkansas. These programs let individuals attain accredited degrees and offer scheduling flexibility. Undergraduate and graduate programs carve paths to new careers without requiring students to travel long distances to campus. Costs range from $214 per credit for undergraduate courses to $420 per credit for graduate courses.

Because fieldwork and internships make up a vital portion of the curriculum, students must find appropriate work sites near their homes. Program advisors can assist with this process, providing monitoring and communication with the supervisor to ensure students complete their required hours and gain the skills and competencies necessary for graduation and eventual licensure.

Ranking Methodology

Here is our list of online social work degree programs in Arkansas as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. We cover online bachelor’s in social work, online master’s in social work, and online doctorate in social work programs. All programs are regionally and CSWE accredited, and all are available entirely online.

Online Social Work Programs in Arkansas

Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University offers about 80 programs from four distinct colleges. The Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences boasts degrees in psychology, social work, and criminal justice. The department also offers a bachelor of social work that is CSWE-accredited. The faculty aims to cultivate a cadre of social workers skilled in generalist practice, social policy, and research. Ultimately, graduates will increase the number of social workers at regional human services agencies in the state. The department does not offer a graduate program in social work.

Southern Arkansas University’s Bachelor’s of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: 120-122 credits. Students complete 55 credits in the social work major. The program utilizes a hybrid model with classes on campus in Magnolia and online.
  • Completion Time: Freshmen complete the degree in four years. Transfer students may accelerate degree completion depending on the number of credits they transfer.
  • Field Education: Students complete at least 420 hours of supervised, generalist practice at a relevant agency.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for professional board licensure in some states, such as Arkansas.
  • Transfer Policies: Learners may transfer credits from a CSWE-accredited BSW program upon departmental review. Applicants must meet Southern Arkansas University’s general education requirements and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA in social work courses.
  • Online Student Support: Students receive access to many of the same resources available to on-campus students, such as library support services and the Employment Resource Center.
  • Cost: $285/per credit in-state; $437/per credit out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Admission requires students to complete at least 30 credits of general education requirements with a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA and a 3.0 GPA in social work courses.

Southern Arkansas University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Southern Arkansas University’s bachelor of social work degree is CSWE-accredited.

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University of Arkansas

One of the nation’s top public research colleges, the University of Arkansas enrolls about 27,000 students from 50 states and 120 countries. The School of Social Work utilizes evidence-based practices to develop social workers who are leader-practitioners. The faculty develops students’ critical thinking skills, encourages collaborative community partnerships, and conducts original research.

The School of Social Work offers both a CSWE-accredited bachelor of social work and master of social work. At the U of A, students may enroll in one of the best graduate social work programs in Arkansas in an online cohort without any need to attend classes in Fayetteville.

The University of Arkansas Master of Social Work

  • Credits and Courses: 39 credits. The school offers an Advanced Standing MSW that students complete fully online. Students must attend an internship field seminar each Tuesday evening in a live, virtual classroom format.
  • Completion Time: Students enroll in the program on a full-time basis only and complete the program in one year.
  • Field Education: 900 hours. The program requires a year-long internship, during which students complete 22 hours of field experience each week. Faculty works with students to secure field placements in their communities, which may include the possibility of completing the internship at their current workplace.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Online Student Support: By design, the online student cohort provides peer support and networking opportunities. Students also benefit from tutoring and library support services.
  • Cost: $420.19/per credit in-state and out-of-state.
  • Admission Requirements: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited program with a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits. Applicants with lower GPA scores complete the GRE or MAT.

The University of Arkansas is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The University of Arkansas’ social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a metropolitan research college that enrolls about 11,000 students. The School of Social Work is the longest-running social work program in the state. The unit also graduates more social work students than any other program in Arkansas. Faculty research areas of expertise include research methods, parenting, gerontology, and the mental health of service members.

The school offers a CSWE-accredited MSW focused on clinical social work practice. Students develop an evidence-based practice they can use in diverse clinical settings with individuals, families, and groups. Students in the MSW, one of the best online social work programs in Arkansas, can engage in extracurricular activities through the Student Social Work Organization.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: The program focuses on clinical social work.
  • Credits and Courses: 60 credits. This includes 36 credits in foundational and concentration courses and six elective credits, all of which students complete online. Students must attend five synchronous sessions each semester for each online course.
  • Completion Time: Students complete all requirements, including field work, in three years.
  • Field Education: Students complete 1,200 hours by graduation. The MSW field coordinator works with the student to find a suitable placement in his/her geographical location in Arkansas.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the ASWB exam.
  • Transfer Policies: Students may transfer credits with a minimum “B” grade from CSWE-accredited graduate social work programs. MSW participants must complete at least 28 credits, the concentration year, at the U of A.
  • Online Student Support: Students receive full access to the university’s resources, including an online writing lab, disability services, and the Military Student Success Center.
  • Cost: $383 in-state. The program does not admit out-of-state students. Military discounts are available.
  • Admission Requirements: Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and competitive scores on either the GRE or MAT taken within five years of application. This program only admits residents of Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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