Online Social Work Programs in Virginia

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 16% growth in employment for social workers nationally between 2016 and 2026, and the demand for social workers continues to rise in Virginia. In Virginia, employment projections exceed 23% for some specialty areas, including child, family, and school social work. Like much of the nation, Virginia families seek the support of social workers to ensure their children have safe, secure homes. The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area also ranks among the top cities nationally in terms of the employment and salary of child, family, and school social workers — the area houses approximately 6,400 social workers earning an annual mean wage of $65,650.

Healthcare social workers help an aging population adjust to illnesses or overcome injury, often assisting patients with scheduling appointments across a complicated healthcare system. These workers may also help individuals find help paying for treatment, medication, and other necessary support. As the home to multiple state and federal agencies charged with treating veterans, social workers in Virginia also support injured veterans and their families through treatment and recovery. The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area ranks among the top 10 in the nation for total employment of healthcare social workers, with just over 2,700 workers in the region earning an annual mean wage of $64,110.

Social Work Programs by Degree Level

Online Master’s in Social Work Programs

Education and Licensure Requirements for Social Workers in Virginia

As social workers operate in positions of trust and authority with patients and families, Virginia sets precise standards for education and professional practice for professionals in the field. The Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Social Work administers the laws and rules governing social work practice in the state. The board offers clinical and nonclinical social work licenses, each with different educational and supervised practice requirements.

Education Requirements

A student seeking a social work license in Virginia should first ensure their school offers a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This organization ensures that schools provide a curriculum that prepares graduates for the rigors of the profession. An individual with a bachelor’s degree may provide casework management and support services but must work under the supervision of a professional with a master of social work. Virginia also offers a clinical social work license, which requires a master of social work and supervised clinical practice.

Exam Application Process and Requirements

Graduates of social work schools in Virginia may apply for their social work licenses through the state’s board of social work. While the state accepts a bachelor’s degree for a social work license, each applicant also needs to complete 3,000 hours of casework and support services under the supervision of a licensed social worker. Graduates with a master of social work in Virginia do not need to complete this supervised practice.

Individuals seeking a clinical license must take courses in psychopathology, clinical practice, research, and human behavior. They also need to complete a 600-hour clinical practicum during their master’s program. After graduation, these applicants undertake a 3,000-hour supervised field experience under the direction of a qualified licensed clinical social worker. This experience must be approved and include working directly with clients.

Each applicant must submit their education and supervised experience information to the state and pay the appropriate application fee: $165 for a clinical license or $115 for a social work generalist license. The state reviews this information before issuing permission to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards licensing exam, which costs $260 for the clinical exam or $230 for the licensed social worker exam. Applicants must submit evidence that they passed the exam within two years of applying.

Continuing Education and Licensure Renewal

Your Virginia social work license remains valid for one year. Failure to renew a license by the deadline results in additional fees and the inability to practice in the state. Clinical licenses require a $90 renewal fee, while licensed social workers pay $65 each year. In addition to state fees, license holders must also complete continuing education in social work and behavioral health with at least two hours dedicated to ethics or standards of practice. Clinical social workers must complete 30 hours of continuing education, while licensed social workers need 15 hours each year. Virginia only accepts renewals through its online system.

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Why Choose an Online Social Work Program in Virginia

Online social work programs in Virginia offer a convenient and flexible path to a rewarding career in social work. Students should carefully review each school’s curriculum — especially if they are considering a clinical career path — to ensure their education will meet state requirements. Many online programs offer accelerated class formats with few on-campus requirements; this can be especially helpful for career changers or those seeking advanced degrees while continuing to work.

Many online schools work closely with students to ensure they receive a rigorous curriculum with the appropriate hands-on learning opportunities. Your school may place you in clinical or practicum sites near your home. Some programs also offer hybrid degree options.

Ranking Methodology

Here is our list of online social work degree programs in Virginia 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 Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University is one of the nation’s premier research colleges offering an online master of social work. VCU’s School of Social Work is the first of its kind in the South. In Virginia, only Richmond’s VCU and one other institution offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in social work. The School of Social Work provides students with the curriculum, field experiences, and research experiences that equip them to inspire change through social and economic justice in their communities.

The school also partners with more than 500 human and social service organizations in the Virginia and Washington, D.C., metro area to give learners field experiences that match their areas of interest.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Online Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: The program offers two concentrations: clinical social work practice and social work administration, planning, and policy practice.
  • Credits and Courses: Each student must complete a total of 42 credits. The program delivers its MSW using a blend of asynchronous and synchronous classes, with the bulk of coursework completed online. The school also offers an advanced standing option in the same format.
  • Completion Time: A full-time student can finish the online MSW in two years. A part-time student has up to four years to complete the program, and an advanced standing student with a CSWE-accredited BSW can complete the program in one year.
  • Field Education: Each enrollee must complete 900 hours minimum of field placement. VCU’s Field Education Department helps students find field placements that meet school and CSWE standards.
  • Exam Preparation: This program prepares students for the Association of Social Work Boards’ licensed clinical social worker exam.
  • Transfer Policies: Student can transfer up to 30 generalist credits from another CSWE-accredited social work master’s program.
  • Online Student Support: Students can work with peer mentors and student success advisors. They receive access to resources like podcasts, recorded therapy sessions, and websites outlining the latest research in relevant areas.
  • Admission Requirements: Regular and advanced standing prospective students must achieve a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission consideration.

Virginia Commonwealth University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Virginia Commonwealth University’s social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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