Online Social Work Programs in Washington

According to May 2018 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. employs a total of 662,550 social workers. The BLS anticipates growth from 2016-2026, projecting a 16% increase in jobs for social work professionals during that time.

The number of social work jobs in Washington state vary by specialization. Healthcare or medical social workers account for the highest employment among the four social work categories: child, family, and school; healthcare; mental health and substance abuse; and all other.

Washington state social workers also earn an annual mean wage higher than the U.S. average. BLS ranks Washington state in the top quarter in pay for social workers who work with healthcare clients and individuals and families coping with mental health concerns or substance abuse.

Social Work Programs by Degree Level

Online Master’s in Social Work Programs

Education and Licensure Requirements for Social Workers in Washington

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) issues two social work licenses: the licensed advanced social worker (LASW) for non-clinical social work practice and the licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) for mental health professionals who diagnose and treat clients with emotional or mental health challenges. Washington’s DOH also issues two provisional associate licenses for LASW and LICSW candidates who are working on obtaining experience hours for full licensure.

Education Requirements

The master of social work (MSW) is the minimum social work degree for Washington state licensure. LASW and LICSW candidates must hold an MSW or a doctor of social work (DSW) earned from a college program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The two state licenses require that candidates meet similar milestones, with slight differences for the ASWB exam and experience hours.

Each LASW candidate must complete 3,200 hours of postgraduate, supervised work experience, with 800 hours in direct client contact. LASWs take the advanced generalist exam. An LICSW candidate, meanwhile, must complete 4,000 hours of postgraduate, supervised work experience, with 1,000 hours in direct client contact. LICSWs can take the clinical-level ASWB exam.

Exam Application Process and Requirements

Social work candidates must pass an exam as the final step to obtaining social work licensure in Washington. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) administers five levels of social work exams. LASW candidates take the advanced generalist exam, while future LICSW professionals take the clinical-level exam. Both exams cost $260.

LASW and LICSW candidates must complete all educational and experience requirements before they can register to take the exam. The Washington DOH will approve candidates to test after receiving and reviewing their applications. The application fee costs $216: $116 plus $100 for an initial license.

Each exam that measures minimum competencies, includes 170 multiple-choice questions, 150 of which count toward the tester’s final score. ASWB distributes 20 practice questions throughout the four-hour test.

ASWB administers the exam through Pearson Professional Centers. Washington state maintains three such test centers in Seattle and one in Yakima.

Continuing Education and Licensure Renewal

All LASW, LICSW, and associate social workers must renew their licenses annually. The cost for renewal runs $116 for LASW and LICSW licensees, $25 for the advanced social worker associate, and $41 for the independent clinical social worker associate. An associate social worker can renew their provisional license up to six times for a total of seven years.

Each social worker must renew their license on or before their birthday. LASW and LICSW licensees must accrue 36 continuing education hours every two years, with six hours in ethics and law. Associate social workers also must earn 36 continuing education hours, but they must submit 18 every year.

All social workers must also complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment, and management every six years.

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Why Choose an Online Social Work Program in Washington?

Students can pursue a social work degree in Washington state through on-campus programs or online, the latter of which affords learners convenience, flexibility, and comparative affordability.

Tuition rates vary by degree level and school type. Traditionally, public colleges and universities offer residents significant savings.

Meanwhile, tuition programs like the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) and the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) offer learners educational opportunities beyond state borders. Students who enroll in online classes out-of-state through WUE or WRGP pay no more than 150% of what residents in those states pay, equaling savings of up to $15,000 a year.

Social work schools in Washington state include Eastern Washington University, Saint Martin’s University, Heritage University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington.

Ranking Methodology

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

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University hosts several social work programs, including a hybrid master’s in social work (MSW) degree with the majority of classes offered online. On-campus instruction occurs three weekends per quarter at the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane.

EWU’s School of Social Work offers the same hybrid courses at EWU’s Everett and Vancouver locations. Applicants may qualify for EWU’s advanced standing hybrid program if they earned a bachelor’s in social work no more than seven years ago.

EWU’s School of Social Work teaches leadership, policy making, and research skills. Its programs place high value on effective change at the individual, family, and community levels. EWU boasts a commitment to educating first-generation college students and students from underserved communities.

EWU’s Online Master of Social Work

  • Concentrations: EWU’s master of social work program does not include concentrations. Instead, EWU offers several certificates, including addiction studies, in place of concentration options. Certificates typically require 12 credits for completion.
  • Credits and Courses: The MSW requires 90 credit hours to complete, including 16 elective credits. Students typically take six to nine credits per quarter. This program consists of both foundational and advanced generalist practice courses.
  • Completion Time: Learners can finish the hybrid MSW in three years. Students in the advanced standing cohort complete the degree in six quarters in addition to a two-week seminar orientation.
  • Field Education: Students complete 952 hours of field experience and 80 hours of integrative seminar sequenced throughout the program. EWU places students in a social service agency or other organization related to the welfare of clients throughout Washington.
  • Transfer Policies: Transfer students from another CSWE-accredited master’s program must contact the department for a formal evaluation of previous coursework.
  • Cost: $425/credit with an additional fee of $280/quarter.
  • Admission Requirements: Learners need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited college or university. Students applying for advanced standing need a bachelor’s in social work and a minimum 3.5 GPA. Admissions does not require GMAT scores. Students need three credit hours of introductory statistics or a plan for fulfilling this requirement.

Eastern Washington University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Eastern Washington University’s online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.

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