What to expect when studying social work online

If you’re about to take the leap and start studying social work online, congratulations! Perhaps you’ve been thinking about this move for a long time and see social work as your vocation. Or perhaps you’ve learned about the field in recent years and are starting to get excited about the prospect of entering this line of work.

Either way, here are some things to expect as you pursue a degree in social work. Whether it’s the online aspect of things and getting used to studying over the internet or the subject-specific aspect of the program, this post will help you get started with what you need to know.

Learning online

On the face of it, learning online is a perfect way to get a qualification and change career paths. It allows you to study and attend classes from wherever works best for you, whether that’s your own private residence or somewhere else. And it means you can cut down on some of the associated costs of studying, such as traveling.

But there are some specific things to consider. These aren’t necessarily challenges but instead are things to work into your study plan. You’ll need, for example, to ensure that you have a private room in which to concentrate and study. At some points during a social work course, you’re likely to come up against challenging and difficult concepts and topics and may need to share or learn information that is sensitive; having a private space to use your computer and connect to the class will be vital.

While you will not have a campus library available, online universities offer plenty of online sources for students to utilize for their studies. These are always just one click away and not subject to opening hours or copies available as physical books are.

Content wise, most online social work classes cover similar course content to in-person ones. You can expect to learn about key areas and topics including human dynamics, policy analysis and critical thinking, so there is no need to worry about missing out on the essentials.

Getting practice 

While it’s certainly true that social work has a strong theoretical underpinning that you’ll learn about during your online lectures, there’s also a strong practical side to picking up this profession. The practical side of social work is vital: you’ll need strong skills for interacting with people, for example, as you’ll be immersed in some difficult and potentially highly emotive situations in which you’ll need to find solutions. Rudimentary skills for this can be delivered in an online lecture, but you won’t be able to practice them online except in role play; there’ll come a point where, in order to learn, you’ll need to do it for real.

Fortunately, your degree won’t just introduce you to theoretical concepts. To provide you with practical experience alongside your coursework, your program can help you find a work placement in your local area. When selecting an institution for your online social work degree, you should make sure that you select one that offers assistance with finding placements in your locality.

For example, the Spalding social worker online degree from Spalding University offers a placement-finding support service on its high-level social work course, which is one of its strengths. You can make the most of the university’s expertise and networks to ensure you stand a good chance of finding a placement that’s right for your practice-based needs. Combined with the excellent education provided at this school and the support they offer students, this makes the program an excellent choice if you are interested in pursuing an online degree in social work.


Studying social work online is unlikely to be like any previous coursework you’ve done. Given that much or all of the course is delivered online, this opens up a whole host of benefits in terms of flexibility of study and also helps you effectively manage and juggle studying, working and family commitments. It’s important to prepare beforehand by researching what content will be covered in the course, ensuring you have a private space to study and choosing a provider that helps with in-person placements. By remaining savvy and choosing the right program that fits your needs, studying social work online can be the perfect way to get your qualification without having to attend in person.