Social work, or the work of helping to improve conditions for the disadvantaged, has a long history in the U.S. Students who want to major in social work have many schools to choose from, large universities or small colleges. "U.S. News and World Report" and "The Princeton Review" ranked the best colleges for social work.

The University of North Carolina

According to "U.S. News and World Report," the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has the best school of social work in the South. The social work program at UNC offers degrees at the master's and doctoral levels, but no bachelor's degree. As part of their master's degree program, students work internships in their area of interest in social welfare organizations throughout the state. Also, students have the opportunity to study social work issues abroad in China, Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, and South Africa. Finally, UNC offers certification for social workers in substance abuse, nonprofit organizations, aging, and conflict resolution.

Columbia University

There are many schools along the Eastern Seaboard that have social work degrees. Columbia University has the oldest social work school in the country. The university has seven degree practices: aging; contemporary social issues; family, youth & children’s services; health, mental health & disabilities; international social welfare and services to immigrants and refugees; school-based & school-linked services; and world of work. Like the University of North Carolina, Columbia University offers master's and doctoral degrees in social work. Columbia University also offers field experience for students during the first year.

The University of Chicago

The Midwest also has a long history of social work universities. The University of Chicago School of Social Work is nearly as old as Columbia University. Like UNC and Columbia, the University of Chicago offers a master's program and a doctoral program. However, the University of Chicago has many options for a student who wants to get a degree: full-time or part-time attendance, accelerated program, and extended evening programs. In addition, the University of Chicago has special programs: Comprehensive Review of Clinical Social Work, Spanish for Social Workers, Advanced Psychodynamic Clinical Practice and Social Work with Older Adults.

The University of Washington

Finally, there are several schools in the West listed high on the "U.S. News and World Report" Best Social Work Programs list -- but the University of Washington is the highest ranked. Like the other universities mentioned, the University of Washington offers master's and doctoral programs, but unlike the other universities, the University of Washington offers a bachelor's degree in social work. Also, the university has a mentoring program with a university in Cambodia. The University of Washington mandates that all students in the School of Social Work have field experience. The university also has continuing education certificate programs in gerontology, guardianship, trauma, and geriatric mental health.

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