Published on :
October 8, 2020
Educational debt for baccalaureate and master’s social work graduates is higher today than it was 10 years ago. Master’s graduates have, on average, more than 50% more debt today; in 2019, the average loan debt amount was $46,591, compared to $30,789 in 2009. On average, baccalaureate graduates had $29,323 in loan debt in 2019, compared to $24,683 in 2009.
These findings come from the newly released 2019 Annual Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States report, which provides a picture of social work program offerings, students, and faculty members, including enrollment numbers, demographics, student loan debt, and salary information. New this year, the report includes a more in-depth analysis of online education and the numerous ways that online education was administered in fall 2019.
Over the last 10 years total enrollment in baccalaureate programs at institutions reporting data in both years has increased by 12.6% from 2009 and 2019 and increased by 0.9% from 2018 to 2019. However, enrollment declined by 5.4% from 2014 to 2019.
Master’s enrollment and the number of master’s programs at institutions reporting data in both years have increased annually over the last 10 years, with enrollment increasing 3.6% from 2018 to 2019, 15.2% from 2014 to 2019, and 34.9% from 2009 to 2019.
Online Education Offerings
The prevalence of online education varies greatly between degrees. Among practice doctorate programs, a majority (78.6%) had course delivery options that were at least partially online, whereas almost two-thirds (64.3%) offered entirely online program options. A majority of master’s programs (80.8%) gave students the option of taking at least part of their coursework online, whereas 30.1% offered entirely online program options.
More than half (54.8%) of baccalaureate programs offered some courses at least partially online; only 7.1% offered entirely online program options. For research doctorate programs, 11.6% gave students the option of taking at least part of their coursework online, and only 4.3% offered entirely online program options.
A more in-depth look at online education provided a few surprises; the data show that 42.3% of baccalaureate and 75.8% of master’s programs that offer an entirely in-person format also offer their program in a hybrid or primarily online format. Additionally, at the baccalaureate, master’s, and research doctorate levels, programs that offer hybrid and primarily online formats administer their courses in asynchronous delivery methods more so than in synchronous delivery methods.
The availability of online course delivery options for baccalaureate and master’s programs has increased since 2014. According to the 2014 Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States report, one in three (32.9%) baccalaureate programs offered course delivery options that were partially online, and only 1.8% offered entirely online program options. Nearly half (46.5%) of master’s programs gave students the option of taking some classes online, whereas 11.8% provided entirely online options.
Faculty Demographics & Salary
Social work programs in the United States have seen major increases in staffing since 2009, and faculties have become more diverse. Programs employed more than 5,600 full-time faculty members as of fall 2019, up from more than 3,900 in 2009. Almost three-quarters were female (73.0%), 61.1% were White (non-Hispanic), 17.6% were African American/Black (non-Hispanic), and 6.8% were Hispanic/Latinx. In 2009 more than two-thirds (67.8%) were female, 70.6% were White (non-Hispanic), 14.4% were African American/Black (non-Hispanic), and 5.7% were Hispanic/Latinx.
The average annual salary for assistant professors in social work programs in fall 2019 was $72,992, whereas it was $85,261 for associate professors and $111,951 for full professors.
There were more than 7,800 part-time faculty members in social work programs in the United States as of fall 2019, an increase from more than 4,100 in 2009. More than two-thirds were female (68.4%), 58.3% were White (non-Hispanic), 16.9% were African American/Black (non-Hispanic), and 8.2% were Hispanic/Latinx. Part-time faculty members have become more diverse in terms of demographics in the last 10 years. In 2009, 71.2% of part-time faculty members were female, more than two-thirds (67.8%) were White (non-Hispanic), 11.7% were African American/Black (non-Hispanic), and 4.7% were Hispanic/Latinx.
The information in the report will serve as a useful baseline for future analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on enrollment, degree conferrals, staffing levels, faculty salaries, and more. Read the full report here.