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Best Online MSW Programs

A master of social work (MSW) is a prerequisite for obtaining a social work license. With the help of online MSW programs, students can get this degree at their own pace and from any location with an internet connection. Graduates go on to work as social workers at the macro, meso, and micro levels.

Continue reading to find out about the best online MSW programs in the US if you’re an ambitious social worker looking to further your studies virtually.

Keep in mind that each school’s stated application cost and student-to-faculty ratio apply to the institution as a whole, not just to the specific program. Self-paced classes are asynchronous. More structure is present in synchronous courses, which often have live lectures and specified class times.

Also Read: Why Social Work Degrees Are Becoming Popular

Best Online MSW Programs

Cost of an Online Master of Social Work

Whether an online MSW is taught at a public, private, or out-of-state institution affects the tuition costs significantly. The average annual cost of graduate tuition and fees at public colleges is $12,394, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Nonprofit private graduate schools charge an average of $26,621 in tuition and fees per year.

While many public colleges give in-state tuition to all online students, regardless of where they live, out-of-state students typically pay far higher tuition.

Fellowships and assistantships may be available via your graduate program to assist with degree fees. Financial help for online degrees can also be obtained by utilizing the FAFSA, private lenders, and private scholarship sources.

How to Find the Best Online MSW Programs for You

Online MSW programs are offered by several universities, and each one has unique advantages, disadvantages, and characteristics. The best degree program for you will rely on your goals for a career in social work, learning style, financial situation, and availability. Here are some pointers for selecting the MSW that best suits your needs.

Recognize Your Time Commitment

Will you be juggling your education with other responsibilities, such as a family, a career, or both? If so, you might not be able to commit to a master’s degree full-time. But bear in mind that part-time courses usually require more time to finish. It is advised that you pursue full-time education if you want to complete your master’s degree in one to two years.

Think About Your Future Objectives

With your MSW, what are your goals? If you want to work as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) or licensed social worker (LSW), keep in mind that every state has different prerequisites for taking the examinations. Make sure the online MSW program you select satisfies the educational standards set forth by your state for the license exam you intend to take.

Take Your Learning Style Into Account

There are certain distance learning courses that can be taken fully online. Some use a hybrid approach that combines online and classroom instruction. Online courses can also be synchronous (doing live lectures at predetermined times) or asynchronous (self-paced), or a mix of the two. As a student, consider what kind of online learning environment would best fit your requirements and tastes.

Examine Accreditation

A program’s or school’s accreditation attests to its compliance with the independent accrediting body’s requirements for educational excellence. There are two kinds of accreditation: programmatic and institutional. While programmatic accreditation benefits certain departments or programs, institutional accreditation is applicable to universities. Through the U.S., you can look for a list of all accredited organizations. Website of the Department of Education.

When thinking about earning an MSW, look for a university with institutional accreditation and a program that has been approved by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The latter is especially crucial if you intend to apply for a license. To become an LSW or LCSW, you must have a master’s degree from a program that has been approved by CSWE in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia or any accrediting body in your country.

The Best Online MSW Programs

1. Florida State University

The Reason We Selected It

For citizens of all 50 states in the union, FSU provides an online master’s program in social work. The clinical emphasis of the curriculum attempts to qualify graduates for licensure in social work. Students in this part-time program do two field placements in social work in addition to 61 credits of classroom.

FSU online MSW students typically complete their degree in three years, taking two courses every semester. Every course lasts for sixteen weeks. There are summer courses that go 12 or 13 weeks.

During the second and third semesters, learners are required to attend two on-campus skill-building sessions, which typically happen on weekends.

Extra Details:

  • Previous schooling. A bachelor’s degree from an institution with regional accreditation is required of applicants. It is not required that the degree be in social work.
  • Uniform Standards for Testing. Some applicants may be eligible for GRE waivers.
  • Materials For Applications. Send in a CV, a statement of purpose, and undergraduate transcripts showing a minimum upper-division GPA of 3.0.

2. University of Central Florida

The Reason We Selected It:

Future social workers can get practical training through UCF’s part-time online master of social work program. In addition to learning about social work theory and practice, students acquire the clinical competencies needed to become social workers.

Florida’s educational requirements for licensed clinical social workers are satisfied by the MSW at UCF. It is the responsibility of out-of-state students to ascertain whether UCF’s curriculum meets the criteria of their home states. Students from Nebraska are not eligible to enroll in this MSW program.

Students who follow the standard pathway can finish the 62 credits in roughly three years. Each semester at UCF Online consists of two seven-week terms. Every semester, MSW students concentrate on just one course. Bachelor’s degree holders in social work can enroll in the 32-credit advanced standing track, which spans four semesters.

Extra Details

  • Certification. The Council on Social Work Education has accredited the program.
  • Practical experience. UCF online MSW students engage in field placement activities.
  • Preparing for licensing. Graduates are eligible to take state licensing examinations for social work.

3. University of South Florida

The Reason We Selected It:

With a cohort approach, which is used by USF’s online master of social work program, students progress through the course material at a set pace and participate in live online lectures. Every Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., classes are held. Eastern. 900 hours of fieldwork must be completed by students by the time their master’s program ends. This translates to a weekly total of 12 to 15 hours of field work.

All 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. have approved USF’s online MSW program. Students enrolled in the program are prepared for clinical social work. Candidates for the expedited advanced standing track may be social work bachelor’s degree holders. The conventional course requires students to complete 60 credits in eight semesters to receive their MSW.

Extra Details

  • Previous schooling. Conventional MSW students must to hold a bachelor’s degree from a university with regional accreditation in any field.
  • Their transcripts must to show a GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Uniform standards for testing. While not necessary, GRE results are advised for candidates whose GPA falls short of the required minimum of 3.0.
  • Preparation for licensing. To ensure they are eligible to take the social work licensing exam in their state, prospective students should confirm that USF’s online MSW meets those requirements.

4. Boston University

The Reason We Selected It:

Boston University is somewhat pricey for a private university, yet many students enrolled in its online master’s program in social work would argue that the expense is justified. For online learners, the Boston University School of Social Work provides a part-time MSW program. This degree allows students to major in either macro practice or clinical practice. This MSW offers three tracks: advanced standing, human services experience, and traditional.

The conventional route requires nine semesters to finish and consists of 65 credits. Students having at least two years of full-time experience working in human services are the only ones eligible for the human service experience track, which has the same amount of credits and semesters. Lastly, students with undergraduate degrees in social work are eligible for the advanced standing route, which consists of 43 credits spread over six semesters.

Every online MSW first-year student is required to attend live class sessions once a week. There are other self-paced courses. Each semester, students enroll in two seven-week courses. International students are not eligible to enroll in this MSW program.

Extra Details:

  • Selecting a course. Students are unable to change their MSW track once they have enrolled in it.
  • Joint formats. Both synchronous and asynchronous coursework are included in this online MSW.
  • Practical experience. Depending on their MSW route, students perform one or two field internships in their home communities.

Best Online MSW Programs


5. University of Southern California

The Reason We Selected It:

The Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC asserts its status as the nation’s first private, top research university by providing an online master’s program in social work. Students might choose to study full- or part-time. Students enrolled in the program are prepared to practice as licensed clinical social workers.

The MSW programs at USC offered online and on campus are identical. Although it is optional, online MSW students can tailor their courses by selecting from five different study tracks. Before graduating, students complete more than 1,100 hours of field education.

Both full-time and part-time access to this online MSW is offered. Four semesters are needed for full-time students to finish the program. Students enrolled part-time graduate in six semesters. Part-time students complete the advanced standing track in five semesters, while full-time students finish in four.

Extra Details:

  • Monitor the available possibilities. Students pursuing an MSW can choose to focus on social change and innovation, children, youth, and families, adult mental health and wellness, military social work, or school social work.
  • Placement in field education. Learners select field education positions in collaboration with coordinators. Both in-person and virtual field education are offered to students in their local areas.
  • Duration of the program. Students pursuing an MSW degree can finish in as little as 16 months.
  • Uniform standards for testing. GRE scores are not required of applicants.

6. New Mexico State University – Main Campus

The Reason We Selected It:

Depending on their prior education, full-time students can finish NMSU’s online master of social work program in two years or fewer. In just one year, MSW students with bachelor’s degrees in social work can finish this 60-credit master’s program. The MSW and a master’s in public health can be combined to allow students to pursue a dual degree. The three-year duration of the dual-degree option requires 90 credits to be completed.

The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare is part of NMSU School of Social Work. Faculty members study child welfare, immigration, veteran services, trauma-informed care, and integrated mental healthcare in collaboration with the center. MSW students are able to interact with this study.

Extra Details: 

  • Options for payments. To assist with the expense of their degree, MSW students can apply for graduate assistantships, fellowships, scholar programs, stipends, and other forms of financial aid.
  • Status of accreditation. This curriculum is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • Tuition for military personnel. The cost of this online degree for active military personnel is $250 per credit, as opposed to $444 for other graduate students.

7. George Mason University

The Reason We Selected It:

Social justice and empowerment are prioritized in George Mason University’s online master of social work program. Students prepare to serve historically marginalized populations by concentrating on systems transformation. Human behavior, social policy, therapeutic practice, and research methodologies are the main foci of the curriculum.

Students who hold bachelor’s degrees in social work that meet the requirements can enroll in an expedited advanced standing MSW program. To graduate, all other online MSW students need to complete sixty credits. Because this part-time program is asynchronous, students can finish their study whenever it’s convenient for them.

This MSW program holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. All students in the US are eligible to pursue this degree.

Extra Details:

  • Real-world practice. Every online MSW student completes two fieldwork experiences under supervision.
  • Areas of expertise. MSW students have the option of specializing in either children, youth, and families or adults and healthy aging. Every MSW student is required to select a specialization.
  • Preparing for a license. Students who complete this program are prepared to work as certified clinical social workers or licensed social workers.

8. University of Memphis

The Reason We Selected It:

A master of social work can be obtained at the University of Memphis in a number of ways, including full-time, part-time, extended study, remote learning, and advanced standing. To obtain the degree, MSW students must complete 60 credits, with the exception of advanced standing students. Students with advanced status finish 37 credits in three semesters.

The time to get this MSW varies from one to four years, depending on the degree plan. Additionally, students can finish a thesis. Every course is offered in a hybrid format, on campus, and online. To graduate, all MSW students must fulfill the same field education requirements, regardless of their degree plan or course style.

The educational requirements for becoming a licensed social worker in Tennessee are satisfied by this program. Before enrolling, prospective out-of-state students should review the regulations in their individual states.

Extra Details:

  • Areas of expertise. Advanced practice across systems is MSW students’ lone option for specialization. Building relationships, advanced assessment, goal-oriented and evidence-based interventions, lifetime professional development, and practice evaluation are the main areas of concentration for this specialization.
  • Option for a thesis. Students studying MSW may finish a thesis. Those who don’t have to do further coursework at the specialized level.
  • Prolonged research. Students who are unable to take 15 credits per semester may choose this option. With extended study, students can finish the MSW by completing three or four years of coursework at six or nine credits per semester.

9. Appalachian State University

The Reason We Selected It:

Graduates of App State Online’s master of social work program are prepared to lead successfully in the field of social work by gaining knowledge in advanced practice and intervention. Graduates of MSW programs go on to work as medical social workers, school social workers, drug rehab counselors, and child welfare case workers, among other roles that have a significant impact on society.

Although they might not have access to all of App State’s MSW course offerings, online learners can still earn their degree totally online. It takes a full-time student approximately a year to obtain an MSW. Students enrolled part-time finish in two years. To obtain the degree, all online MSW students need to complete 33 credits.

Graduates can take the North Carolina social work licensing exam. Students from out of state should conduct independent research to ensure that this program meets the licensing criteria of their state.

Extra Details:

  • GRE exempts. GRE results are not required for MSW applicants who meet the requirements for the advanced standing track, have a minimum 3.2 GPA in their undergraduate social work major courses, a minimum 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA, or a graduate degree in another field.
  • Focuses. Students in this MSW degree might focus on community and organizational work, or on individuals and families.
  • Both synchronous and asynchronous. Tuesdays are when synchronous classes are held.
  • Enrollment situation. Students majoring in MSW might enroll full- or part-time.

10. Carlow University

The Reason We Selected It:

Carlow University offers an online master of social work program for professionals who wish to progress in their jobs. The Council on Social Work Education has accredited this degree, which takes 18 to 48 months to finish. Carlow’s MSW has a flexible hybrid course approach and a trauma-focused curriculum.

Direct practice and macro practice are the two concentrations available to MSW students. There are another two tracks accessible. Social work bachelor’s degree holders are eligible for the advanced standing track. The rest of the students are on the regular track. Graduates of Carlow’s MSW program are prepared to take social work license examinations. Carlow offers most of its online courses for eight weeks.

Extra Details:

  • Program with two degrees. A dual MSW-MBA program is an option for those who want to specialize even more in their studies.
  • Prerequisites for credit. 60 credits must be earned by traditional MSW students.
  • The curriculum for advanced standing consists of only 45 credits.
  • Practical experience. Instructors collaborate with students to select suitable field experiences.

Best Online MSW Programs


Frequently Asked Questions

Can one find an MSW online?

You should anticipate challenges from your master's program in social work. One thousand hours of supervised fieldwork and about 60 credits of coursework are required for the majority of MSW programs.

Is it worthwhile to purchase an MSW?

Sure, particularly in the event that you choose to obtain a social work license. Examinees for all state licensing tests in social work must possess master's degrees in the field.

What is meant by “CSWE-accredited”?

A program has accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) if it is CSWE-accredited. A master's degree from a program authorized by the CSWE is a prerequisite for taking any state licensing exam for social work.



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