Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required

Take the next step in your social work career with an online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. If you’re concerned about earning this graduate degree without completing the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), it’s time to consider online MSW programs with no GRE required. Explore the overview, benefits, standard courses, and example careers related to these programs today.

Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required Overview

An online master’s in social work with no GRE can help you become qualified for a position or a promotion in this field. The degree is available to students with a bachelor’s degree in social work or another field. You can apply with little or no experience in the field, although any relevant experience or volunteer projects may strengthen your application.

In some cases, an MSW degree is required to pursue state licensure. Check with your state to see what you must do to qualify and if a graduate degree is the right step for your career. Consider a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to ensure your MSW meets professional ethical standards and licensure requirements.

Online Program Overview

You can apply to MSW programs nationwide in both on-campus and online options. As an online student, you’ll receive the same degree as an on-campus student. Many programs even use the same faculty instructors and have identical course options.

An online program may offer more flexibility in scheduling and class selection. Some let you take classes at your convenience and go through the program at your speed. Others are more structured, requiring you to attend virtual classes at set times — like an on-campus student.

How To Apply for an Online MSW Program That Doesn’t Require the GRE

The application process for a graduate degree can be a stressful experience for some students. If you haven’t been a student for some time or had a difficult undergraduate experience, you may feel like you can’t apply to an MSW program.

For many graduate schools, prospective students must follow these steps: 

1. Submit an Application 

With few exceptions, each program will require that you complete an online application. Generally, it means answering standard questions and attaching files. You should review the online application beforehand and have all necessary files, including transcripts and letters of recommendation.

2. Send in Undergraduate Transcripts

All undergraduate institutions should be able to provide your undergraduate transcript, usually for a small fee. Having your transcript lets you show your grades and prove that you graduated from college. 

3. Write One or More Admissions Essays

Virtually all online MSW programs with no GRE requirement have other requirements, including essays. Many have similar topics, meaning that if you apply to multiple schools, you may be able to use the same or a similar essay. 

Make sure to read the prompt, write the essay, and proof it, rereading and running it through a program like Grammarly. You might also ask a trusted advisor to read the essay, thus helping you catch mistakes and ensure you addressed the prompt. The importance of this essay cannot be understated, particularly when there’s no GRE requirement. 

4. Include One or More Letters of Reference 

Online MSW programs with no GRE requirement typically require at least one letter of recommendation — from someone at your undergraduate school or current employer. You’ll need to upload these files as part of the application process. 

5. Pay an Application Fee 

Most programs require an application fee that you can usually pay for online. In some instances, you may be able to skip the fee, such as if you face a financial hardship. However, you may need to prove that hardship by submitting a copy of your tax returns or other financial documents. 

6. Schedule an Interview

Programs will often schedule an interview as part of the application process. This interview will almost certainly happen online. To that end, ensure you understand what questions they may ask and how you can prepare for them. 

The GRE Test

The Educational Testing Service administers this standardized test. Many graduate schools use it to determine acceptance, scholarships, and other important decisions.

GRE testing may or may not be necessary, as many schools — particularly online schools — will allow you to attend their online MSW programs without it. Skipping this step can help you save time and money on a standardized test. However, it will increase emphasis on other aspects of your educational journey. 

Social work graduate programs that don’t require the GRE use your application, interview, and/or other factors. This allows you to enroll in an online MSW program without the stress of studying for a major test.

Why Are Online MSW Programs Not Requiring the GRE?

Online and in-person MSW programs are becoming less likely to rely on the GRE — or other standardized tests — as part of their admissions requirements. There are many reasons for these changes, including:

  • The GRE is a more generalized test that may not show aptitude in certain subjects, including social work. Social workers require excellent research skills, empathy, compassion, and work ethic, and the GRE tests for none of these skill sets.
  • There’s an increasing realization that standardized tests, such as the GRE, may offer affluent or less diverse students a leg up. For example, wealthier students can better prepare for such a test by taking private classes or hiring tutors. 
  • Online schools are different than in-person schools. This difference in learning methods may mean that the GRE is less relevant and doesn’t impact academic success. 
  • Schools are shifting the method by which they evaluate students. These institutions rely more on comprehensive measures — including grades, previous experience, letters of recommendation, or admission essays — and less on standardized testing. 

The changing admissions spectrum has meant fewer students must take the GRE, particularly for online MSW programs. 

What To Look for in Online MSW Degree Programs That Don’t Require the GRE

Various criteria have become deeply important for prospective graduate students seeking an online MSW program with no GRE requirement. These include:

  • Accreditation. A school should have accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This accreditation means the school meets minimum academic standards and offers necessary courses. It also has academic rigor, meaning your classes adequately prepare you for the job market and a career in social work. In short, attending an accredited school means your degree has value.
  • Flexibility. If you want an MSW program with no GRE requirement, look for a school that offers flexibility in scheduling and a timeframe that matches your work or family requirements. 
  • Financial aid and affordability. Even the least expensive schools on this list will likely cost you tens of thousands before earning your degree. Make sure the tuition rate is affordable. Furthermore, you should inquire about financial aid. What sort of grants, loans, and scholarships are available? What assistance can your school provide when applying for student loans? 
  • Career assistance. Online MSW programs should be able to help you get started in the career of your dreams. When applying to online MSW programs with no GRE requirement, inquire about the school’s career offerings. Can they set you up with internships, fieldwork, and job interviews? Do they offer other career coaching services, such as interview training and resume creation? 
  • Specializations. You can do many things with an Master in Social Work, including working for the government, becoming a mental health clinician, or conducting research. Sometimes, you might not know which area of social work appeals most when starting the program. Or, you could arrive with a mapped-out plan. Ensure the online MSW program offers the skills and classes to help you enter this field. 

12 Online MSW Programs That Don’t Require the GRE

The popularity of social work programs is expanding. This list should give you a better idea of 12 excellent online MSW programs with no GRE required. 

Fordham University 

Fordham University offers a robust online MSW program. As noted on the program’s website, it ranks No. 21 among the best social work graduate schools in a recent U.S. News list. The school is fully accredited, offers full-time or part-time options, and lets students learn up to four advanced practice areas. Furthermore, the school provides a “fully tailored” program to fit your needs. You can start your social work education at multiple times and experience levels, no matter where you are in your career.

Arizona State University

According to their website, Arizona State University’s online MSW program offers programs and classes identical to their in-person counterpart. The school is quick to note that your degree doesn’t say online — it says “Arizona State University.” The website lists various classes available to graduate students, including generalist social work practice, human behavior, foundation practice, and more. It also lists a series of jobs that social workers may be able to hold, complete with information on how Arizona State University can help students work toward fulfilling these career prospects. 

University of Southern California 

The University of Southern California’s online MSW program highlights its rigorous academic offerings and varied program tracks. Students with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) must complete only 24 units of work to earn their MSW, while students without such a degree must complete 48 units. Either way, the University of Southern California has varied offerings to help students at any point in their social work career. Students who attend the school can also take a series of social work tracks, including adult mental health and wellness, children, youth and families, or social change and innovation. 

Columbia University 

Columbia University is one of the most prestigious academic names, and its online MSW program can afford students with virtually unmatched credibility. Columbia particularly emphasizes their career options, noting that 98% of their MSW students are employed or pursuing further education after graduating. The school also offers students access to almost 30 student caucuses, 16 research centers, and a chance to attend various events.

Simmons University

Simmons University’s online MSW program is defined largely by its flexibility, with three options for individuals starting from scratch. These tracks range from four terms for the accelerated program to eight terms for the extended program. Students with a BSW can get their MSW in under 12 months through the Advanced Standing option. Simmons University also offers virtual tours, ensuring prospective students know the options at their disposal before applying. 

University of Louisville 

The University of Louisville offers a fully accredited online MSW program with several highly desirable features. First, if you already have your BSW, you could get your MSW in as little as nine months. As a larger MSW program, it offers students access to its 250,000 alumni; this access encourages students to create connections that help advance their career prospects. Finally, the University of Louisville has a No. 6 ranking for online programs, according to These factors can be beneficial for students looking to earn an online MSW. 

Sacred Heart University 

Sacred Heart University’s online MSW program offers two specializations for interested students: Direct Clinical Practice and Direct Community Practice. In the community specialization, students pair up with experts for mentoring and hands-on practice in community settings. The clinical specialization focuses on direct clinical experience and readies you for licensure. Furthermore, Sacred Heart is customized for online learning, and they offer an array of programs — including field hours, admissions requirements, and licensure preparation — that operate within their online programming. 

University of South Florida 

The University of South Florida’s online MSW program is flexible for wide-spread appeal. The school offers part-time advanced standing tracks for students with a BSW, part-time tracks for those with a bachelor’s degree in any field, and a full-time advanced standing track. This flexibility gives students a chance to earn their MSW on their terms. At the same time, all programs have at least 600 field hour requirements, giving students the necessary field experience to best prepare them for the job force.

University of Alaska Anchorage 

The University of Alaska Anchorage offers an online MSW program. As part of the program, the school provides six-course sequences that help students find an academic trajectory that best suits them. These sequences include social work practice, policy, human behavior, research, diversity and inclusion, and a field practicum. The University of Alaska also boasts a 100% pass rate for the 2020 Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) exam, the chance to earn an MSW in as little as 12 months, and a robust field hour plan that can help students in Alaska or elsewhere in the country. 

Tulane School of Social Work 

The Tulane School of Social Work offers a relatively flexible online MSW program, enabling students to complete the program in 12 to 32 months. This flexibility allows students to continue working or raising a family while earning their degree. The cost of $1,276 per credit helps lower student loan debt and keep the MSW is more affordable. Finally, the Tulane School of Social Work offers additional degrees, including a Doctorate of Social Work. Attending the online MSW program may later open doors to the school’s doctorate program.

California State University at Northridge

California State University at Northridge offers an online MSW program in two-year and three-year formats. This flexibility gives students more options about how to get their MSW. The program provides a more generalist approach but allows students interested in social work to specialize in individual, group, or policy options. As such, this program may be ideal for students still determining what type of social work they want to practice. Students who have earned a BSW can apply for the advanced standing program that opens each fall.

The University of Texas at Arlington 

The University of Texas at Arlington offers an online MSW program where students learn from national and international experts. All professors also teach face-to-face classes, ensuring students get high-quality professors for their online offerings. Full-time students who already have a BSW can get their MSW in as little as 12 months, and the program offers numerous specialties. These specialties include community and administrative practice, direct practice and aging, mental health and substance abuse, and practice with children and families.

Benefits of Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required

Enrolling in an online MSW program without taking the GRE is a distinct pathway to receiving your master’s degree. If you’re considering this type of program, you may enjoy the following benefits.

Flexible Schedule

Most online programs grant you more flexibility to set your schedule. You can watch recorded lectures on your own time and study for exams when it’s most convenient. These features can help you balance your studies with home life, work, or other commitments.

Some programs still require you to log in during specific class periods. While not as flexible, these online options help you avoid commuting to class or relocating to an area with a highly rated college.

Increased Career Opportunities

Pursuing an MSW can be a rewarding career experience. According to Payscale, the median yearly salary for a Bachelor of Social Work degree holder is about $56,000, compared with $60,000 for a Master of Social Work degree holder. Some roles, promotions, and state licenses require advanced training, so exploring social work graduate programs that don’t need a GRE can be a decisive step in your career.

Expanded College Choices

You don’t need to pack your bags to enroll in graduate school. Online social work graduate programs that don’t require the GRE are available as long as you have a stable internet connection. Apply to the best schools, not only the ones close to your home.

A growing number of reputable colleges are offering online options. You can choose from highly rated public and private institutions nationwide to find the best faculty, concentration, coursework, or cost for your degree program.

Fulfilling Work

Pursuing a social worker job or related career can be incredibly rewarding. These positions work closely with individuals, families, communities, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to improve lives and provide essential support.

Whether working in the healthcare industry or assisting with legal issues, you can use your MSW training and knowledge to advocate, inspire, encourage, and assist disadvantaged individuals and community groups.

How Much Do Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required Cost?

The specific cost of an MSW program varies depending on the type of institution, length of study, and other factors. The cost of a graduate program can vary between $10,000 to over $100,000.

Many online programs are more affordable than traditional alternatives. When studying online, you can also avoid on-campus fees, such as room and board. Review tuition rates carefully, as some online programs cost could more than on-campus versions of the same program.

Common Courses in Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required

MSW programs offer a broad range of social work skills and specialized classes to focus on your chosen career path. While the exact course titles and areas of specialization vary, here are some common courses you can expect in your graduate program:

  • Social advocacy
  • Social justice
  • Empathy
  • Substance abuse
  • Policy analysis
  • Death and dying
  • Couples and family therapy
  • Fieldwork

You can expect to take a range of courses that include many or all of these topics. Some online master’s in social work with no GRE programs offer concentrations to focus your learning and prepare for a specific career:

  • Mental health and trauma
  • Healthcare
  • Children, youth, and families
  • Community administration
  • Clinical work

How Long Does It Take to Complete Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required?

Choose an online master’s in social work with no GRE to receive your degree in less time. While a standard master’s degree program can take about two years to complete, there are a few accelerated options available:

  • Advanced standing MSW: These programs are available to students with a Bachelor of Social Work degree and can take only 12 months.
  • Accelerated program: Accelerated programs typically require more hours or more coursework in a shorter period. If you’ve completed social work coursework or practical experience, you may be able to earn a degree in 16 months or less.

You can apply for online MSW programs with no GRE and a low GPA. Your chosen course and availability can help determine whether you can earn your MSW in 12 or 24 months. As a part-time student, you can take up to 36 months to complete your coursework.

Career Options and Job Outlook for Graduates of Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required

You can still apply to online MSW programs with no GRE and low GPA and take the next step in your career. Explore these career options and job outlook data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to see if an online program is right for you.

Social Worker

Online MSW programs with no GRE required can prepare you to enter or advance in the field of social work. Social workers earned a median pay of $55,350 in 2022, according to BLS. These roles are also expected to increase by 7% between 2022 and 2032.

Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

As a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist, you can work closely with individuals in the criminal justice system. You will offer support, guidance, and treatment to law offenders and their families. These roles earned a median 2022 pay of about $59,860, according to BLS data. They are expected to grow by 3% between 2022 and 2032.

Marriage and Family Therapist

You can counsel couples and families going through trauma, stress, and other experiences as a marriage and family therapist. These roles earned a median pay in 2022 of $56,570, according to BLS data. Expect to see an increase in available positions, as the number of therapists in this group is projected to grow by about 15% between 2022 and 2032. 

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

While these positions are grouped for BLS data, they represent a broad range of skill sets and professional support for individuals and communities. Consider whether you wish to support individuals through mental health issues, behavioral disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, or other substance abuse. The 2022 median salary for these roles was about $49,710, according to BLS data. This category has a significant job outlook projection, with an estimated 18% increase between 2022 and 2032.


FAQs About Online MSW Programs That Don’t Require the GRE

Should I still submit my scores if I’ve already taken the GRE? 

It depends. Is there a space on the application for submitting scores, and did you score well? If the answer to both questions is yes, it may be worth submitting. 

Is an online MSW program that doesn’t require the GRE the same as an MSW program that does require the GRE? 

Yes. Remember, the GRE is a standard measure of a specific skill set, not a judgment of academic attainment. To that end, requiring the GRE has nothing to do with the overall quality of an online MSW program. You should view each program equally.

Is an online MSW program that doesn’t require the GRE cheaper than an MSW program that does require the GRE? 

GRE acceptance has no affect on the cost of an online MSW program. However, online programs are generally less expensive than in-person or hybrid counterparts. This is because they tend to have reduced course tuition, require fewer materials, and have fewer expenses, such as transportation. 

Do employers view online MSW programs that don’t require the GRE in the same way as traditional programs?

Employers have limited time and resources as they make important hiring decisions. In most cases, they consider criteria such as your experience, academic performance, recommendations, and performance at an interview or field test. However, a potential employer likely wouldn’t dig deep enough to determine if applicants took the GRE as part of the admissions process.

If they look at the school where you obtained your MSW, it will likely be to ensure the school is accredited. Some employers could find a non-accredited school problematic, as they may think you didn’t learn the required skill set to be a social worker.

Seize the Opportunity: Embark on Your Journey with an Online MSW Program

Pursuing an online Master’s in Social Work (MSW) program without the GRE requirement has the potential to open a gateway to advancing your career in social work, regardless of your current experience level or educational background. These programs, especially those accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), provide a robust curriculum that meets the ethical standards and licensure requirements necessary for professional growth in this field.

If you are contemplating a career shift or seeking advancement in social work, now is the opportune moment to act. Research and select an online MSW program that aligns with your career goals, learning style, and scheduling needs. Remember, the flexibility and accessibility of online education make it easier than ever to balance your studies with other life commitments. Embrace the opportunity to make a significant impact in the lives of individuals and communities. Enroll in an online MSW program today and take the first step towards realizing your professional aspirations in social work.

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