If you’re interested in pursuing your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree online and aren’t sure where to begin your school search, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of the top online MSW programs across the country that can help you reach the next step in your social work career.
Benefits of Choosing one of the Cheapest CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs
All MSW programs on this list are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which is critical if you want to earn your MSW to be a practicing social worker. According to the CSWE, all U.S. states and D.C. require that a social worker sitting for a licensure exam graduate from a MSW program that has CSWE accreditation.
These online MSW programs are ranked in increasing order of tuition for the entirety of the standard master of social work program, not including fees. Below, you can find information about each school’s online MSW program, including the types of courses you can take, how long your studies will last, tuition rates, and more.
If an accelerated MSW is offered for those with advanced standing, this may be noted in the program description below but was not used in this affordability ranking. Typically, an advanced standing student may substantially save on tuition and time to completion for the MSW—possibly by half, but not always. Research your particular school of interest if you are interested in the advanced standing MSW program.
How We Chose and Ranked These Affordable, Accredited Online MSW Programs
We began with a list of all Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited MSW programs that were identified as online MSW programs. Our editorial team validated that the program was all or mostly online and researched each program’s published tuition as of early 2021, excluding student fees or room and board.
We ranked these online MSW programs in ascending order of total tuition required to take all credits for the degree. In cases where there was different tuition for state residents and non-state residents, we selected the in-state tuition for ranking purposes. Similarly, for different published tuition for MSW students entering with advanced standing versus for students of a traditional MSW program, the traditional MSW curriculum tuition was used. For several of these online MSW programs, our team was unable to find accurate published tuition figures; these programs are listed separately.
71 Affordable CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs
1. Valdosta State University
The MSW program at Valdosta State University prepares you for advanced generalist practice, and it’s available on campus or in a hybrid format. The faculty is full of professional social workers, and you complete two different year-long practicum placements to gain invaluable field experience during the program. You can also participate in the My Friend’s House and South Georgia CARE-NET programs, focusing on those with Alzheimer’s and dementia and supporting caregivers, respectively.
The hybrid program is a combination of in-person and web-based learning. In the hybrid program at VSU, you attend five-weekend classes each semester and complete the rest of your coursework online. You have the option of a standard program and an advanced standing one. The standard option, for those without BSWs, takes 60 credit hours to complete. The advanced standing program is available on-campus or online if you earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited school within the past five years. The program requires 33 credit hours to graduate. Both require practicums.
The hybrid and advanced standing options are highly competitive. Apply early, especially if you’re interested in their study abroad program in Mexico.
- Standard: $15,780 for the entire program ($263 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing: $8,679 for the entire program ($263 per credit hour)
2. University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas’s Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences offers several different MSW programs, among them a fully online advanced standing MSW program that takes 12 months to complete. All 39 credits can be completed over 12 months of full-time study without ever visiting the Fayetteville campus, including required field placements. The program administrator will work with you to find a suitable fieldwork location near your place of residence. In addition to the required practicum, all learners also complete a capstone research project or a thesis.
The program welcomed its first group of students in 2016 and now accepts a new cohort once annually. Courses required as part of the degree plan include advanced practice using the multi-system life course perspective, social work research and technology, advanced practice with adults using the MSLC perspective, and evidence-based social work.
Students must receive admission to both the university and the College of Arts & Sciences. Requirements for consideration include a regionally accredited BSW, 3.0 or higher GPA, a personal statement, social needs paper, three professional references, a basic statistics course, a resume, and evidence of computer literacy. The department offers several graduate-level scholarships to help students who demonstrate academic merit and financial need manage their costs.
- Total tuition: $17,064 (Credit hours: 39, Tuition per credit hour: $437.54)
3. Missouri State University
Missouri State University offers an advanced generalist MSW program. This is to allow students to take on various careers upon graduation, from those working with children to those in elderly services.
In their advanced standing full-time program and part-time program, you need to take 34 credit hours to graduate. This includes a field practicum.
The regular full-time program is designed for those who have a degree in something other than social work. To graduate from this program, you need to complete 62 credit hours, including two field practicums. In the first year of the program, you’ll take generalist courses, and in the second year, you’ll take classes at the advanced generalist level. The part-time program has the same requirements, but the degree will take longer to complete.
No matter which online program you select, you’ll have help securing your field placement from the MSW department at Missouri State. They will go over your practicum goals and help you find a field placement that matches those goals.
- Standard Tuition: $21,160
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $12,410
4. Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas
The School of Social Work at Texas State University provides an online MSW with two concentrations: foundation and advanced standing. The foundation track supports students who possess a bachelor’s degree but not in social work. It consists of 62 credits and takes three years of full-time study to complete. The advanced standing track supports those who graduated from a BSW program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education within the last decade. This option comprises 36 credits and takes two years to complete.
New students enter the program as part of a cohort, taking each of their classes with the same group of learners throughout their time at TSU. You can choose from both part-time (two courses per semester) and full-time (three courses per semester) c, depending on your schedule. The department accepts new degree seekers once annually in the fall semester.
Some of the courses you’ll take include human behavior in individual and family social environments, advanced social policy and social justice, and advanced program planning and grant-based resource development. Regardless of which track you choose, the final year is devoted to two advanced practicums.
- Texas Resident Total Tuition: $26,180
- Nonresident Total Tuition: $33,740
5. University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock, Arkansas
UA Little Rock offers an online MSW that helps existing social workers gain the skills and qualifications needed to take on advanced practice and leadership positions. The degree comprises 60 credits and takes two years to complete. The last year is devoted to internship requirements. Although the degree exists fully online, only residents of Arkansas are eligible to apply at this time. Fieldwork placements must be done in-person.
New students are accepted for the fall and spring semesters. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree with a liberal arts perspective, overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, a narrative statement of professional goals, three letters of recommendation (can be from volunteer, academic, or professional colleagues), a list of volunteer, employment, and relevant life experiences that speak to your career choice, and official transcripts.
UA Little Rock’s program maintains accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education. Courses covered include assessment and differential diagnoses, statistics for social work, social work research methods, and advanced direct practice. You can also select from a variety of topics to fulfill six required elective credits. Students must also complete at least 1200 approved practice hours before graduating.
- Total Tuition: $23,760 (Tuition per credit hour: $396, Credit hours: 60 )
- Total Tuition for Military and Veterans: $19,500 (Tuition per credit hour: $325, Credit hours: 60)
6. Texas A&M
If you live within 500 miles of the Texas A&M Commerce campus, you may apply to attend their fully online MSW program, which began in fall 2019. They offer a 48-hour foundation option for those without BSWs, taking two to four years based on attending full or part time, and a 36-hour advanced standing/advanced generalist option for those with BSWs, taking about one year full time.
This generalist program’s goal is for its students to graduate ready to take on any social work career, though the school focuses on diversity and equity.
Foundation students complete 260 practicum hours during the spring semester of their first year and 640 hours over the following three semesters. The advanced standing students simply complete the 640-hour requirement. These internships are general, meaning you’ll work with everyone from individuals to groups to communities.
- Tuition per 9 credit hours: $3,669 (for Texas residents) and $7,341 (for non-residents)
- Foundation Track Total credit hours: 57
- Advanced Generalist Practice Track credit hours: 33
7. Ohio University
The Ohio University offers two online MSW programs. The advanced practice MSW is available for those with BSWs. If your degree is in another subject they also offer a foundational MSW. These programs can be taken online and focus on issues facing rural communities, such as mental illness, addiction, poverty, abuse, and injustice.
OU offers three start dates for those who want to earn their degree online, and courses are asynchronous. The 39-credit advanced practice track can be completed in six semesters (about 24 months), and the 62-credit foundational track can be completed in as few as ten semesters.
Graduates of both programs typically go on to work in a few areas:
- Adult mental health (e.g., substance abuse counselor, geriatric social worker, and crisis counselor)
- Child, family, and schools (e.g., child protective services caseworker, foster care social worker, and eating disorder therapist)
- Social policy (e.g., nonprofit executive director, community outreach specialist, and grant writer)
- Foundation Track total: $40,548 (Ohio resident) and $41,726 (non-Ohio resident)
- Advanced Seating total: $23, 544 (Ohio resident) and $24, 228 (non-Ohio resident)
8. University of Nevada, Reno
If you’re looking for an online MSW with no residency requirements, the University of Nevada offers this type of program. Designed to prepare graduates for licensure, specialization options exist in children and families, gerontology, substance abuse, and mental health.
The traditional program consists of 62 credits and takes two years to complete, including summer classes. The advanced standing program incorporates 32 credits and takes 15 months to complete, including a summer session.
All students’ concentration courses include therapeutic interventions with families, practice and program evaluation, advanced multidimensional assessment, and therapeutic intervention with individuals.
Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree, GPA of 3.0 or 3.25 in the final 60 credits of undergraduate coursework, three recommendation letters, a resume, and a personal statement. Advanced standing students must also supply a fourth recommendation letter from an undergraduate field instructor and evidence of outstanding performance in your field experience.
- Traditional Total Tuition: $46,112
- Advanced Standing Total Tuition: $23,882
9. University of Alabama
As one of the oldest MSW programs in the country, the University of Alabama has been preparing advanced social work practitioners since 1965. The traditional program requires 60 credits and takes three years, while the advanced standing program consists of 42 credits and takes two years. The department also makes available an MSW/JD and an MSW/MPH dual degree with higher credit requirements. Regardless of your chosen track, you can concentrate your studies on adults and their families or children, adolescents, and their families.
Required core courses include models and social work practice methods with children and adolescents in mental health, evaluation research, and advanced clinical social work practice. The advanced standing track requires 500 clinical hours completed during a fieldwork placement; the traditional track requires approximately double that number. New students enroll as part of a cohort.
To receive admissions consideration, you must show evidence of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school, a 3.0 or higher GPA, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Both programs accept new students in the summer and fall terms.
- Traditional Total Tuition: $26,400 ($440 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Total Tuition: $18,480 ($440 per credit hour)
10. The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University has full-time, part-time, on-campus, or online MSW options. Their MSW program has been ranked sixth in the nation among public schools by U.S. News & World Report. Both their advanced standing and traditional MSWs are available entirely online and open to students nationwide.
OSU’s advanced standing MSW program, for those with BSWs, requires 43 credit hours to graduate, beginning in a summer semester. It takes one year if you are full-time or two years if you are part-time.
Their traditional MSW takes 63 credit hours, beginning in a fall semester, and can be completed in two years if attending full time or three to four years if enrolled part time.
The advanced standing and traditional programs require fieldwork, 248 hours in generalist work, and 672 hours in advanced work for the traditional path and solely the latter amount for the advanced standing one. The Ohio State is partnered with 800 agencies nationwide and will help you find a place to do this work.
Both programs allow online students to pursue the following areas of emphasis:
- Aging and health
- Mental health and substance misuse
- Child and youth services
Their on-campus program offers an additional community and social justice specialization.
If you attend the program as a non-Ohio resident, be sure to check your state’s licensure requirements for social workers to ensure OSU’s program meets those requirements.
- Traditional Full-time (Two Years): $26,000
- Traditional Part-time (Three Years): $49,000
- Traditional Part-time (Four Years): $51,000
- Advanced Standing Full-time: $19,500
- Advanced Standing Part-time: $33,000
11. Florida State University
The College of Social Work at Florida State University (FSU) provides an online MSW program. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree in social work or an entrance exam like the GRE for entry, and the average program completion time is three years. All programs are designed with working professionals across the country in mind.
The traditional MSW program is clinically focused and available to residents of any state. Two field placements are required for a total of 61 credit hours. In this part-time program, you take two online courses each semester. There are two mandatory campus visits, which occur on weekends.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited school and a 3.0 GPA or higher, you may apply for the accelerated advanced standing program. The advanced standing MSW requires 39 credit hours and a single field placement, which most students complete in two years.
- Resident Traditional: $27,084 for the entire program ($444 per credit hour)
- Resident Advanced Standing: $17,316 for the entire program ($444 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Traditional: $38,125 for the entire program ($625 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing: $24,375 for the entire program ($625 per credit hour)
12. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) offers a Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program that prepares you for advanced practice with the Latino community. Distance education courses are available at the Edinburg and Laredo campuses.
The school offers a traditional track for those who don’t have a bachelor’s in social work, which takes 63 hours to complete over two years.
The accelerated advanced standing program is also available online, taking 33 credit hours and beginning in spring and summer semesters. If you’re in this program, you’re also able to apply to enter the Sustainable Community Health Promotion in Social Work certificate program, which lasts for an additional 12 credit hours.
UTRGV’s advanced standing program offers concentrations in administration and community practice and direct practice with Latino individuals, families, and groups. Coursework varies based on your focus, though both include classes like:
- Social work with diverse populations
- Social work practice with Latinos
- Electives in child welfare and spirituality and social work
Both concentrations require the completion of practicum hours for hands-on experience.
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $14,667
- Traditional Tuition: $27,999
13. Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
At Colorado State University’s School of Social Work, the programs center around social justice, anti-oppression, equity and equality, and enhancing human health and well-being. CSU provides bachelor’s and master’s level programs that are fully accredited by CSWE. The MSW program started in 1984, and there are full time, advanced standing, and distance options available. The school also offers a unique Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health dual degree.
The MSW degree focuses on advanced generalist practice. CSU teaches you how to make a difference in global and local communities, focusing on your location’s evolving needs. It’s one of the most well-established MSW programs in the West. The distance program is available part-time through CSU Online, which generally takes three years to complete. Their hybrid online learning model requires you to take classes online and attend in-person on the weekends in Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins. Field placements take place in-person as well.
Distance students have the option to complete the degree in two years if you have a bachelor’s in social work already. You can also earn a graduate certificate with your two-year MSW program concurrently.
- Resident Traditional: $28,051.20 (plus $584 for each fieldwork credit hour)
- Resident Advanced Standing: $17,520 (plus $584 for each fieldwork credit hour)
- Nonresident Traditional: $68,774.40(plus $1,430.80 for each fieldwork credit hour)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing: $42,985 (plus $1,430.80 for each fieldwork credit hour)
14. California State University Long Beach
Long Beach, California
The School of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) focuses on addressing the social service needs of vulnerable, oppressed, or diverse people. They provide BASW and MSW programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
CSULB’s distance MSW program, focusing on child and family wellbeing, is hosted by Santa Rosa Junior College and Ventura County Community College until 2022. Classes are held on Saturdays over three years and occur via teleconferencing, with some in-person visits from CSULB faculty throughout the program. The intensive classes with hands-on instruction take place in person, as do two field placements.
- Advanced Standing (California Resident): $12,672.00
- 2-Year (California Resident): $16,844.00
- 3-Year (California Resident): $27,110.00
15. San Jose State University
San Jose, California
San Jose State offers MSW hybrid programs for their standard (two years or 60 units) track. You’ll complete courses fully online, although their field experience will take place in person in the area where they live. Note that only residents of the state are eligible to apply for these California online MSW programs.
The school was founded to educate social workers who planned to work with Spanish-speaking populations. They’ve expanded upon that goal by focusing their programs on working with Latinos, minority groups, and others who are disenfranchised in some way.
Classes include asynchronous and synchronous instruction, with scheduled classes taking place during weekday evenings. Expect to spend about 45 hours in lectures and on assignments per each three-credit-hour course you take. SJSU mandates you spend 16 hours per week on your internship. Though the program is designed to be available to students who are working professionals, you need to consider this program carefully, as it’s full time and internships need to occur during business hours.
If you already have your BSW, consider taking the hybrid advanced standing program instead.
- 2 year Online/Hybrid Tuition: $36,000 (60-unit program, $600 per unit)
- 1 year Online/Hybrid Advanced Standing Tuition: $22,200 (37-unit program, $600 per unit)
16. University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
The College of Social Work at the University of Utah (U of U) has seven different program options to earn your MSW. You can take in-person courses in Salt Lake City or St. George or take advantage of the fully online two-year MSW degree. Their faster advanced standing program is only available in person, so if you already have a BSW, this may not be the right online option for you. Students can’t mix and match online and on-campus programs at U of U, though you make a one-time switch from one option to the other if needed.
The new online two-year MSW is a full-time program with 60 credit hours occurring over two years. You must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school and at least a 3.0 GPA to apply. The program specializes in mental health in social work, and the first year consists of generalist courses. The second year is when the mental health focus comes in, but you must have at least a C+ or better to be admitted to that year of study.
The MSW program encompasses 15 credit hours per semester. Courses take place online whenever learning is convenient for you. Required practicum hours take place in-person two or three days per week throughout the two years. Most placements occur during regular business hours, but some agencies might have flexible hours available for online students. The university practicum coordinator will work with you to find a suitable placement, no matter where you live.
- Resident Tuition: $28,506.92
- Nonresident Tuition: $78,167.29
- Advanced Standing: 45 credit hours
- Traditional: 60 credit hours
17. Metropolitan State University of Denver
81% of students who graduate with their MSW from the Metropolitan State University of Denver pass the Association of Social Work Boards Examination (ASWB) clinical exam. Only 66% of people who take the exam pass, highlighting the quality of MSUD’s program. Priority is given to in-state students, and non-residents are considered on a case-by-case basis.
It’s not just the exam’s success rate that makes MSUD’s MSW program stand out—they also offer a fully online program with both asynchronous and synchronous elements. Your synchronous work includes assignments or fieldwork completed on specific days and times, usually with other students and faculty in your cohort.
The program takes a holistic approach to social work called “integrative practice.” This means students can take on versatile roles when they enter the workforce, whether as clinicians, therapists, leaders, organizers, and activists.
You can pursue a regular, 60-hour program or a 38-hour advanced standing program if you have a BSW. The advanced standing option begins in summer semesters, while the regular program begins in the fall. Both allow the following pathways:
- Children and Families
- Children and youth
- Gerontological social work
- Leadership and management
- Mental health
- School social work
- Resident Tuition: $35,937
- Nonresident Tuition: $40,737
18. University of Maine
The School of Social Work at the University of Maine provides an online MSW in a blended format. Only residents of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont can currently apply to this program at the current time.
The regular program includes 63 credits and takes three years to complete; the advanced standing includes 46 credits and takes two years. Cohorts meet twice per semester on a Saturday, and faculty will visit you at your field placement once per semester throughout the experience.
Some classes you can expect to take include social welfare policy for advanced generalist practitioners, advanced social work practice with communities and organizations, and advanced generalist practice with individuals. You’ll also select three elective courses to help focus your studies in areas of children and youth, trauma, and group care. Most classes are asynchronous, but you may need to do some synchronous work as well.
Upon graduating, newly minted social workers often take up jobs in education, healthcare, policy and advocacy, substance abuse, and private practice. They qualify to sit for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker exam after meeting all degree requirements.
- Traditional Tuition: $38,304 (63 credits, $608 per credit)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $27,968 (46 credits, $608 per credit)
19. Boise State University
The School of Social Work at Boise State University prepares you to support your community’s most vulnerable people. The school offers an on-campus MSW as well as a fully online MSW degree program, meant to be taken over two years. They even have an advanced program in professional practice with individuals and families to work with those populations.
Boise State’s online program is highly recognized for its valuable education and affordability. The online MSW degree, which requires completion of 61 credit hours, is available entirely via the internet, and there is no additional out-of-state tuition.
You could choose between the full foundation program or the advanced standing program if you earned a bachelor’s degree in social work within the last seven to 10 years (based on practical experience). The programs include required fieldwork practicums in-person under the supervision of an experienced agency social worker. However, if you’re taking courses online from out-of-state, you may want to look into licensure information based on your location.
- Traditional Tuition: $32,030
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $19,850
20. University of Central Florida
UCF Online offers a fully online Master of Social Work taught during seven-week terms. The traditional program consists of 62 credits, while the advanced standing track requires the completion of 32 credits. The latter takes three years to complete, while the former requires just one year. Both use a cohort model to move through coursework and are taught on a part-time basis to accommodate busy schedules. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, UCF’s offering brings together the latest research taught by experienced academic practitioners.
Classes taught in both tracks include practice with families, diverse client populations, and clinical social work practice with LGBTQ+ communities. Graduates go on to work as clinical social workers, counselors, child welfare caseworkers, and therapists. Services available specifically to online students include success coaching, academic advising, a student academic resource center, and the university writing center, among others.
New students can apply three times annually for admittance during the summer, fall, or spring semester. When it comes time to complete field placements, program administrators work with you to find an approved site within a 45-mile radius of where you live.
- Traditional Tuition: $30,221
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $15,598
21. University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
At the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), social work programs develop a strong workforce to help with the under-served locations in Iowa. The distance MSW programs focus on students with barriers or other challenges to in-person learning. Many students join the MSW program at UNI because it’s the only program in the state to offer the cutting-edge Trauma Informed Care (TIC) concentration in Iowa—the only concentration available.
UNI has two tracks for MSW students, based on your previous undergraduate study. The foundation MSW, which runs for 60 units with two to three classes per semester, is for students without a bachelor’s in social work. In this program, you follow the same course load as the on-campus program without the need to ever head to campus. The courses are online via the Blackboard online learning management system, and most classes meet on Tuesday evenings via video.
If you earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the CSWE, you could enter the 37-unit advanced standing program.
A few of the classes both tracks have in common are:
- Introductory and advanced social work research
- Primary and secondary trauma
- Trauma-informed practice I and II
Both programs also complete internships in the state. The UNI Department of Social Works partners with over 150 quality locations in 40 Iowa communities to help you find the right internship.
In their FAQs, UNI’s social work webpage advises students to plan to spend at least 36 hours per week studying. Internships need to occur between 8:00 and 5:00 Monday through Friday, with the first lasting 12-13 hours and the second consisting of 15-16 hours each week, both over two semesters.
- Resident Tuition: $21,010
- Nonresident Tuition: $32,482
22. Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University’s Department of Social Work has online distributed learning programs available—but it’s only open to students who live in California and plan to practice social work in the state after graduation.
The online MSW program is part-time, follows the same curriculum as the on-campus program, and has a small student to teacher ratio. You can take it over the course of 3.5 or two years. Most coursework takes place asynchronously, though there are live webinar sessions each Thursday. You’re also required to go to campus for orientations at the start of the program and once per year afterward. Finally, the field experience requirement takes place in person. The school helps you secure your field placement in the local community.
Total Tuition: $30,600 ($510 per credit hour)
23. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (EU) has a nationally recognized and affordable MSW program. You can choose from hybrid or fully online programs. The curriculum at EU focuses on trauma-informed family practice. You gain experience working in settings like mental health agencies, schools, addiction treatment centers, hospitals, rehabilitation and correctional facilities, veterans’ agencies, foster care and adoption agencies, nursing home, and more.
At EU, you earn your MSW degree and obtain licensure from your state board. The number of internship hours required will vary based on your state, and online students are required to keep track of their total number of completed hours.
EU’s advanced standing program is available to those with a bachelor’s degree in social work and at least a 3.0 GPA, and it takes about 15 months to complete. For students who have bachelor’s degrees in fields other than social work, the standard program takes about two years. The school is currently offering transfer credit for field education requirements to advanced standing students affected by COVID-19.
- Resident Standard: $30,960 ($516 per credit hour)
- Resident Advanced Standing: $17,028 ($516 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Standard: $34,080 ($568 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing: $18,744 ($568 per credit hour)
24. University of Alaska at Anchorage
Whether you live in Alaska’s wilds or the burgeoning city of Anchorage, you can take advantage of UAA’s online MSW. Starting in 2016, the program went entirely online, with no on-campus option remaining. The school offers an advanced generalist program aimed at allowing graduates to work in a variety of careers.
The traditional path comprises 61 credits over two to four years, while the advanced standing track requires only 34 credits taking one to two years to complete. The College of Health offers several different timelines, allowing you to graduate within one to four years after enrolling. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the curriculum incorporates cutting-edge research and best clinical work practices.
Courses taken include human diversity in social work practice, foundation research methods, transformational leadership in social work practice, and program evaluation. The final portion of the program focuses on two practica. Upon meeting all requirements, graduates qualify to sit for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) examination.
The traditional path’s admission requirements include a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate studies, completion of prerequisite courses, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and official transcripts. If you’re going for the advanced placement option, you need to meet those criteria, plus have earned a 3.5 in BSW courses, an A in all fieldwork, and completed that undergraduate program in the last five years. All applicants must also reside in the state of Alaska at this time.
You can also take advantage of an MSW/MPH dual degree or undertake a school social work specialization.
- Traditional Tuition: $31,293 ($513 per credit)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $17,442 ($513 per credit)
25. Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University offers an online MSW that takes between two and four years to complete, depending on if you attend the program full or part-time. The program does not adhere to the typical semester system. Instead, it divides the curriculum into seven-week modules. If you take one course during a module, you are considered a part-time student. If you take two, you’re considered a full-time student.
The school offers a standard 60-hour program for those without BSWs and a 40-hour advanced standing program for those who have those degrees. The standard program can be begun five times per year, and the advanced standing one accepts students twice per year.
The program is asynchronous, but you should expect to spend about 15 hours, minimum, on schoolwork per week. Additionally, you’ll need to complete field education, which must be done in person at a location near you during normal business hours for the equivalent of two days each week.
The LSU staff encourages you to complete a thesis, though it’s not mandatory.
- Traditional Tuition: $35,940 ($599 per credit)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $23,960 ($599 per credit)
26. California State University, Chico
California State University, Chico offers over 340 affordable academic offerings. Among the programs is a distributed learning program through the School of Social Work, where you can earn a BSW or MSW. Graduate students gain advanced generalist practice experience in a mostly online setting.
The MSW distributed learning program takes one (34 credit hours, full-time) or three (70 credit hours, mostly part-time) years to complete. The one-year program is more for those with a social work background, while the three-year program is for newcomers.
The curriculum occurs in a hybrid format, with a combination of online and in-person coursework. You attend regularly scheduled sessions online using Zoom and attend courses on campus two or three weekends each semester. You must complete 1,200 hours of a field practicum to work in the Chico State service area, but the school helps with placement.
There is also an accelerated MSW Advanced Standing program that takes a year, but only a select few get in. Spots only become available for this program every three years.
- One-Year Program: $13,866
- Three-Year Program: $32,459
27. Arizona State University
Arizona State University (ASU) has one of the country’s largest and most diverse social work programs. The online MSW program prepares you to work with people of all ages in pressing societal issues. The prestigious faculty include field experts in common areas like child welfare and administration or unique areas like forensic social work, water scarcity, and borderland issues.
Each class takes 7.5 weeks, and you are ready for graduation after you have successfully completed all 20 courses (60 total credit hours), which typically takes either 2 or 3 years (both curriculum plans are available). Graduates may earn professional licensure and certification in Arizona or through reciprocity agreements with other states.
The MSW program includes synchronous learning and two seminars. You’ll also participate in 960 hours of field education in addition to courses like social policy and services, micro and macro human behavior, assessment of mental disorders, and diversity and oppression in a social work context. These hours are split between two different internship locations, and the School of Social Work’s Education Office also helps you find internships in your area.
- Total Tuition: $34,208
28. Campbellsville University
Campbellsville University is a Christian university “where learning, faith, and passion go hand-in-hand.” The school is ranked fourth most affordable among the Christian colleges in the U.S.
Their online MSW program prepares you to move out of an entry-level position in social work, with a curriculum rooted in ethical ideals. The MSW program takes place entirely online and allows you to participate in foundation, advanced standing, clinical, or addiction programs. If you’re not in the advanced standing program, you’ll complete 60 hours of training over about two years. Advanced standing students study for 30 hours over one year. A faculty of expert practitioners teach the courses, and there are optional areas of focus available in clinical mental health or addiction services.
The only in-person portion of the program includes your field practice hours. Campbellsville University requires you to earn a total of 900 hours to earn your degree. However, if you have a BSW, you may count your practicum hours from that program toward this total. You must find and secure your field placement on your own.
- Total Tuition: $36,180 (Credit Hours: 60, $603 per credit hour)
29. University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
The University of Iowa provides a mostly online MSW program for students living in Iowa or a surrounding state. It accepts new students every two years, with the next cohort beginning their studies in the summer of 2022.
The cohort comprises 25 students and allows practitioners and peers to build meaningful professional relationships while enrolled. In addition to general studies, you can select from concentrations in either family-centered practice or integrated practice. The department hosts info sessions multiple times per year, allowing you to learn about its offerings without visiting campus.
They offer a standard, 60-hour program for those without BSWs and a 48-hour program for those with BSWs. Though it’s an online program, courses meet synchronously via Zoom every week, so be sure to build that into your schedule. As of May 2020, class times were Thursdays, 5:30-8:00 PM CST. You should also plan to attend a two- to three-day summer institute in Iowa City each summer and to meet with your nearby students at least once per semester. You’ll work with a program field administrator to find practicum placements within your area.
To receive admissions consideration, you need to live in Iowa or a neighboring state, possess a four-year degree in social work or another topic from an accredited institution, 3.0 or higher GPA, letters of recommendation, evidence of work experience, and a personal statement. UI’s program holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.
- Traditional Tuition: $33,600 (60 credit hours, $560 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $26,880 (48 credit hours, $560 per credit hour)
30. Indiana University
Indiana University touts its beautiful campus as one of the reasons you should consider earning your degree there. Of course, you probably don’t care about that if you’re seeking an online master’s degree in social work—but luckily, IU offers that too! While some MSW programs are highly specialized and lead to a career in a very specific social work field, your career options may be more diverse as an IU graduate.
This is because IU’s MSW program, which is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, is referred to as an “advanced generalist” track. Your courses will be broken down into two categories: social work core courses, such as research foundations and social policy and analysis, and “special practice” courses, like military social work and mental health. Upon completing the required 30 credit hours in both areas, you’ll be ready to work in many social work sectors.
- In-State Tuition: $36,357.60 (60 credit hours, $605.96 per credit hour)
- Out of State Tuition: $42,960 (60 credit hours, $716.00 per credit hour)
31. University of Missouri
The University of Missouri provides several different MSW options, including a part-time online MSW for both traditional and advanced standing students. Residents of Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee can enroll in UM’s offering.
Designed to support degree seekers who need to continue working full-time while pursuing advanced education, all classes are taught asynchronously. While students from the above-listed states qualify for the MSW, they must live within the school’s region to complete their practicum.
The 60-credit hour regular standing course consists of two classes per semester for three years, while the 39-credit hour advanced standing requires two classes per semester for two years. The regular standing online option begins in the summers, while the advanced standing path starts in autumns.
Classes taught in both programs include large group theory, social work skills, and social policy and service delivery in social work. You can select a specialization in either clinical practice or policy, planning, and administration in human services.
Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree, 3.0 or higher GPA, completion of a statistics course, and official transcripts from any schools previously attended.
- Standard Tuition: $22,500 (39 credit hours, $575 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $34,500 (60 credit hours, $575 per credit hour)
32. University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work offers a hybrid MSW that can be undertaken by students across the Hawaiian Islands. The department also provides an online BSW. Students participate in interactive television lessons, computer-based learning, several visits to the Manoa campus, and a yearly meeting in Oahu. The televised lessons must be taken at an approved satellite campus one weeknight per week—so you need to live in Hawaii to complete the program.
Some of the topics you’ll explore in this program include social work practice with families and groups, social and cultural aspects of aging, and introduction to scientific methods and principles in social work practice. The department also offers several different electives each semester to help students concentrate their knowledge in a particular discipline area.
Both traditional (57 credits) and advanced standing (30 credits) options exist and last between one and three years. If following the advanced standing track, you must have completed your BSW within the last seven years. Each cohort consists of no more than 30 students, providing an intimate learning experience. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, evidence of personal qualifications and/or social work experience, GRE scores, transcripts, personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and TOEFL/IELTS scores. You can take advantage of several different info sessions throughout the year to learn more.
- Resident Traditional Tuition: $37,050 ($650 per credit)
- Resident Advanced Standing Tuition: $19,500 ($650 per credit)
- Nonresident Traditional Tuition: $79,901 ($1,402 per credit)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing Tuition: $42,060 ($1,402 per credit)
33. University of Georgia
The School of Social Work at the University of Georgia recently developed its online MSW program. Designed to prepare graduates for leadership roles, the degree offers a micro specialization for clinical work. Though a new program, UG’s offering maintains accreditation via the Council on Social Work Education.
Taught in a cohort model, you’ll complete social work courses with groups, assessment and psychopathology, advanced social practice with individuals, and social welfare policies, programs, and issues. You must be able to complete 912 supervised field practice hours at an approved facility within a 60-mile radius of the Georgia state line.
You can plan to graduate after eight semesters of study spread over three years (summer courses are required each year of enrollment. Admission requirements include a resume or curriculum vitae, statement of purpose, narrative statement, MSW supplemental form, transcripts, and recommendation letters. New students start the program each fall.
$37,740 for the entire program ($629 per credit hour)
34. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
The School of Social Work at West Virginia University (WVU) is committed to educating students to become generalist social workers. They have a BSW and an MSW program for practice with individuals, families, communities, groups, and social administration. Both programs promote social and economic justice for everyone, intending to prepare social workers for roles in small towns and rural areas.
The MSW program specializes in advanced integrated practice. Courses incorporate the skills needed to work in a wide range of practice areas. The school divides the program into regular standing and advanced standing options, the latter for those who earned a BSW in the last eight years. Both are only available online part-time, with the regular standing option taking 60 credit hours over three years and the advanced standing track requiring 36 credit hours over two years.
- Regular Standing Tuition (Residents and Non-Residents): $40,560 ($676 per credit hour)
35. Virginia Commonwealth University
The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is the highest-ranked school for social work in Virginia and among the best in the nation, according to a 2019 U.S. News & World Report. VCU recently reduced tuition rates for out-of-state students, making it an excellent school to earn your online MSW from anywhere in the country. The School of Social Work at VCU prepares social workers as practitioners, scholars, and leaders in the field. The 60-credit-hour curriculum promotes social justice, diversity, human rights, cultural competence, and ethical practice.
The online MSW program may be perfect if you need flexibility in a program. If you don’t have a BSW, you can complete your degree by studying full time for 16 or 24 months or part time for three to four years. If you have a BSW, you can participate in their one year advanced standing program. Additionally, your fieldwork can be completed near your home—though it must be done during business hours.
- Resident, Traditional Track: $38,040
- Resident, Advanced Standing: $26,628
- Nonresident, Traditional Track: $45,000
- Nonresident, Advanced Standing: $31,500
36. University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work provides an online MSW accredited by the Council on Social Work Education that requires no visits to the Lexington campus. With more than 80 years of experience educating future social workers, the department has earned three national diversity awards in recent years. The department also ranks first in Kentucky for licensing exam pass rates.
The advanced standing program consists of 30 credits, while the traditional requires 60 credits. Topics taught include understanding theory in social work practice, psychopathology for social work practice, and applied research methods in social work. You can choose from either full- or part-time learning options. In addition to generalist master’s studies, you can pursue a clinical social work certificate, substance use disorder certificate, or individualized plan of study.
Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree, GPA of 3.0 or higher, two letters of recommendation, a four-page personal statement, a 250-word writing sample, and official transcripts.
- Regular Standing Tuition: $44,220 (60 credit hours, $737 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $22,110 (30-credits hours, $737 per credit hour)
37. University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Earn your online CSWE-accredited Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT Knoxville) for ultimate flexibility and affordability. The College of Social Work offers the MSSW program in-person at the Knoxville and Nashville campuses or fully online for remote students.
The degree can be completed full-time, via extended study, or as an advanced standing program. The full-time and extended study options take 60 hours over two or three to four years, respectively. The advanced standing program includes 37 hours of study over 12 months of full-time or 18 to 24 months of part-time classes.
The same faculty teach online and on-campus classes. Both options require the exact field practice requirements and come with flexible options to complete your degree. You can enroll in the MSSW program full-time, part-time, or as advanced standing if you already have a BSW. Concentrations in evidenced-based interpersonal practice or organizational leadership are available.
The only difference is that in the online program, you may take classes in varying locations. With synchronous and asynchronous courses, you might attend some courses live online in the evening or afternoon.
- Resident Traditional: $38,340 ($639 per credit hour)
- Resident Advanced Standing: $23,643 ($639 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Traditional: $42,840 ($714 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing: $26,418 ($714 per credit hour)
38. California State University, San Bernardino
San Bernardino, California
The School of Social Work at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) presents BASW and MSW degrees with a generalist perspective and emphasis on micro and macro practice types. The coursework is online, and the required fieldwork takes place in your community. No matter where you live, the school assists you in finding the right field placement.
The online social work program at CSUSB is called Pathway Distance Education and occurs over three academic years. This is a full-time and intensive program, so they advise students with full-time jobs consider lowering their work hours. The first two years of the program focus on general social work concepts, and students pick a specialty of their choosing during their final year.
- 2 Year Program Tuition: $16,832.52
- 3 Year Program Tuition: $25,248.78
39. Eastern Washington University
The hybrid MSW program at Eastern Washington University (EWU) trains you to work in various practice areas across urban and rural settings. Most students take courses for two years, or 90 credits, starting with a foundation year in generalist practice. The final year encompasses an advanced generalist practice curriculum, where you learn how to apply your education to a real-world environment. The field experience takes place in person, and you’ll need to complete a final comprehensive research project.
EWU also offers a full or part-time advanced standing program, the latter of which only takes around 51 credits to complete. This track is open to you if you have already completed a BSW or BASW from an accredited school. Full-time programs begin every fall or summer semester, while part-time advanced standing programs start every three years.
The part-time programs are hybrid. Some classes take place in person on the weekends of weeknights, depending on the option you select.
If you don’t live in Washington, the school offers informative online sessions through Zoom. They cover the application steps to join an MSW program and EWU and dive into program requirements. However, the best part about EWU is the low tuition and scholarships for students from western states.
- Traditional Tuition: $42,840 ($476 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing: $24,276 ($476 per credit hour)
40. Portland State University
Portland State University is the first school to offer an online MSW in the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, they have the only such public program in the state to be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The program’s goal is to produce graduates who work to dismantle racism and promote social justice at an institutional or individual level.
If you want to apply to this program, plan ahead—applications are due in early winter, though classes don’t begin until fall.
The online program courses are the same as those offered on campus, though only their 78-credit traditional program is available online—their advanced standing option is only available on campus. Portland State University’s MSW classes take 11 weeks each, and students should expect to complete ten hours of course work per week for each class. Additionally, in your second and third years, you’ll be required to undergo 16 hours of fieldwork each week.
If you select the online option from Portland State University, you’ll sometimes be expected to participate in real-time virtual meetings with instructors and your classmates. You’ll also be expected to attend in-person intensives at the start of each semester.
Online students may choose between practice and leadership with communities and organizations or health across the lifetime concentrations.
- Resident Tuition: $40,092 ($514 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Tuition: $57,798 ($741 per credit hour)
41. Morgan State University
Unlike some of the schools on this list, Morgan State’s MSW program has a narrow range of focus. Graduates from their MSW program should ideally be trained to improve life for residents of urban areas who suffer from poverty, violence, substance abuse, and mental health disorders.
The requirements and curriculum in the online programs mirror the face-to-face options the school offers. Options include a 60-credit hour regular and a 30-credit hour advanced standing MSW program.
If you want to earn your degree part-time, this is not the school for you—they require their online students to take a full course load and graduate after two years, just like the students who earn their degree on campus. For each class, you have seven days to complete all work for that week, with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous work required.
- Total Tuition: $40,000
42. University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
If you’re looking for an online MSW with part-time learning options, the School of Social Work at the University of Buffalo has you covered.
The traditional online MSW for students lacking a social work degree consists of 60 credits and takes three years to complete. The 35-credit advanced standing program takes 18 months to complete and admits learners who already graduated from an accredited BSW program. Some of the classes you’ll take include perspectives on trauma and human rights, diversity and oppression, and advanced interventions.
Fieldwork placement requirements vary by track. The traditional program consists of 900 hours, while the advanced placement requires 480 hours. Regardless of the track you follow, placements are completed over two semesters and require you to work a minimum of 15 hours per week. These hours can’t be done at a past or present place of employment or volunteer work.
UB’s distance learning program includes synchronous and asynchronous course formats and works diligently to ensure all offerings work with students’ busy and varied schedules. Admission requirements include application and application fee, letters of recommendation, transcripts, information on transfer credits, and English proficiency scores if you’re an international student. The department doesn’t require GRE scores at this time.
If you want to skip over the MSW step and go straight to your doctorate in social work or love attending UB and want to continue—they also offer an online DSW.
- Resident Part-Time Tuition: $45,300 ($755 per credit)
- Nonresident Part-Time Tuition: $62,240 ($1,154 per credit)
- Resident Online Tuition: $42,360 ($706 per credit)
- Nonresident Online Tuition: $48,900 ($815 per credit)
43. Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Western Kentucky University (WKU) has an exciting MSW program to prepare you as an integrated social work practitioner. WKU graduates go on to find careers in a wide range of roles, such as:
- Alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment
- Child welfare, protection, adoptions, foster care
- Churches and church-related agencies
- Community organizing
- Correctional systems
- Employee assistance programs
- Health and hospice
- Mental health
- Nursing homes and senior services
- Public defenders and prosecutors
WKU graduates come from various locations outside of the state, including internationally. You can choose between hybrid and online programs and traditional vs. advanced standing options. For those without BSWs, the traditional route takes 60 hours and can be taken full- or part-time if hybrid or part-time if online. If you have a BSW, you may be eligible for the 33-hour advanced standing program, which is available full- or part-time online and in a hybrid format.
In the MSW program, you take courses in social work practice and complete two field practicums. Online MSW classes take place using Adobe on Tuesday or Thursday evenings every week. The program prepares you for licensure in your state. However, you should check to make sure there are no additional coursework expectations for licensure.
- Online Traditional Tuition: $42,420 ($707 per credit hour)
- Online Advanced Standing Tuition: $23,331 ($707 per credit hour)
44. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The School of Social work at the University of Illinois provides two tracks in their iMSW program. They offer a hybrid program with an advanced clinical concentration and a fully-online program with a leadership and social concentration that can be completed without ever visiting campus. If you choose the advanced clinical concentration (with additional focus areas in mental health, healthcare, schools, or children, youth, and family services), you’ll need to take part in some campus-based sessions.
If you enter the program with an existing BSW, you’ll complete 44-56 credits. If your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated subject, you must take and pass 72 credits. Both tracks require fieldwork placements to graduate. Some of the topics explored in both include leadership and social change, managing human service organizations, inequalities in a diverse society, and social work and the law. You must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the length of the program.
UIUC’s program ranks high against other institutional offerings, with MSW graduates enjoying a 92% ASWB exam licensure passage rate and a 95% employment rate at graduation. The department works diligently to help current social workers complete field placement requirements at their current workplace whenever possible. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree, 3.0 or higher GPA, and 20 prerequisite credits in social and behavioral sciences, biological sciences, and humanities. The department doesn’t require GRE scores.
- Traditional: $43,056 ($598 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing: $26,312 ($598 per credit hour)
45. University of Louisville
The online Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) offered by the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work is 100% online, supporting professionals interested in working as effective change agents on behalf of others. With start dates in the spring, summer, and fall, you can find a time that works best with your scheduling needs.
The department offers several innovative specializations, including alcohol and drug counseling, gerontology, mental health, military social work, and psychosocial oncology. The advanced standing program consists of 30 credits, and the regular track requires completion of 60 credits. Foundational courses include issues in policy and service delivery and social justice practice, while advanced courses touch on social work and human sexuality, death and grief, and psychopathology. You’ll complete 900 hours of fieldwork in your state. Check their website to see if their program will fit your needs if you’re not a resident of Kentucky.
Required application materials include a $65 fee, official transcripts, three recommendation forms, an admissions essay, an addendum to admissions essay (if your GPA falls below 3.0), and a resume. You must also provide evidence of additional BSW completion if applying to the advanced standing program. Admissions decisions usually arrive within six to eight weeks after submission.
- Traditional Tuition: $46,500 ($775 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $23,250 ($775 per credit hour)
- Active Duty Military Traditional Tuition: $15,000 ($250 per credit hour)
- Active Duty Military Advanced Standing Tuition: $7,500 ($250 per credit hour)
46. Walden University
Walden University (WU) offers real-world training to prepare you for social work licensure in most states. The CSWE accredits the online MSW program, and the school has award-winning case studies to enrich your learning experience.
WU has two different ways to earn your MSW:
- Standard option: You can enroll in the standard option, where you take one or two online courses per term for a total of 90 credits to graduate.
- Advanced standing: The advanced standing 55-credit-hour program is available to skip the intro-level classes if you have a BSW and graduated with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
The online MSW has concentrations in:
- Advanced clinical practice
- Military social work
- Social work in healthcare
- Social work with children and families
WU is an excellent choice for online studies. You work at your own pace to meet course deadlines and interact with faculty and peers through online discussion boards. Thanks to the virtual reality scenarios, you can practice real-world situations without leaving your couch. The school’s two skills labs also provide MSW program students with online tools and practice to prepare them for licensing exams and field practicums.
- Standard Tuition: $43,415
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $24,710
47. Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University offers two types of MSW programs: regular and advanced standing, and both allow you to choose between a clinical practice and organizational community leadership (OCL) concentration. You need to attend a Summer Institute at the Kellogg Hotel and Convention Center in East Lansing each August for either route.
The traditional option occurs part time over three years. You complete 57 credits and four semesters of field hours for a total of 960 hours of hands-on work. The fieldwork must occur during normal business hours for 16 hours per week.
For advanced standing, expect to earn at least 38 credits and spend three semesters (600 hours) in the field. This path takes two years and is only available part-time. These programs are considered blended because while most classes can be taken online, your fieldwork is done in person, and some classes may need to be taken on campus.
MSU created a handy table showing in which states you can practice after earning your MSW from Michigan State. Because each state has its own licensing requirements, it’s helpful to know which states accept your license after completing your program.
- Resident Tuition: $47,979
- Nonresident Tuition: $94,278
48. California State University, Northridge
Los Angeles, California
The California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is well-known for its graduate-level social work programs that focus on urban settings. The school is in the Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, providing you with the opportunity to help at-risk and vulnerable populations. Thanks to the program’s generalist approach, however, you have many career possibilities after graduation. Students go on to work in areas like:
- Individual/family (micro)
- Group/community (mezzo)
- Societal/policy (macro)
The fully online MSW program is available in a two- or three-year format. The shorter program has a full-time curriculum and helps you enter the field in less time. The three-year program is ideal if you prefer to learn at a less intense pace. Both programs require you to complete online assignments and meet for an online session one weeknight each week. All the classes are asynchronous except for your fieldwork. Field classes meet in-person for an hour each week.
CSUN is an excellent school if you’re new to online learning. The best part about taking online courses with CSUN is that the faculty receives training to ensure effective distance learning. CSUN students also receive support from Tseng College’s distance learning staff. If you live out of state, you may need to complete licensure requirements for social work practitioners in your location.
- Part-time CA Resident 3-year Tuition: $24,648
49. Capella University
Capella University offers an accredited online MSW degree with a generalist practice approach. The degree allows you to help people in a variety of social service settings. It takes place both in-person and online, and there is a required internship. The internship covers 1,000 hours of field education each term. The school also has an advanced standing MSW program available if you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work.
The unique curriculum comes from a faculty of scholar-practitioners who have real-world industry experience. At Capella, you take one to three classes every 10 weeks. You also gain tons of support. Capella University will help you complete the licensure application process and assist any way they can, even after your graduate.
- Total Tuition: $47,520 (88 credit hours, $540 per credit)
50. George Mason University
The Department of Social Work at George Mason University offers on-campus or online MSW programs. Both follow an initial year of generalized study, followed by a year of specialized coursework in the fields of either children, youth, and families or in adults and healthy aging. The curriculum applies to the 600 hours required for clinical licensure in Virginia.
If you don’t take a practicum, you can take the licensing exam. However, you still need to complete the number of supervised clinical work required in your state before licensure. Keep this in mind if you live out of state.
The fully online MSW program comprises 60 credit hours and focuses on social justice through courses like human behavior and social systems or influencing social policy. Some classes are entirely online, while others are hybrid, with most class time scheduled online. The program also comes with two supervised field practicums for hands-on experience.
- Total Tuition: $47,700 (60 credit hours, $795 per credit)
51. Salisbury University
Salisbury University (SU) offers an online MSW in addition to having four satellite campuses across Maryland that offer hybrid learning. In these programs, instruction comprises in-person education and interactive online lessons led by SU’s highly regarded faculty.
Their online option, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, allows students to learn in a student-centered environment. The program is currently only offered to residents of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, D.C., New Jersey, and New York because Salisbury University’s curriculum prepares you for licensure in these states only.
Like many schools, Salisbury offers a traditional program (62 credit hours, 14 of which are fieldwork) and an advanced standing program (32 hours, eight of which are fieldwork). The traditional program takes two to four years, and the advanced standing option lasts one to two years, depending on if going full-time, part-time, or via a satellite program.
Once you have completed your MSW with Salisbury, you’ll be prepared for jobs in the following locations/fields (depending on your concentration):
- Adult and juvenile justice
- Child welfare
- Community organization/development
- Domestic violence
- Geriatric populations
- Homelessness and housing
- Medicine and mental health
- Resident Traditional Tuition: $25,730 ($415 per credit hour)
- Resident Advanced Standing Tuition: $13,280 ($415 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Traditional Tuition: $46,252 ($746 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing Tuition: $23,872 ($746 per credit hour)
52. University of New Hampshire
Durham, New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire (UNH) provides many possibilities for your education in social work. You could earn an online MSW, with the degree available through an advanced generalist program for those with bachelor’s in other fields or an advanced standing program for those with BSWs. No campus visits are required.
The online MSW at UNH allows you to focus on specializations like:
- Addictions and substance abuse
- Children, youth, and families
- Health and mental health
The advanced generalist curriculum teaches you advanced intervention with varying client types and settings. The program consists of 62 credit hours, which takes around 28 months of full-time study to complete. At UNH, you’ll learn from a faculty of experts. You can attend full-time or part-time, and there are both hybrid and fully online options available.
The program requires two field internships, which takes place in a local setting. If you live out-of-state, you must find an acceptable field site in your community.
The online advanced standing MSW may allow you to cut your program down to 16 months. This degree is available if you graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work within the previous five years and maintained a GPA of 3.2 or higher. To graduate from an advanced standing program, you need a minimum of 35 credits and one field placement.
Some of the classes the two options have in common include:
- Human behavior and the social environment
- Data analysis and statistics
- Advanced generalist practice IV: community and administrative practice
- Resident Generalist Tuition: $47,670 ($785 per credit hour)
- Resident Advanced Standing Tuition: $27,475 ($785 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Generalist Tuition: $53,630 ($865 per credit hour)
- Nonresident Advanced Standing Tuition: $30,275 ($865 per credit hour)
53. Touro College
New York, New York
Touro College’s Graduate School of Social Work offers a MSW with a hybrid method. Students are required to go to their Manhattan or Brooklyn sites every Sunday—so be sure you’re within easy commuting distance if you choose Touro. This program takes two years to complete, thanks to their abbreviated summer semesters.
The first year of studies focuses on foundational coursework such as foundations of social work, human behavior and the social environment, and social work research. The first year also requires a fieldwork position. The second year emphasizes an advanced curriculum in topics such as issues and perspectives and psychopathology, values and ethics for social work practice, and strategies and skills. The second year also includes fieldwork focused on clinical level interventions. You can also apply to add a specialization, including those in the aging population, when veterans come home, and mental illness.
Admission requirements include a completed application, 3.0 or higher GPA, official transcripts, a written essay, letters of reference, and evidence of being able to complete a daytime field placement consisting of 21 hours per week.
- Total Tuition: $53,500 ($820 per credit hour)
54. Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, Texas
Our Lady of the Lake University, or OLLU, features an online MSW offered through the Worden School of Social Service. This program stands out because it’s one out of only three national programs to focus on issues facing Hispanic communities.
OLLU offers a 57-credit hour foundation MSW and a 30-credit hour advanced standing MSW program, taking 24-38 months and 12-20 months, respectively. Both require fieldwork and interesting courses like:
- Hispanics in the U.S.: policies and programs
- Social work with Hispanic elders
- Social work with Hispanic youth
Their online option is available to full-time students who want to earn their degree entirely from a distance. If you choose this option, you’ll be expected to complete one course every seven weeks. To graduate (and earn your license, in most states), you need to complete a field practicum. OLLU helps you find such an experience in the area where you live.
Online students in the MSW program are granted access to a virtual LMS. Most of your classes will be asynchronous and accessible at any time of day or night, though your assignments will be due on specific days and times set by the instructor.
- Traditional Tuition: $54,834
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $28,860
55. Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey
No matter what MSW program format you’re looking for, Rutgers most likely has it. They offer six choices for their MSW students:
- Blended online
- Dual degrees (with Master of Public Health, Master of Public Policy, Master of Divinity, Juris Doctor, Master of Arts in criminal justice, and Ph.D.)
- Fully online
- Intensive weekend
- Professional credit (non-degree) courses
- Traditional on campus
The 60-credit blended online learning MSW program takes three years to complete. All classes in your first two years are online and asynchronous, with assignments due at specific times throughout your coursework. During your last year, you’ll take both online and on-campus courses. Your face-to-face classes can take place during the day or in the evening, depending on your schedule. Furthermore, you can take your on-campus classes in New Brunswick, Camden, or Newark.
The blended program allows you to obtain certificates in aging and health, violence against women and children, and promoting child and adolescent well-being, if desired.
Their 100% online MSW also takes three years to complete—unless you take their 39-credit advanced standing program, which isn’t available in a blended format—and is best suited for students who excel at self-directed learning. Classes are asynchronous, though assignments have specific due dates. Online standard program students are eligible to participate in the Violence Against Women and Children Certificate program if desired.
Both programs require field experience. The blended program mandates you start your fieldwork in your third semester and finish when you complete your degree. The fully online option requires you to complete two field experiences. One is at the general level and lasts for three semesters, and the other is at the advanced level and lasts for four semesters.
- Residents Part Time: $760 per credit, $9,120 per semester
- Non-Residents Part Time: $1,292 per credit, $15,504 per semester
- 100% Online MSW: $950 per credit
56. Adelphi University
Garden City, New York
Adelphi University (AU) offers a range of online and blended degree or certificate programs, including an online MSW program from their School of Social Work. This program is part-time, to be completed over three years, with two campus visits each year (though this in-person requirement has moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Coursework combines theoretical study with real-world experience to bring you diverse opportunities. The faculty delivers mandatory synchronous sessions online each week offered Thursday evenings. You’ll also need to complete fieldwork hours for hands-on experience. Students with relevant experience may select to earn their MSW with a concentration for Human Service Professionals.
As an Adelphi Online MSW student, you gain complete assistance with finding locations to complete your 21 hours per week field placements no matter where you live. AU offers additional courses to prepare you for exams and unique opportunities to get ready for licensure.
If you already have a bachelor’s in social work, you can opt for the advanced standing online MSW to earn your degree in half the time. Adelphi offers the option of either a fall semester start or spring semester start.
- Total Tuition: $59,840 (64 credit hours, $935 per credit hour)
57. Boston University
Boston University’s social work curriculum focuses on ethics, diversity, at-risk populations, and economic and social justice. The innovative online MSW program from Boston University is part-time, with majors available in macro or clinical practice. There are three main track options: traditional, human service experience (HSE), or the advanced standing track. The traditional and HSE tracks require 65 credit hours each.
The short program takes six to nine consecutive semesters to complete in the traditional track. All students take courses online asynchronously (one course per seven weeks) with one weekly Live Classroom (synchronous) session. You’re also required to take an internship or two, depending on the track. Field internships are 14 credits or 480 hours. If you major in clinical practice, you can become licensed to practice in your state of residence through this program.
The faster tracks, HSE and advanced standing, are open to you if you have full-time human services experience or an undergraduate degree in social work from an accredited school. In addition to classwork, you’ll complete a single 1,000-hour field internship. Additionally, a two-credit field-related capstone project comes with the HSE track.
- Full-Time Tuition: $38,596 per year
- Part-Time Online Tuition: $956 per credit hour
58. Winthrop University
Rock Hill, South Carolina
The MSW program from Winthrop University (WU) focuses on empowerment practice across various levels. The online program prepares you for positions in practice areas like:
- Child welfare
- Healthcare social work
- Justice and corrections
- Mental health
- Policy planning
- Community organizing
- International social work
You could complete your online MSW in around three years of a traditional, 60-credit-hour program or two years in an advanced standing, 39-credit-hour program. The traditional program is for students without an undergraduate degree in social work, while the advanced standing option is for those with BSWs.
In both programs, the courses are 100% online using the Blackboard learning management system. Both programs must take at least one field placement for approximately 12 hours per week. Classes they have in common include:
- Advanced practice in micro and macro systems
- Psychopathology and empowerment practice
- Social welfare policy
A specialist helps you find your field placement and makes sure it aligns with your career goals. Graduates from the online MSW program at WU see higher than average national licensure exam pass rates. However, the state licensure requirements in your state may vary.
- Traditional Tuition: $41,940 (60 credit hours, $699 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $27,261 (39 credit hours, $699 per credit hour)
59. Temple University
Temple University offers an online MSW for students who want to attend school part-time. Their online classes are taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus, and classes are typically limited to 15-20 students.
The 60-credit online option from Temple takes between three and four years. Courses are live-streamed, and assignments are asynchronous. The only time you are expected to visit campus is for a three-day residency in Philadelphia between the first and second years of your program. You’ll also spend 1,050 hours in the field at one of more than 500 relevant organizations and institutions.
The school focuses on human rights, diversity, policy, and more—basically, if a social worker does it, you’re likely to learn about it at Temple. In addition to this traditional program, Temple offers a unique option allowing online MSW students to earn a dual master’s degree in social work and public health.
If you are a student outside of Pennsylvania, keep in mind your licensure requirements may not be met by Temple’s program—so be sure to check your state’s requirements before you apply. Temple participates in SARA, the “State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement,” meaning they have agreements with other states in which they accept each other’s licensures.
Students have the following options:
- Regular Entry MSW program (60 credits)
- Advanced Standing MSW program (34.5 credits of coursework, along with 25.5 credits transferred from the BSW)
- Resident Tuition: $1,004 per credit
- Nonresident Tuition: $1,380 per credit
- Online Tuition: $1,039 per credit
60. Widener University
At the School of Social Work from Widener University (WU), you should learn the impact of trauma and understand how it becomes a factor in substance abuse, mental health, the quality of life, and other socio-emotional issues.
The theme of trauma reoccurs in all MSW program coursework. The MSW is available 100% online. It’s available in a traditional admission 64-credit-hour option or a 41-credit-hour advanced standing track for those with a BSW degree. WU also offers a rare three-year dual degree in Master of Social Work / Master of Education, Human Sexuality Studies (MSW/M.Ed.), with the MSW portion online and the M.Ed. completed in a hybrid format. There’s also a trauma graduate certificate available.
Most MSW classes take seven weeks or two courses per semester, which means the program takes two to four years to complete. Regular admission MSW students may be able to take more classes per semester during the second year if you want to graduate sooner. The two fieldwork placements take place outside of school hours.
- Traditional Tuition: $53,751 (57 credit hours, $943 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $33,948 (36 credit hours, $943 per credit hour)
61. University of New England
The School of Social Work at the University of New England (UNE) has tons of options to earn your MSW. UNE Online offers the first 100% online CSWE accredited asynchronous MSW program in the nation.
The UNE Online MSW comes in two track options: traditional and advanced standing. Both are 100% online, with no campus visits. The traditional route takes 64 credit hours to complete or about three semesters. If you have a bachelor’s degree in social work, you can complete the 35-credit-hour advanced standing program in as few as 16 months. Online students also receive access to the Vision Blog, full of resources for social work students.
The faculty is full of practitioners, researchers, and educators in the field. Traditional coursework includes a year of generalist study followed by field experience and specialization courses, while the advanced standing option starts with the specialization courses and fieldwork. These courses include, but aren’t limited to:
- Contemporary theory of social work practice: children and families
- Leadership, administration, & supervision in social work
- Advanced psychosocial assessment
The MSW program aligns with Maine’s licensing requirements for social work, so you may want to research local requirements if you live or plan to practice in another state.
- Total Tuition: $67,200 ($1,050 per credit hour)
62. Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago has three options for students who want to earn an MSW: a standard MSW (60 credit hours), an MSW advanced standing (28 credit hours) for those with BSWs, and an MSW evening program (60 credit hours). Some of the courses required for their MSW are offered online or as blended learning (where students do some work online and some in person). When you’re done with your degree, you’ll have completed all requirements for an LSW and LCSW.
This school is unique in its online options. While you can’t earn the standard or advanced standing MSWs fully online, you can go for a bilingual Spanish/English MSW (standard or advanced standing) or Master of Arts in public service leadership (30 credit hours) virtually.
The school also offers dual degree programs in partnerships with other departments, including:
- MSW/Juris Doctor
- MSW/Master of Arts in Social Justice
- MSW/Master of Arts in Women’s Studies
- MSW/Master of Divinity
- MSW/Master of Jurisprudence in Child and Family Law
- MSW/Master of Public Health
LCU’s typical MSW program has two tracks: clinical and leadership and development.
The curriculum for the MSW with a clinical focus includes foundational courses and advanced practice courses. Human behavior, research, and social juice are among the topics you’ll study for the foundational part of your degree. The advanced practice courses include health systems, sexual dysfunction, and advanced family treatment—though you have many more to choose from.
The leadership and development in social services (LDSS) track offers the same courses, but three of your core courses must be related to LDSS, and two need to focus on policy. You must also complete a fieldwork practicum or integrative practice seminar. You may also focus on a subspecialty, including group work or migration studies.
- Traditional Tuition: $50,225 (49 credit hours, $1,025 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $23,575 (23 credit hours, $1,025 per credit hour)
63. Yeshiva University
New York City, New York
Yeshiva University (YU) is a school built on Jewish values. The CSWE-accredited school has an online MSW program that teaches practical and clinical social work. At YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, you could earn optional specializations in gerontology and palliative care or addiction counseling, which may increase your earning potential.
The fully online MSW program covers the primary clinical education and field-based knowledge you need to create lasting social change. Choose from full or part-time course loads for your 60-credit-hour traditional or 30-credit hour advanced standing program, with the latter requiring students to have a BSW. Advanced standing students may also choose to take an extra three-credit elective to earn a certification in gerontology and palliative care or a credential in alcoholism and substance abuse counseling.
The faculty encompasses work-renowned practitioners and researchers in the field. The innovative course work is available online anytime, and the curriculum focuses on:
- Cultural diversity
- Psychosocial pathology
- Social welfare
- Traditional Tuition: $62,280 (60 credit hours, $1,138 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $34,140 (30 credit hours, $1,138 per credit hour)
64. Fordham University
New York City, New York
Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service is ranked among the top 25 in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report. The esteemed school teaches you the skills required to practice in many social work contexts, and they offer a new future-focused online MSW program for students in any state.
The school’s 66-credit hour traditional online MSW program is for you if you have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. The coursework is a mix of generalist and advanced practice, which takes around 16 months of full-time or 24 to 32 months of part-time study.
The advanced standing online MSW is open to BSW degree holders. If you already completed your first year of foundation coursework in an MSW program, you may also apply. This accelerated path allows you to earn your advanced degree in as few as eight to 16 months.
What makes Fordham University utterly unique lies in how you tailor your experience—the curriculum is entirely customizable. You create your study path with an academic advisor’s help, and classes take place virtually every week. Both on-campus and online students must undergo a field placement. The online program partners with agencies around the country to help you find a faculty-approved location in your community.
- Traditional Tuition: $68,970 (66 credit hours, $1045 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $34,485 (33 credit hours, $1045 per credit hour)
65. Catholic University of America
The Catholic University of America (CUA) is considered one of the top Catholic Schools for social work degrees. They offer on-campus or asynchronous online MSW programs. Both options include small class sizes and a responsive faculty. The MSW program is comprehensive in clinical social work, designed to prepare you for a career in:
- Child welfare
- K-12 social work
- Medical/public health
- Mental health
- Substance abuse
As an online student at CUA, you have 24/7 access to your courses. You learn at your own pace, with no set times to log in or attend campus. The Online MSW curriculum gets you ready for advanced clinical practice through courses like:
- Cognitive-behavioral and psychodynamic theories
- Treatment of mental illness
- Clinical work with adults, children, and families.
You have the option to take classes full-time, part-time, or in an accelerated format. The advanced standing program is available if you have an MSW degree from an accredited school. CUA also prepares you for licensure exams in any state, and the Field Education Office even helps you find an internship to cover your field education wherever is most convenient for you.
- Traditional Tuition: $67,200 ($1,120 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $33,600 ($1,120 per credit hour)
66. Tulane University
New Orleans, Louisiana
Offering both online MSW and DSW degrees, the School of Social Work at Tulane University provides several different academic pathways. The online MSW program consists of 60 credits, with traditional students (those who don’t possess a BSW) spending 16 months enrolled on a full-time basis or 32 months on a part-time basis.
If you’re eligible for advanced standing, you can plan to complete your 48 credits in 12 or 24 months, depending on how quickly you move through the coursework.
In addition to the MSW path, you can opt for a dual degree program allowing you to earn both your MSW and an M.S. in disaster resilience leadership (MS-DRL). This is also available online and requires 51 social work and 24 MS-DRL credit hours of study.
Some of the topics you’ll learn about in the MSW program include social work history and policy, organizational and community practice, and theories of human behavior across life. To qualify for graduation, you must complete at least 948 hours of field-based education via several practicums.
The department accepts new students once annually during the spring semester. It doesn’t require GRE scores at this time, but you should plan to supply evidence of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, 3.0 or higher GPA, current resume, five-page statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. You can also include an optional additional statement.
- Traditional Tuition: $76,560
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $61,248
67. Simmons College
Simmons College offers multiple online tracks to complete your MSW degree—so no matter what your schedule and goals are, Simmons may have an option that meets your needs. Their programs include:
- Accelerated: This is the best option for students who have a bachelor’s in an area other than social work and can fully commit to their MSW coursework. You are required to earn 65 credits but can earn these in as little as 16 months.
- Advanced standing: This is for students with bachelor’s degrees in social work. You are required to complete 37 credits and can complete your degree in just 16 months.
- Extended: This 65-credit option is for students who want to complete the program at a more convenient pace, taking about 32 months.
- Full time: If you want to earn your MSW with the standard course load and in a typical timeframe, this is the option for you. 65 credit hours are required to graduate, and you can complete them in 23 months.
The online MSW programs at Simmons have a clinical focus, so the degree is best for those interested in working directly with patients in clinical settings. You may also choose to pursue a certificate in a particular area of focus. Certificate options include:
- Mental health practice
- Practice with groups and families
- Trauma practice
Simmons requires its MSW students to complete more than 1,000 hours of hands-on experience, with the first term occurring in the school’s field education lab (online) and the rest in the “real world.”
- Traditional Tuition: $74,620 (65 credit hours, $1,148 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $39,032 (34 credit hours, $1,148 per credit hour)
68. University of Denver
As a Council on Social Work Education-accredited program, the University of Denver’s online MSW is a great option to consider. If you follow the traditional path, plan to complete 81 quarter credits and 900 direct field practice hours over 21 months. If you qualify for the advanced standing path, you’ll undertake 54 quarter credits and 500 direct field practice hours over 18 months. Both programs also allow you to select from mental health and trauma or health, equity, and wellness concentrations.
Coursework topics explored while enrolled include evidence for practice, mental health assessment across the lifespan, leadership and supervision skills, and power, privilege, and oppression. Each class has approximately 15 learners, ensuring professors and students alike get to know each other well across the term.
New students can be admitted during the spring or summer semester, with those who apply by the priority deadline receiving a $65 application waiver. Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor’s degree, an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher, letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and official transcripts.
- Online Traditional Tuition: $94,284 (81 credit hours, $1,164 per credit hour)
- Online Advanced Standing Tuition: $62,856 (54 credit hours, $1,164 per credit hour)
69. Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University ranks among the best grad schools for social work, according to U.S. News. The school’s Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) is recognized as an equivalent by the CSWE, other universities, employers, and state licensing boards.
The MSSA program was created in 1915, making it the first professional program in American social work. Today, the school continues to set industry standards. They offer three focus areas: children, youth and families; community practice for social change; and mental health with adults. The courses are held virtually via Zoom each week, so you don’t have to visit campus. The field education component is the only in-person section. You also receive a free LinkedIn premium subscription to assist with finding a job after graduation and complete technical support.
You can opt for a traditional track if you didn’t receive your BSW in the last seven years, which takes 60 credits, or a 21-credit advanced standing track if you have earned a BSW in that time.
- Traditional Tuition: $99,000 (60 credit hours, $1,650 per credit hour)
- Advanced Standing Tuition: $34,650 (21 credit hours, $1,650 per credit hour)
70. Columbia University
New York City, New York
Columbia University is the first Ivy League school where you can earn an online MSW degree. The Columbia School of Social Work ranks among the top five schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The online campus follows the same high academic standards as on-campus courses, and the social work program is run and taught by specialists in the field. Earn your MSW online, in-person, or in a hybrid option.
Online students are welcome at any campus events, but attendance is not required. You can even switch to the New York City campus later if you wish.
You can take this online MSW program anywhere. The online curriculum is the same, with classes scheduled at fixed times. The only difference is the online program only offers three of the four concentration areas: policy practice, advanced clinical practice, and social enterprise administration. You may also have fewer field practice options available.
You must complete the same field education requirement as in-person programs. Residential students are placed in nearby organizations in the New York City metro area, while online students complete fieldwork in their communities.
- Part-Time to Full-Time (Extended) Online Tuition: $50,196
- Two Year Online Tuition: $88,704
- Advanced Standing Online Tuition: $105,512
71. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California (USC)’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work was the first private and elite research university in the nation to offer an MSW program entirely online.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. If that degree isn’t in social work, the traditional path is available and runs 60 units, or four to six semesters, depending on if attending full- or part-time. For those with BSWs, the advanced standing option requires 37 credit hours over three to five semesters depending on the way you attend. The online classes at USC take place online with virtual lectures and in-person fieldwork. Choose from departments like:
- Adult Mental Health and Wellness
- Children, Youth, and Families
- Social Change and Innovation
You could also add an optional program in military or school social work.
- Full-Time Total Tuition (4 semesters): $101,934
- Part-Time Total Tuition (6 semesters): $102,576
Online MSW Programs with Undisclosed Tuition Prices
University of Houston
Besides providing two specializations in clinical and macro practice, you can select from tracks in health and behavioral health, social work practice with Latinos, and political social work. You can also choose the individualized specialization path to design your own concentration focused on a topic or population. Regardless of your chosen specialization, you’ll complete courses in advanced social policy analysis, confronting oppression and injustice, human diversity and development, and policy in the social environment.
If you enter as a traditional student, plan to complete 63 credits over three years. If you qualify for advanced standing, you’ll undertake 38 credits over two years. The department also offers part-time learning options. No matter what path you take, you’ll need to complete 900 hours of fieldwork. The school will work with you to find a placement.
The online program offers more flexibility than the hybrid option, but courses have firm deadlines for activities and assignments. The hybrid route has online portions in each course, and classes meet in person two Saturdays per month.
UH focuses on small class sizes, with most including 25 or fewer learners. In addition to discussions on forums, many instructors hold live office hours for learners requiring additional support. The department holds informational meetings online throughout the year, so check with a program administrator to learn when the next one takes place.
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
The University of North Dakota (UND) is a leader in online education. The university started distance learning in 1911 with mail courses, and today, UND Online offers hundreds of online courses to students worldwide.
There are two main types of online classes: self-paced or semester-based. They take anywhere from three to nine months to complete. Established in 1989 and accredited in 1993, the MSW program at UND updates the curriculum to adhere to the highest standards.
The MSW program takes place on campus or online. The fully online foundation MSW program takes around three years or 60 credit hours. However, the online distance concentration is available only if you have a BSW degree or a bachelor’s degree in a related field. The advanced generalist program was created for working and distance students. How long it takes to earn your degree depends on your program. The traditional campus-based or online concentration requires 36 credit hours and takes around a year or two to complete. You can complete your degree on-campus part-time through this option for a hybrid learning experience.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida online MSW programs aim to prepare you for clinical practice work with individuals, families, and groups in agency and organization community settings. The curriculum focuses on the study you need to become a skilled clinical social work practitioner in the region. Advanced courses combine with an intense field practicum to help you apply the theories you learn to a real-world setting.
USF offers both a foundational and an advanced standing option. The 60-credit hour foundational model is for students who didn’t obtain a bachelor’s in social work, while the 35-credit hour advanced standing program is for those who obtained a BSW in the past five years. The former takes about eight semesters, and the latter takes three full-time or five part-time semesters. Both require a minimum 3.0 GPA from bachelor’s programs, and neither mandates a GRE.
Foundational students should expect to spend 12-15 hours engaging in field experience every week, four of which must be during normal business hours, totaling 900 hours by the program’s end. The foundational program meets live via webcam on Monday and Wednesday nights, 6:30-8:45 PM EST.
The advanced standing route meets at the same time on Tuesday for the first semester and Tuesdays and Thursdays for the rest of the program. These students need to undergo 20 hours of fieldwork per week if attending full-time and 10 hours of the same if enrolled part-time. Either way, at least four of those weekly hours need to be during business hours.
Some of the interesting electives offered by the school are:
- Dementia care in home and community-based service from a social work perspective
- Living Latinx: social work practice
- Women’s mental health
The online programs are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Out-of-state students should check with your state’s licensing requirements to ensure the program meets the same standards. Some courses also have synchronistic practice sessions, where you meet with professors online one or two nights per week.
University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming (UW) offers diverse career opportunities in social work through BSW and MSW programs. At UW, the faculty focuses on student success. They provide MSW students the option of attending classes in a hybrid format; there isn’t currently a fully-online option. Though you don’t need to live in Wyoming to take part in the program, you need to travel to Laramie a few times per semester.
You may participate in the MSW programs full- or part-time, and they highly recommend attending part-time if you need to hold a job while you study.
There are two graduate courses of study to earn your MSW. If you have an undergraduate degree that’s not a BSW, you can apply to the standard MSW program. The advanced standing MSW program is for you if you already have a BSW from a program accredited by the CSWE. The curriculum for both programs come with an advanced generalist social work practice concentration based on the nine core competencies created by the CSWE. You also complete a capstone project or internship, which includes conducting original research and writing a thesis.
Western New Mexico University
Silver City, New Mexico
Earn your BSW or MSW from the affordable Western New Mexico University (WNMU). Accredited since 1994, the university has a long-standing commitment to online learning and academic excellence. The School of Social Work provides flexible online or distance options to begin your program any semester.
The MSW degree is taught in small class sizes by a faculty of licensed professional social workers. The 64-credit-hour non-advanced standing is for those who haven’t received a BSW. The advanced standing MSW, taking 39 credit hours, is available if you earned a BSW within the last eight years.
This school has a unique set of course options, including:
- Human trafficking
- Practice & client sexuality
- Understanding the rural community
You’re required to take two or four field practicums, depending on your program. The practicums take place in separate semesters and prepare you for licensure through hands-on learning.
WNMU’s online selection makes it easy to earn a degree from another location as well. If you live out-of-state, check the MSW program licensing disclosure to ensure the program matches your state’s requirements. You can also attend WNMU for graduate certificates in rural community social work services, social work services for military families, and school social work.
Traditional vs. Advanced Standing MSW Program: What’s the Difference?
Having gone through the list of cheapest CSWE-accredited online MSW programs, you’re likely to have come across terms like the traditional MSW program and the advanced standing MSW program. Do they mean the same thing?
Well, both of them may be pathways to achieving your MSW degrees but they are different in terms of entry requirements, duration, curriculum and field placement. Whether to go for the traditional or advanced standing MSW depends on certain conditions.
Firstly, the advanced standing MSW program is only open to those whose bachelor’s degree was in social work. Otherwise, they should apply for the traditional MSW program which allows applications from those with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. And this is where their differences come in.
Most advanced standing MSW programs take 2 years to be completed while the traditional MSW program can take up to 3 years. The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that the traditional MSW program offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers foundational knowledge and skills in social work practice while the advanced MSW program builds upon the knowledge and skills acquired during the undergraduate social work degree.
Also, when it comes to field placement, the traditional MSW program is often spread over a more extended period than the advanced standing MSW program.
What Is a CSWE Accredited MSW Program?
A CSWE Accredited MSW program is a Master of Social Work (MSW) program that is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in the US.
The vision of CSWE is to ensure that aspiring social work professionals are well-educated so that they can promote health, well-being, and justice for people in diverse communities. The body hopes to achieve this by ensuring quality social work education programs through its accreditation process.
The accreditation process involves a rigorous review of universities to ensure that they meet the required educational standards to run the program. Some major aspects of the CSWE review include;
- Program mission and goals
- Implicit curriculum which is not limited to faculty, diversity, and student development.
- Explicit curriculum which includes; ethical principles, core competencies and ethical principles.
- Anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion
It is the result of this rigorous review that determines the accreditation status of a program.
If you enroll in any of these CSWE accredited online MSW programs, you’ll be confident about the quality of your coursework, assessments and the overall curriculum.
Why Is CSWE Accreditation Important?
The fact that CSWE ensures that all MSW programs are of a high standard is enough reason to enroll on a CSWE-accredited program. Interestingly, there are more reasons why your MSW program must be accredited.
Graduating from a CSWE program is a prerequisite for the Social Work Licensing Examination and this licensure is important to become a complete professional social worker. With this license, you’re assuring the public that you’ve gone through the proper education and training to provide a competent service. The licensure is also a requirement for most masters level social work roles.
CSWE accreditation also enhances the transferability of credits between different social work programs. In case you wish to switch between programs or schools, you can be confident that coursework from the previous program will be recognized since it is accredited. This accreditation also contributes to the reputation of the program.
What Are the CSWE Accreditation Standards?
The Commission on Accreditation (COA) of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has the standards it follows for programs known as Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). The EPAS standard for accreditation is summarized into four main components which include;
- Mission and Goals—This part of the EPAS Standard emphasizes that the program or the institution has a clear and explicit mission statement that actually aligns with the mission of the institution and also reflects the purpose, value and objective of Social Work Education.
- Competencies and Practice behaviors—-This component of the EPAS covers the knowledge and value expected from students during their social work experience. Some of these competencies and practices include; ethical principles, diversity and cultural competence, social justice, human rights, and more.
- Curriculum—The aspect of the EPAS regulates the content and structure of the program. It requires the program to provide a comprehensive curriculum that integrates the core competencies throughout the coursework. This curriculum should also cover foundational topics, general practice, advanced practice, and field education.
- Assessment—Another core component of the EPAS is the assessment section which requires social work programs to have a systematic plan for assessment.
How Do MSW Programs Become CSWE Accredited?
Having gone through the accreditation standards, you might be interested in how MSW programs become CSWE accredited. Here’s an overview;
- Regional Accreditation—The MSW program has to be recognized by the appropriate regional accrediting agency in the US or the country in which the institution is located.
- Self-Study—Before the proper accreditation process begins by the CSWE body, the MSW program needs to do a self-check using the set guidelines in the CSWE’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). This is to ensure that the program complies with the CSWE standard.
- Self-Study Report Submission—The report of the self-study is submitted to the CSWE for review.
- Site Visit—At this stage, the accrediting body assigns a team of evaluators to visit the institution to assess the program’s adherence to CSWE’s standards, meet with faculty, review documentation, and observe classes if necessary.
- Commission Review—The report of the site visit is then submitted to the CWES Commission on Accreditation (COA) for review. The commission of other necessary materials including the self-study report.
- Decision—After the COA has completed their review, they decide whether the program is accredited or not. This accreditation usually lasts for a specific period, often around eight years. During this period, the program must ensure continued compliance with the CSWE standards.
MSW Scholarships and Financial Aid
If you’ve reviewed this list of the cheapest CSWE-accredited online MSW programs you might notice that many of them are expensive. One of the proven ways to mitigate costs is by applying for MSW scholarships and financial aid.
There are some scholarships and grants sponsored by federal and state governments, schools and independently owned bodies. Some popular MSW scholarships you can apply for are highlighted below;
- Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship: A competitive award offered by the NASW Foundation. It supports MSW students dedicated to serving ethnic minority or indigenous populations, with a focus on child welfare.
- Verne LaMarr Lyons Scholarship: This scholarship supports MSW students committed to addressing mental health disparities in African American communities through their social work practice.
- CSWE’s Minority Fellowship Program for Master’s Candidates: A competitive program that supports minority students pursuing an MSW degree. It provides financial assistance, mentorship, and training to promote their expertise in behavioral health services.
The Value and Affordability of the Cheapest CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs
It’s clear that affordable options do exist for those looking to pursue an MSW degree without breaking the bank. These cheapest CSWE-accredited online MSW programs offer a rigorous educational experience that meets recognized professional standards, all while being budget-friendly. Making an informed decision based on what you’ve learned here can lead to a fulfilling career in social work without saddling you with overwhelming debt.
Affordable education doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality, and these programs are proof of that. Invest wisely in your education and future by considering one of these cheapest CSWE-accredited online MSW programs.