Part-Time Online MSW Programs

In the evolving world of social work education, the flexibility of part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs offers a compelling path for those seeking to balance professional development with personal and work commitments. This guide aims to explore the nuances of part-time online MSW programs, providing prospective students with critical insights into curriculum, accreditation, career opportunities, and much more. Whether you’re transitioning from an online BSW program or looking to advance your career while maintaining your current job, understanding the structure and benefits of these programs will help you make an informed decision.

What Are Part-Time Online MSW Programs?

Part-time online MSW programs provide a flexible academic solution for individuals who want to pursue a career in social work without committing to a full-time program. These programs are particularly suitable for students who are balancing personal responsibilities or continuing to work while studying. Unlike traditional full-time courses, part-time programs allow students to spread their course load over a longer period, typically taking classes in the evenings, weekends, or asynchronously to fit around their existing schedules.

Defining Part-Time MSW Programs

Part-time MSW programs typically offer the same rigorous curriculum as their full-time counterparts but are structured to extend over two to four years, depending on the program specifics and the student’s pace. This format often appeals to those who require a more manageable approach to handle work-life balance while advancing their education. Programs may vary in terms of structure, with some offering entirely online courses and others combining online learning with occasional on-campus intensives.

These programs might also differ in their prerequisites: some are designed as advanced standing programs for students who already hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and are looking to expedite their graduation. Others may welcome students from various academic backgrounds, focusing on foundational social work competencies before advancing to specialized topics.

Variations and Flexibility

“Fast track” or “accelerated” options within part-time online MSW programs might also be available, catering to students who wish to complete their degrees quicker than the standard part-time pace but not as swiftly as traditional full-time programs. This flexibility makes part-time online MSW programs particularly appealing to a broad audience, from recent graduates to seasoned professionals seeking career advancement or a shift to social work from other fields.

Curriculum Overview of Part-Time Online MSW Programs

Part-time online MSW programs are designed to deliver a comprehensive education in social work while accommodating the unique needs of non-traditional students. These programs encompass a broad range of topics that prepare students for effective and compassionate social work practice.

Core Components of the Curriculum

The curriculum in a part-time online MSW program typically covers both foundational and advanced topics in social work. Early coursework often focuses on the fundamental principles of social work, including human behavior, social welfare policy, research methods, and ethics in social work practice. These foundational courses are critical as they lay the groundwork for more specialized studies.

As students progress, they typically engage in more specialized courses that may include topics such as:

  • Clinical Social Work Practice: Techniques and theories for providing therapeutic services to individuals, families, and groups.
  • Social Work with Diverse Populations: Training to work effectively with clients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Advanced Social Policy: Analysis and application of social policy as it relates to social services, welfare, and advocacy.
  • Social Work Administration: Skills for managing non-profit organizations, including resource management, program development, and leadership strategies.

Integration of Field Education

A key component of MSW programs is field education, which integrates academic learning with practical experience. Even in part-time online formats, students are required to complete supervised field placements. These placements are typically arranged locally to the student to provide hands-on experience in social work settings such as schools, hospitals, social service agencies, or community organizations. This aspect of the program is crucial for developing practical skills and professional competence.

Flexibility in Specializations

Many part-time online MSW programs offer pathways or concentrations that allow students to specialize in areas such as mental health, child and family welfare, school social work, or substance abuse. These concentrations enable students to tailor their education to their career goals and areas of interest, making their training as relevant as possible to their desired field.

Accreditation of Part-Time Online MSW Programs

Accreditation is a critical factor to consider when choosing a part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) program. It serves as a guarantee of educational quality and ensures that the program meets the professional standards required for practice in the field of social work.

Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the primary accrediting body for MSW programs in the United States. CSWE accreditation is recognized as the benchmark for social work education. Programs that have received CSWE accreditation have undergone a rigorous evaluation process and have demonstrated that they meet the high standards set by the council, which cover all aspects of the program, including curriculum, faculty qualifications, and student services.

Benefits of Accreditation

Choosing a CSWE-accredited, affordable online MSW program offers several advantages:

  • Eligibility for Licensure: Graduation from a CSWE-accredited program is often a prerequisite for social work licensure in many states. This accreditation ensures that the education you receive meets or exceeds the criteria set by licensing boards.
  • Assurance of Quality Education: Accredited programs are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect professional standards and the evolving needs of the community. This ongoing process ensures that the education provided is relevant and comprehensive.
  • Increased Job Prospects: Employers recognize the value of an accredited education. Graduates from accredited programs are often preferred in the job market and may find better job opportunities and higher salary potential.
  • Transferability of Credits: Credits earned in an accredited program are more likely to be recognized and accepted by other accredited institutions, which can be crucial for students who might consider transferring or pursuing further education.

Checking Accreditation Status

Prospective students should verify the accreditation status of an MSW program by visiting the CSWE website or contacting the program directly. This step is crucial for ensuring that the program will meet educational and professional expectations.

Part-Time Online MSW Programs by State

As you explore options for advancing your education in social work, numerous accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) programs across the United States offer the flexibility of part-time and online learning. 

The following list includes programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), providing assurance of educational quality and relevance. Each program listed offers both online coursework and part-time enrollment options, catering to the needs of working professionals and those with other significant commitments.

However, as program details and accreditation statuses can change, it is crucial for prospective students to conduct their own research to ensure they have the most current information and to find a program that best fits their individual needs and career goals.


Auburn University MSW Program

Samford University MSW Program

University of Alabama MSW Program

University of North Alabama MSW Program


University of Alaska MSW Program


Arizona State University MSW Program


Arkansas State University MSW Program

University of Arkansas MSW Program

University of Arkansas at Little Rock MSW Program


Cal Poly Humboldt MSW Program

California State University, Chico MSW Program

California State University, East Bay MSW Program

California State University, Northridge MSW Program

California State University, San Bernardino MSW Program

California State University, San Marcos MSW Program

California State University, Stanislaus MSW Program

Dominican University MSW Program

Loma Linda University MSW Program

National University MSW Program

Pacific Oaks College MSW Program

San Jose State University MSW Program

University of Southern California MSW Program


Aurora University MSW Program

Colorado State University MSW Program

Metropolitan State University MSW Program

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs MSW Program

University of Denver MSW Program


Fairfield University MSW Program

Sacred Heart University MSW Program

University of Connecticut MSW Program

Delaware State University MSW Program


Barry University MSW Program

Florida State University MSW Program

Saint Leo University MSW Program

University of Central Florida MSW Program

University of South Florida MSW Program

University of West Florida MSW Program


Albany State University MSW Program

Clark Atlanta University MSW Program

Georgia State University MSW Program

University of Georgia MSW Program

Valdosta State University MSW Program


Hawai‘i Pacific University MSW Program

University of Hawai‘i at Manoa MSW Program


Boise State University MSW Program

Idaho State University MSW Program

Northwest Nazarene University MSW Program


Erikson Institute MSW Program

Loyola University Chicago MSW Program

Southern Illinois University Carbondale MSW Program

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign MSW Program

University of St. Francis MSW Program


Indiana University MSW Program

Indiana Wesleyan University MSW Program

University of Southern Indiana MSW Program


Dordt University MSW Program

St. Ambrose University MSW Program

University of Iowa MSW Program

University of Northern Iowa MSW Program


Fort Hays State University MSW Program

Newman University MSW Program

University of Kansas MSW Program


Brescia University MSW Program

Campbellsville University MSW Program

Eastern Kentucky University MSW Program

Northern Kentucky University MSW Program

University of Kentucky MSW Program

University of Louisville MSW Program

University of Pikeville MSW Program

Western Kentucky University MSW Program


Louisiana Christian University MSW Program

Louisiana State University and A&M College (LSU) MSW Program

Tulane University MSW Program


University of New England MSW Program

University of Maine MSW Program

University of Southern Maine MSW Program


Morgan State University MSW Program

Salisbury University MSW Program

University of Maryland, Baltimore MSW Program


Boston University MSW Program

Regis College MSW Program

Salem State University MSW Program

Simmons University MSW Program

Springfield College MSW Program

University of Massachusetts Global MSW Program

Westfield State University MSW Program


Andrews University MSW Program

Ferris State University MSW Program

Michigan State University MSW Program

Northern Michigan University MSW Program

University of Michigan MSW Program

Wayne State University MSW Program


Bethel University MSW Program

Capella University MSW Program

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota MSW Program

University of Minnesota-Duluth MSW Program

University of Saint Thomas MSW Program

Walden University MSW Program

Winona State University MSW Program


Jackson State University MSW Program


Missouri Baptist University MSW Program

Missouri State University MSW Program

Saint Louis University MSW Program

University of Missouri MSW Program

University of Missouri-St. Louis MSW Program


Carroll College MSW Program

University of Montana MSW Program


University of Nevada, Reno MSW Program

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire MSW Program

New Jersey

Fairleigh Dickinson University MSW Program

Kean University MSW Program

Rutgers MSW Program

Seton Hall University MSW Program

New Mexico

New Mexico Highlands University MSW Program

New Mexico State University MSW Program

Western New Mexico University MSW Program

New York

Adelphi University MSW Program

Appalachian State University MSW Program

Binghamton University MSW Program

Columbia University MSW Program

Fordham University MSW Program

Keuka College MSW Program

Nazareth University MSW Program

Roberts Wesleyan University MSW Program

Syracuse University MSW Program

Touro University MSW Program

University at Albany MSW Program

University at Buffalo MSW Program

Yeshiva University MSW Program

North Carolina

East Carolina University MSW Program

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill MSW Program

University of North Carolina at Charlotte MSW Program

University of North Carolina at Pembroke MSW Program

North Dakota

University of North Dakota MSW Program


Case Western Reserve University MSW Program

Cleveland State University MSW Program

The Ohio State University MSW Program

Ohio University MSW Program


University of Oklahoma MSW Program


Portland State University MSW Program


Carlow University MSW Program

Lancaster Bible College MSW Program

Millersville and Shippensburg MSW Program

Pennsylvania Western University MSW Program

Slippery Rock University MSW Program

Temple University MSW Program

Widener University MSW Program

South Carolina

University of South Carolina MSW Program

Winthrop University MSW Program

South Dakota

University of South Dakota MSW Program


Austin Peay State University MSW Program

East Tennessee State University MSW Program

King University MSW Program

Southern Adventist University MSW Program

Union University MSW Program

University of Memphis MSW Program

University of Tennessee at Knoxville MSW Program


Angelo State University MSW Program

Baylor University MSW Program

Chamberlain University MSW Program

Our Lady of the Lake University MSW Program

Stephen F. Austin State University MSW Program

Texas A&M University-Commerce MSW Program

Texas State University MSW Program

Texas Tech University MSW Program

University of Houston MSW Program

University of Texas at Arlington MSW Program

University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley MSW Program

West Texas A&M University MSW Program


University of Utah MSW Program


George Mason University MSW Program

Liberty University MSW Program

Radford University MSW Program

Virginia Commonwealth University MSW Program

Washington D.C.

Catholic University of America MSW Program

Gallaudet University MSW Program

Howard University MSW Program

West Virginia

Concord University MSW Program

West Virginia University MSW Program


Concordia University Wisconsin MSW Program

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay MSW Program

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee MSW Program

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater MSW Program

Job Roles Available to MSW Degree Program Graduates

Graduates of part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs can pursue a variety of careers in the field of social work. These roles vary widely in their focus and settings, offering diverse opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge gained through the MSW program. Here we explore some of the primary job roles a professional can pursue once they become a social worker and earn an MSW degree.

Clinical Social Workers

Clinical social workers are specialized practitioners who diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They provide therapy for individuals, families, and groups, addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Clinical social workers are required to be licensed in the state where they practice, which typically involves completing a CSWE-accredited MSW program and obtaining postgraduate supervised clinical experience.

School Social Workers

School social workers work within educational settings to help students overcome obstacles to their academic success and personal development. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and school administrators to address issues such as bullying, learning disabilities, and family conflicts that affect students’ performance and behavior.

Healthcare Social Workers

Healthcare social workers operate in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings, providing support and advocacy to patients and their families dealing with chronic or acute health issues. They help navigate the complexities of the healthcare system, coordinate care plans, and provide counseling on treatment options and adjustments to illness and disability.

Child and Family Social Workers

These professionals specialize in services that promote the social and psychological functioning of children and their families. They might work in schools, child welfare agencies, and private practices, assisting with cases involving adoption, foster care, and child abuse or neglect.

Public Health Social Workers

Public health social workers focus on community-wide issues and implement programs that improve public health. They work in settings like public health departments, non-profit organizations, and policy development, focusing on disease prevention, health education, and advocacy for marginalized populations.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

These social workers provide support to individuals dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues. They may work in rehabilitation centers, outpatient facilities, or community health organizations, helping clients manage their conditions and recover.

Social Work Administrators

Experienced MSW graduates can move into administrative roles, managing social service programs and agencies. These positions involve oversight of staff, budgeting, policy development, and program evaluation to ensure effective delivery of social services.

Importance of Specialization and Licensing

While some social work roles require specific certifications or licensing, such as those in clinical and healthcare settings, others may emphasize experience and specialized training obtained during the MSW program. Prospective students should consider their career goals when selecting an MSW program to ensure it offers the appropriate pathways and specialization opportunities.

Job Outlook and Salary for Social Workers

The job outlook and salary potential for social workers are pivotal considerations for prospective students exploring part-time online MSW programs. This section, drawing on the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), offers an updated view to aid students in making well-informed decisions regarding their future in social work.

Overall Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the employment of social workers is expected to grow by 7% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This anticipated increase is predicted to create new job opportunities across the field. The drive behind this growth stems from an escalating demand for healthcare and social services, although it may vary by specialization.

Salary Information

The median annual wage for social workers has seen an adjustment to $58,380 as of May 2023, according to the BLS. This figure represents the central wage point where half of the workers in the profession earned more than this amount, and half earned less. The earning potential extends across various specializations within the field, characterized by their respective median wages:

  • Healthcare Social Workers: Earn a median annual wage of $62,940.
  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers: Have a median annual wage of $53,940.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Report a median annual wage of $55,960.
  • Social Workers, All Other: This category includes those not classified elsewhere, earning a median annual wage of $63,770.

Furthermore, social workers’ earnings vary depending on the industry they are employed in. For instance:

  • Local Government (excluding education and hospitals): $64,550.
  • Educational Services; State, Local, and Private: $62,980.
  • State Government (excluding education and hospitals): $54,600.
  • Individual and Family Services: $48,550.
  • Community and Vocational Rehabilitation Services: $46,650.

These salaries significantly surpass the median annual wage of $48,060 for all occupations, highlighting the economic advantages of pursuing a career in social work.

Factors Influencing Salary

Salaries for social workers can vary based on several factors, including geographic location, type of service area, level of education, and years of experience. Typically, social workers employed in metropolitan areas and medical settings may earn higher wages due to the higher cost of living and complexity of the cases handled.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Advanced education and certifications can lead to higher-paying positions within the field. For instance, licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), who have completed additional supervised clinical hours post-graduation and passed a licensure exam, often have higher earning potential and expanded job opportunities.

Preparing for a Sustainable Career in Social Work

For prospective students, it is crucial to pursue an MSW program that not only meets educational and licensure requirements but also provides robust field experience and networking opportunities. These elements are vital for career advancement and securing positions that align with personal career goals and salary expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, we address common questions that prospective students have about part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. These FAQs aim to clarify uncertainties and provide essential information to help students make informed decisions about their educational paths.

What is a part-time online MSW program?

A part-time online MSW program is designed to offer flexibility for students who wish to pursue their education without committing to a full-time schedule. These programs typically spread the coursework over a longer period, allowing students to manage their studies alongside personal and professional responsibilities.

How long does it take to complete a part-time online MSW program?

The duration of part-time online MSW programs can vary significantly depending on the university and the student’s pace. Typically, these programs can be completed in 2 to 4 years. Students may have the option to accelerate their studies or, conversely, take a more relaxed pace depending on their life circumstances.

Are part-time online MSW programs accredited?

Yes, reputable part-time online MSW programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high standards of quality and prepares students for professional practice in social work. Prospective students should verify a program’s accreditation status before enrolling.

What are the prerequisites for enrolling in a part-time online MSW program?

Prerequisites can vary by program but generally include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Some programs may require specific undergraduate courses, such as psychology or sociology, and professional or volunteer experience in a social work setting.

Can I become a licensed social worker with a part-time online MSW degree?

Yes, graduates of CSWE-accredited part-time online MSW programs are eligible to pursue licensure as social workers. However, licensing requirements vary by state and may include additional supervised clinical experience and passing a licensing examination.

How do online courses work in part-time MSW programs?

Online courses in part-time MSW programs are typically delivered through a learning management system (LMS) where students can access lectures, readings, assignments, and discussions. Many programs also incorporate synchronous elements such as live webinars or classes to foster interaction and engagement.

What kind of support services are available to students in part-time online MSW programs?

Universities offering part-time online MSW programs generally provide various support services, including academic advising, tutoring, career services, and technical support. These resources are crucial for supporting students throughout their academic journey, especially in an online learning environment.

Taking the Next Steps in Social Work

Deciding to pursue a part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) program is a significant step towards a rewarding career in social work. 

Summary of Key Points

  • Flexibility: Part-time online MSW programs are ideal for individuals who need to balance their studies with personal and professional commitments.
  • Accreditation: It is essential to choose a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to ensure the education meets high standards and fulfills eligibility requirements for licensure.
  • Curriculum: The curriculum in part-time online MSW programs is comprehensive, covering foundational social work concepts, advanced clinical practices, and specialized areas depending on the student’s interests.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates are prepared for various roles in social work, including clinical social work, community outreach, and policy advocacy.

Steps to Take

  1. Research: Start by researching accredited programs that offer part-time online MSW degrees. Consider factors such as curriculum, faculty expertise, tuition costs, and the support services available to online students.
  2. Connect: Reach out to admissions counselors at prospective universities. They can provide detailed information about the program and help you understand the application process.
  3. Evaluate Your Goals: Reflect on your career goals and how an MSW aligns with them. This reflection will guide your decision on which specialization to pursue within the MSW program.
  4. Financial Planning: Investigate scholarships, grants, and other funding opportunities to support your studies. Many institutions offer financial aid specifically for social work students.
  5. Prepare for Application: Gather all necessary documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. Ensure you meet all prerequisite requirements before applying.
  6. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with the evolving field of social work by subscribing to relevant journals, attending workshops, and joining professional organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

By following these steps, you can make an informed decision and smoothly navigate the process of enrolling in a part-time online MSW program. Remember, choosing the right program is crucial for your future success in the field of social work.

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