By Kelley Jacobs
Updated July 2016
Earning a Masters of Social Work (MSW) opens doors for professionals in the field of social work in terms of better job prospects, higher wages, and the opportunity to work with a more diverse population. More and more professionals are enrolling in online MSW programs, allowing them maximum flexibility in their educational pursuits. The list below contains the top 25 MSW online programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the only organization which provides accreditation for MSW programs. Our ranking methodology is here.
Our Picks for the Top 10 MSW Online Programs
Los Angeles, California
USC was the first elite research institution to offer an MSW online degree. Coursework is offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Students complete 1,000 hours of field education with 210 hours provided through a Virtual Field Practicum (VFP). The VFP is a unique practicum experience allowing students to practice their skills on an actor with supervision.
Tuition: $1,602 per unit
MSW Online Program Concentrations: Mental Health; Families and Children (sub-concentration available in School Settings); Community Organization; Planning and Administration (COPA); Health, Social Work, Business in a Global Society. The sub-concentration of Military Social Work is available to supplement any concentration.
9. University of New England
School of Social Work
Master’s in Social Work Online
The Master’s in Social Work Online at the University of New England is a highly ranked program available to students on a full-time or part-time basis. Students can earn their MSW completely online through asynchronous classes which allow students the freedom to study without set days/times. An Advanced Standing Track is available to students with an approved BSW, while the Traditional Track is available for those without a BSW. The program is currently offered to students in all 50 states and internationally.
Tuition: $830.00/credit hour
MSW Online Program Concentrations: Individual, Family, and Group Practice (IFG) or Organizational and Community Practice (OCP) are available concentrations. Students must select one for their course of study.
8. University at Buffalo – The State University of New York
School of Social Work
MSW Online Part-Time Program
Buffalo, New York
The University at Buffalo offers a part-time, online MSW program for those with and without a BSW. Depending on the students’ interest, the program could be completed entirely online. For those with more flexibility, UB offers courses online, hybrid and in a traditional seated environment. Students are required to complete 2 field placements totaling 900 hours. UB is proud to integrate Trauma Informed and Human Rights (TI-HR) perspectives into their curriculum.
Tuition: $646.18-$992.18/credit hour
Examples of MSW Online Courses offered Here: Dual Disorders; Mental Health and Disability; Social Work and Assessment; Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect
7. University of North Dakota
Department of Social Work
Online Master’s Degree in Social Work
Grand Forks, North Dakota
The University of North Dakota offers an online MSW program for those with and without a BSW (bachelor of social work). UND is currently ranked the #1 Most Affordable College for Online Social Work Degrees by onlineu.org. While coursework is offered online, students without their BSW need to complete 2 on-campus visits to complete intensive lab sessions and those with their BSW need to come once. Students participate in live web classes offered on weekends and evenings when it is convenient.
Tuition: $517.72/credit hour
Examples of MSW Online Courses Offered: Advanced Generalist Practice with Organizations, Advanced Generalist Practice with Treatment Groups, and Advanced Generalist Tools for Policy.
6. Edinboro University
School of Graduate Studies and Research
Master of Social Work
Edinboro University offers a 100% online MSW program with a family social work practice focus. This full-time program is presented in a cohort model for both Traditional and Advanced standing students. No campus visits are required for this program. Students admitted into the Advanced program will need to take between one and three prerequisite courses prior to starting the program.
Tuition: $442.00-$486.20/credit hour
Examples of MSW Online Coursework Offered: Family Diversity; Addictions Electives; Social Work Practice with Families
5. Texas State University
School of Social Work
Online MSW Program
San Marcos, Texas
Texas State University offers a part-time online MSW program. Courses and materials are identical for both the traditional classroom and the online program. Advanced Track students with an approved BSW can graduate with their MSW in just over 2 years. A 600-hour practicum is required for graduation. Coursework includes Social Work Intervention in Drug Addiction and Abuse and Advanced Social Policy and Social Justice.
Tuition: $301.21-$650.68/credit hour
Concentrations: Only the Administrative Leadership Concentration is available online.
Socialwork@Simmons allows MSW students to pursue their degree on a full-time or part-time basis. An Advanced Standing program is available for those who have earned a BSW (meeting specific criteria) in the last 5 years. Simmons offers small online classes taught live by School of Social Work faculty, allowing students to participate in real time and actively engage in their instruction.
Tuition: $990.00/credit hour
MSW Online Programs Concentrations: There are 4 clinical specializations including Child and Family; Trauma and Interpersonal Violence; Mental Health and Addictions; and Health and Aging. Students are not required to select a concentration.
3. University of Louisville
Kent School of Social Work
Master of Science in Social Work
The online MSSW program at the University of Louisville is a top ranked program by US News & World Report. Students are able to complete their degree completely online following the same curriculum as their traditional classroom educated counterparts. Some courses are offered synchronous to allow students to actively engage with faculty and peers. The program offers a Standard option for those without a BSW and an Advanced Standing option for those with an approved BSW.
Tuition: $693.00/credit hour (UL offers Military Discounts)
MSW Online Program Concentrations: Psychosocial Oncology; Mental Health; Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Military Social Work; and Gerontology
2. University of Tennessee-Knoxville
College of Social Work
Online MSSW Program
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers both a full-time and part-time 100% online MSW program. Students are part of a cohort and courses are both synchronous and asynchronous to allow opportunity to interact with peers in real time. No campus visits are required. Students in the Traditional program complete 1,024 hours of field experience as part of the degree requirements while Advanced standing students need to complete 672 hours. Students can also earn Program Certificates in areas which include the Gerontology Program, School Social Work Licensure, Trauma Certificate and Veterinary Social Work Program.
Tuition: $634.00-$1,660.00/credit hour
MSW Online Program Concentration: Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice (EBIP) and Management, Leadership, and Community Practice (MLCP).
1. Western New Mexico University
School of Social Work
Master of Social Work Online
Silver City, New Mexico
Western New Mexico University offers both an Advanced Standing and Non-Advanced Standing MSW program that are entirely online. The Advanced Standing program for those with an approved BSW takes approximately one year to complete. Both programs require fieldwork which allow for experience with issues in Native American practice, Hispanic culture, and cross border practice.
Tuition: $249.94-$291.97/credit hour
Examples of Online MSW Program Coursework Offered: Rural Social Work Policy; Understanding the Rural Community; Advanced Psycho-Social Approaches for Rural Practice
This concludes our ranking of MSW online programs. You are welcome to use our award badge for your publication or promotion. A high resolution version of the award badge can be found here.
- What is Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice?
- How Are Military Social Workers Trained?
- Are Online Master’s in Social Work Programs Accredited?
- 5 Conferences for Social Work in 2016
- 5 Reasons to Consider a Career in Social Work
About the Author
Kelley Jacobs is a Midwest business consultant and former program evaluator. Past experience includes qualitative and quantitative research, survey development and statistical analysis. With 15 years in social service, Kelley is passionate about helping others and giving back to the community.
Filed under: MSW Programs Online, MSW Degree Online
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