The Most Affordable Accredited MSW Programs in the Northeast

Written by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D. | Edited by Victoria Hudgeons


Social workers are in high demand in the Northeast. By attending an affordable MSW program, you can become a clinical social worker without taking on unnecessary debt.

Our guide to the cheapest MSW programs in the Northeast can help you find a program that fits your budget, schedule, and career goals.

Popular Online MSW Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Most Affordable Accredited MSW Programs in the Northeast

14. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,417

The Master of Social Work degree program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania equips students with the practical skills needed to work in various settings, from mental health care to psychiatric facilities. During year one, students take courses such as social work practice, human diversity, and mental health. A field education internship is required for each capstone. The fully accredited MSW program offers an accelerated format that can be completed online or on campus. The school's social work program is ranked #148 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report's 2016 edition of Best Colleges. Edinboro offers one of the most affordable accredited MSW programs in the northeast.

13. West Chester University of Pennsylvania

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,403

The CSWE-accredited MSW program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania offers small class sizes, individualized attention and instruction, and quality education from esteemed professors. The program is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 79th Best MSW Program in the country, according to the 2016 edition of Best Colleges. West Chester is also listed as the 71st Best Regional University. Through evidence-based application, the MSW program provides students with knowledge in recovery, resiliency, and capacity building.

12. Southern Connecticut State University

New Haven, Connecticut

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,170

The School of Graduate Studies at Southern Connecticut State University offers an affordable Master of Social Work degree program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students are required to demonstrate competencies in all areas of social work practice, including individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations. The first year covers materials in the classroom, while the second year prepares students for advanced clinical work. Curriculum covers topics such as advanced family practice, diversity and social functioning, human behavior in the social environment, and social welfare policies and delivery systems. Southern Connecticut's social work program ranks #130 among the Best Social Work programs in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report's recent publication of Best Colleges.

11. CUNY Hunter College New York

New York, New York

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,906

Affordable graduate tuition is one aspect that sets CUNY Hunter College of New York apart from other schools in the East. Residents of New York can take advantage of the inexpensive in-state tuition to pursue an affordable MSW degree. The college is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 47th Best Regional University in the North. For those interested in a graduate social work program, the accredited MSW at CUNY Hunter College is ranked 16th in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges. The Silberman School of Social Work offers a unique MSW program with various options for degree completion. The school offers a traditional two-year, a one-year residency, an advanced standing option, and an accelerated track. Dual degrees are also available and include the MSW and MPH degree, and the MSW and MS Ed degree.

10. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,800

The Department of Social Work at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania offers a CSWE-accredited MSW degree that prepares students for work in the social work profession. Students have the option of completing the program in two years when attending full time, or four years if attending part-time. The unique program design allows students to collaborate with professors and each other to provide community service to families and individuals at risk. Students receive hands-on training through therapeutic interventions and agency administration. Policy development is also covered throughout the MSW program. According to U.S. News and World Report's 2016 edition of Best Colleges, Kutztown's social work program is ranked #187 in the nation.

9. Bridgewater State University

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,988

The affordable MSW program at Bridgewater State University is a challenging program that prepares students with advanced social work skills necessary for practicing in various social work fields. The program highlights biopsychosocial practice models and explores how to improve and promote social justice and positive advancement in the field. Small class sizes facilitate a more intimate and personalized learning environment, as students are able to forge relationships with faculty and each other. Field experience is a critical component of the MSW program and field placement opportunities are available for students to gain hands-on experience working in mental health clinics, prisons, nursing homes, and child welfare agencies. The social work program is ranked #130 in U.S. News and World Report's publication of Best Colleges.

8. University of Maine

Orono, Maine

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,644

The University of Maine's School of Social Work offers various pathways that lead to an accredited MSW degree: full-time, part-time, and online hybrid approach. Field practicum is an integral component of the MSW program and prepares students with the hands-on experience necessary to succeed in the social work field. Students enrolled in the full-time program clock 400 hours during the foundation year internship and 500 hours during the advanced second year. Various electives may be taken depending on the student's area of focus and interest. Electives include alcoholism and substance abuse, gerontological practice in rural communities, and social work practice with groups.

7. Morgan State University

Baltimore, Maryland

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,046

Morgan State University's School of Social Work offers a cheap Master's in Social Work degree that prepares social work professionals to become leaders in the urban community of Baltimore. The department emphasizes work in eliminating human suffering, oppression, injustice, and poverty by providing unique skillsets to graduate students in the social work program. Morgan State University is a nationally recognized university and the 19th Best Historically Black College and University, according to U.S. News and World Report. The school's social work program is currently ranked #104 in the nation.

6. Salisbury University

Salisbury, Maryland

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,848

The Social Work Department at Salisbury University launched a Master of Social Work degree program in 2001. The MSW program is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education, a must for earning licensure. The program is student-centered with supportive instructors that offer years of experience in and out of the classroom. Graduate students receive community-based direct practice experience and work in community agency settings. Hands-on experience provides students with the skills needed to successfully address challenges and demands in various social work settings. The school also offers an online MSW degree program for students with work or life obligations that interfere with traditionally taught classes.

5. University of Southern Maine

Portland, Maine

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,670

The nationally ranked social work program at the University of Southern Maine offers an affordable MSW degree, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. First-year graduate students take courses such as critical thinking and human behavior, generalist social work practice, multicultural social work, and social welfare policy. During the second year, also known as the concentration year, students hone skills in specific areas of interest. Course topics may include social welfare policy, social data analysis, individuals and families, and group practice. During the second year, students also gain additional field experience and embark on a research project or thesis. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school's social work program as #130 in the nation.

4. Rhode Island College

Providence, Rhode Island

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,178

Rhode Island College's School of Social Work offers an affordable MSW program that prepares graduate students to practice social work in community and public social service agencies. The school offers access to the Child Welfare Institution, MSWSO, Poverty Institution, and The Institute for Addiction Recovery. Students gain field education experience and fulfill course requirements needed for licensing. An optional Adoption and Foster Care Certificate program is available to graduate students. The school is nationally ranked with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Best Colleges lists RIC as the 131st Best Regional University, the 45th Top Public School, and the 50th Best College for Veterans. The school's social work program is listed as #89 in the nation.

3. Salem State University

Salem, Massachusetts

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,624

Salem State University was the first public university to offer a master's in social work degree program in the state of Massachusetts. Distinguished faculty, CSWE-accreditation, and various completion pathways make Salem State's MSW program a top choice for those pursuing studies in social work. Foundation curriculum covers five sequence areas, including human behavior and the social environment, social policy, social work practice, research, and field education. The concentration curriculum varies, depending on the student's career goals and chosen area of focus. Concentration curriculum options include child and family services, health and mental health services, and older adult and end-of-life care services. Salem State's social work program is ranked 104th in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges.

2. Delaware State University

Dover, Delaware

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,354

Offering full accreditation status from the Council on Social Work Education, Delaware State University's affordable MSW program equips students for long-term careers in social work. The MSW program offers one concentration. advanced generalist practice. Through the advanced generalist practice program, students gain the skills needed to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Adhering to CSWE requirements, students must complete residency requirements in two consecutive semesters while attending Delaware State. The program ranks #148, according to U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges. The university is also ranked #21 among the Best Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and #40 among the Top Public Schools.

1. Westfield State University

Westfield, Massachusetts

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,040

Westfield State University is a public institution that offers affordable tuition rates for in-state residents. The school is ranked as the 116th Best Regional University in the North, according to U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges. The affordable MSW degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The school's social work program claims a 95% employment placement rate for MSW graduates working within one year of receiving their degree. The MSW may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. The program offers a single concentration in clinical practice with various electives, so students may explore practice areas of interest. Areas of interest include children, gerontology, practice in health care settings, school social work, and substance abuse.

Our Ranking Methodology

At SocialWorkDegreeGuide, we use a specialized, student-oriented methodology to assess educational programs and create our rankings. Using datasets from sources including the U.S. Department of Education, our objective approach focuses on academic quality, affordability, school reputation, and program appeal.

As part of our process, we focus on important and relevant information for social work students searching for their ideal programs. This ranking is from 2018. To learn more, read about the SocialWorkDegreeGuide.com rankings methodology.

Why Get an Online MSW?

Earning your MSW online can strengthen your professional skills, boost your earning potential, and lead to new career paths in clinical social work.

Many states in the Northeast report high demand for social workers. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that child, family, and school social employment will grow by 5% nationally from 2022-2032. New York state, however, received a 24% growth estimate for 2020-2030, according to Projections Central.

Online MSW programs also offer the flexibility to find a social work school that fits your schedule, budget, and focus areas.

What To Expect from an MSW Program

During an MSW program, you'll strengthen advanced micro and macro social work skills in direct practice, policymaking, and community organization. Here's what else you can expect during your MSW.

Flexibility

Online MSW programs blend virtual coursework with in-person internship requirements. This balance can provide greater flexibility than an on-campus program. You can often arrange coursework around your schedule, making it easier to work while earning a master's degree.

Program Length

Most MSW programs take two years, but you can earn your degree in less time if you hold a bachelor's in social work. Many programs offer accelerated tracks for social work majors, which can take as little as 12-18 months.

Coursework

You'll take courses in social work practice, social justice, assessment, and social work policy during an MSW. These classes strengthen your direct practice, counseling, and advocacy skills. Programs incorporate micro-level classes emphasizing individual and group practice through macro-level classes on community organizations and systems thinking.

Admission Requirements

You'll typically need an accredited bachelor's degree that meets a minimum GPA (typically 3.0) for admission into MSW programs. You may also need to submit a resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Some programs require or recommend social work or human services experience.

Internship Requirements

MSW programs incorporate practical experience through a supervised internship. As an online student, you'll work with your program to arrange an internship in your local area. The practical experiences in an internship prepare you for licensure and clinical practice as a social worker.

Delivery Formats for Online MSW Programs

Online MSW programs offer several delivery formats, including fully online coursework and hybrid formats. You can also take online courses through live or recorded sessions.

  • 100% Online: A fully online MSW program offers coursework in a distance learning environment. In addition to online classes, you'll complete internship requirements in your local area.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid learning blends online courses and on-campus learning. Scheduling and attendance requirements vary by program. This option works well for students who want flexibility and in-person participation.
  • Asynchronous: As the most flexible online format, asynchronous courses require no set class meetings, allowing you to complete coursework on your schedule. This format typically appeals to working students.
  • Synchronous:In a synchronous format, you attend live class sessions virtually and discuss coursework with classmates and faculty. Because you meet at set times, you have slightly less flexibility in your schedule.

Finding the right delivery format for your learning style and schedule can help you earn an MSW. However, regardless of the delivery format, you'll complete fieldwork and internship requirements in person.

How Can I Pay for an MSW Program?

Social workers typically don't earn high salaries. Choosing an affordable MSW program can help you manage your finances as you launch your social work career. An online format gives you more options — you can choose one of the most affordable MSW programs in the Northeast and take on less student loan debt.

Graduate school tuition averaged $20,500 for the 2021-2022 school year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Many of the most affordable Northeast MSW programs cost under $10,000 per year in tuition. Applying to advanced standing programs can also lower the total cost of the degree since you'll graduate sooner.

Finally, social work graduate students at accredited universities qualify for many social work scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Research the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to see if you qualify.

Frequently Asked Questions About MSW Programs

How much do the most affordable online MSW programs cost?

The most affordable online MSW programs in the Northeast cost under $10,000 per year in tuition and fees. This price can make a social work degree more affordable for students on a budget.

Which states pay social workers the most?

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut all rank among the top-paying states for mental health, substance abuse, child and family, and school social workers, according to BLS data from May 2023. New Jersey and Connecticut also rank among the highest-paying states for healthcare social workers.

Are the cheapest online MSW programs reputable?

Yes — the cheapest online MSW programs are reputable if they hold accreditation. When choosing an MSW program, check the university's and program's accreditation status. The best programs hold accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.

How can I afford a master's in social work?

You can afford an MSW by researching affordable programs, applying for financial aid, and limiting your expenses during grad school. For example, an online format makes it easier to work while earning your MSW. By choosing an accredited program, you'll also qualify for social work scholarships.