Top 25 Most Affordable Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Degree Programs 2020

Social workers are a pinnacle asset to society for helping those in need. Consider one of the Top 25 Most Affordable Master's in Social Work degrees to start making a difference in the 2020-2021 school year.

Social workers help people who are often struggling the most. They act as advocates and connect people with resources, giving them the tools needed to cope with stressful situations.

Social workers might assist abused women or children, while others work with military families, handling stresses unique to active-duty military members and veterans. Social workers also might offer comfort and support to those working through a mental health crisis. 

The terminal degree for those pursuing a career in social work is a Master's of Social Work. MSW degrees typically consist of a two-year, full-time program that involves foundation courses in social services, advanced courses in a concentration, and at least 1,000 hours of supervised fieldwork. The Council on Social Work Education certifies MSW programs, which helps students ensure that their education provides the tools necessary to best support their future clients. 

If students hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited school, they may be able to receive advanced standing in many MSW programs; this gives students a chance to skip the generalist courses and begin with their advanced coursework. Students who plan to complete an MSW find that field education is an integral part of the training, which is why many schools require supervised field experience during each semester of their programs. Social work students usually spend two or three days each week working in a social service agency or organization. 

In addition, most social workers need state licensure, becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker; the Association of Social Work Board offers a guide to the various state regulatory boards and what students need for licensure in each state. So, if you want a career helping others at times when they need it most, consider one of our Top 25 Most Affordable Master's in Social Work degrees. 

Why Become a Social Worker?

Pursuing a career as a social worker can lead to work in a variety of industries. Social workers might find employment in schools, government agencies, hospitals, senior residences, hospices, community development centers, mental health facilities, substance abuse centers, or in private practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers bring in an average of $49,470 per year. The BLS also projects that jobs within the field should increase by 11% over the next decade. 

With an MSW degree and experience in the field, students can expect an even higher salary than the average recorded. In fact, during your second year in your MSW program, you will have a chance to specialize, which might lead to a career as a Healthcare Social Worker, with a mean annual salary of $58,470. 

As you examine the list of the Top 25 Most Affordable MSW Degrees, you will notice that there are usually two concentrations: Clinical Practice and Planning, Administration, and Community Practice. Clinical Practice, often called Direct Practice, is ideal if students want to work with individuals, families, or small groups. Students in this concentration might take courses in assessing mental disorders, working with children, and practicing in a health/behavioral health setting. 

Planning, Administration, and Community Practice, often known as the Macro specialization, on the other hand, prepares students for a leadership career working with larger populations. Students in this emphasis learn theories of policy analysis, advocacy, and social work administration. In addition to these concentrations, some schools offer a generalist approach, which gives students a broad experience with social work and social work practice. 

If you are ready to begin a career helping connect people in need with available resources, then consider one of the Top 25 Most Affordable Master's of Social Work Degrees!

How to Choose an MSW Degree

Social Work Degree Guide is here to help you find the perfect program for you. We factor in Student Satisfaction and Affordability as our primary metrics, at 30% of the total ranking each. From there, Alumni Salaries, SAT Scores, and the school's retention rate each represent 10%. For more information on how SWG ranks Social Work degrees, please visit our About Us page.

#25. SUNY Albany – Albany, NY

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $16,100

Unique Features

Albany is the capital of New York and is a city of about 98,000 located three hours north of New York City. Albany, on the Hudson River, has a vibrant downtown, more than 60 public parks, and great examples of modern architecture. It is also home to SUNY Albany. SUNY Albany, or UAlbany, began in 1844 as New York State Normal School. It started as a small school with 29 future teachers and has since become a major research university. The school has 17,000 students, and Forbes magazine named it one of America's Top Colleges, due in part to its excellent Master of Social Work degree.

As an MSW student at UAlbany, you'll learn to work with groups and individuals of all kinds. During the MSW program, students take 31 credits in core courses, including Human Behavior and Social Environment, Micro Practice, and Macro Practice. During each semester, students work in the field to get hands-on experience with a community partner. Along with the core courses, students take 29 credits in their chosen specialization, being either Organizational Management or Clinical Practice. 

At UAlbany, the Organizational Management specialty emphasizes management efficiency, advocacy and empowerment, community building, resource development, and outcome evaluation. If students choose the MACRO concentration, their courses include Research Methods in Social Welfare Management, Human Service Organizations, and Community Building. Those who select the Clinical focus, however, take classes like the Evaluation of Clinical Practice as well as Advanced Practice and Advanced Policy. 

UAlbany does offer an advanced standing option for those students who previously earned a Bachelor's in Social Work. If approved, students must complete the 39-credit advanced studies program in one year, which begins in the summer term. When students complete the MSW, students have the necessary coursework required to sit for the LCSW exam in New York. 

#24. University of Maryland, Baltimore – Baltimore, MD

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $16,065

Unique Features

The University of Maryland, Baltimore, began in 1807 and is part of the University of Maryland network. The school, which is unique in Maryland for the scope of its academic emphases, specializes in education, research, and public service. There are 6,700 students across six schools at UMB, and one of those in the School of Social Work, which ranks No. 17 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report

Students at UMB can complete a 60-credit Master of Social Work that includes 24 foundation credits and 36 concentration credits for degree completion. Students can select either a Clinical or Macro concentration to focus their studies. During the program's advanced year, students also choose a field of practice within their concentration, which can be Families and Children Health, Aging, Behavioral Health, or Community Action and Social Policy. 

Students can further narrow their specialization with one of UMB's sub-specializations, which include Child, Adolescent, and Family Health or Employee Assistance Program. Another integral part of the MSW program is field practicums, which allow students to work with social service agencies throughout the area. 

During the foundation year, students spend two full days each week in the field for a total of 480 clock hours during the year. Then, during their advanced year, students spend three days each week in their field placement for a total of around 720 hours. UMB offers several dual degrees as well, including the MSW and Juris Doctor, the MSW and MBA, an MSW and Master of Public Health, and an MSW and Master of Public Policy. Most dual-degree programs require 90 credits, and students must apply to both programs individually. 

#23. Rutgers University-New Brunswick – New Brunswick, NJ

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $16,016

Unique Features

Rutgers dates back to before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, opening its doors in 1766. Today, the university has almost 71,000 students at locations across New Jersey, and students can complete a Master of Social Work at three of the campuses: New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden. There are also online MSW programs available. 

The on-campus MSW program gives students the chance to complete courses either during the day or in the evening. Rutgers MSW features two concentrations: Clinical Social Work and Management and Policy. Students can also customize their degree by choosing one of six areas of emphasis, which are detailed on the school's website. 

In addition, Rutgers offers certificate programs that give students a chance to take specific coursework in one of four areas: Aging and Health, Violence Against Women and Children, Addiction Counselor Training, or Promoting Child and Adolescent Well-Being. The traditional MSW program is available either full-time for two years or part-time over four years. The first year follows a generalist curriculum, while the second year is dedicated to specializations. 

Students with a Bachelor's in Social Work may be eligible for advanced standing, and, if accepted into the program, students will begin with the specialized curriculum. All MSW students also complete a field experience each semester, which gives students extensive on-the-job training in New York or New Jersey. 

#22. University of Georgia – Athens, GA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $15,934

Unique Features

Athens is a town of about 126,000 people in northern Georgia. The town, known for its antebellum homes, is about two hours east of Atlanta. It is also known as the home to the University of Georgia. UGA, which began in 1785, has almost 39,000 students studying across 17 schools and colleges. UGA students have the option to complete a Master of Social Work that ranks No. 12 among the best public MSW programs according to U.S. News & World Report. Students can complete the MSW at either the Athens main campus or in Atlanta. 

UGA's MSW follows a two-year program, with generalist courses covered during the first year. If students hold a BSW, they may apply for Advanced Standing, which lets them begin with their specialized year. For those who start with the generalist year, students complete 312 clock hours of fieldwork, and during the specialization year, all students complete 600 clock hours in the field. The UGA curriculum focuses on what the school calls "PrOSEAD" (pronounced "proceed") to understand power and oppression, promote social justice, use evidence-informed practices, engage in advocacy, and celebrate diversity. 

While focusing on these principles, UGA offers students three specializations: a Micro Specialization that focuses on individuals, families, and small groups; a Macro Specialization that examines program and policy development, community practice, and political advocacy; and an Integrated/Combined Specialization, which blends both specializations. UGA also offers three dual degrees in MSW and either a Master of Public Health, Master of Divinity, or Juris Doctorate. 

#21. University of Wisconsin–Madison – Madison, WI

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $15,910

Unique Features

Madison is Wisconsin's capital city, with about 260,000 residents. Madison boasts a beautiful state capitol building, situated on a narrow strip of land between lakes Mendota and Monona. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin. The Madison location of UW is the system's flagship campus. About 30,000 students attend UW, some of whom enjoy the School of Social Work and its full-time Master of Social Work. 

As with most MSW programs, the first year in UW's program lays the foundation for social work. Alternatively, students may apply to begin with the Advanced Practice Specialization Year. During this year of studies, students select a concentration from options such as Aging; Child, Youth, and Family Welfare; or Mental Health. Students will also complete field education during their time at UW–Madison, as is common with other MSW programs; however, unique to UW is the concept of field units. Students begin their program by joining a field unit, which is organized around a social problem, population, or practice area. Students then receive a field placement based on that particular field unit. 

Additionally, UW–Madison does offer several dual degrees, including combinations of the MSW with a Master of Public Health, an MD degree through the School of Medicine and Public Health, and a JD degree through the Law School. MSW students can also take advantage of UW–Madison's Institute for Research on Poverty, which offers many unique and valuable opportunities for professional growth. 

#20. University of Houston – Houston, TX

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $15,664

Unique Features

The University of Houston began in 1927, becoming UH in 1934 and, ultimately, a public state college in 1963. Today, the school is home to more than 46,000 students and is one of the Best Colleges in the U.S., according to The Princeton Review. Students at UH can complete an on-campus Master of Social Work that prepares them for either a clinical or macro practice in social work. 

Students begin the program with a 16-credit foundation and a 200-clock-hour field practicum. During their foundation year, students complete courses like Human Diversity and Human Development, Policy in Social Environment, and Social Work Practice Skills. Students begin their second year by selecting either Clinical Practice or Macro Practice as a specialization. If students choose Clinical Practice, they must take several courses, including Cognitive Behavioral Interventions and one of the Social Work Practice courses. 

Students may further specialize with one of three concentrations: Health & Behavioral Health, Social Work Practice with Latinos, or Political Social Work. If students choose the Macro Practice specialization, they are prepared to work in communities or organizations. They are required to complete courses such as Administrative Practice, Dynamics of Leadership, Strategies of Community Development, and Social Policy Advocacy. 

All students will also complete a field placement in social work practice during their specialization year. UH has affiliations with more than 200 social service agencies in Houston and the surrounding area. UH also offers an online MSW or a Hybrid Program that combines online learning with face-to-face courses; the online program requires a field experience as well.

#19. University of North Carolina at Charlotte – Charlotte, NC

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $14,811

Unique Features

The University of North Carolina spreads across 16 campuses. UNC Charlotte began in 1946, as the Charlotte Center, and it set out to meet the needs of veterans returning from the Second World War. The school then went on to become Charlotte College, a two-year junior college. Over the years, the college grew and became part of the UNC system in 1965. UNC Charlotte now offers undergraduate and graduate degrees to about 30,000 students, and one of the degrees offered is the Master of Social Work. 

As with most of the other MSW programs, the UNC Charlotte MSW has a foundation year and an advanced year. The entire program requires 48 classroom credit hours and 14 credits in a field placement. UNC Charlotte's foundation year includes courses in Social Work Practice, Social Work Research, Advocacy and Policy Change, and Mental Health Assessment. When students progress to the advanced portion of their MSW, they complete courses like Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, Groups, Families, and Organizations. 

Those who have previously earned a Bachelor's in Social Work degree are eligible for Advanced Standing and the accelerated one-year MSW program; if approved for Advanced Standing, students begin their program during an initial Extended Summer Session. This summer session meets on campus for ten weeks and includes nine credits in coursework. For their field placement, students work with social work agencies within the Charlotte area. When students complete the MSW, they are eligible to work toward Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Master Social Worker, or Certified Social Work Manager certification. 

#18. Newman University – Wichita, KS

Master's in Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $14,663

Unique Features

Wichita is in central Kansas, about three hours west of Kansas City and 2.5 hours north of Oklahoma City. Positioned on the Arkansas River, Wichita is home to about 390,000 residents and Newman University. Newman, founded in 1933, is a Catholic university that hopes to "educate your mind and inspire your spirit." Newman has outreach campuses across Kansas, as well as in Colorado, Tulsa, OK, and Oklahoma City. The small liberal arts school is home to about 3,700 students, offering a low 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. 

Students can complete a Master of Social Work at Newman, which requires two years of full-time study and 62 credit hours for completion. If students hold a BSW degree, they may qualify for Advanced Standing status and will only need to complete 34 credits to receive the MSW. Newman's curriculum, revised and relaunched in 2018, has a foundation in Trauma Competent Practice; this gives students a holistic, multidimensional approach for their advanced year. 

The MSW focuses on eight specific areas: social work values and ethics, diversity; social and economic justice; human behavior, the social environment, and populations-at-risk; social welfare policy and services; social work practice; research; and a field practicum. Students take classes on the Wichita campus during the day or in the evening. Most classes are held one day each week over 16 weeks. Students will also complete a field practicum during each semester; the generalist year's practicum comprises six hours each week over 27 weeks for a total of 452 clock hours, while the specialist year's placement features 20 hours each week. This is over 31 weeks of practicum experience during the program for a whopping total of 640 clock hours. 

#17. Norfolk State University – Norfolk, VA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $14,429

Unique Features

Norfolk is a port city located on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay and is home to a large U.S. naval base. Norfolk is also home to Norfolk State College, which first opened its doors in 1935. Within a few years, the school developed into the Norfolk Polytechnic College and later became part of the Virginia State College. NSU gained university status in 1979, and while the school began as an institute primarily for African American students, it now has a diverse student population of about 5,300. 

Students at NSU can complete a Master of Social Work through The Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work. The MSW requires 60 credits that can be completed over two years. The program begins with a foundation year, during which students examine theories of social service and research ways to apply those theories to the real world. During their second year in the program, students begin their clinical concentration and begin to practice what they learned throughout their foundational year of studies.

There are three possible curriculum tracks for the clinical year: those in Military Social Work, School Social Work, or Child Welfare. Additionally, if students hold a BSW from an accredited university and have at least 400 clock hours of previous field experience, they may apply for Advanced Standing. If accepted, Advanced Standing students begin in the spring term and complete the MSW in three semesters. 

#16. The University of Texas at Austin – Austin, TX

Master of Science in Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $14,356

Unique Features

If you explore the city streets of Austin, you are likely to hear music. The live-music scene and good food attracts people from across the country, find themselves drawn to The University of Texas at Austin. UT Austin began in a single building in 1883. At the time, there were only eight professors and 221 students. Today, more than 51,000 students are attending UT Austin. The school ranks at No. 7 among U.S. Public Colleges according to Business First, and that high praise is due in part to the Master of Science in Social Work offered by UT's Steve Hicks School of Social Work. 

The first year of this MSSW is a foundation year that prepares students for generalist social work. If students hold a BSW, however, they may begin with the advanced year, which includes 42-48 credits. To complete the MSSW, learners may concentrate their studies in either Administration and Policy Practice or Clinical Social Work. Students can complete the 60-credit degree in as little as one year or extend it over ten semesters. 

All MSSW students also complete a field practicum during each year. If students begin with the generalist year, they will spend 16-20 hours each week working in a social service agency. During the spring of their concentration year, students will participate in an additional full-time field practicum. During this placement, students spend 36 hours each week working with an agency. 

#15. Portland State University – Portland, OR

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $13,573

Unique Features

Portland State University began with the intention to help educate veterans returning from World War II. In those days, there were 220 students at PSU, and the school offered two years of undergraduate study. Today, PSU covers 50 city blocks in downtown Portland with more than 29,000 students. 

Students at PSU can complete a Master of Social Work through the School of Social Work. This 78-credit MSW program ranks among the Best Schools for Social Work according to U.S. News & World Report and is available on the Portland campus as well as online and at other colleges across Oregon. Most MSW students complete the program in two to four years. The first year covers the foundation curriculum, after which students select a concentration. There are four advanced concentrations available at the Portland campus: Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations; Health Across the Lifespan; Social Work with Children, Youth, and Families; and Clinical Social Work Practice. All students will also complete two 500-hour field placements before graduation. 

An Advanced Standing track is available for students who possess a Bachelor's in Social Work; if approved for Advanced Standing, students complete only 46 credits in the advanced curriculum and one 500-hour field placement. For students who pursue the program online, the MSW can be earned in three years, and they may choose from concentrations in either Health Across the Lifespan or Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations.

#14. San Diego State University – San Diego, CA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $13,363

Unique Features

San Diego is a sun-filled city on Southern California's Pacific coast. The U.S. Navy has a strong presence in San Diego, but the sun and beaches tend to be the big draw. The world-famous San Diego Zoo is a great attraction as well. San Diego is also home to San Diego State University. SDSU began in another form in 1897, and its first 91 students met in a downtown drugstore before there was a campus. Today, its student body is 36,000 strong.

Students at SDSU can complete a Master of Social Work through the School of Social Work. The School of Social Work began in 1963 as the first social work school in the Cal State system. SDSU's 93-unit MSW is available in two-, three-, or four-year options. Each year, about 15 students can begin in the spring if accepted for the Advanced Standing Program; those with a BSW and 500 hours of field experience are eligible to apply. 

There are two concentrations available for the MSW: Administration and Community Development or Direct Practice/Clinical. Within those concentrations, there are three focus areas, including mental health, children/youth/families, and health/aging. After students complete their first 31 units of coursework, they will take a qualifying exam. Then, in their final year, students have the choice of either completing a thesis or taking a comprehensive review. 

#13. Wayne State University – Detroit, MI

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $13,287

Unique Features

Wayne State University is one of the largest universities in Michigan. Its Detroit location helps foster a diverse student population of more than 27,000 students. Wayne State first opened its doors as the Detroit College of Medicine. In 1881, a school for teachers formed in Detroit, which later became Detroit Teachers College. Then, in 1917, Detroit Junior College opened in an old high school. By 1927, the city needed a law school, and Detroit City Law School opened. In 1933, the Detroit Board of Education sought to bring all of these schools together. It became Wayne State University in the following year, where the School of Social Work first began. 

Today, students can complete a Master of Social Work at Wayne State. The first core year of the program offers social work foundations. The second year, the Advanced Year gives students a chance to specialize with a concentration. If students attend full-time, they can complete the MSW in four semesters, attending class two days a week and working in the field two days a week. Those enrolled part-time can complete the full MSW over three or four years.

If students hold a BSW and have established field experience, they may be eligible for the Advanced Standing program, which allows students to begin during the summer and complete 30 credits in advanced coursework. The MSW at Wayne State includes two concentrations: Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership; and Interpersonal Practice. The latter focus further allows students to select from three unique tracks: Cognitive-Behavioral, Family Systems, and Psychodynamic. 

#12. The University of Texas at Arlington – Arlington, TX

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $12,533

Unique Features

Arlington is a city of about 400,000 residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The University of Texas at Arlington began in 1895 as Arlington College, and it became part of the Texas A&M University system in 1917. In 1965, it joined the University of Texas system. Today, the 420-acre campus has about 42,500 students. Learners can complete a Master of Social Work through UTA's School of Social Work. This graduate social work program ranks No. 34 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report

The MSW program at UT-Arlington is available residentially as well as in Fort Worth. Students at either location begin their program in a cohort and progress through studies with the same group of students over 24 months. Cohorts of Advanced Standing students – those who previously earned a BSW – begin each summer. The Advanced Standing program takes 14 months to complete. The full 61-credit MSW program includes one year of generalist foundation courses. 

After the foundation year, students complete the Advanced Practice curriculum. UTA organizes the MSW program around five essential areas: Applied Social Work Practice, Community and Administrative Practice, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Research, and Evaluation, and Social Welfare Policy. There are two concentrations available in the advanced curriculum: Direct Practice (with specialties in Aging, Children and Families, Health Services, or Mental Health Services) and Community and Administrative Practice. Students also complete a field placement during each semester of their MSW program.

#11. Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $12,299

Unique Features

Arizona State University began as a territorial school in 1886. It started in Tempe, now a Phoenix suburb, about three decades before Arizona became a state. With an initial student body of 33, ASU is now home to 100,000 students. Learners at ASU can complete a Master of Social Work through the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. This MSW program is available through ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. The Downtown campus, about ten miles west of the main campus, is home to nearly 11,500 students. 

The 60-credit MSW program begins each fall, and the first year covers 30 credits in foundation courses. The second-year features classes in the 30-credit concentration, which students can take in three areas: Administration and Community Practice, Advanced Generalist Policy, and Advanced Direct Practice. Students accepted to the advanced standing program begin in the summer session with six credits in bridge seminars and then complete the MSW over two full-time semesters. 

Those pursuing a career in social work can also earn an MSW online through ASU. Whether online or on-campus, all students complete a 480-clock-hour internship each year. Those attending on-campus classes also complete a thesis, applied project, capstone course, and a master's portfolio. If individuals take online courses, they will complete an applied project, capstone course, and master's degree portfolio. ASU also offers dual degrees in an MSW coupled with either a Juris Doctor or a Master of Public Administration. 

#10. University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago, IL

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $11,884

Unique Features

The University of Illinois at Chicago has a history steeped in health education. There were several private health schools founded in Chicago throughout the 19th century, and during the past 30 years, those schools all came together as UIC. Today, more than 31,000 students study across 16 schools at UIC. Among these schools is the Jane Addams College of Social Work, where students can earn their Master of Social Work. 

As with other CSWE-accredited MSW programs, there are two major components. The first year of study comprises the generalist portion of the program, and at UIC, students spend two days each week in the classroom with a cohort of other students. They also spend two days each week in a field placement with a social services agency, for a total of 450 hours in the first year. UIC social work graduates dedicate their second year to a specialization, where they can focus on mental health, child and family services, school social work, or organization and community practice. 

As in their first year, students again spend two days each week in the classroom and three days working in a field placement; students spend a total of about 630 hours in the field during their specialization year. UIC also offers an Advanced Standing Option in which individuals with a BSW from an accredited school can immediately begin their specialization year and ultimately complete the MSW in one year. For those who need a little extra time to complete the MSW, there is an extended three-year option as well. 

#9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, NC

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $11,100

Unique Features

Chapel Hill is a small town in central North Carolina that is home to fewer than 60,000 people and is located about 30 miles west of Raleigh. Of course, the town is also home to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC-Chapel Hill is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system. 

Future grad students can complete a Master of Social Work through UNC's School of Social Work. This full-time Chapel Hill program requires the completion of 62 credits over two years. Students will complete 29 credits in the generalist curriculum and 33 credits in the concentration of their choosing during their second year. BSW degree holders can enroll in the Advanced Standing program, which includes 40 hours of coursework at Chapel Hill over one year. 

UNC-Chapel Hill's MSW curriculum allows students to customize the preparation for their social work careers – learners have a chance to specialize in one of two concentrations: Community, Management, and Policy Practice or Direct Practice. Those choosing DP work with individuals, families, and small groups, while those pursuing the CMPP concentration work toward a career in advocacy, policy practice, and human services administration. UNC also offers some three-year options for those individuals not available to study full-time. 

#8. Florida Atlantic University – Boca Raton, FL

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $10,100

Unique Features

Boca Raton is a city of about 100,000 people on Florida's Atlantic coast, about an hour north of Miami. It is home to Florida Atlantic University, a school that began in 1964 with a single campus in the city. The college, once the Boca Raton Army Air Field, is now one of six FAU campuses across Florida and is home to over 29,000 students. 

The Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work at FAU offers a Master of Social Work, which is a 60-credit full-time program that generally takes two years to complete. The program includes 30 credits in its Foundation Year curriculum and 30 credits in its Concentration Year curriculum. If students hold a BSW, they may complete the 30-credit Concentration Year to receive their MSW in only one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study. During their Concentration Year, students have a chance to explore Social Work Practice with an emphasis in either Elders and Families or Children, Adolescents, and Families. 

All students complete a field placement throughout their MSW program. At the Foundation-level, students take part in an Inter-Professional Education Development. This IPED experience includes working with FAU Nursing and Medical students. As part of their experience, students spend time in mandatory seminars and with patients at the Abbey Delray or Ruth Rales Weisman Center, both of which are retirement communities that give students hands-on learning with senior populations. 

#7. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $9,744

Unique Features

Indiana University started as a state seminary in Bloomington in 1822. It began offering classes in Indianapolis in 1891. Purdue University, on the other hand, had its beginnings in Lafayette, about an hour north of Indianapolis. The two universities merged in 1969 to form IUPUI. This school ranks as one of the country's top national universities according to U.S. News & World Report

Students at IUPUI can complete a Master of Social Work, which is the most extensive MSW program within the Indiana University School of Social Work system. In this MSW program, students complete 19 credits in Foundation courses. Once they complete the Foundation courses, students move on to their Concentration courses, which give students more hands-on experience and focuses on their chosen specialization. Students take courses in Clinical Theory and Practice, Community and Global Theory and Practice, and Assessment in Mental Health and Addictions. 

MSW graduates also complete Social Policy and Services courses in one of the several focus areas detailed on the school's website. In addition, learners participate in a hands-on practicum each semester throughout their MSW program. Students progress through IUPUI's curriculum in a cohort, focusing on mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders. This experience can lead to dual licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor. IUPUI also offers two joint-degree programs, which give students to pursue a dual degree in MSW and either a Master of Public Health or a Juris Doctor. 

#6. California State University, Long Beach – Long Beach, CA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $9,654

Unique Features

Long Beach is a city of about 475,000 residents on California's sunny Pacific coast. Sitting about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, Long Beach is one of the country's busiest ports. It is also home to California State University, Long Beach. CSULB sits on 322 acres about three miles from the coast. The school is part of the Cal State system and is home to 37,000 students. 

Along with exceptional academics, CSULB has an impressive sculpture collection and is home to The Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum. It is in this beautiful setting where students can earn a Master of Social Work. Students can complete CSULB's 60-credit MSW program over two or three years. After an initial foundation year, students can select one of three areas of specialization: Child and Family Wellbeing, Adulthood and Aging, or Integrated Health. 

CSULB also offers an advanced placement option for students who have a BSW, which allows them to finish their MSW in 12 months. All students complete a 500-hour field placement during each year of their program, in addition to the completion of Field Education courses. Students usually work 16 hours in a social service agency each week; some students select two eight-hour days while others choose one full day and two four-hour days. 

#5. University of Washington-Seattle Campus – Seattle, WA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $9,443

Unique Features

Seattle is the premier campus for the University of Washington. UW began as a small school in downtown Seattle in 1861, and it relocated to Union and Portage bays in 1895. Today, UW has two other campuses in Tacoma and Bothell, WA, and a student body of about 48,000. Learners can complete a Master of Social Work through the UW School of Social Work. UW's MSW program placed No. 3 in the country among Best Graduate Schools according to U.S. News & World Report

There are three degree paths for earning the MSW at UW. First, students may complete the 75-credit degree by attending courses during the day; the day program spans two years. The first year features foundation courses, while the second year is for the advanced curriculum. During the second year, there are three concentrations available in Administration and Policy Practice, Community-Centered Integrative Practice, and Clinical Social Work. Students also complete a field placement during each semester of the program. The second degree path is the Advanced Standing option, which the university designed for students who already hold a BSW degree and have at least 2,000 hours of social service field experience. Students can complete the advanced program in ten months as a full-time student or 17 months as a part-time student. 

If accepted into the Advanced Standing program, students begin with a Summer Bridge program. After that, students begin the advanced curriculum and a field placement in the fall. MSW students conclude their studies by attending classes one or two days each week while working three other days in the field. Finally, there is also an optional, three-year Extended Degree Program. Extended program students attend classes in the evening or on Fridays and Saturdays over nine to 11 consecutive quarters. 

#4. University of Missouri-St. Louis – St. Louis, MO

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $9,150

Unique Features

In 1957, the Normandy School District of Missouri opened a community college that made its home in the Bellerive Country Club near St. Louis. The school district operated the college for a few years before it became the University of Missouri-St. Louis, in 1963. Today, that small school is now home to more than 16,000 students. UMSL covers 470 acres in the St. Louis suburbs and welcomes students from around the world. 

Students can complete a Master of Social Work through the UMSL School of Social Work over two years, where they begin their studies by focusing on social justice principles. Overall, students complete 30 credits in their foundation year. If students have previously earned a Bachelor's in Social Work, they can begin at the specialization level, which also requires 30 credits. 

UMSL offers two specializations in its MSW program: Leadership and Social Change as well as Family Practice. Students also have the option during their advanced year to take 12 credits of electives to complete a further area of emphasis. There are two possible areas of focus: Health and Behavioral Health or School Social Work. 

All students are required to complete a field practicum each year of the MSW program. In total, the foundation year requires 300 clock hours in the field, and the specialization year requires 600; students will work about 20 hours each week in the field over both semesters. Students can take the MSW courses at the St. Louis campus or the Mineral Area College in Park Hills during alternating years.

#3. University of Washington-Tacoma Campus – Tacoma, WA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $8,674

Unique Features

Tacoma is a city of about 215,000 residents, located 35 miles south of Seattle on Washington's Puget Sound. Tacoma is world-renowned for the Museum of Glass that holds works by such artists as Dale Chihuly. The city is also known for the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington. The UW Tacoma Master of Social Work, offered through the School of Social Work & Criminal Justice, is in cooperation with the UW Seattle School of Social Work. Students can complete this MSW program in three years. 

The first year of studies at UW-Tacoma includes 25 credits in a professional foundation as well as a practicum during the spring and summer quarters. The second year features 24 credits of continued professional foundation and marks the beginning of the advanced curriculum. Second-year students also continue with practicum work. The third year of study requires 26 credits in the advanced curriculum only. UW Tacoma also features an alternative Advanced Standing track in which qualified students complete 19 credits during their first year and 26 credits during their second year. 

All MSW students have the opportunity to pursue a program emphasis in Advanced Integrative Practice that prepares learners for a leadership role in social work practice, advocacy, or policy analysis. Students can focus on specific areas of interest, too, such as on children and youth, clinical mental health, chemical dependency, military family, and school social work, to name just a few of the options.

#2. California State University, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $3,907

Unique Features

California State University, Los Angeles, sits on the site of the original San Gabriel Mission. Cal State LA opened in 1947, with 136 students. Today, it is a public university with about 28,000 students and is one of the 23 schools in the California State University system. Students at Cal State LA can pursue a Master of Social Work degree through the School of Social Work. 

The MSW program requires 90 quarter credits and usually takes two years of full-time study to complete. Students who enroll in the full-time program are advised not to be employed; at the full-time pace, MSW students take courses all day every Tuesday and Thursday. Students also complete 21 units of fieldwork. The first-year placement consists of 480 clock hours in a social service agency, with students spending every Monday and Wednesday in the field. The second-year placement comprises 600 hours, and students typically devote three days of the week to fieldwork. 

All students at Cal State LA must also complete a thesis before earning their MSW degree. There are three concentrations available in the MSW program, including Children, Youth, Women, and Families; Aging and Families; and Forensics. Additionally, for students concentrating in either Children, Youth, Women, and Families or Aging and Family, there are three-year study options available. The three-year program features classes one evening each week and on Saturday mornings during each quarter. 

#1. CUNY Lehman College – Bronx, NY

Master of Social Work

More Information

Tuition: $2,939

Unique Features

Lehman College is part of The City University of New York and is the only four-year college in the Bronx. Lehman began in 1968, situated on the campus of what was once Hunter College. Since then, Lehman has become home to more than 14,000 students working on undergraduate and graduate degrees. 

Students at Lehman can complete an excellent Master's of Social Work that prepares them to work in urban social service agencies. There are three different tracks available for completing the MSW at Lehman. Track A is a two-year, full-time program in which students meet two evenings per week for class and work in the field three full days per week, which includes 600 clock hours of field placement each year. The first year of Track A covers 31 credits of generalist foundation courses, and the second year features 37 credits in advanced courses. 

Track B is a three-year extended program. In this track, students attend classes two evenings per week during their first year, and in their second year, they pursue studies one night each week and spend three full days each week working in the field. Then, during students' third year in Track B, they meet for class two evenings each week and spend three days in the field. The final option, 

Track C is a one-year Advanced Standing Program, designed especially for students who have previously earned a Bachelor's in Social Work. In this track, students attend class two evenings each week and complete three days working in the field. When students complete the MSW at Lehman, regardless of their study track, they will be eligible to sit for the LCSW exam in New York.

Find Your Degree
Socialworkdegreeguide.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.