MSW Online – Best Social Work Masters Degree Programs

Do you want to contribute your quota to serving the greater good? Maybe you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work or related fields and want to step up to a master’s degree.

Online Master’s Degree in Social Works Program

Pursuing a master’s degree in social work (MSW) is a great decision. You can get online programs for MSW, or you can go for in-school programs.

It will all depend on your interest, work schedule, and school.  We’ll look at the essential things you need to know about the online MSW programs in the US.

Requirements for Master’s Degree in Social Works Program

Schools have their requirements for an online MSW program, and that’s the first thing you need to check before applying to any school.

Do you meet the general requirements?

Once you answer that question, you can start looking at specific school requirements. Here are the general requirements for the online MSW program in the US.

Schools in the US offer online MSW programs as either traditional or advanced standing programs. These programs can be part-time or full-time.

The general requirements and pre-requisites are:

  1. Applicant must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
  2. They must meet the minimum GPA requirements for the school to which they are applying to.
  3. Applicants must have completed certain required classes during their undergraduate program.
  4. Submit undergraduate transcript, letter of recommendation, and personal statement.
  5. Pay the required application fee.
  6. All applicants must have a computer, internet access, and other technical requirements that will give the student access to learning facilities.

In addition to the following requirements, the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in social work for Advanced Standing programs.

Some schools allow applicants without a BSW but must have at least two years of working experience as a social worker under the supervision of a master’s level practitioner.

Some schools require students to take standardized tests before starting some of their programs. In some other cases, the students must maintain a certain CGPA to remain in the program.

Tuition for Online MSW Program

The average tuition for an online MSW program in the US is approximately 44,200 dollars for in-state students.

The least expensive school for an MSW program is Western New Mexico University, which costs approximately $19,537.20, while the most costly is the University of Southern California, with roughly $115,905 tuition.

Career Prospects after MSW Online

A master’s degree in social work opens more career opportunities for you in different industries. Cooperate responsibilities, criminal justice, and gerontology are available for people with MSW.

They can also work in health care administration roles, research, nonprofit administration roles, policy and planning roles, therapists in private schools, social work administrators, Director of corporate social responsibility, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselor, veteran affairs social worker, social work policy analyst, etc.

CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs

Accreditation is an important thing you have to consider before choosing any school for any program at all.

Always check to confirm the school you are applying to has accreditation by the authorized body for the program of interest. The same body accredits the MSW program in almost all schools in the United States.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is responsible for accrediting the MSW program in the US.

This accreditation by the CSWE differs from the general university accreditation, which is often done by a different accreditation body.

Program Overview

The program overview for online MSW differs from one school to the other. However, they all have something in common.

Program Objective

Every program has its objectives, which usually are the skills the students are expected to have after the program.

MSW programs generally seek to equip students with management skills, policymaking skills, evidence-based clinical skills, advocacy skills, social justice, etc., to work with individuals, families, and organizations.

The core aims of the program differ from one school to the other.

However, they generally aim at giving students improved skills in social work.


The curriculum for an online master’s degree in social work program differs from one school to the other. Schools have a curriculum rooted in psychopathology, human development, and cultural competencies.

The curriculum integrates a bio-psychosocial-spiritual-cultural perspective. It also explores critical thinking and provokes self-awareness.

The curriculum uses evidence-based practices and evidence-informed interventions to explore content relevant to contemporary issues around employers, leadership, effective collaboration, etc.

Important here is that some schools allow students to customize their programs according to their needs. The student will have to choose from any of the available customizable options.

Program Options and Categories

All schools offering the MSW program have different program options and categories from which applicants can choose.

Some of the program options depend on your educational level, previous educational background, and personal preference. Regardless of the program option, the MSW program has core focus areas.

Universities like the University of Texas offer some benefits to students living outside of Texas. If you live outside of Texas, you can sign up with Non-Resident Online Distance Education (NRODE) program and get an in-state tuition fee that will save you up to 45%.

Two main program options are available in every school offering an online master’s degree in social works program; the traditional option and the advanced standing option.

Each option has specific requirements and other options, which differ from one school to the other. Schools also have different durations for completion according to their course loads.

Traditional Online Master’s Degree in Social Works Program Option

The traditional online MSW program option is available for students with bachelor’s degrees in social work or other relevant fields.

Students can also apply for this option without a background in social work as long as they have a bachelor’s degree. The traditional choice is available for both part-time and full-time schools.

Some schools also offer opportunities for students to take classes online within the week and in-class during weekends.

Some schools require students to complete a 60-credit-hour course for this program, while some schools may be fewer or more.

Generally, the traditional option can be completed within two years, divided into four or eight semesters. Some schools offer the standard choice for a more extended period and at least eight credit semesters.

Some schools like Robert Wesley College offer the program in a 15-week semester format.

Part-time traditional online MSW programs differ from the full-time option. While the full-time option takes two years to complete, the part-time opportunity takes over two years.

Some schools run the part-time option for three years, while some lets it run for four years. The part-time and full-time options are available as entirely online programs or hybrid programs.

The option depends on the schools.

Traditional MSW in some schools has a 65-credit 9-semester program that runs for three years.

The human Service Experience option is available for applicants with at least two years of service experience as a social worker supervised by a master’s level practitioner.

This option is also a 65-credit program that runs for three years. You will also find 66 traditional online MSW options for 16 months (full-time) and 24 32months (part-time).

Schools like Houston University mandate students to complete a 16-hour foundation as a prerequisite for available courses. Students must complete 900 clock hour field works before graduation.

The school’s Field Education Office helps students identify qualified agencies in their area for their fieldwork.

They have an intensive curriculum that runs for 63 sester credit hours, including full-time fieldwork and 38 semester credit hours for advanced standing.

Online Advanced Standing Master’s in Social Works Program Option

Like the traditional MSW program option, the advanced standing option also differs from one school to the other.

The common thing you’ll find in every school is that students going for this option must have an educational background in social work. You must have a BSW before you can go for this option.

Some schools allow students with at least two years of working experience as social workers under the supervision of a professional social worker to apply for this option.

The advanced standing option is available in some schools as a 30-credit program if you already have an educational background in social work. Most schools no longer require any GRE or GMAT.

You will find schools offering students the advanced year online offerings, fully online cohort program, Advanced year online 12 months full-time cohort, or Advanced year online 16 months full-time cohort.

The full-time programs run for one to two years, while the part-time programs run for one to three years.

In some schools, the program is a 43-credit program that runs for six semesters, while it runs for eight months full-time and 16 months part-time in some other schools.

Schools Offering Online Master’s Degree in Social Works Program, their Curriculum, and Programs

You have clicked the general requirement box. It’s time to search for schools offering the program and see if you meet their specific standards.

Here is a list of some of the top schools that offer online MSW programs in the US. You can look up each of these schools for their various program options, requirements, courses, and tuition.

  • Columbia School of Social Works
  • Campbellsville University
  • Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester
  • University of Southern California
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Texas
  • Boston University’s School of Social Work (BUSSW)
  • Fordham University
  • Houston University

Before you make any decision, ensure you understand the program, career paths, tuition, options, and schools offering the program.

Make your decisions based on your schedule and needs.

CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs

Social workers must deal with delicate situations and work closely with those most in need of their services.

As a result, they must be well trained, and newcomers to the sector must meet strict requirements.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be plenty of career opportunities for social workers with the necessary education, experience, and license over the next few years.

Online Masters In Social Work Programs

Getting a job as a social worker requires a master’s degree, which many students can get online.

Although all graduate programs demand students to do an externship or field exposure, many schools offer their primary curriculum online.

This allows students to finish their needed coursework online and focus on building interpersonal skills during their externships.

Best Online MSW Programs Accredited

We’ve compiled a list of the best accredited online MSW programs in the United States.

Please look at our list of the best places to get an online master’s in social work.

  1. Our Lady of the Lake University

One of Texas’s oldest social work schools, the Worden School of Social Service, is located at Our Lady of the Lake University in Corpus Christi.

Only the Worden School offers a master’s degree in social work focusing on assisting the Hispanic community, and it has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The part-time online MSW program at the institution is designed for working professionals.

Students sign up for one eight-week session of an asynchronous course each semester.

Graduates with bachelor’s degrees in subjects other than social work can opt for either a 57-credit foundation MSW or a 30-credit higher-standing focus program offered by OLLU.

Students can complete the foundation MSW online in just over three years, while those with advanced standing can complete the MSW in 20 months.

With a social work supervisor on hand and a faculty liaison, students are put through their paces in the field of practice.

  1. The University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Since 1942, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has provided training in social work.

UT Knoxville’s master of science in social work (MSSW) program is the state’s first and oldest Council on Social Work Education-accredited program.

Those interested in earning their MSSW online can do it in three ways.

An additional 60 credits are needed for the full-time and part-time extended study options.

Students can earn their degree in two to three years with the two-year full-time option and three- or four-year extended study program.

Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work are exempt from fundamental courses in the 36-credit advanced study program.

Part-time students take two years to complete this degree, while full-time students usually finish one year.

Asynchronous and synchronous elements are included in the course. Distance learners can choose an evidence-based practice concentration or a macro focus on organizational leadership.

Gerontology, school social work licensing, trauma and veterinary social work are just a few specializations students can pursue.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has granted UT Knoxville regional accreditation.

  1. Adelphi University

Adelphi University, founded in 1896 and located in New York City, has more than 8,000 students enrolled in over 60 undergraduate & 65 postgraduate.

The school’s online master’s in social work program is geared toward professionals on the go.

There are 64 credits required for both the conventional MSW and the program for Human Service Professionals.

Generally, most students complete their chosen degree in three years, with a maximum of 10 credits per semester.

The advanced standing MSW allows students with a BSW to skip the first year of foundation courses, finishing the program in about 15 months.

An 8-15 week web-based course & 2 annual on-campus residencies make up Adelphi’s virtual MSW.

Distance learning incorporates mixed synchronous and asynchronous components to accommodate students’ busy work schedules while allowing them to participate in classroom activities.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has granted regional accreditation to Adelphi. The Council on Social Work Education has accredited the online MSW program.

  1. University of North Dakota

The Council on Social Work Education has accredited the MSW program at the University of North Dakota since 1993, when it was first established.

The distance foundation and the distance focus are UND’s two online MSW options.

There are 36 advanced standing credits & 500 hours of field experience that students with a BSW must complete before enrolling in the distance concentration. It typically takes 1-2 years to finish this specialization.

60-credit distance foundation offer is available to undergraduates from relevant fields with a bachelor’s degree. More than three years is standard for part-time students, including the required 950 hours of fieldwork.

A cohort of students progresses through the program in synchronous web sessions at night or on weekends.

The curriculum requires one on-campus residency for higher standing candidates & two for traditional students, each spanning between five and six days.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has granted regional accreditation to the University of North Dakota.

  1. Wayne State University

The School of Social Work at Wayne State University was established in 1935.

The Council on Social Work Education has accredited the school’s online master’s in social work programs, available full-time and part-time.

A least 60 credits are required to complete the online MSW program. The four-semester full-time program includes fieldwork.

Students holding a BSW may be eligible for accelerated standing and an exemption from the required core classes at the university. There are 38 credits needed for the advanced status MSW program.

Human behavior, policy & service delivery, research, and field education are all included in the program’s core curriculum.

Interpersonal practice or innovation in society, policy, & leadership are two concentrations students can choose from for advanced classes.

  1. Ohio State University

Ohio State University is the country’s most extended, continuously certified public social work program. The College of Social Work offers two MSW online programs.

The typical curriculum consists of 63 credits and takes two years to complete. The Higher Learning Commission accredits Ohio State University.

The 43-credit BSW advanced standing option contains three semesters of full-time study.

Both options allow part-time enrollment. These include aging and health, substance misuse treatment, child & youth services, and social and community justice.

Students mostly take asynchronous courses with weekly assignments. Certain classes incorporate live, synchronous interaction with teachers and other distance learners. Students must do fieldwork.

Each student is placed within just a 50-mile range of their home community.

  1. Aurora University

Aurora University, based in Chicago, provides many online degree completion, master’s, and endorsement programs, including a master’s in social work.

The program offers five specializations: forensic social work, healthcare, leadership administration, & school social work. The school social work focus leads to a PEL.

The 60-credit online MSW is usually completed in about three years. The program includes self-paced, asynchronous courses across eight weeks and 1,050 hours of fieldwork.

The online MSW program requires a 3.0 GPA for a bachelor of science from a regionally approved university. Students must also submit a career CV, personal statement, and (2) recommendation letters.

AU charges all online students a fixed cost per credit. College’s MSW online is CSWE accredited. The Higher Learning Commission has accredited AU.

  1. California State University – Northridge

CSUN’s Tseng College provides a full-time MSW online program emphasizing social justice and diversity.

The curriculum prepares students for clinical & supervisory jobs in healthcare, education, government, and community contexts.

The 60-credit MSW program is completed in a cohort, with group projects in addition to individual studies. Depending on enrollment, the degree takes four semesters / 2-3 years.

Each semester has two sessions with three classes each.

The mandatory field practicum prepares MSW students for advanced social professions. The curriculum aggressively encourages students to do fieldwork in different places rather than in their existing workplaces.

The Council on Social Work Education awards it. The WASC Senior College and University Commission accredits CSUN.

  1. The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama School of Social Work provides an online MSW program to accommodate working adults.

Using research-based methods and cultural sensitivity, the program aims to produce advocates for underserved groups.

Two tracks are available to students wishing to pursue an MSW online. A 42-credit advanced standing option allows students with a BSW to finish in 18-24 months.

Full-time students usually complete a 60-credit track in two years, whereas part-time students typically need four years to meet the prerequisites.

Within each curriculum track, students can concentrate on social work with kids, adolescents, adults & their families.

On certain Saturdays, students in the program must attend face-to-face skills laboratories at the Tuscaloosa campus, where they take web-based courses.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission has a regionally accredited UA.

  1. University of Houston

The Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston operates a 63-credit master of social work program that the Council on Social Work Education has accredited since 1970.

Both a campus-based and a fully online MSW program are offered by the University of Houston (UH).

Advanced standing is available to students with a bachelor’s degree in social work, requiring just 38 credits & fewer field placements.

For part-time students in the online course, you can complete the MSW degree in 30-36 months. Asynchronous instruction is the norm for most online classes. However, some do include synchronous components.

Students can choose between two concentrations within the curriculum. There are a variety of locations where clinical practice can be applied, including hospitals, clinics, schools, and other health care facilities.

The macro practice option teaches students how to interact with diverse and vulnerable people in public and private organizations.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education has classified the university as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The SACS Commission has granted its regional accreditation to Colleges.

  1. University of New England

The first asynchronous online MSW program certified by the Council of Social Work Education was produced by the University of New England.

As with a campus-based degree, the fully digital master’s in social work prepares its graduates for state licensing in Maine.

Two full- and part-time paths are available at UNE, each with its requirements.

Full-time students can complete the 64-credit standard MSW in three or four years of part-time study, which includes 20 courses & two field practicums.

The 35-credit advanced standing path comprises 11 courses and a field practicum for students with a bachelor’s degree in social work. On average, students often enroll part-time and finish the degree in around two years.

There are three options for specialization available to students in either track. Individuals, families, & groups in a wide range of organizations focus on the clinical practice specialty.

The community practice option graduates are prepared for employment in program development, policy, and advocacy.

The foundational courses of the community and hospital practice specializations are combined in the integrated practice concentration.

The New England Commission on Higher Education has granted UNE regional accreditation.

  1. Simmons College

Simmons College was founded in Boston in 1899 and renamed Simmons University in 2018.

The Council on Social Work Education has certified the school’s clinically based online MSW program, which emphasizes social justice & multicultural perspectives.

Three tracks are available in the MSW program.

Students can complete the 65-credit accelerated program in as little as 15 months. You can also complete the standard full-time program for students in less than two years.

The extended program allows students to spread their classes over 32 months of part-time study.

In addition, students can tailor the degree and gain certificates in specialized areas, such as groups and families, mental wellbeing, and trauma treatment.

Clinical specializations include child and family, trauma & interpersonal violence, mental well-being & addictions, and the health & aging specialist.

  1. Fordham University

Over the past century, Fordham University’s Grad School of Social Service has offered social work programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Master’s degree students in social work online undergo asynchronous, self-paced curriculum through weekly live sessions that provide professors with real-time feedback.

Fordham also offers a hybrid MSW program that combines online courses with on-campus class lectures for more fantastic New York City students.

To complete the regular online MSW in two years, full-time students can choose to take an expedited 16-month program.

Students who enroll part-time typically complete the standard degree in 32 months.

Students with a BSW degree who enroll in the advanced standing online MSW program can skip the prerequisites and finish their degree in as little as eight months of full-time attendance.

Students in the MSW online program can specialize in one or more practice areas, such as working with individuals and families, groups and communities, conducting evaluations, or influencing policy.

For fieldwork placements, students work with approved organizations in their areas.

  1. Case Western Reserve University

CWRU opened the nation’s first school of social work in 1915, becoming part of Case Western Reserve University.

Online students can earn an MSSA from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, accredited by other universities, businesses, and state licensing boards.

The Council on Social Work Education has accredited the MSSA.

The Mandel School offers two MSSA programs. BSW graduates are eligible for up to 24 credits toward the 36-credit advanced standing program.

A bachelor’s degree can be earned in as little as two years, spread out over six semesters, by full-time students with advanced standing.

The 60-credit course of study is spread across eight semesters on the standard track. Children, kids, families; adult mental well-being; and community practice for social reform are all options for online students.

Simultaneously in class streams that enable real-time interaction between students and professors. At their current job, candidates for a clinical degree can meet the program’s need for field experience.

  1. University at Buffalo

U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Buffalo as one of the best public universities in the country, with more than 125 undergrad degrees and over 325 graduate programs.

The Council on Social Work Education has accredited UB’s online MSW program since 2013.

In addition to the standard online program, UB’s part-time master’s in social work offers an advanced standing program for students with a bachelor’s degree (BSW).

In three years, students can get a regular online bachelor’s degree; in 18 months, students can earn an advanced master’s degree in social work.

Courses can be delivered asynchronously or synchronously using either of these programs.

The curriculum emphasizes the interaction of traumatic experiences and human rights violations in local and global contexts. Students can choose from a wide range of elective classes in the program to tailor their education.

  1. University of Central Florida

Over 68,000 students are served by the University of Central Florida, located in the Orlando metropolitan area.

Two MSW Programs in online master’s programs in social work are offered by the University of Central Florida (UCF). Both choices focus on child welfare and behavioral health.

Each semester, the 62-credit MSW program, designed for students without a bachelor’s degree in social work, consists of two seven-week terms of instruction.

The advanced standing MSW program is open to students who have completed a BSW in six years.

Students work in groups called cohorts to complete the degree, taking an asynchronous course after another. Students must also conduct a work placement with a local service provider as part of their program requirements.

These programs meet the academic requirements for Florida state licensure for their graduates. Students pursuing an MSW degree online are subject to the same fee structure.

The Council of Social Work Education accredits the online MSW programs.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has granted regional accreditation to the University of Central Florida (UCF).

  1. Boston University

Boston University has awarded master’s degrees in social work for over a century.

A master’s degree in social work is available online from the university and the on-campus choices.

Students pursuing a clinical major will be well-prepared to enter the field of social work and become licensed in their respective states. Policy and organizational transformation initiatives are the focus of macro practice majors.

Both majors highlight the importance of social and economic equality.

Candidates for the program are placed in one of three categories. Graduates without social work experience can complete the regular 65-credit program for nine semesters.

The 65-credit, 9-semester human service experience path is open to students with at least two years of supervised professional experience.

Over six semesters, students pursuing an advanced standing MSW must complete 40-43 credits. Asynchronous classes make up the bulk of the course’s content.

On the other hand, students must attend one synchronous session per week.

The Council on Social Work Education accredits the online MSW programs. The University of Boston is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

  1. Florida State University

Florida State University has offered part-time, online MSW programs to accommodate the demands of working professionals.

The advanced standing MSW program and the regular option offer a clinically oriented curriculum and field assignments that lead to Florida state licensure after graduation.

The standard 61-credit curriculum is open to those without a BSW. The majority of students finish their degree requirements in 3 years. The second or third semester is a typical timeframe for a weekend residency.

It is possible to complete the 39-credit advanced standing choice in as little as two years for students with a BSW. In most online courses, students work at their own pace, asynchronously.

The Council on Social Work Education has recognized FSU’s online MSW program, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has regionally accredited the university.

  1. University of Denver

The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver provides an online MSW degree. There are two MSW concentrations available at the school.

To prepare students for clinical practice, a concentration on mental health and trauma provides assessment and intervention techniques training.

Students can take advantage of a health and wellness option emphasizing the mind-body link. Culturally sensitive critical practice is noted in both focuses.

Students without a BSW must take 90 credits to complete the conventional MSW track. You can complete the degree in 21 to 48 months for students.

BSW holders can take advantage of the advanced standing track, which entails 60 credits and can be completed in as little as 18 to 24 months on average.

Student participation in live classes is limited to four hours a week, with a maximum of two hours each week.

Synchronous classes necessitate attendance at specific times, whereas online students have the flexibility to choose from a variety of class hours that best suit their needs.

The Council on Social Work Education has given the institution full accreditation for its online social work programs. The Higher Learning Commission has granted DU regional accreditation.

  1. The University of Texas in Arlington

The Council of Social Work Education has accredited the University of Texas at Arlington’s 180-degree programs, including full and part-time online MSW options.

Non-cohort & cohort tracks are available at UTA and accelerated options for students with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Planned non-cohort courses comprise both online and in-person instruction for the 16 weeks.

Synchronous online courses are a characteristic of cohort programs, which allow students to interact with each other in real-time.

Students can complete the course requirements anywhere from 16 to 26 months, depending on their enrollment status and the plan.

The accelerated option allows students to finish all their education in 12 months.

There are three direct-practice specializations for online MSW students: children and family, mental health, and aging. Enrollment in the MSW online program is only open to residents of Texas at this time.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has granted UTA regional accreditation.


Social workers can improve people’s lives by offering them emotional and practical assistance, connecting them with community resources, and ensuring they are referred to other experts who can help them reach their goals.

Schools, hospitals, and community organizations can all benefit from the services of social workers.