A Master’s in Social Work (henceforth known as MSW) is one of the most advantageous graduate degree options available to students due to the increasing flexibility of not only training programs but also employment options. With the increase in today’s technology, obtaining such a versatile degree is now incredibly simple and affordable. Many universities across the country and even the world are beginning to offer online MSW programs, making the MSW an even more desirable degree for those looking to attend graduate school.
1. Boston University
Boston University’s School of Social Work offers a part-time, online Master’s in Social Work with courses taught by its esteemed faculty. Students have two options for degree completion, since BU online offers a Human Service Experience or traditional MSW track of coursework. Courses are taken online while internships and other outside degree work can be completed near the student’s own community. Students pursuing the Human Service Experience emphasis must have at least two prior years of supervised human services experience and requires a 1000 hour internship. The traditional track requires two field internships totaling 1200 hours. BU’s faculty assists students in finding local internships in their own communities. The online MSW program consists of the same components as BU’s on-campus degree program.
BU’s School of Social Work tied for rank #16 by U.S. News & World Report in social work and all courses are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Additionally, BU’s MSW program is also accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Tuition cost is $650 per credit hour plus additional fees and generally takes two and a half years to complete.
2. University of Southern California
University of Southern California’s School of Social Work offers a dynamic, engaging, and world renown online MSW program. What makes USC’s program truly remarkable is its flexible start dates, part-time and full-time options, and academically challenging environment. USC utilizes a “Virtual Academic Center” that allows students to connect with each other as well as their professors via live classrooms and chats and interactive study groups. Over the course of approximately two years of graduate studies, MSW students gain both the foundational knowledge and a specialized focus needed to advance in the field upon graduation. USC’s MSW students can choose to specialize in: Families and Children; Health; Mental Health; and Community Organization, Planning and Administration fields to refine skills and gain experience. The added sub-concentration in Military Social Work and Veteran Services is also available to those with interest. Internships are arranged by the school to be completed in the student’s local community.
USC is considered a elite academic institution and is is tied for rank #11 by U.S. News and World Report for their offerings in social work. All online social work programs at USC are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and all online programs are regionally accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. Tuition is $1,536 per unit for students taking 1-14 units and $22,801 for students taking 15-18 units.
3. Northeastern University
Northeastern University in Boston, MA, is a well recognized provider of distance education since 1974. With a longstanding tradition of academic excellence, Northeastern’s Master of Science in Human Services online degree program prepares students for work in government agencies, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Students in NU’s online MS in Human Services program can customize their curriculum based on their specific area of study. They may refine their skills and gain specialized knowledge in fields like: Global Studies, Leadership, or Organizational Communication.
Northeastern has been ranked #8 in U.S. News & World Report‘s list of Up-and-Coming-Schools. It is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Best of all it’s online MS in Human Services Degree program is also incredibly affordable, with tuition for all courses and materials estimated at $25,740 and the program lends students the flexibility to work and attend graduate school simultaneously. Students have the option to attend part-time or full-time. Most can complete the program in two to three years.
4. Fordham University
Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service is a highly ranking, award winning provider of some of the most well recognized programs available today. Its online MSW program provides an asynchronous, part-time learning experience in which traditional and advanced-standing students work toward a clinical concentration utilizing both online learning and hands-on field work. Part of Fordham’s MSW online experience requires students to participate in an integrated seminar that enhances the connection between learning online and live instruction. Online students are required to attend two face-to-face class sessions each year as part of their degree. The program is typically completed in three years and at the end of the program, graduates are qualified to take their state’s certification or licensing examination.
Fordham is ranked #11 by U.S. News & World Report in social work and its online MSW program is ranked #1 by BestSchools.org. Its programs are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and several other accrediting bodies. Tuition is $861 per graduate level credit.
5. University of Louisville
The Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville promotes social justice while instilling a strong professional values-based knowledge in all of its graduate students. The online Master of Science Social Work program accepts students without a Bachelor’s in Social Work into its Standard program and students who have already completed their BSW can take the Advanced Standing route. Their online MSW program provides the same instruction as their on-campus program while allowing the flexibility of completion at your own pace. The Kent School offers a multitude of scholarships, grants and other financial aid to help offset the cost of the program plus limited options are also available for international students or students living abroad.
University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work is ranked #1 in Kentucky, in the top 16% of all graduate social work programs in the nation, and #3 in the nation according to GraduateSchools.org. Programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Council on Postsecondary Education. Tuition begins at $660 per credit hour for graduate students with discounted rates for military and veterans.
6. University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Social Work is ranked among the nation’s top programs based on innovation, affordability, and value. Their online MSW coursework is taught and managed by the same faculty that teach on-campus courses which gives its online program the same high standards as over 200 years of tradition. Students at UTK’s online school can choose from courses that are fully online and some that are online during the week and meet live several weekends throughout the semester. Graduate students pursuing their online MSW at UTK have three options for online study: full-time, advanced standing, and extended study. Full-time students complete the curriculum in two years, including approximately 1000 hours of field study. Advanced standing students can be completed both on a full-time and part-time basis, but students must possess a BSW from an accredited institution to be accepted to the program. Extended study students can complete the program on a part-time level, completing the course work and approximately 1000 hours of field study over the course of three to four years.
GetEducated.com backs the university’s commitment to excellence in education and research and praises faculty and student contributions to cultural, social, and economic development. The US News & World Report ranks the university at #46 in comparison to all colleges in the U.S. UTK is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Considered a “best buy” by Princeton Review, graduate tuition at UTK is $531 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,542 per credit hour for out-of-state students.
7. Indiana University
Indiana University’s online MSW Direct Advantage program is incredibly unique as it has just one concentration in Advanced Generalist studies. This online degree program prepares students for all aspects of social work, including individual, family, group, organization and community fields. Students may select specific areas of study to help customize their coursework, preparing them for a defined career path which meets their educational and professional goals or they may diversify their studies within several fields. Its distinct online course schedules run in 11-week quarters four times each year, allowing for flexible start dates; as long as students complete the course work in five years or less, they can be as flexible as they need to be and work at their own pace. All of IU’s online students have the ability to access the university’s expansive library system and are considered “traditional” students even on-campus.
IU Online consistently ranks among the Best Colleges’ Top 100 National Universities list. All programs offered at IU Online are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Tuition for in-state graduate students is $3,297.51 per credit hour (including fees) and $8,599.27 per credit hour (including fees).
8. Texas State University
Texas State University’s School of Social Work is ranked #148 by U.S. News & World Report for its cost, flexibility, and educational excellence. Students have a number of options in terms of scheduling possibilities. Those pursuing an online MSW can follow a regular or advanced track, differentiated by the type of undergraduate degree, and can attend either full-time or part-time. Part-time students complete the regular track in four years and the advanced track in two years; full-time students complete the regular track in two years and the advanced in one. Students in the advanced standing track can take specialized coursework in the Direct Practice concentration or the Administrative Leadership concentration. Unlike many online programs, TSU’s online MSW program is available to both national and international students and courses are taught by faculty specially trained to teach online.
TSU ranks third among the 10 largest public universities in Texas and in the Top 50 of the Best Colleges’ Regional University’s List. All programs are are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Tuition is based upon residency, hours of enrollment, and undergraduate or graduate status. In state graduate tuition is $7,171.23 for 21 credit hours and out of state graduate tuition is $14,605.23 for 21 credit hours.
9. Walden University
Walden University is the first fully-online school to offer a full, accredited MSW program. Their MSW program builds on their decades of experience with online graduate coursework and meets the highest standards of education possible for distance learning. Utilizing both technology and case studies, hands-on field experience and residencies, students at WU can choose from three tracks to complete the coursework at their own pace and from a collection of optional “elective clusters” that act similarly to concentrations at other schools. Elective clusters provide the opportunity for students to specialize in one of the following specific areas: Military; Crisis and Trauma; Addictions; Children, Families, and Couples; Forensic Populations and Settings; and Medical Social Work. Students can also choose to follow the General Program instead of a more concentrated program of study.
Walden’s history of being a highly ranked school has earned its reputation as a top online institute of higher learning. It’s accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is proof of Walden’s rich history of integrity. Tuition for full time students taking 12 credits or more is $28,680.
10. St. Leo University
St. Leo University is an accredited Catholic university open to students of all faiths. The School of Education and Social Services provides the online MSW degree with an Advanced Clinical Practice concentration. Students are best prepared to serve marginalized populations, like the elderly, workers, and the military, by developing means of helping to eliminate feelings of oppression and discrimination. St. Leo’s online program consists of face-to-face weekly class meetings via webcam, a daytime internship and a weekend-long seminar on campus during the summer. The rigorous two-year program is also available to advanced standing students for accelerated learning in one year.
While its full-time, online MSW program is only open to residents of Florida, Georgia and Virginia, the school is considered by the U.S. News & World Report to be among the “Top Universities of the South.” St. Leo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Tuition is $422 per credit hour.
What Classes Are In A MSW?
Online MSW programs include a wide range of online coursework, accredited clinical practice and other activities concentrated in a student’s area of specialization. Students participating in an online MSW program can choose to study either full-time or part-time and some schools also offer an accelerated learning option, which often spans a shorter amount of time and can cost less than standard programs. Additionally, many students find that online courses are often the most affordable way to attend the graduate school of your choice and MSW programs are no exception.
How Do I Choose An Online MSW Program?
The selection process of a MSW program can be difficult. Finding a program which not only maximizes the time and financial investments of today’s graduate students but also ensures quality, affordability, innovation, and efficiency is complex. To help make that as simple and stress free as possible, we have gathered a list of the 10 Best Online Accredited Social Work Degree Programs which offer the best in distinct, distance learning curricula as well as a knowledgeable staff, cutting edge technology, and a diverse student body at a price which fits most budgets. Whether you are busy completing your undergrad, are joining the work force, are meeting your family obligations, and/or some combination of all three, chances are great there is a school on this list which will help you meet your educational and professional goals
Jobs For Graduates Of An Online MSW Program
Ultimately, finding the online program which best suits your personal, professional, and financial goals will pave the path to establishing a long term, successful career. Degree-holders can choose from a variety of job opportunities, including government programs, school counseling, private psychological counseling, and other private agency work. Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that graduates who hold a MSW degree between 2010 and 2020, will see job growth up to 25 percent. Those who are qualified may participate in one of the fastest-growing employment opportunities in the nation, expect stable employment, and earn an average salary of $53,900 (as of 2011 according to the BLS.)