Last Updated on May 24, 2023 by SWDC Reviewer
These 25 top accredited MSW programs on-campus offer a traditional setting for students pursuing a master’s degree in social work. Getting your Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from an accredited school is a good way to further your career. Online classes and degrees are becoming more popular as respected universities offer them more. Even so, you may still get your MSW degree on campus in the traditional way. Many schools also offer a hybrid where you can do both in-person and online.
A lot depends on your situation in determining the direction to take. Getting your MSW degree on campus is a good option for a lot of people. If you are working full time and there is no school readily available, online might be a good option. If you can work it into your schedule and can get to campus, you might consider the on-campus version. Getting your MSW degree on campus gives you the opportunity for more in-person communication with professors and fellow students. The actual college experience is a great thing to have no matter what your degree is in.
In the traditional campus setting, you have the capability to have more interaction with professors and students. You also have access to things at the university that will help you succeed. There are tutors available, and you can set appointments with professors to discuss issues if you like. The school may also have a writing center to help you write papers. Access to a lot of student services is available in person but is harder to take advantage of if you are studying away from the campus. So read on for the best MSW programs in the US.
How We Ranked the Best On-Campus MSW Programs
The Social Work Degree Center ranking of the best on-campus MSW schools focused exclusively on accredited, reputable institutions. MSW program rankings are presented according to factors including cost, student satisfaction, and alumni salary. Here are the top MSW programs in the United States!
1. University of Maryland-Baltimore
The University of Maryland Baltimore has one of the best MSW programs on campus. This highly-ranked program is a top choice for social work students. The program develops highly-skilled and passionate social workers, as students sharpen their love for social justice and inclusion. MSW students stay active in community service, so they get plenty of hands-on learning. Plus, UMB’s School of Social Work is one of the oldest and largest schools of social work in the United States.
The University of Maryland Baltimore focuses on healthcare, law, and human services. This focus makes it a great choice for social work students since their program contains a lot of resources and funding. UMB students improve the public good by serving humanity. They have a passion for helping others. Furthermore, UMB produces cutting-edge research that takes its impact up a notch. This school values innovation, teamwork, and academic and professional excellence. College Choice ranked UMB’s School of Social work #3 in the nation.
2. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania offers an MSW program that ranks as one of the best MSW programs, on campus or otherwise. The program comes from the School of Social Policy and Practice, and the curriculum consists of a foundation year and an advanced year. It addresses societal problems, both on a small scale and a large one. This MSW program empowers students to work with individuals and groups, ensuring the wellbeing of others. The program is one of the oldest social work programs in the United States, and its contemporary curriculum is rooted in time-tested social justice principles.
The University of Pennsylvania is a private research university with a long history of academic excellence. It combines this academic excellence with a forward-thinking approach to learning. At the same time, UPenn remains rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, so students get a solid academic foundation no matter which degree they may pursue. UPenn also has a low student-to-faculty ratio, so students can communicate easily with their professors. Its mission focuses on inclusion, innovation, and impact. The University of Pennsylvania offers more than 300 volunteer programs, which is great for students that have a passion for social justice.
3. Columbia University
Columbia University offers one of the best MSW programs on campus. Its School of Social Work was the first social work school in the United States. As a result, it’s a highly-ranked and well-respected school. It advances social work across the United States, both with academics and professional practice. Columbia’s MSW combines theory with real-world applications. Students learn how to enhance the quality of life for individuals and groups.
Columbia University is a private and prestigious university, as well as a member of the Ivy League. Students at Columbia get to take their learning opportunities to the highest levels. The school is famous for its academic rigor, and it’s been a leader in college and graduate education for more than 250 years. Overall, a degree from Columbia can open many career doors and help students stretch their academic limits. US News and World Report ranked Columbia #3 among national universities for 2021.
4. University of Washington
At the University of Washington, the MSW program is for those who want to stand up for others and make the world a better place. It’s one of the best MSW programs on campus. Students study advanced concepts in social work, deepening their skill sets to gain an edge in the field. The University of Washington also has connections to over 600 field sites for MSW students, which makes it a great choice for those who value hands-on experience. Plus, Washington’s research and curriculum are based on real-world applications.
Washington University is one of the most impactful public research universities in the country. It turns ideas and concepts into real, tangible results. This school believes in its students and their potential to shape the future. That’s why it challenges students academically and has high standards, both for students and faculty. Students at this school learn how to become informed global citizens, which makes the school appealing to social work students. Seven faculty members from the University of Washington have won the Nobel Prize.
5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the on-campus MSW is one of the best programs in the nation. On-campus learners often choose this program because it focuses on the most pressing social justice concerns of today. Students learn how to respond effectively to these concerns, building on the concepts they’ve learned in their bachelor’s degree programs. MSW students also build courage and persistence, and they get plenty of academic challenges along the way. At UNC-Chapel Hill, the mission of the School of Social Work is to “advance equity, transform systems, and improve lives.”
UNC-Chapel Hill is the flagship university of the University of North Carolina system. As the oldest public research university in the US, it has a long history of improving lives through academics and research. UNC research has made a difference in medicine, the social sciences, and many other areas. Of course, this school thrives in the social sciences as well as other academic pursuits. UNC-Chapel Hill is dedicated to building curious minds that are ready for the future. UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the top national universities in the US.
6. University of California Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles has one of the best MSW programs on campus. It has MSW and PhD options, as well as dual degree options for students who want to take their skills even further. UCLA’s MSW program helps students impact social welfare policy. That includes improving equity among families, aging populations, mental healthcare, and more. Students also use their knowledge to take their own lives to the next level, advancing their careers and broadening their own possibilities. UCLA’s MSW program combines both theory and research for a broad educational experience.
UCLA is a top choice for high-achieving students, thanks to its challenging academics and high standards. This school is well recognized all across the United States, so it can provide a springboard into fulfilling careers. UCLA is a leader among universities in the United States, both with research and academics. It helps students sharpen their leadership skills, critical thinking skills, and communication skills, all of which are vital to any career path. US News and World Report ranked UCLA #1 among US public universities for 2021.
7. University of California Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley Social Welfare programs are all about promoting social good. These programs make a difference in local communities, communities across the globe, and in the United States. The MSW in particular is one of the best MSW programs on campus. It has talented faculty members with public service experience and a deep passion for equity. Students in this program learn theory and practical application. They also learn advocacy, communication, and other important social work skills.
UC Berkeley is a respected school. It contributes a lot to both scholarship and research. It has strong academics, and it values curiosity and discovery. At UC Berkeley, students learn how to apply and expand their knowledge to gain a leg up in their careers. This school has always been a place of moving forward and pushing the envelope, and it remains a leader in higher education to this day. UC Berkeley has been ranked #1 for producing Peace Corps volunteers.
8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois’s MSW program empowers students to join the fight against injustice. The social work programs make a difference on an individual level and a policy level. Its MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. Students in this program learn how to develop real solutions to pressing social problems. The program enhances career preparedness, which a deeply relevant and contemporary education. Students also gain real-world social work experience as they study.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is UI’s flagship campus. This school is all about transforming lives, so it makes a good choice for students who also want to transform lives. The University of Illinois is a leader in public engagement. This school helps students through excellence and opportunity. It also helps the surrounding community through impactful programs and discovery. Students get to participate in all of the above. Illinois is the #14 ranked public university in the United States.
9. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
At the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, the School of Social Work recently celebrated its 100th birthday. This school’s MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. The program delves into advanced topics, taking bachelor’s degree knowledge to the next level. The program also includes many options for specialization, including Global Social Work, Welfare of Children and Families, and much more. This highly-ranked MSW program combines scholarship and research to tackle today’s most relevant social concerns.
The University of Michigan Ann Arbor combines deep-rooted traditions with contemporary education. Students here forge a bright future for themselves and help build bright futures for others. UMich Ann Arbor is a well-respected school across a variety of career fields. It has challenging programs that boost curiosity, communication, and leadership. The community atmosphere at UMich Ann Arbor means that students can build important career connections. As a result, this education can benefit students long after graduation. UMich Ann Arbor offers over 300 scholarship opportunities to MSW students.
10. University of Illinois at Chicago
At the University of Illinois at Chicago, the MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. It advances social justice across multiple areas. For example, one of its focuses is racial justice and equity. In this program, students are socially active, and the school of social work is a big reason for that. The MSW focuses on advanced concepts, preparing students to work with disadvantaged communities. The program combines theoretical instruction with field instruction, so students get a balanced experience.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is a thriving, challenging, and diverse school. In fact, this school is ranked in the top 20 schools for diversity. As a result, the school is very inclusive, with a broad range of ideas. This large university presents a lot of resources and opportunities for learners. At the same time, it has a low student-to-faculty ratio, so students get the best of both worlds. Even with all of these benefits, the University of Illinois at Chicago also offers great financial value. The Jane Addams College of Social work consistently ranks among the top 10% of social work programs in the US.
11. Stony Brook University–SUNY
At Stony Brook University, the MSW program is great for increasing dignity, equity, and overall human welfare. That’s why it’s one of the best MSW programs on campus. It addresses areas of inequality, helping students recognize those areas and build strategies to approach them effectively. Students also learn how to advocate for those who have been impacted the most by social injustices. Stony Brook’s MSW program empowers students to increase their social and emotional well-being in their careers.
Stony Brook University is one of the top public universities in the US, combining educational excellence with impactful research. It draws students who want to make a difference in the world around them. Students learn real-world applications for their studies, taking their learning outside the classroom for hands-on experiences. Stony Brook University is part of the SUNY system, so it has plenty of resources to offer. It has also been recognized for its high value. Stony Brook University is in the top 1% of universities in the world, according to QS World University Rankings.
12. University of Utah
At the University of Utah, the MSW program offers several focus areas, including mental health, forensics, aging, child welfare, and more. The program even includes sub-specializations for those who want to hone their goals. That’s one reason why this MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. Students in this program broaden their social knowledge and build advanced skill sets. The program combines theory and practice. It includes advocacy, communication, and leadership skills.
The University of Utah is all about exploration, innovation, and forging new paths. It has the lowest student-to-faculty ratio among Utah’s public institutions, so students get a personalized education experience. This school also has low tuition rates. However, it also offers lots of academic rigor and a vibrant community environment. The University of Utah has the highest graduation rankings out of all public universities in the state.
13. Rutgers University
Rutgers University offers MSW degrees and certificate programs. The Rutgers MSW program ranks among the best MSW programs on campus. Students learn how they can advance justice and equity by leveraging their own skills. The program provides service opportunities that let students start making a difference right away. Rutgers also offers dual degree options for those who want to take their knowledge even further. This MSW program has passionate faculty members who want to help students make the world better.
Rutgers New Brunswick is the flagship campus of Rutgers University. This school has made a big impact on New Jersey, both through economics and through research. It also provides excellent academics that challenge students. As a result, students can reach their fullest potential. They can confidently strengthen their careers and learn how to make an impact, no matter where their careers may lead. Rutgers University is New Jersey’s top public research university.
14. CUNY-Hunter College
Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work is the oldest and largest school of social work in New York. That’s one reason why its MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. This program provides a high-quality social work education. It also comes at a great value, so students get a lot for their money. Hunter’s MSW program is dedicated to community engagement and helping students find their place in the social work field. The curriculum helps students develop as academics and as people.
CUNY’s Hunter College fosters student ambition, helping them rise to meet challenges. The school starts with a strong academic curriculum that helps learners bolster their critical thinking skills. Students also learn skills that they can take with them out into the world. Hunter College doesn’t just focus on scholarship. It also values service, connection, and active participation. It helps students gain a global focus and see themselves as citizens of the world. 75% of Hunter students graduate debt-free.
15. University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin has one of the top social work schools in the country, which is why its MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. Its big city location leaves a lot of space for hands-on opportunities. MSW students learn advanced social work practices, working with all types of people and groups. UT Austin’s social work programs also come with dual degree opportunities.
UT Austin is a large and vibrant research university in one of the most dynamic cities in Texas. It has a diverse student population and lots of highly-ranked academic programs. The research and discovery at UT Austin impact Texas, the US, and the world. This school is dedicated to making a difference. In fact, one of their core principles is “What starts here changes the world.” The University of Texas is one of the top 40 universities in the world.
16. University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers part-time and full-time MSW programs. Both options empower students to empower others. In the MSW program, the first year is a generalist year, while the second year is a specialist year. During the specialist year, students can focus on a specialization such as aging, child welfare, or mental health. This program is considered one of the best MSW programs on campus. It centers on human rights and teaches students how to stand up for those rights. It also addresses some of the most common areas of inequity.
UW Madison is the flagship university for the University of Wisconsin system. It’s one of the top schools for research in the United States. UW Madison attracts students with a vision for their own futures and a better world overall. Students here are passionate about helping others. For example, this school produces a lot of Peace Corps volunteers. Furthermore, UW Madison has spent 55 years studying poverty and other forms of inequality. Both the school and its students make a difference in the world. UW Madison has ranked in the top 10 schools for research spending every year since 1972.
17. University of Texas at Arlington
At the University of Texas Arlington, the MSW program pairs classroom theory with internship experience. This program is one of the best MSW programs, on-campus or online. Courses are tailored to fit student schedules, with on-campus courses offered at multiple times. Students may also choose from part-time and full-time learning options. The School of Social Work is ranked among the top US graduate schools. It’s designed for versatility, so students can take on many roles.
UT Arlington is a fast-growing, very diverse school that helps students turn dreams into success stories. It thrives across many areas, including research. UT Arlington is known for its especially impactful graduate programs. It has an especially big impact on STEM and the social sciences. Because of its cutting-edge approach and commitment to impact, it’s a top choice for students who want to go into social work. According to Military Times, UTA is the #1 university for veterans and their families.
18. Michigan State University
At Michigan State University, the MSW program is one of the best MSW programs, on campus and in a blended online format. It focuses on ethical and contemporary social work practices. It also produces effective research. Both of these factors promote positive change among communities of all shapes and sizes. In this program, students prepare for advanced practice in clinical social work and community leadership. All courses provide high-quality academics based on important social needs. The program also provides field opportunities, so students can learn through experience.
Michigan State University is one of the top research universities in the United States. It’s a distinguished school with many nationally ranked programs. This school introduces students to discovery and opportunity. It has an above-average job placement rate for recent graduates. Overall, this school makes a difference in the world, and it helps students do the same. Michigan State is a top 100 global university.
19. University at Albany (SUNY)
The University at Albany’s MSW program promotes research, academics, and community engagement to improve equity among various groups of people. It’s one of the best MSW programs on campus for several reasons. The program focuses on making societies more fair, diverse, and inclusive. MSW students participate in research opportunities. They also get opportunities to work in the social work field. This blend of opportunities makes Albany’s MSW program a well-rounded experience for learners.
The University at Albany is a SUNY school, which means that it has SUNY resources. It attracts leaders who want to make an impact in their careers and beyond. At Albany, students stretch their limits and learn by getting their hands dirty. The University at Albany is a top-ranked college that prepares students for real-world experiences. It turns curiosity and motivation into results. Forbes has ranked the University at Albany “One of America’s Top Colleges.”
20. Indiana University
Indiana University has a top-ranked MSW program. Its School of Social Work is widely recognized for its positive impact. In one of the best MSW programs on campus, students get ready for advanced social work practices, building on their previous knowledge. They study micro and macro specializations in social work. Indiana University’s MSW program is offered at many campus locations. It’s also offered online. No matter the location, this program helps learners prepare for a high-growth career field.
Indiana University helps students expand their horizons and grow into their potential. Students here pursue big goals and gain the training they need to do so. Indiana University faculty members care about student success. IU’s campuses are diverse and inclusive. They provide the resources of a big city university with the community connections of a smaller school. In 2017, the National Association of Social Workers ranked IU #1 among providers of mental healthcare in the United States.
21. San Diego State University
San Diego State University has one of the best MSW programs on campus. It improves people’s lives in the local community, the United States, and all over the world. SDSU’s school of social work was the first school of social work in the California State University system. It provides an excellent education to create competent and confident social workers. The MSW program uses an evidence-based curriculum grounded in real-world issues. Students take part in practical initiatives to improve lives in California.
SDSU is a beautiful campus in a beautiful city. Students have easy access to beaches, shopping, adventure, and entertainment. The school promotes innovation and research across a wide array of areas. It boasts strong academics and career guidance. Students work closely with faculty to achieve their goals. The university is committed to serving the community, which is why it’s such a popular choice among social work students. About 54% of SDSU students are students of color, and SDSU has been recognized as a top university for LGBTQIA students.
22. Boston College
Boston College’s MSW program creates long-lasting social change, helping students do the same with their careers. That’s one reason why this MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. Another reason is that it uses both innovative and time-tested strategies for tackling inequality and social issues. Students can study to become social work practitioners, or they can go into research. Either way, the MSW program helps them maximize their effectiveness to make the most difference.
At Boston College, students get “an education with a heart and soul.” It’s a Jesuit Catholic University, which can benefit social work students. Social justice is a major ideal in the Jesuit community. Jesuit education also focuses on high-quality academics and the relentless pursuit of excellence. At Boston College, students use their talents to serve others and hone their own potential. The school’s motto is “ever to excel,” a line borrowed from Book Six of The Iliad. Boston College is ranked #35 among national universities.
23. University of Houston
The University of Houston’s MSW program is one of the best MSW programs on campus. It prepares students to address the most complex social challenges of today. It’s also one of the top graduate social work programs in the United States. It combines scholarship, research, and real-world engagement. Students get an up-close look at the issues that impact people today. They work toward racial justice, economic justice, political justice, and other ways of creating a better future.
The University of Houston helps students learn and engage with their communities. It has innovative programs that range from bachelor’s to doctorate. Here, students hone their visions for the future to achieve their dreams. The school has several initiatives in the arts, sciences, politics, and more to improve the community. That’s one reason why social work students often choose this school. The University of Houston has won multiple awards and recognitions in various areas. The Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Houston is one of the top 25 social work programs in the United States.
24. University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut has one of the best MSW programs on campus. In this program, students expand their existing social work knowledge to make an even bigger difference. It’s the oldest MSW program in the state, and it lets students choose advanced concentrations to meet their goals. Students can also pursue either political social work or international social work. Some choose a joint degree. In any case, this MSW provides excellence in learning and a customizable experience.
The University of Connecticut has cutting-edge research and academics. It makes a difference in the state of Connecticut and beyond. Students here pursue answers from various angles. The University of Connecticut is a competitive school with high expectations for its students. As students meet these expectations, they expand their skills and discover their potential. UConn’s MSW program is ranked in the top 20% of MSW programs in the country.
25. Arizona State University
Arizona State University has one of the best MSW programs, on-campus and online. The in-person options include a standard MSW and a faster-paced MSW that can be completed in one year. The online program provides convenience for adults who need extra flexibility. Students can choose from two specialization areas: one that focuses on policy and one that focuses on clinical practice. Either way, students are challenged to become the best social workers they can be. Arizona State maintains a commitment to innovation, and that commitment extends to social work.
Arizona State is most famous for its innovation and cutting-edge solutions. In fact, the school is ranked #1 for innovation. ASU also provides challenging academics that help students meet their potential and achieve their career goals. Students learn how to excel in their fields, expand their critical thinking skills, and become leaders. 79 ASU programs have ranked in the top 25 in the country.
Is an On-Campus MSW Better than Online?
You may wonder is it better to do online MSW or on-campus MSW. The answer depends on your situation. One might be best for one person and not for another. If you cannot get to campus or are working full time, online may be the best thing to do. In addition, there are top master’s in social work programs online for specific practice areas like an online MSW for Macro or an online MSW for LCSWs. The most important thing is to get your degree from a school that is accredited and will be accepted by your state board.
One advantage of an on-campus program is its structure. If you need structure to do your best, doing things like attending class at a certain tie and deadlines for your work, on-campus might be the best option. If you prefer a more free-flowing style and want to set your own schedule, Online might be better.
Is it better to do online MSW programs or on campus is a question of your situation and your learning style. Online is also often less expensive. On-campus does cost more, but the in-person experience is very valuable. Physical interaction with professors and other students is part of the greater learning experience regardless of the degree. Access to student services, and research materials, are a great advantage that on-campus education allows regardless of your major. Students get some support with an online MSW program, but it is never as much as the amount of support you get from the top social work master’s programs by being on campus in person.
Of course, if you are already a licensed clinical social worker, an online advanced standing program, or a hybrid program with an advanced standing track, can make getting your master of social work much easier.
Will an On-Campus Program Help Me Get an Internship?
In theory, you should be able to get your needed internship regardless of how you study. The top master’s of social work programs almost always offer internship opportunities. As a practical matter, however, human connections mean a lot and carry a lot of weight. Finding MSW internships near me could be found by taking advantage of student services that help you find internships and jobs. Online master of social work degree programs offer some student services, but you get the most human connection and the most service by being an on-campus student.
Almost all of the best social work graduate programs have an office that helps students find internships. MSW paid internships can also be found. These may be competitive and require an interview. It is a good idea to apply for more than one. A recommendation from faculty can help you get an MSW paid-internship. Depending on where you live MSW internships near me may be more valuable in your situation whether they are paid or not.
What Kinds of MSW Internships are There?
There are many kinds of internships in the MSW field. So, it is a good idea to find one that is similar to the type of work you want to do once you finish your degree. However, as an on-campus student, you will have more immediate access to help in finding that particular internship you need.
Schools help students get internships and even jobs as part of student services. Additionally, on-campus students have an advantage there even when online programs help as much as they can. Internships can also lead to a job once you finish your MSW degree, so a lot of care should be taken in accepting the right MSW internships.
You should be able to find internships in pretty much any specialization, such as:
- adult mental health
- community practice
- human behavior
- youth services
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