Social work students and professionals all know how tremendous the the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) impacts the field of social work. What many may not know is how the CSWE confirms the training programs available are of high quality as individuals pursue their degree. In terms of finding social work degree programs, not all programs are the same especially at a graduate level. And even more so online. The standards of excellence the CSWE requires is not easy but it is necessary for social work professionals. Recent trends suggest that the demand for the social work professionals will grow exponentially over the next ten years. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported that “Employment for social workers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.”
A MSW degree program will allow individuals to work in a variety of social work programs both public and private. The social work career path is usually chosen by those that want to make a positive impact in their communities and in the world as a whole. This noble goal is best achieved through attending a quality program that will equip you with all of the skills and knowledge needed to succeed. We have picked our top ten best CSWE accredited online MSW degree programs based on many factors that will lead to a rewarding career in social work upon completion. All of the following Master of Social Work (MSW) online degree programs are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), offering students not only a great amount of flexibility, but also a great education.
We have ranked the schools in this list based on the following criteria:
50% Curriculum Rigor
25% Student’s Return of Investment (ROI)
25% Program Flexibility
We believe these standards will ensure students will get the best bang for their buck while still obtaining a high-quality and dynamic online education. We hope you found our rankings to be both informative and insightful. We wish you all the best in your future academic and professional endeavours. Social Work can be very hard, but it is extremely rewarding, and you deserve an equally rewarding education.
Without further introduction, here are
The Top 10 CSWE Accredited Online MSW Degree Programs:
1. Western New Mexico University
Western New Mexico University is a public university located in Silver City, New Mexico. It has served the people of the state of New Mexico and its surrounding areas as a comprehensive, regional, rural, public coeducational university since the year 1893. The school creates an inclusive environment for its student body which is diverse in age, culture, language and ethnic background. The first Normal Catalog, prepared under the direction of Principal Selby for the 1895-1896 term, presented the mission statement of the school: The mission of the Normal School is to supply the grammar schools of the territory with competent and carefully trained teachers, devoted to their chosen profession and conscious of its splendid possibilities. Western New Mexico University is to this day committed to producing competent and carefully trained students; but in a wide range of disciplines. WNMU celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1993, and the school is dedicated to continuing to produce excellence over the next 100 years.
The CSWE accredited MSW degree programs offered at Western New Mexico University include a standard fully-online MSW degree program designed for students that do not have a BSW and an Advanced Standing fully-online MSW degree program designed for students that do have their BSW. The social work department offers enrolled students a wide range of electives to help support student learning in their areas of interest. These electives will afford students a large amount of customization for their highly flexible education. Some of these electives include: Sustainable Development, Social Work Practice with the Aged, Introduction to Social Work Practice with the Military, Advanced Social Work Practice with the Military, Social Work in the School Setting, Child Welfare and Grant Writing. The course rigor that provides students with the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in the social work field, the amount of customization afforded to students in an already highly flexible course and the relatively low cost-high return of investment are the reasons we have chosen Western New Mexico University as our top best pick for a CSWE accredited online MSW degree program.
Website: Learn more about Western New Mexico University’s Online MSW Degree Programs here.
2. University of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee is a public sun-grant and land-grant university headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee. The school was founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee entered the Union as the 16th state, and it is the flagship institution of the statewide University of Tennessee system with nine undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges. The university is a direct partner of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, which is one of two Level I trauma centers in East Tennessee. As a teaching hospital, it has highly aggressive and productive medical research programs.The University of Tennessee is the only university in the nation to have three presidential papers editing projects and holds collections of the papers of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee—Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. UT is one of the oldest public universities in the United States and the oldest secular institution west of the Eastern Continental Divide.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree programs offered at the University of Tennessee are some of the nation’s top accredited online programs when it comes to both value and affordability, according to newly released rankings from the GetEducated consumer organization. The school’s online MSW program was also recently awarded the “Innovative Credit Programming Award” by the Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education (TACHE). The program formats available to students are a traditional full-time MSW format designed for students that do not have a BSW, an Extended part-time format for students that do not have a BSW and a full-time Advanced Standing format for students that have previously obtained their BSW. These online classes utilize both asynchronistic (complete work online at your own pace during the hours you choose) and synchronistic (where students will meet for real-time webcam interaction with their professors online) approaches. Student internships are also arranged within a reasonable driving distance from the communities they reside in, allowing them to obtain real-world knowledge and skills which allows them to be better prepared to start their careers after graduation.
Tuition: $30,326 per year
Website: Learn more about the University of Tennesee’s Online MSW Programs here.
3. University of Louisville
The University of Louisville is a public university located in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a member of the Kentucky State University System. When the school was founded in 1798, it was the first city-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. UofL enrolls students from 118 of 120 Kentucky counties, all 50 U.S. states, and 116 countries around the world. The University of Louisville School of Medicine is nationally and internationally recognized and praised for the first fully self-contained artificial heart transplant surgery as well as the first successful hand transplantation. The University Hospital is also credited with the first civilian ambulance, the nation’s first accident services–now known as an emergency room (ER)–and one of the first blood banks in the US. Between 1999 and 2006 UofL was one of the fastest growing medical research institutions according to National Institutes of Health rankings.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree program offered at the University of Louisville through the school’s Kent School of Social Work is a fully online course available either in the standard format (60-course hours, designed for students that do not have a BSW) or an Advanced Standing format (30-course hours, designed for students that currently hold a BSW). And, although all courses are delivered online, MSW Practicum Placement requires 16 hours per week or 450 hours per year of supervised practice that can be completed in a social service agency in the enrolled student’s current state of residence. The MSW degree offered by Kent School of Social Work is ranked as the #1 social work program in Kentucky, among the top 16% of all master’s programs in the country, and among the top 28 public university social work programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The online program’s structure, quality and rigorous coursework are equivalent to those in the on-campus program. The combination of online learning and real-world practicum helps enrolled students to gain incredibly valuable field-related skills and knowledge, preparing them to be the change they want to see in the world.
Tuition: $24,124 per year
Website: Learn more about the University of Louisville’s Online MSW Programs here.
4. Simmons College
Simmons College, established in 1899, is a private college located in Boston, Massachusetts. This school is split to allow it to be a women’s only undergraduate school but a coeducational graduate school. Simmons College encompasses the many benefits of being a small university while being located in the nation’s best ranked “college town.” For more than a century, Simmons has offered a pioneering liberal arts education for undergraduates integrated with professional work experience. Today, the school also offers renowned coeducational graduate programs in nursing and health sciences, education, liberal arts, communications management, social work, and library and information science. Simmons College has had a storied history with providing on-campus students many social work and volunteer opportunities in and around the city.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree program offered at Simmons College is available in both a standard fully online MSW degree program for non-BSW holders and an Advanced Standing course for students that have already obtained a BSW and can be completed in as little as fifteen months. The online MSW programs offered at Simmons College are called SocialWork@Simmons. SocialWork@Simmons is the oldest school of social work in the United States and has a strong focus on clinical social work training. The program is highly flexible and customizable with four specializations available for students to choose from. These specializations are Child and Family, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health and Aging. Students enrolled in either of these programs will be able to participate in live, weekly seminar-style classes via webcam taught by the school’s renowned, highly qualified and committed faculty. These online courses offer a rigorous curriculum, preparing students for clinical practice and giving them all of the skills and knowledge needed to become beacons of light for their respective communities.
Tuition: $34,350 per year
Website: Learn more about Simmons College’s Online MSW Programs here./
5. Texas State University
Texas State University is a public nonsectarian university located in San Marcos, Texas. The school was established in 1899 as the Southwest Texas State Normal School, and it opened its doors in 1903 to 303 students with a focus to educate students to become teachers. Since that time it has grown into the largest institution in the Texas State University System and the fourth-largest university in the state of Texas boasting an enrollment of over 38,000 students. It has 10 different colleges and approximately 50 schools and departments, including nationally recognized programs in Geography, Criminal Justice and Music. Texas State University also has a satellite campus that started as a multi-institution teaching center offering undergraduate and graduate programs at the Texas State University Round Rock Campus (RRC) in the greater North Austin area. Attending students can choose from 97 bachelor’s, 88 master’s and 12 doctoral degree programs offered by Texas State University’s ten colleges.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree program offered at Texas State University is a fully online and flexible course that uses the same textbooks, the same syllabi, and is taught by core Texas State faculty, providing enrolled students with the same high-quality education that their on-campus counterparts receive. Texas State University ensures that all MSW applicants have taken a variety of courses in physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, ethnographic studies, languages, and speculative studies. By taking these courses, students are provided with a solid foundation allowing them to more readily delve into the professional world; and to have a stronger understanding of professional generalist knowledge such as values, ethics, law, diversity, vulnerable populations, social and economic justice, human behavior and the social environment, social policy and services, social work practice, research and field education. Because Texas State University ensures all students meet this criteria–holding a BSW counts as meeting this criteria–these students graduate ready to make a positive impact in their communities and in the world.
Tuition: $19,086 per year
Website: Learn more about Texas State University’s Online MSW Programs here.
6. Edinboro University
Edinboro University is a comprehensive public university located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and one of 14 schools associated with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Edinboro University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS). It has more than 6,000 enrolled students across the school’s two campuses, the main campus and the Porreco College in Erie. Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy, a private training school for Pennsylvania teachers. Purchased from the original stockholders by the state in 1914, the school was renamed Edinboro State Normal School. While a state normal school, Edinboro continued to educate the at the time much-needed teachers, and by 1927, with the advancement of academic programs to include liberal arts study, the school was renamed Edinboro State Teachers College. Further development of the liberal arts to include degree programs outside the field of education resulted in Edinboro becoming Edinboro State College in the year 1960. Twenty-three years later, in 1983, Pennsylvania established the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, of which Edinboro University is now a part of.
The CSWE accredited MSW degree program offered by Edinboro University is a highly-flexible fully online program. Edinboro’s nationally ranked Master of Social Work program prepares graduates to work in a very wide range of practical settings. These settings include things such as family-based and mental health agencies, addiction treatment centers, schools, medical and psychiatric facilities, rehabilitation and correctional facilities, hospitals, veterans’ agencies, foster care and adoption agencies, nursing homes and policy settings. The Edinboro University’s Department of Social Work currently offers two different online MSW programs, one for traditional non-BSW holding students and one for advanced standing students that currently hold a BSW. Both of these programs are only available in a full-time format. The traditional program takes two years to complete with classes year round in the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters. The advanced standing program can be completed in 15 months (five quarters), also with classes available year round.
Tuition: $13,230 per year
Website: Learn more about Edinboro University’s Online MSW Programs here.
7. University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota is a public research university that is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The school was established by the Dakota Territorial Assembly in the 1883, six years before the actual establishment of the state of North Dakota. This makes the University of North Dakota the oldest university in the state, and it is also the largest. The school was founded as a university with a strong liberal arts core, but now the University of North Dakota offers a variety of professional and specialized programs, including the only schools of law and medicine located in the state. UND is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a high research activity institution, and several research institutions are located on the UND campus including the Energy and Environmental Research Center, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center. UND is also ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report’s rankings. And the school is ranked 469th nationally by Forbes Magazine and 231st nationally by Washington Monthly.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree programs offered at the University of North Dakota are available for either non-BSW holding students or BSW holding students. The program for non-BSW holding students takes at least three years to complete, has 60-course hours required to graduate, is offered in a fully online format and has semester-based classes. The program also costs the in-state tuition rate, regardless of the student’s state of residency. Students enrolled in this program will have access to live webcam classes which are held in the evenings. This MSW online program is ranked as a Top 10 “Most Affordable College for Online Social Work Degrees” by onlineu.org. The online program for students that already have a BSW takes two years to complete, has 36 required course credits and requires one on-campus visit.
Tuition: $19,291 per year
Website: Learn more about the University of North Dakota’s Online MSW Programs here.
8. State University of New York at Buffalo
The State University of New York at Buffalo is a public research university with campuses in Buffalo and Amherst, New York.The university was founded in 1846 as a private college, but in 1962 merged with the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The university offers over 100 bachelor’s, 205 master’s, 84 doctoral, and 10 professional certifications. According to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the University at Buffalo is a Research University with Very High Research Activity (RU/VH). In 1989, UB was elected to the Association of American Universities, which represents 62 prestigious, leading research universities in the United States and Canada.
The CSWE accredited online MSW program offered at the State University of New York at Buffalo is offered in a part-time format, in which students complete the mandatory curriculum per semester and they will complete the degree requirements (which are 60-credit hours total) in three years (nine semesters). There is also an Advanced Standing program for students that have already obtained a BSW. In this MSW Online program, students will study the core tenets of social work; social welfare history and policy, theories of human and organizational behavior and development, diversity and oppression, interventions, and the scientific method and evaluation. Building on this solid foundation, students will have a wide selection of advanced topic analysis, advanced interventions and elective course options to specialize their education. The online program can have both synchronous and asynchronous components to them, and faculty members will advise students on the number of synchronous sessions required in any particular course. In the 60-credit hour MSW Online program, students will complete two different field placements in their home community to help make the transition from student to social work professional. Field placements include a minimum of 420 hours for the foundation placement and 480 hours for the advanced placement. In the 35-credit MSW Advanced Standing MSW Online program, students will complete one 480 hour field placement.
Tuition: $26,270 per year
Website: Learn more about the State University of New York at Buffalo’s Online MSW Programs here.
9. University of New England
The University of New England is a private, coeducational university with campuses in Biddeford and Portland, Maine, and a campus in Tangier, Morocco which was opened in 2014. UNE was established in 1831, when Westbrook Seminary opened on what is now the UNE Portland Campus. UNE is the largest private university in the state of Maine and is the largest educator of healthcare professionals for the state. It is organized into six different colleges that combine to offer more than 70 undergraduate, graduate, online and professional degrees and certifications. Recognized nationally and internationally predominantly for its programs in the sciences and health sciences, UNE also offers degrees in the marine sciences, environmental science, business, education, and the humanities amongst many other programs. UNE is included among the “Best Universities” in the North that offer a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs in U.S. News and World Reports rankings and was ranked as one of “America’s Top Colleges” 2015 by Forbes Magazine.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree program offered at the University of New England is available in a full-time or part-time format and is fully online with no on-campus meetings required. The program also has two different tracks, a Traditional Track that requires no previous social work education or experience required and an Advanced Standing Track for students that have already obtained a BSW. This program is highly flexible and is an asynchronous course with no set log-in times, allowing students to work towards their MSW education whenever and wherever, which is perfect for full-time professionals who are seeking to further their careers. Students enrolled in the MSW program offered by the University of New England will have access to the school’s large online libraries and resources and the school’s large network of working professional alumni who are making a positive impact worldwide.
Tuition: $31,980 per year
Website: Learn more about the University of New England’s Online MSW Programs here.
10. University of Southern California
The University of Southern California, established in 1880, is a private, not-for-profit and nonsectarian research university. The school’s main campus is located in downtown Los Angeles and is California’s oldest private research university. The University of Southern California has historically educated an exceedingly large number of the area’s business leaders, executives and business professionals. The school has, in recent years, utilized its prime location in the Los Angeles area to establish strong relationships with cultural institutions and research centers in the surrounding area and throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim. The University of Southern California has been providing a high-quality education to its students for over 120 years, and is an internationally and nationally recognized school.
The CSWE accredited online MSW degree offered at the University of Southern California is known as MSW@USC. This program is the country’s largest social work program and is taught in small seminar-style classes–with a student-faculty ratio of 12:1–allowing for more one-on-one assistance from the faculty. The faculty that teach MSW@USC are award-winning and committed to providing a high-quality education. The University of Southern California’s School of Social Work is ranked #12 nationally by U.S. News & World Report and hands-on experience is an integral part of the school’s Master of Social Work curriculum. During the program, students will spend more than 1,000 hours completing field education both online and with optional in-person opportunities. Students enrolled in the MSW@USC program will also have the opportunity to enroll in Cross-University programs, allowing them to obtain a dual-degree. This program is partnered with many top ranked schools around the nation and is fully online. With the Cross-University courses, students will be able to choose from more than 50 courses, which means they can broaden their education to include elective classes in an area of study that meets their personal and professional needs and interests.
Tuition: $47,562 per year
Website: Learn more about the University of Southern California’s Online MSW Programs here.
If you are working towards one of these degrees but haven’t selected a clear career path, this list of the Top 5 Careers for Aspiring Social Workers will certainly help you find your way!