35 Best Affordable Master’s in Social Work 

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Where there is a human in need, an injustice, or a threat to well-being, – social workers are there to help. The mission of a social worker is to provide access to basic needs and improve lives. Whether they are working with individuals or families, professionals in social services work tirelessly to bring comfort, economic balance, and social justice. A master's degree in social work is generally seen as the academic peak – more commonly known as the terminal degree – in the profession, though doctorate programs do exist. For most professionals, the MSW fulfills two crucial needs: the academic requirements to apply for clinical certification, and the training to assume a leadership or administrative role.

Social work is a profession in demand! The field is expected to expand by 16% between now and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are some median salaries calculated by the BLSA: social worker, $43,801; social work supervisor, $53,884; hospice social worker, $47,672; medical social worker, $51,133; and employee assistance program counselor, $55,501.

The 35 universities and colleges listed here offer the best combination of affordability and academic rigor, and they are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Some of the biggest campuses in the nation are represented here, as are institutions with an enrollment of just a few thousand. There are rural locations and schools in the heart of major cities. In short: there's something for everyone. Most MSW programs can be completed in two years of full-time work. Most offer "advanced standing" – a one-year path for students who own a bachelor's in social work. Every program requires field experiences, which include hundreds of supervised hours in a real-world agency or program.

Ranking Methodology: "It's science!"

The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference– we back our rankings with science. Here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

  • Finances (40%)
  • Academic Rigor (35%)
  • Student Gratification (25%)

Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25 percent of collected data is dependent on student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review.

Want to Learn More? 

The amount of information available for specific degrees is plentiful, and Best Master's Degrees aims to provide as many resources as we can. Check out our Methodology page for more information and resource links.

 

#35 – Ohio State University 

Master of Social Work

Columbus, OH
Website

Ohio State University is a big school with an enrollment of more than 66,000, located in a quintessential college town. Many people know Ohio State for its Buckeyes athletic programs, but the university has a strong academic reputation, too. U.S News & World Report ranks Ohio State as No. 13 among Best Social Social Programs and No. 56 in its overall university ranking. The publication also rated it No. 17 among Top Public Schools. Ohio State's Master of Social Work program begins each fall semester and, if taken at a full-time pace, can be completed in two years. Part-time students will need three to four years to finish it. The coursework consists of 63 semester credit hours. Social work students can choose several areas of emphasis, such as Aging and Health; Mental Health and Substance Misuse; Child and Youth Services; and Community and Social Justice. Candidates to the program need an accredited bachelor's degree earned with a 3.0 GPA or better. The degree should include at least ten semester hours in social sciences. Applicants who have a bachelor's in social science within the last five years can take the advanced-standing track, which has 43 credit hours. The track begins in the summer and can be finished in three semesters. The supervised fieldwork requirement for a master's in social work calls for about 900 hours for the traditional degree and about 670 hours for advanced standing. Application requirements include a 3.0 GPA in all previous coursework, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement (here are guidelines for what the statement should include), and a resume or CV.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,042

 

#34 – Aurora University 

Master's in Social Work

Aurora, IL
Website

Aurora University, a private school in the suburban Chicago area, has an enrollment of about 5,500. Aurora's Master's in Social Work degree consists of 60 semester credit hours. Thirty-three of those credit hours are advanced curriculum or electives, allowing students to choose classes that fit specific areas of social work. Those areas include subjects such as child welfare, addictions, faith-based service, forensic social work, gerontology, school-based services, and administration. Students must own a bachelor's degree earned with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Applications should include two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Incoming students who have a bachelors in social work with at least a 3.0 GPA can complete the master's degree with 30 credit hours of coursework. Students can pursue a dual master's degree, combining social work with business administration, public administration, or divinity.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,848

 

#33 – Colorado State University

Master of Social Work

Fort Collins, CO
Website

Colorado State University is near the historic district of Fort Collins, a city of about 165,000 people. The public university enrolls approximately 34,000 students and is the flagship campus of Colorado's state university system. CSU's Master of Social Work program starts with a cohort each fall. Students can choose a full-time path that can wrap up the degree in two years, or go a part-time route that will take three to four years. A bachelor's degree is required to apply to the master's program. Students with a bachelor's in social work can take the advanced-standing path, which starts with a cohort in the summer and is completed the following spring. All applicants must submit a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and a list of relevant experiences. Applicants must have at least 400 documented hours of direct public service to disadvantaged or vulnerable populations. Students can pursue a three-year, dual master's degree in social work and public health.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,191

 

#32 – University of Louisville 

Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW)

Louisville, KY
Website

The University of Louisville is part of the Kentucky public university system and boasts an enrollment of about 23,000 students. The university's Master of Science in Social Work degree is through Louisville's Kent School of Social Work. Louisville has an in-depth list of courses that allow students several areas of specialization in social work. The competencies include Couple and Family Therapy; School-Based Service; Mental Health, Gerontology; Military-Based Service; Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Forensic-Based Service; and Management/Supervision. The regular curriculum consists of 60 semester credit hours, and coursework usually begins in the fall. Applicants who have a bachelor's degree in social work can bypass core courses and enter a 30 credit hour curriculum that can be finished in three semesters. The Kent School will help students arrange the real-world practicums required for the degree. The regular curriculum calls for 950 clock hours of fieldwork, but the advanced-standing curriculum requires 500. On-campus students on the traditional, 60-hour track can go after a dual master's, adding a degree in Pan-African Studies, Women & Gender Studies, Law, Divinity, or Healthcare Ethics.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,008

 

#31 – University of Minnesota

Master of Social Work

Minneapolis, MN
Website

The University of Minnesota is a public research institution with an enrollment of about 51,000. There are two campuses, one in Minneapolis and the other in St. Paul, about three miles apart. The university's School of Social Work, part of the College of Education and Human Development, is located on the St. Paul campus. U.S. News & World Report places Minnesota-Twin Cities at No. 86 on its Best Value Schools ranking. The publication also rated the school No. 30 among Top Public Schools. The full program is offered to students who have any bachelor's degree. Students who earned a bachelor's degree in social work in the last seven years can take a shortened, advanced-standing program. Students can select from four specializations: Clinical Mental Health; Community Practice; Families and Children; or Health, Disability, and Aging. Applicants to MSW program should have at least a year of experience in human service. The university will consider writing skills, the potential for leadership and advocacy, and a healthy mix of values and ethics. MSW students can earn dual master's degrees in Public Policy, Urban and Regional Planning, or Public Health.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,808

 

#30 – Michigan State University 

Master of Social Work

East Lansing, MI
Website

Michigan State University is a public research institution stretching along the banks of the Red Cedar River. The campus consists of 2,000 developed acres and provides an education to more than 50,000 students. U.S. News & World Report rated it #35 among Top Public Schools. The Master of Social Work program consists of 57 semester credit hours. The degree has nine specialization certificates: Addictions Studies; Chance at Childhood; Child Welfare; Clinical Social Work with Families; Combat Veterans; Evidence-Based Trauma Treatment; Levande Program in Gerontology; School Social Work; and Social Work in Health Care. Students in the regular program should have a bachelor's degree earned with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Coursework should have at least 19 hours of classes in humanities or social/natural sciences. New students who received a bachelors in social work in the last seven years can enter an advanced-standing program that consists of 37 credit hours. The university will help arrange the hundreds of hours of supervised fieldwork that is required for the degree. Michigan State offers dual master's degrees that combine social work with law or public health studies.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,684

 

#29 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Master of Social Work

Champaign, IL
Website

The University of Illinois is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign. This public research institution has an overall enrollment of about 50,000 and post-graduate enrollment of about 16,000. UI is listed in a 1991 book, "The Campus as a Work of Art," by Thomas A.

Gaines. U.S. News & News Report rated it No. 13 among Top Public Schools. According to UI, graduates of its Master of Social Work program have a 96% employment rate. The degree has two areas of concentration: Leadership and Social Change or Advanced Clinical. Within the latter, there are four focus areas: Mental Health; Health Care; Children, Youth and Family Services; and Schools. Applicants who earned a bachelor's in social science in the last seven years take nine courses and complete one semester of supervised fieldwork to complete the degree. Those with a bachelor's any other field need to take 14 courses and two semesters of fieldwork. The field experience must be in the chosen area of concentration. The time requirement is 960 clock hours for students doing two semesters of fieldwork and 500 hours for one semester.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,638

 

#28 – Florida State University 

Master of Social Work

Tallahassee, FL
Website

Florida State University ranks No. 99 on the list of Best Value Schools from U.S. News & World Report. The publication also ranked the school at No. 26 among Top Public Schools. The Tallahassee campus has a total enrollment of about 42,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 9,000. The traditional, full-time curriculum of the Master of Social Work consists of 61 semester credit hours and can typically be completed in five semesters as coursework starts in August. Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree in social work can take the advanced-standing path, which covers 39 credit hours and can be wrapped up in a year. The Tallahassee campus offers evening classes for students who need to study at a part-time pace. All students must choose a concentration of Clinical Social Work or Social Work Leadership. The university helps students arrange the required fieldwork. Dual degree paths are offered for business administration, law, public administration, or criminology/social justice.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,450

 

#27 – University of Michigan 

Master of Social Work

Ann Arbor, MI
Website

U.S. News & World Report gives Michigan its top ranking for Best Social Work Programs, along with a No. 47 ranking among Best Value Schools and No. 27 overall. The publication also rated it No. 4 among Top Public Schools. The home of the Wolverines is a big school with an overall enrollment is about 49,000. Post-graduate enrollment, on the other hand, is around 16,000 people. Michigan's Master of Social Work program, perhaps not surprisingly, overflows with options. Students choose from nine areas of concentration, ranging from global service to community organization to interpersonal practice. Students can fold 27 months of service in the Peace Corps into their MSW coursework. Conversely, former Peace Corps members can earn credit for the degree. There are six listed dual-degree opportunities, ranging from urban planning to business administration to law. Students entering with an accredited bachelor's in social work can reduce the courseload from 60 credit hours to 45.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,408

 

#26 – University at Buffalo 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Buffalo, NY
Website

The official name of this school is the State University of New York at Buffalo. However, this public institution is referred to as SUNY Buffalo, University at Buffalo or, simply, Buffalo. U.S. News & World Report places Buffalo at No. 25 on its list of Best Value Schools. The publication also rated it No. 38 among Top Public Schools. Buffalo has a total enrollment of about 31,000, of whom about 10,000 are doing post-graduate study. The traditional curriculum for Buffalo's Master of Social Work covers 60 semester credit hours and 900 hours of real-world fieldwork experience. A bachelor's degree in any area is required; the undergraduate work should have a solid foundation in liberal arts, and the final GPA should be at least 3.0. Students with a bachelor's in social work can get the master's degree with 35 credit hours of work, along with at least 480 hours of fieldwork. Students can pursue a dual master's degree, adding public health or business administration.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,120

 

#25 – SUNY at Albany 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Albany, NY
Website

As its name implies, SUNY at Albany is part of the State University of New York system. Located in New York's upstate capital, the University at Albany has a total enrollment of about 17,000. Of those students about 4,500 are post-graduates. U.S. News & World Report ranks SUNY at Albany No. 82 among Best Value Schools. The university's Master of Social Work offers two concentrations: an emphasis on one-on-one clinical service and a focus on leadership and advocacy. The traditional full-time program is designed to be completed in two years. There are 60 credit hours of coursework and about 1,000 clock hours of real-world work in social systems, social work leaders, and clients. The university's Field Experience Office arranges the first placements. Students can take an advanced-standing path if they have earned a bachelor's in social work in the last six years. An advanced standing curriculum can be completed in three semesters, starting in summer. Dual degree programs are set up for social work plus subjects like law, criminal justice, bioethics, and public health. Application materials include a brief essay reflecting on the definition of social work and the mission of the university's School of Social Work.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,100

 

#24 – University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Master of Social Work

Baltimore, MD
Website

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is about 60 miles from Washington, D.C., and roughly 15 minutes away from the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. It's a public university with a total enrollment of about 13,700 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 2,500. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMBC at No. 17 among the Best Social Work Programs. UMBC's Master of Social Work consists of 60 semester credit hours for the full program. However, for students who enter with a bachelor's degree in social work, there are only 36 credit hours for the advanced program. Students can choose a concentration of clinical work or "macro" service (which runs the gamut of leadership roles to advocacy). There are five specializations such as Aging, Behavioral Health, Community Action and Social Policy, Families and Children, or Health. There are also two sub-specializations to pick from, either Employee Assistance Programs or Child, Adolescent, and Family Health. MSW students can earn dual degrees in Jewish Education and Communal Service, Law, Business Administration, Public Health, or Public Policy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,056

 

#23 – Rutgers University-New Brunswick 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

New Brunswick, NJ
Website

Rutgers University-New Brunswick is the oldest of the three Rutgers campuses, the others being in Camden and Newark. U.S. News & World Report ranks Rutgers-New Brunswick at No. 17 among the Best Social Work Programs. The publication also rated the school at No. 17 among Top Public Schools. The campus is located along the Raritan River and has a total enrollment of about 41,000, which includes a post-graduate enrollment of 8,500. The Master of Social Work program provides six specializations: Social Policy; International Social Work; Children, Youth, and Families; Mental and Behavioral Health; Health Emphasis; and LISTA which stands for Latino Initiatives for Service, Training, and Assessment. There is also a certificate program for MSW students in the areas of Aging and Health, Violence Against Women and Children, Addiction Counselor Training, and Promoting Child and Adolescent Well-being. Dual degree programs are set up for MSW plus a law degree or a master of divinity.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,016

 

#22 – University of Georgia 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Athens, GA
Website

The University of Georgia's main campus covers more than 760 acres and boasts many buildings whose designs reflect the antebellum-style of the South. Georgia has a total enrollment of more than 38,000, which includes a post-graduate enrolment of about 8,500. U.S. News & World Report lists Georgia at No. 22 among the Best Social Work Programs and No. 84 among Best Value Schools. The publication also rated it No. 13 among Top Public Schools. Georgia's School of Social Work was established in 1964. Students can choose a path that focuses on working with individuals and families or take a leadership role in policy development, administration, and advocacy. Students also drill down to specializations such as Gerontology, Child Welfare, Marriage and Family Therapy, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Disability Studies, Environmental Ethics, Native American Studies, Women's Studies, Global Health, and Qualitative Studies. The traditional curriculum is designed to reach degree completion in two or more years. Advanced-standing students, who come in with a social work bachelor's degree, can earn the master's in a year. Dual degree programs are set up for an MSW plus a degree in public health or law.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,934

 

#21 – University of Wisconsin 

Master of Social Work

Madison, WI
Website

Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin, is considered one of the nation's quintessential college towns. As a city of a quarter-million people known for its progressive politics, it's just the place to house a large campus. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wisconsin No. 13 on its list of the Best Social Work Programs. The publication also rated it No. 15 among Top Public Schools. Wisconsin has a total enrollment of about 45,000, which includes a post-graduate enrollment of about 14,000. Wisconsin's School of Social Work offers the Master of Social Work degree. The university claims that the program applies a unique approach to the fieldwork requirement that is the bedrock of all social work academics. Master's students are organized into field units based on a particular social problem, practice field, or population. Each unit has a selection of agencies and real-world placements that fit the student's areas of emphasis. Students with a bachelor's degree in social work can complete the degree in a year. Those with a bachelor's in any other discipline can pursue a full-time path that requires about two years of coursework or a part-time path that takes about three.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,910

 

#20 – University of Houston 

Master of Social Work

Houston, TX
Website

U.S. News & World Report ranks Houston No. 22 among the Best Social Work Programs. Houston has a total enrollment of about 43,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 7,900. It's the third-largest university in Texas. Houston's Graduate College of Social Work offers the Master of Social Work degree. It calls for 63 credit hours for the traditional degree, and 37 credit hours for advanced standing, which is available to students who already have a bachelor's degree in social work. All students chose one of four specializations in either Health/Behavioral Health, Social Work Practice with Latinos, Political Social Work; or a customized specialization fashioned by the student and advisors. The Health/Behavioral Health area has four sub-specializations that include Gerontology, Trauma, Health Equity, or Behavioral Health with Children and Families. On-campus students generally take four to five classes per semester; most classes are offered during the day, but a few evening sections are available as well. Students can double up their social work master's degree with an advanced degree in law, public policy, business administration, and public health.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,664

 

#19 – University of North Carolina at Charlotte 

Master of Social Work

Charlotte, NC
Website

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, or UNC-Charlotte, has a total enrollment is about 30,000, and the post-graduate enrollment is about 5,500. The mission statement of UNC-Charlotte's Social Work Department is "To foster optimal health and well-being, equal human rights, and just society." Full-time students in the Master of Social Work can complete the 62 graduate hours of coursework and fieldwork in two years. Students who need to study part-time can complete the degree in three years with 41 graduate hours. Advanced standing students – those who enter the program with a bachelor's degree in social work – can finish the degree in three semesters. Available electives cover numerous areas that enhance a social work degree: Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Counseling, Elementary Education, Gerontology, and Special Education. Degree applicants must have earned their bachelor's degree with a minimum of 3.0 GPA. Their bachelor's degree should be in a liberal arts or liberal sciences area, such as political science, sociology, or psychology.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,811

 

#18 – Newman University 

Masters in Social Work

Wichita, KS
Website

Newman University is a small, Catholic institution in America's heartland. The private university has a total enrollment of about 3,800, which includes about 950 post-graduate students. The Masters in Social Work degree consists of 62 graduate credit hours and can be completed in two years with a full-time course load, or in three years at a part-time pace. Students with a bachelor's degree in social work can jump on the advanced standing track and complete the degree in one year. Newman's 16-week classes are taught on campus. A curriculum revised in 2018 focuses on clinical and trauma-treatment competencies, to give graduates the tools to provide responsive, cutting-edge social practice. Fieldwork, a crucial part of social work academics, provides real-world opportunities to build and refine abilities. Various placement opportunities are available, such as hospitals, mental health centers, schools, hospice programs, correctional facilities, and children's services. More than 600 clock hours of fieldwork are required.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,663

 

#17 – Norfolk State University 

Masters in Social Work

Norfolk, VA
Website

Norfolk State University offers a relaxed setting in a Virginia city of about 250,000. The university has a total enrollment of about 5,300 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 600. The Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work offers the Master's in Social Work degree. Applicants who don't have a bachelor's degree in social work need to meet specific prerequisites in behavioral science classwork. Like most MSW programs, Norfolk State doesn't give academic credit for life or work experience. The traditional, full-time master's degree track consists of at least 60 credit hours and can be completed in two years. Students who need to learn at a part-time pace can take a path that earns a degree in three years. Applicants who earned a social work bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (including 3.5 in all social work/social welfare classes) can take the advanced-standing track, which can be completed in a year. Applicants with a bachelor's in another discipline must have at least 15 credit hours in the Liberal Arts. Other application materials include three references, a personal statement, and a resume.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,429

 

#16 – University of Texas 

Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW)

Austin, TX
Website

The University of Texas' Austin campus is the flagship of the University of Texas system. Texas has a total enrollment of more than 51,000 students, including more than 11,000 post-graduate students. U.S. News & World Report ranks Texas No. 8 among the Best Social Work Programs and No. 48 on its overall list of best universities and colleges. The publication also rated it No. 5 among Top Public Schools. The Master of Science in Social Work is offered by the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. The full program consists of 60 graduate credit hours and has two concentrations: Clinical Social Work or Administration and Policy Practices. There are curriculum options that range from two years to three and a half years to complete the degree. People entering the program with an accredited social work bachelor's degree can complete the master's in three to five semesters. The required field for the degree can be fulfilled in international locations. Dual advanced degrees can be earned with Latin American Studies, Business Administration, Divinity, Public Health, Public Affairs, or Law.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,356

 

#15 – Portland State University 

Master of Social Work

Portland, OR
Website

Portland State University is located in downtown Portland, a metropolitan jewel of the Pacific Northwest. The city has a robust downtown nightlife, along with a light-rail system connecting it to greater Portland. Portland State has a total enrollment of about 23,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of more than 5,600. Portland State's Master of Social Work follows a cohort format and can be completed in two, three, or four years. Portland State uses a quarter system; the MSW degree consists of 78 credits of coursework and field education. The fieldwork calls for 1,000 clock hours of real-world experience. Incoming MSW students with a social work bachelor's degree can take the advanced standing curriculum, which consists of 46 credits and can be finished in one year. There is a 500-hour fieldwork requirement. All students select a concentration from the following list: Clinical Social Work Practice; Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations; Social Work with Children, Youth, and Families; or Health Across the Lifespan.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,573

 

#14 – San Diego State University 

Master of Social Work

San Diego, CA
Website

San Diego State University, part of the 23-campus California State University system, has a total enrollment of about 35,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 4,700. San Diego State's Master of Social Work program is built on two concentrations. The first, Direct Practice/Clinical, prepares students to practice social work in public and nonprofit environments. The other, Administration and Community Development, prepares graduates to take positions as program managers, supervisors, program specialists, or program evaluators. There are curriculum tracks designed to finish the degree in one, two, three, and four years. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a strong liberal arts foundation. A GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 undergraduate credit hours is preferred. People with a social work bachelor's degree, accredited and earned in the previous five years, can take the advanced-standing track and get the master's degree in a year. Students can apply for the Title IV-E stipend, reserved for students with an orientation toward social justice and addressing broader social, political, and economic issues. Full-time students can receive $18,500 a year.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,363

 

#13 – Wayne State University 

Master of Social Work

Detroit, MI
Website

Located in midtown Detroit, Wayne State has a total enrollment of about 25,000. The public university's School of Social Work was established in 1935. The Master of Social Work degree has a full curriculum that consists of 60 credit hours. It has two concentrations: Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership or Interpersonal Practice. Within the concentrations, there are several specializations: Cognitive Behavior, Family Systems, Community Development, Psychodynamics, Advanced Systems, or Social Policy and Social Action. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in hand, and the degree should include at least 30 semester credit hours in the biological and social sciences. Applicants with a social work bachelor's can take the advanced standing, which can be completed in a year, as compared to at least two years for the full curriculum. Master's degree applicants need to supply a resume, a statement of personal interest, and three references. MSW students can pursue dual master's curriculums in Infant Mental Health and Public Health.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,287

 

#12 – University of Texas at Arlington 

Master of Social Work

Arlington, TX
Website

The University of Texas at Arlington, also known as UT-Arlington or UTA, is a public institution and Texas' fourth-largest university. UTA has a total enrollment of 42,000, which includes a post-graduate enrollment of about 12,000. The Master of Social Work curriculum can be taken on campus as part of a cohort or as an individual student taking classes at a comfortable pace. The full curriculum consists of 61 semester credit hours. Cohorts start each fall, and the degree can be completed in 24 months. Some may be eligible to apply for advanced standing, a curriculum that can complete the degree in 14 months. To qualify for advanced standing, you must have a bachelor's in social science earned in last six years with a GPA of at least 3.0. Master's students can specialize in Children and Families; Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Aging, Health, and Community; or Administrative Practice. Applicants are asked to provide three recommendation letters and a statement about social work that follows these guidelines.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,533

 

#11 – Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix 

Master of Social Work

Phoenix, AZ
Website

U.S. News & World Report lists ASU Phoenix at No. 25 among the Best Social Work Programs. The Master of Social Work program is offered through the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. In the full master's program, students spend the first year on core classes, along with a semester of real-world fieldwork. In the second year, students pursue courses and field study that align with an area of concentration such as Direct Practice; Advanced Generalist; Policy, Administration, and Community; Children, Youth, and Families; Behavioral Health; or Public Child Welfare. The full program calls for 960 clock hours of fieldwork. Incoming students with a social work bachelor's degree can bypass the core classes and complete the master's degree in about a year, with 480 clock hours of advanced fieldwork. Social work master's degree students can pursue concurrent advanced degrees in law or public administration. The bachelor's degree, social work or otherwise, must have been earned with a 3.0 GPA or better. Applicants also must supply three reference letters, a resume, and a statement of academic and career goals.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,299

 

#10 – University of Illinois at Chicago 

Master of Social Work

Chicago, IL
Website

The University of Illinois at Chicago is located in the Near West Side, close to the Chicago Loop. UIC has a total enrollment of about 30,500 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 11,000. U.S. News & World Report lists UIC at #25 among Best Social Work Programs. The Master of Social Work program is offered by the university's Jane Adams School of Social Work. The program offers specializations in Child and Family, Mental Health, Community and Organizational Practice, or School Social Work. The regular, full-time curriculum can be completed in two years. Students who need a more relaxed academic load can follow a three-year curriculum. And students who have a bachelor's in social work can forego the core courses of the master's degree and finish the program in a year. Several enhancements to the degree are available. For instance, exceptional students in the Child and Family specialization can join the Jane Adams Child Welfare Traineeship Project. Social work master's students can get a dual degree in public health.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,884

 

#9 – University of North Carolina 

Master of Social Work

Chapel Hill, NC
Website

University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill campus is the flagship of the University of North Carolina system. The school has a pedigree that matches that status. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNC No. 3 among Best Social Work Programs, No. 8 among Best Value Schools, and No. 30 on its overall list of best universities and colleges. The publication also rated it No. 5 among Top Public Schools. North Carolina has a total enrollment of about 29,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 11,000. The two-year Master of Social Work program allows students to focus on two career paths. The first is direct practice, which deals with individuals, families, and smalls in their economic or social environment. The second option is Community, Management, and Policy, which turns on the "macro" approach to social work: leadership, administration, and advocacy. The full program consists of 62 semester credit hours. Students entering the program with an accredited social work bachelor's degree can earn the master's with 40 credit hours. Each semester, master's students are placed into over 250 real-world environments to satisfy the degree's fieldwork requirements.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,100

 

#8 – Florida Atlantic University 

Master of Social Work

Boca Raton, FL
Website

Florida Atlantic University is part of the State University System of Florida, which serves the southern part of the state. The campus is about 45 minutes north of Miami, along Florida's east coast. Florida Atlantic has a total enrollment of about 30,000, which includes a post-graduate enrollment of about 4,600. Florida Atlantic's Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work offers two- and four-year curriculums for its Master of Social Work programs. The duration is based on course load; full-time students can take on the swifter program, while the other is designed for students who need more time for additional responsibilities. All MSW students must have earned a bachelor's degree with a strong background in liberal arts. If that degree is in social work, master's students can earn a degree in one to two years. Applicants should have a 3.0 or better in the bachelor's degree's final 60 credits. The social work bachelor's, however, should have a 3.5 GPA in the same period.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,100

 

#7 – Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis 

Master of Social Work

Indianapolis, IN
Website

It's a long name: Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis. It's commonly known as IUPUI and is essentially an Indiana University campus with Purdue degrees available onsite. IUPUI has a total enrollment of 30,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 8,000. The Master of Social Work splits into two concentrations: clinical practice with children, families, and small groups; and "macro" practice such as leadership, administration, and advocacy. The program then breaks down the classwork and field experience into five specializations: Children, Youth, and Families; Health; Community and organizational leadership; Mental Health; and Addictions. Examples of the specialized courses include Trauma-Informed Practice; Support Services for Diverse Populations; and Practice Skills for Health Care Settings. Social work master's students can get a concurrent advanced degree in law or public health. Applicants should supply three recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement that follows guidelines found here.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,744

 

#6 – California State University-Long Beach 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Long Beach, CA
Website

California State University-Long Beach, more commonly known as Long Beach State, is the most applied-to university in the 23-campus California State University system. Not surprising, considering the campus' proximity to Pacific Ocean beaches. Long Beach State has a total enrollment of more than 37,700 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 5,500. The Master of Social Work degree requires 60 semester credit hours to complete and can be done in two years on a full-time basis or three years on a part-time basis. Students can pursue three areas of specialization: Child and Family Wellbeing; Adulthood and Aging; and Integrated Health. Students do two supervised field placements, each during a semester, at a community agency. At least 1,000 total clock hours are logged in the fieldwork. Admission to the MSW program requires two steps: application to the university as a whole, along with a separate submittal to the School of Social Work. All MSW applicants must have an accredited bachelor's degree in hand, with a GPA of at least 2.5. Those with a social work bachelor's, however, need a 3.0 GPA in the degree. These students can take the advanced-standing track, which wraps up the master's degree in a year.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,654

 

#5 – University of Washington 

Master of Social Work

Seattle, WA
Website

The University of Washington, located near the shore of Puget Sound, is one of the more highly regarded institutions in the Pacific Northwest. U.S. News & World Report ranks Washington No. 59 among all universities and colleges. The publication also rated it No. 20 among Top Public Schools. UW has a total enrollment of about 48,000 and a post-graduate enrollment of about 15,000. The traditional, on-campus Master of Social Work program can be completed on a full-time basis in two years. There is a three-year, extended-degree program for students with busy lives. Most classes meet on evenings and weekends. All applicants to the master's program must have an accredited bachelor's degree, with a strong background in the liberal arts. Those who earned a bachelor's in social work, with a GPA of 3.0 or better, can apply for the advanced-standing curriculum. Advanced standing foregoes the core courses of the master's degree and can be done in a year. It is highly recommended that advanced-standing applicants have at least 2,000 volunteer or professional hours in social service.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,443

 

#4 – University of Missouri-St. Louis 

Master of Social Work

St. Louis, MO
Website

Considering its location in the suburbs, University of Missouri-St. Louis is a relatively compact campus. Total enrollment is about 16,400, including about 2,900 post-graduates. It opened in 1963, making it the youngest campus in the University of Missouri system. UMSL's School of Social Work offers the university's Master of Social Work degree. Students with a full-time course load can wrap up a degree in two years. Students can choose between two concentrations. The first is family practice, where the student works with individuals and families in clinics and service agencies. The second concentration is leadership and social change, which focuses on management positions in profit and nonprofit agencies. Applicants to the master's program must have a bachelor's degree with a solid liberal arts foundation, earned with a 3.0 GPA or better. Applicants with a social work undergraduate degree can follow the advanced-standing curriculum, which requires just a year to complete. Students in the full program will do at least 900 clock hours of supervised fieldwork, selected by the university from among more than 400 agencies and social programs in the St. Louis area. Advanced-placement students are expected to put in at least 600 clock hours of fieldwork. Students can augment their master's studies with certificates in three areas: gender studies, nonprofit leadership and management, and prevention of family violence.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,150

 

#3 – University of Washington-Tacoma 

Master of Social Work

Tacoma, WA
Website

The Master of Social Work program at the University of Washington-Tacoma profits from the satellite campus' relationship with the main UW in Seattle. But the MSW offered by UW-Tacoma's School of Social Work & Criminal Justice is a separate entity. For students who prefer smaller campuses, UW-Tacoma can be a good fit; its total enrollment is about 5,000, and post-graduate enrollment is about 700. UW-Tacoma also doesn't offer a full-time MSW curriculum. There are two options. The first includes a three-year program with evening classes, ideal for the working professional. The second option is an 18-month advanced-standing program, for students who enter the master's coursework with a social work bachelor's degree in hand. A GPA of at least 3.0 is required for the bachelor's degrees, and BSW must have been earned in the last five years. Students in the full program begin classwork in the fall. Advanced standing students start in the winter with "bridge" coursework.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,674

 

#2 – California State University-Los Angeles 

Master of Social Work

Los Angeles, CA
Website

California State University-Los Angeles' hilltop campus is about five miles from downtown L.A. The university has a total enrollment of more than 27,000, including nearly 3,600 post-graduate students. Cal State LA runs on a quarter system. Its Master of Social Work program places students in cohorts, who follow a structured two or three-year curriculum that covers the required 90 credit hours of coursework. The MSW program offers three concentrations: Children, Youth, and Families; Aging and Families; or Forensics. The latter concentration, which prepares graduates to serve people whose lives intersect with the criminal justice system, is offered only with the two-year cohort. Two fieldwork placements total 1,080 clock hours of supervised, mentored experience at agencies in the L.A. area. MSW students also must complete a thesis, which is developed over three quarters. A bachelor's degree with a liberal arts foundation is required to apply to the program. Students with a bachelor's in social work can apply for the advanced-standing curriculum, which can be completed in a year and is offered at Cal State LA's downtown campus.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $3,907

 

#1 – CUNY Lehman College 

Master's of Social Work (MSW)

The Bronx, NY
Website

CUNY Lehman College is, as its name implies, part of the City University of New York system. It has a total enrollment of about 12,000, of whom about 2,000 are post-graduate students. Lehman College is about a one-hour walk to Yankee Stadium (or a 15-minute Uber ride). Lehman College offers three approaches to its Master's of Social Work program. A two-year curriculum employs the cohort approach. Students take two evening classes a week and perform their required fieldwork during the day. Students must log 600 clock hours of fieldwork each academic year. There is a three-year program that doesn't use a cohort formation. The way it works is by essentially extending the "first" year of coursework into two years, and then the student takes on a full-time load in the final year. The third approach is advanced standing for students who earned a bachelor's in social work. This curriculum requires 600 clock hours of fieldwork and can be finished in a year. All students who are applying to this program must have a bachelor's degree. If it isn't a BSW, it must consist of at least 45 semester credit hours in liberal arts. An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 is recommended.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $2,939