48 Best Online Master’s in Social Work

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Social workers are the gold standard for people who help those who can't help themselves. Whether they are working with individuals and families or directing national outreach organizations, professionals in social services work hard to promote well-being, economic stability, and social justice. Social workers with a master's degree can be licensed to work in clinical and medical settings or can develop the leadership and management skills needed to run an agency or clinic.

Graduates of master of social work programs, commonly known as an MSW, can begin or enhance careers in child and family social work; mental health and substance abuse clinics; employee health programs; or senior assistance. They can join the campaigns promoting juvenile justice and ex-offender rehabilitation, or pushing back against housing discrimination, immigration law, and poverty. And the skillset is in demand: The social work field is expected to grow by 16% between now and 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. A sampling of median salaries from the bureau: social worker, $43,801; hospice social worker, $47,672; medical social worker, $51,133; social work supervisor, $53,884; and employee assistance program counselor, $55,501.

For current or future social workers who want to secure a master's degree but want the flexibility of an online degree, there are many excellent options. This list features the 48 best college and universities to get an MSW via distance learning. A caveat: Shop carefully; some of the schools provide an online degree only in selected states. Many offer "advanced standing" – and fewer required credit hours – to people who have earned a bachelor of social work degree. Every program requires fieldwork – a supervised internship at an organization or agency in the student's community. Students will log hundreds of hours of field education, sharpening that person-to-person talent that defines the profession.

Ranking Methodology

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.

#47 – West Virginia University 

Master of Social Work

Morgantown, WV
Website

The online Master of Social Work degree at West Virginia teaches students how to be advanced integrated practice social workers. That means they know how to manage and deliver services on a broader scale than clinical or one-on-one social work. The degree addresses a wide range of professional practice options, with an emphasis on rural service delivery. The online MSW is offered as part-time study. Students who enter the program with an accredited bachelor's of social work degree (WVU calls it advanced standing) can finish in two years. If students have a bachelor's in another discipline (known as regular standing), the degree will require three years. Students with a BSW can waive the master's degree's foundation courses and foundation fieldwork. Classes begin in the fall. There are 36 semester credit hours for advanced-standing students and 60 credit hours for regular-standing students. Program applicants need to provide a resume, three letters of recommendation (one academic, one from social work experience, and one an employer), and an essay. Applicants with a BSW must do a hypothetical case study.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990 / $25,776

#46 – Virginia Commonwealth University 

Master of Social Work

Richmond, VA
Website

According to Virginia Commonwealth University, the skills learned in its Master of Social Work program align with one of VCU's guiding principles: to help build a more just society that values diversity and celebrates multiculturalism. The MSW degree emphasizes clinical social work. The curriculum consists of 60 semester credit hours. Classes last six to eight weeks and can be taken at the student's pace. There are two live online sessions per course per semester. There is a fieldwork requirement that can be arranged where the student lives, with help from VCU staff and faculty. Program applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, along with a 3.0 minimum GPA in all undergraduate work. Applicants must have passed one math or computer science course, one course in biology or biological sciences, and two courses in social and behavioral sciences. The application also calls for a professional statement that follows a specific format. Refer to the website of VCU's School of Social Work for specifics.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,217 / $25,032

#45 – University of Missouri-Columbia 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Columbia, MO
Website

The most important thing to know about the Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Missouri-Columbia is that it available online only in Missouri and its contiguous states. Those are Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The program is 100% online, plus a field practicum at an agency in the student's vicinity, selected with assistance from UMC's School of Social Work. Incoming students who have a bachelor's degree in social work need to complete 39 semester credit hours, which can be done in two years, or six semesters. Those with a bachelor's in another field will need to take 60 credit hours of coursework, which typically takes nine semesters, or three years, to complete. Students can choose one of two areas of concentration: advanced clinical practice, and policy, planning, and administration. Program applicants should have a 3.0 minimum GPA in the last 60 hours of graduate work and must have passed an undergraduate statistics course with at least a C-.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,822 / $24,156

#44 – Colorado State University 

Master of Social Work

Fort Collins, CO
Website

Colorado State University's Master of Social Work degree is a hybrid program which combines distance learning with brief on-campus gatherings each semester. Students can choose the CSU campus that works best for their location: Boulder, Denver, or Fort Collins. The MSW uses a cohort format, which means that students are accepted in groups that follow the same course schedule. A bachelor's degree is required to qualify for taking the MSW courses. Students whose bachelor's is in social work can complete the coursework in two years instead of three. Those students also join cohorts in their second year (after other students have completed foundation courses). Unlike the on-campus version of the CSU's MSW, the online version doesn't accept credit for work or life experiences. Each semester, students have two on-campus weekends for seminars, projects, and networking. Two fieldwork courses call for complete real-life training at agencies located near the student's home. Students who earned a social work bachelor's degree will put in about 675 hours of fieldwork. For other students, the total is nearly 1,000.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,214 / $25,040

#43 – Our Lady of the Lake University 

Online Master of Social Work

San Antonio, TX
Website

The online Master of Social Work degree from Our Lady of the Lake University is designed to help students learn how to provide services to Hispanics, who are part of one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States. Classes drill down into the details of working with Hispanic youth, seniors, and families, along with national policies and programs that focus on this community. Students who enter the master's program with a bachelor's in social work (BSW) can complete the 30 required semester credit hours in less than two years. Those without a social work undergraduate degree need to take 57 credit hours of coursework, which can be done in a little more than three years. Classes are taken one at the time for the online degree. Coursework can be opened up and worked on 24/7, while students and faculty interact in discussion forums. The degree has a fieldwork requirement that can be arranged at an agency nearby. Students with a BSW will put in 500 hours over three terms. Those without a BSW will work an additional 450 hours. Program applicants need an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, three letters of recommendation, and a personal essay about professional and academic goals.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,326

#42 – University of North Dakota 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Grand Forks, ND
Website

The online experience at the University of North Dakota is live. That is, distance students, take classes at the same time as on-campus students, with the same instructors, via a web conference. If a live course is missed, a recorded version is available. This approach can represent a slower pace than "asynchronous" online coursework, but UND believes it fits the busy life of an online student. UND's Master of Social Work online program can be completed in one to two years if the student enters the program with a bachelor of social work degree (BSW). Students with a bachelor's in another discipline can expect the complete the degree in three years. Master's students can focus on becoming "advanced generalists," with skills best used in clinical work, or concentrate on the knowledge needed to supervise, manage, or develop social programs. Total coursework is 60 hours for foundation and advanced courses, and 36 hours for students with a BSW. Program applicants for the former must have at least 30 undergraduate credit hours in the liberal arts and a 3.0 GPA in the last two years of coursework, plus a statistics course. For the latter, only the statistics course and the GPA requirement apply.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,226 / $21,964

#41 – Temple University 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Philadelphia, PA
Website

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Temple University steeps the student in a spectrum of social justice issues, such as substance abuse, housing discrimination, immigration challenges, poverty, and violence against minorities. With the help of an adviser, students entering the program can choose between two concentrations – clinical practice with individuals and families, and training in communities, organizations, and policies. Further, they can select a specialization of children and families, or health and mental health – or they can customize a specialty all their own. The regular MSW, for students with any bachelor's degree other than social work, take 60 semester credit hours that can be completed online in three years. Incoming students with a bachelor's in social work – referred to as advanced standing – take 34.5 credit hours, which can be wrapped up in 18 months online. There are field practicums to be arranged in the student's community – two practicums for regular-standing students, one for advanced-standing students. Temple's College of Public Health offers a dual degree program – an MSW plus a master's in public health. Online students can finish it in four years.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,488 / $22,698

#40 – University of New Hampshire 

Master of Social Work

Durham, NH
Website

The Master of Social Work degree at the University of New Hampshire takes an "advanced generalist" approach, which prepares the graduate to develop and deliver social interventions for agencies and systems of all sizes. MSW students can choose three electives from several fields of practice: addictions and substance abuse; health and mental health; children and families; and disabilities. Students can focus on one area or customize their own. Master's students must complete 62 semester credit hours. There also are two fieldwork course, each spanning two semesters. The fieldwork, which calls for 1,240 clock hours, is arranged in the student's community. Program applicant must have a liberal arts bachelor's degree. Extensive professional or volunteer experience in social work is strongly recommended. Applicants also must provide three recommendation letters, an essay about career and academic goals, and a resume.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,840 / $27,130

#39 – University of Maine 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Orono, ME
Website

Online classes at the University of Maine's graduate program are not live so that students can schedule their coursework around their professional and personal schedules. The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program consists of 46 semester credit hours for students who earned a bachelor's in social work; the degree can be obtained in about two years, and courses begin in the summer. Students who have a bachelor's in another liberal arts discipline must take an additional 17 credit hours of foundation courses; the degree can be completed in about three years. Fieldwork is a critical component of the program. The university will help arrange a geographically convenient agency for the practicum work, along with an academic mentor. Program applicants should have a body of undergraduate work completed with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and with at least six courses in the social and behavioral sciences, plus a course in statistics or research methods. Volunteer or career experience in social work is preferred.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,902 / $25,740

#38 – Widener University 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Chester, PA
Website

Widener University's Master of Social Work (MSW) sets itself apart from other online graduate programs in the field for focusing on the effect trauma has on mental health. Understanding trauma can help the graduate in treating people, families, and communities. MSW students can apply to earn a trauma certificate while doing the master's coursework. The two-semester seminar deepens knowledge of the problem and can help secure jobs in mental-health roles. As for the MSW, advanced students (those with a bachelor's degree in social work) can finish the 41 credit hours of coursework in two years. Regular students (those with a liberal arts degree in another field) need about three years to complete the 64 credit-hour program, which adds foundation courses. MSW students also can opt for a hybrid dual degree, adding a master's of education, human sexuality studies; coursework is 100% online and can be completed in three years. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,300

#37 – University of Alaska Anchorage 

Master of Social Work

Anchorage, AK
Website

 

If you live in the largest state in the union (that's Alaska), please continue reading. University of Alaska Anchorage's online Master of Social Work program is offered only to Alaska residents, which is understandable, given that the online program requires brief by intensive on-campus visits. The program has a traditional track comprised of 62 semester credit hours and 960 hours of practicum fieldwork can be finished in two years if approached full-time and four years if taken part-time. An advanced standing track is for students who own a bachelor's degree in social work. This track calls for 35 credit hours of coursework and a 480-hour field practicum. It can be completed in a year of full-time study or two years of part-time effort. The university coordinates with the student to determine the site where the supervised fieldwork can be completed. Program applicants much have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all previous coursework.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,802 / $18,504

#36 – Edinboro University of Pennsylvania 

Master of Social Work

Edinboro, PA
Website

The Master of Social Work degree at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania prepares graduates to work in a range of settings, such as mental health agencies, schools, addiction treatment centers, and rehabilitation facilities. Online students in the regular program – for all students with liberal arts bachelor's degrees in hand – can begin in fall or spring, and the coursework can be finished in two years. A regular hybrid program, which combines online classes with brief on-campus requirements, starts in the fall semester. Online and hybrid students in the advanced standing program – those who have a bachelor's in social work – start classes in summer and can finish in a year. Program applicants to the regular program must have a 2.8 GPA in all previous coursework. As for fieldwork, in the regular program, internships occur two days a week over four semesters. For advanced standing students, internships are two days a week during two semesters. Applicants to the advanced standing program must have a 3.0 GPA. Both tracks require prerequisites of one course in human biology or physiology, along with 21 credit hours of liberal arts classes in humanities, fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and humanities. Both tracks also require two letters of reference, a resume, and a personal statement (refer to the Edinboro site for guidelines). Advancing standing applicants need to supply references from their undergraduate fieldwork.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,384 / $18,576

#35 – University of Nevada-Reno 

Master of Social Work

Reno, NV
Website

The University of Nevada-Reno's Master of Social Work degree is designed to turn out "advanced generalists," which is academic-speak for "sharp, versatile professionals." The degree prepares social workers for the vast array of opportunities and challenges that arise in their careers. Students who have bachelor's degrees in social work can take the advanced standing track – 32 credit hours that can be completed in 15 months. Students with other bachelor's degree can take the transitional track – 64 credit hours that include a three-day residency that includes time at the School of Medicine patient simulation facilities. There are fieldwork components in both tracks that are arranged at an agency or facility geographically convenient to the student. Applicants for advanced standing must have passed courses in statistics and research methods, and own a 3.0 GPA in all undergraduate work. They also must supply three letters of recommendation and proof of outstanding performance in undergraduate fieldwork. Applicants for the transitional degree also must have in hand courses in statistics and research methods, along with a mix of undergraduate classes that boast a strong preparation in the liberal arts, and a 3.0 GPA.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,950 / $19,422

#34 – University of New England 

Master of Social Work

Biddeford, ME
Website

University of New England's online programs have no on-campus requirement, and the classwork is asynchronous – it can be accessed and studied at any time. The Master of Social Work at UNE has three specializations: clinical practice (focused on families and individuals), community practice (focused on policy, supervision, and political advocacy), or integrated practice (a mix of the two). The degree's traditional standing option is for qualifying students with a liberal arts bachelor's degree. It consists of 64 credit hours and can be completed in three years. The advanced standing option is for students who earned an accredited bachelor's degree in social work. It has 35 credit hours and can be wrapped in as little as 16 months. All students will do supervised fieldwork in a location near home. Traditional students will do two field placements or internships that total 1,120 hours of work. Advanced standing students will put in 560 hours at one placement.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,852

#33 – University of Denver 

[email protected]

Denver, CO
Website

The University of Denver refers to its Master of Social Work degree program as [email protected] Online students take part in weekly live classes for up to four hours a day. Students can select live class times that best fit their schedule. Coursework and connections to classmates and instructors also are available in asynchronous platforms. The traditional program for the degree has 90 quarter credits and two field internships. It can be completed in a little as 21 months or as many as 48 (seven quarters vs. 16). Program applicants need to have a bachelor's degree and a body of undergraduate work with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Applicants who have a bachelor's degree in social work can join the advancing student program, which calls for 60 credits and one field internship. It can be finished in 18 to 24 months (six to eight quarters). The supervised internship is arranged at an agency geographically convenient to the student.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $49,392

#32 – California State University-San Bernardino 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

San Bernardino, CA
Website

California State University-San Bernardino refers to its online academics as the Pathway Distance Education Program. The university's Master of Social Work (MSW) program online has the same design as CSUSB's three-year, on-campus MSW. CSUSB notes that the program demands a lot of time and energy, and is not for people who must work 40 hours a week. The program has two fieldwork placements. The location for the supervised fieldwork is arranged to be done near the student's home. Fieldwork gives a student a view of more than one agency's culture and workflow. The student meets at least once a week with a field instructor for discussion and guidance. In the third year of the program, students choose an area of specialization, then apply assignments and research projects to that concentration. Specialties include homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and sexism. Preferred candidates for the MSW program should have an accredited bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better and some academic exposure to the behavioral and social sciences. A GPA of 2.8 will be considered if the applicant has extensive social service experience.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,176 / $16,680

#31 – Appalachian State University

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Boone, NC
Website

If you live in the northeast area of North Carolina and want some of the benefits of online learning, Appalachian State University's Master of Social Work (MSW) could be a good fit. Appalachian State's MSW offers a hybrid program that combines online instruction with on-campus evening classes. There are two versions of the program. One is for students who completed a bachelor's degree in social work and have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2. It consists of 33 credit hours. The other version of the program consists of 60 credit hours and is designed for students with a bachelor's degree other than a BSW. The same GPA requirement applies. Both versions have at least two assignments of supervised fieldwork at agencies geographically accessible to the student. Advanced elective courses include Advanced Community Social Work Practice; Leadership in Health and Human Service Organizations; and Advanced Advocacy Practice.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,839 / $18,271

#30 – University of Louisville 

Master of Science in Social Work

Louisville, KY

Website

University of Louisville's Master of Science in Social Work, offered by the Kent School of Social Work, is delivered 100% online. The Louisville program's goal is to give established or future social work professional the tools to be change agents for individuals and organizations. Online students can choose from six specializations; Psychosocial Oncology; Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Forensic Social Work; Mental Health; Military Social Work; and Gerontology. The regular MSSW program is for students who have a degree in an area other than social work. There are 60 credit hours of work that can be completed in two to three years. The advanced standing program, for students with a bachelor's in social work, can be finished in one to two years. Preferred applicants have an overall undergraduate GPA and social work courses GPA of at least 3.2. Up to six graduate credit hours can be transferred. All options require 900 hours of supervised fieldwork in a social service agency in the student's state of residence.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,684 / $26,454

#29 – Louisiana State University 

Master of Social Work

Baton Rouge, LA
Website

Louisiana State University's online classes are seven weeks along and have no on-campus requirements. The Master of Social Work degree program covers issues such as substance abuse, child welfare, and dozens of other topics. LSU aims to give graduates a holistic, multi-tooled education that will help them affect change in communities and agencies. The MSW commonly requires two years to complete. The regular program consists of 60 credit hours. Students who earned a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) can skip the foundation courses and finish the degree in about a year. All program applicants need to supply three letters of recommendation (two from academic sources, one from a professional connection), and a resume. If the applicant doesn't have a BSW, the bachelor's achieved should have at least 12 credits in social and behavioral sciences, along with at least nine credit hours in the humanities. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is needed for admission. A minimum GPA of 2.55 is required for probationary admission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,132

#28 – Boise State University 

Master of Social Work

Boise, ID
Website

Boise State University's Master of Social Work is offered through the university's Boise State Online service. Classes are 100% online, and the internship fieldwork components required of MSW students are arranged in the student's home state. The full MSW program consists of 61 units that are sequenced so students can get a degree in two to three years. Students who have a bachelor's degree in social work can go for the advanced standing version of the master's, which consists of 37 credit hours and can be finished in one to two years. Students qualify for advanced standing if they earned a bachelor of social work in the last five years, or if they got a BSW in the previous ten years and have extensive post-degree professional work in the field. Applicants should have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and must supply a personal essay (Boise State asks that it be clear, concise, and free of grammatical errors) and recommendation letters, and pass a background check. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,759 / $22,841

#27 – University of Iowa 

Master of Social Work

Iowa City, IA
Website

The University of Iowa offers an online Master of Social Work designed for students who, because of other life or professional commitments, need to work at a part-time pace. The coursework can be completed in about three years. The degree has some in-person requirements, so it's recommended that distance-learning students live in Iowa or neighboring states. Students should be able to attend a two- to three-day Summer Institute in Iowa City and to meet each semester with other MSW students who live nearby. New cohorts for the online programs are assembled every two years. Students work with Iowa staff to develop and secure places where they can do supervised fieldwork internships. The regular online MSW program consists of 60 credit hours. Applicants need to have completed a bachelor's degree with extensive social science classwork. Students who have an accredited bachelor of social work degree qualify for an accelerated track which skips many of the foundation course; it consists of 48 credit hours. Students who want to pursue a Ph.D. in social work can apply to have some of MSW credits apply to the doctorate.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,785 / $28,726

#26 – Capella University 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Minneapolis, MN
Website

Graduates of Capella University's Master of Social Work (MSW) program use their expanded knowledge of human behavior to champion human rights and social justice while being flexible enough to meet unexpected challenges. The regular online program consists of 15 core courses, two electives, and a supervised internship at an agency or organization located in the student's home state. The advanced standing program is for students with a bachelor's in social work degree from an accredited institution and requires eight courses, two electives, and an internship. The online MSW uses Capella's Guided Path approach, in which students can take one to three sessions per 10-week quarters. There are weekly assignments and classroom discussions. Tuition varies according to how many classes are taken per quarter. A sample of classes includes Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Mezzo Social Work Practice; and Social Policy and Planning in Human Services.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,516

#25 – Indiana University 

Master of Social Work

Bloomington, IN
Website

The Master of Social Work program at Indiana University provides core instruction in human rights, diversity and social justice, then adds knowledge for a chosen specialization, such as e-social work, tele-behavioral health, and military social work. The online MSW doesn't use a cohort format, making it easier for students to move through the coursework at their own pace. The online regular master's program, for students with an accredited bachelor's degree in hand, consists of about 60 credit hours and can be completed in less than three years. Students with a bachelor's in social work can follow a track that doesn't have the core courses; it consists of 37 credit hours and can be finished in less than two years. Both approaches require practicums and fieldwork, arranged with the help of university staff at an agency or organization in the student's home state. Up to three credit hours can be transferred to the master's program. The application to the MSW program asks for a writing sample and statement of goals; contact information for three references; and a resume.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,225 / $31,932

#24 – Case Western Reserve University 

Online Social Work Master's Degree

Cleveland, OH
Website

The Social Work Master's Degree is offered through Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. The degree is 100% online, plus extensive fieldwork requires that are arranged at agencies in the student's home state. Case Western uses Zoom Video Communications to facilitate real-time conversations with faculty and students. The regular master's in social work consists of 60 credit hours. The advanced standing MSW consists of 37. For the former, students need a bachelor's degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university. For the latter, they need an accredited bachelor's in social work. Both approaches to the degree require extensive practicum fieldwork at an organization in the student's home state. Regular-standing students log 1,050 hours of fieldwork; advanced-standing students rack up 600 hours. Case Western asks MSW applicants to provide a two-part, five-page essay (details here), three recommendation letters, and a resume. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $45,168

#23 – Campbellsville University 

Master of Social Work

Campbellsville, KY
Website

The Master of Social Work degree at Campbellsville University is based on ethical and Christian ideals, though the university welcomes students with diverse perspectives. The degree is designed to give current and future professional an advanced grasp of practical and theoretical knowledge needed to serve as a leader in social work. The regular MSW track consists of 60 credit hours and requires about two years to complete. Students who earned a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited institution in the past seven years can take the MSW advanced track, which consists of 30 credit hours. Campbellsville is a member of the Yellow Ribbon program; military veterans and those serving at home or abroad can pursue the degree online with the opportunity for reduced tuition. Fieldwork practicum hours are required at a placement in the student's home state. The hour requirement is 900 for the regular degree program and 450 for advanced placement. Students are responsible for finding a placement location. Up to six credit hours can be transferred to the regular program; no transfer credits are allowed in advanced placement. All previous coursework must show a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students without a BSW should have at least 15 credit hours of liberal arts education. Other requirements include three professional or personal references.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,080

#22 – Saint Leo University 

Master of Social Work

St. Leo, FL
Website

Note that the full-time, online Master of Social Work degree at Saint Leo University is available to students living only in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, and Illinois, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Students need to be available for live, weekly evening classes – on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The program also features a one-weekend seminar on the St. Leo, FL, in the summer. It follows a cohort format. Students capable of taking online classes full-time can complete the 62 credit hours in two years. A part-time student can expect to finish a degree in two years. A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution is required to begin the master's program, as is an undergraduate course in statistics or research methods. An applicant who earned a bachelors in social work in the last five years can approach the degree with advanced standing, cutting the required credit hours to 32. An advanced standing student can finish the degree in a year. All applying students need to provide three letters of recommendation and a statement of goals.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,498

#21 – University of Arkansas 

Online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work

Fayetteville, AK
Website

The University of Arkansas sets itself apart by offering an online master's in social work only to those who are already on that academic path. The Online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work requires that applicants have a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited college or university. The one-year, full-time program consists of 37 credit hours is 100% online. Even orientation is done from a distance. The BSW must have been earned with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 hours of coursework. As in all social work programs, there is a required internship, which will be set up and monitored by Arkansas' School of Social Work faculty and staff. Internships in the student's current work will be considered, with certain restrictions. An online, live field seminar is held once a week. Other application requirements to the program include a personal statement, three professional references, and completion of a statistics course. The school might request an online interview.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,563 / $20,477

#20 – Arizona State University 

Master of Social Work

Tempe, AZ
Website

Mastering the abilities of an "advanced generalist" is the ultimate goal of Arizona State University's online Master of Social Work degree. That means graduates raise the bar with their interactions with individuals and communities while learning how to lead and develop agencies and programs. Arizona State's MSW consists of 60 semester credit hours and 20 classes. Each semester is 7.5 weeks long. In addition to the course, students will put in a total of 960 hours at two distinct internships. The sites will be chosen in the student's home area, and aim to broaden their knowledge of how agencies work. Program applicants must have a junior/senior GPA of at least 3.2. They also must document at least 240 of volunteer or professional experience in social service in six months within the last five years. Applicants also will provide a statement of academic and career goals, at least three references, and a resume.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,406 / $25,160

#19 – The University of Alabama 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Tuscaloosa, AL
Website

The online Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree at the University of Alabama has a live-lab requirement – a hands-on experience held on Saturday at locations throughout the state. Attendance at the skills labs is mandatory, so it's recommended that students considering Bama for their MSW live in the state or surrounding region. The program consists of 60 credit hours, and cohorts are formed in late May/early June, and in August. Other than the skills labs, all coursework is done online. All students must attend a face-to-face orientation for the fieldwork program. It is the student's responsibility to find a nearby agency or organization for supervised field placement. Students will log at least 1,000 hours of fieldwork. For students who own an accredited bachelor's in social work, there is an advanced standing program that can be completed in three semesters. The program consists of 42 credit hours. Cohorts are formed in late May/early June and in January. Advanced standing students are required to log at least 500 hours of supervised fieldwork. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,780 / $29,230

#18 – San Jose State University 

Master's of Social Work

San Jose, CA
Website

The online Master of Social Work degree program at San Jose State University is offered only to student residents of California because the university wants to the required internships and fieldwork to be conducted in the state. San Jose State's MSW emphasizes giving graduates the tools to work effectively with Latinos and other minority groups, and to help lift communities and cultures that are marginalized or oppressed. The online program consists of 60 hours and requires a continuous two-year, part-time enrollment. Students will take two classes while carrying out a field education course. Coursework is accessible 24/7, and there are live, interactive session on weekday evenings. Applicants to the program must have an undergraduate degree earned with a GPA of 2.5 or better, and undergraduate coursework should have a strong background in the liberal arts. Applicants also must have significant experience in social services for Latinos and other minority groups. They also need to provide three references and a sample of academic writing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,176 / $16,680

#17 – California State University-Northridge 

Master of Social Work

Northridge, CA
Website

The Master of Social Work degree at California State University-Northridge is a two-year, full-time or three-year, part-time program built on a cohort model. There are 20 classes (60 credit hours), along with concurrent, 16-week field education classes. Cohorts progress together through the program. Once a cohort begins, no students are added to it. In addition to weekly online assignments, the program meets one weeknight a week for a live, online session. All other classes are recorded, so if you can't experience it live, you can take it in at a more convenient time. For fieldwork, students are placed at two different agencies for each of the 16-week practicums. Students must be able to commit to the placement for the full academic year (September to May). Cal State-Northridge, located in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, gives students who live in the region an opportunity to work in urban environments and assist neglected and at-risk populations. Program applicants must have an accredited bachelor's degree, earned with a GPA of at least 2.5. Students who have degrees in sociology, psychology, or liberal arts disciplines will have a leg up on other applicants, as will students with post-undergraduate experience in social services. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,176 / $16,680

#16 – Tulane University

Master of Social Work

New Orleans, LA
Website

The legacy of New Orleans, with its high-energy nightlife, at-risk populations, and history of natural disasters, informs how Tulane University has trained social workers over the years. Tulane's Master of Social Work degree builds on that legacy by showing graduates how to apply resilience, creativity, and innovation into the profession. The program consists of 60 semester credit hours. Students capable of taking a full-time load – 15 credit hours a semester – can finish the program in 16 months. Part-time students who average 7.5 credits hours per semester can expect to complete the degree in 32 months. For two of the academic years, students will do supervised fieldwork concurrent with classwork. Every MSW student must complete at least 948 clock hours of field-based learning. The student works with two distinct organizations in his or her community. The course load and the required fieldwork are lessened with advanced standing, available to incoming MSW students who have an accredited bachelor of social work degree. Advanced standing students take 44 credit hours – at 15 credits a semester, the degree can be achieved in 12 months.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $52,856

#15 – The University of Tennessee-Knoxville 

Online MSSW

Knoxville, TN
Website

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville provides an Online MSSW (Master of Science in Social Work) that allows the distance learned to feel they are part of the classroom. Real-time classes use video conferencing and other tools to connect with professors and classmates live. Such sessions often are held in the late afternoon or early evening. Additional online features allow students to access classwork and instruction at any time. At the time students are accepted into the MSSW program, they choose one of two concentrations: Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice, which focuses on clinical work with people and families in sites ranging from schools to prisons, and Organizational Leadership, which preps the graduate for the big-picture tasks of management, program development, and policy practice. There are three other approaches to the degree, which follows a cohort model. A two-year program is for students who feel they can take on a full course load. For part-timers, there's a three-year schedule. And for students who earned an accredited bachelor of social work degree, there's an advanced standing track that can be finished in 12 months (full time) to 18 months (part-time). Concurrent fieldwork education is arranged in the student's community. Students in the regular MSSW program need to do 1,027 clock hours of fieldwork; advanced standing students need 672.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,244 / $29,432

#14 – Western New Mexico University 

Master's of Social Work

Silver City, NM
Website

Western New Mexico University's location in the rural southwest United States informs the mission of its Master's of Social Work degree. Students are taught how to apply the latest tools and best practices to at-risk and isolated populations in rural communities. WNMU's online MSW degree is 100% online and accessible to students outside the state. The degree's required fieldwork is arranged at agencies in the student's community. A bachelor's degree with a GPA of at least 2.75 is needed to apply to the program, which consists of 60 semester credit hours. Four fieldwork assignments call for a total of 900 hours of supervised internship. If students earned a bachelor's degree in social work in the last eight years, they could apply for the advanced standing track, which consists of 39 credit hours and 450 hours of fieldwork. In addition to the 2.75 undergraduate GPA requirement, an advanced standing student also must own a 3.0 GPA in the social work bachelor's degree. Program applicants also are asked to provide five professional or academic references, an essay of personal goals, and a resume.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $3,177 / $8,730

#13 – Fordham University 

[email protected]

New York City, NY
Website

Fordham University refers to its online master of social work program as [email protected], offered by the Graduate School of Social Service. The university uses the cohort format but allows enough flexibility that students can choose how long it will take to complete the degree. The 66 credit hours for the MSW can be completed in four terms (16 months), six, or eight, and students can start the program in January, May, or September. Online work includes live, weekly seminars taught by faculty who are practicing social workers. Students can form study sessions, watch recorded lectures, and view video case studies. Coursework can be customized to focus on career goals of direct clinical work or serving as a policymaker or advocate. All MSW students must have an accredited bachelor's degree, preferably in a liberal arts or behavioral science field. Those with a bachelor of social work degree can take the advanced standing track, which requires 33 credit hours. Fieldwork experience, needed for any social work degree, is arranged in the student's community. Regular MSW students need at least 450 hours of fieldwork; advanced standing students require 450.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $33,696

#12 – The University of Texas at Arlington 

Online MSW

Arlington, TX
Website

The fully online version of the master of social work degree at The University of Texas at Arlington is available only to Texas residents. Anyone with questions can contact the university's admissions office. Texas residents who are military veterans or serving on active duty can apply, regardless of where they live or are stationed. UTA's Online MSW used the cohort format, so a group of students moves together through the coursework. Class sequences are designed so students can finish the degree in 24 months or 36 months. Courses last 16 weeks. Students can choose classes that fit three specialty areas: Direct Practice with Children and Families, Direct Practice in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Direct Practice in Aging. A bachelor's degree is required to enter the MSW program. If that degree is in social work, the student can take the advanced standing track, which can be completed in 16 months. There also is an intensive, full-time version of advanced standing that compresses the degree to 12 months. Extensive, supervised fieldwork is required for all MSW students; UTA will assist in arranging the placement at an organization or agency in the student's community.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,898 / $18,996

#11 – University of Houston 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Houston, TX
Website

The Master of Social Work (MSW) degree at the University of Houston follows a cohort model. Cohorts at Houston have about 25 students, who support each other through the coursework. The online MSW at Houston takes three years to complete, allowing distance learners to fit the coursework into their busy lives. Students use discussion boards and live video to make connections with faculty and cohort members. The MSW program consists of 63 credit hours. Required fieldwork placements begin in the spring of the student's first year. At least 900 hours of fieldwork experience in multiple locations is required. Early in the degree process, students will be advised on elective classes that focus on either the clinical, hands-on aspects of social work, or the management, advocacy, and policy facets of the job. Program applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required, and the degree should come from a liberal art or social science discipline. Students with a bachelor's degree in social work can take an advanced-standing version of the coursework, which calls for 39 credit hours and can be finished in two years. Advanced standing students must put in 450 hours of fieldwork.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,214 / $17,463

#10 – The Ohio State University 

Master of Social Work

Columbia, OH
Website

The Ohio State University wants its graduates of the online Master of Social Work program to be ready to serve as leaders in local, national, or global challenges, and to be professionals who can work directly with people and communities, or work behind the scenes to advocate and develop policies. The MSW uses a cohort model and starts each fall semester. Students can choose a schedule of courses than can wrap up the degree in two or three years. All MSW students must take part in several fieldwork placements during the program, and put in a total of 896 hours of work. The College of Social Work's placement team can call on more than 800 partner agencies and organizations to find the right locations in the students' communities. Sample classes in the program include Child and Youth Services; Mental Health and Substance Abuse; and Evidence in Social Work Practice. A bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 is required to apply for the MSW program. At least ten semester hours of the undergraduate degree must come from the social sciences. Applicants also must provide three recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of goals. Applicants with an accredited bachelor's degree in social science qualify for advanced standing, which requires 43 credit hours of coursework and 672 hours of coursework.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,560 / $34,064

#9 – University of Buffalo 

Online MSW

Buffalo, NY
Website

University of Buffalo's School of Social Work emphasizes the concepts of trauma-induced problems and human rights challenges into its instruction. The concepts draw primarily on the history and environment of the clients and the community. Instead of asking, "What's wrong with you?" the question becomes, "What happened to you?" The Online MSW, or master of social work, consists of 60 credit hours and begin each fall, with students following their cohorts through the coursework. The degree is designed to take three years to complete. Sample classes include Social Welfare Policy and History; Diversity and Oppression; and Perspectives on Trauma and Human Rights. Students will be placed in multiple agencies or organizations for hands-on fieldwork. At least 900 hours of work must be logged. An accredited bachelor's degree is required to enter the master's program. If the degree is in social work, students can take the advanced standing track, which consists of 35 credit hours and can be completed in five semesters, or about a year and a half.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,090 / $22,650

#8 – University of Central Florida 

Master of Social Work Online (MSW)

Orlando, FL
Website

The Master of Social Work Online (MSW) from the University of Central Florida focuses on the clinical aspects of social work, but also provides instruction on management and behavioral-health policy. The program consists of 62 credit hours, of which 21 points to the clinical social work specialization. Nine credit hours – three classes – are electives that allow students to explore other aspects of social service. The program takes nine seven-week terms, or about three years, to complete. Central Florida faculty and staff will help the student arrange the extensive fieldwork required for the degree. The field instruction will take place at several agencies in the student's community throughout the degree. If the incoming master's student has an accredited bachelor's degree in social work with a 3.2 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate study, the advanced standing track can be taken. It skips the foundation courses, leaving 32 credit hours over three terms. The fieldwork requirement remains, but at half the number of work hours. All program applicants need to provide three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, a personal statement, and a resume. GRE scores aren't required.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,916 / $25,759

#7 – Boston University 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Boston, MA
Website

Boston University's School of Social Work emphasizes academics and activities that promote social and economic justice. That commitment extends to the school's online Master of Social Work (MSW). Most online classwork is available at any time. There are, however, weekly live classroom sessions. There are three tracks in the MSW program the online student can follow. The transitional track consists of 65 credits and can be finished in three years, or nine semesters (including summer). Students take core and advanced courses and attend live classes on Sunday or Monday nights. Supervised field education consists of two internships, arranged in the student's community. The fieldwork must total at least 1,200 hours. The Human Service Experience track is for students with at least two years of social services experience under a masters-level supervisor. The track also has 65 credits, and the live classroom setup is the same. For field experience, the student does one 1,000-hour internship. Finally, the advanced standing track is for students who earned a bachelor of science degree in the last six years. There are 43 credit hours of coursework scheduled over six semesters. There are similar live classroom sessions and a single 1,000-hour internship.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $52,816

#6 – University of South Florida 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Tampa, FL
Website

University of South Florida's Master of Social Work (MSW) online programs prepare graduates for clinical social service with individuals, families, and communities. Students sharpen professional standards and learn ethics and best practices of social work. The online MSW consists of 60 credit hours and can be completed in a few as eight semesters. Participants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, along with a 3.0 GPA in all undergraduate work. USF faculty and staff will help the student arrange the required field education experience at a location in the student's community. USF requires 1,000 hours of fieldwork at a single site (many other MSWs require multiple placements). Students who earned a bachelor's degree in social work in the last five years, with no grade lower than a B-, can use the advanced standing track to the MSW. The degree consists of 35 credit hours, along with 450 hours of fieldwork. Classwork for all students is generally available 24/7. There is one live classroom to log into each week, usually in the early evening.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,350 / $19,048

#5 – Rutgers University-New Brunswick 

Master of Social Work

New Brunswick, NJ
Website

Clinical social service – working with individuals, families, and communities with a private practice or within an institution like a school, hospital, or prison – is the focus of the Master of Social Work online program at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Students in the MSW program can complete coursework in three years. All classes are asynchronous, which means they can be accessed at any time. Courses have schedules and due dates for assignments. Students and faculty stay in touch with discussion boards and other platforms. Field education, a crucial part of a social work program, starts late in the first year and continues until the degree is completed. MSW participants arrange field placements with assistance from Rutgers staff and faculty. Students are required to put in more than 1,100 hours of fieldwork. Students with a bachelor's degree in social work can use advanced standing, which sets aside the course courses and reduces the fieldwork requirement by half. Advanced standing students can complete the degree in four semesters.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,232 / $29,304

#4 – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Urbana-Champaign, IL
Website

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers current and future social workers a chance to expand their skills and learn many new ones, especially in the area of management and leadership. The Master of Social Work (MSW) online program has two distinct tracks: Clinical and Leadership and Social Change. Note the former requires several weekend meetings (usually Saturday) per semester, while the remainder of the coursework is online. The latter track is available 100% online. The traditional Clinical program consists of 72 credit hours that can be completed in eight semesters. A field education experience, arranged by the student and Illinois faculty and staff, lasts for two semesters. Clinical track students who own a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) can set aside foundation courses and finish the degree in five semesters. There is a one-semester fieldwork requirement. The Leadership and Social Change track have similar guidelines and requirements, along with an advanced standing option. The track focuses on skills such as human services management, grant writing, and policy advocacy.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,068 / $28,221

#3 – Florida State University 

Master of Social Work

Tallahassee, FL
Website

Florida State University says it was the first to create an accredited online Master of Social Work program in the United States, way back in 2006. Today's Florida State MSW students use the Blackboard platform to connect with classmates and faculty. The regular MSW program consists of 61 semester credit hours and can be completed in three years. Most classes are 16 weeks along, and students can take two courses a semester. There are two field education placements, at agencies or organizations in the student's community. Note that there are two mandatory weekend meetings, in the second and third semesters. An accredited bachelor's degree is required for all MSW participants, but those who have a bachelor's in social work qualify for advanced standing. There are 39 credit hours, and the degree can be earned in two years. One field placement is required. The bachelor's degree must be earned with a 3.0 GPA and must have a strong liberal arts base. Program applicants also are asked to submit a statement of purpose, three recommendation letters, and a resume.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,684 / $24,116

#2 – University of Southern California 

Master of Social Work

Los Angeles, CA
Website

The University of Southern California puts variety into its online offerings in the Master of Social Work degree from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. In addition to traditional and advanced placement, dictated by the student's undergraduate work, the master's student chooses one of three concentrations. Adult Mental Health and Wellness delve into human behavioral theory. Students learn about how neuroscience ties into family, culture, and community. The Children, Youth, and Families concentration prepare advocates for youth who can work in at-risk populations and develop programs that support families of various backgrounds. The Social Change and Innovation concentration takes a global view by exploring research into business or community development. Students can finish the MSW degree in two, three, or four years, depending on how much of course load they can handle. Online classes are small, seminar-style events. Students use breakout rooms, live chats, and document sharing to connect with faculty and classmates. Program application requirements also include three letters of recommendation, a statement of goals, a resume, and documentation of volunteer or professional social service.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $44,712

#1 – Columbia University in the City of New York 

Master of Social Work

New York City, NY
Website

Columbia University in the City of New York says it remains the only Ivy League school to offer a Master of Social Work degree online. Columbia has several ways to approach the MSW. Students can choose a coursework sequence that completes the degree in two, three, or four years 100% online. A Reduced Residence option is for professional workers; they pursue a reduced course load for two years, then increase the load for a third and final year. Finally, there's advanced standing, for students who earned a bachelor's in social work in the last five years. Advanced standing students can secure the MSW in one year. Master's students also choose one of the four course concentrations: Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice; Policy Practice; Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming; and Social Enterprise Administration. As for fieldwork, Columbia requires 1,200 hours of work at two different placement sites and 600 hours at one site for advanced standing. Most online classes are live, using video conferencing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $46,216