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Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs – The 50 Best Online Programs in America

What is Social Work and why does it matter?

Social workers are trained professionals who specialize in helping other people navigate challenges in their lives. They identify people and communities who need help, either at the individual level or by researching societal trends and factors influencing poverty and other challenges. They assess how their skills can help people meet their goals, and then help clients and communities adjust to changes. Some of the changes they can help with are poverty, illness, divorce, unemployment, crisis, trauma, natural disaster, illness and other challenges. Social workers are knowledgeable about the types of services available to help people and communities, and they work to develop and shape social services.

Many social workers focus on helping people through individual psychotherapy. This type of work is sometimes called “clinical social work” or “micro social work.”  Social workers can provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy, working with clients using a variety of treatment modalities to help with mental illness, stress, life changes and other issues. Clinical social workers work with doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Social workers value helping their communities through professional training that combines theory, research and practical skills. Social workers gain a feeling of satisfaction from solving problems and seeing individuals experience better lives as the result of their work.

If you’re reading this article, you may already have a Bachelor’s degree in social work. If so, you will likely be able to enter a Master’s degree program with Advanced Standing, meaning that you can often complete the Master’s in about half the usual time. The information in our articles, including required credits and required courses, is based on applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree in social work.

Job Prospects and Sample Job Titles

The market for social workers is strong, and it is growing quickly. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020, job opportunities in this sector are growing much faster than average, with a projected growth of 12% over the next 10 years.

Social workers may choose to specialize in a specific area of social work, although this is not necessary, especially if you wish to work in a rural or underserved area where you may be the only social worker offering a variety of services. Social workers often choose a specific community as an area of focus, such as:

  • Children and youth
  • Senior citizens
  • Military members and their families
  • Individuals abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Hispanic communities
  • Black communities
  • Urban communities
  • Rural communities

Because social workers are often employed by government, job opportunities and salaries tend to vary highly based on location, especially between urban and rural areas. Social workers in rural areas will be more likely to work alone or with colleagues that may not have specialist training in social work. They are more likely to be expected to perform a wide range of functions in the course of their work, but will likely have more independence and a greater variety in their daily work. Social workers in urban areas will likely earn higher salaries.

Pay careful attention to social work job opportunities, salaries, and licensure requirements in different states, as these can vary quite a bit. Social workers are especially in demand in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Illinois, due to the large populations and dense urban centers in these states. Social workers are also in demand in states experiencing rapid social changes, such as areas with higher immigration rates from Mexico and other Hispanic countries. Social workers will also be in demand in states where rural communities may experience challenges due to remoteness or historic patterns of inequality, such as in Alaska, Appalachia, and the rural South.

Looking at job postings can help you get a better understanding of the job market for data scientists. In addition to searching for the job title “social worker”, consider these alternate and related job titles:

  • School Social Worker
  • Hospital Social Worker
  • Therapist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Clinical Therapist
  • Child and Family Service Worker
  • Child Welfare Worker
  • Substance Abuse Social Worker
  • Behavior Analyst
  • Counselor

What is it like to be a student in an online graduate program?

If you’ve never taken an online course or earned a degree through one, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect. The primary benefit of an online education is that you, the student, will have more flexibility. This is especially true if your program does not involve regular classes and if you have a large number of elective courses to choose from. Because they have more flexibility over when and where they do their work, students in online programs will likely find it simpler to accommodate their studies into their busy lives. This has been made even easier by mobile-optimized learning solutions.

The second major distinction between online and on-campus education is that online education necessitates self-motivation. When you have a major paper due in two days and a midterm the following week, you are the one who is encouraging you to get organized and study. To stay on track in online programs, students must be well-organized, maintain close track of their course requirements, and be confident in asking questions in class. But don’t allow your desire for independence deter you! Most of your students will be self-motivated if you are, and all of that excitement and drive will increase everyone’s learning experience.

The specifics of how online coursework is organized and which tools are used to provide content and connect with students will differ by program. In each of our blog postings, look for information on how a particular program arranges the online learning experience in the section “How Will This Program Fit Into My Life?”

How Schools Were Selected

The institutions on our list were chosen using a combination of sophisticated web research and insider information from our writers, as well as a comprehensive scan of one of the web’s most reputable educational directories.

All programs selected are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the professional body that ensures the quality of Master of Social Work programs in the United States.  Since all accredited programs must ensure that students meet the same group of learning objectives, you will notice that online Master of Social work programs tend to have many similarities in terms of required coursework. All accredited programs must also include a practicum or field experience totaling at least 900 hours under the supervision of a qualified professional. Nevertheless, there are significant differences in programs in terms of specialization opportunities, faculty expertise, and other factors, and we have tried to highlight these in our “What Will I Learn?” and “Summary” sections.

How Did We Rank Our Picks?

Ranking university programs for quality is a famously difficult process, and we understand that everyone has various goals in mind when it comes to their education. Some students may choose a small institution where they may form bonds with professors and classmates, but others may prefer a large number of elective courses at the cutting edge of research rather than creating relationships.

We’ve included the Niche.com grade of each university listed to give you a broad idea of where these programs stand in terms of program quality and university reputation. This grade is for the university as a whole, not just the program. Niche.com’s grade is based on an assessment of hundreds of public data sets, as well as online reviews and surveys. We’re not affiliated with Niche; we just thought the school grades would be helpful to our readers.

Top Five Tips for Choosing the Online Master of Social Work Program that is RIght for You:

1. Consider how the program fits into the rest of your life.

Are you considering an online school because you’re at a crossroads in your work and want to spend more time honing your skills? Is an online degree a choice for you because you want to advance in your work but don’t have the time or resources to relocate for the best education? Have you had positive experiences with online learning for professional growth and know that you are a self-motivated and independent learner? It’s critical to evaluate how content is presented while selecting the program that’s suitable for you.

In a synchronous class, students connect with their instructor via an online workspace or videoconferencing tool at a predetermined time. The instructor may use the time for lectures, group activities, or discussion. While you may be allowed to watch the lesson later if you are sick, you are expected to keep the class time free each week and to attend the online class on a regular basis. Although this model is less flexible, students typically find that having a set class time allows them to better absorb subjects and have a more enriching educational experience.

Instructors create learning materials such as lectures, activities, quizzes, assignments, and group discussions in weekly modules in an asynchronous course, and students are responsible for completing the module on their own time within the week. Students can usually watch videos on their own time and may choose to replay parts that are particularly puzzling or crucial. Students who like to work at their own pace will benefit from asynchronous training, which allows them to fit their education into their busy schedules.

2. Consider the complete financial impact of the program on you, not just the sticker price.

Some programs are more expensive than others, and few people have the luxury of selecting a school solely on the basis of its cost. While our listings show the cost per credit for each program at the time of writing, as well as the overall cost of finishing all required credits, these figures don’t give the whole picture.

Consider how the length and flexibility of each program will affect your career and family life, and what you learn may alter your perception of the expense of each program. A program that can be completed entirely online, for example, is likely to be less expensive than one that requires on-campus visits. When it comes to childcare or balancing your profession with your spouse’s career, asynchronous learning allows for more flexibility. If you can’t work at home because of the noise, you might want to budget for a shared office or a weekly trip to the coffee shop.

Programs that may be finished in a shorter amount of time can have a significant impact on your earning potential. Flexible-pacing programs allow you to take advantage of an opportunity to earn overtime at work while continuing your online learning when your workplace is less hectic. And, of course, it doesn’t matter if a program is offered at a lesser price if it won’t earn you the type of career you want. So keep an eye on your school costs, but don’t let them blind you to other key distinctions between your options.

3. Keep in mind that all online programs can’t be completed entirely online

Some online programs can be completed fully online, requiring students to visit their “home” campus only once. Others require students to participate in on-campus learning events like a launch weekend, a week-long intense immersion course, or a capstone project. Keep in mind that while on-campus visits may incur additional costs for students, they may be incredibly beneficial learning experiences that help students form lasting bonds with peers throughout the program and beyond.

A handful of the programs listed below include optional immersion experiences on a university campus or elsewhere. The cost of these enrichment classes is frequently passed on to the student.
Practicum experience is required for all of the Master of Social Work programs listed, and it must be conducted at least partially “in person” at a place near the student. Some schools allow students to complete a portion of their practicum hours online through demos and practice sessions.

4. Choose a program with the right mix of choice and structure for you.

When it comes to course selection and program structure, online graduate programs are often classified into three groups.

Students have little choice and a lot of structure in lockstep programs. There are no electives available, and all students must take the same necessary courses in the same order. Some schools allow students to pursue compulsory courses at a slower pace, for example one course per semester rather than two.

Because you will recognize familiar faces and names even in an online context, lockstep programs make it easier for students to interact with peers. Course registration is also made easier and less tedious with such programs. You can rest confident that your teachers are aware of any previous courses you’ve attended and will (hopefully) plan their instruction accordingly. Such initiatives are more cost-effective than those that provide more options. Finally, you’ll have a predictable path to follow for the rest of your life, allowing you to organize the rest of your life around courses that you believe to be more difficult.

The drawbacks of lockstep programs are self-evident. Students cannot pursue topics that interest them in depth in electives because they do not have a choice of courses. They also can’t take classes in a different order than the one prescribed by their program, even if it makes more sense to them. They may believe that because their options are limited, they are missing out on some of the discovery and thrill of graduate studies.

Core plus Electives programs provide a good blend of structure and choice. All students must complete a set of compulsory courses that introduce them to core skills and practices. All other courses in the program are the student’s choice from a list of permitted electives as long as those courses are taken.

The core courses in this approach ensure that students have the necessary industry training, while electives allow them to pursue their own interests and take advantage of exciting possibilities to acquire expertise. Students can change their minds about their interests and ambitions at any time during the program as long as the essential courses are completed.

This type of structure can have two drawbacks. You are obligated to take the basic courses even if they are unrelated to your aims and interests. So double-check your program’s compulsory courses to make sure they don’t cover knowledge you already know or seem to focus too much on a topic that doesn’t pique your interest. Second, students may find selecting electives difficult and confusing, particularly at larger campuses. The importance of student support and advising in making electives enriching for students cannot be overstated.

Core Plus Concentration programs offer a different way for students to meet their goals in preparing for a career. In addition to taking core courses, students choose a concentration (sometimes called a specialization) within the program. Each concentration requires another set of required courses, tailored to prepare you with specialized skills and knowledge. Some concentrations might even have different admission requirements than others within the same program.

In this model, students can feel reassured that the courses they are taking in both the core and concentration will meet the expectations of employers. Having a named concentration in your degree can make you a more attractive job candidate. Students will likely develop connections with classmates and instructors within their concentration.

However, this model of program may not be appropriate if you are uncertain about what area of the field interests you, or if you want to be able to change your mind about your interests or explore unusual topics. If you have a specific interest, be sure to look for programs with concentrations in that topic area.

5. Don’t take our word for it. Seek out the opinions and experiences of those with direct experience of each program.

Listings like ours will offer you with a full overview of what programs are available, as well as all the information you’ll need to narrow down your options. However, you will need to collect information from instructors, previous and current students, student advisers, possible employers, and others who are familiar with the program’s strengths and drawbacks at some time. It’s always a good idea to contact the program directly with your specific inquiries, and institutions are frequently ready to connect you with businesses and graduates who can share their experiences with you. Of course, your experiences and requirements will be unique, but such discussions can be helpful in determining your next educational step.

Our Picks for Online Master’s of Social Work Programs

Tulane University Master of Social Work

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

60 credits

$70,800 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A+

This 60-credit program includes a thorough social work curriculum as well as opportunities for intercultural exposure in New Orleans’ vibrant community. Synchronous classes increase community and connection opportunities. A practicum and a capstone seminar are required of all students. Tulane University’s Master of Social Work program has several advantages, such as a mandatory course in data analysis and interpretation and offered certificates in Disaster Mental Health, Trauma Studies, and Family Practice, despite its greater cost-to-degree than many similar programs. Applicants may also be drawn to “live” synchronous classes, which allow for more interaction with teachers and classmates. This prominent private university may be able to provide additional funds.

University of Southern California (USC) Master of Social Work

Location: Los Angeles, California

66 credits

$78,870 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A+

This 66-credit program prepares students to work in one of five social work specialities. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The first part of the field experience requirement is accomplished virtually, and all courses are synchronous. The online program at this esteemed public university offers excellent chances for students to specialize and enhance their understanding of social work, with five specializations available, including the hard-to-find concentration in Military Social Work. The cost of this program is more than many similar programs, but for many applicants, the extra intensity of the curriculum may be well worth it.

Columbia University Master of Social Work

Location: New York City, New York

60 credits

$104,144 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A+

One of the oldest social work degree programs in the United States, this 60-credit program at a top Ivy League university is one of the oldest in the country. Advanced clinical social work practice, policy practice, social enterprise administration, advanced generalist practice, and programming are all options for students. Criminal Justice, International Social Welfare, and Emerging Technology, Media, and Society are among the minors available. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Students in this prominent university’s Master of Social Work program get access to professional teachers as well as a wide selection of specializations and dual degree possibilities. The program’s tuition is somewhat expensive when compared to other programs, however students can speed up their studies by taking extra credits at a set rate each semester. Additional funding may be available.

Boston University Master of Social Work

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

65 credits

$59,150 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A+

This 65-credit program is designed to equip students to be well-rounded and competent social workers. There are two concentrations available. All students must complete a capstone project and a practicum. The online Master of Social Work program at Boston University, which offers flexible 7-week accelerated courses taught in an asynchronous format, would suit the demands of working professionals looking for a part-time and flexible professional degree. Applicants who enjoy consolidating their knowledge through conversation and community may find the capstone integrative seminar appealing. When compared to similar programs, the program is in the center of the price range.

Case Western Reserve University Online Masters of Social Work

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

60 credits

$95,400 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A+

This 60-credit program trains students to be mindful, community-based practitioners who serve in a social justice context. While a capstone project is not compulsory, all students must complete a practicum and participate in a week-long orientation and intense learning session at the start of their degree. Case Western Reserve University’s online Master of Social Work degree stresses community integration and peer interactions throughout the curriculum and includes a unique Cleveland-based week-long orientation session at the start of the program. Classes are held in real time to allow students to form bonds with their professors and peers. Although the program is more expensive, many applicants may find that the benefits of attending CWRU outweigh the cost. This prominent private university could be able to provide more funding.

Baylor University Master of Social Work

Location: Waco, Texas

60 credits

$84,900 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

This 60-credit program is taught from the perspective of a Christian university preparing graduates for work in religious as well as secular environments. Offering a flexible curriculum and asynchronous classes, students can pursue specialization. A capstone is not required but all students must complete a practicum. In addition to traditional social work settings, like schools and hospitals, the Baylor curriculum prepares students to serve in religiously affiliated organizations and environments, and teaches students to understand and respect the diversity of human spirituality. The program has fewer course requirements than some similar programs, allowing for greater specialization. The program is higher cost than many comparable programs. Additional funding may be available from this private university.

Syracuse University Master of Social Work

Location: Syracuse, New York

60 credits

$65,040 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

The Master of Social Work program at Syracuse University offers students the option of specializing in either Integrated Practice or Clinical Practice, with topics such as military culture and mental health practice, trauma-informed care, social justice, leadership, and social work in the digital age. There are several electives to choose from. At this respected university, live synchronous classes provide the opportunity to form bonds with peers and lecturers. Syracuse’s curriculum consists of 60 credits of coursework and includes a wide range of electives. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. There are two concentrations available.

Rutgers University Master of Social Work

Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey

60 credits

$71,640 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

This 60-credit program equips students to work in all fields of social work as global-informed practitioners. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. There are certificates in Violence Against Women and Latinx Studies available. The online Master of Social Work program at Rutgers University offers students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue professional training in social work from a global perspective, including international connections. The accessible certifications in Violence Against Women and Children and Latinx Perspectives may potentially entice students. Although the Rutgers program is more expensive than many other online M.S.W. programs, applicants may feel that the program’s benefits offset the increased cost.

Indiana University – Bloomington Master of Social Work

Location: Bloomington, Indiana

60 credits

$42,960 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

This 60-credit program at a flagship public institution provides excellent value for money in terms of a comprehensive program with strong research-oriented faculty and community linkages. In addition to their coursework, students must complete a practicum and a compulsory capstone seminar. The School of Social Work at Indiana University-Bloomington has been continuously recognized since 1923, and it also houses the Labor Studies Department on campus, which provides research and coursework options for social work students. The program provides exceptional value for money in terms of professional training in a high-profile flagship state university, as well as research opportunities with world-class faculty. In comparison to similar programs at large public universities, the program is relatively flexible.

University of South Florida Master of Social Work

Location: Tampa, Florida

60 credits

$52,630 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

The cohort model of education is used in this 60-credit program, in which all students take the same courses in the same order, giving the program a sense of community and consistency. Faculty with backgrounds in Latino and indigenous studies equip students for practice in a variety of social work settings. A practicum is required of all students, although no capstone is necessary. The University of South Florida’s Master of Social Work online program is more expensive than many others, but it allows students to complete the degree in only eight semesters, making it a better bargain for students who want to get their professional credentials quickly. The program is less flexible than some others, so students must be confident that it is right for them.

Arizona State University Master of Social Work

Location: Tempe, Arizona

60 credits

$32,580 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

This 60-credit program teaches students to be ethical professionals who approach theory and practice from a values-based perspective. It is necessary to complete a capstone Applied Project. Students must complete a practicum and a program that balances professional ethics, clinical skills, research methodologies, and policy concerns. The online Master of Social Career program at Arizona State University will appeal to goal-oriented students juggling work, family, and educational aspirations since it offers expedited 7.5-week semesters and flexible asynchronous training. Child welfare, forensic social work, gerontology, and integrative health are among the faculty’s specialties. The program is less expensive than many comparable online programs.

Yeshiva University Master of Social Work

Location: New York, New York

60 credits

$65,100 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

This respected program prepares students for professions in social work and is taught from a Jewish viewpoint. All students must complete a capstone project and a practicum. Gerontology and Palliative Care or Alcoholism and Substance Abuse are two specializations available to students. The Yeshiva University Master of Social Work program is tailored to certain specializations, such as school social work, geriatric care, and military social work. Graduates are equipped to work in the field of Jewish communal service as well as the broader field of social services. When compared to similar programs, the cost of the program is on the upper end. This prominent private university may be able to provide additional funds.

University of Iowa Master of Social Work

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

54 credits

$31,320 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A

This 54-credit program trains students to be advanced generalist practitioners with a diverse set of professional abilities and a strong network of peers. Online learning groups and established practicum mentorship provide help for students. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Students can specialize in either family-centered or integrated practice. The University of Iowa’s online Master of Social Work program is designed to train advanced generalist practitioners who bring strong professional skills and a research-informed perspective to the social work profession. It is aimed towards students living in Iowa and neighboring states. Synchronous classes, structured learning community groups, and obligatory campus visits let students engage with teachers and peers. Particularly for a program at a major state university, tuition is rather modest.

University of Missouri Master of Social Work

Location: Columbia, Missouri

60 credits

$24,876 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit program, which is open to residents of Missouri and neighboring states, equips students to improve human well-being and promote social and economic justice. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Students might specialize in Advanced Clinical Practice or Policy; Human Services Planning and Administration. This program provides interested individuals with an accessible and flexible way to obtain a professional education in the philosophy and practice of social work. The program is open to applicants from Missouri and neighboring states, and unlike many other low-cost programs, students can concentrate in either clinical practice or administration.

University of Denver Master of Social Work

Location: Denver, Colorado

81 credits

$89,748 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 81-credit program provides individuals with the option to study social work at this large private university. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The institution promotes public-private partnerships as well as expertise in veterans’ concerns, tribal child care, and animal-human relationships. The Master of Social Work degree may be more accessible to some applicants than similar programs because it requires a lower-than-average GPA for admission. Applicants should be warned, however, of the considerable expense. The Climb@DU initiative may be able to provide additional funds. Faculty expertise in bio-affiliation and nature connection, indigenous child welfare, and issues surrounding veterans and violence will entice some applicants.

University at Buffalo (SUNY) Master of Social Work

Location: Buffalo, New York

60 credits

$67,200 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit program features strict admissions standards and a human rights and trauma-informed practice-focused curriculum. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The program is only available part-time. The online Master of Social Work at the Public University of New York at Buffalo provides students with access to the resources and staff of this big state university while also stressing human rights and a trauma-informed approach to practice. In terms of expense, the curriculum is on the higher end of the scale, but students may find that the prestige associated with this school is worth the investment. Furthermore, for some applicants, the flexible part-time schedule and combination of asynchronous and synchronous classes may provide the ideal balance.

Fordham University Master of Social Work

Location: Bronx, New York

60 credits

$57,780 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit program, based on the Jesuit tradition, trains students to do social work in a competent and ethical manner. There are four concentrations available, including one in the highly sought-after Evaluation emphasis area. A practicum and a capstone Integrative Seminar are required of all students. With a relatively low minimum GPA requirement for candidates, Fordham University’s online Master of Social Work program is an accessible option for those who may have had a less successful undergraduate experience but are now inspired to pursue a career in social work. Live synchronous classrooms allow students to interact with professors and classmates in real time. The curriculum is more expensive than some equivalent degree alternatives. For certain applicants, though, the college’s Jesuit legacy may be particularly appealing.

University of Houston Master of Social Work

Location: Houston, Texas

63 credits

$55,692 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 63-credit degree prepares students to work as social workers in either clinical or macro (administrative and community) settings. The curriculum and student groups have been tailored to meet the needs of underrepresented populations. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The Trauma Education Program, Global Leaders of Behavioral Health Education, Political Social Work, Abolitionist Social Work, the Mental Health Advanced Practice in Social Work Program, and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance are among the student groups and programs available to students in the University of Houston Master of Social Work online program. In terms of price, the program is in the middle of the pack. Within a flexible asynchronous course paradigm, students can choose between two concentrations.

University of New Hampshire Master of Social Work

Location: Durham, New Hampshire

62 credits

$84,940 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

The online MSW from the University of New Hampshire is a smaller program with a higher tuition that prepares students to be active social work practitioners with an emphasis on cultural competence, social justice, and research-based practice. A practicum as well as 62 credits of education are required. Students can pursue an Advanced Generalist program or specialize in one of the following areas: health and mental health, addictions and substance misuse, children, youth, and families, or disabilities. The online MSW program at the University of New Hampshire is unique in terms of its small size and personalized approach. Students have the option of studying in either the Dominican Republic or Northern Ireland. A course in data analysis and statistics is compulsory, unlike in several other programs.

Samford University Master of Social Work

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

60 credits

$22,920 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit program at a small Christian university provides a low-cost method to get a professional social work degree. There is no requirement for a capstone, but all students must complete a practicum. Within a Christ-centered approach, the program promotes mastery of core subjects. Students interested in pursuing an online professional degree in social work with a uniquely Christian slant should investigate this small Alabama college. The school’s higher-than-average requirement GPA ensures that peers will be well-prepared for the program, and the program’s reduced cost is particularly appealing. Although the curriculum is extensive, students may miss out on some of the research-based opportunities available at larger schools.

Boise State University Master of Social Work

Location: Boise, Idaho

61 credits

$30,195 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B

Through a comprehensive curriculum concentrating on professional ideals and usable skills, this 61-credit program prepares students to meet the social service needs of their communities. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Working people can benefit from the program because of its flexibility and inexpensive cost. For residents in this western state and elsewhere in the United States, the Master of Social Work online degree at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, is a less expensive and more flexible choice. Individuals already in the workforce can get help from the school to combine the demands of employment, family, and education, including mentorship and practicum coordination.

University of Tennessee at Knoxville Master of Social Work

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

48 credits

$30,048 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

The University of Tennessee-online Knoxville’s Master of Social Work program requires 48 credits of coursework, as well as a practicum and comprehensive exam. Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice or Organizational Leadership are the two concentrations available to students. This curriculum is distinguished by certificates in gerontology, forensic social work, school social work, trauma, and veterinary social work. The online MSW at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers an accessible road to a career in social work, with a cheaper overall cost and fewer needed undergraduate courses than some comparable programs. Students have more flexibility thanks to an asynchronous course approach, but they are limited in terms of when they can begin their studies, as there is only one intake every year, in the Fall. The demand for a comprehensive exam may entice some pupils, but scare away others.

West Virginia University Master of Social Work

Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

60 credits

$38,580 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit degree combines academic and practical training to prepare students for a career in social work. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The Advanced Generalist specialization is followed by all students. With a lower-than-average needed GPA for admission and a mid-level pricing range, the West Virginia University online Master of Social Work program is an accessible choice for individuals desiring to continue professional education in the social work sector. The curriculum is part-time only, with a three-year completion period and flexible asynchronous classes. The program’s emphasis on administration, which includes a mandatory course on grant writing and other funding options, may entice students.

Louisiana State University Master of Social Work

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

60 credits

$32,340 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit program features seven-week sessions and six start dates throughout the year. Students can decide to complete a thesis, but all students must complete a practicum. Children and Youth Services, Gerontology, Social Work Practice in Schools, and Policy and Macro Practice are among the concentrations available. Louisiana State University has devised a curriculum that is accessible to busy working people juggling several duties, with a lower price than some comparable programs and a flexible accelerated course schedule with six start dates each year. The curriculum allows students to follow their own interests within the profession by offering four different areas of specialization. The program’s 7-week courses may also appeal to applicants, as they provide opportunity for intensive study and peer engagement.

University of Nevada, Reno Master of Social Work

Location: Reno, Nevada

60 credits

$42,000 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This short program focuses on leadership, vision, and empowerment as tools for social change, preparing students for work in Nevada’s urban and rural settings. This online MSW requires 60 credits of curriculum and includes a required practicum, but no capstone is required. This low-cost program provides students with a well-organized and thorough curriculum that walks them through all of the fundamental concepts and abilities they’ll need to become competent and independent social workers. The goal of the coursework is to have a better understanding of Nevada’s unique urban and rural settings, particularly those with limited social service resources. Faculty members have expertise in substance abusers, end-of-life care, homeless youth, and a variety of other topics.

Temple University Master of Social Work

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

60 credits

$60,000 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: A-

This 60-credit program includes a 3-day intensive classroom residency in Philadelphia. Students in the program learn to be ethical leaders in social work practice for individuals, groups, and communities through 60 credits of study and a mandatory practicum. They learn how to promote social, economic, and environmental justice, as well as how to undertake research and evaluation-based practice. There is no capstone or thesis requirement in this program. Clinical or Macro practice are the two concentrations available. A three-day residency in Philadelphia held between the first and second years of the Temple University online Master of Social Work program is a unique aspect of the curriculum. Students focus on intense courses linked to practice, research, and the field internship throughout the residency.

University of Kentucky Master of Social Work

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

60 credits

$42,030 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B+

Students can obtain a variety of skills in clinical practice as well as the theoretical and administrative basis of social work in this 60-credit program. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Certificates in Clinical Social Work and Substance Use Disorders are available to students. This degree program provides a fair value considering its mid-range pricing, as it offers a greater quantity and range of compulsory therapeutic techniques courses than many other programs. Due to its lack of application prerequisites and asynchronous course scheduling, this program may be more accessible than others. Applicants should be informed that some states’ social work licensure boards have only granted conditional approval to the program.

University of North Dakota Master of Social Work

Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

52 credits

$29,054 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B+

The online Master of Social Work program at UND focuses on the needs of rural communities and child welfare work in particular, and is aimed particularly for students living and working in North Dakota’s rural areas with limited access to other social work training. A capstone project and a practicum are required in addition to 52 credits of education. This is a less expensive curriculum that offers various benefits to students pursuing a generalist degree. UND offers financial assistance to qualifying students who agree to work in a North Dakota child protection agency after graduation. Students can join an active Student Social Work Association or look for chances with UND’s Children and Family Services Training Center, which conducts research and provides training with a strong focus on children and families.

University of Northern Iowa Master of Social Work

Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

60 credits

$31,020 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B+

This online Master of Social Work program is exclusively available to students who live in Iowa or neighboring states and is geared at creating social workers in Iowa’s underserved areas. This low-cost, 60-credit program uses a cohort format to teach a trauma-informed approach to social work. Although a capstone project is not required, students must complete an internship. This program is solely open to citizens of Iowa and neighboring states, and its goal is to specifically train social workers to meet the needs of Iowa’s underprivileged areas. Two mandatory courses on crucial themes in the management component of social work practice: grant writing and money raising, and systems redesign and community collaboration, round out a full generalist curriculum. The price of the program is fairly modest.

George Mason University Master of Social Work

Location: Fairfax, Virginia

60 credits

$47,700 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B+

This 60-credit degree trains students to contribute to social work practice and policy. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Adults and Healthy Aging or Children, Youth, and Families are two options for students. Human trafficking is an area in which the department excels. The George Mason University online Master of Social Work program will likely attract applicants who are interested in administration, policy, and government aspects of social work practice due to its closeness to the national capital and curriculum emphasis on social change. Students can acquire a dual degree combining social work and Conflict Analysis and Resolution from faculty with expertise in human trafficking issues. The GMU program is in the center of the pack in terms of cost.

New Mexico State University Master of Social Work

Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico

60 credits

$54,426 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B+

The New Mexico State University program, which focuses on populations and communities in the Southwest, especially Latinx and indigenous groups, offers flexible asynchronous classes and a curriculum geared to prepare practitioners for advanced generalist practice. Students can enroll in the SBIRT Health Professionals Training Program, which is a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort to equip students in social work, nursing, and counseling to apply an integrated behavioral health paradigm to address alcohol and substance misuse concerns. In terms of price, the program is in the middle of the pack.

University of Louisville Master of Science in Social Work

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

60 credits

$45,120 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B+

Students in the University of Louisville’s online Master of Social Work degree study a broad range of clients, services, and administrative techniques as part of a comprehensive curriculum anchored in both theory and practice. The program required 60 credits of curriculum, which included compulsory courses in program assessment and research methodologies, as well as a practicum. Students will be equipped to work as generalist social workers with a focus on social justice and research. The University of Louisville’s online MSW program, which is in the middle of the range in terms of overall expenditures, offers a flexible and well-rounded curriculum targeted at preparing highly competent workers. The program’s cohesiveness and emphasis may be seen in its comprehensive learning objectives. Students holding undergraduate degrees from historically black colleges and universities may find the program particularly appealing.

Simmons University Master of Social Work

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

65 credits

$72,150 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B

This 65-credit program at a small college provides individualized attention and synchronous instruction in classes of no more than 20 people. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. There are several concentrations and certificates available. The Master of Social Work online program at Simmons University offers a more intimate and individualized atmosphere than some similar programs, thanks to small class sizes and a program that promotes community through synchronous education. In comparison to many other programs, the curriculum allows for more specialization. Applicants may be drawn to the program since it has several start dates throughout the year. Although the curriculum is more expensive than many comparable programs, the benefits may be worth the extra cost for many applicants.

San Jose State University Master of Social Work

Location: San Jose, California

60 credits

$28,500 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B

San Jose State University’s online program, which requires a lower-than-average GPA for admission, provides a more accessible and less-expensive option for individuals interested in pursuing a graduate education in social work. SJSU students, on the other hand, must complete more necessary coursework than students in other programs, including a required writing course and a mandatory on-campus visit. With many different online programs available at SJSU, students can be confident that the university’s staff and professors are familiar with online learning and that the university prioritizes the requirements of distant students. The SJSU online MSW program, which is offered by a leader in online education, features more on-campus learning requirements than some other programs. Students must complete 60 credits in addition to a mandatory capstone project.

California State University – Northridge Master of Social Work

Location: Los Angeles, California

60 credits

$45,120 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B

This online Master of Social Work program focuses on urban settings and policy and offers a 60-credit curriculum that teaches a variety of skills and treatments, as well as underlying theory and history. All students must complete a capstone project and a practicum. The Master of Social Work program at California State University, Northridge maintains a stringent admissions procedure that ensures high-quality experiences for dedicated students. Faculty are working on a variety of projects involving child welfare, family and community violence, gender identity and sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, intimate partner violence (IPV), and other issues. The emphasis in the program is on urban settings and policies. The program is in the middle of the price range for comparable programs.

University of Texas – Arlington Master of Social Work

Location: Arlington, Texas

61 credits

$35,000 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B

This 61-credit program prepares students for a career in social work by offering four concentrations. There is no capstone requirement, but all students must complete a practicum. There is no need to come to campus. The program is all-encompassing, with a special emphasis on child welfare and addiction and recovery research. The Master of Social Work program at the University of Texas at Arlington provides students with the opportunity to learn from committed teachers in a flexible asynchronous course format. Students who choose the accelerated curriculum will be busy during their studies, but will be prepared for professional practice and earnings sooner. Within a program emphasizing Child Welfare and Addiction and Recovery studies, the program provides four very relevant topic concentrations. In terms of difficulty, the program is in the middle.

Western New Mexico University Master of Social Work

Location: Silver City, New Mexico

60 credits

$22,262 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This 60-credit degree trains students to work as ethical professionals who advocate for human rights, social justice, and diversity. As social work practitioners, graduates are prepared to intervene with individuals, communities, and organizations and are competent for research and assessment. The program, including the obligatory practicum, can be completed in two to three years. Graduate certifications are available in a variety of fields. Western New Mexico University’s online MSW program provides students with a complete and fully certified curriculum at a lesser cost than most comparable programs. This program should appeal to students who value the human interaction provided by synchronous sessions and/or those interested in assisting the diverse communities of Western New Mexico. The variety of graduate certifications available further adds to the uniqueness of the program.

Campbellsville University Master of Social Work

Location: Campbellsville, Kentucky

60 credits

$33,540 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This small Kentucky college’s flexible, asynchronous program prepares students to perform social work from a Christian perspective. Students who complete 60 credits of curriculum will be prepared to work as practitioners, service coordinators, administrators, policy analysts, and program planners. The curriculum only has one emphasis, Advanced Generalist, however it does concentrate on issues related to rural, military, and Christian settings. There is no requirement for a capstone or a campus visit, however a practicum is necessary. For students seeking a Master’s in Social Work, this small Kentucky college provides a flexible and accelerated degree program. Campbellsville offers a Christian-influenced social work curriculum that is complemented by rigorous training in the field’s basic theory and practice.

Humboldt State University Master of Social Work 

Location: Arcata, California

60 credits

$30,600 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This 60-credit program is open to students who will be residing in California while pursuing their degree, with a focus on Native American and rural communities. In addition to completing a practicum, all students must complete a mandatory Master’s Project as a capstone. Each year, students must visit campus twice. This online Master of Social Work program targets California citizens interested in practicing social work in indigenous and rural communities. The curriculum includes two mandatory visits to campus per year, which allow several opportunity to form bonds with a peer community. Students must complete a capstone project that allows them to apply and integrate their knowledge. The cost of attendance is moderate.

Portland State University Master of Social Work

Location: Portland, Oregon

78 credits

$57,798 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This 78-credit program provides extensive training in social work theory and practice. Portland State University offers a degree with more freedom in course selection than some others, thanks to faculty competence in gerontology and trauma-informed care. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The Portland State University program offers a wider range of electives and specialized options than programs at smaller universities, which may appeal to students who are convinced they want to work in a specific field of social work. Although the program is more expensive than some alternatives, many applicants may find the type of education it provides to be worthwhile. The accessible graduate certificate in Gerontology and/or the dual master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health are of interest, as are research and training opportunities through Portland’s State Behavioral Health Integration Project and through faculty research on Child Welfare Education.

California State University – San Bernardino Master of Social Work

Location: San Bernardino, California

60 credits

$39,000 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This 60-credit program educates professional social workers for careers in social services for students who face challenges to attending graduate school in person. Although a capstone project is not required, all students must complete a practicum and visit the CSU-SB campus at least once a year. In the field of policy, the curriculum is very solid. The Master of Social Work program at the University of California San Bernardino offers opportunities to connect with instructors and peers through “live” synchronous classes and one mandatory visit to campus per year. Caregiving, AIDS services, social determinants of health, economic self-sufficiency, and other issues are covered by the program’s faculty. The program is less expensive than many similar ones.

Our Lady of the Lake University Master of Social Work

Location: San Antonio, Texas

57 credits

$51,699 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

Our Lady of the Lake University offers an online MSW program with 57 necessary hours for students interested in a comprehensive social work education with a concentration on Hispanic communities. Students learn to become ethical practitioners that incorporate research and social justice concepts into their work. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. The Master of Social Work program at this small Texas college is more accessible than some other options, with a lower-than-average needed GPA for admission. Flexible coursework is available, including a specialty in Hispanic population service. Students who are veterans or members of military families can receive additional support from the college. The degree comes at a reasonable price.

Widener University Master of Social Work

Location: Chester, Pennsylvania

57 credits

$56,031 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This online master’s degree in social work requires 57 credits of curriculum and educates students to be culturally competent practitioners who approach social work from a strengths-based perspective. There is no capstone requirement, but all students must complete a practicum. Clinical social work and trauma are two concentrations available to students. The program at Widener would appeal to those looking for an online MSW program at a smaller college with a strong trauma focus. In terms of expense, the program is in the center, with necessary courses that are comparable to other programs. The program is only offered part-time, which may appeal to students who prefer to continue working full-time while pursuing their MSW.

University of Arkansas, Little Rock Master of Social Work

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

60 credits

$71,520 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

Only Arkansas residents are eligible for this 60-credit program. With faculty specialization in gerontology and human services, students are prepared for advanced generalist practice. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. This online Master of Social Work program is only offered to Arkansas residents and offers flexible class schedules as well as faculty specialization in gerontology and human services. Students will form a community of peers and instructors as the program expands. In terms of price, the program is on the higher end of the price spectrum for similar programs. Some applicants will be drawn to the program because it allows them to take more elective credits than other programs.

University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley Master of Science in Social Work

Location: Edinburg, Texas

63 credits

$27,972 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

The only Master of Social Deal program in southern Texas that prepares students to work with the region’s unique mix of Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities is this 63-credit degree. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. Courses are given on a 7-week flexible schedule with asynchronous teaching methods. Students who want to integrate Hispanic and spiritual perspectives into their work in social services will be drawn to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s online Master of Social Work program, which offers hard-to-find core courses in working with Hispanic populations and spirituality and social work. This program provides an accessible and flexible solution for anyone looking to improve their credentials, with a very reasonable cost-to-degree. The program places a strong emphasis on practical experience and administrative skills.

University of New England Master of Social Work

Location: Biddeford, Maine

64 credits

$62,720 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This flexible 64-credit program is geared towards students balancing school with other responsibilities, with six start periods each year and totally asynchronous classes. The course focuses on social justice and individual, community, and group empowerment. A practicum is required, however there will be no capstone project. The online MSW at the University of New England may appeal to many students who have not heard of this smaller, more geographically isolated university because of its flexible intakes and asynchronous course delivery. The school takes pride in its inclusive approach to the student experience and the field of social work. This program is on the more expensive end of the scale in terms of expense, partly due to the higher number of required credits, but it may offer benefits in terms of flexibility.

Western Kentucky University Master of Social Work

Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky

60 credits

$69,120 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: B-

This 60-credit program prepares students to work in rural or underprivileged communities as well-rounded social workers. All students must complete a practicum and pass a field readiness exam as part of their capstone project. Coursework emphasizes rural communities and culture. The online Master of Social Work program at Western Kentucky University provides a unique opportunity to anchor social work professional education in the needs and perspectives of rural areas and individuals. The program is less flexible than others, but it provides more opportunities to engage with peers. The emphasis on developing professional specialists in rural communities worldwide, including testing that competence with a compulsory Field Readiness exam, will motivate applicants who want to make a difference in the world.

Delaware State University Master of Social Work

Location: Dover, Delaware

60 credits

$26,280 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: C+

This historically Black college’s rigorous 60-credit online MSW program prepares students for all of the challenges and benefits of Advanced Generalist social work practice. Students learn to be ethical practitioners of social work with individuals, groups, and communities, with a focus on diversity and social justice. There is an Advanced Generalist concentration available. All courses are asynchronous, and students must complete a practicum. This program stands out for its emphasis on teaching leaders within the field of social work, impacted by the specific context and history of Delaware State’s status as a Historically Black College and University. It also includes a mandatory course in Administration and Management. The program provides flexibility within a broad curriculum, as well as several chances for professional practice and development.

Edinboro University Master of Social Work

Location: Edinboro, Pennsylvania

60 credits

$34,080 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: C+

This small college provides an online Master of Social Work degree that is both comprehensive and flexible, aimed at aspiring generalist practitioners. Although a capstone is not necessary, all students must participate in a practicum. While learning professional skills, students develop a sense of community. This online master’s degree in social work provides exceptional value for a smaller program with possibilities to engage with classmates and instructors. When compared to similar applications, the price is around the middle. The curriculum is comprehensive, with the goal of developing generalist social workers with a variety of therapeutic abilities and techniques. Edinboro University receives positive comments from students, who praise the university’s small size and flexible program.

University of Alaska – Anchorage Master of Social Work

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

62 credits

$31,806 total tuition

University’s Niche.com Grade: C

The online MSW program at the University of Alaska-Anchorage aims to prepare social workers who are competent as generalist practitioners to fulfill the needs of Alaskan communities. Students learn to apply research-based approaches and theory to challenges of individuals, families, communities, and organizations through 62 credits of mandatory curriculum, an internship, and a required Transformational Leadership capstone course. The need of cultural competence is highlighted throughout, particularly while interacting with Alaskan indigenous peoples and other citizens. Residents of Alaska seeking a professional education to prepare them to work in remote Alaskan villages will likely be most interested in the University of Alaska-Anchorage online MSW program. The program’s focus on indigenous and rural communities distinguishes it. It has fewer options for flexibility than some other programs, but it provides excellent possibilities for community building and networking with professional peers through synchronous classes and obligatory campus visits. The program is reasonably priced. Graduates will be equipped with best practices for serving Alaska Natives, LGBTQ2+ people, those in poverty, and youth who have been exposed to violence.