Compare CSWE-Accredited Master’s in Social Work Online (MSW) Programs for 2020

Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees are a required for bachelor’s level social workers to apply for licensure as a master or clinical social worker. 

Attending on-campus programs may not be feasible if you are juggling a full-time career, family, and other personal or professional obligations. Many on-campus schools of social work have created Master of Social Work online programs, mirroring their on-campus programs.

Choose the Best Accredited Online MSW Program For You

List of Online MSW Programs with No GRE Required
University Location Length Specializations/Concentrations
Scroll to Adelphi UniversityGarden City, NY15-36 MonthsHuman Services Professionals
Scroll to Arizona State UniversityTempe, AZ24-36 MonthsNone
Scroll to Baylor University
Sponsored Program
Waco, TX12-36 MonthsClinical or Community Health
Scroll to Boise State UniversityBoise, ID3-9 SemestersAdvanced Social Work with Individuals and Families
Scroll to Boston UniversityBoston, MA24-36 Months
  • Clinical or Macro
  • Human Service Experience 
Scroll to California State University, San BernardinoSan Bernardino, CA36 MonthsNone
California State University, NorthridgeNorthridge, CA24-36 MonthsUrban Family Practice Emphasis
Scroll to Case Western Reserve University
Sponsored Program
Cleveland, OHAs few as two years
  • Children, Youth and Families
  • Mental Health with Adults
  • Community Practice for Social Change
Scroll to Catholic University of AmericaWashington, D.C.N/AClinical Concentration
Scroll to Columbia UniversityNew York, NY12-48 Months
  • Advanced Clinical
  • Social Enterprise Administration
Scroll to Edinboro UniversityEdinboro, PA12-24 MonthsFamily Social Work Practice
Scroll to Florida State UniversityTallahassee, FL12-36 MonthsClinical Social Work Practice
Scroll to Fordham University
Sponsored Program
New York, NY
  • Advanced Standing Program in as few as 8 months
  • Traditional program in as few as 16 months
Areas of Focus:
  • Individuals and Families
  • Organizations and Community
  • Evaluation
  • Policy Practice and Advocacy
Scroll to Humboldt State UniversityArcata, CA24-42 MonthsFocus on working with rural and indigenous communities.
Scroll to Indiana UniversityBloomington, IN24-60 MonthsAdvanced Generalist
Scroll to Louisiana State UniversityBaton Rouge, LA12-36 MonthsAdvanced Direct Social Work Practice
Scroll to Metropolitan State University of DenverDenver, CO12-48 MonthsNone
Scroll to Our Lady of the Lake UniversitySan Antonio, TX12-48 MonthsGeneralist with Emphasis on Hispanic Community
Scroll to Portland State UniversityPortland, OR12-36 MonthsAdvanced Concentrations:
  • Community and Organizational Practice
  • Health Across the Lifespan
Scroll to Rutgers UniversityNew Brunswick, NJ24-36 MonthsClinical Social Work Practice
Scroll to Simmons University
Sponsored Program
Boston, MAAs few as 16 monthsCertificate Options: 
  • Practice with Groups & Families
  • Mental Health Practice
  • Trauma Practice
Scroll to Temple UniversityPhiladelphia, PAUp to three years
  • Clinical Practice with individuals and families
  • Macro Practice in Organizations
  • Communities and Policy Arenas
  • Health and Mental Health
  • Individualized Specialization
Scroll to Texas State University, San MarcosSan Marcos, TX2-4 YearsAdministrative Leadership
Scroll to University at Buffalo – The State University of New YorkBuffalo, NY12-36 MonthsEvidence-based Practice with Trauma-Informed and Human Rights Perspective
Scroll to University of ArkansasFayetteville, AK12 MonthsMulti-Systems Life Course
Scroll to University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL12-36 Months
  • Behavioral Health
  • Child Welfare Services
Scroll to University of Denver
Sponsored Program
Denver, CO
  • As few as 18 months for the Advanced Standing MSW 
  • As few as 21 months for the Traditional MSW
  • Mental Health and Trauma
  • Health, Equity and Wellness
Scroll to University of HoustonHouston, TX24-36 Months
  • Clinical Practice: Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Political Social Work 
  • Individualized Specialization
Scroll to University of Nevada, RenoReno, NVAs few as 15 monthsNone
Scroll to University of New EnglandBiddeford, ME16-36+ Months
  • Clinical Practice: Individual, Families, and Groups (IFG)
  • Community Practice: Organizational and Community Practice (OCP)
Scroll to University of New HampshireDurham, NH28 Months
  • Health and Mental Health
  • Addictions and Substance Abuse
  • Children, Youth, and Families
  • Disabilities
  • Self-Designed Field of Practice
Scroll to University of North DakotaGrand Forks, ND12-36 MonthsAdvanced Generalist
Scroll to University of South FloridaTampa, FL18-36 MonthsClinical Social Work Practice
Scroll to University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleKnoxville, TN12-48 Months
  • Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice (Clinical)
  • Management, Leadership and Community Practice (Macro)
Scroll to University of Southern California
Sponsored Program
Los Angeles, CAAs few as 12 monthsDepartments: 
  • Adult Mental Health and Wellness
  • Children, Youth, and Families
  • Social Change and Innovation
Tracks:
  • Military Social Work
  • School Social Work
Scroll to Western New Mexico UniversitySilver City, NM12-36 MonthsAdvanced Generalist
Scroll to Widener UniversityChester, PA24-36 Months
  • Hybrid Dual Degree: MSW/ M.Ed. Human Sexuality Studies
  • Trauma Certificate

Adelphi University

Program Name: Online Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: Human Services Professionals (Optional Concentration)
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 64 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 32 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,200 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: 15 – 36 months
Program Description: Adelphi University School of Social Work’s MSW program has been accredited by the CSWE since 1951, continuously. Adelphi offers a part-time online MSW program and an advanced standing option for those who hold a BSW degree. There are twice yearly on-campus learning experiences. There is no GRE required for admission.
Contact Information:

Arizona State University

Program Name: Master of Social Work Program Online
Specializations/Concentrations: None
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits: 60 credits

Clinical Practice Hours: 960 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 36 months
Program Description: ASU offers more than 25 programs online, including their School of Social Work CSWE-accredited online MSW program.The faculty of the MSW program come from a variety of backgrounds including child welfare, policy advocacy, and behavioral health. The online MSW program does not require any campus visits at ASU and content is delivered asynchronously. The MSW at ASU was initially accredited by the CSWE in 1965.
Contact Information:

Baylor University – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Master of Social Work (MSW)
Specializations/Concentrations: Clinical or Community Health
Enrollment Options: Part-Time, Full-Time, or Accelerated

Coursework Credits:

  • Standard: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 32 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,030 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 550 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months
Program Description: The Master of Social Work (MSW) online program from Baylor University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, enabling aspiring social work professionals to serve and empower vulnerable populations worldwide. Students will learn the skills and theories necessary to make meaningful, informed change and be challenged to think about the ethical integration of faith and social work practice. The MSW online program can be completed in as few as 12 months. Baylor is now accepting applications, and GRE scores are not required to apply.

Sponsored Online MSW Program

Boise State University

Program Name: Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Graduate Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 61 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 37 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: 3 – 9 Semesters
Program Description: Boise State offers a traditional and advanced standing online MSW with 100% online, mostly asynchronous coursework, no out-of-state tuition, and no campus visits required. Boise State’s School of Social Work has been continuously accredited by the CSWE since 1992.
Contact Information:

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Boston University

Program Name: Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Clinical or Macro; Human Service Experience Track
Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 65 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 43 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,200 Hours
  • Human Service Experience: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 1,000 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 36 months
Program Description: The online MSW program at Boston University is offered in a part-time format with options to focus on Clinical Practice with three track options: traditional, human service experience (HSE), and advanced standing. No campus visits are required for this program. The School of Social Work at Boston University’s MSW was initially accredited by the CSWE in 1939.
Contact Information:

California State University, San Bernardino

Program Name: Pathway M.S.W. Distance Education Program
Specializations/Concentrations: None
Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits: 90 Quarter Units

Clinical Practice Hours: 1080 Hours

Length of Program: 36 months
Program Description: CSU San Bernardino (CSUSB)’s distance education MSW program offers a part-time enrollment option with online coursework and some on-campus visits for orientation. CSUSB’s School of Social Work’s MSW program has been accredited by the CSWE since 1989.
Contact Information:

California State University, Northridge

Program Name: Master of Social Work Online
Specializations/Concentrations: Emphasis on urban family practice
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 65 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 43 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,200 Hours
  • Human Service Experience: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 1,000 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 36 months
Program Description: The Master of Social Work (MSW) online program as CSU Northridge (CSUN) is offered in a two or three year option in an asynchronous learning format. CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Department of Social Work’s MSW program was initially accredited in 2004 and most recently reviewed in February 2020.
Contact Information:

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Case Western Reserve University – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Online Social Work at CWRU
Degree Conferred:Master of Science in Social Work Administration
Specializations/Concentrations: 

  • Children, Youth and Families
  • Mental Health with Adults
  • Community Practice for Social Change

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: Up to 24 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 
    • Generalist Year: 450 hours total (10-12 hours per week) over the course of 3 semesters.
    • Specialized Year: 600 hours total (10-12 hours per week) over the course of 4 semesters.
  • Advanced Standing: 
    • 900 hours (10-12 hours per week) over the course of 6 semesters.
    • Students begin this placement in the first semester of the MSSA program.

Length of Program: As few as two years
Program Description: At Case Western Reserve University’s CSWE-accredited Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences—ranked No. 9 in 2019 for social work by U.S. News & World Report—students can earn their Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) online. The degree is equivalent to an MSW, and can be completed in two and a half years. GRE scores are not required to apply.

Sponsored Online Social Work Program

The Catholic University of America Online MSW Program

Program Name: Online Master of Social Work (MSW)
Specializations/Concentrations: Clinical Concentration
Enrollment Options: Accelerated, Full-Time, or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 30 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,080 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: N/A
Program Description: Offered in part-time, full-time, and advanced standing, the online MSW program at the Catholic University of America (CUA). The National catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS) at CUA boasts that 95% of their graduates pass the Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) exam. The NCSSS’ MSW program has been accredited by the CSWE since 1923.
Contact Information:

Columbia University

Program Name: Online Master of Science in Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations:

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice
  • Social Enterprise Administration

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 33 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,200 Hours
  • Reduced Residency: 900 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 48 months
Program Description: Columbia University offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) online with part-time, full-time, and advanced standing options. The program is delivered online in synchronous and asynchronous formats with no required campus visits. Initial accreditation by the CSWE was granted to the MSW program in 1919.
Contact Information:

Edinboro University

Program Name: MSW Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Family Social Work Practice
Enrollment Options: Full-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 39 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 900 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 500 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 24 months
Program Description: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania has a full-time and advanced standing online master’s in social work program. The MSW at the School of Graduate Studies at Edinboro University has been accredited by the CSWE since 2001.
Contact Information:

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Florida State University

Program Name: Online MSW Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Clinical Social Work Practice
Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 61 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 39 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 944 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 512 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months
Program Description: FSU offers a traditional and advanced standing online MSW in part-time enrollment. FSU’s social work program focuses on clinical social work with a completion time between two to three years—depending on type of track. FSU’s Master of Social Work program was initially accredited by the CSWE in 1950.
Contact Information:

Fordham University – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Areas of Focus: 

  • Individuals and Families
  • Organizations and Community
  • Evaluation
  • Policy Practice and Advocacy

Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time, or Accelerated

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 66 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 32 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,200 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: Complete the Advanced Standing Program in as few as 8 months; Traditional program in as few as 16 months.
Program Description: Fordham University’s online Master of Social Work program features an integrated, forward-facing curriculum that prepares aspiring practitioners to deliver responsive services to both individuals and communities. Delivered by the top-ranked Graduate School of Social Service, the program has an intuitive online campus with multiple interactive features that create an engaging learning environment with interaction between students and faculty. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree.

Sponsored Online Social Work Program

Humboldt State University

Program Name: Online MSW Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Focus on working with rural and indigenous communities
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 75 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 43.5 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 960 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 480 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 42 months months
Program Description: Humboldt State University’s MSW program online is offered to students at part-time or full-time enrollment with an advanced standing option for BSW candidates. The MSW program has been accredited since 2003 by the CSWE and focuses on working with indegenous and rural communities.
Contact Information:

Indiana University

Program Name: Advanced Generalist MSW
Specializations/Concentrations: Advanced generalist program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 41 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 960 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 640 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 60 months months
Program Description: IU’s MSW direct online program offers a concentration clinical or community practice with 100% online coursework. Accredited by the CSWE since 1921, the MSW program is offered in part-time, full-time and advanced standing options.
Contact Information:

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Louisiana State University

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: Advanced Direct Social Work Practice
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 33 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 960 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 480 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months months
Program Description: LSU has part-time, full-time, and advanced standing options for their online MSW program with no required on-campus visits. The MSW online is offered in a seven-week module format with asynchronous learning. LSU’s MSW program was initially accredited in 1940.
Contact Information:

Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) Online MSW Program

Program Name: Online MSW Program
Specializations/Concentrations: None
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 36 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1080 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 48 months months
Program Description: MSU Denver’s online MSW program is offered part-time and full-time in both asynchronous and synchronous formats. Initial CSWE accreditation for the MSW at MSU Denver was in 2011.
Contact Information:

Our Lady of the Lake University

Program Name: Foundation MSW Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Generalist program with an emphasis on the Hispanic community
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 57 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 30 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 900 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 500 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 48 months months
Program Description: OLLU’s online MSW program may be completed as part-time or full-time enrollment. As the first graduate-level social work program in Texas, the MSW was initially accredited in 1945 by the CSWE. The social work master’s program online doesn’t require any on campus visits and focuses on practice with Hispanic communities.
Contact Information:

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Portland State University

Program Name: Online MSW program
Specializations/Concentrations: Two advanced concentrations – Community and Organizational Practice (Macro Practice) and Health Across the Lifespan (Integrated Health)
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 78 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 46 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 500 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months months
Program Description: The MSW online option at PSU is a 3-year cohort model program with synchronous and asynchronous learning formats. Two advanced concentrations are offered in macro practice or integrated health. The MSW at PSU has been accredited by the CSWE since 1964.
Contact Information:

Rutgers University

Program Name: Online MSW Program in Clinical Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: Clinical Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 30 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,125 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 885 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 36 months months
Program Description: The Rutgers Master of Social Work (MSW) program online focuses on clinical social work with part-time, full-time and advanced standing options. A Violence Against Women and Children Certificate (VAWC) program is also offered to admitted online MSW students. The master’s in social work program in the School of Social Work was initially accredited by the CSWE in 1957.
Contact Information:

Simmons University – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Certificate Options: 

  • Practice with Groups & Families
  • Mental Health Practice
  • Trauma Practice

Enrollment Options: Advanced Standing, Full-Time, Part-Time, and Accelerated Tracks

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 65 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 37 Credits

Required Field Education Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 1,000 Hours

Length of Program: As few as 16 months
Program Description: Simmons University offers its Master of Social Work program online so aspiring clinical social workers can earn their degree without relocating. Students are prepared to pursue employment in schools, courts, clinics, and other direct practice settings. The program can be completed in as few as 16 months, and accelerated, full-time, and part-time tracks are also available. An advanced standing track is available for BSW graduates. GRE scores are not required for admission.

Sponsored Online Social Work Program

Temple University

Program Name: Master of Social Work

Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Clinical Practice with individuals and families
  • Macro Practice in Organizations
  • Communities and Policy Arenas
  • Health and Mental Health
  • Individualized Specialization

Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Clinical Practice Hours:1,050 hours
Length of Program: Up to three years
Program Description: Temple University was initially accredited by the CSWE in 1969 and today offers an online MSW program with two concentrations and three specializations. Temple also offers a MSW-MPH dual degree online.
Contact Information:

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Texas State University, San Marcos

Program Name: Online MSW Degree Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Administrative Leadership
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 62 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 36 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: N/A Hours
  • Advanced Standing: N/A Hours

Length of Program: 2 – 4 years
Program Description: The online MSW at Texas State University – San Marcos is offered for non-BSW and BSW degree holders. Accredited by the CSWE initially in 1997, the MSW online program focuses on direct practice and administrative services for individuals and families across the lifespan.
Contact Information:

University at Buffalo – The State University of New York

Program Name: MSW Online Program
Specializations/Concentrations: Evidence-based practice with a trauma-informed and human rights perspective
Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 35 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 900 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 480 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months
Program Description: SUNY University at Buffalo has been accredited by the CSWE since 1934. The online MSW program focuses on evidence-based practice integrating trauma-informed and human rights perspectives. There are advanced standing and traditional options available.
Contact Information:

University of Arkansas

Program Name: Online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: Multi-Systems Life Course
Enrollment Options: Full-Time Only

Coursework Credits: 39 credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 900 Hours
Length of Program: 12 months
Program Description: The MSW program at the University of Arkansas has been accredited since 2003 by the CSWE.The online program is available for BSW holders only at full-time enrollment.
Contact Information:

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University of Central Florida

Program Name: Master of Social Work Online MSW
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Behavioral Health
  • Child Welfare Services

Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 62 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 32 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 600 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months
Program Description: University of Central Florida offers a part-time online MSW for non-BSW and BSW holders. Accredited by the CSWE since 1996, the program can be completed in one year for advanced standing students.
Contact Information:

University of Denver – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: 

  • Mental Health and Trauma
  • Health, Equity and Wellness

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Accelerated

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 81 Quarter Units
  • Advanced Standing: 54 Quarter Units

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Foundation Year Internship – 10.5 hours a week
  • Concentration Year Internship – 12 hours a week

Length of Program: As few as 18 months for the Advanced Standing MSW and as few as 21 months for the Traditional MSW.
Program Description: The online Master of Social Work program delivered by the University of Denver’s (DU) top-ranked school of social work1 offers a concentration in Mental Health and Trauma, preparing students to work with diverse populations impacted by oppression. All classes are taught by DU faculty and are limited to approximately 15 students. As members of the University’s academic community, students work closely with faculty who have a range of community experiences and research interests, from social and economic justice to multicultural communities.

1U.S. News & World Report – Best Social Work Programs – Updated 2019

Sponsored Online Social Work Program

University of Houston

Program Name: Online MSW Program
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Clinical Practice: Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Political Social Work Specialization
  • Individualized Specialization

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 63 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 38 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 900 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 500 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 36 months
Program Description: Since 1970, the MSW program at the University of Houston has been accredited by the CSWE.The online MSW begins with a 16 semester credit foundation across two semesters with field work.
Contact Information:

University of Nevada, Reno

Program Name: Online Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: N/A
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 62 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 32 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours: N/A
Length of Program: As few as 15 months
Program Description: UNLV offers an advanced standing and traditional MSW program online with a generalist curriculum. The MSW initially sought CSWE accreditation in 1990 and is up for review in October 2020.
Contact Information:

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University of New England

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Clinical Practice: Individual, Families, and Groups (IFG)
  • Community Practice: Organizational and Community Practice (OCP)

Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 64 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 35 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,120 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 560 Hours

Length of Program: 16 – 36+ months
Program Description: Both traditional and advanced standing tracks are available online at the University of New England with no campus visits required.The latest CSWE accredited review for UNE was in February 2020 and UNE currently holds this accreditation.
Contact Information:

University of New Hampshire

Program Name: Master of Social Work Online
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Health and Mental Health
  • Addictions and Substance Abuse
  • Children, Youth, and Families
  • Disabilities
  • Self-Designed Field of Practice

Enrollment Options: Full-Time

Coursework Credits: 62 credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 1,240 Hours
Length of Program: 28 months
Program Description: The online Master of Social Work program at UNH is available for non-BSW and BSW degree holders. No campus visits are required for this online MSW program. UNH’s MSW program has been accredited by the CSWE since 1996.
Contact Information:

University of North Dakota

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations:Advanced Generalist
Enrollment Options: Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 36 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 950 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 500 Hours

Length of Program: 12 – 36 months
Program Description: UND offers an online master’s degree in social work for advanced standing and traditional students. The MSW program at UND sought initial CSWE accreditation in 1991 and is still a CSWE accredited program.
Contact Information:

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University of South Florida

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations: Clinical Social Work Practice
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 35 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours: 980 Hours
Length of Program: 18 months – 36 months
Program Description: The online Master of Social Work at UCF is designed to prepare leaders in social work clinical practice in traditional or foundation tracks. UCF’s MSW program was initially accredited in 1983.
Contact Information:

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Program Name: M.S.S.W. Distance Education Program
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Evidence Based Interpersonal Practice (Clinical)
  • Management, Leadership and Community Practice (Macro)

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 36 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,024 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 672 Hours

Length of Program: 12 months – 48 months
Program Description: The MSSW program at the University of Tennessee offers two concentrations and opportunities to pursue a certificate program. The program has been accredited by the CSWE since 1945.
Contact Information:

University of Southern California – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Departments: 

  • Adult Mental Health and Wellness
  • Children, Youth, and Families
  • Social Change and Innovation

Tracks:

  • Military Social Work
  • School Social Work

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Units
  • Advanced Standing: 37 Units

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,000 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 790 Hours

Length of Program: As few as 12 months
Program Description: Top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers its innovative Master of Social Work program online so students can make a lasting positive impact in their communities. Aspiring practitioners attend online classes with an average of just 12 students so they can get to know each other and expert faculty. The program also offers comprehensive student support, including placement specialists who identify suitable sites near students’ local areas.

Sponsored Online Social Work Program

Western New Mexico University

Program Name: Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations:Advanced Generalist with Electives
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 60 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 39 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 900 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 450 Hours

Length of Program: 12 months – 36 months
Program Description: Offered in non-advanced and advanced standing, WNMU’s online MSW program doesn’t require any on-campus visits. Initially accredited by the CSWE in 2010, the Master of Social Work program at WNMU emphasizes social justice, integrity, and service.
Contact Information:

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Widener University

Program Name: Online Master of Social Work
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Hybrid Dual Degree: MSW/ M.Ed. Human Sexuality Studies
  • Trauma Certificate

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time

Coursework Credits:

  • Traditional: 64 Credits
  • Advanced Standing: 41 Credits

Clinical Practice Hours:

  • Traditional: 1,100 Hours
  • Advanced Standing: 680 Hours

Length of Program: 24 – 36 months
Program Description: The online MSW at Widener is trauma-focused and doesn’t require on-campus visits. Initially accredited in 1993, the MSW offers traditional, advanced, hybrid dual degree, and trauma certificate options.
Contact Information:

Things to Consider When Choosing an Online School

When considering an online school, you may want to consider your goals, schedule availability, and program length. The CSWE accreditation standards for online MSW programs are the same as universities’ on-campus counterparts with regards to degree awarded, program lengths, and credits. Ask yourself these questions: Why do you want a MSW degree? What is your availability with other obligations? How long do you want to be in school for?

Goals

Depending on your goal for earning a MSW online, you may want to consider the various options of enrollment. If you already have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), for instance, you may be eligible for an advanced standing MSW program. Some universities offer specializations such as trauma, mental health, child and family, and administrative foci.

Schedule

Your availability to be online will likely help to determine which specific type of master’s in social work online program you choose to pursue. If you work a full-time position, a part-time online social work degree program may be better suited for you. However, if you feel you can take on about two to four classes a semester, a full-time program may help you earn your degree faster. There are generally two types of online learning, asynchronous—learning online in your own time to meet deadlines and synchronous—learning online during a designated time, live with your other classmates. Some programs offer both.

Program Length

The length of your online accredited MSW program will vary by university and enrollment type. If you pursue an advanced standing program with your BSW, you may be able to complete your MSW within a year.  Advanced standing MSW programs are a way for BSW holders to earn their MSW in shorter time since they already completed foundational coursework in their bachelors program. However, if you do not have a BSW and pursue part-time enrollment, it can take up to four years for completion of your online social work degree master’s. Final program length depends on how any courses you enroll in and the time it takes to complete them.

Online Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Program Overview 

There are many master’s in social work online programs available to you, from full-time and part-time options to programs that incorporate fieldwork placements and offer specialty areas of your interest. When choosing a program, it is important to make sure that the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
CSWE-accredited schools have gone through a rigorous process administered by the accrediting institution, that ensures that the school meets their standards and is qualified to teach students. More so, CSWE-accredited programs are required for state licensure.

What is an MSW program?

A Master of Social Work (MSW), or master’s in social work, program is a graduate advanced program that equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to support the well-being of individuals and large client populations, particularly those who are vulnerable. An online MSW degree typically takes two years to complete and requires a minimum of 900 hours of fieldwork.

Currently, the MSW degree is considered a terminal degree for social work, though there are higher degrees available such as a Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Compared to a bachelor’s in social work (BSW), an MSW may offer opportunities for specialization and career advancement. While a DSW is recommended for those who want to teach or conduct research, the path to this degree is often lengthier and costlier than the MSW track.

What is CSWE accreditation of an online social work program?

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) sets forth standards for bachelor and master of social work programs that align education with practice. Some of these include: incorporation of social work competencies in ethics, human rights, assessments and interventions, explicit curriculum for generalist and specialist practice, and an implicit curriculum that supports student development, retention, and participation.

There are over 50 accredited online or distance education MSW programs recognized by the CSWE. Some of these programs are not offered to students from any state and/or may be offered in conjunction with numerous on-campus visits.

What are the benefits of a CSWE-accredited online program?

According to the Benefits of CSWE Accreditation, all states in the U.S. require a social work degree accredited by the CSWE in order to sit for licensing exams. Whether this is online or not, a CSWE-accredited program ensures quality assurance, met academic standards, and public accountability. The CSWE also states that some employers also require a CSWE-accredited degree for positions.

Additional Types of CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs

Should I Enroll into an Online MSW Program?

Many people choose to earn an MSW to pursue licensure in their state and to learn more about the intricacies of social work practice, research, and policy. Ultimately, the decision is based on your goals. If you choose to enroll into an online accredited MSW program, here are some opportunities you may come into, as well as the typical program admission requirements.

Benefits & Opportunities 

An MSW may provide a pathway to licensure for social workers who want to work independently with two years post-MSW experience. Although there are some BSW programs that provide concentrations, a graduate degree often offers a variety of concentration opportunities to grow and fine tune your skills in your social work practice.

As with other mental health professionals and social service degrees, the field itself is rewarding for individuals who find achievement in helping others achieve their well-being.

In addition, social work is a fast-growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job growth of social workers is expected to increase by 11% from 2018 to 2028. That’s more than double the average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS suggests this growth is due to an increase in demand for healthcare and social services, with the highest growth in mental health and substance abuse social workers at 18 percent.

Program Admissions Requirements 

Admission requirements for master’s in social work programs will differ between schools and programs, however, schools typically require the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school
  • A minimum GPA requirement, often 3.0
  • Official transcripts
  • A personal statement/letters of recommendation (amount varies by school)
  • An application fee (amount varies by school)
  • Technical requirements to access any online courses (personal computer, internet access, etc.)

Today, many MSW programs do not require a GRE test score. If your undergraduate was not in social work, then your MSW program may vary from the track of a student with a BSW, adding core requirements that you may not have taken during your undergraduate studies.

What Should I Expect from an Online MSW Program?

Your online MSW program is likely to mirror any on-campus MSW from your preferred university. As a CSWE-accredited program, all social work master’s programs online must have specific coursework offered as a part of their accreditation. In your online social work program, you may expect live classes, self-paced learning, tests, quizzes, research papers and more. Just because a program is online, doesn’t mean that the MSW degree varies in quality.

Core Concepts & Curriculum

With technological advancements, online social work curricula can more easily mirror the traditional in-class curricula. Depending on if you are enrolled as a standard or advanced standing student, master’s of social work online programs may typically range from 12 to 32 months until completion. In the first year, core courses are the main focus. Foundational courses may include:

  • Sociocultural Concepts
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Human Behavior/Psychology
  • Community Practice

During the second year, students begin to specialize and identify areas to begin fieldwork. The fieldwork component is an important part of the MSW degree, as it gives students thousands of Hours’ worth of hands-on experience within their particular specialization. This fieldwork can be through internships or a specific number of Hours within certified organizations, ranging from schools to hospitals, and more.

What Can I Do Once I Complete an Online MSW Program?

Once you graduate from an MSW online program, you may be qualified to apply for licensure in your state. It’s important to note that there is likely post-graduate field experience required to independently practice. Be sure to check with your state’s specific requirements for more information.

Career opportunities for social workers who earned an MSW can be extremely diverse, and can be rewarding too. There are a number of social worker careers that range from clinical practice to roles in the government or corporate sector. If you decide to earn your MSW, and don’t have previous social work experience, you are also one step closer to becoming a social worker. Here are some careers you may pursue after you complete an online MSW program:

With an MSW, you may be able to take advantage of job opportunities in the mental health field and expand your career into new areas. Depending on the state you want to work in, you may need to pursue a license. Typically to pursue state licensure as a social worker, you’ll need to pass an exam from the Association for Social Work Boards (ASWB)

Social Work Practice Levels

Online MSW programs offer a variety of program concentrations from Mental Health & Trauma to Policy Practice and Advocacy. Depending on your concentration, you could focus on programs at the broad level or become more granular with your career. Most programs are spliced into categories called macro, mezzo, or micro social work, which is used to define the scope of the work involved. Learn more about each of these categories below:

Macro social work: Macro level social workers use their MSW to make large scale impact in the field, whether it be at the state level or even nationally. They may look to solve issues and implement change at the root, instead of counseling clients affected at a personal level. Macro social workers may design and implement social services programs, examine the cause of social issues within their communities, and advocate for policy changes at a government level.

Mezzo social work: The work of mezzo level social workers involves enacting change within smaller groups or institutions and is usually thought to be focused on more “mid-size” groups that fall between the macro and micro side of the practice spectrum. For example, mezzo social workers may organize local health or education initiatives, have frequent contact with community members, and may not always provide the same clinical or personal treatment as social workers who only work at the micro level. 

Micro social work: This work is often identified as the most common type of practice that involves work with an individual or a family. Training in micro social work aims to give social workers the knowledge required to be able to identify problems that individual clients may have and support them appropriately. Micro social workers may help clients with challenges relating to housing, employment, family, financial stability, mental health, medical issues, and more

Online MSW Program Concentrations

There are many concentrations in online MSW programs to choose from. Social workers may work with children in therapeutic settings, visiting children in their homes as a caseworker, or advocate for policy change to support communities at large. Discover the variety of concentrations available to help you fine tune your social work career.

List of Online MSW Programs with No GRE Required
MSW Concentration Description
Additions and Substance AbuseFocus on the root of addictions and/or substance abuse, client assessments, and choosing the best approach to treatment.
Administrative LeadershipIntegration of both direct practice and social work administration such as program planning and grant resources development.
Behavioral HealthUnderstand different behavioral health disorders, assessments, and interventions.
Child Welfare ServicesFocus on providing a continuum of care to children, youth, and families within the child welfare systems.
Children, Youth, and FamiliesFocus on advocacy and intervention on behalf of children and youth within the social environments they live.
Clinical Social WorkApplication of theories and techniques to address mental, behavioral, emotional, and social function concerns with individuals and groups.
Community Health and PracticeFocus on working with public and nonprofit organizations, communities and other agencies to develop programs and systems.
DisabilitiesIntegrating therapeutic approaches and resources to support the well-being and overall independent functioning of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Forensic Social WorkFocus on support, navigation, resources, interventions and other types of assistance for individuals navigating legal/court systems.
GerontologyUnderstand therapeutic interventions and approaches to older adults with regards to challenges from aging such as independence, autonomy, and dignity.
HospiceFocus on improving physical, psychosocial, and spiritual quality of life for those living with serious illness.
Individualized SpecializationCustom concentration from various electives.
Macro Social WorkCombining social work research with program development, community-based initiatives and more to serve communities in need.
Mental Health PracticeAddressing mental illnesses and related events with individuals through assessments, interventions, and therapeutic approaches and support.
Military Social WorkFocus on providing mental health and other supportive services to military personnel and their families.
Policy Practice and AdvocacyUnderstand how to manage organizations, navigate systems and create policy to advanced social change and advocate for individuals and communities.
School Social WorkFocus on approaches and techniques for students on academic, behavioral, emotional, and social concerns while removing barriers to education.

Licenses an Online MSW Program May Prepare You For

People who currently hold a BSW degree or work in similar fields and backgrounds, may often make the choice to earn their MSW. For social workers with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), they may be qualified for bachelor level licenses such as becoming a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW). This varies from state to state, so be sure to check with your state’s social work board for more information. It’s important to note that not every state offers this level of opportunity.

An online MSW program may prepare you for licensure as:

These titles change depending on the state you apply for licensure. Be sure that your online MSW program is accredited by the CSWE, as mentioned previously, all 50 U.S. states require a CSWE-accredited MSW program for licensure at the master’s level. Be sure to check with your state for specific requirements.

Online MSW Program vs. Social Services Programs 

Social service degree programs encompass many mental health professions, such as psychology and counseling. While social work, psychology, and counseling all provide services to individuals and communities, the curriculum often varies. Online MSW programs that are accredited by the CSWE often have the coursework meeting the nine social work competencies (PDF, 415 KB):

  • Ethical and Professional Behavior
  • Diversity and Difference in Practice
  • Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice Advancement
  • Practice-Informed Research and Research-Informed Practice
  • Policy Practice
  • Engage, Assess, Intervene with, and Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

While psychology and counseling programs may have similar coursework, their focus may be more on the individual and environment than policy and macro worldviews. Moreso, all three social service degrees require some level of field experience or internship, applying their learned skills under the supervision of a professor and approved, licensed professional.

While future social workers study environmental impacts and removal of barriers to overall health of communities, future counselors may be focused on the psychological and behavioral development of an individual, rooted in theory. Both careers, however, may choose to work with individuals or groups. Learn more about the differences between social work and counseling.

Psychologists may focus on discovering mental, emotional, or behavioral health concerns with clients and addressing those through the scope of a particular theoretical orientation. Social workers, on the other hand, armed with theories as well, approach work with clients through the lens of the environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, and other lenses. Learn more about the differences between social work and psychology.

Scholarship Options for MSW Students

There are over 50 options for scholarships that we were able to collect in our social work scholarships guide. There are scholarships for minority students entering the mental health or social work field, military financial assistance, scholarships specifically for women applicants and more. The amounts awarded vary greatly with some covering the cost of books and fees while others may offer awards for every year of your degree. Here are some examples:

Organizations for MSW Graduates 

Students who are interested in enrolling in an online MSW program have a vast array of organizations available, providing support and continuing education. These organizations also offer their members resources pertaining certifications, events and networking opportunities, and much more. Some examples of social work organizations at the macro, mezzo, and, micro levels are:

  • American Clinical Social Work Association (ACSWA): This national network of psychosocial care professionals is dedicated to providing the most current information, resources, updates, and alerts on emerging education and research best practices in social work and behavioral/mental healthcare. ACSWA is dedicated to providing clinical social workers with networking opportunities. 
  • Association of Veterans Affairs Social Workers (AVASW): This professional association encourages the development of social work services for veterans by sharing information with practitioners in the field as well as their client groups. The AVASW believes transparency enhances the effectiveness of VA social work.
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE): When you begin to search for the best online MSW program for you, make sure the one you choose is accredited. CSWE is the accrediting body for many schools that offer online MSW programs. They ensure that the educational institutions adhere to their set of standards for social work curricula.
  • International Association for Social Work with Groups (IASWG): This group works alongside social workers engaged in group work. This member-driven organization strives to promote excellence in local and international group work practices through education, field instruction, research, and publication.
  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW): Known as one of the largest social work organizations, the NASW has about 120,000 members and offers guidance and research forocial workers, but also advocates for them. 
  • Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA): This 35-year-old national organization has chapters in New York and Oregon, and even offers social workers to start a chapter anywhere in the country. Each chapter determines their own agenda and provides forums for discussion around local and national social work needs and issues.

Online MSW Program FAQs 

Earning your MSW online is an educational choice that is both obtainable and flexible for both full-time students and working professionals alike. The online format of the MSW program, coupled with the required field training, provides social work students with a unique learning experience. If you’re still thinking about whether an online MSW is the best fit for you, you can ask yourself the following questions:

How long does it take to get an MSW online?

Depending on the school and the program you pick, the time to graduate with your MSW can vary from one to three years. Most online MSW programs offer the flexibility for you to choose between part-time and full-time study, providing ample opportunities to complete your MSW.

Will an online MSW program provide me with the skills I need?

An MSW may prepare you for licensure as a master’s level social worker. Typically CSWE-accredited MSW programs offer coursework that covers such as therapy skills, working with individuals and groups, active listening, critical thinking and proper client documentation.

Will an online MSW program work with my schedule?

An MSW online program provides potential students with multiple options based on their schedule. Depending on the time you have available to attend class you can choose between an asynchronous and synchronous program and choose between enrolling part time or full time.

Is an online or hybrid MSW program as valuable as an on-campus MSW?

In most cases online, hybrid and distance learning MSW programs give students the same benefits of an on-campus program, but with possible greater flexibility and convenience. Whichever mode you choose, be sure that the MSW is accredited by the CSWE.

Can I get an MSW without a BSW?

The simple answer is yes. MSW programs for students who do not have a BSW are referred to as traditional or standard track programs. Programs for those who have a BSW is called advanced standing MSW program. In order to be able to take the traditional/standard track, you are required to have a bachelor’s degree from any accredited institution.

How much will I make with an MSW?

The median annual pay for social workers was $49,470 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social worker salaries however vary from state to state and can be significantly higher for those who have many years of experience or hold a master’s in the field. Your practice setting may also dictate your earning potential.

How do I pay for an MSW program?

While some online programs are more affordable than those offered on campus, pursuing a graduate-level degree still requires significant financing. Some students might be able to pay for their education through savings or loans, but others might seek out additional funding such as social work scholarships.

Information on this page was last retrieved in August 2020.