Find the Best Online Clinical MSW Degree for You – Online LCSW Programs

If you are interested in becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), completing a master’s in social work with a clinical specialization may be essential. From online MSW programs to hybrid programs, there are a number of options that can help you meet your goals while still providing flexibility. 

Pursuing an online LCSW degree is a big decision, so it’s helpful to know what’s available in order to pick the program that’s best for you. Read on to find a list of accredited programs that offer online degrees, including information about each program’s length, admissions requirements, enrollment options, and more. 

Sponsored Online MSW Program

Become a Clinical Social Worker. Earn Your MSW Online From Simmons University. No GRE Required.

The online Master of Social Work program from Simmons University prepares aspiring practitioners to pursue employment in clinical settings nationwide. 

Students may choose from three certificates: Trauma Practice, Mental Health Practice, or Practice with Groups and Families. The program can be completed in as few as 16 months, and GRE scores are not required

2021 Accredited Online Clinical Social Work (LCSW) Programs

University Location Length of Program Enrollment Options
Boston University Boston, MA 2-3 years  Part-Time
Catholic University of America  Washington, D.C 10 semesters Part-Time
Columbia University New York, NY 2-4 years  Part-Time
Florida State University  Tallahassee, FL 2-3 years Part-Time
Michigan State University  East Lansing, MI 2-3 years Part-Time
Rutgers University  New Brunswick, NJ 2-3 years Part-Time
Samford University Birmingham, AL 2-4 years Part-Time and Full-Time
Simmons University
Sponsored Program
Boston, MA 16-32 Months Advanced Standing, Accelerated, Full-Time, and Extended
Touro College Brooklyn, NY 2 years Part-Time
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock, AR Varied Part-Time and Full-Time
University of Houston  Houston, TX 2-3 years Part-Time
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, IL 2-3 years Part-Time
University of Missouri  Columbus, MO 2-3 years Part-Time
University of New England Biddeford, ME Varied  Part-Time
University of South Florida Tampa, FL 1.5-2.5 years Part-Time and Full-Time
University of Tennessee at Knoxville Knoxville, TN 1-4 years Part-Time and Full-Time
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 1-4 years Part-Time and Full-Time
Walden University Minneapolis, MI 1-3 years  Part-Time and Full-Time
Widener University  Chester, PA 2-4 years Part-Time 
Yeshiva University  New York, NY 2-4 years Part-Time and Full-Time

Here are some more details about each of the programs included in the table above: 

Boston University

Boston, MA

Name of Program: Online MSW Program
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing Program 

  • Bachelor’s in social work completed within six years of entry into the program
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Program Description: Boston University’s part-time, online program combines an asynchronous format with live weekly sessions. The curriculum focuses on diversity, at-risk populations, ethics, and social justice. 

Learn more about the online MSW program at Boston University.


Catholic University of America

Washington, D.C

Name of Program: Online Clinical Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 10 semesters (advanced standing students may waive some foundational courses in accordance with permission from the director of admissions)
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s degree in social work
  • Minimum 3.2 GPA in overall coursework 
  • Minimum 3.5 GPA in social work courses
  • Recommendation from chair of undergraduate program

Program Description: Catholic University of America’s clinical online program includes five semesters of foundational courses as well as five semesters of advanced coursework with a clinical concentration. The program is asynchronous, with no requirement to attend live classes. 

Learn more about the online clinical Master of Social Work degree at the Catholic University of America.


Columbia University

New York, NY

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Part-time option available during the first or second year only, students must enroll full-time for the field education portion of the program
Length of Program: 2 – 4 years
Concentrations / Specializations: Advanced Clinical Practice
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Personal essay required
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Field work evaluation form
  • List of social work courses 

Program Description: Columbia’s Online Master of Social Work program has fixed class times that require students to attend live classes. The program uses the same curriculum and is taught by the same faculty as Columbia’s on-campus option. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work degree at Columbia University


Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA in the most recent 60 hours of undergraduate coursework

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Minimum of 400 hours of field education in generalist practice

Program Description: Florida State University’s program provides a clinically-focused curriculum to prepare students for careers as clinical social workers. The program is designed to provide students with flexibility. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at Florida State University.


Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI

Name of Program: Statewide Blended Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Must live in Michigan or within 50 miles of the border 
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum of 19 liberal arts credits required

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Minimum 3.25 GPA

Program Description: Michigan State’s program offers a combination of online and on-campus coursework. There is also a weekend-only program available for students who need a more flexible schedule. 

Learn more about the blended Master of Social Work at Michigan State University.


Rutgers University

New Brunswick, NJ

Name of Program: MSW 100% Online Program
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • 3.0 minimum GPA
  • Social service experience preferred 
  • Introductory statistics course must be completed prior to beginning the program 
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Competency in all social work courses

Program Description: Rutgers MSW program offers online, blended, and intensive weekend options so students can choose a plan of study that suits their lifestyle needs. The program is asynchronous, meaning students can attend class on a flexible schedule. 

Learn more about the 100% online MSW program at Rutgers University.


Samford University

Birmingham, AL

Name of Program: Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 4 years
Admissions Requirements: 
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of reference
  • Academic writing sample
  • Statement of purpose
  • Undergraduate statistic course with a letter grade of C or higher
  • 3.0 minimum GPA or 3.2 in the most recent 60 hours of undergraduate study
  • Students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements may enroll with a 2.8 GPA with adequate MAT or GRE scores 
  • GRE not required for students who meet the minimum GPA requirements

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in Social Work
  • Field Evaluation

Program Description: Samford University’s online Master of Social Work program provides students with a curriculum that combines social work with components of Christianity. The program integrates the role of faith into the field of social work. 

Learn more about the Master of Social Work at Samford University.


Simmons University – Sponsored Program

Boston, MA

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work (MSW)
Enrollment Options: Advanced Standing, Accelerated, Full Time, and Extended
Length of Program: 16-32 months
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • 2 Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of professional and educational intent
  • Certificate program essay (if a certificate option is chosen)

Advanced Standing Program (in addition to Traditional program application requirements)

  • CSWE-accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
  • Advanced standing essay
  • A copy of the applicant’s most recent BSW field placement evaluation

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 hospitals, mental health centers, family agencies, and other direct practice settings. The program can be completed on an accelerated track in as few as 16 months, and 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 Clinical MSW Program


Touro College

Brooklyn, NY

Name of Program: Master of Social Work Flex Option Sequence
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Strong undergraduate record
  • Statement of purpose 
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in Social Work
  • Field placement evaluation
  • Demonstrated excellence in field internship
  • Writing sample from senior year practice course

Program Description: Touro College’s Master of Social Work Flex Sequence Option program allows students to take courses online with a once a week in-person requirement. The in-person class is held on Sundays to meet working students’ needs. 

Learn more about the MSW flex option at Touro College.


University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Little Rock, AR

Name of Program: Master of Social Work Online Degree Program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: Varied
Admissions Requirements: 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Relevant work or volunteer experience
  • Narrative statement of professional orientation 
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Program Description: University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s online Master of Social Work program is only available to residents of Arkansas. Each online course requires students to be available for five synchronous sessions each semester. 

Learn more about the MSW online degree program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


University of Houston

Houston, TX

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Social service experience
  • Personal statement
  • Resume 
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA overall and minimum 3.0 GPA in social work courses
  • Two to four letters of recommendation from individuals from undergraduate program who can speak to performance in the Bachelor of Social Work program

Program Description: University of Houston’s Online Master of Social Work program offers classes in an asynchronous format which is designed to provide students with flexibility. Students are assigned to a cohort whom they will take courses with throughout the program. A hybrid option is available to students who wish to attend classes in-person. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at the University of Houston.


University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Urbana, IL

Name of Program: iMSW Advanced Clinical Hybrid Program
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Experience in human services
  • Twenty hours of social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and biological science coursework
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA for the most recent 60 hours of undergraduate coursework

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work completed in the last seven years

Program Description: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s iMSW program offers most classes online, but requires students to attend some classes in-person on selected Saturdays. Students may attend these classes either in Chicago or in Urbana, which may allow for greater flexibility. 

Learn more about the iMSW clinical hybrid program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.


University of Missouri

Columbus, MO

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Must be a resident of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Tennessee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Social service experience
  • Personal statement
  • GRE not required
  • College level statistics course with a grade of C or higher 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Field work evaluation

Program Description: University of Missouri’s Online Master of Social Work program was created to provide access to MSW programs to students who live in rural communities. The program offers asynchronous courses to provide flexibility and to allow students to maintain full-time employment if desired. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at the University of Missouri.


University of New England

Biddeford, ME

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: Varied
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Two applicant recommendation forms
  • Resume
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing Program 

  • Bachelor’s in social work 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Letter grade of B or higher in courses equivalent to graduate-level generalist coursework preferred
  • Significant experience in human services under the MSW supervision 

Program Description: University of New England’s Online Master of Social Work program is 100% online and asynchronous. It is designed to allow students to continue working while pursuing their education. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at the University of New England.


University of South Florida

Tampa, FL

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 1.5-2.5 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement 
  • GRE not required, but adequate scores can be used if GPA requirements are not met
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work completed in the last five years

Program Description: University of South Florida’s Online Master of Social Work program is designed specifically for students who wish to practice clinical social work. The program is 100% online and can accommodate both working professionals and full-time students. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at the University of South Florida.


University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Knoxville, TN

Name of Program: Master of Science in Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 1 – 4 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of reference
  • Personal essay required
  • GRE not required
  • Undergraduate liberal arts background
  • Minimum 2.7 GPA

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in Social Work 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Must be residents of Tennessee

Program Description: The University of Tennessee at Knoxville offers a “face to face” online program which allows students to take the same courses, taught by the same faculty, as they would in the on-campus program. This allows students to experience the same in-person curriculum and format on a more flexible schedule. 

Learn more about the Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.


Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 1-4 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay required
  • Resume
  • Completion of at least one three-credit course in behavioral sciences and at least one three-credit course in social sciences with a letter grade of C or higher 
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor of Social Work completed in the last five years
  • Field evaluation
  • Interview
  • Case assessment 

Program Description: Virginia Commonwealth University’s Online Master of Social Work program allows students to study at their own pace and complete their degree in as little as one year, or as long as four years, depending on their needs. The program offers three intake periods throughout the year. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Walden University

Minneapolis, MI

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 1 – 3 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • Goal statement required
  • GRE not required

Advanced Standing

  • Bachelor’s in social work 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Program Description: Walden University’s Online Master of Social Work program offers options like an accelerated track, which allows students to complete their degree faster. They utilize virtual reality (VR) technology to help students prepare for real-life situations. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work at Walden University.


Widener University 

Chester, PA

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work
Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 4 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program 

  • Bachelor’s required
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Personal statement required 
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA 

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work completed in the last six years
  • At least one of your letters of recommendation must be from your field instructor or field director

Program Description: Widener University’s Online Master of Social Work program focuses on teaching students how to incorporate dealing with trauma into their clinical practice. Its courses are completely asynchronous and there is no on-site residency requirement. 

 Learn more about the online Master of Social Work from Widener University.


Yeshiva University 

New York, NY

Name of Program: Online Master of Social Work Program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: 2 – 4 years
Admissions Requirements:
Traditional Program

  • Bachelor’s required
  • One Letter of recommendation
  • Personal essay required
  • GRE not required
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

Advanced Standing Program

  • Bachelor’s in social work
  • Fieldwork evaluation
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA 

Program Description: Yeshiva University’s Online Master of Social Work Program integrates components of Jewish faith into its curriculum. Its online courses are asynchronous, and the program aims to accommodate both full-time students and students who work and study simultaneously. 

Learn more about the online Master of Social Work program at Yeshiva University.


Standards for Clinical Social Work in Social Work Practice

The following standards are adapted from the NASW Standards for Clinical Social Work in Social Work Practice guide, adopted by the NASW Board of Directors in 2005. An extended version of each standard can be found at the NASW Practice Standards & Guidelines.

  1. Ethics and Values – Clinical social workers should follow the values and ethics of the profession referencing the NASW Code of Ethics in their practice.
  2. Specialized Practice Skills and Intervention – Deepened with many different theories, clinical social workers will demonstrate competence and knowledge for effective clinical interventions with all clients.
  3. Referrals – Clinical social workers will collaborate and coordinate community services for appropriate referrals.
  4. Accessibility to Clients – Clinical social workers shall make themselves available to clients in both emergency and nonemergency situations.
  5. Privacy and Confidentiality – Information obtained by clinical social workers is confidential and private by clients unless otherwise consented by the client, as required by law, or by ethical considerations.
  6. Supervision and Consultation – Clinical social workers shall keep professional consultation and supervision accessible.
  7. Professional Procedures and Environment – Professional offices and procedures must be outlined policies for private or independent practice.
  8. Documentation – All documentation of services provided to clients must be kept in the client’s file or record of services.
  9. Independent Practice – Clinical social workers have the right to form an independent practice.
  10. Cultural Competence – Clinical social workers shall demonstrate culturally competent services in line with the NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice.
  11. Professional Development – Clinical social workers have a personal responsibility to maintain their professional development in line with state requirements and the NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education.
  12. Technology – Clinical social workers need access to the internet and to computers so they can communicate via email, search information via the Web and use the internet for education, resources and networking to maintain an efficient and productive clinical practice.

Requirements for Clinical Social Work Licensing

States assign several titles to the clinical social work profession; a common title is Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). The typical LCSW licensing requirements are:

  1. Graduating from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program
  2. Clinical training
  3. Passing the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam

Educational Requirements

A bachelor’s degree can provide a basis for supervised levels of social work. Most states require a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited institution. After graduation, applicants for a license must register as an associate clinical social worker, or similar depending on state requirements, to initiate the required field practice education.

Some states require additional coursework based on a review of the undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Some common topics for additional coursework involve human sexuality, detecting child abuse, and elder abuse prevention.

Accreditation is an important element of the educational requirement, and it is a factor that applicants and students should consider early in the process of selecting a school or online MSW program. The CSWE is the accepted and respected accreditation for clinical social work programs. CSWE accreditation has achieved broad acceptance among educational institutions, federal and state governments, public sector institutions, the nonprofit sector, and the private sector.

Supervised Practice

The requirements consist of approximately 3,000 hours, or more, of supervised clinical work. This experience may help future clinical social workers learn more in working with other professionals in the field. Fieldwork is a vital qualification for licensing that permits the independent practice of clinical social work.

State Examinations

Tests can consist of state boards exams, national exams, or some combination of exams and interviews. Each state makes a determination of testing requirements.

Coursework for Online MSW Programs with a Clinical or Mental Health Concentration

Schools each set specific online MSW degree coursework, Students should expect to cover the below-described areas of study through their online coursework.

  • Clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
  • Mental health and human behavior
  • Psychodynamics and psychopathology
  • Family therapy and group dynamics
  • Evaluation of research and research methods
  • Clinical social work practice, professional practice methods, and issues affecting work with individuals, groups, and families

FAQs

What’s the difference between an MSW vs. an LCSW degree?

While some universities may call their MSW with a clinical focus a LCSW degree, it is still, at its base, a Master of Social Work first, with a focus on clinical work second. So an LCSW degree is a MSW degree, but not all MSW degrees are LCSW programs.

Are there online MSW programs in other concentrations?

Yes, there are additional concentrations available for online MSW programs. Learn more about accredited online MSW programs and available concentrations.

What can you do with an LCSW degree?

Upon completion of an LCSW, or clinical social work program, you may be able to pursue clinical licensure as a state social worker. There are other requirements, such as a passing score on the ASWB exam. Be sure to check with your state for more requirements.

Is becoming an LCSW worth it?

Becoming an LCSW may permit you to work independently in clinical settings. LCSWs may help clients and communities overcome their challenges and remove barriers to health. Whether or not you become an LCSW, and if it is worth it, depends on your career goals for pursuing a role in the mental health field.

Information on this page last updated in October 2020.