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. 

Simmons University

Simmons School of Social Work (SSW)

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.

  • Prepares students to pursue licensure, including LCSW 
  • Full-time, part-time, and accelerated tracks 
  • Minimum completion time: 12 months

info SPONSORED

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

Campbellsville University

Carver School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 2 years

Credits: 30

Concentrations:

 Clinical Practice, Addictions

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution for advanced standing applicants
  • Baccalaureate degree with 15 credit hours of liberal arts education 
  • Baccalaureate GPA of 3.0 
  • Transcripts from accredited institutions 
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • Signed statement of understanding of the Social Work Professional and Technical Standards 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Campbellsville University

Capella University

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: 44+ quarter credits

Concentrations:

Clinical Practice, Leadership and Supervision, Human Services

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution for advanced standing applicants
  • Baccalaureate degree with 15 credit hours of liberal arts education
  • Baccalaureate GPA of 3.0
  • Transcripts from accredited institutions
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Signed statement of understanding of the Social Work Professional and Technical Standards
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Capella University

Colorado State University

School of Social Work

Master's of Social Work (MSW)

Fort Collins, Colorado

Name of Degree: Master’s of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 3 years

Credits: 60+

Concentrations: Advanced Clinical Social Work

Admission Requirements:

  • BSW from a CSWE-accredited program 
  • Prefered 3.0 GPA from undergraduate programs 
  • Three recommendations 
  • Transcripts
Learn more about the Master's of Social Work (MSW) from Colorado State University

Indiana University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Indianapolis, Indiana

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.5+ years

Credits: 41+

Concentrations:

Clinical and Community Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited higher education institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned in the last five years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 for advanced standing application
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 for last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework
  • Grade of “”C”” or better for elementary statistics and a course related to Native American studies
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Indiana University

Portland State University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Portland, Oregon

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 46+

Concentrations:

Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations, Advanced Clinical Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 for traditional applicants, 3.0 GPA for advanced standing applicants
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Portland State University

Rutgers University

School of Social Work

Master's of Social Work (MSW)

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Name of Degree: Master’s of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 3 years

Credits: 60

Concentrations:

Children, Youth, and Families

Admission Requirements:

  • BSW from a CSWE-accredited program
  • Prefered 3.0 GPA from undergraduate programs
  • Transcripts
  • Personal Statement
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Introductory Statistics course completion
Learn more about the Master's of Social Work (MSW) from Rutgers University

Samford University

School of Public Health

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Birmingham, Alabama

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 33+

Concentrations:

Advanced Clinical Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Undergraduate field placement evaluation for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Social work experience is preferred, but not required
  • Introductory course to statistics
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Samford University

Temple University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.5+ years

Credits: 30+

Concentrations:

Clinical Practice, Macro Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a broad liberal arts focus from an accredited undergraduate institution 
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program within the last five years for advanced standing applicants 
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 for traditional applicants, 3.25 for advanced standing applicants 
  • Final field evaluation for advanced standing applicants 
  • Transcripts 
  • Resume 
  • Goal statement 
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • TOEFL scores for international students whose native language is not English
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Temple University

The Catholic University of America

National Catholic School of Service

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Washington, D.C

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: Less than 1 year – 3+ years

Credits: 30+

Concentrations:

Clinical Social Work

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelors degree with a liberal arts foundation
  • Bachelors degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Coursework in human biology and social statistics recommended
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, 3.5 in social work undergraduate coursework and 3.2 for bachelors degree cumulatively for advanced standing applicants
  • Completion of 480 hours of field education for advanced standing applicants
  • Senior field evaluation forms for advanced standing applicants
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Three letters of reference
  • TOEFL scores for students whom English is a second language
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from The Catholic University of America

Tulane University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

New Orleans, Louisiana

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 48+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree in liberal arts from an accredited college or university
  • Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Grade of B+ or higher in field practicum for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL for applicants whom English is their second language
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Tulane University

University of Houston

Graduate College of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Houston, Texas

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 39+

Concentrations:

Clinical Practice, Macro Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited institution
  • Bachelor degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last six years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.3 in last 60 credits for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Completion of humanities, physical and biological sciences, mathematics, and social sciences coursework
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Professional statement
  • Writing sample
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Houston

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work

Urbana, Illinois

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work

Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 44+

Concentrations:

Leadership and Social Change, Advanced Clinica, lMental Health, Schools, Health Care, Children, Youth, and Families

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Resume
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Twenty hours of social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and biological sciences
Learn more about the Master of Social Work from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Iowa

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Iowa City, Iowa

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.5+ years

Credits: 36+

Concentrations:

Clinical Practice, Leadership

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a liberal arts foundation from an accredited university or college
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Three letters of reference
  • Personal narrative statement
  • Proficiency in English testing may be required
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Iowa

University of Kentucky

College of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Lexington, Kentucky

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 30+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any field
  • Bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, 3.5 for social work curriculum for advanced standing applicants
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Autobiographical personal statement
  • Writing sample on an ethical dilemma
  • Transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Kentucky

University of Missouri

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Columbia, Missouri

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 39+

Concentrations:

Advanced Clinical Practice, Planning and Administration

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last seven years for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Essay, additional essay required for advanced standing applying into a specialization
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 preferred, with 3.25 in social work coursework for advanced standing applicants
  • Resume
  • Copies of practicum evaluation for advanced standing applicants
  • Additional requirements for international applicants
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Missouri

Widener University

Center for Social Work Education

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Chester, Pennsylvania

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 36+

Concentrations:

Clinical Social Work

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited college or university 
  • Bachelor degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants 
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, 3.3 for coursework in social work major for advanced standing applicants 
  • Statement of purpose 
  • Two recommendations 
  • Official transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Widener 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

bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) 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. There are even online MSW programs that don’t require a GRE for admission. 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.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

University of Southern California

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The MSW@USC is the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. USC offers virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on adults, youth or social change.

  •  Minimum completion time: 16 months
  • Online classes taught by USC faculty 
  • Virtual field training to build skills and confidence

University of Denver

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The University of Denver’s Online MSW Program is delivered by its top-ranked school of social work and offers two programs. Students can earn their degree in as few as 12 months for the Online Advanced-Standing MSW or 27 months for the Online MSW.

  • Complete the Online Advanced-Standing MSW in as few as 12 months if you have a BSW; if you do not have a BSW, the Online MSW Program may be completed in as few as 27 months.
  • No GRE Required
  • Mental Health and Trauma or Health, Equity and Wellness concentrations

Fordham University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Fordham’s skills-based, online MSW program integrates advanced relevant social work competencies, preparing students to serve individuals and communities while moving the profession forward. This program includes advanced standing and traditional MSW options.

  •  Traditional and advanced standing online MSW options are available.
  • There are four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.
  • Pursue the degree on a full-time or part-time track.

Simmons University

info

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.

  • Prepares students to pursue licensure, including LCSW 
  • Full-time, part-time, and accelerated tracks 
  • Minimum completion time: 12 months

Syracuse University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Syracuse University’s online Master of Social Work program does not require GRE scores to apply and is focused on preparing social workers who embrace technology as an important part of the future of the profession. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks are available. 

  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks
  • No GRE required
  • Concentrate your degree in integrated practice or clinical practice

Baylor University

info

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Complete the Master of Social Work online program at Baylor University in as few as 12 months. Serve populations in Texas and around the world while ethically integrating faith and social work practice. No GRE required.

  • Address injustice from a strengths-based perspective
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Serve as a trusted resource for clients, no matter their personal background
  • Complete the MSW online program in as few as 12 months

Howard University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.

  • Concentrations: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice
  • Complete at least 777-1,000 hours of agency-based field education
  • Earn your degree in as few as 12 months

Case Western Reserve University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

In as few as a year and a half, you can prepare for social work leadership by earning your Master of Social Work online from Case Western Reserve University’s school of social work.

  • CSWE-accredited
  • No GRE requirement
  • Complete in as few as one and a half years

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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. Additionally, there is also a difference between becoming a LMSW and a LCSW.

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.

Interested in continuing your social work education? Explore earning a LCSW degree in our guide.

Information on this page last updated in October 2020.