The 25 Best Master’s in Social Work Degree Programs

Social work is a great field for those who are compassionate and want to help their community. Earning a graduate degree in this particular field can not only boost your income and your career opportunities. It is a great field to get into right now. According to the  Bureau of Labor Statistics ,predictions say the job outlook between the years of 2012 and 2024 will grow at 12 percent, which is faster than the average for other occupations.

The average salary of a social worker with their MSW is on average, $60,413, while the average salary of a social worker with just a bachelor's degree is $45,900, so enrolling in an online master's program can be a great investment! It is important to remember that salaries in this profession can vary depending on a variety of circumstances. These programs typically require one to two years of full-time study; some programs have flexible part time options that will take longer to complete.

To compile this list of the best online MSW programs, we used several determining factors including the cost of the program, the academic rigor, and the school's reputation. Additionally, we looked into the flexibility of the program and whether a working professional could juggle both the demands of a career and school and if the program made an effort to accommodate these individuals. Internship and clinical opportunities, as well as career services and job placement, were also critical determining factors.​

Although this program does have the drawback of only being available to students who are residents of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, it is still a great online option for those who are eligible. It is typically offered as a full-time two-year program with a 63 credit requirement. However, it does have a one year accelerated program for those who have completed their undergraduate degree in social work in the past five years and a three-year program that offers a bit more flexibility for those who cannot meet the demands of the two-year curriculum, which can be beneficial for those who are working or have family commitments. Students in this program have to meet for evening classes via webcam.

You can learn more about St. Leo's Social Work programs here

One of the most appealing things about MSU Denver's program is that graduates of this program have a 100 percent pass rate on the ASWB clinical licensure exam, so you know the curriculum prepares you. Although there is an entirely online option, you must be a Colorado resident, so that can be seen as a limitation to this program. It requires 60 credits to complete, and there are full time and part time options. Those who already hold a bachelor's degree in social work may be eligible for the advanced standing track which is only 30 credits. Two concentrations, individuals and families and leadership, and management are available for students.

You can learn more about the Metropolitan State University Social Work programs here​

This program is entirely online and does not have any residency or campus visit requirements. Students have the options of choosing between clinical, community, and integrated practice concentrations. Additionally, this program also offers both a general track, for those with limited social work experience, and an advanced standing track. It also has a flexible format, with no set log in times required, as long as you finish your work by a certain time, as opposed to having weekly classes you have to attend via webcam.

You can learn more about the University of New England Social Work programs here

Our Lady of the Lake University is home to the first school of social work in the state of Texas, so it has a long-standing history of educating social workers. Like many of the other schools on our list, it offers a general track and an advanced standing foundation track. The advanced track requires 30 credits and can be finished in just under two years, while the foundation track requires 57 credits and can be completed in a little over three years. One of the unique things about this program is that it offers some content that is specifically focused on the Hispanic community, so this can be a great option for those who want to work with that population.

You can learn more about the Our Lady of the Lake University Social Work programs here

The online program at Texas State offers the same curriculum and faculty as the on-campus program, so you don't have to feel like you are missing out on anything by choosing the online option! There is a foundation track and an advanced track. Students in the advanced track have the choice to concentrate in either administrative leadership or direct practice. MSW students are expected to complete either 360 or 540 field practicum hours depending on the track they are in. The field practicum office will assist you in getting a professional internship at a community agency.

You can learn more about the Texas State University Social Work programs here

The Case Western Reserve University's program is slightly different as graduates are awarded a Master of Science in Social Administration, as opposed to the MSW, although the degrees are equivalent. Students have the option to choose between the community practice for social change concentration, which practices social work on a broader scale, or the direct practice concentration. Within the direct practice concentration, you can further specialize in either the children, youth, and families option or the mental health with adults. A field study is required for graduation. Advanced standing students, who already hold a BSW, can apply up to 24 credits towards their degree if accepted.

You can learn more about the Case Western Reserve University Social Work programs here

Edinboro University offers a full-time two-year program that requires 60 credits and 900 field placement hours. Students must take the foundation curriculum of 30 credits that focuses on policy, research, and field, followed by a 30 credit curriculum in their concentration. Students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program. They are also expected to be in their field work placement two days a week throughout the four semesters of the program, so this program does require a significant time commitment.

You can learn more about the Edinboro University Social Work programs here

Online students at the University of Tennessee can choose between three different courses of study if they are eligible. The first option is only available to those who already hold a BSW, and full-time students can complete the program in 12 months, while part-time students can expect to finish in 18 to 24 months. Students in this option will have one field placement that requires a 672-hour time commitment. Those who have a bachelor's degree in another subject can enroll in the 60 credit program that will take two years of full-time study to complete. These students must take on a 352-hour field placement in their first year and a 672-hour field placement in their second year. The third option is the extended study MSW program, in which students can finish the 60 credits in three or four years, granting them a bit more flexibility. You must have a minimum GPA of 2.7 in your undergraduate studies to be accepted into either 60 credit program.

You can learn more about the University of Tennessee Social Work programs here

This 60 credit program is designed specifically for those who do not already possess a BSW. It begins every January and does require two on-campus visits, which can be rather difficult for those who do not live in the North Dakota area. It can take over three years to complete, and students will need to log in at set times to attend classes via webcam, which can limit flexibility. One of the best things about this program is the affordability! All students pay in-state tuition, regardless of their residency status.

You can learn more about the University of Tennessee Social Work programs here

UCF offers an online 62 credit part time program to students who do not already have a BSW. The program has a unique design in which students enroll in one class for each seven-week term. It takes three years to complete, and in the second year, students will take on a 400 hour field seminar, followed by a 600 hour field seminar in their third year. The University of Central Florida also recently implemented an advanced program for students who do already hold a BSW, which can be completed in four semesters.

You can learn more about the University of Central Florida Social Work programs here

Like many of the programs in our list, the University of Texas-Arlington offers both a general track and an advanced standing track, as well as part-time and full-time options. Students in both tracks can choose to specialize in either mental health and substance abuse or children and families. You do have to be a Texas resident to apply and enroll in this program.

You can learn more about the University of Texas at Arlington Social Work programs here

This is a 39 credit program that is only available to students who have already earned their bachelor's degree in social work within the past seven years. Two concentrations are available, in either advanced clinical practice or policy, planning, and administration in human services. The program is specifically designed for part-time study and students are expected to take six credits a semester and complete 680 hours of supervised field work. Unfortunately, this program is only available for those who reside in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois, but can be a great option for those residents.

You can learn more about the University of Missouri Social Work programs here

This is a 39 credit program that is only available to students who have already earned their bachelor's degree in social work within the past seven years. Two concentrations are available, in either advanced clinical practice or policy, planning, and administration in human services. The program is specifically designed for part-time study and students are expected to take six credits a semester and complete 680 hours of supervised field work. Unfortunately, this program is only available for those who reside in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois, but can be a great option for those residents.

You can learn more about the University of Denver Social Work programs here

One of the great things about this program at LSU is the flexibility that it offers! It is offered in an asynchronous format and has six different start dates per year. Full-time MSW students can expect to finish their degree in two years, while part-time students may take up to four years. Advanced standing students will complete the program in a year. Another unique component of this program is that students are encouraged to undertake a thesis project which can improve their research knowledge and overall performance in the field. Students do have the choice, however, to complete a non-thesis option.

You can learn more about the Louisiana State University Social Work programs here

This program at Widener specifically prepares you to be a clinical expert in the field of trauma as that is the curriculum specialization. Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the Licensed Social Worker exam and after two years of supervised clinical practice will be eligible for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker exam. It is a 64 credit program that offers a lot of flexibility and students who attend in the fall, spring, and summer can expect to complete it in 10 semesters. Widener also offers a unique hybrid dual degree studying the MSW and a Master of Education in Human Sexuality Studies, which may be appealing to some applicants who are looking to go into that particular niche.

You can learn more about the Widener University Social Work programs here

This is a new program established at the University of Arkansas, and the option is only available for the 39 credit advanced standing program. It is a 12-month full-time program. Your field internships must be agency based, and the university will help you arrange them close to home. You must meet certain technology requirements to be eligible for this program, so be sure to look into those before applying.

You can learn more about the University of Arkansas Social Work programs here

The University of Buffalo only offers their online program part time, which is great regarding flexibility for working individuals but may not be a great option for those who are looking to finish the program as soon as possible. The 60 credit program starts ever fall and is completed in three years of nine semesters, while the 35 credit advanced standing option starts every spring and is completed in five semesters over the course of 1.5 years.

You can learn more about the University of Buffalo Social Work programs here

Students in this program have the opportunity to specialize in one of four fields of practice including health and mental health, addictions and substance abuse, children and families, and disabilities. One of the benefits of this program is that students have the option to continue for a graduate certificate in intellectual and developmental disabilities, in addition to their MSW, which can really boost your experience and knowledge in this field. The program typically takes 28 months to complete.

You can learn more about the University of Buffalo Social Work programs here

Students in this program have the opportunity to specialize in one of four fields of practice including health and mental health, addictions and substance abuse, children and families, and disabilities. One of the benefits of this program is that students have the option to continue for a graduate certificate in intellectual and developmental disabilities, in addition to their MSW, which can really boost your experience and knowledge in this field. The program typically takes 28 months to complete.

You can learn more about the Catholic University of America Social Work programs here

The online MSW program at Arizona State University does require 960 hours of field education, so it is a more significant time commitment than some of the other programs on our list. One of the unique things about the program at ASU is its focus on the distinct populations of the Southwest which can be a benefit for those interested in that. The program also requires students to take two professional seminars.

You can learn more about the Arizona State University Social Work programs here

This is a three-year program that takes place in an asynchronous format, so students do not have to log in at certain times and attend classes, they just have assignment deadlines they must meet. Advanced standing students can complete the coursework in four semesters. As with most of the other programs, Rutgers does require field education. Traditional students must do two field placements. The foundation level one is 11.25 hours a week for three semesters and the advanced level one is 13.5 hours a week for four semesters.

You can learn more about Rutgers University Social Work programs here

This program at FSU ranks so highly on our list because it was the first online MSW program of its kind and was a pioneer in this particular field. It does have both a traditional, which requires 61 credits and advanced standing option, which only requires 39 credits. An added benefit of this program is that students can transfer from another MSW program and be placed in the advanced standing track without having to repeat credits, which is not an option at all schools.

You can learn more about Florida State University Social Work programs here

Boston University allows MSW students to pick one of two majors. The first one is clinical social work and is designed for those who want to work directly with the populations their serving in hospitals or agencies. The second is macro social work and is focused on those who want to work in research or policy development. There are three tracks; the 65 credit traditional MSW, the 65 credit Human Service Experience track, and the 40-43 credit advanced standing track.

You can learn more about Boston University Social Work programs here

Fordham offers both an online and hybrid program, although they are only available for those who reside in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. However, the excellent faculty, flexible class schedule, and impressive field opportunities, this is a great program for those who are eligible. It is possible to enroll as a part-time or full-time student, and there are advanced standing options for BSW graduates.

You can learn more about Fordham University Social Work programs here

We ranked the University of Southern California as our top school for a variety of reasons. It is the largest social work graduate program in the country, is taught by award-winning faculty, offers a flexible schedule with five start dates and full and part-time options, and an advanced standing 37 credit curriculum. Students have the option to concentrate in one of the several specializations including adults and healthy aging, children, youth, and families, and community organization and business innovation. Additionally, the unique cross-program enrollment option allows students to take courses in other fields to broaden their knowledge.

You can learn more about Fordham University Social Work programs here