Best Online MSW Programs

2023 Best Online MSW Programs

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Social work is an essential field that requires a deep understanding of human behavior and an empathetic approach to solving social issues. An Online Master of Social Work (MSW) program can offer you the necessary skills to become a competent social worker while allowing you to complete your degree from the comfort of your home.

In this blog post, we will be discussing the best online MSW programs available, along with their program details, tuition fees, and admission requirements. We hope that this blog post will help you in choosing the best program to further your education and advance your career in social work.

Overview of the Online MSW Program

Students who want to pursue a profession in social work but are unable to attend conventional, on-campus programs because of time or location restrictions should strongly consider online MSW programs. With the added flexibility of online study, these programs offer the same academic rigor and excellent education as on-campus programs. Depending on the program’s structure and course load, online MSW programs can be finished in two to three years.

The curriculum for online MSW programs often includes a wide range of subjects, including social welfare policy, research methodologies, human behavior and the social environment, and clinical social work practice. Specializations in fields like social work in healthcare, child welfare, or mental health may be available through some programs.

Which Degree is Best for MSW?

The best degree for pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is a Bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), but many universities also accept students with a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. It is important to research different MSW programs and speak with admissions counselors to determine the best path for you. Additional courses may be needed to meet the prerequisite requirements. Ultimately, the best degree for an MSW will depend on your individual goals, interests, and background.

Which Stream of MSW is Best?

The best MSW program for you depends on your career aspirations and interests. There are various streams of MSW, such as:

  • Substance abuse and mental health
  • Family and Children’s Social Work
  • Social and Community work
  • Social work in schools
  • Social work in Criminal Justice, and 
  • Medical and healthcare social work 

These different aspects are just a few areas that social workers lend their voices of change in. As a result, there really isn’t a “best” aspect of social work. This notion comes down to what aspect of service is. important to you and your career. So, you should speak with professionals in the field to make an informed decision.

Roles for You in Social Work

Social work offers a variety of career opportunities, from direct client services to policy advocacy. Clinical social workers provide mental health services, child welfare social workers investigate cases of abuse, and school social workers provide counseling and support to students. Policy advocates work to change policies and laws that affect social issues, research policy issues, develop advocacy strategies, and work with legislators and other stakeholders.

List of the Best Online MSW Programs

The following are our best recommended online MSW programs for you to enroll in:

  • University at Buffalo (SUNY)
  • Columbia University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Arkansas
  • Indiana University
  • Florida State University
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Houston
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Southern California
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • University of Central Florida
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of New Hampshire 
  • University of Nevada, Reno 

Overview of the Best Online MSW Programs 

1. University at Buffalo (SUNY)

The University at Buffalo’s online MSW program offers both part-time and full-time options, covering clinical practice, human behavior, and social welfare policy. It also offers a specialization in trauma-informed care. This program aims to promote social justice, protect human rights, and address structural oppression and inequities in power and resources. Students in the program develop the skills required to work with diverse clients and gain knowledge from a liberal arts education.

2. Columbia University

Columbia University offers a part-time MSW program that covers advanced clinical practice, social policy, and research methods, as well as specializations in advanced generalist practice and social enterprise administration. Admission to the part-time MSW program at Columbia University requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants should also demonstrate a serious commitment to the social work profession and the capacity to meet the demands of professional training. This can be shown through internships and life experiences.

3. Rutgers University

Rutgers University offers an online MSW program with part-time and full-time options, covering clinical practice, social policy, and research methods. Rutgers offers its online MSW program in three different formats; the first one is the traditional on-campus program which is available for both full-time and part-time learners.

The second option is to enroll in either a blended/hybrid program or apply to study MSW 100% online. Depending on your choice, this would mean that you will be able to take some specified classes online and attend relevant in-person classes (the former), or you attend the program entirely online. The third option is a weekend continuing education program that aims to fast-track professionals looking to pursue their MSW program.

4. University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas offers an online MSW program that can be completed in as little as two years. It offers two specializations: Advanced Practice with Children, Youth, and Families and Advanced Practice with Adults and Older Adults. The curriculum includes courses on social work practice, human behavior, policy, and research.

5. Indiana University

Indiana University offers a fully online MSW program that can be completed in two to three years, with specializations in Mental Health and Addictions, Health, and Aging, and Children, Youth, and Families. The curriculum includes courses on social work practice, research, policy, and human behavior.

6. Florida State University

Florida State University offers an online MSW program with specializations in Clinical Social Work Practice and Social Leadership and Change. The program provides two options: a two-year Advanced Standing Social Work program for those with a Bachelor of Social Work degree, and a three-year Traditional Social Work program for those with a bachelor’s degree in another area of study. Students must complete either 61 credit hours for the traditional program or 39 credit hours for the advanced standing program within seven years.

7. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida offers an online MSW program with specializations in Advanced Clinical Practice, Leadership and Change in Organizations and Communities, and Youth and Families. It can be completed in as little as one year.

8. University of Houston

The University of Houston offers an online MSW program that can be completed in two to three years, with specializations in Clinical Social Work Practice and Political Social Work. It includes courses on social work practice, policy, research, and human behavior.

9. Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online MSW program that can be completed in as little as one year for individuals with a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program. It includes courses on social work practice, policy, research, and human behavior.

10. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers an online MSW program that can be completed in as little as one year for individuals with a BSW degree from CSWE-accredited programs. It offers specializations in Adult Mental Health and Wellness, Children, Youth, and Families, Social Change, and Social Work and Business in a Global Society.

11. Case Western Reserve University

CWRU’s online MSW program is one of the best online MSW programs in 2023. It covers a wide range of issues, provides two field placements, and is accredited by CSWE. Students can use online resources such as video lectures, discussion forums, and virtual office hours with teachers.

12. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers an online MSW program for students interested in a career in social work. It is CSWE-accredited and is given through synchronous and asynchronous learning. The Global Perspectives track aims to acquire an international perspective on social work and explore the problems and opportunities of working in a global context. Students must complete two field education internships and use online tools such as video lectures, discussion forums, and virtual office hours with teachers.

13. Louisiana State University

LSU’s online MSW program is designed to be affordable, flexible, and convenient, making it an attractive option for students who wish to pursue a career in social work. The program follows an intensive 7-week module format, allowing students to complete the program in approximately 2 years of full-time study or 3 or 4 years of part-time study. The program is asynchronous, meaning coursework can be completed at the student’s own pace with guided dates and deadlines. Students will follow a prescribed course sequence, including internships in social service agencies in their home areas.

14. University of New Hampshire

UNH offers an online MSW program that is accredited by the CSWE and delivered through synchronous and asynchronous learning. The Social Work and Law Concentration is designed for students who want to specialize in legal issues related to social work practice.

15. University of Nevada, Reno

The University of Nevada, Reno provides an online MSW degree recognized by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It features two tracks: one for students with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree and one without a BSW degree. It emphasizes rural social work and includes a field placement component to provide hands-on experience. The program is cost-effective.

What Type of Social Work Makes the Most Money?

Social workers can work in various settings, and salaries can vary depending on the job and location. Those who work in specialized fields or have advanced degrees tend to earn more than those who work in entry-level positions. Examples of social work fields that offer higher salaries include healthcare, school social work, mental health, and substance abuse, child and family social work, and social work. Social work is generally not a high-paying profession, but social workers may find it rewarding and fulfilling in other ways, such as helping vulnerable populations and making a positive impact in their communities.

Is MSW Still in Demand?

MSW stands for Master of Social Work and is a critical profession that addresses social problems and promotes social change. The workforce demand varies by location and sector, but there is a growing need for social workers in healthcare, mental health, child welfare, aging services, and community development. Additionally, there is an increasing demand for social workers who specialize in areas such as trauma, substance abuse, and diversity and inclusion.

However, gleaning data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment for social workers is projected to grow by 9 percent from 2021 to 2031; faster than average for all occupations.

During this time, popular social workers like counselors, community, and social service specialists will experience the most occupational growth (~12 percent of about 74,700 new openings).

If you’re considering an online MSW program, you may have some questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about online MSW programs:

Are online MSW programs accredited?

Online MSW programs are accredited by CSWE, the national accrediting body for social work education.

How long does it take to complete an online MSW program?

Online MSW programs can be completed in two to three years of full-time study, depending on the student’s schedule.

Can I complete an online MSW program while working?

Online MSW programs offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate students’ work and personal responsibilities.

Will I have to complete a field placement in an online MSW program?

Online MSW programs require students to complete field placement hours in a social work setting to gain hands-on experience and apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations.

How much does an online MSW program cost?

Online MSW programs can cost between $20,000 and $60,000 depending on the program and the student’s residency status.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, then you’ll love some other articles we’ve written about MSW programs, including the easiest ones to get into as well as other online universities offering Psychology.

Wrapping It Up

Enrolling in an online MSW program can be a game-changing decision for a social work career. These 15 schools are considered the best and offer a good mix of affordability, adaptability, and academic rigor. However, it is important to research each institution and ask current or past students for their opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of their program.