10 Affordable MSW Programs - Save While Earning an MSW

Though seeking affordable MSW programs probably means something different for everyone, chances are that you want to pursue a graduate program that may best suit your current or prospective social worker’s salary. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers earned a median of $46,890 per year in 2016.i)affordable msw programs

So, we’ve put together a list of top on-campus and affordable online MSW programs that might be a little friendlier to your wallet than some of their counterparts. Check it out. Or, scroll further down the page for more info on pursuing an accredited Master of Social Work on a budget.

10 Affordable MSW Programs 

Browse these graduate schools offering Master of Social Work programs and learn more about average graduate tuition costs, program features, and other must-know info.

1. University of North Carolina at Charlotte

UNC Charlotte is an urban research university committed to the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the greater Charlotte region. The university is home to over 140 graduate degree and certificate programs.

The MSW Program at UNC Charlotte is designed to help students prepare for culturally-informed, community-engaged social work practice, policy, and research. They offer several potential paths to earning a Master of Social Work, including a full-time program; a part-time, “blended” program in which students may pursue coursework online and on campus; and an advanced standing MSW program for eligible students.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $4,337 (in state) and $17,771 (out of state)ii

2. Georgia State University

A national leader in education, Georgia State University serves over 51,000 students across seven campuses in metro Atlanta, with the goal of promoting ambition, hard work, perseverance, and diversity. The Atlanta Campus offers over 250 degree programs across 100 fields of study.

The Master of Social Work program at Georgia State Andrew Young School of Policy Studies focuses on helping students prepare for leadership and community problem-solving, as well as furthering social and economic justice and maximizing human potential. The program offers potential full-time, part-time, and advanced standing paths to earning an MSW.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $7,020 (in state) and $22,518 (out of state)ii

3. Rhode Island College

Founded in 1854, Rhode Island College is the first public institution of higher education in the state of Rhode Island. RIC is located in the Mount Pleasant section of the city of Providence, and the college serves around 9,000 students in programs both on and off campus.

The School of Social Work is the only publicly funded social work program in Rhode Island, as well as the only program in the state to award an MSW degree. The MSW program at RIC is designed to help students prepare for enhanced goals in social work while exploring concepts like ethics, culture, oppression, and human diversity. Full-time, part-time, and advanced standing paths may be offered.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $7,182 (in state) and $13,986 (out of state)ii

4. California State University – Sacramento

Sacramento State is the “capital campus” in the California State University system. Located in the vibrant city of Sacramento, the university educates 29,000 students through programs designed to serve both the region and the nation at large.

The MSW program at Sacramento State is committed to helping students prepare for goals in autonomous social work practice. Both a two-year full-time program and a 3-year part-time program may be offered. In the last year of the program, students are required to choose a specialization in one of the following areas: Behavioral Health; Children & Families; or Health and Aging.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $7,176 (in state) and $16,680 (out of state)ii

5. University of Iowa

University of Iowa is a public research university with 11 colleges featuring more than 200 different academic areas of study. The university offers undergraduate and graduate education, professional education, and more.

The MSW program in Iowa City offers two concentrations: Family Centered Practice or Integrated Practice. Full-time programs, as well as three-year or four-year part-time programs, may be available. Finally, the program requires 60 semester hours for students with a bachelor’s degree in something other than social work, and 48 semester hours for students who earned a B.A. from a CSWE-accredited social work program.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $9,427 (in state) and $28,163 (out of state)ii

6. University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington is a leader in research and education, serving the North Texas region and beyond. They offer over 180 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, pursued by more than 58,000 students from around the world.

The UT Arlington School of Social Work MSW Program strives to offer a flexible, student-centered curriculum that may be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis. Their online programs are available to Texas students, and may be pursued in as few as 12 months (advanced standing students). Other learning paths include hybrid and face-to-face programs.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $7,360 (in state) and $17,110 (out of state)ii

7. Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University is the state of Louisiana’s flagship public university. They offer undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, and professional programs, among other learning paths. LSU is based in Baton Rouge, and they also offer distance learning via LSU Online.

The LSU School of Social Work offers several paths to pursuing an MSW degree. Students may study full time, part time, in an accelerated advanced standing program, or in LSU's online MSW program. The School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and has been educating graduate students since 1937.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $9,132ii

8. West Chester University

West Chester University is a comprehensive public institution dating back to 1871. The university is home to more than 80 graduate programs across numerous fields of study. They are located in the Borough of West Chester, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Master of Social Work program at West Chester University is designed to help students prepare to work with individuals and families using strengths-based, research-informed, and community-oriented assessment, intervention and evaluation skills. Students may study full time or part time.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $12,000 (in state) and $18,000 (out of state)ii

9. University of Maine

University of Maine is a public research university, as well as the flagship campus of the University of Maine System. Located in Orono, Maine, the university offers teaching, research, and outreach designed to serve Maine, the nation, and the world.

The University of Maine School of Social Work offers a variety of potential learning paths, from certificate programs to a Master of Social Work program in traditional and advanced standing formats. They also offer several MSW formats designed for distance learners, including online/hybrid and weekend programs.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $7,722 (in state) and $25,146 (out of state)ii

10. University of Wisconsin – Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin–Green Bay is a public university that is part of the University of Wisconsin System. They strive to offer an interdisciplinary educational experience that emphasizes critical-thinking and problem-solving for a multicultural and evolving world.

The Master of Social Work program at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay is committed to helping students prepare for professional practice, with an emphasis on multi-cultural practice, social justice, leadership, and advocacy. Students pursue an Advanced Generalist Practice concentration, in addition to selecting an optional Individualized Area of Emphasis such as healthcare, child welfare, social policy, domestic violence, mental health, etc.

Graduate Tuition for the Academic Year (2017-2018)*: $7,793 (in state) and $17,106 (out of state)ii

How to Potentially Minimize Your MSW Cost

The cost of pursuing a Master of Social Work degree program can really run the gamut. However, there might be ways to keep costs as low as possible...and they don’t necessarily involve clipping coupons or living on instant ramen. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you embark on your path to pursuing an MSW:

  • Search for Affordable Online MSW Programs. Your MSW tuition costs might not be lower if you study online, but by learning from your own home, you could potentially save on relocation fees and commuting costs.
  • Find Out if You Qualify for Advanced Standing MSW Programs. While earning an MSW degree may take about two years of full-time study, qualified students who enter an MSW program having earned a bachelor’s degree in social work might be able to earn their MSW in as little as one year. [i] That might translate to tuition savings. Of course, not everyone may be eligible to pursue an advanced standing MSW program, so it’s important to find out if you meet your prospective school’s requirements.
  • Search for MSW Programs in Your State. At some colleges and universities, tuition may be lower for in-state students than for out-of-state students. Use our “Browse By Location” menu to search for graduate schools and programs close to home.

List of Affordable MSW Programs

Graduate SchoolMSW Tuition In StateMSW Tuition Out of State
1. UNC-Charlotte$4,337$17,771
2. Georgia State University$7,020$22,518
3. Rhode Island College$7,182$13,986
4. California State University - Sacramento$7,176$16,680
5. University of Iowa$9,427$28,163
6. University of Texas at Arlington$7,360$17,110
7. LSU$9,132$17,182
8. West Chester University$12,000$18,000
9. University of Maine$7,772$25,146
10. UWGB$7,793$17,106

Search for Potentially Affordable MSW Programs

Check out our sponsored listings for potentially affordable MSW programs, or fill out our form to be matched with online and on-campus Master of Social Work programs that may be perfect for you!

* Not including fees, housing, and other expenses; tuition may be subject to change.


[i] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm | [ii] https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

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