There are many online Master's in Social Work programs to choose from and GradSchools.com has provided 53 accredited programs below. Online Master's in Social Work programs are typically designed for working professionals who have already obtained their BSW and wish to study in a more convenient and flexible format.
Whether you are a current social worker seeking a terminal practice degree or are looking for a career change, earning a masters in social work online may help you fulfill part of the requirements to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). In fact, one of the things to keep in mind is that an online masters in social work (MSW) is not easier or of less value just because you take social work courses in a virtual classroom.
Online MSW programs are offered by traditional graduate schools so your transcript will not necessarily show how you earned your degree and there is no ‘one’ set of standards for what an online MSW looks like.
Degree requirements, course format and distance instruction methods vary by school. You might enter an online masters in social work program with either a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from an accredited program or with a degree in human services, counseling psychology or a related field. Specific prerequisites should be identified on a school by school basis.
|Master of Social Work||Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||MSW|
|Master of Social Work: Online||California State University, Northridge||MSW|
|Master of Social Work - Online||Florida State University||MS|
|Master of Science in Social Work - Administration and Community Practice (Advanced Standing)||University of Texas Rio Grande Valley||MS|
|Master of Social Work||Louisiana State University||MSW|
|Master of Social Work||Northcentral University||MSW|
|Master of Social Work – Advanced Standing||Widener University||MS|
|Master of Social Work (MSW) - Military Social Work (Standard: up to 2 courses/term)||Walden University||MS|
|Master of Social Work Online Bilingual (MAESTRÍA BILINGÜE EN TRABAJO SOCIAL EN LÍNEA)||Loyola University Chicago||MS|
|Master of Social Work - Advanced Standing||Winthrop University||N/A|
|Master of Social Work - Advanced Standing||Saint Mary's University of Minnesota||N/A|
|Master of Social Work: Online 3 year||California State University, Northridge||N/A|
For students who have earned their Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE accredited program, some graduate schools for social work may offer students the opportunity to enter an MSW online program as an “advanced standing student”. This type of accelerated online program means that the first year of classes (foundation classes) are typically waived and the time to degree completion is shorter.
Most full-time online MSW programs can be completed in approximately two years, compared with two and a half to four years for part-time programs.
Students interested in earning an MSW online might have options for how much time they commit to their degree. Some online schools may offer both full-time and part-time options, while others may only have one type or the other. This is a criterion you might use to distinguish one online Master of Social Work from another.
Students enrolled in online MSW programs take courses, electives, and participate in field internships. Course curriculum is often dependent on a student’s emphasis of study (specialization). This might be either clinical (e.g. clinical social worker) or non-clinical (e.g. social advocacy). All online MSW programs include a field practicum requirement where students typically have to work at a social services of health service agency in their community.
DID YOU KNOW?
When asked about their education level, 57% of clinical social workers responded they had a master’s degree[i]
When reviewing online MSW programs, take note that distance learning might take on different formats and structures. Sometimes classes are completely online but sometimes they can be low residency programs which means that you might be required to attend a few classes throughout the semester or program length.
First and foremost, know that if you live in close proximity to a campus offering an online msw program, you might have to complete part of the program on campus. If you are fully committed to an online program, double-check that there aren’t any in-person requirements.
Some online msw programs are open to residents of any state, but many have residency requirements. The primary reason for this is that the curriculum for most programs is designed to help students obtain a license in the same state in which the university is located – or perhaps in a neighboring state. Because state licensure requirements vary quite a bit, it may be difficult – if not impossible – to become licensed if you live in an entirely different part of the country or if you plan to work in a different region once you graduate. Moreover, the influence of the local social and cultural environment on a particular program might make it a poor match for you if you do not plan to work in or around that same place. You need to become familiar with the challenges most often faced by the people you will be helping in your career, not by a distinctly different population.
Online social work degree programs vary widely in the options they offer their students. Some are almost entirely self-guided, featuring asynchronous classes which are completed online at the student’s own pace. Others require at least some courses to be taken in a sequence and may involve some specific hours spent working and communicating with faculty and students in an online environment. Many are designed for part-time students, but some offer full-time study options. Many can be completed without any campus contact, but some require occasional face-to-face meetings.
Online MSW programs do vary in their structure and learning delivery. Here are a few potential features to consider in your search;
Choosing to pursue a masters degree in social work online might be beneficial for graduate students who:
Earning your MSW online may have several potential benefits;
Potential Career Paths: MSW graduates may be prepared for specialist and advanced practice career paths;
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Yuba City, CA||$79,830||30|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$78,750||810|
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency in the United States for all social work education including online programs. Choosing an accredited online MSW program helps to ensure the quality and educational standards are verified.
The most important thing to find in an online social work degree program is accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE goes to great lengths to ensure that its accredited programs will prepare students to become licensed social workers. In many cases, if you do not attend an accredited program, you may not be able to get your license once you graduate – and that means you may not be able eligible to work or advance your career in the field. To be sure that your prospective online msw program is accredited by the CSWE, you should check both with the school and with the organization’s list of currently accredited programs. There are also different licenses available such as the LSW. licensed social worker or LCSW, licensed clinical social worker.
sources: [i]onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1023.00 | [ii]bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm | [iii]bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm