United States Masters in Social Work Online Programs
Masters in Social Work Online programs are typically designed for working professionals interested in pursuing a MSW degree without disrupting their lifestyle.
GradSchools.com Top Schools for Online Social Work Masters Degrees*
Start Date: 01/14/2019
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 10,861+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 1:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - N/A
Student / Teacher Ratio - N/A
Start Date: 01/22/2019
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 10,863+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 16:1
Format / Location - Online
Total Enrollments - 958+
Student / Teacher Ratio - 14:1
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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.
About Online MSW Programs
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.
Advanced Standing Students
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 meas that the first year of classes (foundation classes) are typically waived and the time to degree completion is shorter.
How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Masters in Social Work?
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.
- Full-time MSW Online Programs might take approximately two years to complete for traditional standing students and about one full year for advanced standing students. Advanced standing students have usually entered an online MSW program having graduated with a BSW and thus completed some of the basic courses.
- Part-time MSW Online Programs might take two and a half years to four years for traditional standing students and about one and a half years for advanced standing students.
- Advanced Standing Programs are offered if you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work. You may qualify for advanced standing as a master’s student and several online social work degree programs offer this option to enable those with a strong background in the field to move through a program more quickly. Some programs may be completed in as little as 12 months.
Potential Curriculum for Online MSW Programs
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]
Format Options for Online MSW Programs
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.
- MSW Online Programs (100% online): If a graduate school lists an online social work masters degree program as completely online, this usually describes a program that does not require students to travel to their campus.
- MSW Online Programs (campus requirements): Some schools offer students the opportunity to take most of their courses online except for a few campus visits which are clearly stipulated. These might be anything from a short conference, workshop, evening, week or weekend depending on the school. These are sometimes called low residency programs.
Does it Matter Wher I live for Online MSW Programs?
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.
How Are MSW Online Programs Structured?
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;
- Cohort Model: The cohort model is one where the same group of students take a course and proceed through their program together.
- Scheduling: The flexible course scheduling model is one where students choose their courses without the set structure of taking specific courses at set intervals.
- Synchronous Course Delivery: Some online Master of Social Work programs may offer synchronous instruction. This requires students to log in and attend their courses at specific times, and classes are given in real-time. There is a level of participation through technology such as webcams that may simulate an on-campus experience.
- Asynchronous Course Delivery: Some online MSW programs offer asynchronous delivery of courses. Students do not attend classes in real time, rather, are able to log into their course management system when they have the time, although they must still respect assignment deadlines. This type of program offers flexibility to students who are able to make their own schedules.
Why Consider an Online Social Work Masters Degree?
Choosing to pursue a masters degree in social work online might be beneficial for graduate students who:
- Are busy gaining real time work experience and don’t want to let it go, but your job hours don’t mesh with the campus schedule.
- Hold a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and have had some human service component and practice.
- Live to far geographically from accredited online MSW programs
- Find the on-campus schedule is impossible to commit to
Potential Next Steps for MSW Graduates
Earning your MSW online may have several potential benefits;
Potential Career Paths: MSW graduates may be prepared for specialist and advanced practice career paths;
- Social and Community Service Managers
- Child and Family Social Workers
- Clinical Social Workers
- School Social Workers
- Healthcare Social Workers
National Accreditation by CSWE Online MSW Programs
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.
GradSchools.com Offers 72 Online Social Work Masters Programs
Enrolling in an online MSW program may be a great way to earn your graduate degree without leaving the comfort of your own community. Browse our sponsored program listings to find the online MSW Program that aligns with your goals.
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
Northcentral UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 14, 2019
Northcentral University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program will help prepare students for a career in a variety of social service settings.
Sacred Heart University
Are you ready to be a force of positive change in your community and your life? Earn your MSW degree in Community Practice online. You could prepare to take on leadership roles, better meet the needs of vulnerable populations and sit for the LMSW exam.
George Mason UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 22, 2019
Online Master of Social WorkGeorge Mason University's online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program prepares you to take the next step toward a career in direct client service.
Winthrop's CSWE-accredited, online MSW program offers an empowerment focused curriculum designed to prepare you to improve lives and communities as a specialized social worker. 60 credit Traditional and 39 credit Advanced Standing options are available.
Prepare to advance your social work career with a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) from Walden University. This online master’s degree program helps you develop the skills needed to become a social worker.
Our Lady of the Lake UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 14, 2019
As one of only three MSW programs focused on the Hispanic population, OLLU's CSWE accredited, online Master of Social Work program offers busy adults the unique opportunity to prepare to serve this fast growing demographic at all stages of life.
Widener UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 14, 2019
Widener University's online Master of Social Work (MSW) is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It prepares you to improve both your life and the lives of others through clinical social work and social justice.
Loyola University Chicago
Develop linguistic competence and cultural awareness to help Spanish-speaking clients thrive by earning a Bilingual Masters in Social Work online. This unique MSW is taught primarily in Spanish and focuses in Health/Mental Health and Migration Studies.
The Online Master of Social Work prepares students to support and advocate for vulnerable populations including children, the elderly and those living in poverty.
Florida State University
Earn your Master’s degree from one of the nation’s top-ranked and most distinguished graduate programs. We offer a Traditional program for those than have a bachelor’s degree in an area outside of social work.
University of Louisville
Louisville's 100% online MSSW program helps students earn a social work degree on their schedule. Online courses culminate in a practicum completed at a site of choice. Multiple specialties and an Advanced Standing track are available.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Prepare to serve others in a wide range of settings by earning your MSW degree online at Edinboro. The CSWE accredited program has a specialized focus on family centered, trauma-informed approaches and qualifies graduates for the national LSW exam.
Louisiana State University
If you seek a rewarding career aiming to transform lives, try the LSU online Master of Social Work degree program. This advanced direct concentration program focuses on working with individuals, groups, and communities.
Miami Christian University
Our goal is not so much the accumulation of credits within an area of study as it is acquiring a skill and proficiency in the area. Jesus trained, or discipled, the twelve and supervised them as they followed His pattern of ministry. We, too, desire to...
Valdosta State University
The mission of the Master of Social Work program adds depth to values, knowledge, and skills of the Generalist social worker.
California State University, Northridge
CSUN'ss MSW program gives students the chance to work with at-risk populations and fosters an appreciation of the planned-change process. Its broad curriculum enables students to gain skills and perspective to work at any level.
University of Central Florida
The Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares students for advanced social work practice.
- Shippensburg, PAShippensburg, PA
For full- or part-time students who want to either further their education in social work or join the profession.
On-Campus requirement variable.
Western Kentucky University
Design to meet the needs of diverse rural populations and the work-force needs of agencies that serve families and communities.
University of Tennessee
The online Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is one of the nation's top accredited online programs when it comes to value and affordability, according to newly released rankings from the GetEducated cons...
Simmons College’s online Master of Social Work program can be completed in as few as 15 months, and GRE scores are not required.