Online Social Work Graduate Programs and Degrees
Several traditional CSWE-accredited schools for social work offer online social work graduate programs. Accredited online social work degrees offer working professionals the opportunity to earn advanced credentials such as the Master of Social Work (MSW) without necessarily disrupting their schedules.
About Online Social Work Graduate Programs
Online social work graduate programs may be available from the masters (MSW) to the doctorate (DSW and PhD), including post-graduate and post-masters certificate programs. Distance learning brings the classroom to you, so it may be more convenient to consider earning an online social work degree than attending class in person.
In 2014, 47,894 degrees were awarded in social work. The most common degree is the MSW with 52% share of all social work degrees granted.[i]
What Types of Online Social Work Degrees Available?
If you are considering a career in social work, you should research how much education is required to address the types of problems and clients that you find most compelling. This may help you navigate the different graduate –level online social work degrees to see which one aligns with your goals.
Online Graduate Certificates in Social Work
Online social work graduate certificates offer shorter term programming through a few targeted courses. You might learn how to address specific populations (children or the terminally ill for instance) as part of continuing education or take online social work courses for credits toward a Masters in Social Work degree.
Online MSW Programs
Masters degree in social work (MSW) programs are typically designed for students seeking to learn advanced skills for practicing and assuming leadership or clinical positions in the field. Online MSW programs involve fieldwork, as do their campus counterparts, although you may be able to fulfill these requirements in your local community. These internships enable students to prepare for state licensure examinations within their specialty. Current BSW level social workers might use the MSW degree to move from direct service and assistant positions into clinical roles. These students might enter an online MSW program as an advanced standing student and possibly complete their degree in less time (about one year). Students who have a Bachelors in sociology, human services, psychology, counseling or another discipline might use the master’s degree to initiate a social worker career. Time to completion is typically about two years although program duration is a variable.
Online DSW or PhD in Social Work
Graduates of MSW programs who desire to conduct scholarly or evidence-based research about social work issues and public policy, write, or teach at the postsecondary level might consider working towards a PhD in social work or Doctor of Social Work - DSW online. Earning a doctoral degree in social work may take students from two to five years although the time to completion varies. Usually students must research, write and defend their dissertation to be awarded their degree.
Why Pursue a Social Work Graduate Degree Online?
Since many graduate schools for social work offer both campus and online programs the fact that you earned your MSW, DSW, PhD or graduate social work certificate online may not be noted on your transcripts. Earning a graduate degree in social work may lead to a variety of potential opportunities that might include;
- Specialize. Clinical Social Workers (also called licensed clinical social workers) diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional disorders. Healthcare Social Workers are another example where a master’s degree is required. This type of social worker may also choose to specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work.
- Supervise. If you aspire to lead (think ‘Director of Social Work) or potentially hold a more senior administrative role, a graduate degree is required.
- Run a Private Practice. Many clinical social workers work in private practice. Again, graduate degree.
- Research: If you are interested in social change or advocacy, a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) or PhD in Social Work programs are both research-oriented.
- Teach: Many DSW graduates go on to work as Postsecondary teachers.
How are Online Social Work Graduate Programs Formatted?
There is no ‘one’ format or structure for online social work graduate programs. Ultimately you need to evaluate your scheduling needs as well as whether you are looking for a full-time or part-time commitment. A few things to consider as you evaluate online social work degree programs:
- Some graduate programs in social work are 100% online, while other online social work degrees have some in-person (on-site) requirements.
- With the proliferation of educational technology, distance-learning programs make use of an expanded set of digital tools.
- Courses may be synchronous or asynchronous. This means that in some programs you may interact with professors live at scheduled intervals or participate in learning activities at your own pace.
- E-learning may include watching presentations, listening to MP3 lectures, posting on online threaded discussion boards, or even videotaping yourself conducting social work duties.
- Some social work grad students progress through their program with a supervisor with whom they are in regular contact.
- There are variances in course formatting, sequencing, and pacing from one program to another. Some online social work graduate programs use the cohort model (Same group from start to finish), others use a flexible schedule.
- Some MSW programs don't require applicants to take the GRE
Find CSWE–Accredited Online Social Work Graduate Programs
Before enrolling in an online social work graduate program, students should verify that their online schools of choice are regionally accredited. In addition to regional accreditation, students should look for specialized programmatic accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the predominant accrediting agency for social work degree programs. CSWE accreditation is evidence of the relevance and educational standards of a school's social work program. Students who forgo this step, may find themselves unable to sit for their state licensure examinations. For an accurate database of accredited online social work programs, visit the CSWE website.
Find Online Social Work Degree Programs
Ultimately, to earn a graduate social work degree online you need to feel comfortable in an online learning environment. Many quality accredited programs are available, and often provide excellent student services and support. Research online schools for social work by choosing a degree level from our on-page navigation menu or view the listings below.
sources[i] datausa.io/profile/cip/440701/ | onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1113.00
Sacred Heart UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 07, 2019
Take your practice to the next level, without compromising your schedule,with SHU's online MSW in Clinical Practice program. You could strengthen your ability to assess and assist your clients,while preparing for the Licensed Master of Social Work exam...
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.
Winthrop UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 07, 2019
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.
University of Southern California
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a 35-credit advanced standing MSW program with both full-time (three semesters) and part-time (five semesters) options. Admission to the advanced standing program allows students to complete th...
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.
Northcentral UniversityUpcoming Start Date: November 19, 2018
Northcentral University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program will help prepare students for a career in a variety of social service settings.
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.
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.
University of Denver
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.
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.
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.
- Fort Collins, COFort Collins, CO
Colorado State University
Master of Social Work
Advanced Generalist Practice...
- Saint Paul, MNSaint Paul, MN
University of St. Thomas (MN)
The St. Kate's - St. Thomas DSW focuses on Education as Practice, preparing faculty for teaching and leadership in higher ed...
- Piscataway, NJPiscataway, NJ
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
The Blended Online Program offers students the flexibility and convenience of online learning combined with a traditional “in person” classroom setting for advanced coursework. ...
Valdosta State University
The mission of the Master of Social Work program adds depth to values, knowledge, and skills of the Generalist social worker.
- Shippensburg, PAShippensburg, PA
For full- or part-time students who want to either further their education in social work or join the profession.
Boston UniversityUpcoming Start Date: January 22, 2019
The online Master of Social Work program at Boston University School of Social Work allows applicants interested in a graduate...
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.
University of Tennessee
The Master of Science in Social Work program at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work is the first and oldest graduate social work program in the state of Tennessee. Founded in 1942, it has been accredited continuously since 1945. The MS...
Simmons College’s online Master of Social Work program can be completed in as few as 15 months, and GRE scores are not required.
University of Central Florida
The Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares students for advanced social work practice.