United States 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 University
The program offers you a choice of a clinical or community practice specialization, but knowledge from each is included in both tracks to integrate micro and macro practice and better prepare you for the demands of practice.
Northcentral University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program will help prepare students for a career in a variety of social service settings.
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.
Walden’s Ph.D. in Social Work program can prepare you for the next step in your social work career as a college-level educator or thought leader. Achieve the highest credentials in your profession with this Ph.D.
Our Lady of the Lake University
Our Lady of the Lake University's Worden School of Social Service, offers its acclaimed Master of Social Work degree program entirely online, giving working adults the opportunity to work toward this career-building,service-oriented credential.
Winthrop University's online Master of Social Work Traditional program prepares students without a social work background to become competent, specialized social workers.
Florida State University
Earn your Master’s degree from one of the nation’s top-ranked and most distinguished graduate programs in the FSU College of Social Work, where you’ll receive a first-rate education and extensive field placement opportunities. Choos...
Loyola University Chicago
The Online, Bilingual MSW program offers a unique specialization in Health/Mental Health with a sub specialization in Migration Studies. Courses will be taught by bilingual faculty with a majority of the content being delivered and discussed in Spanish.
This specialization is not designed to meet licensure requirements for the social work professions. Capella University's online PhD in Social and Community Services program deepens your knowledge of social issues and public service leadership.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
MSW graduates are prepared to work in a wide range of practice settings, including family based agencies, mental health care agencies, addiction treatment centers, schools, medical care facilities, psychiatric facilities, rehabilitation facilities...
Binghamton University (S.U.N.Y.)
The online Social Work in Health Care advanced certificate program is a five-course sequence that prepares social workers for opportunities across the continuum of settings in the United States health care system.
Sam Houston State University
Prepare for a career in victim services from a top-ranked criminal justice university...
University of Southern California
USC’s online Master of Social Work program prepares students to change lives in their communities without attending classes on campus.
Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University's online Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) - Community and Social...
There is no more exciting time to be part of the renowned Tulane School of Social Work or of the intriguing city of New Orleans than at this moment.
Institute for Clinical Social Work
The Institute for Clinical Social Work is pleased to offer its acclaimed, accredited Clinical Ph.D. program in a distance...
University of Texas at Arlington
It is a pleasure to welcome you to the School of Social Work's Masters and Ph.D program at the University of Texas at Arlington.
- 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...
- Saint Paul, MNSaint Paul, MN
St. Catherine University
Our DSW focuses on Education as Practice, preparing faculty for university-level teaching and leadership in higher education...
The George Washington University
The online Master of Social Work program at Boston University School of Social Work allows applicants interested in a graduate...
Western Kentucky University
Design to meet the needs of diverse rural populations and the work-force needs of agencies that serve families and communities.
- Fort Collins, COFort Collins, CO
Colorado State University
Master of Social Work
Advanced Generalist Practice...