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
You'll expand the level care and assistance you can provide to vulnerable populations and be a force of positive change in your community when you earn your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree online at Sacred Heart University.
The Catholic University of America
Complete in Only 8-Months. The Catholic University of America is the #1 Ranked Catholic School of Social Work in the Nation. CSWE-Accredited MSW Program. Advanced Standing. Full & Part-Time, 100% Online Degree Options.
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.
Winthrop University's online Master of Social Work Traditional program prepares students without a social work background to become competent, specialized social workers.
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.
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.
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...
- Fort Collins, COFort Collins, CO
Colorado State University
Master of Social Work
Advanced Generalist Practice...
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. GRE scores are not required for admission.
Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University's online Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) - Community and Social...
University of Central Florida
The Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares students for advanced social work practice.
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...
On-Campus requirement variable.
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...
Valdosta State University
The mission of the Master of Social Work program adds depth to values, knowledge, and skills of the Generalist social worker.
The George Washington University
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.
University of Leicester
Leicester University and NSPCC Training have collaborated to produce this unique distance learning programme which offers candidates the opportunity t...
The online Master of Social Work program at Boston University School of Social Work allows applicants interested in a graduate...