CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs

Looking to earn your social work master’s online? There is a wide selection of online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs to choose from—many of which are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This guide is designed to help aspiring social workers learn about CSWE-accredited online MSW programs, discover potential MSW careers and determine which scholarship opportunities are available to them.

If you’re interested in a broad selection of programs, skip ahead and review our list of all CSWE-accredited online MSW programs.

Online MSW Concentrations

When it comes to choosing a concentration for your online MSW, there are plenty of options to take into consideration. Some social workers work at the micro level, where they’ll interact directly with individual patients. Others work at the mezzo or macro level, treating larger groups or populations and implementing frameworks on a broad scale. Some common MSW concentrations include:

  • Clinical or direct practice social work
  • Advanced generalist social work
  • Community development
  • Management/administration
  • Policy

Each of these focus areas may also contain more specific concentrations, such as child and family welfare, school social work, substance abuse work or military social work.

Online MSW Programs by Track

Finding the right online MSW program for you depends on a number of factors. From personal interests to available tracks and previous education, aspiring students should do well to research options that prepare them to become a licensed social worker in their states. 

Those with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program may be eligible to pursue an advanced standing MSW program online. Advanced standing MSW programs tend to have stricter admission criteria and requirements.

Accelerated online MSW programs allow students to earn their degree in as little as one year. This option may be suitable for students who want to receive their MSW in a short period of time and are capable of handling the rigor of a condensed program.

MSW programs are designed to prepare students to pursue social workers careers. Programs with a clinical focus (informally called LCSW degree programs) feature foundational social work courses that allow students to build the skills needed to provide psychotherapy, make diagnoses and treat individuals (children, youth and adults) and small groups (couples and families). Depending on your state, MSW degree programs can provide the education requirement you need to pursue  licensure after graduation. 

Similarly, you may pursue a mental health-focused program to engage directly with clients on ways to improve their mental health and overall well-being. 

Below is a table that includes all CSWE-accredited online MSW programs.

This program list was updated October, 2021. The school’s website is always best for the most up to date information.

42 CSWE-Accredited Online MSW Programs

Determining whether or not you meet the admissions requirements for the programs that interest you can help narrow down your options and ensure that you make an informed decision. Below is an alphabetical list of all online MSW programs that have been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, as well as their admissions requirements and other important program information.

Adelphi University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Garden City, New York

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.25+ years

Credits: 32+

Concentrations:

Health Across the Lifespan

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a strong background in liberal arts and sciences
  • Undergraduate social work degree from a CSWE accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Official transcripts
  • Paid of volunteer experience in human services preferred
  • Resume (Preferred)
  • References
  • Transcripts
  • TOEFL scores for non-native English speaking applicants
  • Virtual interview may be required
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Adelphi University

Boise State University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Boise, Idaho

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 61

Concentrations: Clinical Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelors degree with liberal arts and social science coursework
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE accredited school in the last 7 years, oor 10 years with significant post-BSW practice experience, for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Social service practice experience, either paid of volunteer
  • Personal essay
  • Recommendation letters
  • Background check
  • Willingness to understand and abide by NASW Code of Ethics
  • Interview
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Boise State University

Boston University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Boston, Massachusetts

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 43+

Concentrations:

Macro Practice, Clinical Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from an accredited college or university
  • Candidates with two years of supervised, direct human or social service experience may apply for the Human Service Experience track
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within six years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 for advanced standing applicants
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Three letters of references
  • Transcripts
  • Interview
  • TOEFL scores for non-native English speaking applicants
  • Other requirements as outlined for specific tracks
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Boston University

Campbellsville University

Carver School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 2 years

Credits: 30

Concentrations:

 Clinical Practice, Addictions

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution for advanced standing applicants
  • Baccalaureate degree with 15 credit hours of liberal arts education 
  • Baccalaureate GPA of 3.0 
  • Transcripts from accredited institutions 
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • Signed statement of understanding of the Social Work Professional and Technical Standards 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Campbellsville University

Columbia University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

New York, New York

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1 year

Credits: 33+

Concentrations:

Advanced Clinical Social Work, Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming, Policy Practice, Social Enterprise Administration

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Academic transcripts
  • Resume
  • Three essay questions
  • Three letters of reference
  • TOEFL scores for non-native English speaking applicants
  • Other requirements as outlined for specific tracks
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Columbia University

Delaware State University

Department of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Dover, Delaware

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: 30+

Concentrations:

 Advanced Generalist Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree form an accredited college or university 
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 cumulative and 3.0 in undergraduate major 
  • Personal statement 
  • Official transcripts 
  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Additional requirements for international applicants 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Delaware State University

Edinboro University

College of Science and Health Professions

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: 33+

Concentrations:

Trauma Informed Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from a regionally accredited institution 
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants 
  • Coursework in human biology or human anatomy and physiology 
  • Minimum of 21 undergraduate credits in liberal arts curriculum 
  • Minimum GPA of 2.8 
  • GRE scores required for GPAs under 2.8 
  • Resume 
  • Two references 
  • Personal statement 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Edinboro University

Florida State University

College of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Tallahassee, Florida

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 39+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum of 400 field education hours in generalist practice for advanced standing applicants
  • GRE waiver available
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA for past 60 hours of undergraduate degree
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Florida State University

Humboldt State University

Department of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Arcata, California

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 36+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited higher education institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned in the last five years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 for advanced standing application
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 for last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework
  • Grade of  ’’C’’ or better for elementary statistics and a course related to Native American studies
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Humboldt State University

Indiana University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Indianapolis, Indiana

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1.5+ years

Credits: 41+

Concentrations:

Clinical and Community Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Social Work from an accredited program earned within the last five years or BSW earned in the last 10 years with social work practice experience or active social work licensure during the last five years – for advanced standing applicants only
  • Resume
  • Writing sample and statement
  • Academic transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendations
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Indiana University

Louisiana State University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 33+

Concentrations:

Child and Youth Services, Gerontology, Social Work Practice in Schools, Policy and Macro Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree form an accredited college or university
  • Bachelor of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last five years for advanced standing applicants
  • Liberal arts undergraduate preparation with at least 12 credits in social and behavioral sciences
  • Grade of ’’C’’ or better in an introductory statistics course
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Letter of intent
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Louisiana State University

Our Lady of the Lake University

Worden School of Social Service

Master of Social Work (MSW)

San Antonio, Texas

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: 30+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 for traditional applicants, 3.0 GPA for advanced standing applicants
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Our Lady of the Lake University

Rutgers University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 39+

Concentrations:

Clinical Social Work

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Undergraduate field placement evaluation for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Social work experience is preferred, but not required
  • Introductory course to statistics
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Rutgers University

Texas State University – San Marcos

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

San Marcos, Texas

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 36+

Concentrations:

Advanced Practice Leadership

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from a regionally accredited university
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • Interview
  • TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores may be required
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Texas State University – San Marcos

The Catholic University of America

National Catholic School of Service

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Washington, D.C

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: Less than 1 year – 3+ years

Credits: 30+

Concentrations:

Clinical Social Work

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelors degree with a liberal arts foundation
  • Bachelors degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Coursework in human biology and social statistics recommended
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, 3.5 in social work undergraduate coursework and 3.2 for bachelors degree cumulatively for advanced standing applicants
  • Completion of 480 hours of field education for advanced standing applicants
  • Senior field evaluation forms for advanced standing applicants
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Three letters of reference
  • TOEFL scores for students whom English is a second language
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from The Catholic University of America

University at Buffalo (SUNY)

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Buffalo, New York

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.5+ years

Credits: 35+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution 
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants 
  • Grad of  ’B-’ or better in all undergraduate social work courses for advanced standing applicants 
  • Minimum of 24 credits in liberal arts coursework 
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 preferred, 3.0 required for advanced standing applicants 
  • Human biology undergraduate coursework 
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • Official transcripts 
  • Essay 
  • Additional requirements for international students 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University at Buffalo (SUNY)

University of Alaska, Anchorage

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Anchorage, Alaska

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 34+

Concentrations:

 Advanced Generalist Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from a college or university with regional accreditation 
  • Bachelor of Social Work earned within the last five years from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA 
  • Minimum 3.5 GPA in BSW core courses and grade of  ’A’ in field placement courses for advanced standing applicants 
  • Human biology and statistics coursework 
  • Resume 
  • Personal statement 
  • Writing sample 
  • Three letters of reference 
  • Official transcripts 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Alaska, Anchorage

University of Arkansas, Little Rock

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Little Rock, Arkansas

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 3 years

Credits: 60

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree with a liberal arts perspective from an accredited institution 
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA 
  • Narrative statement of professional orientation 
  • Three letters of reference 
  • Any volunteer, employment or life experiences related to social work 
  • Official transcripts 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Arkansas, Little Rock

University of Central Florida

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Orlando, Florida

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 1.3+ years

Credits: 32

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited institution 
  • Bachelor degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last six years for advanced standing applicants 
  • Minimum GPA of 3.3 in last 60 credits for advanced standing applicants 
  • Official transcripts 
  • Completion of humanities, physical and biological sciences, mathematics, and social sciences coursework 
  • Resume 
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • Professional statement  
  • Writing sample 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Central Florida

University of Houston

Graduate College of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Houston, Texas

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 39+

Concentrations:

Clinical Practice, Macro Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a liberal arts foundation from an accredited university or college
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Three letters of reference
  • Personal narrative statement
  • Proficiency in English testing may be required
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Houston

University of Nevada, Reno

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Reno, Nevada

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1.25+ years

Credits: 30+

Concentrations:

 Advanced Generalist Practice

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree with liberal arts focus from a regionally accredited institution 
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants 
  • Coursework in statistics and research methods 
  • Essays 
  • Three letters of recommendation, fourth from field instructor for advanced standing students 
  • Documentation of field experience for BSW degree 
  • Resume 
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 overall or 3.25 in last 60 hours of undergraduate degree 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Nevada, Reno

University of New England

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Portland, Maine

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1.3+ years

Credits: 35+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution within the last seven years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Evidence of experience in the human services field with MSW supervision for advanced standing applicants
  • Professional statements
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Copy of field evaluations for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Additional requirements for international admissions
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of New England

University of New Hampshire

College of Health and Human Services

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Durham, New Hampshire

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1.3+ years

Credits: 35+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree with a liberal arts background from an accredited institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last five years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.2 for advanced standing applicants 
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal state
  • Two years of full-time experience in the field is strongly recommended
  • Additional requirements for international applicants
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of New Hampshire

University of North Dakota

Department of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 36+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • At least 30 credits of liberal art coursework
  • Grade of ’’C’’ or higher in statistics course before entering the advanced generalist curriculum
  • Willingness to abide by the NASW Code of Ethics and the university’s Code of Student Life
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or 3.0 in the last two years of undergraduate program
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Official transcripts
  • Statement of goals
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Satisfy requirement outlined for English language proficiency 
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of North Dakota

University of South Florida

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Tampa, Florida

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: 35

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree with liberal arts coursework
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last five years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Grade of ’’B-’’ or better for social work courses for advanced standing applicants
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • One year of post-undergraduate work in a social service agency preferred
  • Interview may be required
  • Official transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of South Florida

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

College of Social Work

Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW)

Knoxville, Tennessee

Name of Degree: Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 37+

Concentrations:

Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice, Organizational Leadership

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a college or university accredited by regional accrediting agency
  • Bachelor of Social Work accredited by the CSWE earned in the last five years for advanced standing applicants
  • Completed coursework in social science
  • Liberal arts perspective coursework
  • Minimum GPA of 2.7, 3.0 preferred, 3.0 GPA required for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of reference
  • Resume
  • Additional requirements for international applicants
Learn more about the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) from University of Tennessee at Knoxville

University of Texas, Arlington

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Arlington, Texas

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 38+

Concentrations:

Community and Administrative Practice, Direct Practice in Aging, Direct Practice in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Direct Practice with Children and Families

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degre from an accredited institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within the last six years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in last 60 hours of undergraduate work, 3.0 required for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation for applicants who do not fully meet the other requirements 
  • Personal narrative for applicants who do not fully meet the other requirements 
  • TOEFL or TSE scores for applicants whose native language is not English
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from University of Texas, Arlington

University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley

School of Social Work

Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW)

Edinburg, Texas

Name of Degree: Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 33+

Concentrations:

Administrative and Community Practice, Direct Practice with Latino Individuals, Families and Groups, 

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited institution
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, 3.2 in social work core coursework for advanced standing applicants
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Completion of a basic statistics course
  • Personal statement
  • Additional requirements for international applicants
Learn more about the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) from University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley

Western Kentucky University

Department of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: N/A

Credits: 33+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree
  • Liberal arts coursework in sociology, psychology or anthropology and one course in American government, political science or economics
  • Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program earned within last seven years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75 in last 60 hours or undergraduate program, 3.0 for advanced standing applicants
  • GRE scores only required if GPA below 2.75
  • 400 hours of field experience under social work supervision for advanced standing applicants
  • Final field evaluation for advanced standing applicants
  • Completion of a statistics course for advanced standing applicants
  • Three letters of reference
  • Interview may be required
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Western Kentucky University

Western New Mexico University

School of Social Work

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Silver City, New Mexico

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Full-Time

Length of Program: 1+ years

Credits: 39+

Concentrations: N/A

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited college or university recognized by CHEA
  • Bachelor of Social Work accredited by the CSWE earned in the last eight years for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Three letters of reference
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Western New Mexico University

Widener University

Center for Social Work Education

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Chester, Pennsylvania

Name of Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Enrollment Type: Part-Time

Length of Program: 2+ years

Credits: 36+

Concentrations:

Clinical Social Work

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor degree from an accredited college or university
  • Bachelor degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for advanced standing applicants
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, 3.3 for coursework in social work major for advanced standing applicants
  • Statement of purpose
  • Two recommendations
  • Official transcripts
Learn more about the Master of Social Work (MSW) from Widener University

Social Work Program Accreditation and Social Work Licensure

To become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), you must complete and graduate from a CSWE-accredited MSW degree program, receive a passing score on your state’s required clinical social work licensure examination and meet a minimum number of hours of professional experience. It is important to confirm you meet the requirements in the state where you intend to practice.

Social work accreditation is an important factor for MSW applicants and graduates entering the professional field and seeking out a role. CSWE accreditation specifically ensures the quality, standards and rigor of a program are the best they can be. Often, employers will require candidates to hold a degree from an accredited program. For your convenience, all programs that we’ve included on this page are CSWE accredited.

MSW degrees are generally offered through designated social work schools, many of which are featured at prominent universities. In addition to determining which master’s program is best for you, understanding CSWE social work accreditation may be important to your decision-making process—and an important factor to keep in mind throughout your search. 

LMSW vs. LCSW

While LCSW denotes a licensed clinical social worker, LMSW stands for licensed master social worker. These are both common roles in the social work field, with a few key differentiators. As described earlier, the majority of LCSWs work on the micro level with individual patients. LCSWs may diagnose issues, plan assessment-based treatment and provide psychotherapy without supervision. LMSWs, on the other hand, cannot clinically counsel or treat patients, although they can still perform some forms of individualized work. This may include providing nonclinical services like case management and referrals to specialists. They tend to work on the macro level, applying their more generalized skills at organizations and in policy-oriented institutions. Both are effective, essential roles—and each requires their own qualifications.

Considerations for Finding the Best MSW Programs for You

In addition to our collection of online master’s in social work degree programs, we’ve compiled additional information to assist aspiring social workers in selecting a program. As you read through the next couple of sections, remember that finding the right MSW program requires being aware of all the possibilities that come with pursuing the degree and an MSW career. Once you understand degree options, delivery formats and potential career paths, you’ll be able to weigh the pros and cons of each degree program and decide which one best fits your career goals and needs.

Online MSW vs. On-Campus MSW

An online MSW degree program may benefit working professionals looking for flexibility. Some students may also have a variety of life circumstances preventing them from enrolling in an on-campus program. Online programs typically offer the same curricula as in-person programs and may have the same admissions requirements, but they cater to students’ unique needs through added convenience. Online programs may also allow students to save time and money, as they enable students from all geographical locations to pursue their online MSW without having to relocate.

MSW, MSSW and MSSA

There are three program designations to consider when deciding on a master’s in social work program, but all are considered equal and harbor no great differences. These designations are:

  • MSW (Master of Social Work) 
  • MSSW (Master of Science in Social Work) 
  • MSSA (Master of Science in Social Administration)

One of the most important factors to keep in mind when deciding where to earn your MSW is accreditation. The CSWE recognizes and accredits programs that meet their educational standards across all three of these designations.

Structure and Length of Online MSW Programs

There is a wide range of online MSW programs, including options of varying lengths, formats and structures. Below, find descriptions of online MSW programs categorized by the following differentiators: full time vs. part time, traditional vs. advanced standing, cohort model vs. flexible scheduling and synchronous vs. asynchronous. With several different options to choose from, you can find a program that fits your circumstances and schedule—and set yourself on a path for a potentially fulfilling career.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Programs

Master of Social Work programs require both in-class instruction and field work. As such, a full-time program may not be an option for students who are committed to a full-time job, have caregiver responsibilities or are tied to other familial or financial obligations. Part-time online MSW programs offer these students the opportunity to complete their degrees with flexible scheduling and typically range from two to four years in duration. On the other hand, full-time online MSW programs offer students with more bandwidth the option to focus all of their time and attention on their studies while still reaping the benefits of online learning. The majority of full-time programs can be completed in two years.

Traditional vs. Advanced Standing

Advanced standing online MSW programs are designed for students with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program. Admission requirements may be stricter and differ from traditional programs, but the specific criteria can vary by program. An online advanced standing MSW program can usually be completed in one to two and a half years. Traditional and advanced standing programs require field education at a health services agency. The number of hours of fieldwork required to graduate can range from 450 to 1,000 hours and may include internships.

Cohort Models vs. Flexible Scheduling

Many online MSW degree programs follow a cohort model of instruction. This means that students enter as a group and take a predetermined schedule of classes in order to fulfill the program requirements and receive their degree. Alternatively, a flexible scheduling model allows students to self-select the classes they’d like to take each quarter, semester or designated academic period.While students in cohort-model programs may have options regarding their concentration or preestablished elective blocks, they’ll otherwise follow a standard curriculum. Cohort students likely won’t experience the dilemma of missing out on a spot in a required class. To determine which model is best for you, consider your personal preferences and circumstances.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

Synchronous instruction methods are seen in programs that require students to attend classes in “real time.” This means students must log on for live classes, study sessions or projects at a set time. Some programs will require this more frequently—perhaps daily or weekly—while others may only require this a couple times per semester. The specifics will vary by program, but students will be made aware of the schedule in advance.

Asynchronous programs do not require students to attend real-time classes. Instead, students are given deadlines to watch lectures, complete assignments and catch up on class material. Depending on the program, there may still be opportunities to interact with teachers and classmates in real time, such as through the school’s online learning portal.

Some programs combine synchronous and asynchronous instruction methods to provide a unique, varied class experience.

Admission Requirements

Admissions requirements will vary depending on the institution and program, but the majority of traditional online MSW programs require applicants to meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Meet the minimum GPA requirements.
  • Complete specific prerequisite classes during the undergraduate degree program.
  • Submit an official undergraduate academic transcript.
  • Submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation.
  • Pay the required application fee.
  • Meet the technical requirements (like having computer and internet access) to ensure you can effectively learn online.

In addition, some programs may require applicants to have accumulated work experience in a related field. If so, this will be noted on the program website and details will be provided regarding the specific qualifications.

MSW GRE Requirements

Many online MSW programs no longer require the GRE test for admission. But sometimes, GRE testing is required of applicants that do not meet the minimum GPA threshold required for admission—thereby offering them an additional avenue to qualify for admission. However, there are still certain programs that require the GRE regardless of GPA. Be sure to do your research if you’re set on a specific program but aren’t sure of the requirements.

MSW GPA Requirements

Typically, the GPA requirement determines whether or not an applicant must also submit GRE scores. This also varies by university and can range from a requirement of 2.5 to a 3.0, depending on the university. That doesn’t mean you cannot get in with a lower GPA; you just may need to meet alternative requirements. If you’re ever unsure about what’s required, visit the program website or get in touch with an admissions representative. Being proactive is the best way to ensure you’re prepared to meet the admissions criteria when it comes time to fill out your applications.

Coursework

A traditional, CSWE-accredited MSW program will typically include the following:

  • Foundational courses: These classes help students to understand the ethics, theories and history of social work. Classes will cover topics like human behavior and social systems and will instill the core research skills you’ll need throughout the program.
  • Concentration courses: These classes delve deeper into the focus, topic or specialty you’re pursuing. For an overview of the concentrations that may be available to you, see the program tables above.
  • Fieldwork or internship: This supervised experience is an opportunity for students to apply what they learn in the classroom setting to real-world situations and scenarios in their community. Internships usually take place at a local health services agency with highly qualified field instructors who have attended CSWE-accredited programs themselves. Learn more about fieldwork and internships below.

Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarships

As a prospective MSW student, choosing the best program for you involves research and information. Some prospective students may seek financial aid or scholarship opportunities. Your options and eligibility for scholarships will vary by university and program, which is why it’s important to reach out to your university’s financial aid or graduate studies department for information.

To learn more about general student funding opportunities available to MSW students, you can visit the CSWE’s collection of student funding opportunities. The CSWE page outlines general scholarships, contests, awards, fellowships and grants available to social work students throughout the country and across different levels of education. In addition to reviewing these opportunities and contacting your university’s financial aid department, you can also seek information from your local chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Is an Online MSW Right For You?

For aspiring or practicing social workers with an undergraduate degree, earning an MSW is one way to add to your expertise. An MSW may offer greater career opportunities for clinical, specialty and supervisory practice than what may be achievable with a bachelor’s degree. In addition to potentially qualifying you for a wider range of roles, an MSW may also help you reach a higher earning potential and position you to pursue licensure. An online MSW program is a viable option for anyone who will benefit from added flexibility in their schedules—whether they are maintaining a current job or meeting family commitments or are geographically distant from their desired program. Online MSW programs offer the same career benefits and opportunities that traditional in-person programs do but with additional conveniences.

Career Options

There are a wide range of social work careers available to MSW graduates, some with specific licensure requirements. A few career paths include:

  • Child and family social worker
  • Community social worker 
  • Licensed clinical social worker 
  • Medical and public health social worker
  • Mental health and substance abuse social worker
  • Military social worker
  • School social worker

Often, people consider school counselors to fall under the realm of social work careers, but there are differences between a school counselor and school social worker. Each role requires its own qualifications. Similarly, while professionals in the mental social work and psychology fields work toward a shared goal of identifying and improving the mental health and well-being of individuals, they harbor key differences and require separate degrees, licenses and certifications.

Social Workers’ Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall employment of social workers is expected to grow 12% from 2020 to 2030—a rate faster than the average for all other occupations. As our population continues to age, evolve and grow, the demand for healthcare and social services will increase and potentially lead to more and more opportunities for recent MSW graduates.

In May 2021, the median annual pay for social workers was $50,390, according to the BLS. In contrast, the median annual pay for school and career counselors that same year was $60,510. Although the job outlook for school counselors from 2020 to 2030 is projected to see slightly slower growth than that of social workers—11% as opposed to 12%—it’s still faster than average.

Other Social Work Degrees

In addition to the MSW degree, other social work degrees include the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and the Doctor of Social Work (DSW)—the terminal degree in the field.

Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)

Social workers typically start off pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work through an undergraduate program offering essential foundational courses. During the latter part of a BSW program, students will start to take more specialized courses to become familiar with the core ethics, theories and strategies of social work. As we mentioned earlier, holding a BSW can qualify graduates for advanced standing MSW programs.

Doctoral Social Work Programs (DSW & Ph.D.)

DSW programs offer social work professionals advanced training in a specific area of practice. DSW graduates can take on leadership and management roles. DSW graduates can work in social work administration; clinical social work; and child, family and school social work. Most DSW programs require a form of residency or a dissertation, building the necessary skills to advance professionally. Alternatively, a Doctor of Philosophy or PhD in social work is less clinically focused and more concentrated on conducting research in the academic setting.

Online MSW FAQs

It’s natural to have questions as you begin to research which online MSW program is right for you. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about online MSW programs.

Can you get an MSW without a BSW?

Yes, you can earn your MSW without a BSW. In fact, many CSWE-accredited online MSW programs accept bachelor degrees from related fields. The major difference is that those without a BSW will not qualify or be accepted into advanced standing programs while those with BSWs are eligible.

How long does it take to complete an MSW?

As we described earlier on, an MSW can take anywhere from a single year to four years to complete depending on whether you decide to pursue an accelerated, advanced standing, or traditional program, and whether it’s on a full-time or part-time schedule. Once you make those initial decisions, the time frame will narrow, and you can get a better idea of how long it will take you to complete an MSW.

Are there any one-year online MSW programs?

Yes, there are online MSW programs that take just one year to complete. These accelerated MSW programs, available only as full-time programs to advanced standing students who hold a BSW from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate degree program. They may involve that you adopt a more rigorous schedule in order to receive your degree in a shorter time frame. This can involve putting in more hours per week and completing your classes and your fieldwork at the same time. Some accelerated programs may last longer than 12 months (around one and a half years).

What can you do with a master’s in social work?

There are a number of different options for you to pursue after completing an online MSW program. After receiving your MSW online and completing the relevant licensing requirements, you can become a child and family social worker, licensed clinical social worker, school social worker or health care social worker or pursue another social work position. You can also continue your education by applying to a doctoral program.

Information last updated May 2022.