If you are interested in pursuing an online Master of Social Work (MSW), there are several options to consider when choosing the best MSW program for you. Currently, there are over 40 schools that offer online master's in social work degree programs designed for students who have not earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). These are also known as traditional MSW programs. Some other online social work degrees are designed for students who have already obtained their BSW, these are called Advanced Standing Online MSW Programs.
In the United States, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the only organization that provides accreditation for all MSW programs. The MSW programs listed on OnlineMSWPrograms.com are accredited by the CSWE.
For professionals who have already earned a BSW and work in the field, a master’s in social work (MSW) is required to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in all 50 states. In addition, many states also require a MSW to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). For other professionals looking to make a career change, a MSW provides the education and background needed to enter the field of social work.
Online MSW degree programs are ideal for working professionals and for students who do not live near a campus-based program. There are over 40 schools that currently offer a traditional standing online master's of social work degree, compared to 235 campus programs.
What is CSWE Accreditation?
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a partnership of educational and professional social work institutions, social welfare agencies and private citizens. The 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 some of the best online social work programs for you. CSWE accreditation signals that an undergraduate or graduate social work program satisfactorily meets the council’s standards for student competencies, institutional policies, curricula and more.
Why Choose a CSWE-Accredited Social Work Program?
CSWE-accredited programs have been recognized by the educational community and the public as having satisfactory levels of performance, integrity and quality. With this accreditation, students can be confident that the social work program they are investing in, whether it be in person or online, will be able to prepare them for the next steps in their careers. In fact, most state licensing boards require that social workers earn their degrees through CSWE-accredited degree programs. Even in states that don’t mandate it, CSWE accreditation can make the licensure process simpler through its standardization of educational criteria. Employers may require or prefer their candidates to hold degrees from CSWE-accredited programs.
Specifically, CSWE accreditation entails:
Parity regardless of delivery: Accredited programs offer coursework that meet the same standards and criteria, regardless of their delivery in person or online.
Practical competency: CSWE-accredited programs have a proven track record of preparing their students to meet the practical challenges of professional social work practice.
Sound policy: Accredited social work programs pursue goals that reinforce the values of the social work profession.
Requisite curriculum: CSWE-accredited programs offer the courses necessary for students to receive adequate social work preparation.
Qualified licensure: Accredited social work programs grant degrees mandated by most state licensing boards for social work licensure.
Proficient employment: CSWE-accredited programs grant degrees required or preferred by employers of social workers.
Best Online Master in Social Work Programs of 2018
OnlineMSWPrograms.com strives to provide the most accurate and helpful information on all types of CSWE accredited online master's in social work programs. In order to find the best online msw program for you, we’ve created a comprehensive listing of the CSWE accredited online msw degrees, listing them on six different factors: type of online classes, mobile application accessibility, average class size, GRE requirements, campus visit requirements and field placement teams, specificially for online students. Learn more below on what we look for in these factor categories!
Best Online MSW Program Factors
Type of Online Class
- Live/Asynchronous: Students are able to meet classmates and their professors, virtually, face-to-face, exchange ideas in real time and have live discussions. - Not Live/Synchronous: classes operate independently of set meeting times. Assignments will have designated due dates but each student is to participate on their own.
Live classes may offer a more realistic mirror of on-campus programs.
Mobile App Accessibility
Online learning is often sought after because of its flexibility. What more can an ideal online MSW program offer if not a mobile application that is offline accessible. This could mean less worry or concern on participation, reading assignments or submitting discussion questions.
Having a mobile app available offline means non-stop learning.
Average Class Size
Lecture hall sized classes are not typical for online programs. For some online master's in social work programs, there can be 15 students or less per instructor. Because of the intimacy of online classes, we believe that smaller student to faculty ratios are ideal - this way every student is included in discussions and participation.
Smaller class sizes may ensure that every student is included.
Graduate programs will typically require the completion and passing score on GREs. However, some online graduate social work programs do not require a GRE for admission. We place precedence on these programs for admission processes that require one less step and measurement of future academic achievement.
Leave room for passion in your application with no GRE requirement.
Campus Visit Requirements
You are looking for online social work programs for a reason. Whether it's the flexibility that comes with the coursework or the learning environment. Required campus visits are typically paid for by you, the student, for on-campus courses, workshops or seminars. Programs that do not require on-campus visits allow you to attend top named schools from the comfort of your home or office.
You may find continued flexibility with no campus requirements.
Field Placement Team for Online Students
Online MSW graduate programs that offer field placement teams to specifically meet the needs of online students across the country take priority in our list over those programs that do not. This service and resulting clinical experience is an integral part of your online master's in social work program for post-graduate licensure and practice. Ensuring that you are placed at a center, hospital or school closest to you can bring more value to your online social work program.
Specialized understanding of your locale and field placements.
Below we have organized a list of all CSWE accredited online master's in social work programs. The order in which they are organized is determined by the amount of factors that each online MSW program has met: live classes, offline accessible mobile app, less than 15 students per class, no GRE requirement, no campus requirement and a field placement team available for online students. For any online master of social work degree program that meet the same number of factors, the universities are listed alphabetically.
For example, since Boise University's online MSW program has no live classes, required wifi for their mobile application, has class sizes of more than 15 students, has no GRE requirement, needs no campus visits and has a team available for their online students, Boise meets three out of six factors.
All factor information was collected directly from the universities through contacting their social work departments/schools.
For OnlineMSWPrograms.com, this combination of factors results in some of the best, holistic master's in social work online programs both as an online student and future social worker.
Complete List of Online Master's in Social Work Programs for 2018
1 Additional factor information retrieved from College Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics 2 Arizona State University’s graduation rate and percent of online graduate students numbers were calculated as an average of five different campuses: Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, Skysong, Temple, and West.
1 Additional factor information retrieved from College Navigator - National Center for Education Statistics 2 Indiana University’s graduation rate and percent of online graduate students numbers were calculated as an average of eight different campuses: Bloomington, East, Kokomo, Northwest, IUPU Fort Wayne, IUPU Indianapolis, South Bend and Southeast.