Discover HBCU MSW Programs Online & On-Campus 

With more than 100 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the United States, you may select from many online and on-campus HBCU graduate programs, including Master of Social Work (MSW) programs. In addition to a diverse and inclusive student experience, HBCUs may offer affordability not often found at other institutions.

Howard University

School of Social Work


Master of Social Work (MSW)

The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.

  • Concentrations: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice
  • Complete at least 777-1,000 hours of agency-based field education
  • Earn your degree in as few as 12 months


Graduate Programs at HBCUs vs. Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs)

In terms of content, HBCU graduate programs and graduate programs at predominantly white institutions (PWIs) are generally the same. Deciding on an HBCU vs. a PWI depends on your own personal preference. Historically Black colleges and universities were born out of segregation to provide access to higher learning for Black Americans.  While founded to educate Black students, the demographics of HBCUs have shifted to include students of all races and ethnicities. In 2015, 17% of enrolled students were white, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Native American, according to Pew Research Center. Approximately three years later, non-Black students made up 24% of enrollments at HBCUs. Although not an official designation of any particular post-secondary school, the term “predominantly white institution” is used to identify institutions that serve a historically white demographic.

Advantages of Attending a Historically Black College or University 

Since selecting a college is such a personal choice, understanding how attending an HBCU benefits students may help you in your decision. Here are a few advantages of an educational journey at HBCUs: 

  • Diverse student body: Although educating Black Americans was the initial mission of HBCUs, today’s student body is diverse. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2018, 24% of HBCU students were non-Black
  • Stronger sense of community: The Gallup-Purdue Index studies show 54% of black HBCU graduates are most likely to be thriving in social well-being versus their non-HBCU counterparts. Research indicates their ability to have strong social relationships is linked to their HBCU experience. Black graduates of HBCUs strongly agreed that they felt supported (35%) and that their professors cared about them as people (58%).
  • Better relationships with faculty: HBCU instructors emphasize teaching and student service activities, allowing for high-quality, more personal student-teacher interactions. 

Advantages of Obtaining an MSW From an HBCU

Ensuring you get the classes you may need and want might be important when selecting the right school. The typical curriculum in an HBCU master’s in social work program covers a range of topics such as Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Research and Evaluation Methods and Generalist Practice. In addition, HBCU graduate programs offer other foundational classwork like Ethical, Ethnic and Cultural Considerations in Social Work that delves into socioeconomic discrimination and racial injustices. The advantage to this course and others like it is they provide you with the tools necessary to address these issues in your future social work practice.

Traditional vs. Online Learning at a Historically Black College or University 

As you search for the right HBCU, you may wonder if an online graduate degree or on-campus learning format would be best. While the decision is ultimately yours, there are a few similarities and differences between the two that you should consider.

  • Flexibility: Online learning could be ideal for students who work, have family responsibilities or don’t want to commute. On the other hand, on-campus learning may be a better fit for students without these demands on their time.   
  • Social interaction: If you prefer face-to-face interactions with classmates and professors, online learning may not be right for you. While online programs lack in-person connections, many offer networking opportunities and the ability to interact and communicate with fellow students and faculty.
  • Location: If you live near an HBCU, the history and culture of on-campus learning may enrich your educational journey. However, if an on-campus HBCU program is not an option, an online program may prove the best choice.
  • Discipline: Self-motivated students may find online classes an ideal platform to learn, while others thrive in on-campus learning environments that adhere to in-person attendance policies and stricter assignment deadlines.

HBCU Admission Requirements for an MSW 

While admission requirements vary among schools, HBCU admission requirements are generally the same for online and on-campus master’s degree in social work programs. Requirements may include: 

  • Completed bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in a field related to social work may be required. However, if you wish to apply for advanced standing MSW programs, you may be required to have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  • Completed graduate application. This may be available online. 
  • Letters of recommendation. Schools may require two to three letters from professionals such as previous instructors or coworkers.
  • Official transcripts. Academic records from all previous post-secondary schools you have attended may be required. 
  • A personal statement. This is your opportunity to discuss who you are, your strengths (education and/or experience) and why you would like to participate in an MSW program.
  • Interview. This is a chance to speak directly with the MSW admissions committee.

HBCU Financial Aid and Scholarships

With tuition, books and other fees, higher education can be expensive, often leaving graduates with a burden of student debt. An advantage to attending HBCU graduate programs is that HBCU tuition rates average about 30% less than those offered at similar schools. However, many of the 200,000+ students that attend HBCUs are low-income, first-generation students at risk for not entering or completing college. To help reduce or eliminate student debt for lower income households and ensure student success, HBCUs offer many forms of need- or merit-based financial aid, including HBCU scholarships and grants. Note: Most forms of financial aid, including scholarships, have submission deadlines each year.

Discover HBCU Online MSW Programs

Interested in experiencing the rich history of an HBCU yet you want the flexibility of remote learning? Consider an online MSW program, which may provide flexibility along with the same high-quality education as on-campus programs.

Discover HBCU On-Campus MSW Programs

If you prefer the on-campus HBCU experience several institutions offer in-person MSW programs.  

Historically Black Colleges and Universities FAQs

In order to choose the best school for you, you may have questions about HBCU graduate programs you’re considering. Here are some common questions prospective MSW students may have. 

What Is the Best HBCU MSW Program for Me?

Selecting an MSW program, whether it’s one at an HBCU, an on-campus or an online MSW program, is a personal decision. Thoroughly researching each institution you are interested in may help ensure you get everything you are looking for in a program. Remember that if one program does not sound right for you there are plenty of other options to consider.

Do HBCUs Offer Other Advanced Degree Programs?

If you are not sure an MSW is the best educational path, you may find a lot of HBCU online graduate programs offer other degrees. The types of advanced degree offerings vary among institutions. You may find a host of online HBCU degree programs including business administration, criminal justice, public administration, special education, environmental studies and nursing.

Are There Part-Time MSW Programs Offered at HBCUs?

In general, HBCUs offer various program options like traditional, advanced standing, full-time and part-time for on-campus learning. Of course, part-time MSW programs may take you about twice the time to complete. You may find HBCUs have a limit on how long you may spend in a program, for example, four to five years.

What Is the Percentage of Applicants Accepted into HBCUs?

As with any school (private or public), the percentage of students accepted into HBCUs varies from school to school. Some welcome the majority of applicants, while others are more competitive. Meeting all of the admission requirements and submitting your application before submission deadlines may help ensure acceptance to your desired HBCU. Here’s a quick look at some acceptance rates for Fall 2020:

Last updated January 2022