Compare Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs – CSWE Accredited

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Last updated in June 2022

A master’s in social work (MSW) from an accredited online program could set you up for an exciting career change. We’ve listed some considerations we think can help you choose the best online MSW program for you. We view the three below factors as key to evaluating a master’s in social work:

  • Flexible scheduling options available
  • Offers concentrations
  • No GRE requirement for admissions

All online MSW programs listed on this page are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Accredited Online MSW Programs and Program Factors

This list of master’s in social work degree programs was curated to provide helpful information on online CSWE-accredited MSW programs. It is non-exhaustive; visit the CSWE directory of accredited programs for more social work programs.

We view the three below factors as key to evaluating an online master’s in social work program.

Flexible Scheduling Options Available

Online MSW programs with flexible scheduling options improve learning experiences and allow students to balance their education and other high priorities. With options to complete a social work master’s degree in a full-time or part-time enrollment capacity, students can continue attending to other duties such as family, work and personal appointments. We’ve placed precedence on online MSW programs that enable students to determine scheduling that works best for them.

Concentration Offerings

Concentrations are important in setting students up for success in their chosen field. The field of social work is expansive, and social workers can be found in many different industries, working with many different populations. Online MSW programs that offer varied concentrations may provide students with a more focused curriculum. We’ve placed precedence on social work programs that offer concentrations so that students can center their career on what matters most to them.

No GRE Requirement for Admissions

Universities that don’t require the GRE look at a prospective student’s entire application package, which is often advantageous for adult learners who may already have experience in social work. There are many universities that offer GRE waivers or don’t require the test at all for graduate admissions. Although GRE scores may help universities better understand your capability for graduate-level work and may be required if your GPA is below the program’s requirement, there are many MSW programs that do not require it for admission. We’ve placed precedence on MSW programs without a GRE requirement for admission to streamline your admission timeline and potentially enable you to enroll in a program faster.

Curriculum for Online MSW Programs

Required coursework across MSW programs may vary university to university. For CSWE-accredited online MSW programs, they must offer a curriculum based on the 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (PDF, 405 KB), published by the CSWE.

A typical MSW curriculum may cover core courses including:

  • Foundations of social work
  • Research methods
  • Professional social worker ethics
  • Human behavior
  • Working with individuals and groups in therapeutic settings

Social workers may work in micro-, mezzo- or macro-levels in the field, and MSW concentrations may fall within one or more of these levels. Here are some concentrations offered by online master’s in social work programs:

  • Clinical social work
  • Mental health
  • School social work
  • Social justice
  • Children, youth and families
  • Trauma studies
  • Community practice and organization
  • Public policy, planning and administration
  • Leadership and management

Field Experience Internships

Curriculum across CSWE-accredited social work programs includes an internship experience. The social work internship component provides students an opportunity to work in professional settings, such as hospitals and community centers, under the guidance and supervision of an instructor. It’s important to speak with the university’s field education department and ask if the university is partnered with any agencies for placements.

Some MSW programs may offer concentrations on mental health, clinical social work, health equity or working with children. Curriculum in these areas will likely be completed in a traditional MSW student’s second year.

Careers and Salary with an Online MSW

Professionals with an online MSW typically may pursue a number of social work career options. MSW program concentrations offer students an opportunity to specialize their degree and their post-graduate career.

Depending on your career goals, becoming a social worker may not require a MSW degree. Some entry-level positions may require a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. Each state requires different levels of education, experience and examination for licensure. To learn more on social work licensure, visit your state’s board of social work or the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) directory of licensing boards.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook for social workers, the job outlook for social workers is expected to increase 12% between 2020–2030, faster than average. In May 2021, social workers earned a median pay of $50,390 a year. Salaries for social workers, however, may be dependent on role, industry, location and education level. Here is an overview of median annual wages in May 2021 for social workers, according to the BLS:

Social Work OccupationMedian Annual Wage, May 2021
Social workers, overall
$61,190
Healthcare social workers
$60,840
Mental health and substance abuse social workers
$49,130
Child, family and school social workers
$49,150

Online MSW Program FAQ

How long does it take to get an online MSW?

Full-time MSW programs typically take two years to complete online, while part-time MSW programs may take two and a half to four years to complete, depending on the number of classes taken. Students with a BSW degree may complete an advanced standing MSW in as few as 12 months.

Which online MSW program is the best?s

While searching for the best program for you, you may be considering a few factors, such as your personal interests, online options and admissions requirements. We’ve listed some factors that might help you narrow down which program might be best for you. Check the list of online MSW programs to compare.

Which MSW programs don’t require GRE?

While there are some MSW programs that do not require the GRE, admissions requirements vary depending on the university. Some traditional and advanced standing online MSW require students to provide GRE test scores if a student’s GPA is low. Be sure to check with your ideal MSW program’s admission requirements for more information.

What are the GPA requirements for MSW programs?

It depends. GPA requirements for MSW programs may vary depending on the school. Universities may require a GPA of 3.0 or higher for most programs. However, some programs may require at least a 2.5, and if the student’s GPA is lower, the university may request a GRE score. Check with your preferred MSW program’s admission requirements for more information.

Is financing available for online MSW programs?

An MSW online program doesn’t have to be a huge financial burden, and there are some financing options available. Some employers may provide prospective students with tuition assistance, and many universities offer scholarships. When you complete your financial aid application, you may also be eligible for loans. It is important to research as many options as possible and choose a program with a cost you are comfortable paying.

Can you study for a MSW without a BSW?

Students without a BSW may apply for a traditional MSW if they meet the university’s requirements. Typically, traditional MSW admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school along with any applicable prerequisite courses, a minimum GPA and required application documents such as a personal statement, undergraduate transcript and letters of recommendation.