Online Guide to the Master of Social Work

The most common online degree within the Social Work area of study is the Online MSW Program. The Online Master of Social Work is typically the degree that students seek while they are currently employed. Many have earned their BSW degree, are employed within the area of social work, but see greater employment opportunities and impact if they attain their Master of Social Work.

Online MSW Programs

The online version of the MSW degree may be quickly becoming one of the most beneficial degree programs available at this time. Online MSW programs include flexibility and versatility that may not be present in traditional degree programs, which is one of the reasons that upcoming students are more drawn to online options.

Consider a Featured Online MSW Program

Click the university name for information on admissions, courses, status of accreditation, and more.
School / Program Online Program? Advanced Standing Availability Course Information
Fordham University
Online Master of Social Work
check CSWE Accredited
cast_connected Online check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available class Accelerated, full-time, and part-time options. Advanced standing for qualified students with a BSW
Baylor University
Online Master of Social Work
check CSWE Accredited
cast_connected Online
No GRE Scores Required
check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available class 2 Specializations: Clinical Practice or Community Practice. Standard MSW and Advanced Standing MSW.
University of Denver
Online Master of Social Work
check CSWE Accredited
cast_connected Online
No GRE Required
check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available class Two online graduate programs: a traditional MSW and an advanced standing MSW
Simmons University
Online Master of Social Work
check CSWE Accredited
cast_connected Online
No GRE Required
check_circle Accelerated Track Available class Accelerated 15-month immersive program
University of Southern California
Online Master of Social Work
check CSWE Accredited
cast_connected Online
Bachelor's Degree Required.
check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available class Advanced standing program available to earn an MSW degree in under 1 year
Regis College
Online MSW
check In pre-candidacy for CSWE Accreditation
cast_connected Online check_circle Apply with No GRE class Complete in as few as 8 semesters
University of Kentucky
Online MSW
check Organized around CSWE competencies
cast_connected Online check_circle Advanced Standing Program Available class MSW program includes options for an advanced-standing program (30 credits) and a 60-credit regular standing program.

Why a MSW?

More career opportunity: Masters in Social Work degree programs or even doctoral programs can provide students with even more professional opportunities – which can lead to more lives touched. Moving forward with a degree program can be greatly eased by the use of online degree programs.

Campus and online program availability for adult learners: Since most people with the desire to get a higher degree cannot find the time or energy to do so, online degree programs are amplifying in popularity. Master's level social work degrees can be found in an array of online settings.

MSW education helps the community and society: Online MSW degree programs are implemented in an effort to help future social work professionals apply a lawful understanding of social work to communities in need. These graduate level programs can help professionals identify more specific methods of critical thinking and evidence-based research related to their line of work, which can contribute to a better understanding of individuals and society.

MSW Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

Fordham's CSWE-accredited online Master of Social Work program offers a future-focused curriculum, preparing students with advanced integrated competencies that cut across populations and contexts.
Click for admissions information.

The Master of Social Work online program from Baylor University is now accepting applications. Learn how to ethically integrate faith and social work practice in as few as 12 months. No GRE required. CSWE Accredited.
Click for admissions information.

Earn your Master of Social Work online from the University of Denver's top-20 school of social work. CSWE-accredited. MSW @ Denver offers two online graduate programs: a traditional MSW and an advanced standing MSW.
Learn more.

MSW Curriculum

Most, if not all, online MSW programs include a curriculum that focuses on key practice areas, such as Child Welfare, Behavioral Health, Community Health, Welfare, and Public Health Administration.

These topics are extremely important to the field of social work, since most of the work completed in this field involves people, the community, and well-being. Most online degree programs allow students to take multiple courses at a time, with courses lasting anywhere from 7 – 10 weeks a piece.

Credit Hour Expectations

Most programs in an online setting require that students complete around 60 credit hours for completion of the entire degree. Depending on the university you choose – you may find that some programs require more or less than the standard 60 credit hour requirement.

Some schools even label credits as semester hours or quarter credits. These labels can be confusing initially, but each school can provide an explanation of their credit-acquisition process for you to review.

Top Focus Areas of Specific Study

Online MSW programs may also focus on theories of psychology, human growth and development, sociology, and behavior health to consider social functioning from an inside perspective. Students that have the option to pursue this type of program online can take part in high quality courses in a convenient online setting.

Keep an Eye Open for New Online MSW Programs

Universities and colleges around the nation are continuously bringing reputable MSW programs online. For example, in May 2018, the University of Iowa brought their MSW program online. The Online MSW at the University of Iowa is a 3 year, part-time, online MSW Program, with no GRE requirements. There are some prerequisites, so check with the university on their website.

MSW Degree Specialties

At the master’s level, students can choose a specialty such as Mental Health, Clinical or Child/Adult Social Work. Most online Master’s degrees in Social Work require that students complete various research assignments alongside the standard discussions and quizzes.

Research assignments at this level urge learners to become involved in the community in different ways in order to truly grasp the concept of the social environment.

Different Types of MSW Degrees

  • 100% Online MSW Programs – Online Master of Social Work programs, where courses are offered 100% online in either an asynchronous or synchronous format.
  • Advanced Standing MSW Programs – for Bachelor of Social Work degree holders, an Advanced Standing MSW can be a fast track to a Master of Social Work degree.
  • One Year MSW Programs – MSW programs that are less than 12 months. One Year MSW Programs are usually an Advanced Standing MSW program for BSW degree holders.
  • MSW Programs with No GRE Requirement – MSW Program that does not require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) prior to admission to their program. Other programs may grant a GRE waiver for qualified applicants.
  • Clinical MSW Programs – If you are considering pursuing a social work career in a hospital or private practice, the Clinical Social Work area of study is likely the best fit.
  • MSW Degrees by State – View different MSW programs in each state.

Broad Categories and Types of Social Work Practice Areas

Social work can be split into three separate practicum areas (then divided into further subcategories). At the most broad level, here are the major areas:

Micro

Direct practice with individuals or families.

Mezzo

Intermediate based, within small groups or communities.

Macro

Large-scale, systemic and community-based or larger care.

What Can You Do With an Online MSW Degree?

Since social workers will work primarily in the public sector, students are encouraged to properly analyze and report on specific aspect of the community through essays and research paper assignments.

Students are provided access to a plentiful supply of resources, both for research and for information regarding the course. Students are regularly required to take part in online discussions, which can compare and debate opinions of students in a respectful and scholarly fashion.

Top 5 Sample MSW Courses

MSW COURSE COURSE DESCRIPTION

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Reviews CBT theories, helps students develop an understanding of required technique and development of case conceptualizations.

Advanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This course provides advanced learning that covers specific protocols and cognitive behavior therapy interventions for various disorders.

Addictions and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Thoroughly examines the relationship of addiction and other mental health disorders. Focuses on assessment and intervention of multiply diagnosed patients.

Clinical Research

Teaches students the user of quantitative and qualitative research methods and statistics that will be used in clinical research.

Clinical Management

Teaches students the concepts of leadership and management in a clinical setting. Touches on strategic planning, program design and financial management.

CSWE Accredited Social Work Certificates

Based on data from the CSWE Annual Survey of Social Work Programs (PDF), the below areas are the top studied certificate programs at the MSW level.
47 programs

Aging/ Gerontology

42 programs

School Social Work

23 programs

Addictions

21 programs

Nonprofit Management

19 programs

Child Welfare


What Can You Do With an MSW Degree?

Social workers assist with making society more productive by providing their clients with resources and contacts within the community environment. They also master human behavior and how it relates to a public lifestyle. Professionals in the social work field can be found in almost every aspect of the public domain. Social workers are present in hospitals – helping families with healthcare planning and referring patients to helpful community resources.

They are also found in state and government agencies – providing vital healthcare, food assistance, and welfare management for families in need. In the judicial system, social workers play an important role in child and adult welfare and mental health services. The social worker works hard with the client’s well-being in mind, regardless of the sector.

The hard work and determination that goes into pursuing a degree in social work pays off not only for the individual that is being served, but also for society as a whole. There is truly no better option for professionals that have a passion for helping people and making a notable difference within their communities.

List of Programs

MSW Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants

All Programs

MSW Programs That May Be Currently Accepting Applicants
AZ
CSWE Accredited
Boston University
Online MSW: Clinical Social Work Practice
MA
CSWE Accredited
California State University, Long Beach
Online MSW: Children, Youth, and Families
CA
CSWE Accredited
California State University, San Bernadino
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
CA
CSWE Accredited
Campbellsville University
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
KY
CSWE Accredited
Case Western Reserve University
Online MSW: Community Practice & Social Change and Direct Practice (Child, Youth, & Families) or (Mental Health/Adults)
OH
CSWE Accredited
Catholic University of America
Online MSW: Clinical
DC
CSWE Accredited
Colorado State University
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
CO
CSWE Accredited
Columbia University
Online MSW: Advanced Clinical Practice or Social Enterprise Administration
NY
CSWE Accredited
Florida State University
Online MSW: Advanced Standing program for those with a BSW or a Traditional program for those with a bachelor's in another area of study.
FL
CSWE Accredited
Fordham University
Online MSW: Clinical and Community-Based Practice & Leadership
NY
CSWE Accredited
Indiana University
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
IN
CSWE Accredited
Michigan State University
Online MSW: Clinical Practice
MI
CSWE Accredited
Michigan State University
Online MSW: Clinical Practice and Organization & Community Leadership
MI
CSWE Accredited
Our Lady of the Lake University
Online MSW: Direct practice with Hispanic Children and Families
TX
CSWE Accredited
VA
CSWE Accredited
Rutgers University
Online MSW: Clinical Social Work
NJ
CSWE Accredited
Simmons College
Online MSW: Clinical Social Work specialized areas in Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Child and Family Welfare; Trauma and Interpersonal Violence; and Health and Aging
MA
CSWE Accredited
Temple University
Online MSW: Areas of Specialist Practice: Trauma, Health/Mental Health, Children and Families, Humanitarian Social Work, and Military Social Work
PA
CSWE Accredited
University of Alaska at Anchorage
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
AK
CSWE Accredited
University of Houston
Online MSW: Clinical with optional emphasis in Health and Behavioral Health
TX
CSWE Accredited
University of Houston
Online MSW: Clinical with optional emphasis in Health and Behavioral Health
TX
CSWE Accredited
University of Maine
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
ME
CSWE Accredited
University of Nevada, Reno
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
NV
CSWE Accredited
University of New Hampshire
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
NH
CSWE Accredited
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Online MSW: Direct Practice (DP) and Community, Management, and Policy Practice (CMPP)
NC
CSWE Accredited
University of South Florida
Online MSW: Clinical Social Work Practice
FL
CSWE Accredited
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Online MSW: Clinical or Macro (Management, Leadership, and Community Practice)
TN
CSWE Accredited
University of Texas at Arlington
Online MSW: Direct Practice with Children & Families and Direct Practice in Mental Health & Substance Abuse
TX
CSWE Accredited
University of Texas of the Rio Grande Valley
Online MSW: Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups and Community and Administrative Practice
TX
CSWE Accredited
University of Wyoming
Online MSW: Advanced Generalist
WY
CSWE Accredited
Virginia Commonwealth University
Online MSW: Clinical
VA
CSWE Accredited
Walden University
Online MSW: Advanced Clinical Practice, Military Social Work, Social Work in Health Care, and Social Work with Children and Families
MN
CSWE Accredited
Widener University
Online MSW: Advanced Clinical with focus on trauma and its impact on mental health
PA
CSWE Accredited