The Online MSW degree is the most common online program within the Social Work area of study. In our database, there are 36 CSWE accredited Online MSW Programs in the United States. A Master of Social Work degree from a CSWE accredited program is required to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or LCSW, in all 50 states within the United States.

Online MSW Programs / Master of Social Work

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:

1. Micro

Direct practice with individuals or families.

2. Mezzo

Intermediate based, within small groups or communities.

3. 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


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
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.