2020 Online Master's in Social Work (MSW) Programs

By OnlineU Staff | Updated March 9, 2020
Quick Facts
Accreditation: CSWE
Average Tuition: $30,025

Master's of social work students can choose from 169 online MSWs accredited by the CSWE, including advanced standing and clinical track programs. After earning an MSW, you can go on to become a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) by passing your state's board exam or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) after passing the exam and meeting the requirement for supervised clinical hours.

In order to earn licensure and to ensure that your degree meets national standards for social work education, you should make sure that your MSW program is accredited by the CSWE. Keep reading to learn more about social work licensure requirements in your state and to see the best online MSW programs of 2020 based on tuition and alumni salaries provided by PayScale.

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2020 Best Online MSW Programs

2020 Best Online Master's in MSW Badge

The following 24 schools offer the best online MSW programs based on their low tuition rates and high mid-career salary potentials. California State University-San Bernardino is ranked #1, offering a Master of Social Work for $12,000 per year. Graduates of the school reported a median salary of $74,900. Rutgers University ranks #2, with a median salary of $72,100 and one of the lowest annual tuition rates, at $9,600.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

Rank School Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $12,000 $74,900
# 2 #2 $9,600 $72,100
# 3 #3 $17,040 $70,300
# 4 #4 $12,000 $67,400
# 5 #5 $11,985 $66,200
# 6 #6 $18,200 $68,400
# 7 #7 $10,500 $64,900
# 8 #8 $16,326 $66,400
# 9 #9 $13,080 $63,800
# 10 #10 $11,490 $63,000
# 11 #11 $14,625 $63,200
# 12 #12 $36,632 $72,000
# 13 #13 $9,616 $60,800
# 14 #14 $13,672 $62,200
# 15 #15 $15,960 $63,000
# 16 #16 $31,317 $69,000
# 17 #17 $48,780 $74,900
# 18 #18 $29,232 $66,900
# 19 #19 $7,720 $58,200
# 20 #20 $22,830 $64,100
# 21 #21 $30,096 $67,000
# 22 #22 $15,110 $61,000
# 23 #23 $14,630 $60,600
# 24 #24 $16,830 $61,400
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering MSW Programs - Ranking Details

#1 California State University-San Bernardino

  • Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Median Salary: $74,900
  • Locations: San Bernardino (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University-San Bernardino's (CSUSB) School of Social Work offers a Pathway Distance Education Program for students interested in receiving a Master of Social Work. This program is a three-year commitment with online coursework for students who either live too far away from the CSUSB campus or require the flexibility of an online degree. Students are not encouraged to continue working full-time while completing the MSW, as the program requires significant time and focus. Students will select a specialization as part of their final year.

#2 Rutgers University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Median Salary: $72,100
  • Locations: New Brunswick (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The School of Social Work at Rutgers University hosts a fully online Master of Social Work that takes three years to complete. Classes are delivered asynchronously, but assignments have set due dates. Students in the program will benefit from engaging faculty discussions via web-based technologies. They will also take part in field education, which includes two experiences: a generalist level placement and an advanced clinical level placement. These require between 11 and 14 hours per week and are completed alongside the online coursework. Faculty members work with students to help identify appropriate placement settings.

#3 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

  • Annual Tuition: $17,040
  • Median Salary: $70,300
  • Locations: Edinboro (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (EU) offers a Master of Social Work degree for aspiring social workers. Graduates will be prepared to work within a range of settings and with different populations, including families, individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders, students, veterans, members of the military, and more. Online and hybrid programs are available. The fully online degree is a two-year program that requires a field education internship. The internship is completed over the course of study. Individuals will work with a placement agency to determine an appropriate internship based on commuting distance.

#4 Aurora University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,000
  • Median Salary: $67,400
  • Locations: Aurora (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

A private university based in Illinois, Aurora University provides master's level candidates with flexible online options for advanced study. Students interested in receiving a general social work degree may consider the Master of Social Work (MSW). The program includes 1,050 hours of field instruction and is designed to prepare graduates for real-world experiences. Students will have the opportunity to select a specialized concentration. Tracks include faith-based social work, forensic social work, health care, leadership administration, and the professional educator license in school social work. Interested candidates may also take online dual-degree programs in either business administration or public health.

#5 New Mexico State University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,985
  • Median Salary: $66,200
  • Locations: Las Cruces (NM)
  • Accreditation: HLC

New Mexico State University's (NMSU) School of Social Work hosts a Master of Social Work (MSW) with a focus on regional social work practice in the Southwest. Students learn advanced skills necessary when working with different populations, as well as cultural sensitivities and a perspective that considers the region's social and environmental factors. The online master's degree is available full-time, requiring 60 total credits for degree completion. The course of the program is typically two years. Students will be required to complete field experiences.

#6 University of Nevada - Reno

  • Annual Tuition: $18,200
  • Median Salary: $68,400
  • Locations: Reno (NV)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The Master of Social Work degree from the University of Nevada’s Reno (UNR) campus is available online with either a traditional standing or advanced standing option. The curriculum employs a generalized study plan, preparing versatile, adaptable graduates. Classes focus on the principles of psychology, education, business, and public health. The traditional track is a 62-credit MSW degree designed for those with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. Comparatively, the advanced standing program, for those with a social work background, requires 32 credits and can be completed in 15 months. While most coursework is online, traditional-track students attend a three-day residency at the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine patient simulation facilities. All students complete a foundation and an advanced practicum. Online courses use Canvas learning management software, in which students review syllabi, submit assignments, and engage on discussion boards. UNR’s online resources include a tutoring center, a writing center, disability accommodations, UNR’s libraries, and a live chat feature with the technology help desk. The admissions process includes a completed application form (with fee), three letters of recommendation, and personal essays. Candidates must have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.0.

#7 Loyola University Chicago

  • Annual Tuition: $10,500
  • Median Salary: $64,900
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago is offered in an online bilingual format for Spanish speaking students. The program aims to meet the social services and mental health needs of a growing Spanish-speaking population in the United States. The online MSW degree is available on a full-time basis for two years of continuous study. Candidates with a Bachelor of Social Work degree can enroll for the advanced standing option that can be completed in one year. Students complete two internships for a total of 1,200 hours of field experience. Online classwork includes synchronous video conferencing and simulation labs, along with asynchronous discussion boards and case studies. Students in the online MSW program at Loyola University receive academic advising, career development services, and tech support for its online learning management tools, Zoom and Sakai. Before applying, an individual’s Spanish proficiency will be assessed. Traditional-track students can enroll in fall, while advanced standing students enroll in spring. To complete the admissions process, students must submit a completed application (with fee), official transcripts, two recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a current resume.

#8 Our Lady of the Lake University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,326
  • Median Salary: $66,400
  • Locations: San Antonio (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Individuals seeking an online graduate degree in social work from Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) can consider the Master of Social Work, a full-time degree that requires no previous professional experience. Online courses are taken in seven-week sessions. Classwork uses asynchronous tools such as discussion forums and e-mail. Students are responsible for meeting assignment deadlines. Online student resources include 24/7 technical support, peer tutoring services, and access to the Mary Francine Danis Writing Center. Offered through the Worden School of Social Service, the online MSW degree includes a field placement and courses specifically meant to prepare graduates to serve the growing Hispanic community in the United States. The MSW accommodates those with or without an undergraduate background in social work. The advanced standing MSW requires just 30 credit hours over two years. The foundation MSW is designed for those without a social work background; this program is 57 credits over three years. Either program prepares graduates for professional licensure. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree. A complete application package includes an online application form (with fee), a current resume, official transcripts, a personal statement, a completed student questionnaire, and three reference letters. 

#9 University at Buffalo

  • Annual Tuition: $13,080
  • Median Salary: $63,800
  • Locations: Buffalo (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Buffalo (UB) offers prospective social workers a part-time, online Master of Social Work program. A traditional curriculum and an advanced standing curriculum are available, depending on whether a student’s undergraduate experience was in social work. The full MSW is 60 credit hours, while the advanced standing program is 35 credit hours. Online courses are offered asynchronously and with virtual, real-time classes. Online students complete field placement hours within their home communities. Fieldwork is accomplished over two semesters, with at least 15 hours committed each week. Coursework includes a professional development seminar, electives, and research skills. Online graduate students at the University of Buffalo have access to UB libraries, disability accommodations, career services, and technical assistance, including a 24/7 live chat feature. The traditional program starts in the fall, and the advanced standing program starts in the spring. In addition to the application and fee, students should submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Candidates must have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.0.

#10 University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • Annual Tuition: $11,490
  • Median Salary: $63,000
  • Locations: Little Rock (AR)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a 60-credit hour, online Master of Social Work program. This degree emphasizes client diversity and contemporary best practices. The curriculum includes 36 credits of foundation classes, elective options, and a 1,200-hour internship. Each online course requires students to attend at least five real-time sessions using Adobe Connect software and the Blackboard learning management system. Online learners can work with a program advisor and access disability services. Additionally, students can use resources from the Ottenheimer Library, the Online Writing Lab, and IT support. Students can enroll for fall and spring semesters. Acceptance into the Graduate School and a completed MSW application are both required. For full consideration, students must submit a personal statement, GRE or MAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and official transcripts. Candidates are required to have a completed bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and previous experience in the social work field. Applicants must also be Arkansas residents. 

#11 Temple University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,625
  • Median Salary: $63,200
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Temple University offers an online Master of Social Work program that has two concentrations: Clinical Practice with Individuals and Families or Macro Practice in Organizations, Communities, and Policy Arenas. The former specialty is designed to train students as clinical therapists. The latter is designed to prepare graduates for careers in nonprofit and government agencies. The MSW is housed in the College of Public Health, and students also have the option to pursue a dual online MSW/Master of Public Health. The MSW curriculum focuses on social work practice with at-risk populations, covering issues such as poverty, substance abuse, violence, and immigration. The 60-credit degree can be completed part-time or full-time, though an advanced standing, 34.5-credit option is available for individuals with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. A field practicum is required to graduate. Most classwork is online, though a three-day residency at the beginning of the program is required. Online coursework uses Canvas online learning management tools and includes several synchronous classes and group meetings throughout each semester. The dual MSW/MPH degree is also offered part-time or full-time; it can be completed in three or four years. Individuals can select either an MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences or an MPH in Health Policy and Management. Online students in Temple University’s graduate programs receive personalized advising. They are encouraged to engage in student organizations facilitated through the College of Public Health, such as the Social Work Student Collective or the Alpha Delta Mu social work honors society. Candidates must have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Application components include official transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

#12 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $36,632
  • Median Salary: $72,000
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California (USC) hosts a Master of Social Work program with three tracks: Adult Mental Health, Children and Families, and Social Change and Innovation. Candidates with a completed Bachelor of Social Work can enroll in a one-year, advanced standing program. Upon graduating, MSW students are eligible to take the exam to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Students complete more than 1,000 hours of fieldwork; practicum experience is awarded for virtual and community-based hours. The traditional track can be completed part-time or full-time; either enrollment plan requires 60 credit hours. The advanced standing track is 37 credits. USC’s online classes combine real-time, scheduled seminars using Zoom software, and asynchronous, interactive assignments. Online students receive a free membership to WeWork, providing hi-tech study spaces around the country. Additionally, they can access USC’s library resources, technical support, and academic advising. To apply, candidates should submit a completed graduate admission application (with fee), official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. GRE scores are not required, though students should have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. 

#13 University of North Dakota

  • Annual Tuition: $9,616
  • Median Salary: $60,800
  • Locations: Grand Forks (ND)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of North Dakota (UND) has an online Master of Social Work degree delivered through real-time virtual classes scheduled in the evenings. Offered through the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines, the interactive degree is augmented by a 500-hour field placement that can be completed in the student’s community. Applicants who already have a Bachelor of Social Work can enroll in the Concentration program, designed for advanced standing individuals. It requires just 36 credits and takes approximately one year to complete; participants need to attend one campus visit. Comparatively, the Foundation track is for those without a bachelor's degree in the social work field. This option requires 60 credits over three years, with two mandatory campus visits. Students can opt for a thesis or independent study to complete the degree. Resources for distance learners include a writing center, e-tutoring, career services, disability accommodations, and military and veteran services. Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. To apply, students must submit a personal statement, a resume, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a completed application form. Online students can join the Phi Alpha social work honor society.

#14 Texas State University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,672
  • Median Salary: $62,200
  • Locations: San Marcos (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas State University’s School of Social Work offers an online Master of Social Work degree with a foundation or an advanced standing curriculum. The program includes hands-on practice, advocacy skills, and research. Successful graduates are eligible to take state licensing exams. The online courses employ the same textbooks, assignments, and faculty as the on-campus versions. The curriculum includes unique elective options such as International Social Work, Adventure Therapy, Working with Veterans, and Gerontology. The foundation track requires a bachelor’s degree, 62 credit hours of coursework, and practicum experience. The advanced standing track requires a Bachelor of Social Work and 36 credit hours. Both programs are in a cohort format and can be completed part-time or full-time. Online degrees are managed by the TRACS learning management system, through which students engage on discussion boards, submit assignments, and access course materials. Students accepted into the online MSW program can use resources from the Texas State University Alkek Library. Support services for distance learning students include academic advising, career services, a counseling center, and an IT assistance center that provides 24/7 live chat support. Candidates must complete the application for graduate admission (with fee) and submit official transcripts (with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0), a resume, and a statement of purpose. 

#15 Arizona State University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,960
  • Median Salary: $63,000
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ)(and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The School of Social Work at Arizona State University offers an online Master of Social Work degree. Participants can complete the program full-time or part-time, in two years or three years, respectively. ASU's online classes share the same faculty as the on-campus programs. Most classes are asynchronous and rely on students to complete assignments by specified due dates. Students can enroll for the fall or spring semester. The curriculum requires 60 credits and includes a practicum and professional training. The professional training seminars are held in real-time, virtual classrooms. Online students will be assigned an academic advisor and have access to a 24/7 IT Help Desk. Graduates from the online MSW program are welcome to join the on-campus graduation ceremonies. Candidates must have a completed bachelor’s degree in social work with at least a 3.0 GPA. GRE scores are required for GPAs less than 3.2. Students are encouraged to have relevant social work experience as well. Prospective students should submit a completed graduate application (with fee), official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a professional resume.

#16 Fordham University

  • Annual Tuition: $31,317
  • Median Salary: $69,000
  • Locations: Bronx (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Graduate School of Social Services at Fordham University is available online and offers an accelerated track along with a traditional track. Students can enroll part-time or full-time. Four concentrations are available: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy, Practice, and Advocacy. Upon graduating, students are prepared to sit for professional social work licensure exams. The traditional track can be completed in four terms; the advanced track can be completed in two terms. Each term includes two eight-week class sessions. Online MSW students attend weekly, real-time, virtual meetings with peers and faculty, but complete assignments and content predominantly on their own time, using asynchronous tools. Hands-on practice begins right from the start, and the Field Education Department at Fordham University assists students in planning for and securing a placement for field education. Online learners have access to academic advising, an admissions counselor, career specialists, a student support advisor, and 24/7 technical assistance. The online MSW program requires 66 credit hours to complete. Individuals who have already earned a Bachelor of Social Work are eligible for the advanced standing, accelerated degree. To apply, students should submit a completed application form (with fee), a personal essay, transcripts, one letter of recommendation, and a current resume.

#17 Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Annual Tuition: $48,780
  • Median Salary: $74,900
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Columbia University’s online Master of Social Work program has three concentrations for specialized study: Advanced Clinical Practice, Policy Practice, and Social Enterprise. Students can also choose between practice with mental health and disability services, or practice with family and children’s services. Students complete field education requirements in their own communities, engaging in hands-on learning required for licensure. The program can be completed part-time or full-time and requires 60 credit hours and 1,200 field hours. Options are available for advanced standing students with a Bachelor of Social Work. Online classes mirror the on-campus versions, with fixed times using Adobe Connect virtual software. Additional online assignments are housed in the Canvas learning management system. Online students are welcome to attend orientation on campus in New York City but are not required to do so. Distance education resources include 24/7 technical support, online training, admissions support, and career services. To apply, candidates must have a completed bachelor’s degree. To be considered, applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, personal essays, a completed application (with fee), and three letters of recommendation.

#18 Rutgers University-Camden

  • Annual Tuition: $29,232
  • Median Salary: $66,900
  • Locations: Camden (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Online learning at Rutgers University-Camden is almost always asynchronous, requiring students to review pre-recorded lectures, discussion boards, and assigned readings on their own schedules. Online materials are available via two learning management systems, Canvas and Sakai. Distance education resources include the Camden Computing Help Desk, academic advising, disability accommodations, and peer tutoring. Prospective social work graduate students can consider the fully online Master of Social Work. Two concentrations are available: Clinical Social Work or Management and Policy. Candidates must have a completed bachelor’s degree to apply (with a 3.0 GPA minimum); an advanced standing track is available for those with a Bachelor of Social Work. Over the 60-credit curriculum, students take courses in research methods and assessment and complete two field practicums. The online MSW degree satisfies professional social work licensure requirements for the state of New Jersey. Additionally, a certificate in Violence Against Women and Children may be added for further specialization. For consideration, students must submit official transcripts, a completed application form (with fee), three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a current resume.

#19 University of Missouri

  • Annual Tuition: $7,720
  • Median Salary: $58,200
  • Locations: Columbia (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Missouri (Mizzou) Online has a Master of Social Work program with various options to accommodate students with different backgrounds and professional interests. There are two concentrations: one in Advanced Clinical Practice and one in Policy, Planning, and Administration. Both concentrations have options for those with and without an academic background in social work. Mizzou online courses are just as rigorous as the campus-based versions. The MSW is hosted through the College of Human Environmental Sciences. The traditional track requires 60 credit hours over three years. The advanced track is 39 credits over two years. Typically, students take two classes each semester. A supervised field practicum is required to graduate. Most classes follow an asynchronous format, with no required login times. Students are responsible for completing assigned readings and engaging on discussion boards with their peers. Online learners have access to academic advising, disability accommodations, career counseling, an IT Help Desk, and materials through the Mizzou library system. Regular standing applicants start in June, while advanced standing applicants begin in August. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. To apply, students should submit official transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. 

#20 Portland State University

  • Annual Tuition: $22,830
  • Median Salary: $64,100
  • Locations: Portland (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Portland State University’s (PSU) Master of Social Work program seeks to educate students in social justice and provide a collaborative learning environment. The online MSW mirrors the on-campus version, sharing faculty and resources. Online courses include scheduled, virtual classes, and supervised fieldwork. Accepted students are required to attend an annual seminar on campus, in which participants network with peers and faculty. PSU online student resources include academic advising, career services, e-tutoring, disability services, technical assistance, and 24/7 research assistance through the library. The curriculum requires 78 credit hours to complete, which includes 39 credits of foundation courses and 39 credits of advanced coursework. The online degree takes three years to complete, with courses taken in fall, winter, spring, and summer terms. The field experience spans the second and third years of the program. Four concentrations are available for specialized study: Clinical Social Work Practice, Health Across the Lifespan, Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations, and Social Work with Children, Youth, and Families. Graduates are eligible to apply for professional social work licensure in the state of Oregon. To apply, students must have a bachelor’s degree. The complete application includes official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

#21 University of Houston

  • Annual Tuition: $30,096
  • Median Salary: $67,000
  • Locations: Houston (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Houston’s (UH) Graduate College of Social Work offers a cohort-based, online Master of Social Work degree. Four specializations are available: Health and Behavioral Health, Social Work Practice with Latinos, Political Social Work, or an individualized option. While courses use asynchronous methods, students are encouraged to actively participate in online discussion boards and use other virtual tools to network and collaborate with their peers and faculty members. Instructors have the option to schedule synchronous, live sessions of class. Classes are facilitated using Blackboard learning management software and Zoom software. Distance learners receive technical tutorials, have access to UH library resources, and can access e-tutoring. Assignments have firm deadlines, so students must manage their time and schedules accordingly. The curriculum is designed to be intensive with an emphasis on social, political, and economic justice. The first two semesters include foundation courses and fieldwork. Graduates will complete more than 900 hours of real-world practice. The fully online MSW degree requires 63 credits over three years. An advanced standing track is optional for applicants with a completed Bachelor of Social Work. Admissions to the online MSW requires a completed application (with fee), letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA.

#22 University of Central Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $15,110
  • Median Salary: $61,000
  • Locations: Orlando (FL)(and 7 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Central Florida (UCF) Online offers advanced standing and traditional Master of Social Work degrees. Online programs employ different modalities for class delivery, including video live-stream lectures and asynchronous assignments. Online students have access to the Writing Center, the UCF Library (including online databases, personal librarian assistance, and how-to videos), disability support services, and the academic resource center (including online peer tutoring and academic success workshops). Students work with an enrollment counselor and a personal academic success coach. The MSW program is hosted by the College of Health Professions and Sciences. Classes run in seven-week terms, and 62 credit hours are required to graduate from the traditional curriculum, which is designed to prepare students with no previous social work experience. The advanced standing program requires just 32 credits. Courses are only available part-time, requiring three years for traditional students (16 months for advanced standing). Topics covered include diverse client populations, social work practice with substance abuse, and practice with families. A field internship is required before graduating. The program meets the criteria for graduates to seek their Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential in the state of Florida. Students can apply for summer, fall, or spring terms. Graduate program admission requires GRE or GMAT scores, official transcripts, a completed application (with fee), a current resume, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, an academic writing sample, and a background check.

#23 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville

  • Annual Tuition: $14,630
  • Median Salary: $60,600
  • Locations: Knoxville (TN)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) at the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) has several adaptable tracks, allowing students to personalize their program to meet their academic and career goals. There are two concentrations from which to choose: Evidenced-Based Interpersonal Practice or Organizational Leadership. Those with a Bachelor of Social Work can take courses in an advanced standing format, requiring fewer credits. There is also an extended study part-time option. Taken full-time, the traditional MSSW can be completed in two years, while the advanced MSSW requires one year. This is a cohort program, so students move through the program with the same group of peers. The mission of the MSSW is to educate its participants in ethical and culturally competent social work practices. All coursework is completed online, although an internship requirement will take place within a reasonable distance from a student’s location. Online expectations include engaging in real-time classes, typically offered in late afternoon and evening to accommodate students. Asynchronous work is expected as well. Online resources include a live-chat-enabled, 24/7 IT Help Desk, services from the Hodges Library, and e-tutoring. To apply, students must have a completed bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.7 GPA. A complete admissions packet includes an application form (with fee), official transcripts, a current resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Online graduates are welcome to attend the on-campus graduation ceremony.

#24 Boise State University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,830
  • Median Salary: $61,400
  • Locations: Boise (ID)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The Master of Social Work degree from Boise State University requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, though an advanced track is available for those who have already completed a Bachelor of Social Work. This degree emphasizes social justice and research. Students will complete a field practicum that spans 14 weeks. The full MSW program requires 1,000 supervised hours, while the advanced standing program requires 600 hours. A field coordinator assists students in finding appropriate placements. The entire curriculum requires 61 credits (31 credits for advanced standing) and can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Coursework can be accessed anytime, and instructors use tools such as PowerPoint presentations, videos, and discussion forums. Distance learners can work with a student success coach and have access to Albertsons Library resources, career services, online tutoring, and veteran-specific, educational benefits. Candidates must have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, practice in the field of social work, the ability to pass a criminal background check, and submit a personal essay and recommendation letters. 

Comprehensive List of Online MSW Programs by State:

ALABAMA

There are three levels of social work licensure available in the state of Alabama. Individuals with a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree in social work are eligible to become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW). Candidates must pass the board exam and then complete two years of supervised practice. To become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in Alabama, individuals must have a masters or doctoral degree in social work and pass a board exam. After becoming an LMSW and receiving two years of supervision, you are eligible to take the exam to become a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). All three levels of licensure are renewed every two years and require 30 hours of continuing education each renewal period.

There are currently no schools in Alabama offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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ALASKA

The state of Alaska has three levels of social work licensure: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). All three require passing a board exam but differ when it comes to education and experience requirements. The LBSW requires a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree in social work. To earn an LMSW, one must have a master's or doctoral degree in the field. An LCSW also requires a master's or doctoral degree as well as minimum of two years and 3000 hours of clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW or licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. All three levels of license are renewed on June 30th of even numbered years, and require 45 hours of board approved continuing education each renewal cycle.

There are currently no schools in Alaska offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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ARIZONA

The state of Arizona has three levels of social work licensure. The Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) requires a bachelor's degree in social work and the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) requires a master's degree in social work. For both licenses, the social work degree must be earned from a CSWE-accredited program and individuals must pass a board exam. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) requires an accredited graduate degree in the field, with the addition of 3200 hours of supervised work experience completed in no less than 24 months, and passing the clinical level of the social work board exam. All three levels require 30 hours of continuing education per two year license renewal period.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Arizona State University $16,175 Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
# Capella University $14,987 Multiple Locations
# Northcentral University $17,917 Prescott Valley (AZ)
# Northern Arizona University $19,970 Flagstaff (AZ)
# Chamberlain University $13,940 Multiple Locations

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ARKANSAS

The state of Arkansas has three levels of social work licensure. Becoming a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) requires a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and passing the board exam. The Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) is similar to the LSW but requires a master's degree or higher in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. The Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) requires having worked for two years and 4000 hours under supervision as an LMSW, and passing the appropriate board exam. All three levels of licensure must complete 48 hours of continuing education within each two year renewal period.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of Arkansas $21,526 Fayetteville (AR)
# University of Arkansas at Little Rock $19,790 Little Rock (AR)

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CALIFORNIA

The state of California has two levels of social work licensure. Individuals with a CSWE-accredited MSW are eligibly to become Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASWs) if they successfully pass a board exam and the California Law and Ethics exam. Those who received their MSW from an out-of-state school must also complete an 18 hour California Law and Professional Ethics course. Once registered as an ASW, social workers can begin to accrue the two years and 3,200 hours of supervised experience needed to apply for the second level of licensure, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Eighteen hours of continuing education credit are required each one year renewal period.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work $45,561 Multiple Locations
# California State University-Northridge $17,831 Northridge (CA)
# Brandman University $12,080 Multiple Locations
# California State University-San Bernardino $17,860 San Bernardino (CA)
# Humboldt State University $18,613 Arcata (CA)
# University of Southern California $45,561 Los Angeles (CA)

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COLORADO

The state of Colorado only offers two licenses for social workers: the LSW and the LCSW. Applicants with only a bachelor’s degree in social work are not able to attain a license in Colorado as the LSW and the LCSW are only for those at the master’s degree level. Since 2009, those looking to apply for an LCSW license have been required to first obtain an LSW (provisional license). The LSW requirements include passing the ASWB exam and the Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Exam. The LCSW also requires a minimum of 3,360 supervised work hours, including 96 direct contact hours. People who have a social work license from another state must complete the License by Endorsement Application and provide proof that they have passed the ASWB exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of Denver $49,695 Denver (CO)
# Colorado State University-Fort Collins $27,321 Fort Collins (CO)
# Metropolitan State University of Denver $14,008 Denver (CO)

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CONNECTICUT

An applicant looking to apply for the LCSW license in Connecticut must meet the following requirements: hold a master’s or doctoral degree from a CSWE-accredited program, have completed at least 3,000 hours of post-degree social work experience with a minimum of 100 hours of work experience under direct supervision by a licensed clinical or certified independent social worker, and provide proof of successful completion of the Clinical Level ASWB Examination. Applicants trained outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for a social worker license in the state of Connecticut if they meet the equivalent requirements. For a Master’s Level Social Worker license, applicants must meet the following requirements: hold a master’s degree from an accredited social work program or, if educated outside the United States, have completed an educational program deemed by the CSWE to be equivalent to an accredited social work program.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Sacred Heart University $26,524 Fairfield (CT)

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DELAWARE

Social workers hoping to practice independently in Delaware must hold an LCSW. Requirements for this licensure include an MSW or doctorate in the field, at least 3,200 hours of clinical experience, 1,600 supervised clinical hours, and a passing score on the ASWB exam. Social workers who have already passed the ASWB exam and hold a current clinical social work license in another state or U.S. territory can apply by reciprocity.

There are currently no schools in Delaware offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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FLORIDA

To be licensed to practice as a clinical social worker in Florida, an individual must have at least a master’s degree in social work from an accredited institution, have completed 24 semester hours or 32 quarter hours in theory of human behavior and practice methods with at least one course in psychopathology, and a supervised field placement as part of the educational program during which the individual has worked directly with clients. Additionally, the applicant must have completed 2 years of post-degree work experience under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker. The applicant must also pass the ASWB national clinical level examination and have completed an 8-hour laws and rules course as well as a 3-hour HIV/AIDS course and 2-hour domestic violence course within 6 months of licensure.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Saint Leo University Online $8,498 St. Leo (FL)
# University of South Florida Online $21,126 Tampa (FL)
# Florida State University $26,707 Tallahassee (FL)
# The University of West Florida $24,894 Pensacola (FL)
# University of South Florida - Sarasota-Manatee $20,737 Sarasota (FL)
# Chamberlain University $13,940 Multiple Locations
# University of Central Florida $28,657 Orlando (FL) (and 7 others)

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GEORGIA

Social workers in Georgia are required to possess a master’s in social work in order to practice in the state. Those with a bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited program are allowed to practice social work under the supervision of an experienced social worker. In order to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), you must take the master’s level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam within one year of graduation from your master’s program. The exam takes about 4 hours, consists of 170 multiple choice questions, and costs $260 plus the application fee which is $25. Once you have passed the exam, you must then apply for licensure by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.

There are currently no schools in Georgia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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HAWAII

To become a licensed social worker in Hawaii, the applicant must hold a master’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the CSWE or hold a doctoral degree from a social work program that is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Applicants must then pass the Association of Social Work Boards’ clinical level national examination. Also, applicants must complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work after graduation. This clinical work is required to be completed in no fewer than 2 years and no more than 5 years.

There are currently no schools in Hawaii offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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IDAHO

There are three levels of social work licensure in Idaho: LSW, LMSW, and LCSW. To become an LSW, you must have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program and you must pass the ASWB exam. Graduates of an MSW or doctoral program in social work are eligible to become LMSWs. To do so, they must pass the ASWB master's level exam. After receiving your LMSW license and completing 3,000 hours of supervised practice, you are eligible to become an LCSW in the state.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Boise State University $25,276 Boise (ID)

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ILLINOIS

Social work licensure in Illinois is available to those who hold either a bachelor’s (BSW) or master’s in social work (MSW). Applicants with a BSW can become Licensed Social Workers (LSWs) once they obtain 3 years of supervised experience after completing their bachelor’s degree program and pass the ASWB exam. Those with an MSW can become LSWs after passing the exam without any years of experience. Individuals with an MSW or doctorate in the field can become Licensed Clinical Social Workers after passing the ASWB exam and completing 3,000 hours of supervised practice.

There are currently no schools in Illinois offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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INDIANA

Social workers in Indiana can be licensed at the bachelor's or master’s level. To become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), applicants must pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. MSW graduates or BSW graduates with two years of supervised experience can become Licensed Social Workers (LSWs) in Indiana after passing the ASWB master's level exam. To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state, you must have an MSW and have completed 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in addition to passing the clinical ASWB exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Purdue University Global $11,414 Indianapolis (IN)
# Indiana Wesleyan University Online $11,563 Marion (IN)
# IUPUI $24,542 Indianapolis (IN)

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IOWA

There are three types of social work license that can be received in Kansas: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker, and Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker. A Licensed Bachelor Social Worker needs to have a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. A Licensed Master Social Worker needs a CSWE-accredited MSW and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. Finally, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker needs to hold a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, pass the ASWB Clinical Competency Exam, and complete 4,000 hours of post-graduate clinical social work.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Dordt University $5,860 Sioux Center (IA)
# Saint Ambrose University $17,236 Davenport (IA)
# University of Iowa $30,277 Iowa City (IA)

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KANSAS

There are three types of social work license that can be received in Kansas: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker, and Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker. A Licensed Bachelor Social Worker needs to have a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. A Licensed Master Social Worker needs a CSWE-accredited MSW and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. Finally, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker needs to hold a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, pass the ASWB Clinical Competency Exam, and complete 4,000 hours of post-graduate clinical social work.

There are currently no schools in Kansas offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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KENTUCKY

Kentucky has three types of social work certifications: Licensed Social Workers, Certified Social Workers, and Licensed Clinical Social Workers. For all three types of certifications, the application process must be completed before the appropriate ASWB exam can be taken. For a Licensed Social Worker, along with the application one must have a bachelor's in social work. For a Certified Social Worker, applicants must have an MSW. For a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, an MSW or doctorate in social work is required as well as documentation of at least two years of supervised clinical practice post-graduation and having passed the ASWB clinical exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of Kentucky $31,364 Lexington (KY)
# University of Pikeville $8,100 Pikeville (KY)
# University of Louisville $26,650 Louisville (KY)
# Western Kentucky University $17,980 Bowling Green (KY)
# Brescia University $800 Owensboro (KY)
# Campbellsville University $10,380 Campbellsville (KY)

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LOUISIANA

Louisiana offers four types of social work licenses: Registered Social Worker, Certified Social Worker, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Board Approved Clinical Supervisor. Aspiring Registered Social Workers applicant needs a bachelor's or master's in social work from an accredited program. Applicants for a Certified Social Worker license need an MSW from an accredited program and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, you must have an MSW from an accredited program, 5,760 hours of post-graduate social work practice, 3,840 hours of supervised experience, 96 face-to-face hours of supervision, and must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Louisiana offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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MAINE

Maine offers five different social work licenses: Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Social Worker (Conditional), Licensed Master Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker (Conditional Clinical), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. A Licensed Social Worker needs a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited program and must successfully pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. For those without a degree in social work, a Licensed Social Worker (Conditional) needs a bachelor's Degree in a sufficiently related field, evidence of employment in a social work setting, and four supervised social work practice hours per month. A Licensed Master Social Worker needs a master's degree in social work from an accredited institution and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. A Licensed Master Social Worker (Conditional Clinical) needs all the required documentation of a Licensed Master Social Worker and completion of the board provided clinical consultation form signed by the LCSW or the CSW-IP engaged as the consultant (An Agreement to Provide Consultation Form). A Licensed Clinical Social Worker needs a Master's Degree in Social Work from an accredited program, Verification of the Consultation Form, and Passage of the ASWB Clinical Exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of Maine $26,944 Orono (ME)
# University of New England $20,525 Biddeford (ME)

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MARYLAND

There are four types of social work licensure in Maryland: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Graduate Social Worker, Licensed Certified Social Worker, and Licensed Certified Social Worker - Clinical. LBSWs must have a CSWE-accredited BSW and pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. LGSWs must hold an MSW and pass the ASWB master's level exam. The certified social worker license requires an MSW, as well as 3,000 hours of supervised practice as an LGSW. A Licensed Certified Social Worker - Clinical is similar to a Licensed Certified Social Worker. However, an LCSW - Clinical must have 12 credits of clinical coursework in his or her master's program to be eligible for clinical licensure.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Morgan State University $16,785 Baltimore (MD)
# Salisbury University $15,111 Salisbury (MD)

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MASSACHUSETTS

The Board of Registration of Social Work in Massachusetts determines eligibility to take licensure examinations at one of four levels of licensure: Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). LSWA is the lowest level of licensure and require a bachelor's degree in any field, an associate degree in human services, or 1000 educational hours in social work that have been approved by the ASWB. If you hold a bachelor's in any field, you can become an LSW after completing 3,500 hours of supervised experience in the field. Individuals with a BSW can become an LSW without the aforementioned hours of experience. An LCSW in Massachusetts must have an MSW in the field. To become an LICSW, you must have a current LCSW, 3,500 hours of supervised clinical experience, and 100 hours of one-on-one supervision from an LICSW. At all levels of licensure, individuals must pass the relevant ASWB exam in addition to educational and experiential requirements.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Regis College $41,585 Weston (MA)
# Boston University $53,572 Boston (MA)
# Simmons University School of Social Work $21,894 Boston (MA)
# Simmons University $21,894 Boston (MA)

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MICHIGAN

Michigan has two levels of social work licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). To be eligible for the LBSW, you must have graduated from a CSWE-accredited BSW program and have completed 4,000 hours of supervised social work practice over a period of two or more years. the applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree in social work and have at least 4,000 hours of post-degree social work experience over at least a two-year period. To be eligible for a Master Social Worker License (LMSW), you must have graduated with an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and have completed at least 4,000 hours of supervised work experience in social work over at least a two-year period. The work experience must be in the area of the license designation: either Clinical, Macro (administrative), or both.

There are currently no schools in Michigan offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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MINNESOTA

To be eligible to apply for an LSW license in Minnesota, the applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited social work educational program and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelors level social work licensure examination. To apply for LGSW licensure, the applicant must have a graduate degree in social work and a passing score on the masters level national social work licensure examination. Applicants for the LISW license must have a graduate degree in social work and pass the ASWB advanced generalist level social work examination. The LICSW licensure application requires a graduate degree in social work and at least 360 clinical hours, including hours in clinical intervention methods, culturally specific clinical context, and psychopathology.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Walden University Not Provided Minneapolis (MN)
# Capella University $14,987 Multiple Locations
# Saint Mary's University of Minnesota $9,000 Winona (MN)
# University of St. Thomas $26,185 Saint Paul (MN)
# Winona State University $11,278 Winona (MN)

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MISSISSIPPI

A social worker who wants to become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in Mississippi must have a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and must pass the ASWB licensure examination. For licensure at the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) level, you must submit verification of a master's degree from a CSWE-accredited school of social work or of a doctorate in social work (D.S.W. or Ph.D.) and you must pass the ASWB master's level exam. Applicants for the Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) level must have a master's in the field, two years of post-master's supervised clinical experience, and have passed the ASWB clinical exam./p>

There are currently no schools in Mississippi offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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MISSOURI

In the state of Missouri, Licensed Baccalaureate Social Workers (LBSW) and Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW) follow one process for licensure, while Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Licensed Advanced Macro Social Workers (LAMSW) follow another. The LBSW/LMSW process includes filling out an application, submitting official college transcripts, undergoing a background check, and passing an exam. The LCSW/LAMSW process involves having a current LMSW license, filling out an application, registering supervision, completing 3,000 hours of supervised experience within a 24-48 month time frame, and passing the exam. In both cases, the Committee for Social Workers will notify the applicant in writing to schedule the exam once their application is approved, and issue licenses once successful exam results are confirmed. LCSWs and LAMSWs must remain supervised until they pass the exam and receive their license.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Missouri State University $11,114 Springfield (MO)
# Chamberlain University $13,940 Multiple Locations
# University of Missouri $25,351 Columbia (MO)

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MONTANA

There is only one level of social work licensure in the state of Montana: Licenced Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Attaining licensure as an LCSW requires possessing an MSW or Doctor of Social Work degree, completing 3,000 hours of supervised, post-degree psychotherapy completed in no fewer than 2 years. Prospective LCSWs must also pass the ASWB clinical exam. Active LCSWs in the state must complete 20 hours of continuing education credits every year.

There are currently no schools in Montana offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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NEBRASKA

Nebraska offers two different credentials for licensed social workers; Certified Social Worker and Certified Master Social Worker. Unlike most other social work licenses, a Certified Social Worker license in the state of Nebraska does not require passing the ASWB exam. In order to be eligible for this license, individuals must have a bachelor's degree or higher in social work. In contrast, a Certified Master Social Worker must have a master's or doctorate in social work from a CSWE-approved program, complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience practicing as a social worker, and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Nebraska offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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NEVADA

Nevada has three levels of licensure for social workers: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). Those seeking to become an LSW need to have a bachelor's or master's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. They must pass either the bachelor's or master's level ASWB exam in order to receive a license from the state. To earn an LCSW license, individuals must have an MSW and must have passed the clinical ASWB exam. Social workers who want to work independently but not practice clinical social work can pursue Independent Social Work licensure. To become an LICSW in Nevada, you must have an MSW or doctorate in social work as well as 3,000 of supervised practice. Candidates must also have passed the advanced ASWB exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of Nevada - Reno $20,047 Reno (NV)

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

The only option for social work licensure in New Hampshire is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). All candidates for LICSW licensure in the state must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program with a focus on clinical social work. Individuals must also have two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience or a total of 3,000 hours. Lastly, prospective LICSWs in New Hampshire must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in New Hampshire offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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NEW JERSEY

New Jersey has three levels of social work licensing: Certified Social Worker (CSW); Licensed Social Worker (LSW); Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). To become a CSW, applicants must have received a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited program. No exam is required for this level of licensure. Applicants for the LSW must hold an MSW and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become an LCSW, applicants must have completed an MSW program that included at least 12 graduate credit hours in clinical social work. In addition, they must pass the ASWB clinical exam and complete two years or 1,920 hours of face-to-face clinical social work in order to be eligible for LCSW licensure.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus $23,802 Teaneck (NJ)
# Rutgers University $31,488 New Brunswick (NJ)
# Rutgers University-Camden $30,758 Camden (NJ)

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NEW MEXICO

The Board of Social Work Examiners in New Mexico provides three levels of licensure: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). LBSW applicants must have a bachelor's in social work from a CSWE-accredited school and must pass both the state jurisprudence exam and the ASWB bachelor's level exam. Prospective LMSWs must have an MSW and pass the state jurisprudence exam and the ASWB master's level exam. After attaining an LMSW license, individuals can pursue an LCSW. In New Mexico, an LCSW must already have an LMSW, must complete at least two years of post-graduate supervised clinical work, and must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in New Mexico offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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NEW YORK

In the state of New York, there are two forms of social work licensure: Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). To become an LMSW you must have a master's degree in social work and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. For an LCSW, applicants must have completed an MSW that included at least 12 hours of clinical courses and they must have completed a minimum of 3 years of post-graduate supervised clinical work.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Columbia University in the City of New York $48,390 New York (NY)
# Fordham University $34,363 Bronx (NY)
# Adelphi University $42,085 Garden City (NY)
# University at Buffalo $25,265 Buffalo (NY)

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NORTH CAROLINA

There are multiple levels of social work licensure available in North Carolina: Certified Social Worker (CSW), Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA), and Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM). Applicants for a CSW must have a bachelor's degree in social work and must pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. Applicants for the CMSW must have an MSW, a DSW, or a PhD in social work and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become an LCSW, you must have an MSW or higher in the field, pass the ASWB clinical level exam, and have 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. The LCSWA is an option for aspiring clinical social workers who have not yet completed the LCSW requirements. LSCWAs must pass the ASWB clinical exam within their initial licensure period and should be working to complete the required supervision hours during that time period. To become a CSWM, applicants must have either a BSW, MSW, DSW, or PhD in social work. They must also pass the ASWB advanced generalist level exam, have 3,000 hours or two years of post-graduate experience, and a minimum of 100 supervised hours by a Social Work Administrator.

There are currently no schools in North Carolina offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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NORTH DAKOTA

There are three levels of licensure in North Dakota: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). Applicants for the LSW must have a bachelor's degree in social work and must pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam within one year of submitting their application. Applicants for the LCSW must have a master's degree in social work and pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become an LICSW, applicants must have an MSW, pass the ASWB clinical level exam, and complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work within 4 years of their graduation.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of North Dakota $23,435 Grand Forks (ND)

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OHIO

Ohio has two different levels of social work licensure: Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). LSWs must hold either a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate in social work from an accredited school and must pass the ASWB bachelor's or master's exam. To become an LISW, you must have already have an LSW and a CSWE-accredited MSW. You must also complete an additional 24 months of supervised social work which includes a minimum of 3,000 hours of social work practice and 150 hours of face-to-face training supervision. After completing the required hours of experience, you must then pass the ASWB clinical or advanced exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Ohio University-Main Campus $17,712 Athens (OH)
# Case Western Reserve University $45,204 Cleveland (OH)
# Chamberlain University $13,940 Multiple Locations
# Ohio State University-Main Campus $34,929 Columbus (OH) (and 2 others)
# Ohio University-Chillicothe Campus Not Provided Chillicothe (OH)

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OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma issues licenses to five different levels of social workers: Licensed Social Worker Associate (LSWA), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Social Worker-Administration (LSW-Adm). Eligibility requirements to become an LSWA include completing a BSW, MSW, or doctoral degree in social work and passing the ASWB exam at either the bachelor's or master's level. LMSWs must have an MSW and must pass the ASWB exam. To become an LSW in Oklahoma, you must have an MSW, two years of post-graduate supervised social work experience, and must pass the ASWB exam. An LCSW is similar to an LSW; however, you must have completed two years of supervised clinical practice to be eligible to become an LCSW. Lastly, you can become an LSW-Adm if you have a master's degree in the field and two years of supervised experience practicing administrative social work.

There are currently no schools in Oklahoma offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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OREGON

The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers issues four different types of social work licenses. There are two non-clinical options: Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). The RBSW requires a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited institution and a passing score on the ASWB bachelor's level exam. The LMSW requires an MSW and a passing score on the ASWB master's level exam. Those seeking to practice clinical social work can pursue Clinical Social Work Associates licensure or become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). A Clinical Social Worker Associate (CSWA) must have an MSW and submit a plan for completing the required 3,500 supervised practice hours. After your CSWA application is approved, you must carry out that plan and pass both the ASWB clinical exam and the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam. Once those criteria have been completed, you can apply for an LCSW.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Portland State University $18,420 Portland (OR)

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PENNSYLVANIA

The State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors regulates the licensing of social workers in Pennsylvania. Most licenses require a master's degree, though provisional licenses can be obtained by aspiring social workers who meet the criteria of having a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree, three years of supervised work experience, and proof of current enrollment in an MSW program. Licensed Social Worker (LSW) requirements include having an accredited graduate degree and passing the ASWB master's level exam. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) applicants must have an LSW and complete 3,000 hours of Board-certified work experience, 1,500 hours of which must be spent performing specific duties that include assessment, consultation and therapy. They must then pass the ASWB clinical exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Widener University $22,600 Chester (PA)
# Cairn University $12,384 Langhorne (PA)
# Edinboro University of Pennsylvania $23,780 Edinboro (PA)
# Temple University $23,588 Philadelphia (PA)
# California University of Pennsylvania $24,124 California (PA)

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RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island provides licensure for Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSWs). Requirements for obtaining an LCSW include having a graduate degree in social work from an accredited university or college and passing the ASWB master's level exam. No work or field experience is required for this license. The LICSW, however, requires a graduate level degree in social work from an accredited university, plus 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work, 1,500 hours of which must include direct client contact. Applicants must also successfully pass the clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Rhode Island offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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SOUTH CAROLINA

There are three levels of social work licensure in South Carolina: LBSW, LMSW, and LISW. To become an LBSW, you must have a degree in social work from program accredited by the CSWE and must pass the ASWB exam. LMSW licensure requires an MSW or doctorate in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and a passing score on the ASWB masters level examination. There are two levels to the (LISW): clinical and advanced practice. To become a clinical LISW, applicants must have a master's or doctoral degree and must complete 20 continuing education contact hours or 15 academic contact hours in professional ethics during their supervision period as well as 3,000 hours of supervised social work practice. They must also pass the ASWB's Clinical level exam. The advanced Licensed Independent Social Worker must complete all of the above and must pass the ASWB's Advanced Advanced Generalist level exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Winthrop University $29,714 Rock Hill (SC)

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SOUTH DAKOTA

There are four social work licensure levels available in South Dakota. The Social Worker Associate license requires a BS in a non-social work field or an AA in a human services major approved by the board plus a passing grade on the ASWB exam. Social Worker Associates can only practice under supervision. The Social Worker license requires a CSWE-accredited BS in social work plus a passing grade on the ASWB exam. The Certified Social Worker requires a doctorate or master's in social work as well as a passing score on the ASWB exam. Certified Social Worker to engage in Private, Independent Practice is the highest level of licensure and requires a current Certified Social Worker license as well as two years of experience under a licensed social worker and a passing grade on the Board exam.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# University of South Dakota $12,249 Vermillion (SD)

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TENNESSEE

Tennessee has four levels for their social worker licensure. The Baccalaureate Social Worker requires a BS in social work and a passing score on the ASWB bachelor's exam. The Master's Social Worker requires a master's in social work from an accredited institution and a passing sore on the ASWB master's level exam. The Advanced Practice Social Worker required a master's or doctorate in the field, a passing score on the ASWB advanced generalist exam, and at least two years of supervised practice amounting to 3,000 hours of non-clinical experience. The Clinical Social Worker license has the same requirements as the Advanced Practice Social Worker except the 3,000 hours of supervised practice must be clinical.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# The University of Tennessee - Knoxville $31,808 Knoxville (TN)
# University of Memphis $19,481 Memphis (TN)

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TEXAS

There are three social work license levels in Texas. The LBSW requires a bachelor's of social work and a passing score on both the state jurisprudence exam and the ASWB exam. The LMSW and the LCSW must meet the same requirements except their degree must come from a master's in social work program and they must present evidence of qualifying supervision/experience. Texas also offers several specialty recognitions for LMSWs, including an advanced practitioner recognition and independent non-clinical practice recognition.

School Annual Tuition Locations
# Our Lady of the Lake University $17,142 San Antonio (TX)
# The University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley $14,359 Edinburg (TX)
# University of Houston $18,465 Houston (TX)
# Texas State University $16,749 San Marcos (TX)

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UTAH

In Utah, there are three primary levels of social work licensure. To become a Social Service Worker, applicants must have bachelor's degree in social work or a master's degree in psychology, mental counseling, or Marriage and Family Therapy. All applicants must also take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor's exam. Certified Social Workers must have a master's or doctorate in social work and pass the ASWB Master's or Clinical exam in order to receive their license. Applicants to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) must already be a Certified Social Worker and have passed the ASWB clinical exam. They must have also completed 4,000 hours of experience as a licensed CSW.

There are currently no schools in Utah offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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VERMONT

In Vermont, generalist social workers do not require a license, but in order to practice clinical social work a license is required. To be a licensed clinical social worker in Vermont, you must possess a Master of Social Work or Doctorate in Social Work by an accredited program. There are two types of licenses: licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). Besides the master’s or doctorate degree, applicants must pass the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam, which costs $230 for the exam fee and $25 for the application fee. To become a LMSW, you must pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination and submit your application along with a $100 fee to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The LICSW includes the same requirements plus you must register as a non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapist with the OPR, and complete 3,000 hours of clinical work if you have not already received a LMSW, or 2,000 hours if you have already received a LMSW.

There are currently no schools in Vermont offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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VIRGINIA

Licensed social workers in Virginia must have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. To become a Baccalaureate Licensed Social Worker (LSW), applicants must submit an application to the Virginia Board of Social Work, with the $100 fee, and an official transcript from their college. A baccalaureate candidate must have completed a minimum of 3,000 supervised hours after their degree. 100 of those hours must be face-to-face supervision, and no more than 4 hours and no fewer than 1 hour of this face-to-face supervision must be fulfilled for every 40 hours of work. This must be competed in 2 – 4 years after graduation. Applicants must then pass the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam, which costs $230 for the exam fee and $25 for the application fee. A Master’s Licensed Social Worker (LSW) must complete the same process except for the supervision hours which are not required.

There are currently no schools in Virginia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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WASHINGTON

There are 3 licenses available in Washington: licensed advanced social worker, licensed independent clinical social worker, and associate-advanced and independent clinical license. Applicants for the licensed advanced social worker must have a master’s or doctorate in social work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and include official transcripts with their application. Applicants must also have at least 3,200 hours of supervised experience after graduation. 90 of these hours must be under the supervision of a licensed associate social worker (LASW) and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). 50 of those 90 hours must be under direct supervision by a LASW or LICSW and can include group supervision or one-to-one supervision. The remaining 40 hours may be with a licensed mental health practitioner and must be one-on-one supervision. Applicants must also pass the American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam and complete 36 hours continuing education. 6 of those hours being in professional law and ethics. To become a licensed independent clinical social worker, applicants must complete all of the same requirements except they must have a minimum of 4,000 hours of supervised experience over three years. 1,000 of those hours must be supervised by a LICSW. 70 hours must be under direct supervision by a LICSW and can include group supervision or one-to-one supervision. 60 hours may be with a licensed mental health practitioner and must be one-on-one supervision. For the associate-advanced and independent clinical license, applicants must have a master’s or doctorate degree, answer a number of personal data questions, and complete 4 hours of HIV/AIDS training.

There are currently no schools in Washington offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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WASHINGTON, D.C

People who wish to practice social work in the District of Columbia may apply for a license after completing the appropriate degree from an accredited social work educational program, passing the ASWB exam, and obtaining work experience. Applicants by examination must provide an official transcript from their institution appropriate to the level of their social work application. The Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA) requires at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. The Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) requires a master’s degree or doctorate in social work. The Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) and the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) both require a master’s degree or doctorate in social work and 3,000 post-degree work hours.

There are currently no schools in the District of Columbia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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WEST VIRGINIA

There are three license types in West Virginia: regular license, temporary permit, and provisional license. The regular license has 4 levels: (1) Level A – Social Worker; (2) Level B – Graduate Social Worker; (3) Level C – Certified Social Worker; and (4) Level D – Independent Clinical Social Worker. Level A requires a bachelor’s degree in social work, a passing grade on the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Basic level exam, and an application along with a fee. Level B requires a master’s degree in social work, a passing grade on the ASWB Intermediate exam, plus the application and fee. Level C requires a master’s in social work, two years post-graduation experience, a passing grade on the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam, along with the application and fee. For the Level D license applicants must hold a master’s, Ph.D., or DSW degree in social work, a completed supervised clinical field placement at the graduate level, or its equivalent, and they must have completed a graduate course in abnormal psychology, psychopathology or an equivalent course. The supervision must consist of either two years or 3,000 hours with 60 hours being face-to-face individual or group supervision with the clinical supervisor. The temporary permit allows applicants to practice social work while waiting to take their ASWB exam and the provisional license allows social workers to practice on a very limited basis.

There are currently no schools in West Virginia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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WISCONSIN

Wisconsin has 5 levels for licensed social workers: social worker training certificate (SWTC), certified social worker (CSW), certified advanced practice social worker (CAPSW), certified independent social worker (CISW), and certified licensed clinical social worker (CLCSW). To receive a SWTC, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in sociology, psychology, criminal justice or another approved human service program. Your coursework must include an introductory course, a professional ethics and value course, a qualitative and quantitative social research methods and statistics course, and a senior seminar capstone course. The application must be submitted along with transcripts and a $10 fee. To become a CSW, applicants must have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree in social work. The applicant must then pass the Wisconsin open-book exam, as well as the Association of Social Work Board bachelor’s exam, which costs $230. A substance abuse specialty authorization program is also required, along with an application and the $165 fee. To become a CAPSW, applicants must fulfill the same requirements as the CSW except they must pass the ASWB master’s exam. To obtain a CISW license, applicants must fulfill the same requirements as both the CSW and CAPSW, along with 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised social work. 1,000 of those hours must include face-to-face work with clients and DSM diagnosis and treatment. They must also pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam. The requirements for the CLCSW are the same as the CISW except applicants must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Wisconsin offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Wyoming

There are two levels of social work licensure offered by the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board: Certified Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Those who wish to become Certified Social Workers must have completed a bachelor’s degree program in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and must pass the ASWB examination at the bachelor’s or master’s level. Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker requires an MSW, passing the ASWB clinical exam, and completing at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience. 

There are currently no schools in Wyoming offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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MSW Degree Tracks and Specializations

Some online Master of Social Work programs have several specialization tracks. The specialization options allow students the opportunity to focus on coursework that directly relates to their future career path of choice. For example, Walden University offers concentration tracks in advanced clinical practice, military social work, and social work with children and families. Sacred Heart University has clinical and community specializations. Boston University offers clinical and macro tracks. Students can usually complete their degrees in about two years of full-time enrollment.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs

School Annual Tuition
# Adelphi University $42,085
# Boise State University $25,276
# Boston University $53,572
# Brescia University $800
# Columbia University in the City of New York $48,390
# Dominican University $20,660
# Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus $23,802
# Florida State University $26,707
# Indiana Wesleyan University Online $11,563
# Metropolitan State University of Denver $14,008
# Northcentral University $17,917
# Northern Arizona University $19,970
# Ohio State University-Main Campus $34,929
# Ohio University-Main Campus $17,712
# Our Lady of the Lake University $17,142
# Portland State University $18,420
# Regis College $41,585
# Rutgers University $31,488
# Saint Leo University Online $8,498
# Saint Mary's University of Minnesota $9,000
# University at Buffalo $25,265
# University of Arkansas $21,526
# University of Central Florida $28,657
# University of Denver $49,695
# University of Kentucky $31,364
# University of Louisville $26,650
# University of Maine $26,944
# University of Memphis $19,481
# University of Missouri $25,351
# University of Nevada - Reno $20,047
# University of North Alabama $12,980
# University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus $23,236
# University of South Dakota $12,249
# University of South Florida Online $21,126
# University of Southern California $45,561
# The University of Tennessee - Knoxville $31,808
# Walden University Not Provided
# West Virginia University $25,776
# Western Kentucky University $17,980
# Widener University $22,600
# Winthrop University $29,714

An advanced standing MSW program allows students with undergraduate education in social work to earn their graduate degrees at an accelerated rate. Schools that offer online MSW degrees include Sacred Heart University, the University of Southern California and Boston University.

To be accepted to an advanced standing program, students need BSW from a CSWE-accredited school. Some schools have a minimum GPA requirement and other admissions criteria. For example, the MSW programs at Sacred Heart and BU programs require students to have a 3.0 GPA. Undergraduate degrees must come from schools accredited by the CSWE. Additionally, Sacred Heart and BU accept undergraduate degrees less than six years old, whereas USC accepts degrees less than five years old.

Clinical MSW Programs

School Annual Tuition
# Columbia University in the City of New York $48,390
# IUPUI $24,542
# Sacred Heart University $26,524
# Saint Leo University Online $8,498
# Samford University $17,865
# Temple University $23,588
# University of Denver $49,695
# Walden University Not Provided

A clinical track MSW prepares students for careers as licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). All states require LCSWs to have master's degrees in social work. Clinical programs focus on skills that prepare students to treat patients with behavioral or mental disorders in health care and human services environments. For example, students in the clinical social work curriculum at Boston University learn assessment, diagnosis, and treatment skills and apply them in clinical practicums. LCSWs are usually required to work under supervision in a clinical setting for two years after they graduate from their degree program before they get their state license.

How do clinical track and non-clinical track programs differ?

Non-clinical social workers pursue careers in health care practices, public health agencies, and other non-profit organizations. Unlike LSCWs they do not diagnose and treat patients. Non-clinical MSW degree curricula focus on topics such as social welfare policy and human behavior. Students also do fieldwork practicums but do not perform diagnosis and treatment.

Clinical social work programs are ideal for students who know that they want a career in clinical practice. Non-clinical social work degree tracks allow graduate students to specialize in important areas outside of clinical practice such as social welfare and policy. The main disadvantage is that non-clinical graduates who desire to shift their careers to clinical practice will not be able to do so without additional education.

The MSW Curriculum

Online MSW students can expect to begin with foundational courses to learn the theory that supports practicum experiences required by their degree program and their future professional careers. After completing foundational courses, students move into advanced practicum and research projects.

For example, Walden University students take courses such as Introduction to Social Work, Essential Skills for Social Work Practice, and Social Policy and Psychopathology for Social Work Practice. At Sacred Heart University, online MSW students take foundational courses such as Social Welfare as a Social Institution, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Human Diversity and Social Justice.

Students' curriculums also vary depending on their specialization tracks. For example, in the clinical social work curriculum at Boston University, students learn assessment, diagnosis and treatment skills supported by coursework in human behavior theory and evidence-based practice. They also apply theoretical coursework in three clinical practicums. The macro track in the Boston University online MSW covers multiple specialty areas and allows non-clinical students to prepare for a range of careers in social work.

Fieldwork and Capstone Requirements

MSW students also complete three to four fieldwork practicums during their degree program. Online MSW students in the Boston University clinical track complete individual, family and group clinical practicums. Students usually write a capstone paper based on their fieldwork experiences to complete their degree requirements.

Admission Requirements

To gain admission to an online MSW program, applicants need a bachelor's degree in any field. Some degree programs also have a minimum GPA requirement. For example, Sacred Heart and Boston University both require a 3.0 GPA. Some programs, such as the MSW at Sacred Heart University, offer advanced standing to students who have an undergraduate degree in social work. Students with an undergraduate degree in social work may be able to complete their MSW at an accelerated rate. For example, accelerated students in the Sacred Heart MSW program can complete their degree in one year.

Career Paths and Licensing Requirements

MSW graduates can pursue careers as clinical or non-clinical social workers.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers pursue career paths in various settings that include human service agencies, mental health clinics, schools, hospitals and schools. Licensed clinical social workers must usually complete two years of supervised practice after they graduate from an MSW program and meet the requirements of the state where they plan to practice.

Non-clinical social workers typically pursue careers in community organizations, hospitals and healthcare practices, public health agencies, and other non-profit organizations. Most states also have licensure or certification requirements for non-clinical social workers.

References

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