The job outlook for social work is expected to grow by 16% from 2016 to 2026 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With issues like the opioid epidemic, poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse, the demand for professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to provide solutions and resources increases. To make a difference and be effective, an online Master’s in social work degree is a must.

Who Are Social Workers?

Social workers provide valuable services to people who are struggling in some area of their life. Social workers identify individuals who need help, assess their situation, and provide access to information or resources. They work in a variety of settings from schools to nonprofits.

What Does a Master’s Degree Mean for a Social Worker?

Social workers should have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in social work. An advanced degree in social work, an MSW, provides professional training in social work and the opportunity to specialize. Social workers with their MSW also earn a higher salary and are able to provide better support to their clients. A master’s in social work is required to sit for the LCSW licensure exam.

What Are the Best Online Master’s in Social Work?

Online College Plan uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics to determine the best programs. We factor in academic reputation, affordability, and student satisfaction. All of the programs must be CSWE accredited.

For more information, check out these additional resources:
How Do MSW and LCSW Degrees Differ?
Are Online Masters Degree Programs Worth Taking?

  1. MERIT: 227

    Ohio State University offers a CSWE accredited online MSW through the College of Social Work. There are no on-campus requirements and both the Advanced Standing Alternative Program and the traditional MSW program are available in a flexible online format. The traditional program is open to students with an undergraduate degree in any area while the ASAP program is designed for students who completed a CSWE accredited social work program within the last five years. Both full and part-time students are welcome. The curriculum includes courses like Evidence in Social Work Practice and Professional Development. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of fields including mental health, substance abuse, and child and youth services.

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  2. MERIT: 219

    The iMSW in Leadership and Social Change Online Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an advanced standing program that includes a one semester internship. All required courses are available online, allowing students to effective balance school with other obligations. This five semester program includes courses in program evaluation, international social work, and leadership. There is no GRE requirement for admission, but students should have experience in human services and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

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  3. MERIT: 218

    The University of Central Florida Online features a reputable online MSW created specifically for students without their BSW or those who have earned their BSW more than five years ago.  This nine semester program offers elective courses that provide students with the opportunity for clinical specialization.  New students are admitted for the summer, fall, and spring semesters.  This CSWE accredited MSW is offered in a flexible part-time format and there are no on-campus residency requirements.

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  4. MERIT: 201

    The University at Buffalo School of Social Work offers one of the top online MSW programs in the country.  The program integrated both trauma-informed and human rights perspectives and is fully accredited by the CSWE.  A 60 credit hour traditional online MSW program is available to students with a bachelor’s degree in an area other than social work.  This three year program includes field experience and a variety of elective course offerings that create a personalized degree program.  The 35 credit hour advanced standing online MSW program is for students with their BSW and takes just 1.5 years to complete.  Courses include both asynchronous and synchronous components for a flexible online learning experience.

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  5. Indiana University
    MERIT: 192

    With foundational coursework in areas like diversity, human rights, and social justice, the MSW online program from Indiana University prepares students to work in many different areas. This 60 credit hour program is accredited by the CSWE. Students complete 30 credits of core social work courses and 30 credit hours of special practice areas courses. Elective course offerings reflect current needs including e-social work, telebehavioral health, and military social work.

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  6. MERIT: 181

    The Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston created an online MSW program for independent, self-motivated students. The flexible online schedule allows students to balance school with other obligations. Students are assigned to a cohort, developing professional relationships and a network of support. All students complete 900 clock hours of field work in their local area.

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  7. MERIT: 180

    As one of the most affordable online MSW programs in the nation, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville provides students with a top notch education without breaking the bank. Online courses are taught by the same professors who teach on-campus and students are held to the same high standards as their on-campus counterparts. Part-time, full-time, and advanced standing programs are available. Concentrations are offered in evidence-based interpersonal practice and organizational leadership.

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  8. MERIT: 179

    Inspiring and educating professionals, Salisbury University offers one of the top online MSW programs in the U.S. Courses are offered online through interactive live video and online instruction. Field education placements help students meet their professional goals and gain hands-on experience. Both full and part-time program options are available to accommodate working students.

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  9. MERIT: 178

    The University of New Hampshire Online is one of the top colleges for MSW students. UNH is a top-tier research university and courses are taught by full-time faculty who are experts in their field. This 62 credit hour program takes 28 months to complete. Students gain hands-on experience through a local field internship. Specialization areas include disabilities; health and mental health; addictions and substance abuse; and children, youth and families. Graduates are successful in roles like community health worker and mental health social worker.

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  10. MERIT: 173

    The affordable online MSW at the University of Arkansas is an advanced standing program open to students with their BSW. This one year, full-time program includes a year-long internship monitored by faculty at the School of Social Work. The cohort format provides students with support and the opportunity to network. Courses are delivered online, with a live internship field seminar each Tuesday night.

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  11. MERIT: 171

    George Mason University features an innovative online MSW program with specializations in either Adults and Healthy Aging or Children, Youth, and Families. Students will learn from faculty with real-world experience. The curriculum focuses on social justice and empowerment and prepares students to meet the needs of underserved populations. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

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  12. MERIT: 170

    Promoting social justice and building stronger communities are the goals of the online MSW. Students can choose from a variety of specializations including alcohol and drug counseling, gerontology, mental health, and psychosocial oncology. Courses are offered 100% online and there are no on-campus residency requirements. Students with and without their BSW are encouraged to apply. All students complete a practicum experience close to where they live.

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  13. MERIT: 167

    If your passion is helping populations of the Southwest, the affordable online MSW is a great choice. This advanced generalist program addresses the unique needs of individuals living in multicultural societies in the Southwest. The full-time program is available to fully online with no on-campus residency requirements. Traditional and advanced standing programs are offered. All students complete two field experiences to gain professional hands-on experience.

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  14. MERIT: 164

    The MSW online from Ohio University is an innovative program that prepares students to work in rural communities. Rural communities can lack vital clinical support and graduates are prepared to find solutions and fill this critical gap in care. There is no GRE required for admission. New students are admitted to the program three times a year. Both traditional and advanced standing program options are available.

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  15. MERIT: 161

    Delaware State University is a top HBCU offering the only MSW program in the state of Delaware. The program places emphasis on experiential learning and all students complete two practicums in their local area. Opportunities are available for faculty-student collaboration. Students gain an understanding of the effects of problems like poverty, racism, and health disparities in the U.S. and abroad. Graduates are prepared to sit for graduate licensing exams in their home states.

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  16. MERIT: 155

    The University of Kentucky College of Social Work has been one of the most reputable colleges for MSW students for over 80 years. UK offers a CSWE– accredited online MSW for on-your-time learning. Students with an accredited bachelor’s degree in an area other than social work can apply to the 60 credit hour regular standing program. The advanced standing program is available to students with their BSW and can be completed in just one year of full-time study. All students participate in the Field Education Program that provides students with real-world experience.

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  17. MERIT: 153

    Flexibility is key for the top online MSW program at Boise State University. All students pay the same low in-state tuition rate and there are no on-campus requirements, making this an incredibly affordable program for students on a budget. Boise State Online offers both full and advanced standing MSW programs accredited by the CSWE. The program is available to students in all 50 states.

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  18. MERIT: 153

    The online Master of Social Work from West Virginia University is a part-time program with advanced standing and regular standing program options. New students are admitted during the fall semester and all online students pay the low in-state tuition rate. Courses are offered in a convenient asynchronous format for maximum flexibility. Regular standing program students complete 900 clock hours of fieldwork. While there are no specific specializations, students can tailor the program to meet their professional goals through electives and class assignments.

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  19. MERIT: 147

    Morgan State University offers an online MSW with a commitment to alleviate some of the challenges faced by urban residents. The online program includes traditional and advanced standing options. Concentrations are available in urban children, youth, and families, and addictions. All courses are offered in a flexible online format and students have seven days to complete assignments/activities each week. Graduates are able to address issues of poverty, interpersonal and community violence, social injustice, and discrimination.

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  20. MERIT: 134

    The School of Graduate Studies at Edinboro University offers an MSW online that is both affordable and convenient. The program is delivered completely online with no on-campus visits required. A 15-month advanced standing program option is available for students who have earned their BSW in the last five years. Students with their undergraduate degree in another area can complete the traditional online program in two years. The program is available to students in all 50 states as well as those living abroad and in the military.

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