People interested in a career dedicated to helping others should consider an Online Master in Social Work. Social workers are hired to work a variety of jobs at hospitals and clinics, state and local governments, schools, and non-profit organizations. In this field, professionals help a range of clients in need of assistance such as disabled veterans, foster children, domestic violence victims, and more. Most people who choose to get into social work do it for the fulfillment of helping their community and people most in need. Salaries for social workers range from $46,108 to $67,610, but management and director positions often offer higher wages. One of the best ways a social worker can nab themselves a position on the higher end of the pay grade is with a Master in Social Work. And, even better, many highly ranked institutions offer this master’s degree online so professionals don’t have to stop working their full or part time job while studying. Here’s what to look for in an Online Master in Social Work.
In a traditional school setting, a six credit course meets for six hours of in-person teaching time per week. It’s essential that students going for their Master in Social Work get this same kind of personal teaching from their professors. While the teaching hours won’t take part in the classroom, the virtual schooling environment can bridge this gap with video conferencing, online forums, recorded lectures, and more. Perspective students should ensure the programs they are interested in offer enough teaching hours from real professors in real time rather than exclusively learning through textbook.
The U.S. Department of Education has a database of accredited postsecondary institutions. The government itself doesn’t do the accreditation assessments. This is completed by a third-party institution to ensure fair and even decision-making. Only a Master in Social Work from an accredited university will be accepted by top employers including hospitals and the government.
For professionals interested in a particular branch of social work, it’s important to attend an online program which offers degree specializations. Focuses include Child and Family, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence Specialization, Mental Health and Addiction, Health and Aging, Clinical, and more.
Below are the rankings of the top Online Master in Social Work programs. These rankings were determined through data collection in student surveys. Students and graduates from online Master in Social Work were asked to complete surveys ranking their satisfaction with their program, how they did in the job search post-graduation, and more. This data was compiled along with expert review for an unbiased ranking of these programs.
The Best Graduate Social Work Degrees
University of Buffalo offers two graduate social work degree programs. Students can earn a PhD in Social Welfare or a Masters of Social Work degree. Master’s options include full and part-time, advanced standing or online programs. The degree is completed in 60 credit hours. Students also complete 900 hours of field study, meeting requirements of the Council on Social Work Education.
The University of Wisconsin delivers a part-time Master of Social Work program, with both online and Saturday classes, requiring at least 16 credits. Two semesters of field work are also required by the Council on Social Work Education. The program is fully accredited by the CSWE. The UW School of Social Work is routinely listed as one of the best U.S. social work schools.
University of Chicago features both Master’s and Doctoral social work programs. Options for a Master’s Degree include a shorter, 15 month accelerated program, full or part-time program, night classes and dual degree programs. The full-time Masters program is two years long, requiring seven courses in the first year, with 18 courses needed for completion. Students must also complete requisite field work.
Case Western Reserve University features a part-time online Master of Science in Social Administration program with 100 percent online coursework. Graduation is in as little as two years. The Master’s program and Grad school are both highly nationally ranked. Students can also focus on specialties like Mental Health or Children, Youth and Families.
Adelphi University College of Social Work offers a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) degree earned in 64 credit hours. Options include a full-time two-year program, part-time evenings and weekends, one year residency and spring start 16 month programs. An advanced standing program is available to earn an MSW in one year for qualified students.
Case Western Reserve University offers intensive weekend programs like the Master’s Degree program and Weekend Field Education programs for busy working adults. Students earn Master’s of Science In Social Administration degrees through weekend classes one weekend per month over a year. Includes four-week prep and study periods. Most students in the program are over age 40.
Howard University near Washington D.C. offers two advanced social work degrees. Students earn a Masters of Social Work degree after completing 60 credit hours. The PhD in Social Work Degree is earned in 48 hours and requires a one-year full-time campus residency. These programs also include supervised field education.
Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey features a Master’s of Social Work degree earned in 60 credit hours. If students already have a Social Work Bachelor’s Degree, they can qualify for advanced status and finish the Master’s Degree in 30 credits. Programs run for two years and include mandatory internships in social work.
The University of Texas at Austin has a 60 credit hour program leading to a Master of Science in Social Work degree in one to 3 1/2 years. Students holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work complete the program in 42 to 48 credit hours. Concentrating on two fields, Administrative Leadership and Clinical Social Work, students receive an outstanding, flexible education.
Qualified Students of Case Western Reserve University can earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science Degree in Social Administration by entering an exclusive Senior Year in Professional Studies program. This program allows students to complete both degrees in five years instead of six. Acceptance is through an interview process and based on the condition of excellent academic achievement.
California State University at Sacramento features a Masters of Social Work degree earned in two years after finishing 60 credit units of study. In addition, students serve a two-day per week internship and three days a week in the second year. Students leave well prepared to enter many social work careers.
Salisbury University is a nationally recognized Maryland University where students find a very affordable option for a Master’s Degree in Social Work. The two-year program is completed with 30 hours of combined coursework and field training, the second year features 32 hours of concentrated coursework and field work. Students graduate ready for success in social work.
Long Island University in New York showcases a specialized 60 credit hour Master of Social Work degree. Concentrating in the areas of nonprofit management, Gerontology, child and family welfare and alcohol and substance abuse. Students receive a generalized social work education in the first year, with course work becoming more in-depth in the second year.
Asbury University in Kentucky offers a theologically based education. A Master’s of Social Work degree is available by completing 60 semester hours of combined classroom and field work. Classes are held two days a week, with three days in field training. Advanced placement is available for holders of a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and is completed in 39 hours.
Alvernia University in Reading Pennsylvania lets students earn a Masters Degree in Social Work from Marywood University on Alvernia University’s campus. Admissions to Alvernia University take place on a rolling year-round basis, making attendance more convenient. Most Master’s Degree in Social Work courses from Marywood can be finished on Alvernia’s campus, due to a cooperative agreement between schools.
University of Utah students can earn a Masters of Social Work through full-time, part-time, distance learning or through advanced standing status. The Masters of Social Work program has been accredited since 1951 by the Council on Social Work Education. Students earn 60 credits in two years or 45 in one year if they are in advanced standing.
Minnesota State University at Mankato offers a Masters of Social Work degree earned in 59 credit hours in a two-year program. The social work department of Minnesota State University is considered to be one of the top center’s for social work education. Academic standards and expectations of students are high.
North Carolina Central University features an excellent Graduate Degree program leading to a Master’s of Social Work degree. The program extends for two years full-time with a minimum of 33 hours of graduate courses, 24 of which are in sociology. Students take part in field placement work two days a week the first year and three days the second year.
Arkansas State University offers a Master of Social Work degree in a program accredited by the CSWE. Some courses are online with most course work done in the classroom. Students complete 60 credit hours in 15 months if they are in advanced standing and in two years in the standard program. Also includes 600 hours of field work in a rural setting.
Baptist Theological Seminary At Richmond has unique offerings of seven Masters of Social Work Degrees, combined with a specific focus of study. Combined degree focuses include aging studies, early childhood studies, Master of Divinity and non-profit management. Program requires 60 credit hours, with a mandatory seminar in the last year.
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College features two graduate degrees in social work, a Master’s of Social Work and a Doctor of Philosophy In Social Work, PhD program. For a Master’s Degree, students complete 60 credit hours, 48 in core classes and 12 elective. Students earning a PhD complete 48 semester hours of classes including nine required dissertation hours.
Millersville University of Pennsylvania offers a Master’s of Social Work degree program jointly with Shippensburg University. Unique joint program requires completion of 60 credit hours, 36 hours for advanced standing students. The 60 credit program is completed in two years full-time, four years part-time. The 36 hour program can be completed in one year full-time.
Middle Tennessee State University features a collaborative Master’s of Social Work degree through three schools, including Austin Peay University, Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State. The Master’s Degree program is fully accredited by CSWE and is completed in standard 60 credit hours including field work. Advanced standing is available.
University of Akron has a Master’s of Social Work joint degree program with the University of Akron and Cleveland State University. Joint program began in 1995, and 60 credit hours are required for a Master’s of Social Work degree. Includes distance learning and in classroom. This degree prepares students for advanced level professional employment in Social Work.
Richard Stockton College Of New Jersey offers completion of a Master’s of Social Work degree in 60 credit hours including field work. Advanced standing students complete only the second year of course work, in 30 credit hours. The Master’s Degree program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since October 2012.
Hawaii Pacific University features a Master of Social Work degree that can be earned in two years by completing 60 credit hours. An advanced standing option is available, allowing students to complete the degree in 30 credit hours, exempting students from the first year. Includes field work. Students graduate ready for excellent social work opportunities.
University of Mississippi was granted the opportunity to begin its Master’s of Social Work degree programs in 2008 by the CSWE. The program features awarded, highly regarded instructors. Students complete their degree in 60 credit hours over a three-year period. Advanced standing students complete 36 credit hours in two years.
Tulane University of Louisiana offers a Master’s in Social Work degree and is one of the top 40 schools in the country to offer this degree. Fully accredited program by CSWE, students earn their Master’s degree in 60 credit hours over four semesters, normally within 16 months. Part time students complete eight semesters, including two summer semesters.
Washburn University in Kansas offers a Master’s of Social Work degree program accredited by the CSWE. Regular standing students complete the degree in 66 credit hours in six full-time semesters, 54 of which are classroom hours and 12 are supervised field work hours. Advanced standing students compete the degree in 33 hours, normally in three full-time semesters.
Aurora University has a Master’s of Social Work Degree program completed in 60 hours including 30 hours of foundation courses and 15 hours of field instruction. Second year includes 30 hours in concentrated courses with 20 hours per week of field work. Students earn degree in two years full-time or three years part-time, with advanced standing available.
University of Nevada in Reno offers a Master in Social Work degree program that is fully accredited by the CSWE. Classes are small, only 20 to 30 students per class, allowing for more personal attention and focus. Students earn a Master’s Degree in 62 credit hours and in 32 credit hours for advanced placement students.
Fordham University New York features a nationally high-ranking Graduate School of Social Service. Students earn a Master of Social Work and can also earn combination degrees in three specialties. The Master’s Degree is earned in 66 credit hours, 48 of which are course work and 18 are field work. The first 33 credits include basic course work, the next 33 credits include advanced course work.
San Francisco State University affords students the option to earn a Master’s of Social Work Degree in 60 credit hours. This includes 24 hours in general studies and 36 hours in advanced course work. Also includes specific internship field education opportunities. Students graduate well-prepared for outstanding careers in social work.
Delaware State University features a Graduate School of Social Work accredited by CSWE since 2004. A Master’s In Social Work is offered in 60 credit hours, including 28 hours of general education, 32 hours of advanced courses an 12 hours of field work. Advanced placement offered on a case-by-case basis. More online courses will be available in the future.
Our Lady Of The Lake University was the first Social Work school in Texas and has received the Presidential Award for Excellence. The 54 credit program for a Master of Social Work degree is completed in 3 to 3 1/2 years. A 31 credit advanced standing option, is also available. Course work is available in classroom or entirely online.
University of South Dakota offers a Master’s of Social Work degree earned in 60 credit hours over 24 months. This also includes 12 hours of field work. Advanced standing is available, allowing students to complete degree in a 36 hour concentrated curriculum. The Master’s of Social Work program was created in 2009 responding to a statewide need for qualified social workers.
San Jose State University features a Master of Social Work Degree earned in 63 credit hours. Full-time students earn the degree in two years, part-time in three years. The School of Social Work was established in 1969 and is accredited by the CSWE. Field education runs concurrently with course work.
University Of Connecticut offers two social work graduate degrees, a Master of Social Work and a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (PhD) degree. Students complete 60 credits for a Master’s Degree, including 18 credit hours in field education. For a PhD degree, students must complete 54 graduate credits, including a seminar on dissertation preparation.
SUNY College At Brockport’s Department of Social Work was founded in 1971. A Master’s of Social Work Degree is offered through a collaborative effort between the College at Brockport and Nazareth College. Degree is earned in 60 full or part-time credits, with advanced standing students required to earn 39 credits. Field education is included.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania features a Master of Social Work Degree earned in 60 credit hours and in 39 hours for advanced standing students. Courses are offered in classroom or entirely online, with no need for students to attend classes on campus. This offers a convenient option for busy working adults. Students also complete supervised field internships over two years.
Lubbock Christian University features a Master’s in Human Services Degree in an exclusive online only program. Students are trained for work in the ministry, schools, social service agencies and as counselors. Students complete 22 hours of core curriculum education and 15-21 hours in the student’s chosen specialization. Curriculum is approved by the National Council For Family Relations.
Azusa Pacific University in California offers an accredited Masters in Social Work Degree, earned in 60 credit hours and in 36 hours if student is placed in advanced standing. It takes 24-48 months to complete the standard program and 9 months to complete the advanced program. Internships are required and are flexible according to the agency. All classes are on campus only.
Youngstown State University provides a Master’s of Social Work Degree in a program accredited by CSWE. Advanced standing is available and requires 36 semester credit hours, while all other students complete 60 credit hours of course work for a Master’s Degree. Includes field practice with agencies, helping students to increase knowledge and skills.
Loma Linda University’s Department of Social Work has offered a Master’s in Social Work Degree since 1993. Students complete 78 credit hours. There is no advanced standing. However, students can petition for an accelerated degree. Course work features academics mixed with experience and research opportunities. Degree can be completed in two years full-time or three or four years part-time.
University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work, established in 1967, has been CSWE accredited since 1970. Students earn their Master’s in Social Work in 63 semester credit hours. The program is different because the first semester is a foundation semester, featuring intensive course work. Students go into advanced course work from the second semester, including clinical practice.
Western New Mexico University offers a Master’s of Social Work Degree earned with a minimum of 66 credits, 57 of which are core curriculum and nine elective. The School of Social Work is in the process of CSWE accreditation. Advanced students complete the Master’s of Social Work degree in one year, others finish in two years.
Wheelock College features a basic Master’s of Social Work Degree or a dual Master’s Degree in Social work and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, combined. Students earn their basic Master’s of Social Work Degree in 60 credit hours and 30 credit hours for advanced standing students. Most students complete the standard degree in two years full-time and three years part-time.