Last Update: March 1, 2017
If you have the passion, ambition, and endurance to confront the broken systems that oppress and target vulnerable populations, then you have what it takes to earn an intensive but rewarding Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from one of these top universities.
From the prison industrial complex to immigration reform, child welfare, or veteran services, people from all walks of life and under diverse circumstances operate under the demands of untenable structures and policies. You can be the one to make a change.
Do you see yourself working one on one with a client, trying to collaboratively improve their situation in a limited system of justice? Or do you see yourself going straight for the tenuous system itself, seeking to enact organizational change to promote the economic and social justice of large populations? Whether micro or macro social work calls to you, the programs below offer advanced training in both. As a MSW student you will combine theory with practice by engaging in coursework research and participating in extensive field work practicums. Many schools provide additional opportunities to study abroad, to partner with faculty and field leaders in innovative research endeavors, to gain advanced certification, and much more.
If you already hold a Bachelors of Social Work (BSW) degree then you can enroll in an accelerated masters program (each of the schools below offer one) to earn the MSW degree in just one year. But even if you did not study social work as an undergraduate, the programs below will provide a solid foundation of social work skills and knowledge as well as specialization. And the investment is clearly worthwhile. Those who earn a MSW, according to PayScale, can earn up to twice as much as they do with only an undergraduate degree.
What are the Best Masters of Social Work Programs in the Country?
The fifty programs below all share one thing in common despite the difference of name and emphasis: they are the best at preparing students for successful, fulfilling careers in social work. Here at College Choice we’ve collated and compared the academic reputation, student satisfaction, affordability, and average annual salary of graduates from MSW programs across the country to create a definitive ranking of the nation’s fifty best. We first chose programs with the most renowned academic reputation and from those pared the list down to those with high retention rates—a reflection of student satisfaction—added those with the most economical accessibility, and finally we included the averages of early career salaries (care of PayScale) to arrive at a list marked by thorough research and extensive data aggregation. Our figures come from the university and colleges’ websites as well as nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
University of California–Los Angeles
CC Score: 100
Average Annual Tuition: $7,480
A U.S. News & World Report top-ranked program, UCLA’s Masters of Social Work program is offered through the highly reputable Luskin School of Public Affairs and it blends several topics—adolescent issues, aging, child welfare, immigration, mental health, and poverty—to best train the future leaders of social welfare. Students are immersed in theory, research, and social policy while learning how to enact serious change and reform in the communities they will serve.
UCLA’s program takes two years to complete and includes a substantive field work requirement—first year students engage in two full (eight-hour) days per week and in their second year they do three days of fieldwork a week. This work includes not only direct service work, but community outreach, advocacy, staff meetings, consultations, research activity, and staff development. Additionally, all students must choose between between two provided tracks: macro or micro. The former is for those interested in working on the administrative level or in policy while the latter is for those who specifically wish to serve individuals, families, or small communities.
Not only is UCLA a great school, but it is affordable with a reputation for graduating students who go on to earn over 50k annually in the first years of their career. This MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Washington University in St. Louis
CC Score: 99.5
Average Annual Tuition: $19,984
Through the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis provides one of the best MSW programs in the entire country (it is ranked second by U.S. News & World Report). This two-year degree emphasizes leadership and team building through a curriculum that covers research methods, human behavior, social justice and human diversity, social welfare policies and services, practice with individuals and groups, and social work practice with organizations and communities.
Supplementing this core, students can uniquely design their academic experience and specialization through a range of offered concentrations. Social policy, practice methods, evaluation, leadership and management, and theory, problems, and issues are the five available areas of concentration. Further, Washington University provides the opportunity to earn certification in either affordable housing and mixed-income community management or in violence and injury prevention. Thus, this is not only one of the best MSW programs in the country, but one of the most flexible in terms of curricular focus.
Washington University’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, and the Brown School is home to a social work library, a communications lab, the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, and more.
University of Maryland - Baltimore
CC Score: 96
Average Annual Tuition: $10,625
For those passionate about clinical social work, human services management, or community organizing, this Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland – Baltimore emphasizes hands-on learning through field practicum by placing first-year and second-year students in foundation and advanced field placements respectively. Students work with local Baltimore social services agencies two to three days a week (depending on how far along they are in the program), integrating theory with research to become prepared for professional practice. The university even allows students to find employment-based field practicums.
In conjunction with the practicum, students take twenty-four core courses covering individual, group, and community services. They can then choose to concentrate in one of five areas: aging, behavioral health, community action and social policy, families and children, or health. And for those students seeking further specialization, the University of Maryland – Baltimore’s MSW offers two sub-areas of focus: employee assistance and child, adolescent, and family health.
Maryland’s low tuition cost and its history of graduates who earn above 55k annually in the first years of their career make this program a high return on investment. The University of Maryland – Baltimore’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of North Carolina
CC Score: 96
Average Annual Tuition: $19,422
Based in Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina offers a MSW degree that is ranked among the top five in the country by U.S. News & World Report. A blend of foundational courses that cover social welfare policy and services, human behavior in the social environment, social research, and social work practice, plus an advanced curriculum that allows students to opt between two concentrations—direct practice or community, management, and policy practice—this MSW program is a traditional, solid place to earn your degree.
The University of North Carolina’s MSW program stresses, both through its curriculum and practicum, not only equal access to services, but respect for individual worth and human dignity, the right to self-determination, the importance of diversity, and a high standard for ethical conduct. Also unique to North Carolina’s program is the number of opportunities made available to students. For example, MSW students can study abroad in the summer, with trips to Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, Mexico, England, or Ireland. If you don’t desire to study abroad but still want to pad your resume and gain extra experience, the University of North Carolina has five certificate programs that pair with the MSW. You can gain certification in global transmigration, non-profit leadership, substance abuse and addictions, international development and social change, or international peace and conflict resolution.
UNC’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Pennsylvania
CC Score: 96
Average Annual Tuition: $23,211
Ivy League University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Social Work program taught by a nationally renowned faculty in a small-classroom setting (on average, there are only twenty students to a class). Penn’s curriculum, which is rooted in social justice and change, is interdisciplinary in scope. In fact, students take classes from among Penn’s twelve graduate schools, they have international coursework and study abroad opportunities, there are eleven dual-degree programs, and even more certificate and specialization programs.
There are several ways to complete your MSW through Penn. Students are allowed to study full-time and complete the degree within two years. They may study for three years, or part-time, or they may enroll in the advanced study program or the employed practitioners program. For those with a Bachelors in Social Work, the advanced study program allows them to complete the MSW in ten months. And the practitioners program is a three-year degree for working adults who study part-time and earn their field credit through their work experience. Whichever track you take, you can be assured that you will graduate fully prepared to enter a variety of systems and settings, to work with diverse client populations, and to be a leader for social change and development.
This MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Washington
CC Score: 95.75
Average Annual Tuition: $23,976
With three distinct tracks of study, students of all backgrounds, experiences, and responsibilities can earn a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Washington. Foremost, the traditional program, referred to as the “Day Program,” takes two years of full-time study to complete. A combination of classroom learning and fieldwork, students learn social work history, professional identity, policy, and social justice. The “Extended Degree” program is similar in content, but takes three years of part-time study to complete. Finally, the “Advanced Studies” program is for those holding an undergraduate degree in social work. This program requires only ten months of study and features specialization.
Though each track is differently structured, they each train students to become leaders for social development, to implement effective social interventions, and to cultivate a relationship with a diverse society. UW’s program allows for concentration and specialization within the curriculum as well as offering three certifications, in gerontology, guardianship, and nonprofit management.
The University of Washington’s MSW degree, ranked third best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of California–Berkeley
CC Score: 94.75
Average Annual Tuition: $28,348
UC Berkeley is a globally recognized leader in education, in a number of disciplines, its social work department included. They offer a Master of Social Welfare degree that is highly flexible, meaning students are free to focus on their areas of interest and passion. Students can choose among four areas of formal concentration: aging, child and family services, community mental health, health, and management and planning. Students may also earn certification in Social Work with Latinos or School Social Work. Finally, if those options weren’t enough, Berkeley has two concurrent degree programs that pair with the MSW, one in public health (MSW plus a MPH) and one in public policy (MSW plus a MPP).
With an emphasis on the importance of leadership, Berkeley’s goals for its MSW program include leadership in service, leadership for social justice and change, and leadership for evidence-informed and competency-based practice. Students learn professional responsibility, how to advance social justice, how to use tested knowledge, and effective implementation of intervention method.
Also considered the third best MSW program in the country (tied with Washington) by U.S. News & World Report, Berkeley’s Social Welfare MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Texas–Austin
CC Score: 93.75
Average Annual Tuition: $6,606
One of the most affordable MSW programs on our list, the University of Texas in Austin makes going back to school for advanced study (and thus advanced vocational placement) an option for most. This MSW program is flexibly structured, allowing students to finish between one year and three-and-a-half years (depending on past education experience). There are two concentrations available, clinical social work and administration and policy practice, and UT Austin requires over one thousand hours of field practicum.
Like some of the other programs on our list, UT Austin seeks to provide its students with a number of diverse learning experiences. However, unlike a majority of programs on this list, UT Austin offers an international internship opportunity. Students integrate theory and practice, earn practicum hours, and learn how to navigate a different culture and its associated systems. International placement spans the globe, from South Africa to India to Costa Rica. At UT Austin you can also enroll in dual degrees, some of which are mostly unavailable elsewhere, such as the combined Master of Divinity and MSW program. Other dual degree options include MSW degrees paired with a Master of Public Health, Master of Public Affairs, a Doctor of Jurisprudence, or a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies degree.
UT Austin is a great place to earn your Council on Social Work Education accredited MSW degree. World-renowned, affordable, and with graduates earning (on average) 53k annually in the early years of their career, you can expect a successful experience post UT Austin.
University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign
CC Score: 93.5
Average Annual Tuition: $21,655
The Master of Social Work degree at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign explicitly expresses the significance the program places on options, both academic and vocational. Thus, students first choose among three enrollment tracks: the traditional full-time or part-time program on campus, the outreach program (which is a hybrid of online and on-campus coursework), or the dual MSW/MBA program. The latter is for those who wish to supplement their social work study with one academic year of concentrated MBA classes. Furthermore, at UI Urbana Champaign MSW students choose among two concentrations: leadership and social change or advanced clinical. The latter includes four more specialization areas: mental health, health care, schools, and children, youth, and family services.
Whichever enrollment track or concentration speaks to you and your situation, studying social work at UI Urbana Champaign guarantees you will be fully prepared to perform erudite research, effectively apply human behavior knowledge to real-world scenarios, engage diversity in practice, and overall advance human rights and social justice. Payscale also informs us that graduates from UI earn, on average, nearly 58k annually in the early years of their career.
The University of Illinois’ School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Southern California
CC Score: 92.75
Average Annual Tuition: $25,721
At the University of Southern California you will take classes that explore unique issues, diverse populations, and innovative ideas such as social work in the military, enacting social change, the dimensions of spirituality, juvenile justice, mental health, school social work, and leadership. As a MSW student you will pair this distinctive course load with international study opportunities and field internships. This MSW program is comprised of three departments: adults and healthy aging; children, youth, and families; and community, organization, and business innovation.
USC sets itself apart in a number of ways, by offering online classes in addition to on-campus coursework, so you can earn your degree in a flexible and efficient manner. They also provide classes on their Irvine (Orange County) campus. Summer and weekend classes are also made available so students who are working can still earn their degrees at the traditional two-year pace. Finally, USC, similar to some other schools on our list, offers dual degree programs. But unlike the other schools, USC offers eight different degrees! So, in addition to earning the MSW, you can earn a MBA, law degree, or masters in planning, public administration, public health, and much more.
The University of Southern California’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
CC Score: 92.5
Average Annual Tuition: $18,605
Social work with ethnic and racial groups, human behavior and the environment, policy and services, psychopathology, individual and family practice, and social policy are just some of the classes MSW students take at the renowned University of Wisconsin–Madison. This two-year program is divided into one generalist practice year and an advanced practice specialization year. While the former provides students with foundational social work skills and knowledge, gained through the above classes, the latter offers specialization in one of four areas: aging, health, mental health, or child, youth, and family welfare.
Whether you’re interested in working with groups or individuals or in community leadership, UW Madison ensures its students graduate ready to demonstrate an ethical and effective approach to social change. MSW graduates have indeed gone on to advance human rights, enact social, economic, and environmental justice, and dramatically change policy to better protect and serve communities. Many UW Madison MSW students choose to dual-enroll, concurrently earning an additional masters degree—in law, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or medicine and public health.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Buffalo SUNY
CC Score: 91.75
Average Annual Tuition: $10,870
The University of Buffalo SUNY offers a highly ranked Master of Social Work program that integrates trauma-informed and human rights perspectives into the curriculum to give students the ability to transform lives and systems. In addition to the traditional full-time and part-time enrollment tracks, students can also earn this MSW fully online. It is still accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and it delivers the same content, just through a part-time, distance learning model. For those of you eager to earn a dual-degree, Buffalo allows students to add a law, business, or public health degree too.
Buffalo MSW students take foundational courses on everything from scientific methods in social work to diversity and oppressions, social welfare history and policy, intervention, and theories of both human and organizational behavior. Electives span an even wider spectrum, with classes covering addiction, gender issues, forensic social work, refugee and immigrant work, sexual abuse, grant writing, international social work, and much more. Students are also required to complete two field placements, each a little over four-hundreds hours, and they have the option of working with a local, regional, national, or global agency.
The University of Buffalo SUNY’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Georgia
CC Score: 91.5
Average Annual Tuition: $8,578
At the University of Georgia, MSW students graduate with the knowledge of social work’s biological, psychological, social, spiritual, and cultural dimensions. Students are further trained on evidence-based research and evaluation as well as how to influence social policies that meet the standards set by the profession. As advocates for those in poverty, the vulnerable, and the oppressed, University of Georgia grads are noted for their dedication to social and economic justice.
This program allows for full or part-time study and provides two areas of specialization: clinical practice, wherein students take courses that prepare them to work directly with clients, and the community empowerment and program development track, through which students are prepared to work with community programs and in community advocacy and administrative positions. Georgia also makes a number of dual-degree and certification programs available, giving MSW students the opportunity to earn either a law, public health, or divinity degree concurrently or to become certified in disability studies, gerontology, global health, management of nonprofit organizations, or marriage and family therapy.
The University of Georgia’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Out of the hundreds of advanced social work degree programs in the country, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Georgia’s as thirty-eighth.
CC Score: 91.5
Average Annual Tuition: $43,432
Not only ranked among the best universities in the nation, Columbia University’s School of Social Work is ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Located in the heart of New York City, this MSW program will connect you with hundreds of organizations that are striving to advance programs and policies that promote human rights, well-being, and justice at local, national, and global levels. But even if you do not desire to live and study in the city, you can still attend Columbia and earn a MSW through their online degree program.
However you choose to attain your MSW through Columbia, you can anticipate classes on human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, research, social work practice, and a field practicum that will introduce you to real-world scenarios. The field education requires 1,200 hours of completed work at two different placement sites. Columbia students are notably well-served by the university. Career development counselors, advisors, field education support, and the social work library are just some of the resources made available to the MSW population.
Columbia University’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Illinois–Chicago
CC Score: 91.25
Average Annual Tuition: $11,734
With an affordable tuition and a high average salary for graduates (over 51k annually), the University of Illinois–Chicago is a great return on investment. Their Master of Social Work program prepares its students to become advocates for social, economic, and racial justice within, specifically, urban at-risk populations. UIC blends practice with theory in a curriculum containing coursework on human behavior and the social environment, research methodology, and social welfare policy and services, plus a substantive field education requirement.
Like many traditional MSW programs, UIC offers the following four areas of specialization: child and family, community health and urban development, mental health, and school social work. This program can also be paired with a certificate in evidence-based mental health practice with children or a child welfare traineeship project. Whatever your focus and drive, UIC makes taking classes convenient to your schedule. In addition to their traditional, full-time MSW program, students can opt to extend their studies by a year and only take classes in the evenings, making this ideal for working students.
UIC’s Jane Addams College of Social Work is home to a number of prestigious research centers and institutes, including the Center for Social Policy and Research, the Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center, the Midwest Latino Health Research, Training, and Policy Center, and more. The University of Illinois–Chicago’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Michigan
CC Score: 91.25
Average Annual Tuition: $33,514
Ranked the top program Master of Social Work program in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Michigan’s program is hard to beat with its wide range of specializations, its utilization of the newest research, its new learning innovations, and its interdisciplinary focus. Michigan MSW students first select a practice method concentration from among four options—interpersonal practice, community organization, management of human services, and social policy and evaluation—and they are then encouraged to further specialize through a minor practice method. These minors include aging in families and societies, children and youth in families and societies, community and social systems, health, and mental health.
Furthermore, the University of Michigan provides innumerable social, academic, and field work opportunities for its students. MSW students can gain international field education and research experience; they can enroll in one of seven dual-degree programs, including those in business administration, law, public policy, urban planning, and more; students can even incorporate Peace Corps service into their MSW program. So, that to say, the University of Michigan goes to great lengths to ensure its students have both a depth and a range of knowledge, skill, and practice.
The University of Michigan’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Pittsburgh
CC Score: 90.5
Average Annual Tuition: $29,456
While earning a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Pittsburgh students often take advantage of the many supplemental programs and opportunities proffered by the university, such as earning additional certification (in integrated healthcare, gerontology, school social work, youth and families, mental health, or human services management). Students can also take part in the Child Welfare Education for Leadership project or the Aging Initiatives program.
The University of Pittsburgh also offers a number of fellowship and dual-degree opportunities. In fact, it offers some of the most dual enrollment options of all the schools on our list, with nine distinct degree pairings, including masters degrees in international affairs, international development, business administration, law, secondary education, and more. There are many ways to design and earn your MSW through Pittsburgh, all of which will fully prepare you work either directly with individuals or families or as a community organizer and leader.
This program is consistently ranked among the top ten MSW programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report and is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Chicago
CC Score: 90.25
Average Annual Tuition: $45,963
Through their School of Social Service Administration (SSA), the University of Chicago provides a Masters of Arts (AM) degree that is equivalent to the standard MSW. This AM degree leads to a greater vocational flexibility for graduates and it stems from a curriculum marked by interdisciplinary research, experiential foundations in social work, and direct social work practice with policy development. Meaning, students take core classes on social intervention and human behavior and the social environment, then a cluster of electives that correspond with their specialization (either clinical studies or social administration).
Classes are not just limited to the SSA. Students can take electives from departments university wide, thereby allocating their focus to their career aspirations and passions. Students are also urged to study abroad, to gain both field work experience and diversity training. And for those students interested in the University of Chicago’s interdisciplinary model, they can combine the AM degree with a Master of Public Policy, an MBA, or a Master of Divinity. Chicago’s program is consistently ranked among the top three best MSW programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
The University of Chicago’s AM degree and their School of Social Service Administration are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 90
Average Annual Tuition: $34,140
Located in Chestnut Hill, Boston College is a top-ranked university with a top-ranked Master of Social Work program. Like many traditional MSWs, Boston College has students choose between either a clinical social work track or its macro (administration and leadership) track. From there, students opt into one of five specializations: individualized care, older adults and family services, health and mental health, global practice, or children, youth, and families.
Boston’s MSW is also home to the Latino Leadership Initiative, a program designed to promote Latino/a communities in both the United States and abroad. A set of the foundation and method courses under this program are subsequently taught in Spanish, and students who pursue this program can attain certification in Latino/a leadership while simultaneously earning their MSW. Other unique certifications include those in neuroscience and social work, refugee and immigrant services, trauma, and veterans and military family care. If you’re eager to supplement your degree with additional certification or a dual-degree, or if you just want to attain the MSW at a part-time pace, Boston allows students to enroll in the three and four year programs, giving them ample flexibility and convenience.
Boston College’s MSW degree and their School of Social Service Administration are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
CC Score: 90
Average Annual Tuition: $20,680
At the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities MSW students are introduced to a curriculum that is unabashedly and ardently grounded in social justice. The program, founded by the belief that all citizens and persons should have equal access to society’s social, political, and economic goods, has designed a curriculum that models this principle. Students take classes on working with immigrant populations, global social work and development, substance abuse, conflict management, ethical decision making, and policies in American social welfare.
Minnesota MSW students specialize in clinical mental health, community practice, families and children, or health, disability, and aging. They also engage in the University of Minnesota’s vibrant field education experience, partnering with social work agencies in and around the Twin Cities, even in neighboring states, to put theory and learning into practice. And if you’re interested in public policy, public health, or urban and regional planning, you can enroll in the dual-degree programs to earn both concomitantly. Graduates from this program have gone on to become case managers, policy analysts, clinicians, and community organizers.
The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities’ MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Ohio State University
CC Score: 88.75
Average Annual Tuition: $23,320
This top-ranked MSW degree from Ohio State University fully trains its students to become leaders in regional, national, and global communities. With such a focus on community advocacy, OSU sets itself apart. This is further proved through a curriculum comprised of foundation courses covering social and economic justice, diversity and cultural competence, social development and behavior across the lifespan, organizational and community systems, and engaging evidence.
Once OSU MSW students complete the core, they then decide their specialization—choosing from among aging and health, mental health and substance abuse, child and youth services, and community and social justice focuses—and they take integrative seminars with field practicums to further solidify both theory and real-world applications. It’s also worth noting that OSU’s field education program partners students with over 700 agencies throughout Ohio. And that 60 percent of graduates who are employed at the time of graduation are hired by one of their field placement agencies.
Ohio State University’s MSW program—which can be completed in two, three, or four years, and in even some cases, just in one year—is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 88.75
Average Annual Tuition: $32,000
Interested in practicing social work in China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, Israel, Puerto Rico, or Mali? Then this Master of Social Work program through Boston University is maybe for you. MSW students take language learning classes while focusing on the social, economic, and political issues of their respective country. Even if you don’t desire international study experience, BU has a lot to offer. Their MSW program is one of only a handful on our list that offers the program online too. They also provide dual-degree opportunities for those who want to pursue a masters in public health, education, or theology simultaneously with their MSW.
Specializations in Boston’s MSW program include trauma and violence, health and behavioral health, aging, children and families, and leadership in groups, organizations, and communities. And for online students, they can concentrate specifically in human services. Boston University’s MSW is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top ten in the country. They are nationally recognized for their leading faculty, research contributions, and their commitment to student formation.
Finally, for those thinking of doing doctoral work after completing the MSW, Boston University has a PhD program that allows students to pursue a highly individualized plan of study. Both the MSW and PhD program from Boston University are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Virginia Commonwealth University
CC Score: 87.5
Average Annual Tuition: $9,603
At Virginia Commonwealth University you can earn, concomitantly with the MSW, certification in aging studies, gender violence intervention, or non-profit management, or you can dual enroll and also earn a degree in divinity, public health, or law. Of course, at VCU you can also attain the traditional MSW, earning the degree on-campus at a full-time pace, or online at a part-time pace, or a combination of. Regardless of your program structure, as a VCU student you can expect small classes led by faculty who are experts and leaders in their respective fields.
While the core of VCU’s social work program is anchored in instilling the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for effective and ethical social work practice, and while students specialize in either clinical social work or administration and policy, this MSW program introduces students to an incredibly wide range of topics and interests: from community organizing to corrections, homelessness, immigration and refugee services, rehabilitation, military social work, domestic violence, developmental disabilities, and much more.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Houston
CC Score: 87.25
Average Annual Tuition: $12,272
You can study on campus, at home, or a combination of as a University of Houston Master of Social Work student. This sixty-three credit-hour degree will teach you the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination, how to interpret the history of social work, how to critically analyze and influence social policies, and how to supervise and consult clients in a social work practice. Students are required to enroll in the clinical track or the macro (administrative) track, but are then free to supplement with concentrations of their choice, including cognitive behavioral interventions, targeted interventions, and clinical applications of DSM (for clinical track students), as well as administrative practice, dynamics of leadership, strategies of community development, and social policy advocacy (for macro students).
There are many reasons to apply to the University of Houston’s MSW program, such as its relatively affordable tuition rate. But Houston students are also especially privileged to have access to a number of unique social work training experience opportunities. There’s an Austin Legislative internship, the Child Trauma Project, the Child Welfare Education Project, study abroad opportunities, and the notable GLOBE program (Global Leaders of Behavioral Health Education for Youth).
The University of Houston’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 87.25
Average Annual Tuition: $27,916
The Rutgers University social work motto is “partnering for change,” and it is reflected in their curriculum model and content. MSW students at Rutgers develop and share their knowledge and experience of social work research; they are provided with rigorous academic and hands-on experience, as well as supported through a number of campus resources and services; they learn how to strengthen individuals, families, and communities; but perhaps most importantly, students graduate able to address injustice and foment action so as to make a positive difference on local, regional, national, and global levels.
Students can earn this MSW online, on campus, or through the blended program. They may also earn a dual degree in law or theology, or combine their MSW with the PhD program for added specialization and training. You can also pair your MSW with certification in aging and health, violence against women and children, or addiction counselor training. These, however, are optional. Graduates from the traditional program (and of course, graduates from all of Rutgers’ MSW programs) have gone on to become substance abuse counselors, family therapists, healthcare social workers, school counselors, teachers, and more.
Rutgers University’s MSW program, strongly ranked by U.S. News & World Report, is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 87.25
Average Annual Tuition: $19,860
Indiana University offers a Master of Social Work degree at a number of its campuses (Bloomington, Indianapolis, South Bend, Fort Wayne) as well as online. Though each campus’ program pulls from the same foundational curriculum, the Bloomington program is the most notable in terms of reputation. Bloomington graduates have gone on to find work in child welfare, public welfare, justice and corrections, development disability services, healthcare, mental health, and employment and occupational social work.
The three-tiered curriculum at Indiana first takes students through foundational immersion courses, including those on research, human behavior and the social environment, and social policy analysis, then introduces intermediate topics: practice with individuals and families, organizational and community social work, assessment in mental health and addiction, plus a practicum. Finally, students take electives in an area aligning with their vocational aspirations and passions, electives such as executive leadership practice, social policy and services, mental health and addiction, and community-based practice, among others.
Indiana University’s MSW program is known for its small classes, the close faculty-student relationships, and experiential learning. It is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Alabama
CC Score: 86.5
Average Annual Tuition: $9,355
MSW students at the University of Alabama are trained to comprehensively understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and to then apply strategies of advocacy. With a generalist social work emphasis, this program prepares students to practice in systems of all sizes, scopes, and ambitions. Furthermore, students are taught how to implement theoretical frameworks (as supported by evidence-based applications) to interpret human and community behavior, development, and needs.
The University of Alabama offers coordinated degree programs as well, allowing students to earn either a masters of public health or a JD in tandem with the MSW degree. And for those students who need more flexibility in their academic experience, Bama by Distance is a fully online MSW program that is consistently ranked among the best online social work degrees in the country. Regardless of how you decide to earn your degree, at the University of Alabama you can specialize in either social work with children, adolescents, and their families, or with adults and their families.
Both the traditional and online MSW programs at the University of Alabama are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
New York University
CC Score: 86.25
Average Annual Tuition: $41,592
One of the best schools in the nation, New York University’s Master of Social Work program is equally reputable and consistently ranked among the top twenty-five MSW programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. With an emphasis on research-informed direct practice, specifically on individuals, groups, and families, NYU’s Silver School of Social Work curriculum is heavily founded in social justice. Students can also specialize in policy and community, and even study abroad. NYU’s global learning initiative takes students around the world for cultural immersion and to help them examine social policy and prejudice through the location’s economic, social, and political issues.
There are many ways to get your degree at NYU. In fact, there are four full-time and three part-time structures of study. NYU also offers dual enrollment in the areas of child development, global health leadership, law, management, and health advocacy, for those who seek further specialization and training. NYU Silver is also home to the Zelda Foster Studies Program, a palliative and end-of-life care (PELC) program designed to develop PELC social workers. This program offers MSW fellowships, post-masters certificate programs in PELC, and a post-masters leadership fellowship.
The Silver School of Social Work provides many opportunities and experiences for the MSW student, and it is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Texas Arlington
CC Score: 85.75
Average Annual Tuition: $13,067
With a curriculum comprised of applied social work practice, community and administrative practice, human behavior and the social environment, research and evaluation strategies, and social welfare policy, the Master of Social Work degree at the University of Texas at Arlington covers a breadth of issues critical to the social work field. Whether you wish to study the administrative side of social work or you want to study direct care, UT Arlington could be a great fit for you, especially if you want to earn another degree in addition to the MSW.
Dual degree options at UT Arlington include the unique option of pairing the MSW with a Master of City and Regional Planning, a MA in Urban Affairs, or a MA in Criminology. And, more traditionally, students can earn master degrees in public administration, sociology, or business administration. UT students can also participate in the Community and Administrative Practice (CAP) initiative, a program for students interested in designing, implementing, and evaluating community action. CAP coursework, while nicely supplementing the core curriculum, also makes graduates stand apart once in the field, for they have taken classes such as budgeting and financial management, supervision, advocacy and social policy, grant proposals, and more.
The University of Texas at Arlington’s MSW is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 85.75
Average Annual Tuition: $29,931
Graduates from Fordham University become care managers, child and adolescent therapists, healthcare integrators, substance abuse counselors, researchers, directors, and administrators. That’s because the MSW program at Fordham offers three areas of concentration: direct client social work, leadership and macro practice, and research conduction. One of the more flexible programs our on list, Fordham boasts a student-center plan of study, including part-time, and weekend courses in addition to hybrid, online, and asynchronous study options.
Fordham’s fieldwork practicum is among the most intensive of those schools on our list. It’s considered an integral part of the degree, and thus students are required to complete 1,200 hours within two years. The practicum, worth eighteen credits, combines both the fieldwork itself as well as twenty two-hour integrative seminar classes. Finally, like many of the the other schools on our ranking, Fordham offers dual enrollment, so students can earn a joint MSW degree with a law, public health, divinity, or psychotherapy degree.
This MSW program from Fordham University is ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Case Western Reserve University
CC Score: 85.75
Average Annual Tuition: $42,570
Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is home to a number of notable research centers and institutes, including the Center for Evidence-Based Practice, the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, and the Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education. As a Case Western MSW student you will have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with the faculty and community partners engaged in multidisciplinary research at these centers.
Case Western offers three MSW programs: the traditional program based at the Cleveland campus, the online MSW, and the Nonprofit Management (MNO) master’s degree. While the first two share much of the same curriculum (the difference is only in delivery), the MNO is on the frontier of leadership training. It prepares students to become leaders in healthcare, nonprofit, and public sectors. The MNO degree can also be earned in tandem with the MSW. Other degrees you can earn while earning the MSW include a MBA, a JD, and a MA in Bioethics, the latter being one of only a few like it offered nationwide.
The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Louisville
CC Score: 85.25
Average Annual Tuition: $18,866
The ways to specialize in social work through the University of Louisville are numerous and unique. For example, Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work is the only school on our list that helps trains MSW students in psychosocial oncology. Students can also specialize in military social work, alcohol and drug counseling, and gerontology, or more traditionally, in couples and family counseling, school social work, and mental health. But that’s not all. The University of Louisville distinctively allows MSW students to earn a dual degree in Pan-African Studies or Women & Gender Studies.
Regardless of how you mold your MSW studies, at Louisville you will become confident in your ability to nurture diverse client systems, to make ethical decisions that influence the quality and health of these clients, and to effectively promote social justice. You will also have the opportunity to get involved in one of a dozen research projects and initiatives currently take place at Kent, from Safespace, which promotes early treatment of trauma in children entering out-of-home care, to HTRI, the Human Trafficking Research Initiative.
The University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work and MSW program (including the online program) are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Kansas
CC Score: 84.25
Average Annual Tuition: $6,488
The most affordable Master of Social Work program on our list, the University of Kansas offers a traditional two-tiered program in which students specialize in either direct care of individuals, families, or groups or in macro studies, that is, community organization and leadership. And like other traditional MSW programs, students further concentrate in child and family, mental health, aging, or administrative and advocacy.
Though the University of Kansas program aligns traditionally with nationwide standards of MSW education, it is unique in its Behavior Health Scholars Program, a value-added educational opportunity for the most exceptional of MSW students. Not only does it provide additional advanced-level MSW training, but a $10,000 scholarship for one year and clinical field placement that guarantees inter-professional experience. It should be noted, though, that this program specifically seeks to train those who study direct clinical care, especially those with concentrations on youth and adolescent behavior.
An affordable choice, and ranked among the top twenty-five best MSW programs in the nation, this two-year degree from the University of Kansas is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 84
Average Annual Tuition: $24,730
Perhaps you’re looking for a graduate experience outside the walls of a large research institution. Perhaps you want an independent, liberal arts education instead. Well, Smith College—a private school with a history of women’s education—may be a great fit for you. Their Master of Social Work program develops in students a broad understanding of the socio-cultural and policy contexts that influence behaviors, structures, and outcomes. Once the MSW students completes these core courses, they are then immersed in clinical specialization through advanced courses on personality theory, practice, trauma, and more.
Smith College’s MSW equally weighs the importance of social work fundamentals (environment and behaviors, community problems and needs, working direct with clients) with research, theory, and field experience. The latter is actually the core of the program, providing students with extensive community or individual clinical training. Finally, Smith College has vocally committed itself to being an “anti-racist” institution, and for this reason their MSW students engage in coursework and field work that takes on issues of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and oppression. Students are taught to approach social justice and change through inclusionary and intersectional perspectives.
The Smith College School for Social Work’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Connecticut
CC Score: 83.75
Average Annual Tuition: $12,122
At the University of Connecticut (UConn) through the MSW program you can specialize in casework, group therapy, community organization, policy practice, or administration while gaining a foundational knowledge of macro or micro social work. UConn also offers the unique opportunities to engage in political social work, a distinguishing asset to this program. You can further supplement these skills and experiences with a dual degree addition, in law, public health, divinity, or public administration.
The social work school at UConn is also home to the Center for International Social Work Studies, the Institute for Political Social Work, and the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project. Graduates from this unique and strongly ranked MSW program have found fulfilling work in a diverse range of fields. They’ve become bilingual youth workers, rape crisis responders, policy analysts, trauma specialists, grant developers, lobbyists, hospice social workers, and much, much more.
UConn’s MSW, ranked among the fifty best programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, is both affordable and a good investment; graduates earn over 53k annually in the first years of their careers. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 83.25
Average Annual Tuition: $25,460
At Tulane University you can earn your MSW degree in as few as sixteen months of full time study. However, if you plan to dual enroll it may take upwards of two years. Tulane offers a few pretty unique joint programs such as the Public Health and Tropical Medicine degree and the Disaster Resilience Leadership Studies degree. Aside from these distinctive features, students complete traditional social work course work, in policy, theory, diversity and social justice, community organizing and advocacy, and direct practice with individuals, families, and groups.
In the last half of the program, MSW students take a practicum in each quarter, totaling three distinct practicum experiences. Thus, as a Tulane student you will gain diverse, hands-on learning experience. You will also have access to some of the most innovative social work research centers and projects in the country. Tulane’s School of Social Work also houses the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, the Traumatology Institute, the Highly Vulnerable Children Research Center, and the Institute for Psychosocial Health, among others.
Tulane’s average tuition cost can be mitigated further through a number of scholarships sponsored and offered by the university. This MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Portland State University
CC Score: 83
Average Annual Tuition: $13,741
Portland State University’s Master of Social Work program can be completed in a number of places throughout the state, including on its main campus in Portland or online. PSU students are equipped to provide advanced care and present leadership in healthcare and aging care, clinical mental health, services to children and families, or care of communities and organizations. PSU also introduces students to systemic operations of oppression and privilege, then teaches those students how to analyze, formulate, and influence policies to advance social and economic justice, thereby dismantling those systems.
Portland’s program can be completed in one to four years, depending on undergraduate experience and pace of study. Students can pair the MSW with a Master in Public Health degree, a graduate certificate in gerontology, or the school social work licensure track. The online MSW takes three years to finish and follows a structured curriculum and cohort model. It is also only available to students who want to concentrate in community and organizational leadership, and campus visits are required before each academic year.
Portland State University’s MSW programs (including all campuses and online) are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Michigan State University
CC Score: 82.75
Average Annual Tuition: $31,050
Whether you train in clinical social work because you want to work with individuals or families or you concentrate in organization and community leadership, the MSW program at Michigan State University takes its students through the foundations of research and practice methodology and offers certification opportunities in eight areas: addiction studies, chance at childhood, child welfare, clinical social work with families, evidence-based trauma treatment, gerontology, school social work, and social work in health care.
From half a dozen scholarship opportunities to one of the biggest study abroad programs on our list (more than 260 locations and practicums in over sixty countries and on all continents), Michigan State has a lot to offer you. Furthermore, a leader in land-grant higher education, Michigan State is committed to community outreach and encourages its MSW students to participate in one of the four community programs: Chance at Childhood, FAME (Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence), Kinship Care Resource Center, or the Veterinary Social Work Services.
Michigan State University’s School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Florida State University
CC Score: 82.5
Average Annual Tuition: $23,954
The College of Social Work at Florida State University offers a Master of Social Work degree that has received national attention for its renowned faculty, its flexibility in working with students of all stripes and situations, and its devotion to educating the next generation of social justice leaders and innovators. MSW students specialize in either direct clinical care or social leadership through one of the many learning models offered by FSU, including an online degree option and part-time study. Joint degrees—in business administration, law, public health, or criminology—are also available.
Florida State University is also home to the Multidisciplinary Center, a diagnostic and training center that serves young children facing complex academic, medical, emotional, or behavioral problems. As a MSW student you will have the opportunity to collaborate with the center, or with one of the six research institutions on the FSU campus, including the Florida Institute for Child Welfare, the Trinity Institute for Addictions, the Institute for Family Violence, and the Health and Aging Initiative, among others.
Florida State University’s College of Social Work and all of its various MSW programs (including the online degree) are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Albany SUNY
CC Score: 81.75
Average Annual Tuition: $21,975
The University of Albany has graduated MSW students who have gone on become representatives in government agencies, business CEOs, hospital directors and caregivers, successful private practitioners, and much more. That’s because this Master of Social Work program gives students the skills and knowledge to address social needs at a variety of levels, and because students learn from a faculty ranked in the top 5 percent nationwide for research productivity and contributions. Not only will you have the opportunity to work closely with them, but to you will have the chance to study abroad and work closely with nationally and internationally renowned faculty as well.
As an Albany student you can expect core classes on welfare policy and services, human behavior and the social environment, field instruction, and research methodology, as well as electives that cover systems management, community building, evaluation of clinical practice, organizations in a changing environment, and more. Like many other schools on our list, you can earn a dual degree, in criminal justice, law, public health, or bioethics.
The University of Albany (a SUNY institution) is a great option for graduate study, as it is ranked among the top twenty-five best MSW programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and it offers competitive tuition rates with high returns on investment. This program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Colorado State University
CC Score: 81
Average Annual Tuition: $16,614
With three on-campus options and an off-campus distance education program (hybrid online plus classroom learning at a part-time pace), Colorado State University ensures each of their Master of Social Work students have the best educational experience possible. This program engages an interdisciplinary, evidence-based approach to social systems in order to teach students how best to contribute to the advancement of human justice and well-being. Students learn how to work in diverse environments with diverse populations, and they deepen their commitments to the promotion of human rights, social and economic justice, and the elimination of all forms of oppression.
Colorado State University, in addition to offering a joint degree program in public health, also offers certification in advanced clinical behavior health, conflict resolution and mediation, and pre-K through twelfth grade school social work. Outside of these options, MSW students do not further specialize. They gain a generalist training at Colorado State through an introduction to the accredited social work foundational core and are then provided with advanced training through field work and advanced electives.
Colorado State University’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
San Diego State University
CC Score: 80.25
Average Annual Tuition: $7,800
At San Diego State University you can concentrate in either direct practice and clinical care or in administration and community development while earning a MSW degree in one to four years (depending on past educational experience and pace). Regardless of structure, all MSW students build a solid foundation of skills in social welfare policy services, research methodology, and civic engagement. And all students are given the opportunity to collaborate with renowned faculty members who are conducting research through SDSU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services, the Center on Aging, the Consensus Organizing Center, and the Social Policy Institute.
San Diego State is an already affordable option, but on top of that they offer two stipend programs that help fund the MSW degree: the Title-IV Child Welfare Stipend Program and the Integrated Behavioral Health Stipend Program. Both are competitive and both supply educational support in the form of stipends or educational reimbursements, but the former is for those MSW students who are devoted to creating a career in public child welfare. The latter is for those seeking vocational opportunities in the behavioral health services.
San Diego State University’s School of Social Work and MSW program are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Denver
CC Score: 80.26
Average Annual Tuition: $45,288
Among all the programs on this ranking, the University of Denver’s MSSW program has some of the most concentration options to choose, as well as some of the most unique academic opportunities. Foremost, this two-year program builds a solid foundation of social work practice, research, and development in its students. It then paves the way toward specialized training with its eight concentration options, in aging services and policy, child welfare, risks and healthy development in children and youth, family systems, health and wellness, organizational leadership and policy practice, and sustainable development and global practice. Most notable however, the University of Denver is the only school on our list to offer certification in animal-assisted social work (one can also become certified in social work with Latino/as).
With an emphasis on global and community outreach, Denver MSSW students should expect a curriculum and field practicum experience marked by service to vulnerable populations who are impacted by global forces and systems. This is clear by the work students have gone on to do; Denver graduates have become policy analysts, immigration reform advocates, family therapists, adoption specialists, agency directors, and more.
The University of Denver’s MSSW program, top-ranked by U.S. News & World Report, is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CUNY Hunter College
CC Score: 79.25
Average Annual Tuition: $40,679
The Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY’s Hunter College offers one of the most intensive, hands-on Master of Social Work programs on our ranking. Students must devote themselves full-time to the program, spending two days in the classroom and a full three days in their field placement. Core classes cover policy, behavior, methodology, community organizing, and research, and electives allow students to specialize in aging, children and youth services, immigrants and global social work, health and mental health, and world of work.
Hunter College, part of the renowned CUNY system, is also the site of much recognized social work research and project initiatives, all of which you will have access to as a student. The National Center for Child Welfare Excellence, the Center for the Advancement of Critical Time Intervention, and the Hartford Center of Excellence in Diverse Aging are just some of the places you can get involved while earning your degree at Hunter. And finally, there’s also the Executive Leadership Fellows program, which specifically trains those MSW students seeking CEO career rolls after graduation.
Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work and its MSW program are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Bryn Mawr College
CC Score: 79
Average Annual Tuition: $18,360
The Master of Social Service degree program at Byrn Mawr College will provide you with innumerable skills, insights, and abilities. You will learn how to integrate theory, practice, policy, research, and ethics. You will develop strong capabilities in assessment, intervention, and evaluation. You will cultivate a critical awareness of the social and cultural forces that influence individuals, families, organizations, and communities at the local, national, and global level. But perhaps most importantly, Byrn Mawr will nurture your passion for social and economic justice and create in you an effective agent for change.
Whether you want to study clinical social work in order to do direct care or you want to study community practice, policy, and advocacy, this program will serve you as a student and throughout your career. This is especially true if you connect with the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute, Bryn Mawr’s celebrated research and networking center that brings together students, faculty, and leaders in the field to provide advance leadership training and social work experience. Specifically, the Executive Leadership Certificate and the Ascending Leadership Certificate provide students with the opportunity to grow as leaders and stand apart from the crowd.
Bryn Mawr College’s MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
St. Louis University
CC Score: 78.5
Average Annual Tuition: $27,750
Through St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice you can work on your MSW at either a full or part-time pace. You can also study direct clinical social work, applied behavior analysis, or community and organization social work, pairing the specialization with an additional area of focus, of which there are many: criminal justice, community mental health, gerontology, health practice, global social work, nonprofit administration, veteran services, trauma-informed practice, therapy with individuals and families, substance use treatment, school social work, and practice with children and youth.
At St. Louis University you can earn a dual degree in law, public administration, or public health while earning your Master of Social Work degree. But not only that, there are four religious graduate degrees that can also be paired with the MSW: a MA in Spiritual care and Deaconess Studies, a Masters of Divinity, a MA in Pastoral Studies, or a MA in Theology. So, clearly, this program brings a lot of variation, but no matter how you tailor your educational experience through St. Louis University, you are guaranteed to graduate an agent of social change.
Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice and its MSW program are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 78
Average Annual Tuition: $20,068
Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work brings a faith-based perspective and mission to social justice to fully equip students to work as clinicians, counselors, program planners, administrators, or community developers. There are a number of ways to structure your MSW at Baylor. You can study clinical practice and specialize in either physical and mental health or children and families. Or, if you’re more interested in societal social work, you can major in community practice. And all students may work closely with a professor to further focus in global mission leadership, church social work, gerontology, or trauma care.
Perhaps most notable about Baylor’s social work programs are the research cluster initiatives. Committed to developing new, innovative research, the Garland School of Social Work gives students the opportunity to partner with faculty and leading researchers in over half a dozen areas of investigation: community and organization, faith and practice, gerontology, human rights and global practice, mental health, multicultural studies, social work education, and trauma response. These research clusters are the heart of the Baylor experience and are why Baylor makes the list for best MSW programs in the country.
Baylor’s Garland School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
CC Score: 77.25
Average Annual Tuition: $32,825
At the Simmons School of Social Work MSW students focus on clinical direct care through a curriculum that combines education and practice with social justice values and multicultural perspectives. Thus, students take classes on racism and oppression, assessment and diagnosis, human behavior, social welfare policy, research, and program evaluation. This two-year program can be shortened into fifteen months through an accelerated track, or it can be lengthened to thirty-two months for those who wish to take classes at a slower clip. All students, however, must complete a minimum of 1,120 hours of field placement in an approved agency.
Even though all Simmons’ MSW students study clinical social work, they can enroll in one of four specialized courses of study: child and family, mental health and addictions, trauma and interpersonal violence, and the individualized course of study (ICS). ICS students design their academic experience around their specific interests and career goals, working closely with faculty to investigate niche areas of practice and to develop skills working with diverse populations.
Simmons College, located in Boston, is a private university with a woman-focused undergrad population but a coed graduate school. The Simmons School of Social Work at Simmons College is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Arizona State University
CC Score: 76.75
Average Annual Tuition: $18,999
Arizona State University is a top-ranked research institution with accolades from U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly. The School of Social Work mirrors this prestige with its renowned Master of Social Work program. Though students can earn a traditional MSW at Arizona State—by specializing in advanced direct practice or in planning, administration, and community practice—this program is a perfect fit for those who plan to allocate their focus on populations in the Southwest.
Additionally, the ASU program is a great option for those most interested in child welfare, because the MSW Child Welfare Education Project is at the core of the School of Social Work. Nearly thirty years old, this project is a collaboration between the school and the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Students who participate get first-hand knowledge of and practice in dismantling oppression’s role in marginalizing families. These students also learn research techniques, how to promote social justice in both private and public sectors, and how to disseminate important information on the state of child welfare in an effort to improve and advance family systems. MSW students who participate in the project often receive financial aid in the form of stipends.
Arizona State University’s School of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
University of Tennessee Knoxville
CC Score: 76.25
Average Annual Tuition: $21,708
At the University of Tennessee Knoxville you can earn advanced certification in gerontology, trauma, veterinary social work, or a school social work licensure alongside the Master of Social Work degree. You won’t just take advanced electives when gaining certification, you’ll engage in specific field studies to have hands-on experience. Outside of these advanced standings, MSW students at UT Knoxville enroll in one of the two traditional social work tracks: the macro, community and organization track or the clinical, direct practice track.
The latter clinical concentration is heavily steeped in evidence-based interpersonal practice and prepares students to work in community mental health centers, nonprofit agencies, psychiatric clinics, schools, hospitals, prisons, and (of course) private practices. The organizational leadership track equally equips students, who find work in management, social-economic development, in all levels of government, and in nonprofit organizations. At UT Knoxville you can earn your MSW degree in one year (if you already have a BSW), in two years of full-time study, or three to four years of part-time study. There’s even an option to study online!
The MSW program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.