Best Online Master’s In Social Work Degrees

A master's degree in social work can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the top online programs of 2022.

Best Online Master’s In Social Work Degrees

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Masters of Social Work Online

Social justice has become a hot topic in today’s society. The reality is that there will always be winners and losers in the system, and the field of social work aims to help those who are most vulnerable.

If you have the desire to work with diverse groups of people and advocate for them, the field of social work may be one you should consider. Although you do not need a degree to help people or to make a difference, a master’s in social work gives you the clinical training needed to understand the theory and policy experience to make change happen. Social workers are employed in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, non-profit organizations, the government, and even prisons. Chances are, you have probably met a social worker and not even realized it!

These schools were chosen based on factors such as overall excellence, affordability, and job placement rates after graduation. Keep reading to find out which online degree may be able to work with your schedule and career goals.

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Online Social Work Programs

Explore our featured online programs and find the right match for you today.

What kind of master’s degree in social work should you get?

An online degree may be more favorable for you than a traditional on-campus one if you wish to continue working full-time while going to school. Not only are online programs usually more affordable (typically there is no difference between in and out-of-state tuition), they also allow you to earn your degree at your own pace. Several of the programs listed in this ranking have both part- and full-time options, giving you complete control over your degree. There are two types of online courses: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous courses meet at designated times via an online platform, while asynchronous courses are recorded and can be completed at any time before the specified deadline.

Almost anyone can apply for an online master’s degree in social work, so long as they already have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Those who have a bachelor’s, but not necessarily in social work, are often admitted into traditional programs that take two to three years to complete. By contrast, those with a bachelor’s in social work are often admitted to “advanced standing” accelerated programs that can be completed in about one or two years.

Check out last year’s ranking of the 50 best on-campus MSW degrees here.

How much money does someone with an online Master of Social Work degree make?

Whether you studied for your master’s online or on campus, there should be no difference in the salary you earn, as your diploma will never say “online” on it. According to PayScale, the average salary of someone in the U.S. with an MSW degree is $52,000. A licensed clinical social worker earns $57,000 on average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of fall 2018, the median salary of all social workers was slightly lower, at $49,470. It should be noted that while you do not necessarily need a license to work in the field, a majority of people who consider themselves a “social worker” do have a license to practice and thus make slightly more, on average, than their non-licensed peers.

State, workplace (i.e., public versus private sector), and years of experience all influence one’s salary. The top-paying states for child, family, and school social workers are the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. Metropolitan areas boast the highest rate of employment for social workers. Between 2016 and 2026, it is estimated that this field will experience a growth of 16%, which is higher than the national average.

What can you do with an online Master of Social Work degree?

The most common career path after obtaining an MSW is to become a licensed social worker. There are three main types of social workers, as listed by the BLS:

  • Child, family, and school social workers
  • Medical and public health social workers
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers

Social workers are not counselors or therapists, nor do they have the license or training to “treat” people like psychologists or doctors do, but they may work alongside other professionals in the health care field. In general, social workers seek to help the overall wellbeing of individuals, either on a personal or societal level. They may work with children in at-risk families or campaign with non-profit organizations to change certain laws.

What are the requirements for an online Master of Social Work degree?

Schools prefer applicants with either a BSW or another bachelor’s degree and a GPA of at least 3.0. After being admitted into a program, students take foundational courses (if in a traditional MSW program) and then move on to more advanced courses (specialization requirements or electives). Depending on the program, students may also participate in a field placement/internship at the beginning of the degree program, or start one after they complete their foundational coursework.

Each school and state has its own requirements for the minimum hours of field placement/internship that must be completed in order to graduate. This hands-on experience is not only important for developing one’s hard skills, it is also necessary if one wishes to become a licensed social worker. Please note that not all programs listed in this ranking have explicitly stated that their curriculum leads to state licensure. If the program does allow its graduates to sit for licensure, usually the curriculum only meets the licensure requirements of the state where the school’s main campus is located.

Best Online Master's in Social Work Degrees

#1

Boston University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 19%
Graduation Rate 88%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

At Boston University, degree-seekers can choose from a variety of online graduate programs. One option includes a master of social work designed for degree-holders with a bachelor’s in social work or a related field. This program emphasizes rigorous academics and a flexible learning format.

A 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio facilitates faculty mentorship opportunities and collaboration. Faculty teach a rigorous curriculum that both educates and engages enrollees. Earning a master's can lead to higher pay and more job opportunities.

Annual tuition costs $54,720. Financial aid such as grants and scholarships help many degree-seekers afford their education. Learners can also apply for financial aid, which about 31% of the school’s enrollees use.

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#2

Case Western Reserve University

School Information
Location Cleveland, Ohio
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 84%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The master of social work at Case Western Reserve University is a top-ranked degree designed for online social work students. The program prepares learners for high-level careers not always available to those who hold a bachelor’s alone. Some master's graduates go on to pursue a doctorate.

Many degree-seekers like the program's online format. This flexibility gives students more control over their schedules and makes it easier to juggle multiple priorities. Enrollees benefit from a supportive learning environment.

Degree-seekers interested in pursuing a master’s usually need a bachelor’s in the major or a related field to apply. Though some programs post different averages, the school accepts about 27% of all who apply. Ohio students pay around $46,524 per year for tuition. Learners can use grants, loans, and scholarships to help fund their education.

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#3

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

At the University of Southern California, enrollees can earn a top-ranked master of social work while they work or juggle other responsibilities. The Los Angeles-based institution offers 55 online master's programs. This degree offers a flexible online format that accommodates the needs of busy professionals.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree in the major or a related one unless otherwise stated on the program or admissions website. Many degree-seekers find value in earning a master's due to increased potential job opportunities and higher pay. Master's graduates can also pursue a Ph.D. or other terminal degree.

The school charges $46,272 annually in tuition. Qualifying learners can lower degree costs through financial aid like grants and scholarships. Loans are another way to help pay for part or all of tuition.

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#4

Fordham University

School Information
Location Bronx, New York
Admission Rate 46%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The master of social work at Fordham University maintains high ranking among similar online programs. Learners acquire advanced skills that employers want in middle- to high-level professionals. Some students earn this master's so they can pursue a doctorate in the future.

Many learners find the program's online format appealing. The program gives lets them manage various aspects of their lives without sacrificing the advanced education a master’s degree provides. The school features a supportive and student-focused academic environment, whether learners study in person or online.

The application requirements include a bachelor’s degree and transcripts. Though some programs post different averages, the school accepts about 46% of all who apply. Degree-seekers can use financial aid such as loans and grants to pay the annual tuition, which costs approximately $34,608 for New York enrollees.

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#5

Florida State University

School Information
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Earning a graduate degree is achievable at Florida State University because of an institutional emphasis on flexibility. A master of social work ranks among 13 online master's degrees delivered from the Tallahassee-based school. The program’s appeal includes a flexible online format that lets enrollees work and pursue other interests.

A bachelor’s in the major is a typical requirement for many master’s programs. However, criteria vary by program. The enhanced job opportunities and potentially higher pay make a master's a worthy pursuit for many degree-seekers. The program also prepares graduates for a terminal degree such as a Ph.D.

Florida students pay $9,684 per year in tuition while learners elsewhere pay $24,116. Degree candidates can use resources at the financial aid department to find out if they qualify for grants and scholarships. Students can also take out loans to pay for all or part of the program.

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#6

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

School Information
Location New Brunswick, New Jersey
Admission Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick delivers one of the nation’s top-ranked online master of social work degrees. Learners from around the country pursue this degree to build on prior knowledge attained in a bachelor’s. Master's graduates can go on to pursue a terminal degree like a doctorate.

Many enrollees find the program's convenient online format appealing. This flexibility gives students more control over their schedules and makes it easier to juggle multiple priorities. Degree candidates receive faculty support and can access services such as career advising.

The application requirements include a bachelor’s degree, unless the program states otherwise. The admission rate is an average of 61% of applicants. Tuition costs $17,736 annually. Students can help fund their education with grants, loans, and scholarships.

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#7

Simmons University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Simmons University is a private college. The institution’s seven online master's degrees attract learners who want to attend graduate school online. One option includes a master of social work.

The program's flexibility and adaptability make it an attractive choice for many graduate students. Caretakers, professionals, and other busy enrollees may immediately see how they can balance work, family, and their education. The degree provides a rigorous education that does not sacrifice strong preparation for career advancement.

Applicants receive admittance at a rate of 73% per year, but some programs may vary. Interested learners need a bachelor's degree to receive consideration, but other requirements may apply. Contact the program to learn more.

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#8

Campbellsville University

School Information
Location Campbellsville, Kentucky
Admission Rate 70%
Graduation Rate 36%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 77% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Campbellsville, Kentucky-based Campbellsville University is a private college with graduate programs in different fields. The institution’s 14 online master's programs attract degree-seekers who want to study from wherever they live. Among the options includes a master of social work.

Graduate students can achieve their academic goals while attending to busy lives when they enroll. Professionals, caretakers, and other busy enrollees can attend virtual sessions and complete assignments at convenient times. The program provides this opportunity without sacrificing the rigor that prepares students for higher-level work and further education.

Applicants receive admittance at a rate of 70% per year, but some programs may vary. Degree-seekers need a bachelor’s degree for admission to most master’s programs. Visit the program web page or contact the admissions department for application details.

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#9

The Catholic University of America

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 72%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Without significantly interrupting their lives, graduate students can earn social work degrees at The Catholic University of America, an institution that emphasizes flexibility and accessibility. Remote learners can choose from eight online master's degrees, including a master of social work delivered from the Washington, District of Columbia, location. This program offers a flexible online format that accommodates the needs of busy professionals and others who work.

Application requirements include a bachelor’s degree in the same field or other criteria as stipulated on the program website. The master's program provides advanced education beyond a bachelor’s, preparing enrollees for career advancement and other opportunities. Some graduates continue onto a doctorate in this field.

Competitive tuition rates are a key selling point at this school, which charges enrollees $48,000 per year. Education funding options include institutional scholarships and grants. Degree-seekers can also explore opportunities from foundations and other nonprofits. Many students take out loans from the government or private banks.

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#10

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

School Information
Location Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 68%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College has a reputation for developing rigorous online graduate programs. The master of social work is one of those degrees, designed for graduates with a bachelor’s in social work or a related field. Enrollees maintain more control over their schedules by completing the rigorous graduate curriculum remotely.

Learners benefit from the school's 20-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. Degree candidates gain the advanced training employers want in potential hires knowledgeable about social work best practices. Graduates leave the program equipped for more advanced career opportunities and the option to pursue a doctoral program.

Degree-seekers pay a yearly average of $9,132. Many enrollees work with the financial aid department to identify aid such as scholarships and grants. About 32% of the school's learners take out student loans.

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#11

Humboldt State University

School Information
Location Arcata, California
Admission Rate 92%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Humboldt State University is home to rigorous graduate programs, some available online. Students with a bachelor’s in social work may find the master of social work program especially appealing. Enrollees maintain more control over their schedules by completing the rigorous graduate curriculum remotely.

Degree-seekers benefit from the school's 19-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. Students acquire the advanced training employers want in potential hires knowledgeable about social work best practices. Obtaining this degree benefits those who want to advance their careers and pursue higher-paying positions.

Tuition depends on learners' residency status, with California students paying $7,176 annually. Out-of-state degree candidates pay $16,680. Many students qualify for financial aid such as grants and scholarships from the school and third parties. Student loans are another option, with about 50% of enrollees using this popular funding stream to afford their education.

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#12

Virginia Commonwealth University

School Information
Location Richmond, Virginia
Admission Rate 87%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Prospective social work graduate students should consider Virginia Commonwealth University for flexible programs that let them earn an advanced degree while they work. The Richmond, Virginia, school offers top-ranked degrees such as the master of social work among 16 online master's programs. This adaptable degree is ideal for full-time workers, caregivers, and others who want to pursue graduate education but need flexibility.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree in the major or a related one unless otherwise stated on the program or admissions website. Master's candidates engage in intensive coursework that prepares them for more advanced career opportunities than undergraduate programs allow. Some graduates interested in research, academia, or related positions go on to pursue a Ph.D.

Virginia enrollees pay an average of $12,701 per year, while those elsewhere pay $26,039. Paying for tuition is always a concern, and grants and scholarships are an avenue for exploration. Students can help pay for a graduate degree with federal loans.

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#13

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

School Information
Location Durham, New Hampshire
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 76%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of New Hampshire-Main Campus offers flexible programs that let students earn a degree while they work and maintain other obligations. The school's master of social work program uses a flexible online format that appeals to many degree-seekers.

Applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree or a related credential to apply to master’s programs. The program offers advanced training for careers and other opportunities a bachelor’s alone could not provide. Master's graduates may go on to pursue a terminal degree such as a Ph.D.

Competitive tuition rates are a key selling point at this school, which charges New Hampshire students $14,170 per year. Out-of-state enrollees pay $27,810. Learners can use resources at the financial aid department to find out if they qualify for grants and scholarships. Students can help pay for a graduate degree with federal loans.

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#14

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

School Information
Location Knoxville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is a public college with graduate programs in different fields. Students interested in graduate programs they can pursue from a distance can choose from 10 online master's programs. Among the options includes a master of science in social work.

Graduate students can appreciate online education's flexibility and adaptability. Recorded video sessions may be available to allow anytime viewing, and faculty may let enrollees complete coursework at their own pace within a given timeframe. The institution boasts deep experience providing rigorous programs that emphasize both quality and flexible learning.

The admittance rate is 79% per year overall, but this rate varies between programs. The requisite background for entry into a master’s program is usually a bachelor’s degree and other requirements. Prospective learners can view application details on the program web page.

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#15

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

School Information
Location Indianapolis, Indiana
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis offers online graduate programs that emphasize quality and affordability. The master of social work appeals to learners with a bachelor’s in social work who want to earn an advanced degree online. The program blends academic rigor and online course delivery that is flexible and affordable.

Enrollees study in classes with a 15-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio that is conducive to personalized learning. The curriculum immerses learners in advanced knowledge and training in social work. The rigorous academic preparation that a master’s provides makes potential employees stands out.

The institution charges Indiana students $8,826 in tuition per year and $24,144 for those living elsewhere. Many degree-seekers qualify for financial aid such as grants and scholarships from the school and third parties. Degree candidates can also take out student loans, which about 43% of enrollees use at this institution.

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#16

Texas State University

School Information
Location San Marcos, Texas
Admission Rate 81%
Graduation Rate 54%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Texas State University’s master of social work ranks highly among similar programs and may appeal to social work students wanting to study online. The program equips learners with advanced training that can lead to career advancement in their field. Some master's graduates go on to pursue a doctorate.

Enrollees maintain more control over their schedules. Students do not need to sacrifice other important aspects of their lives such as work and family to earn this degree. The school ensures that degree-seekers receive the personalized attention they need, whether they study in person or online.

For consideration, applicants usually need a bachelor's degree. Though some programs post different averages, the school accepts about 81% of all who apply. If accepted, students in Texas can expect to pay around $6,751 per year before applying grants, loans, and scholarships.

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#17

Our Lady of the Lake University

School Information
Location San Antonio, Texas
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 42%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Our Lady of the Lake University is a private college in San Antonio, Texas. The institution’s six online master's degrees attract students who want to attend graduate school online. The master of social work degree may appeal to learners interested in the social work field.

Graduate students can use online education such as this program to accomplish a goal that may otherwise seem unachievable because of logistical issues. Caretakers, workers, and other busy enrollees may find it easy to work this master’s degree into their schedules. A key feature of online learning here is a blend of academic rigor and flexibility that strongly prepares students for advanced positions in their field.

Overall, about 68% of applicants get admitted each year, with some variations between programs. The requisite background for entry into a master’s program is usually a bachelor’s degree and other requirements. Consult with the program to learn more about application requirements and deadlines.

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#18

The University of Alabama

School Information
Location Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Admission Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Alabama, a public college, develops programs that provide a unique learning experience requiring little to no attendance on the Tuscaloosa campus. The institution’s 23 master's degrees available from a distance help make the college a leader in online graduate education. One of these is the master of social work.

Online education's flexibility and adaptability make it an attractive choice for many graduate students. Learners can earn the degree by attending sessions and completing coursework at convenient times that often do not require real-time interaction. Students receive the rigorous academic preparation they expect without sacrificing quality.

An acceptance rate of 83% of applicants is the average, with some variations across programs. Degree-seekers usually need a bachelor’s degree in the major or a related field for entry into a master’s program. Prospective applicants can learn more by contacting the program.

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#19

University of New England

School Information
Location Biddeford, Maine
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

At the University of New England, degree-seekers can choose from a variety of online graduate programs. One of these options is a master of social work for degree-holders with a bachelor’s in social work or a related field. Enrollees can complete the graduate curriculum remotely, ensuring they maintain more control over their schedules.

Degree-seekers benefit from the program's 13-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. The biggest attraction is the educational attainment acquired when learners complete a rigorous curriculum delivered by social work experts. In an increasingly competitive workforce, those with a master’s degree stand out.

Tuition costs $23,498 in tuition annually. Financial aid such as grants and scholarships helps many degree-seekers afford their education. Students can also explore financial aid, which about 48% of the school’s enrollees use to fund their education.

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#20

Washburn University

School Information
Location Topeka, Kansas
Graduation Rate 46%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Washburn University has a reputation for developing rigorous online graduate programs. Students with a bachelor’s in social work may want to explore the top-ranked master of social work. This program emphasizes rigorous academics and a flexible learning format.

Enrollees benefit from a 15-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. Learners complete specialized coursework and training focused on advanced theoretical concepts and practices in social work. Earning a master's can help graduates advance their careers and pursue higher-paying positions.

Tuition costs $9,306 per year for Kansas students and $18,788 for out-of-state enrollees. Many learners at the institution qualify for grants and scholarships to help reduce the price of tuition. At this institution, about 43% of enrollees use student loans to finance all or part of their program.

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