Looking to grow as a professional social worker? Interested in the social work field professionally, but don’t have much money to spend or the ability to pack up and move away for school?
Look no further than College Choice’s easy to understand rankings lists, where we scour the academy and the Internet for information on the most affordable online MSW programs. We also have a ranking dedicated to the Most Affordable Online Master’s Programs.
How much money can you make with an Online Master’s in Social Work?
Social workers are the unsung heroes of society. Sometimes the profession gets saddled with unfairly low compensation for high-stress work. But you can actually find quite a bit of work out there that pays well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers typically make anywhere from $48k to $79k per year.
It’s no surprise that there is a steady demand for the work. And it looks as though that demand will increase by over 16 percent over the next eight year. The largest demand is for healthcare social workers and substance abuse social workers.
What can you do with an Online Master’s in Social Work?
Our communities are in dire need of healthy, constructive ways to relate to one another. Social workers are working hard to be the leaders in this change. We need social workers in virtually all sectors of society. Here are a few areas in which you could use your degree:
- Child and Family Social Workers
- Healthcare Social Workers
- Mental Health Social Workers
- School Social Workers
- Substance Abuse Social Workers
What are the requirements for an Online Master’s in Social Work?
While all of these program share in their ultimate focus of an affordable online Master’s in Social Work, they all have slight differences. Being aware of what you’re looking for can help you select the program that’s perfect for you.
Most of the programs will cover 50 to 70 credit hours in total. Curricula will vary between them. Some put emphasis on a specific area of social work—like clinical social work or school social work. Others require a hands-on practicum to prepare you for licensing. The best thing you can do is thoroughly research the top three programs on your short-list and see what fits your schedule and budget.
What are the Most Affordable Online Master’s in Social Work?
If you’re looking for a cheap online Master’s in Social Work, then you already know the professional path to take. Let College Choice help make that decision a bit easier by rooting through the data to find you a cheap online MSW that you can afford and get excited to attend.
Our rankings are made using data from extensive studies published from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA where students rated their college experiences in a variety of areas including tuition expenses, financial aid coverage, academic reputation, and after-college job placement. In addition, we’ve compared that data to other public sources like U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.
Take a look below for some options!
See our rankings methodology page.
Campbellsville University has a few cheap online social work degrees, but none more popular than the MSW. This program marries Christian ideals to passionate social work service and provides students with a solid foundation in clinical work. This university is regionally accredited by the SACS COC.
This degree requires traditional students to complete 60 credit hours of coursework while Advanced Standing students need only 30 credit hours of coursework. All students must finish a 1,000 fieldwork practicum. Highlight classes include:
- World Problems and Advocacy
- Advanced Practice with Children and Families
- Change Theory
As the fourth most affordable Christian university in the nation, Campbellsville believes in keeping the cost of education down and within everyone’s reach. That’s why this online MSW costs just $559 per credit hour, including online distance and technology fees. Other lab fees for elective courses may apply. Military members and family get a discount at Campbellsville and other financial aid is available.
Western New Mexico University
Western New Mexico University confers a cheap online MSW option for students who want to learn at the university but don’t live in the area. This program is perfect for students who want to become LCSWs and need a pathway forward. The university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC, and the MSW program holds special accreditation from the CSWE.
This degree requires 64 credit hours of coursework as well as 1,000 hours of fieldwork experience. Advanced Standing students will find that they only have to fulfill 34 credit hours of coursework. After graduation, students will be eligible to sit for state licensure. A sampling of courses includes:
- Social Welfare Policy
- Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice
- Community Organization and Development
- Social Work in the School Setting
WNMU offers two tuition rates at the graduate level. In-state students pay $895.02 per three credit hours. Out-of-state students pay $1,021.11 per three credit hours. This includes online and technology fees. Financial aid is available for students who qualify.
Walden University is a great online destination for all students, but particularly those interested in social work. This school confers a cheap online MSW that comes with four concentrations and specializations. This university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. The program has further accreditation by the CSWE.
This program requires 92 total quarter credits, 70 of which come from the social work major, and 1,000 clock hours of a fieldwork practicum. While this is an online degree, two residencies are also required. Graduates will be eligible to sit for state licensure exams if they so choose; however, students are advised that requirements for licensure vary by state, so research will be necessary. Possible concentrations within the degree include:
- Advanced Clinical Practice
- Military Social Work
- Social Work in Healthcare
Walden has one tuition rate for all students, regardless of residency. It amounts to $540 per quarter hour. There is also a residency and technology fee that are included in the total tuition rate. Students do have access to financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants.
Washburn University confers an affordable online MSW that gives students the opportunity to either earn a dual degree or focus on clinical practice. The program was designed for students who may want to go into law with a social work background or who would like to become LCSWs. This university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC. The program is independently accredited by the CSWE.
The MSW from Washburn has different requirements, depending on if a student is Traditional or Advanced Standing and if they are taking the foundational courses, concentrating on clinical practicums, or getting a dual JD-MSW degree. However, this program generally requires 63 credit hours 1,120 hours of fieldwork practicum. All graduates will be eligible to sit for state licensure. Elective courses include:
- Mental Health and the Law
- Clinical Social Work Practice with Trauma
- Adult Mental Health
- Geriatric Social Work
Students, regardless of residency, all pay one flat rate of $478 per credit hour. This amount excludes most fees and does not account for lab and professional fees for individual courses. Financial aid and military discounts are available for students who qualify. Students are advised to speak with a financial aid advisor for more information.
University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington confers an online MSW that is affordable for everyone. The program is fully online and taught in a cohort model. This university is regionally accredited by the SACS COC. It is independently accredited by the CSWE.
The program comes with two concentrations and a variety of requirements for both Advanced Standing and Traditional students. Traditional students currently must take 64 credit hours of coursework and 1,000 clock hours of fieldwork. Advanced Standing students have roughly half those requirements. Specific classes include:
- Social Policy and Child Welfare
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Seminar in Family Therapy
- Treating Parent and Child Relationships
This program is incredibly cheap. Students pay $425 per credit hour, not including fees. That’s the same rate for all students, regardless of residency. On top of the online education and technology fee, there may be some lab and professional fees for different courses.
Boston University offers a cheap online MSW through the Boston University of Social Work. This degree has two specializations, clinical and macro social work, and is ideal for students who are interested in becoming LCSWs in their state. This university is regionally accredited by the NEASC. The program has separate accreditation by the CSWE.
The BU MSW degree requires 65 credit hours for graduation and 1,000 clock hours of a field internship. Advancing Standing students will only have to fulfill 43 credit hours of coursework and 1,000 clock hours of field work. Students who graduate from this program will be prepared to sit for state licensure. A sampling of courses includes:
- Clinical Practice with Groups
- Human Behavior in the Social Environment
- Adult Psychopathology
- Communities and Organizations: Analysis and Intervention
The university doesn’t like to play games with students, especially where tuition is concerned. BU believes that being transparent is key, which is why it lists the tuition rate for the degree right within the program overview. This degree costs $750 per credit. An additional student service and technology fee of $120 per credit is also mandatory. Financial aid is available.
Texas State University offers an affordable online MSW for social work students. This program was created for students in the South who want to make a difference as an LCSW or a generalist practitioner. This university is regionally accredited by the SACS COC. The program is independently accredited by the CSWE.
This program requires 62 credits of coursework, all available online, as well as 1,100 clock hours of fieldwork experience. Advanced standing students will have half of these requirements. There are a variety of discounts for veterans and family members as well as scholarships and grants. Work-study is also available at this school. Classes include:
- Human Behavior in Family Social Environments
- Social Welfare Policy and Services
- Social Work Intervention in Drug Addiction & Abuse
TSUSM has very affordable rates for online graduate students. In-state students pay $301 per credit hour and out-of-state students pay $691 per credit hour. These do not include online distance education or technology fees. Other fees may apply depending on the course and will be included in the course description.
University of North Dakota
The University of North Dakota confers an online MSW for students who are interested in becoming clinical social workers. The program was recently ranked in the Top Most Affordable Colleges for Online Social Work Degrees by OnlineEu.org. The university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC.
This degree was designed specifically for non-BSW students. No Advanced Standing students will be admitted into the program. The MSW requires 60 credit hours of coursework and 1,050 clock hours of field work in order for a student to apply for graduation. This degree is not accredited by the CSWE and so students may have to earn a certificate in order to sit for the state licensure exam. Classes include:
- Human Behavior and the Social Environment
- Research Methods and Analysis
- Practice with Families
- Practice with Treatment Groups
UND knows that education should always be affordable, so they’ve endeavored to give all students a chance to finish their degree. Currently, the school offers financial aid, military discounts, scholarships, and employer-provided tuition assistance, which is a program where a student’s employer pays part of the tuition to get a more highly skilled employee.
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Greenwood Village, CO
Colorado State University Online offers students a cheap online MSW that comes with the ability to get specialization certificates. This is a strong program that is CSWE-accredited and will prepare students to sit for licensure. The university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC.
The MSW program has the same requirements as most social work graduate programs. For traditional standing students, the requirements include 60 credit hours of coursework and at least 900 clock hours of fieldwork. Advanced standing students can cut those requirements in half. A sampling of courses includes:
- Social Welfare Policy Analysis
- Small Client Systems: Theory and Practice
- Advanced Practice with Communities
This degree has one flat tuition rate. All students pay $619 per credit hour, with most fees being included in that amount. There are some electives, however, that may require lab or professional fees. CSU Online offers military discounts and veterans’ benefits, as well as provides access to a variety of scholarships and grants that may help fund a student’s degree.
At Indiana University, students will find a suite of cheap online social work degrees, including the MSW Direct. This program has been updated to reflect the changing world of social work and to be in accordance with the CSWE, which independently accredits this program. The university is regionally accredited by the NCACS THLC.
The MSW program requires 60 credit hours and a total of 1,000 field practicum clock hours for graduation. Students in advanced standing will only have to fulfill 30 credit hours of coursework and 450 clock hours of field work. This degree will prepare students to sit for the licensure exam. Some highlight courses include:
- Clinical Theory & Practice
- Community and Global Theory & Practice
- Social Policy and Services
This is a cheap online MSW. Students will find that the graduate degrees are competitive. Currently, in-state students pay $276.98 per credit hour and out-of-state students will pay $409.16 per credit hour. There is also an additional $50 per credit hour online education fee. IU offers reduced tuition rates for military members and veterans. There are also scholarships, grants, and work-study options available through the school.