Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 90,700 MORE SOCIAL WORKERS BY 2029

    Employment opportunities are expected to increase by 13% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than average. Population changes and increasing health care spending are contributing to growth in this sector.

  • SOCIAL WORKERS ARE VITAL TO A VARIETY OF SETTINGS

    Social work is a diverse and evolving discipline. These professionals work in ambulatory care settings, government agencies, community development corporations, clinics, schools, and private practices.

  • THOSE WITH A MASTER’S CAN EARN OVER $80,000 ANNUALLY.

    The median annual salary for all social workers in the United States is $50,470, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $82,540 per year.

Our Research

This list focuses on graduate programs in social work that offer master’s degrees. Social work programs typically award a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, although some award a Master of Science in Social Work degree. We reviewed programs that are offered online, in-person, and in hybrid formats.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits social work master’s programs that meet high standards of quality in social work education within the U.S. All listed programs are accredited by the CSWE to ensure that they meet the highest standards of quality and that your degree will be recognized by more employers and certification boards.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 51 hours to write this article
  • 181 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 297 education programs we compared

The Top 51 Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Degree Programs

The Best Master's in Social Work (MSW) Degree Programs
01
University of Maryland School of Social Work

intelligent score 99.91

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

Department School of Social Work

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $728 per credit; Out-of-State: $1,306 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 410-706-3025

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

01
The University of Texas at Arlington

intelligent score 99.03

Award Best for Military Members

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Military Members

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 61 credits

Department School of Social Work

Estimated Cost per Credit $1,334.47 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 817-272-3181

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 61 credits

01
York College

intelligent score 98.99

Award Best in the Northeast

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the Northeast

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master in Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department York College

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $620 per credit; Out-of-State: $1,000 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected] jjay.cuny.edu
Phone: 718-262-2607

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master in Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
California State University, San Bernardino

intelligent score 98.51

Award Most Flexible Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Most Flexible Program

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online, Hybrid

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 65 credits

Department College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Estimated Cost per Credit $556.77 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 909.537.5000

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online, Hybrid

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 65 credits

01
Fordham University

intelligent score 97.64

Award Most Innovative Curriculum

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Most Innovative Curriculum

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online, Hybrid

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 66 credits

Department Graduate School of Social Service

Estimated Cost per Credit $949 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 212-636-6600

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online, Hybrid

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 66 credits

01
Texas State University

intelligent score 97.16

Award Best for Adventure Therapy

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Adventure Therapy

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department College of Applied Arts

Estimated Cost per Credit $337.57 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 512-245-2592

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
University of North Dakota

intelligent score 96.91

Award Best for Adult Learners

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Adult Learners

Delivery Format On-campus, online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department School of Graduate Studies

Estimated Cost per Credit $468.56 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 701-777-3000

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
California State University, Northridge

intelligent score 94.99

Award Best in the West

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best in the West

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

Department Tseng College Graduate, International and Midcareer Education

Estimated Cost per Credit $752 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 866-873-6439

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 60 credits

01
Boise State University

intelligent score 93.97

Award Best Value Online Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Value Online Program

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 61 credits

Department College of Health Sciences

Estimated Cost per Credit $495 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 208-426-1000

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 61 credits

01
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

intelligent score 93.91

Award Best for Direct Micro Practice

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Direct Micro Practice

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 63 credits

Department School of Social Work

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $453.10 per credit; Out-of-State: $875.10 per credit

accreditation Council on Social Work Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 956-665-3661

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Social Work

Required Credits to Graduate 63 credits

01
Most Customizable Curriculum
San Diego State University
01
Best for Returning Students
The University of Texas at San Antonio
01
Best for Working Professionals
UNC Charlotte School of Social Work
01
Best Clinical Experience
University of North Carolina Wilmington
01
Best in the Southwest
University of Denver
01
Best Cohort Model
Colorado State University - School of Social Work
01
Most Flexible Start Dates
Louisiana State University
01
Best Part-Time Program
SUNY at Albany
01
Best Integrated Practice
University of Montana
01
Most Program Options
Portland State University
01
Best for Community Leadership
Azusa Pacific University
01
Best for Advanced Standing Students
NC State University
01
Best Trauma-Focused Program
Widener University
01
Best Dual Degree Options
University at Buffalo
01
Most Fieldwork Opportunities
Monmouth University
01
Best Full-Time Program
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
01
Best Core Curriculum
University of Pittsburgh
01
Best Public Research Institution
Simmons University
01
Best Hybrid Model
University of New England
01
Best for International Students
Adelphi University
01
Best Concentrations
Boston College
01
Best in the Midwest
Indiana University - School of Social Work
01
Best Scholarships
University of Michigan
01
Best Student Support Services
Arizona State University
01
Best Admissions
Case Western Reserve University
01
Best Private Research Institution
University of Southern California
01
Most Established Program
Columbia University
01
Best Job Placement Rate
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
01
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Boston University
01
Best Clinical Electives
University of South Florida
01
Best for Traditional Students
The Ohio State University
01
Best in the South
University of Central Florida
01
Best Faculty
University of California, Berkeley
01
Best Outreach Opportunities
Michigan State University
01
Best Global Field Placements
Florida State University
01
Best Fieldwork Instruction
University of Minnesota
01
Best Catholic Institution
Our Lady of the Lake University
01
Best Field Agency Network
Rutgers University
01
Best for Study Abroad
NYU Silver School of Social Work
01
Best in the Southeast
The University of Alabama
01
Highest Licensure Exam Rates
Tulane University

 

What You Should Know About This Degree

When considering a career in social work, it’s important to determine your goals. Many entry-level jobs, including positions as a case management aide, community outreach worker, human services specialist, mental health assistant, or probation officer, only require only a bachelor’s degree.

Social work positions with more responsibility typically require a master’s degree. For instance, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree in social work. This specialized area focuses on the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness.

In addition to opening up more opportunities in the field, a master’s degree in social work gives graduates the potential to earn some of the industry’s highest salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all social workers in the U.S. was $50,470, while the highest 10% earned more than $82,540. Master’s degree holders typically earn higher wages than those who only have a bachelor’s degree.

All states require clinical social workers to be licensed, and most states have similar certification standards for nonclinical professionals. Because licensing requirements vary by state, students should contact their state licensure board.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching MSW programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Admission requirements vary by program, but all expect students to have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Many require applicants to demonstrate liberal arts undergraduate preparation through the completion of courses in the social and behavioral sciences, such as anthropology, psychology, and sociology.
  • How long does it take to complete this degree? Full-time graduate MSW programs typically require two years to complete. Some programs allow you to complete your MSW on an accelerated schedule. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution, you may be able to earn your MSW in one year.

As you research programs, review admission requirements, including required application materials, and take note of application deadlines. You can usually find information about the graduate application process online or by contacting their admissions department.

Financing your graduate education is another important consideration. Tuition and fees vary by program. Some programs provide funding for MSW students in the form of assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships. To see if you’re eligible, complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you’re employed, ask your employer about educational assistance programs.