Why This Matters

  • DEMAND FOR SOCIAL WORKERS EXPECTED TO GROW 9%

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are expected to be 64,000 new job openings for social workers by 2031.

  • EARN OVER $50,000 PER YEAR

    The average salary for a social worker is $50,390 — this means you will likely be able to make more than the average salary for all occupations, which is $45,760.

  • CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER JOBS REQUIRE A MASTER’S DEGREE

    While you may be able to find an entry-level nonclinical position with a Bachelor’s in Social Work, a master’s degree is generally required to work as a clinical social worker.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online master’s in social work programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list are available at institutions accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a national association that supports quality social work education and provides opportunities for leadership and professional development.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online master’s in social work programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Top 50 Online Master’s in Social Work Programs

Best Master's in Social Work Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
Rutgers School of Social Work
01
Most Customizable Program
USC Suzanne Dworak at Peck School of Social Work
01
Best Private Institution
Columbia University School of Social Work
01
Best Part-time Program
University at Buffalo School of Social Work
01
Most Affordable
Florida State University College of Social Work
01
Best Public Research School
University of South Florida
01
Best Student Support Services
Indiana University School of Social Work
01
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Case Western Reserve University
01
Best Accelerated Program
University of Arkansas
01
Best Faculty
University of Central Florida
01

University of Houston
01

Arizona State University
01

Boston University
01

Louisiana State University
01

University of New Hampshire
01

The University of Texas at Arlington
01

University of Nevada at Reno
01

Fordham University
01

University of North Dakota
01

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
01

Texas State University
01

Temple University
01

Baylor University
01

Yeshiva University
01

Northcentral University
01

Simmons University
01

California State University at Northridge
01

The University of Denver
01

Tulane University's School of Social Work
01

University of Michigan at School of Social Work
01

University of Illinois School of Social Work
01

California State University at San Bernardino
01

University of New England
01

Campbellsville University
01

The Ohio State University
01

The University of Alabama
01

The Catholic University of America National Catholic School of Social Service
01

Cal Poly Humboldt College of Extended Education
01

University of Georgia
01

Virginia Commonwealth University
01

Our Lady of the Lake University
01

The University of Oklahoma
01

Adelphi University
01

Aurora University
01

The University of Iowa School of Social Work
01

University of Hawaii at Manoa
01

Michigan State University
01

Wayne State University School of Social Work
01

Washburn University
01

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

What You Should Know About This Degree

While we’re eager to see more social workers in the field, there are a couple details you should know before pursuing a Master’s in Social Work.

In order to earn CSWE accreditation, every program requires fieldwork experience – at least 900 hours of it if you don’t have a background in social work. If you’re in a traditional 9-5 job, you’ll need to check with your employer and degree program to make sure you have time to fulfill your fieldwork requirement. While the 900+ hours are spread across the entire program, they are almost guaranteed to take place during standard business hours.

Your Master’s in Social Work will prepare you for licensure at the macro-level in most states, but if you want to work primarily with individuals (micro-level social work), a MSW is only the first step. The next step is at least two years of supervised work experience before you can be licensed as a clinical social worker. Clinical social workers can establish their own practices and provide therapy to individuals, unlocking some of the higher income brackets for social workers and providing specialized care.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online MSW programs:

  • Does this program offer the specialization I’m interested in? This depends on your personal career choices. If you’re not sure, reach out to individual professors to ask about the nuances of each specialization to determine whether it’s the right path for you.
  • Does my home state authorize this school for online education degrees? State authorizations vary both by state and by degree program, and not all states recognize the authority of others to administer online education. Be sure to research this subject thoroughly before applying to a particular program.

You must also consider how you will finance your education. We recommend that you research options such as scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and tuition reimbursement from your employer.