Online MSW Programs With No GRE Required


If you want to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives as a clinical social worker, you can pursue a master of social work (MSW).

Applying to graduate school can seem stressful enough without months of studying for the GRE. Fortunately, several colleges and universities facilitate online MSW programs that do not require GRE scores.

This guide explores online MSW programs without a GRE requirement. Learn what to expect from MSW programs, how to handle the application process, and where to look for jobs after graduation.

To review all MSW programs —GRE requirement included — you can find the best online MSW programs here.

Featured Online MSW Programs

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Master of Social Work Degree Overview

Many students enroll in an MSW as the next step after earning a bachelor of social work (BSW). While a BSW can prepare you for some social work jobs, only a master’s degree qualifies you to sit for licensure exams and work in clinical positions.

Online MSW programs typically last 2-3 years, although some accelerated programs can be completed in 12-15 months. If you have already completed a BSW, you can begin a master’s program with a head start, bypassing foundational courses.

Some graduate schools allow you to choose a concentration area, such as:

All MSW degrees require at least 900 hours of supervised fieldwork in the chosen specialty area. Master’s candidates may also need to complete some sort of project before graduation, such as a final practicum or research in their field.

Accreditation for Online MSW Programs

In order to ensure students receive high-quality degrees, the higher education industry engages in a system of accreditation.Agencies evaluate colleges and programs to determine whether they meet academic standards and adequately prepare students for their future careers.

In addition, doctor of social work programs only consider candidates who attended accredited undergraduate and graduate programs. Therefore, enrolling in an accredited program is essential.

When researching online MSW programs without GRE requirements, look for accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in addition to regional accreditation.

Earning an MSW Online

While online MSW programs all feature distance learning as the primary mode of education, the specifics vary. When researching online MSW degrees, choose a program format that best suits your lifestyle and academic goals.

Some degrees offer fully online curriculum plans, whereas other colleges might offer a hybrid format, combining online and in-person requirements. Programs might facilitate mostly online classes but require a few on-campus visits for orientation or other occasions.

All online MSW programs include one in-person requirement: fieldwork. Students gain experience through a supervised field education, which they can usually complete at a location near their home.

Course structure also varies. Schools might offer synchronous courses, in which students meet at specific times for lectures or class discussions. Other colleges run asynchronous classes, which means distance learners follow their own schedule of study.

You can also find part- or full-time options, or even accelerated degrees if you wish to complete your degree at a more rigorous pace.

Advantages of Earning a Master’s in Social Work Online

Online programs may not be for everyone. However, if you have other responsibilities or live far from campus, an online MSW program can offer many benefits.

  • Convenience: Traditional programs typically require students to move to campus or commute to work. For many students, this is not a feasible option. Online courses allow you to study on your own schedule in a location convenient for you.
  • Cost Savings: Sometimes online courses come with lower tuition fees than on-campus courses. For instance, some schools may offer in-state tuition to online students. Even if your school does not offer discounted online tuition, you can still avoid the costs of on-campus fees, gas for commuting, and a parking pass.
  • Flexibility: If you care for a family or work a job, then the flexibility of an online degree becomes invaluable. This is true especially if you enroll in a part-time program and take asynchronous courses.

Do MSW Programs Usually Require the GRE?

GRE requirements vary, depending on the college. Some schools do not require candidates to take standardized tests at all. Many schools have suspended their GRE requirement due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Several colleges, like the University of North Carolina and Georgia State University, include GRE scores in their application requirements. The schools that instruct applicants to take the GRE may set minimum scores for the verbal or quantitative sections of the test. Other programs may only require certain scores if prospective students do not meet the GPA requirement.

If your prospective master’s program requires scores, you can find GRE resources online to help you prepare.

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The Best Online MSW Programs with No GRE Required

Listed below are the best online MSW programs without a GRE requirement.

We use a data-driven methodology to determine the best social work programs based on four primary factors: academic quality, overall cost, reputation, and accessibility.

Each school description includes a link to its online MSW program, which you can follow to find more details.

1. University of Central Florida

The master of social work (MSW) at Orlando-based University of Central Florida prepares graduates to become licensed clinical social workers in two years. Enrollees can earn their degrees online or in person and enroll on a full- or part-time basis. UCF’s field education office connects students with organizations that offer field placements in generalist or clinical practice.

Coursework covers topics in clinical practice with families, diverse client populations, psychosocial pathology, and theories for evidence-based clinical practice.

Prospective students apply to UCF, then to the MSW program once they have completed coursework in humanities, mathematics, biological science, physical science, and social science with a C grade or higher. The program requires a GPA of 3.0 (3.3 for advanced standing).

2. University of South Florida

The University of South Florida in Tampa offers a fully online master of social work that prepares clinical social workers to help individuals, families, and groups.

Applicants must have completed liberal arts prerequisites in biology, social science, and behavioral science, along with humanities and fine arts. Preferred candidates have at least one year of post-undergraduate experience in a social service agency.

Admitted students take 60 credits of social work foundations classes, plus core, required, and elective courses, including psychopathology and health, illness, and disability. In addition, learners complete a field experience and capstone project. Advanced standing status for bachelor of social work-holders requires only 35 credits.

3. Tulane University

Tulane University‘s master of social work program emphasizes culturally relevant practice and offers optional focus areas in disaster and collective trauma or mental health, addiction, and the family.

Full-time students can earn their degree in 16 months and study online or on the New Orleans, Louisiana, campus. Part-time enrollment is available for online learners and spans 32 months. All students are placed with agencies for field experiences.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with a preferred 3.0 GPA, along with strong academic performances in the last two undergraduate years or employer recommendations. Bachelor of social work-holders with 3.3 GPAs can apply for advanced standing and complete the program in 12 months (24 months for part-time learners).

4. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The master’s in social work program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville can be earned through a traditional track that combines in-person evening classes and synchronous online learning. An accelerated online option delivers asynchronous course materials. Enrollees complete two field placements, totaling 900 hours.

The programs offer concentration areas in direct micro practice with Latino individuals, families, and groups or community practice and administration. UTRGV offers scholarships for students interested in employment with Child Protective Services.

Admission requirements include an application to the UTRGV Graduate College and a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Advanced standing requires a bachelor’s in social work with a 3.2 GPA.

5. University of Southern California

Los Angeles-based University of Southern California‘s online master of social work program features full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options with weekly classes and virtual or in-person fieldwork. The 42-credit curriculum (37 for advanced standing) emphasizes early intervention, prevention and wellness, leadership and collaboration, and new findings in neuroscience.

Students can opt to focus on military, school, or medical social work. Graduates are eligible to take the Association of Social Work Boards exam.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, a 3.0 GPA. Advanced standing requires a bachelor’s in social work. Full-time study takes 16 months to complete, while part-time learning takes 24 months. Advanced standing students can finish the program in 12 months at a full-time pace, and part-time learners complete the degree in 20 months.

6. California State University, San Bernardino

California State University, San Bernardino lists an online distance education option for students who want to earn a master of social work (MSW) but work full time or live too far away to pursue an MSW on campus. The 60-credit program takes three years to complete and costs more than the on-campus MSW option ($39,000 versus $25,250).

Course content is the same as the in-person program and includes field placements. Enrollees must attend a three-day orientation on campus.

Qualified applicants have a bachelor’s degree and a 3.0 GPA. CSUSB prefers candidates with a liberal arts background that includes social and behavioral sciences and a year of social work-related experience.

7. Ohio State University

The Ohio State University in Columbus offers an online master of social work (MSW) that prepares advanced social work practitioners. The three-part curriculum encompasses foundation courses that teach core competencies and theory, advanced practice content in one of several practice emphasis areas, and in-person field practicum experiences within a 50-mile radius of the students’ locations.

Areas of emphasis include aging and health, children and youth, community and social justice, and mental health and substance abuse.

Candidates apply to Ohio State’s Graduate School and need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school and a 3.0 GPA. The MSW program requires 15-quarter or 10-semester credits of social sciences.

8. Louisiana State University and A&M College

Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University and A&M College offers learners the opportunity to earn a master of social work online. The program follows an intensive, seven-week module format with six start dates and self-paced, asynchronous courses. Enrollment is available full or part time, and the program runs year-round with 1-2-week breaks between modules. Students complete field internships in their home communities.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and demonstrate an undergraduate liberal arts background with 12 credits of social and behavioral sciences and nine credits in humanities. Candidates need to have earned a C grade in undergraduate statistics and hold a 3.0 GPA.

9. Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University in the City of New York‘s online master of science in social work program features primarily synchronous course delivery. Enrollees can study full or part time and complete their field placements anywhere in the U.S. with support from Columbia’s field education department.

The curriculum emphasizes and challenges the influences of power, race, oppression, and privilege. Students can select from specializations in advanced clinical or generalist practice; policy; or leadership, management, and entrepreneurship for social justice. Fields of practice options include aging, contemporary social issues, and school-based and school-linked services.

Applicants need a bachelor’s degree and completion of internships and life experiences that demonstrate a commitment to social work.

10. Boston University

Boston University offers its online master of social work (MSW) program in a part-time format and features two majors: clinical practice and macro practice. Clinical practice majors can minor in macro practice. Enrollees attend weekly live classroom sessions augmented by self-paced coursework.

The program lists three MSW tracks:

  • Traditional: Applicants with a bachelor’s degree complete 65 credits and two field internships totaling 1,200 hours
  • Human Service Experience: Applicants with two years of human services experience earn 65 credits and a 1,000-hour field internship
  • Advanced Standing: Applicants with a bachelor’s in social work and 3.0 GPA complete 43 credits and a 1,000-hour field internship

How to Apply to an Online MSW Program with No GRE Requirements

Online MSW programs with no GRE requirements may not ask for standardized test scores, but they will instruct you to submit an application to prove you are a good fit for the program.

Distance learning programs typically allow you to apply online. First, fill out an application, providing information about your academic background. Then, send in graduate transcripts. Some online MSW programs with no GRE requirements want you to have a minimum GPA on undergraduate coursework.

Additionally, you may need to write a personal essay outlining your career goals and provide at least two letters of recommendation from academic or professional references.

What Can I Do With an Online Master’s Degree in Social Work?

A master’s degree in social work prepares you to become a licensed clinical social worker. These professionals can diagnose and treat emotional and behavioral disorders of vulnerable people. They sometimes work with doctors to provide this treatment and help people with addictions, working as mental health and substance abuse social workers.

The median salary for social workers is $50,390, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

MSW graduates can pursue other careers as well. Some may prefer to become substance abuse, behavioral disorder, or mental health counselors, who make a median income of about $48,520, BLS statistics show.

If you want to work in a leadership position, taking on a role as a social and community service manager may prove a better fit. These professionals make median earnings of $74,000, according to BLS data. You may need a master’s degree to work in the management level at organizations promoting public services.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online MSW Programs With No GRE

What is the GRE for?

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, evaluates a student’s academic abilities at an advanced level. The GRE focuses on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. While some schools value the GRE as an indicator of the applicant’s academic performance, many colleges prefer to evaluate prospective students without standardized test scores.

Are there other entrance exams for an online MSW program?

Although other graduate entrance exams exist —like the GMAT or LSAT — individuals applying to online MSW programs do not need to take these exams. International students usually must submit scores from a language proficiency exam, such as the TOEFL.

Are online MSW programs respected?

Online programs have become increasingly more common over the years, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic caused institutions to switch to online learning. As long as an online MSW program holds proper accreditation, then it is respected.

Is an online MSW hard?

Any graduate degree can seem challenging, but earning a master’s degree is an attainable goal. In fact, over 31,000 people graduated from MSW programs in 2020, according to statistics from the CSWE. Online MSW programs often require self-motivation and discipline, since students cannot rely on the traditional college structure. Some students may find this difficult. However, many students value the flexibility of online MSW programs lacking in traditional degrees.

Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.