Pursuing an Online Master of Social Work Degree
Many students looking to advance in the field of social work pursue a master of social work (MSW) degree. While it's desirable for licensed clinical social workers and licensed master social workers to hold a master's degree, graduate school admissions requirements can create barriers. Despite a bachelor's degree in social work and career experience, many working professionals struggle with the admission requirements for master's programs.
While some master of social work programs require standardized test scores, others do not
In addition to transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation, colleges often require the GRE. The GRE can create financial and personal challenges for many students, and those who have been out of school for several years may find little benefit in taking the test. Fully accredited online master of social work programs that do not require GRE scores can help you get the educational advantage you need for career advancement.
While some master of social work programs require standardized test scores, others do not. The schools listed below have regional accreditation and feature CSWE-accredited programs, but do not ask students to send GRE scores as part of their application. Most employers seek candidates who graduated from accredited schools, and many require a degree from an accredited institution. The programs listed here offer curriculum that prepares students to earn licensure and secure fulfilling, rewarding jobs in social work.
Numerous factors deter students from taking the GRE. First, the test requires significant financial and time commitments. Comprised of three sections — the analytical writing section, the verbal reasoning section, and the quantitative reasoning sections — the computer GRE test takes about three hours and 45 minutes to complete. In addition to the time it takes to complete the computerized test at a testing site, students must also spend weeks or months studying for the test. Many GRE applicants take costly prep courses, which require students to spend money on books and materials and devote several hours each week to attending class.
As a solution for students who do not want to take standardized tests, numerous MSW programs do not require the GRE
For students who have been out of school for a long time, taking a standardized test can cause anxiety. In addition, GRE test results may not accurately demonstrate a nontraditional student's knowledge and skills. Instead, working professionals can let work experience and prior education demonstrate their ability to excel in a master's degree.
As a solution for students who do not want to take standardized tests, numerous MSW programs do not require the GRE. It's important to note the coursework for a non-GRE required program is not easier, and admissions departments at these schools may ask for other measures to determine if a student can handle master's-level coursework, including asking students to submit a resume or have a certain amount of work experience.
The best online MSW programs, no GRE required are listed below.
University of Southern California (USC)
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||
Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research institution in California. This Los Angeles-based school serves approximately 46,000 students, including nearly 28,000 graduate students. The school's MSW program features small classes and in-person field placements for hands-on training. Online students can take advantage of virtual classroom tools, including live chats, breakout rooms, and discussion boards.
Learners can choose from three academic tracks in the MSW program: adult mental health and wellness; children, youth, and families; and social change and innovation. Students may enroll as full- or part-time learners. Incoming pupils who already possess a bachelor's degree in social work can enroll in its advanced standing program.
USC's Master of Social Work
The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). University of Southern California's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||
BU is a private research institution located in Boston, Massachusetts. The school serves approximately 33,000 students as one of the largest employers in the city. BU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online, including an online master of social work degree. This program prides itself on its dedication to further social and economic justice by producing well-rounded, socially active graduates and positions them for leadership roles in the field.
BU's social work faculty specializes in many types of academic work, such as gerontology, substance abuse, mental health, and HIV/AIDS. MSW program students can enroll part time in its traditional MSW, human services experience, or advanced standing tracks. Degree seekers may apply to this online MSW program with no GRE.
BU's Master of Social Work
|New Brunswick, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||
Founded in 1766, Rutgers is a public research institution that boasts approximately 58,000 students. With Rutgers's online MSW program, distance learners can take advantage of small class sizes and receive one-on-one attention from the school's social work faculty. Remote learners may enroll as full- or part-time students.
An incoming student can enroll in the advanced standing track if they possess a BSW, while an MSW enrollee at Rutgers may pursue an optional certificate in violence against women and children. This flexible degree allows students to start classes during any semester throughout the academic year to attend classes year-round and does not require the GRE for admission.
Rutgers's Master of Social Work
Rutgers University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Rutgers University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||
UCF is a state university in Orlando, Florida, with approximately 69,000 students. Founded in 1963, the school today offers an online MSW program with no GRE requirements. The social work program focuses on preparing graduate students for careers that focus on society's marginalized and vulnerable communities.
Enrollees can study how to promote social and economic justice, behavioral health, human rights, and general wellness among diverse populations. This program best serves incoming students who do not possess BSW degrees. Online learners at UCF pay the same tuition rate, regardless of their location. UCF alums commonly move on to careers as grant writers, medical social workers, substance abuse counselors, therapists, and child welfare caseworkers.
UCF's Master of Social Work
The University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The University of Central Florida's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Case Western Reserve University
|Cleveland, OH||Cost: $$$$$||
CWRU is a private research university in Cleveland, Ohio. Established in 1826, the school offers an online master of science in social science administration. This degree, the equivalent to a traditional MSW program, helps students to develop practical knowledge for leadership roles as social workers and beyond.
The MSSA program at CWRU offers traditional and advanced standing tracks. A learner who already possesses a BSW degree can enroll in the advanced track. CWRU's program positions students for work with oppressed populations and individuals without the ability or resources to help themselves. The program also boasts 8,000 social work alums, located in all 50 states and 41 countries around the globe.
CWRU's Master of Science in Social Administration
Case Western Reserve University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Case Western Reserve University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
University at Buffalo (SUNY)
|Buffalo, NY||Cost: $$$$$||
Established in 1846, UB is a public research institution with campuses in Buffalo and Amherst, New York. The school also features robust online education options, including a master of social work program. The school only offers a part-time program for distance learners. UB's school of social work includes both a traditional and advanced standing track. Remote students can engage with a diverse curriculum built on evidence-based practices.
Enrollees can focus on human rights, trauma-informed social work, and hands-on field training. Faculty members deliver courses that help students to examine adverse childhood experiences, the latest research methods in the field, and contemporary theories for counseling children and adults. UB also offers many elective courses for master's students during their second year, including crisis intervention, social action for community change, and gender issues.
UB's Master of Social Work
The University at Buffalo is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The University at Buffalo's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Waco, TX||Cost: $$$$$||
Baylor is a private Christian institution in Waco, Texas. The school offers traditional and advanced standing tracks for master of social work online degree seekers. This cohort-learning program offers specializations in clinical practice and community practice. Remote MSW students learn to support marginalized populations, families, children, couples, and their own communities.
Baylor incorporates Christian faith perspectives into its social work curriculum and prides itself on balancing Christian instruction with practical skills for distance students. Each enrollee can complete an in-person field experience in their community for hands-on learning opportunities in social work. Upon graduation, Baylor students possess evidence-based, practical skills to pursue careers in any area of social work.
Baylor's Master of Social Work
Baylor University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Baylor University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
California State University, Northridge
|Northridge, CA||Cost: $$$$$||
CSUN is a public university in Los Angeles, California. With approximately 39,000 students, it is one of the largest universities in the state. Established in 1958, the school today offers an online master of social work. Students in this cohort-learning, asynchronous program can engage with a curriculum focused on urban community practices.
Following the school's generalist approach, learners can develop the essential skills to work with vulnerable populations. Remote students also obtain the knowledge to work with individuals, families, and communities or policymakers who affect positive change for economic and social justice. Students can enroll in an accelerated track of the program if they wish to finish the degree in as little as two years.
CSUN's Master of Social Work
California State University, Northridge is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). California State University, Northridge's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Bronx, NY||Cost: $$$$$||
Fordham is a private research institution located in New York City. Established in 1841, it is one of the oldest Jesuit-affiliated universities in the U.S. Fordham offers a flexible online master of social work degree. The program prepares graduate students for positions across the social work field, including work with individuals, families, and various organizations in the public and private sectors.
Additionally, master's students at Fordham can focus on public policy, social and economic change, and advocacy. Pupils spend their first year learning foundational social work concepts, theories, and practices. In the second phase of coursework, remote learners can take advanced integrated practice courses that allow them to tailor their master's degrees to fit their academic interests in four concentration areas.
Fordham's Master of Social Work
Fordham University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Fordham University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||
DU is a private research university that serves approximately 11,700 students. Established in 1864, the school today offers several master's degrees for distance students. Remote pupils can take advantage of its online master of social work program. DU's program helps students gain a holistic understanding of the essential concepts and skills professionals needed in today's social work careers.
The curriculum prepares master's students for many careers in the social work field. During their first year, students complete a foundational curriculum that covers the history, ethics, and basic values of the profession. Then, learners proceed with courses in one of two tracks: mental health and trauma or health and wellness.
DU's Master of Social Work
University of Denver is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). University of Denver's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Arizona State University
|Tempe, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||
ASU is a public research university established in 1885. The school's online social work program readies students to work with communities, families, individuals and virtually any group around the world. Graduate students in this program can focus on social justice issues, problem-solving complex societal problems, and supporting vulnerable communities. Remote students can work directly with a diverse set of faculty members who specialize in areas such as child welfare, border issues, gerontology, human trafficking, global social work, policy advocacy, and community practice.
For graduation, a remote learner can complete an applied portfolio project, field education hours, and an internship during their final year. ASU social work alums commonly move on to careers such as sociologists, recreation workers, community service managers, and mental health counselors.
ASU Online's Master of Social Work
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Arizona State University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
University of New Hampshire
|Durham, NH||Cost: $$$$$||
UNH is a public research institution established in 1866. The school serves approximately 15,400 students and offers an online master of social work for remote learners. Graduate students in this program can learn the essential social work skills to help families, groups, organizations, individuals, communities. UNH prides itself on training traditional and advanced standing MSW students for effective advanced intervention work and careers in virtually any social work setting.
Remote enrollees can also learn to work in areas of the field, such as education, substance abuse, child welfare, employee assistance programs, and other human services disciplines. UNH alums often secure employment as community health workers, research assistants, school social workers, medical social workers, and community outreach organizers.
UNH's Master of Social Work
University of New Hampshire is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). University of New Hampshire's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Texas State University - San Marcos
|San Marcos, TX||Cost: $$$$$||
Texas State, established in 1899, features an online social work master's program. This cohort-learning style program helps graduate students develop advanced communication and interventional skills in preparation for licensure exams. The school features flexible elective options, including courses in healthcare, international social work, adventure therapy, gerontology, spirituality, and veteran social work.
This advanced practice leadership program focuses on preparing students for direct practice and administrative services for families and individuals of any age. Alums typically move on to roles in education, criminal justice, and child welfare. Additionally, graduates commonly seek positions in public and private agencies, clinical practices, and colleges.
Texas State's Master of Social Work
Texas State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Texas State University-San Marcos's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
University of Louisville
|Louisville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||
Established in 1798, UofL is a public institution with nearly 23,000 students. The school offers an online master of science in social work. Distance students can take advantage of this entirely remote program and learn how to promote social justice, helping their clients live healthier, more productive lives. The curriculum allows learners to develop the necessary skills to focus on children and families, mental health, communities, and international social work practice.
UofL alums often move on to careers as family advocates, adoption specialists, grief counselors, grant writers, case managers, and outreach workers. The school accepts applications on a rolling basis and encourages interested graduate students to apply as early as possible.
CSUN's Master of Science in Social Work
University of Louisville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). University of Louisville's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Chester, PA||Cost: $$$$$||
Widener is a private institution in Chester, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1821, the school now enrolls approximately 6,500 students. Distance students can take advantage of its online MSW program. Widener features regular admission, advanced standing, dual-degree, and certificate options for social work graduate students. The dual degree combines the foundational social work curriculum with classes in education and human sexuality studies.
In conjunction with their MSW program, a learner can acquire an optional certificate in trauma studies. Whether students pursue certificates in trauma studies or not, many of the advanced required courses for the MSW incorporate trauma as a central theme. Widener social work alums commonly work in careers with families, individuals, and their local communities.
Widener's Master of Social Work
Widener University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Widener University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Athens, OH||Cost: $$$$$||
Located in Athens, Ohio, OU is a public research institution that serves approximately 35,000 students. Established in 1804, the school today offers an online MSW program for remote students. Using the Blackboard learning system, the faculty delivers a diverse curriculum that helps students prepare for social work in rural communities. Graduate students can learn to support and empower individuals, families, and communities struggling with addiction, poverty, trauma, and mental health.
Pupils may also learn how to diagnose illnesses and provide outreach for clients with accessibility needs or limited resources. Incoming students can enroll in the foundational track or, if they possess BSW degrees, the advanced standing track. Applicants for this online MSW program do not need to submit their GRE scores for consideration.
OU's Master of Social Work
Ohio University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Ohio University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Boise State University
|Boise, ID||Cost: $$$$$||
Boise State is a public research university founded in 1932. The school offers more than 100 graduate programs, including an online master of social work. A remote student in this program can pursue a generalist track in social work training to prepare for work with individuals and families. The curriculum helps learners develop the necessary clinical, policy, and organizational skills for modern rules in social work.
Distance students can learn to promote social justice and equality through this entirely online degree. Boise State alums commonly pursue careers in the field such as jobs as child, family, and school social workers; healthcare social workers; and mental health and substance abuse counselors.
CSUN's Master of Social Work
Boise State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Boise State University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
The Catholic University of America
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||
Established in 1887, Catholic University of America is a private institution in Washington, D.C. Catholic University of America's online MSW program focuses on clinical social work and allows students to explore mental health, family systems practices, aging services and policy, and at-risk and underserved populations. The school also offers an advanced generalist track that helps students prepare for interdisciplinary, collaborative careers in the public and private sectors.
These individuals work on policy development, advance social justice, and work with families, groups, communities, and organizations. Alums commonly move on to rewarding careers as trauma specialists, mental health counselors, school social workers, and clinical case managers.
CUA's Master of Social Work
Catholic University of America is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Catholic University of America's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
University of New England (UNE)
|Biddeford, ME||Cost: $$$$$||
UNE is a private, nonprofit institution located in Biddeford, Maine. Established in 1831, the school now enrolls approximately 13,800 students. The school offers more than 70 academic programs, including a master of social work program for remote students. Learners can engage with this asynchronous curriculum coursework which focuses on individual and collective human development social work techniques.
UNE teaches social work graduate students to empower their clients and help them cope with the political, social, cultural, and economic factors that influence their lives. UNE social work degree seekers can prepare for careers working with families, individuals, couples, and communities. This flexible program allows students to begin courses during three enrollment periods per year.
UNE's Master of Social Work
University of New England is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). University of New England's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Campbellsville, KY||Cost: $$$$$||
CU is a private university established in 1906. The school features many undergraduate and graduate degrees, including an online MSW program for distance learners. Degree seekers can learn valuable theories and methods to help them address client needs and current global social issues. This online program covers major areas for generalist and clinical social workers today, including psychopathology, community development, grant writing, clinical diagnosis, and psychopharmacology.
CU offers a clinical track for learners interested in pursuing careers in clinical administration, addiction counseling, and related areas. CU alums often pursue careers with individuals, families, and communities to find employment as clinical social workers, healthcare social workers, substance abuse counselors, mental health social workers, and geriatric specialists.
CU's Master of Social Work
Campbellsville University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Campbellsville University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Humboldt State University
|Arcata, CA||Cost: $$$$$||
Located in Arcata, California, Humboldt State is a public university that serves approximately 8,600 students. The school offers more than 10 master's degrees, including the online MSW for distance students. Learners can pursue this degree in either fully online or hybrid formats. Aside from a four-day on-campus session once per year, fully online students have no on-campus obligations.
The school offers full- and part-time programs for traditional track and advanced standing students. Its curriculum focuses on social work with indigenous and rural communities, and as a result, Humboldt State graduate students obtain a strong understanding of historical and contemporary social issues with a global perspective.
Humboldt State's Master of Social Work
Humboldt State University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Humboldt State University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Western New Mexico University
|Silver City, NM||Cost: $$$$$||
WNMU is a public institution located in Silver City, New Mexico. Established in 1893, the school today serves approximately 3,500 students. WNMU's online social work program helps graduate students train for leadership roles and to provide social work services for families, couples, children, organizations, and individuals. The program best serves students interested in serving rural populations.
Learners can engage with a mostly asynchronous class schedule to complete this advanced generalist program. The school also features a flexible transfer credit policy, which allows incoming students to transfer up to 20 graduate credits toward their MSW degrees. Upon completing the social work master's degree, WNMU alums commonly seek out careers in nursing facilities, hospitals, schools, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, child welfare agencies, and private practices.
WNMU's Master of Social Work
Western New Mexico University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Western New Mexico University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
|Edinboro, PA||Cost: $$$$$||
As a public university established in 1957, EU now offers an MSW program online with a focus in trauma studies. EU's social work program readies graduate students for work in veterans agencies, adoption agencies, mental health agencies, addiction treatment centers, schools, hospitals, and correction facilities. MSW learners can complete this program in hybrid or online formats.
Hybrid students can finish the majority assignments and requirements remotely and typically attend classes on campus one day per week. Fully online students can complete the asynchronous courses and requirements with no on-campus obligation. Remote students must complete extensive field education experiences in their local areas, working closely with families and individuals with trauma.
EU's Master of Social Work
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Edinboro University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Our Lady of the Lake University
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||
OLLU is a Catholic institution in San Antonio, Texas. Founded in 1895, the school today offers an online MSW for distance students. This social work program specifically addresses the needs of Hispanic communities in the U.S. At OLLU, remote students follow a synchronous course schedule and interact with professors and fellow students in class discussion forums.
Specialized courses in this area include social work with Hispanic youth and social work practice and theory with Hispanic families. Alums commonly move on to careers as healthcare social workers, mental health counselors, social and community service managers, child and family social workers, and marriage therapists.
OLLU's Master of Social Work
Our Lady of the Lake University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Our Lady of the Lake University's online social work programs are CSWE-accredited.
Admissions Requirements for Online MSWs with No GRE Required
Admissions requirements differ by school and program. Typically MSW degree programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Some colleges specify that candidates must have a bachelor's degree in social work. Candidates who hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than social work may need to take additional prerequisites or show proof of work experience. Common prerequisite classes include introductory statistics courses.
Colleges also require candidates to have cumulative GPA minimums. Students may need to submit transcripts showing a cumulative 3.0 GPA for undergraduate work. Typically schools require that students have a minimum B grade-point average for the last 60 credits of undergraduate education. When applicants have lower GPAs than required, they may receive conditional admittance. Schools may also require students who have lower than acceptable GPAs to take the GRE.
Furthermore, many MSW programs offer advanced standing status for students who have completed a bachelor's in social work. Many schools require students to submit an evaluation from a field placement instructor to enroll in advance standing programs. Additionally, schools typically require a letter of reference from a field instructor, or a letter of recommendation from the bachelor of social work director. Many advanced standing programs allow students to take accelerated coursework and graduate in one year, instead of the standard two. Admission requirements also differ for MSW and Ph.D. dual degrees.
Lastly, as a part of their MSW application, students typically must submit supplemental materials such as a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and a resume.