Best Online Master's in Social Work Programs 2019

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While some industries face a tough road ahead, social work offers job growth that outpaces the national average for all fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs in the field of social work will grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026. Employers need qualified social workers with specialized knowledge to work at government agencies, schools, and healthcare facilities. As of May 2017, healthcare social workers earned an annual median salary of $54,870, with 90th percentile wages reaching almost $80,000 per year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs in the field of social work will grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026.

Exact job outlooks in social work vary depending on a graduate's specialization. The field of education needs more child, family, and school social workers due to increased school enrollments. Additionally, an aging population means employment in healthcare could grow by 20% over the next several years. With a graduate degree in social work, working professionals can also earn a license and become clinical social workers who diagnose mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Many other occupations in social work offer fulfilling and stable employment.

This guide features the nation's best master's in social work (MSW) online degrees. To determine the best online degrees, we compared graduation rates, academics, affordability of tuition, and the availability of online programs. Keep reading to learn what it takes to earn a master's in social work online and how to access helpful resources and scholarships.

The Best Online Master's in Social Work Programs of 2019

Top Online Master's in Social Work Programs

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida educates nearly 70,000 students, including 324 National Merit Scholars. The institution offers more than 200 degree options through its 13 colleges.

The school's master's in social work online program targets students who do not hold a bachelor of social work as well as those who earned their BSW more than five years ago. Participants complete this 62-credit program in three years through a cohort-based format. Courses explore human behavior, research, practice, and policy. Students also complete a clinical specialization and 14 credits of field practice. This program prepares graduates for careers as case managers, medical social workers, substance abuse counselors, school social workers, and grant writers.

Program admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and prerequisite classes in social sciences, biological sciences, humanities, and math. Students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or higher and an applicable social work bachelor's degree can enroll in a 32-credit advanced track.

UCF holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Additionally, the Council on Social Work Education accredits the school's social work master's program.

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University of South Florida - Main Campus

The University of South Florida educates approximately 50,000 students from 128 countries and boasts a 21-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. This public school offers more than 180 degree options and courses.

The school's master's in social work explores concepts such as psychopathology and social welfare policy to prepare graduates for clinical practice in groups and one-on-one settings. Participants complete at least 900 field hours and a capstone project.

For online students, the department offers an advanced standing program with synchronous coursework that takes place in the evenings. Learners can finish this program in five part-time semesters or three full-time semesters, but they must hold social work bachelor's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The department favors candidates with at least a year of experience related to social work, although this experience is not required.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits USF, and its social work program holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign boasts 11 alumni and 14 faculty with Nobel Prizes, and a further 23 alumni and two faculty who hold Pulitzer Prizes. Nearly 50,000 students from more than 100 countries attend this school.

The institution's social work graduate programming includes master's and doctoral degree tracks. Depending on their social work experience, students pursuing a master's degree take 44-72 credits in methodology, research, and policy. Participants also complete an internship experience. Participants with a bachelor's in social work spend one semester carrying out their internship and can earn a master's degree in one year. Alternatively, candidates without a bachelor's in social work need to complete two internship semesters and take foundational coursework.

Students in online MSW programs at UI can choose between advanced clinical and leadership and social change concentrations. The advanced clinical concentration comes with four sub-focus areas: schools, healthcare, mental health, and family services.

UI holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and the school's social work master's program holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.

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Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Rutgers University was founded in 1766. Today, the institution boasts more than half a million alumni, prioritizes research and community service, and offers more than 500 majors and programs. The New Brunswick campus serves as the flagship location of this public New Jersey school.

Rutgers offers a master's degree in social work online that includes courses in methods of social work research, psychopathology, and advanced human behavior distribution. Students earning this online degree must also complete a practicum experience. Participants can also earn a violence against women and children certificate. Students can earn this degree in four semesters if they hold advanced standing. Curriculum prepares candidates for careers in public health, child welfare, and substance abuse. The school does not require applicants to submit GRE scores, but students must hold a bachelor's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Rutgers holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and its social work master's program boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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Florida State University

Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University offers over 300 programs to more than 40,000 students. The school boasts a four-year graduation rate of nearly 70% and retains 94% of freshmen after their first year. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school's master's in social work as the best program of its type in Florida.

Students can earn the school's MSW online through a traditional track by completing 61 credits. Curriculum includes classes in the evaluation of social work practice, personnel administration in the social services, and social work with groups and communities. Participants also carry out field placements. This program requires two residency components, each lasting one weekend. On average, students graduate in three years.

Participants with a bachelor's in social work, as well as some master's-level transfer students, can enter an advanced track that requires 39 credits and one field experience. Students typically finish this track in two years. Participants in both the traditional track and advanced track take two online courses per semester.

FSU boasts accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its social work master's program holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University -- established in 1754 -- operates as a private school that educates more than 33,000 students. The university boasts more than 200 research centers and institutes with upwards of $1 billion in annual funding.

CU offers several online social work graduate programs, including two-year, advanced standing, extended, transfer, and reduced residency programs with varying time commitments. Candidates can also choose from four concentrations: advanced clinical social work practice, policy practice, social enterprise administration, and advanced generalist practice and programming.

The department offers two areas of field practice for online students: family, youth, and children's services and health, mental health, and disabilities. Students can also choose from nine dual degrees and five minors to further personalize their programs. The department delivers coursework synchronously and that students can complete field education requirements near their homes.

The Middle State Commission on Higher Education accredits CU, and the Council on Social Work Education accredits its social work master's program.

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The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama was established in 1831 as the state's first public college. As of 2018, the school hosted nearly 40,000 students from more than 80 nations, including 53 Goldwater Scholars and 187 National Merit Scholars.

UA's school of social work offers an MSW online. Candidates with a bachelor's in social work complete 42 credits to earn this degree, while students with an undergraduate degree in a different discipline must complete 60 credits. The department offers concentrations in adults and their families as well as a children, adolescents, and their families.

Students take courses in cohorts, complete field placements, attend an orientation on campus, and attend in-person labs on certain Saturdays. Candidates can pursue dual degrees by pairing an MSW with a master's in public health or law. Online students benefit from library access and off-campus assistance from the writing center. Veterans can take advantage of financial assistance through certain scholarships and the GI Bill®️.

UA holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its master's program in social work boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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Ohio State University - Main Campus

Ohio State University graduated its first class in 1878 and was recently ranked as Ohio's top public university by U.S. News & World Report. The institution includes 18 schools and colleges and provides study-abroad opportunities in 50 nations.

The school's master's in social work emphasizes both local and global pursuits, helping it stand out from other accredited online MSW programs. Coursework covers policy and practice through classes such as evidence in social work practice and an integrative seminar on mental health and substance abuse. Students can complete a traditional program in two years, although individuals who recently obtained a bachelor's in social work can enroll in an advanced program.

The department requires no campus attendance for this degree track. Students in most states can enroll in this program, although Colorado students should consult the school about the program's limited state authorization.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits Ohio State, and the Council on Social Work Education accredits its social work master's program.

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University of Southern California

In 1880, the University of Southern California welcomed its first class of 53 students. Today, USC educates around 47,500 students each year and boasted a 97% retention rate for returning fall 2017 candidates.

Students can explore several online MSW programs at USC, including those offered by three social work departments: adult mental health and wellness; children, youth, and families; and social change and innovation. Students can also select military or school social work tracks. Advanced standing candidates who already hold a bachelor's in social work earn their degree by completing 37 credits, while traditional students need 60 credits to graduate. Both traditional and advanced standing students must complete an in-person field placement, and traditional students must also fulfill a virtual field practicum with simulated experiences.

The university holds accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and its social work programs hold Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma educates more than 20,000 undergraduate students and offers 170 majors.

OU students can earn a master's in social work online by enrolling through the Tulsa campus. Participants take courses online using Zoom technology and in person. Students attend classes on Saturdays and complete practicum experiences on weekdays. The department expects students to complete this hybrid program on a part-time basis.

Students without a bachelor's in social work must complete 60 credits, while sudens with advanced standing need to take 36 credits to graduate. Social work students can also obtain certificates in public health and social work with American Indians. The school allows learners to pursue dual master's degrees in related fields and provides a child welfare exchange opportunity, enabling students to study social work internationally. Online students gain access to library databases and journals and can obtain career assistance through a virtual interview room.

OU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and its master's in social work program boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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Michigan State University

Michigan State University began in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. More than 50,000 students from 141 international countries currently attend MSU.

The school offers a master's degree in social work online that requires 57 credits for regular program students. However, students with advanced standing only need to complete 38 credits. Degree requirements include on-campus components, and students should live near campus. Candidates can pursue dual degrees by combining their social work master's program with a legal or public health master's. MSU also offers a trauma certificate that includes a combination of online and in-person courses and webinars. Students can also pursue a supervision in child and family services certificate through online and self-study coursework.

MSU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and the Council on Social Work Education accredits its social work master's program.

Boston University

Boston University's first school -- the Newbury Biblical Institute -- was established in Vermont in 1839. Today, the university includes 17 colleges and schools and educates more than 34,000 students.

BU offers an MSW online that targets field professionals. Students pursue this master's degree part time and can choose a macro social work practice or clinical social work practice major. The department delivers three tracks for this degree. Students with a social work bachelor's can enter the 40-43-credit advanced standing track; these candidates must complete 1,000 hours of field practice. Other students can choose the 65-credit traditional track, which requires two internships. The department also offers a 65-credit human service experience track for students with at least two years of related experience.

BU holds accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and its school of social work holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

California State University, Northridge

California State University, Northridge was founded in 1958. Currently, the school boasts over 300,000 alumni and graduates approximately 11,000 students each year.

CSUN offers a full-time master's degree in social work online that requires participants to complete 20 courses, including human behavior in the social environment, advanced social work practice in urban communities, and generalist social work theory and practice. The department delivers most of these courses asynchronously but requires learners to take a synchronous field education course. Students can complete this program in two years. The university also offers an off-campus program that requires three years of study.

The school's career center provides students with resources, counseling, and tips for interviews and resumes. Learners can also access job listings through SUNLink and can attend career events throughout the year.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits CSUN, and the Council on Social Work Education accredits its social work master's program.

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University -- located in Boone, North Carolina -- educates nearly 20,000 students and boasts a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Appalachian's hybrid master's in social work program offers two concentrations: individuals and families and community and organizational practice. Both focuses consist of 33 credits for students with advanced standing and 60 credits for students without an applicable social work bachelor's degree. Both concentrations share foundational courses in human behavior, policy, and social work practice, as well as field practica. The department only offers this social work graduate program as a part-time opportunity, and students can complete the program in two or three years. This program leads to state licensure.

Online students benefit from virtual tutoring and library assistance, including video tutorials and online workshops.

Appalachian State University holds accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its department of social work boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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East Carolina University

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University ranks among U.S. News & World Report's top national universities and public schools.

Students interested in social work graduate programs should consider the school's hybrid opportunity. To earn their degrees, candidates in the regular program complete 60 credits of coursework. Alternatively, individuals who hold a social work bachelor's degree can enroll in an advanced program and graduate faster. Students in either of these hybrid programs study part-time through online, hybrid, and in-person courses. Curriculum includes field practica and courses in human behavior, mental health, and trauma.

ECU's library provides document delivery services for distance students and allows candidates to virtually connect with librarians. Students can also schedule online appointments with the school's speech communication center to receive help with presentations.

ECU boasts accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its master's in social work program holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

Brandman University

Based in Irvine, California, Brandman University educates approximately 10,000 students per year and delivers more than 80 programs through 25 campuses.

Brandman offers an MSW online and in a hybrid format. Curriculum features classes in social work research, family violence, and advanced generalist practice. Students must also complete several practicum courses. Program electives cover many topics, including substance abuse; child welfare; and death, loss, and grief, preparing degree seekers to pursue different social work positions. Students with advanced standing can finish the program in a year, while standard program candidates usually take two years to graduate.

Admission requirements include a personal narrative. The school offers social work master's students scholarships of up to $6,600.

Brandman University holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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University of Houston

The University of Houston boasts 25 research centers and offers 109 undergraduate majors and minors and 151 graduate degrees.

Students can earn a master's in social work online by completing 63 credits of coursework that addresses policy, leadership, community development, and advocacy. Students must also fulfill 900 fieldwork hours and can choose between two concentrations: clinical or macro practice. Social work students can also choose from specializations in health and behavioral health, social work practice with Latinos, political social work, and an individualized specialization. Participants can pursue additional training through opportunities such as the school's Trauma Education Program and the Child Welfare Education Project.

Students can pursue dual degrees by pairing a master's in social work with a master's in public policy, public health, business administration, or law, or by pursuing a simultaneous doctorate.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits UH, and its social work master's program holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville was founded in 1794 as Blount College. The nearly 30,000 students who currently attend UT Knoxville benefit from access to more than 900 programs, 300 study abroad opportunities, and $60 million in annual institutional scholarships.

UT Knoxville offers a master of science in social work with two concentrations. An evidence-based interpersonal practice focus prepares students for clinical settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and mental health facilities. Alternatively, an organization leadership focus addresses policy and management for careers in government and community organizations.

Candidates fulfill field practica at courts, nursing homes, schools, and community shelters. Students with advanced standing who hold a bachelor's in social work only need two semesters of practicum experience, while extended-study and full-time students need to complete four semesters of practica. Candidates can also pursue certificates in gerontology, school social work licensure, trauma, and veterinary social work.

UT Knoxville holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its social work master's program boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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University of Missouri - Columbia

The University of Missouri began in 1839 and currently boasts more than 300,000 alumni and 19 schools and colleges.

MU offers an MSW online program that prepares students for careers as counselors, adoption specialists, and public health managers. Participants often enroll in two courses each term, and curriculum addresses policy, behavior, and intervention. Specific courses may include large group theory, management of a social agency, research methods in social work, and social justice seminars. The department also requires learners to complete two practicum experiences.

Advanced standing students must complete 39 credits, which can take two years, while students with regular standing need 60 credits, which usually takes three years of study. Online candidates must reside in Missouri or bordering states, and all online students pay in-state tuition.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits MU, and its social work master's program holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was founded in 1969 and later started the world's first school of philanthropy. As of fall 2018, 28,710 students hailing from 142 countries attended IUPUI's more than 300 programs.

Learners can earn IUPUI's 60-credit master's in social work to prepare for careers as case managers, foster care social workers, and drug abuse specialists. Required courses address generalist theory, addiction, and policy. Electives relate to specific endeavors, such as military social work, e-social work practice, and telebehavioral health. This diversity allows participants to personalize degrees to match their intended careers. Students must also complete three practica.

The institution offers online math and writing tutoring and provides distance learners with library access and software downloads. Students also benefit from resume guidance and job search assistance.

IUPUI holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and its social work master's program boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

Colorado State University - Fort Collins

Colorado State University began as Colorado Agricultural College in 1870. CSU currently educates more than 28,000 students and has awarded more than 230,000 degrees. This public school prioritizes research and receives more than $300 million in scientific funding each year.

CSU offers a master's in social work that is grounded in advanced generalist concepts, such as intervention, policy, practice, human behavior, and research. Students pursuing this degree in a traditional format must complete 60 credits and 945 service hours, which usually takes three years. Students with a bachelor's in social work can choose to enroll in an advanced program, completing 40 credits and 675 service hours; this path can be completed in two years.

Students pursuing either option enroll in cohorts, attending two weekends of classes every semester while also completing online coursework. In addition to earning an MSW online, students can pursue graduate certificates related to military, clinical, school, nonprofit, and mediation social work.

CSU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and its master's in social work program boasts Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

University of Nebraska Omaha

In 1968, the University of Omaha joined the University of Nebraska System. Currently, more than 15,000 students from over 70 countries attend UNO.

The university's school of social work offers a master's in social work online with classes such as clinical social work with groups, evaluation of social programs, and mental health policies for social work. Curriculum also includes advanced social work practica. Students with a bachelor's in social work can enroll in the advanced standing program and complete 39 credits, while other students must earn 63 credits to graduate.

All applicants need prerequisite coursework in statistics, research, and biology. UNO allows students to pursue dual degrees by pairing a social work master's with a public health, criminology, or public administration master's. Online students gain library access to more than 200 databases and more than 500,000 documents and ebooks. Librarian guidance is also available over the phone or online.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits UNO, and the Council on Social Work Education accredits the school's social work master's program.

Louisiana State University and A&M College

In 1860, the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy began under the guidance of Superintendent William Tecumseh Sherman. The school later changed its name to Louisiana State University and combined with the Louisiana State Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Students can pursue LSU's 60-credit master's in social work online. This program addresses diverse categories of social work, including substance abuse and child welfare. Curriculum features seven-week courses and internships and addresses human behavior and policy. Students can finish the program with a thesis or choose a capstone option that includes a seminar, portfolio, and assessment. Advanced standing students can complete this program in less than a year, while other students can graduate in two years.

International students and students residing in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New York do not qualify for program admission.

LSU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school's master's program holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

George Mason University

Based in Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason University educates more than 30,000 students from over 130 countries. Eighty percent of the school's alumni earn employment within six months of graduating.

Mason offers an MSW online through its college of health and human services. This degree track prioritizes the rights and judicial aspects of social work, preparing graduates for careers in gerontology, substance abuse, forensic social work, and child welfare. This 60-credit program includes primarily asynchronous courses that address behavior, psychopathology, community, and policy. Students must also complete generalist and clinical practica. Graduates may qualify to sit for the licensed social worker or licensed clinical social worker examinations, depending on their state's requirements.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits Mason, and the school's social work master's program gained Council on Social Work Education accreditation in 2006.

University of North Dakota

Located in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota was founded in 1883. This public school educates nearly 14,000 students through more than 225 programs and classes. UND also delivers over 300 study-abroad opportunities.

UND offers two options for its online master's in social work. Candidates without a bachelor's in social work qualify for a 60-credit distance foundation program, which can be completed in approximately three years. Alternatively, students with a bachelor's in social work can enroll in a 36-credit distance concentration, which requires 1-2 years of study. Coursework for either option addresses social policy, generalist practice with families, and human behavior. Candidates must also complete a capstone, thesis, or independent study. This program boasts a 93% retention rate for distance students.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits UND, and its master's in social work program holds Council on Social Work Education accreditation.

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Why Choose an Online College?

Students who earn their master's degree in social work online enjoy benefits that traditional students miss out on. The format of an online degree appeals primarily to students who have especially busy schedules. Parents, working professionals, and students on a budget can all benefit from MSW online programs. The structure of online MSW programs allows students to study remotely, which means saving money on transportation, parking, and room and board.

  • Flexibility

    Flexibility remains a primary benefit of earning a master's in social work online degree. Typically, MSW online programs offer asynchronous scheduling that lets students participate in classes remotely, as long as they have a computer and internet access. Even synchronous schedules, which use set class times, do not require students to travel to campus.

  • Accessibility

    Master's in social work online degrees also provide students with ample accessibility. Online students can access lectures, reading materials, tests, and class discussions online. Additionally, out-of-state students can study at schools hundreds of miles away -- often paying in-state tuition rates -- and international students can attend college from across the globe.

  • Diversity

    Online MSW programs break down barriers, allowing students from anywhere in the world to attend classes. The improved affordability, flexibility, and accessibility mean students from different ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds can come together virtually to study and obtain an expansive network for future job opportunities.

  • Technology

    Students enrolled in a master's in social work online program use distance learning programs such as Blackboard and Moodle, which allow them to connect with professors and classmates. These programs provide students with easy access to discussion boards, university resources, and coursework.

How to Choose an Online Social Work Program

A college education comes at a large cost -- in terms of both time and money -- so it makes sense that people conduct a lot of research when figuring out where to go to school. Students weigh numerous factors when applying for college, including a school's overall cost, accreditation status, and location. Determining which college best suits your needs is a process, and you should consider several aspects to help you weigh your options.

First, to ensure that you receive a quality education, make sure that your prospective schools hold regional or national accreditation. Accreditation serves as a stamp of approval that protects students. Regional accreditation is a more prestigious designation than national accreditation. Two- and four-year academic schools tend to earn regional accreditation, whereas vocational and for-profit schools usually earn national accreditation. Students should also consider the graduation and retention rates of prospective programs to gage the success of an MSW online program.

Cost often represents a significant factor in a student's decision-making process. Students should consider the financial aid packages schools offer to students who prove financial need based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, particularly aid reserved for minority students and veterans.

Finally, even for distance learners, a college's location can also influence where they decide to pursue a master's degree in social work online. Students sometimes consider out-of-state MSW online programs when a program offers better career opportunities and resources for social workers. With this in mind, make sure to investigate the state criteria for becoming a licensed social worker, as well as other state requirements that may pertain to your career goals.

Popular Online Social Work Degrees

Social work provides a fulfilling career for people who want to help others improve their lives. To learn more about earning a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate in social work, click on the guides listed below. You can read information about the courses offered in typical social work programs, common specialties pursued by social workers, and careers you can pursue after graduation.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Social Work Online Master's Degrees in Social Work Online Doctorate Degrees in Social Work

Certifications and Licenses for Social Workers

Licensed social workers work with many types of patients to treat mental, emotional, and behavioral
issues. Exact requirements for licensure depend on the state. At a minimum, applicants need to hold a master's degree in social work to become a licensed social worker. Additionally, after graduating from an accredited online MSW program, social workers must accrue supervised work experience and pass required exams.

Social workers can also advance in their careers by obtaining certifications from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Certifications allow social workers to demonstrate experience in a variety of specialties, such as case management, palliative care, and addiction.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

To become an LCSW, applicants must earn a master's in social work and complete additional coursework. Candidates also need to finish supervised work experience and pass exams, such as the national clinical exam offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and a law and ethics exam.

Licensed Social Worker

People interested in becoming a licensed social worker -- a position that does not have the same privileges as an LCSW -- must earn a master's in social work. Applicants also need to pass two exams.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

Social workers can receive an LBSW credential after earning a bachelor's in social work and passing a jurisprudence exam and an ASWB exam. Applicants also need to submit an application fee and pass a background check.

Licensed Master Social Worker

Graduates with a master's in social work can apply for the LMSW credential. The exact requirements vary depending on the state; however, applicants typically need to pass an exam, pay fees, and pass a background check.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

To become an LICSW, applicants need to hold a master's or Ph.D. in social work. Candidates must also complete supervised work experience and continuing education credits, with exact requirements varying by state.

Careers in Social Work

Social workers can find jobs that suit their work experience, education level, and personality. Most social workers also focus on a specialty by pursuing continuing education, licenses, and/or certifications. Earning a specialty better prepares social workers to find jobs in their desired fields, such as substance abuse or child and family services. For more information about social work careers, visit our careers page and check out the jobs described below.

School Social Worker

School social workers must hold a master's degree in social work. These counselors work in elementary, middle, and high schools to help students with their studies and social skills.

Entry-Level Pay: $45,000
Late-Career Pay: $63,000

Mental Health Counselors

Some employers only require mental health counselors to hold a bachelor's degree, while others prefer a master's. Mental health counselors help people suffering from mental health issues. They may work with children and adults.

Entry-Level Pay: $50,000
Late-Career Pay: $61,000

Child and Family Social Workers

Child and family social workers work to help parents considering adoption and children in school who have truancy or behavioral problems. They can find work in schools, hospitals, and government agencies.

Entry-Level Pay: $39,000
Late-Career Pay: $50,000

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

A licensed clinical social worker helps people cope with their mental health issues. These professionals conduct evaluations and aid patients in finding jobs and treatment. Many work in hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers.

Entry-Level Pay: $50,000
Late-Career Pay: $63,000

Medical Social Worker

Medical social workers often serve as a patient's first point of contact. These workers may document a patient's medical history, and when patients need medical referrals, social workers step in to help.

Entry-Level Pay: $50,000
Late-Career Pay: $61,000

Additional Social Work Resources

Explore Scholarships for Social Work Students

Check out this guide to find the social work scholarships right for you. We list scholarships for social work master's students, scholarships for social work majors, and social work doctoral students.

Professional Organizations

Professional social work organizations connect social workers across the country and world and offer many valuable networking opportunities and resources for students and graduates. Explore our guide to finding the right social work organization for you.

Resources

Whether you are an aspiring social work student or a seasoned social worker already in the field, there are many resources available to support, encourage, and develop your professional knowledge and insight into the social work field. Browse our list of must-have resources for every social worker.