Masters in Social Work Online

By Erika Lasrado

Updated March 15, 2024

Erika Lasrado

Erika has broad experience in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Although she has done a master’s in psychology, she is currently pursuing a master’s in educational psychology to change careers. Erika is a foodie and reader and loves to research and write about various topics when time permits.


Master of Psychology, Master of Educational Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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For people who care about changing the world for the better, who want to contribute to solving the many complex problems individuals, groups and communities face, social work may be a very interesting and satisfying experience. A master of social work degree will offer the knowledge, skills, and expertise to make a genuine difference in the lives of individuals and society as a whole. It prepares students for a wide range of career choices in the public, commercial, and nonprofit sectors, as well as the ability to transition from one environment to another easily. Masters in Social Work online Programs (MSW) trains scholar-practitioners to work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities in a culturally responsive, ethical, and evidence-based manner. The curriculum of MSW online equips students to be change agents in and outside of their communities, advocating for social justice on behalf of a variety of populations, with a focus on vulnerable and oppressed individuals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social work is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, expected to grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030. This article provides in-depth information on the MSW degree, the types of degrees available, what one can do with this degree, the best schools, scholarships available, information on accreditation, career options, and more.


Best Masters in Social Work
Online Programs

MSW online degrees are offered at universities throughout the country. The best MSW programs are accredited and provide a solid mix of all essential aspects, such as the institution’s reputation, quality and experience of the faculty, infrastructure, student services, affordability, and so on. FBD teams have extensively analyzed some of the best offerings in the county and compiled a list to make it easy for potential MSW degree students to choose a school or program that meets their expectations and needs. Here are the best online MSW programs in social work: *

The University of Southern California is a leading private research university located in Los Angeles — a global center for arts, technology, and international business. It is home to the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences and 22 exceptional academic schools and units. USC’s Health Sciences campus houses renowned specialized care and research in cancer, stem cell and regenerative medicine, orthopedics, and sports medicine. The tuition and graduation rate are as below:
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
University of Southern California University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089 $47,880 92%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

Find Best MSW Online
Programs Near Me

When it comes to finding a decent online master’s in social work degree program, location is critical. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition fees is the reason for this. In almost all cases, in-state tuition is far less expensive than out-of-state tuition. Fortunately, online master’s degree programs usually feature a uniform tuition fee that applies regardless of where the student lives. Nonetheless, some students may prefer to pursue their degree in their home state, while others may like to consider colleges outside of their home state. Several teams at FBD have worked to discover some of the top and most economical online master’s degrees in social work in various states to assist students in choosing one that is right for them. Here is a list of ‘MSW programs near me ‘:

Ivy League MSW

Ivy League colleges are typically recognized as the most elite institutions of advanced education in the U.S. These colleges, which are primarily located in the Northeastern region of the country, are made up of a total of eight institutions. In addition to being the most outstanding and sought-after, these top universities are also regarded as the finest among all higher education institutions.

Rated among the top five schools offering graduate-level social work programs (U.S. News & World Report), the Columbia School of Social work is the first and only ivy league school to offer a Master of Social Work online degree program.

The Columbia School of Social Work MSW program offers high educational quality and builds upon an agenda that promotes human rights, social justice, and respect for human diversity. Students of this program prepare themselves to improve lives and strengthen communities locally and the world over by qualifying to be in leadership positions in social work practice and research.

MSW Online or Counseling 

Although social work and counseling are helping professions, there are distinct differences between the two. While a master’s degree in social work generally requires a bachelor’s degree (in social work), a counseling master’s degree largely hinges on a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Here is a quick look at the various responsibilities of each:

The profession of social work will primarily include the following responsibilities:

  • Identifying individuals, groups, and communities that may require aid and assistance
  • Assisting clients in adjusting to changes and problems
  • Referring clients to remedial, interventional, and community resources that can help them enhance their well-being
  • Responding to distress and crises when required
  • Creating and assessing programs and services that serve in meeting the needs of clients

The profession of counseling will primarily include the following responsibilities:

  • Assessing the abilities and mental health of clients 
  • Identifying difficulties that may be impeding the success of clients 
  • Assisting clients in comprehending and overcoming difficulties
  • Creating tailored plans to assist clients in achieving their objectives
  • Collaborating with family members to assist clients in achieving their goals

Neither of the two degrees – social work or counseling – is better than the other. Each caters to different personal and professional goals and leads to different career paths, albeit sharing a few similarities on some fronts.

What to Expect from the Masters in Social Work
Online Program?

What is MSW degree? An MSW degree allows social work students to identify, process, intervene and address a wide range of human conditions and situations to improve or restore people’s ability to operate and function well. The degree program entails taking a holistic approach that considers biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors. MSW students learn how to work in various contexts with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations.

How many credits for a master’s degree in social work? An online master’s in social work degree program typically requires 60 to 80 credits. Fieldwork and/or practicum/internship are also mandatory and last between 400 to 600 hours, depending on the program and the school. Learning can be entirely online, in-person, or a blend of both called the hybrid model.

The MSW Program curriculum focuses on preparing students for advanced practice in a variety of fields, including aging and health, mental health and substance abuse, child and youth services, and community and social justice. Core courses and electives provide a solid foundation in critical competencies and practice habits required of all social workers. Some of the courses students can expect in an online MSW degree program include:

An example of what an online master’s in psychology comprises of is as follows:

Degree Format of Masters in
Social Work Online

A master’s degree in social work can be obtained in one of three different ways. Each of these formats impacts the program’s structure and caters to different needs. Here is a quick look at the three types:

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

Synchronous programs are those that take place in real-time and have organized learning experiences in which all students participate at the same time and in the same place. In an online synchronous program, there are generally no obligatory campus visits. Students will log in at pre-determined times and join to explore the subject with the teacher, participate in class discussions, complete group work assignments, and/or complete exams in sync with others.

Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, are the opposite of synchronous programs in that they can be taken up at one’s speed and at one’s own time and convenience from any location.

Part-Time vs. Full Time

Full-time programs are typically chosen by younger students who have recently completed some type of formal education (high school, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, etc.) and want to continue their studies rather than enter the workforce. These programs are best suited for those who do not have or will not need to work until they complete their program. Full-time programs have a heavier workload and a more demanding class schedule. An advantage of full-time programs is that students enrolled in them are more likely to receive scholarships and fellowships than part-time students.

Part-time programs are for people who already work full-time. These programs are usually have taught by the same professors, and students can study many of the same courses as their full-time students. Unlike full-time students, part-time students are only eligible for a limited number of scholarships, forcing them to rely on personal savings, loans, or employment sponsorship to pay for their education.

On-Campus Visits

In hybrid programs, classes are often held both online and in person. However, classes that require personal contact, group work, and/or fieldwork will require students to be on campus. On-campus visits also provide students the chance to meet up with classmates and professors in person, clarify questions, and have face-to-face interactions.

Degree Types

Social work graduate programs are referred to as Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Arts in Social Work (MASW or MA Social Work), or Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW or MS in Social Work), depending on the school. Although the standard generic social work degree is the MSW, an MASW is more common at institutions that have separate social work departments that lean on liberal arts and humanities, while those schools that may be able to incorporate their social work degrees into the arts or science departments (depending on how well they connect) offer MSSW degrees.

The disparities between these programs are mostly due to the school’s varying general education requirements. Any of these degrees will train and prepare students to work at the same level in the social work sector, provided the school or program they choose is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Full Program or Non-Standing Program vs. Advanced Standing Program

Many schools provide what is known as a ‘Non-Standing Program’ in social work, designed for undergraduate applicants who may not have a BSW or may hold their bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than social work.

An ‘Advanced Standing Program’ is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate degree in social work (BSW) from a school or program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Both programs differ in their educational requirements and coursework, which vary by school, program, and specialization.

Area of Specialization for Masters of Social Work
Online Programs

Specializations are an excellent approach to go deeper into the subject of social work and gain specific knowledge and skills in a certain area. Specializing can lead to better career prospects and salaries, making them popular among students who want to stand out from the crowd or have specific professional goals in mind.

Some of the many specializations and concentrations in an online master’s degree in social work are:

Specialization Description Careers
Aging & Geriatrics Social Work Degree OnlineThis specialization prepares students to provide specialty paging services to seniors with specific requirements. Students learn about the difficulties older people face, such as declining health, mental health, financial worries, and social isolation.Aging & Geriatrics social workers can work as hospice social workers, palliative care social workers, geriatric social workers, and in care homes, elderly homes, and community services.
Children, Families, and Couples Social Work Degree OnlineThis specialization teaches students how to advocate for children, provide child welfare services, and build child and family programs. Students learn about youth development, vulnerable children’s needs, suitable interventions, as well as the legal and ethical standards for child and family social work.Children, Families, and Couples social workers can work as child protective services social workers, family service workers, children’s services specialists, adoption social workers, youth welfare services, child protective agencies, and the juvenile justice system.
Clinical Social Work – Masters in Clinical Social WorkThis specialization equips students to research mental health initiatives, diagnose and treat clients through individual and group therapy, and examine how effectively social services might be provided. Among the critical social work practices, they study case management, advocacy, child welfare, and direct aid. This specialization leads to clinical social worker licensure.Clinical social workers can work as licensed clinical social workers, and in healthcare and education settings.
Public Policy AdministrationThis specialization prepares students for leadership and administrative roles in social work. Students learn how to work at the administrative level, assisting organizations in serving clients in need, and advocating for social change.Public Policy Administration social workers can work as managers, administrators or directors of social work organizations, governmental agencies, healthcare organizations, and welfare agencies.
Forensic Social Work Degree OnlineThis specialization equips students to deliver social work support to clients who are dealing with legal issues or institutions. Students learn about criminal conduct and how forensic populations are treated, how to deal with criminal offenders, and work with couples and families dealing with legal issues such as divorce, custody, and spousal and child abuse, among other things.Forensic social workers can work as crisis workers, corrections counselors, victim advocates, or in social service agencies, government organizations, and the juvenile justice system.
Community ServicesThis specialization focuses on how to work with underserved and unrepresented populations, by providing community services, mental health care, guidance, and counseling.Community Services social workers can work in homeless shelters, rehabilitation centers, community drug treatment centers, or refugee camps.
Medical Social Work Degree OnlineThis specialization trains online graduate students to assist vulnerable people with emotional, financial, and social needs that come with chronic disease, disability, or elderly age. Students will also explore intervention research, best practices for social workers in healthcare settings, the diverse needs of varied patient populations, and how to advocate for patients in collaboration with medical professionals.Medical social workers can work as case managers, medical or healthcare social workers, patient navigators, and therapists, or in hospitals, government agencies, community health settings, and schools.
Military & Veteran Social Work Degree OnlineThis specialization trains students to help service members, veterans, and their families cope with the stress of deployment and reintegration back into civilian life. Students learn how to address military difficulties such as mental trauma, anxiety, and bereavement by investigating the military’s social services network.Military & Veteran social workers can work as veteran’s affairs social workers, or military social workers.

Why Should I Do a Masters of
Social Work Online?

Students who get an MSW online are prepared to work as generalist social workers in a variety of settings, including nonprofits, businesses, and government-sponsored groups. The MSW degree prepares competent social workers who are dedicated to enhancing social work knowledge and practice, as well as assisting at-risk populations. This entails, among other things, combating social injustice, poverty, oppression, and prejudice.

An online master’s degree program in social work will provide students who are persistent, empathetic, patient, strong communicators, and passionate about reaching out to others with the knowledge and skills necessary to assist people in real-life circumstances. With the increasing need for social works across several spheres of life, MSW degree holders are continually in demand for various jobs and settings, with fulfilling and rewarding employment. Between 2020 and 2030, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that occupations in social work will expand by 12% in the United States.

The MSW program is designed to ensure that graduates will have the knowledge and abilities to:

  • demonstrate a commitment to the profession’s values and ethics as expressed in the NASW Code of Ethics, as well as an awareness of social work’s historical mission;
  • recognize the types and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination, as well as changing techniques and abilities, to promote social and economic justice;
  • address the concerns of various communities, particularly those who have been deprived of opportunity owing to historical, institutional, and social restrictions;
  • improve the well-being of people, families, groups, and communities by using generalist practice methods with client systems of varied sizes;
  • apply advanced social work practice knowledge to a specific area of practice;
  • use a variety of communication skills with different client populations, colleagues, and community members;
  • critically evaluate and apply knowledge of biological, psychological, and social elements that influence human behavior, and utilize that knowledge to drive social work practice on several levels; and
  • use critical thinking skills and properly evaluate available research to identify and implement the most compelling theories and practice interventions.

Free Masters of Social Work
Online Courses

Free master’s in social work online courses do not lead to a master’s degree. Instead, they provide knowledge and skills that may not be part of a typical graduate social work program. Free content and courses are a great way to complement a master’s program in social work and may also help when doing assignments or preparing for examinations. Here are a few resources for free online classes for social work master’s students:

Course Description Offered by
Social Work Courses and ProgramsEdX offers about 42 programs and 325 courses related to social work, in 3 basic, intermediate, and advanced levels. Topics include ‘Talk to Me: Improving Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Young Adults’, ‘Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Challenging Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Exclusion’, ‘Injury Prevention for Children & Teens’, etc.EdX
Topics on Social WorkOpenLearn, from The Open University, has many courses related to social work. Courses come in 3 different learning levels and include topics such as ‘Caring for Adults’,  ‘Race and Youth Policy: Working with Young People’, ‘Population Ageing: A Global Health Crisis?’, etc..OpenLearn
Topics on Social WorkCoursera, a popular choice among graduate students, offers over 1,200 free guided projects, courses, specializations, and professional certificates in social work and related topics. Most of the content is created by reputable universities such as Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Pennsylvania, and such.Coursera

Can you do MSW
without BSW?

Many students ask, “do you need a BSW to get an MSW?” Many programs accept students who are transitioning from one career to another. MSW degree programs that do not require an applicant to hold a BSW are titled ‘Non-Advanced Standing’ program. Although a bachelor’s degree in social work would be an advantage when applying to an MSW program, it is not always essential. However, students who hold a bachelor’s degree in another discipline such as public policy, social services, psychology, or social science, may be required to take some additional course requirements as prerequisites. This will be determined by the courses one took during their undergraduate studies. Furthermore, a minimum GPA is also required by many schools for students who enroll in an MSW program without a BSW.

It is worth noting that students who pursue their MSW without a BSW often share the same job prospects with BSW to MSW students and are equally eligible for most jobs. However, working as a BSW provides an experience that can be applied to MSW fieldwork requirements, potentially shortening the time required to complete the MSW.

How to Get into the Masters of
Social Work Online program?

To address the fundamental question of “how to get a master’s degree in social work” – Master’s in social work requirements are largely uniform across universities. However, applicants should verify with the admissions office at their college for any additional or specialized masters in social work prerequisites, which may differ by program and school. Here are some of the essential MSW admission requirements:

*Is the GRE required for MSW programs? Yes and no. While many schools have done away with the requirement of a GRE score for admission into an MSW degree program (provided they have a good GPA), some schools still make it part of their admission requirements.

How long does a Masters of Social
Work Online take?

How long to get a master’s degree in social work? A typical MSW degree online will require between 60 and 80 credits and about 2 years to complete full-time or 3 to 4 years part-time. However, the time to earn the degree varies depending on the coursework, specialization, and internship/fieldwork requirements. Naturally, programs taken up part-time will take longer to complete, while accelerated and fast-track programs may allow students to graduate faster.

The duration of a social work master’s degree online program has no bearing on its quality. Almost all formats have the same faculty and curriculum, and the final degree awarded is the same – MSW.

Accelerated Programs Masters of
Social Work Online

Students may be qualified for a one-year master’s in social work if they have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited college. Many schools waive the first year of the master’s program because the BSW undergraduate degree serves as a foundation for the master’s degree, making it possible for students to graduate in about a year. These 1-year MSW programs online, no BSW, have become increasingly popular among social work students who wish to enter the workforce as soon as possible.

Other options for the fastest MSW program entail transferring credits or choosing courses that can be completed in shorter durations, or taking up an accelerated 3+1 bachelor of social work and masters of social work program. Some schools also offer advanced standing programs in which students can get their advanced MSW degree in as little as eight months by following a unique study plan that allows students to skip the fundamental curriculum.

Here are a few examples of 1 year MSW programs online and fastest online MSW degree programs:

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

students who already have a bachelor’s in social work may be eligible for a 37-credit advanced standing program that can be completed in as few as 12 months.

Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service (GSS)

students can bypass the foundation coursework they would have already completed in a BSW to earn their advanced MSW degree in as few as eight months full time or 16 months part-time.

Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Social Work

BSW degree holders who opt for an advanced standing MSW program, can have 27 hours waived toward their MSW degree, making it possible to graduate in approximately 12 to 15 months.

Accreditation for Masters of Social Work
Online Degree

Having accreditation means that the school has met national educational criteria and standards and continues to do so. Accredited online social work programs assure students that the courses and classes they can pick from are high quality and ensure that potential employers will recognize their degree. Additionally, students who attend accredited online MSW programs may be eligible for federal financial aid and scholarships and will most likely be able to transfer their credits as well.

The most convenient way to verify accreditation is to use the database provided by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation for an online social work master’s degree is required from either CHEA or any one of the six regional commissions listed below:

In some instances, schools offer Council on Social Work Education, or CSWE accredited MSW programs. 

The Accreditation Guide has more information on accreditation and its importance.

  • New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Community and Junior Colleges Accrediting Commission (WSCUC)

Online MSW Programs that
accept low GPA

The Grade Point Average or GPA is a standard admissions requirement for almost all educational institutions across the United States. The GPA measures the student’s cumulative and continuous academic progress and is a vital deciding factor for admission to a program. In social work degree programs, the GPA becomes more critical because it is the primary indicator of competency and aptitude.

Although most schools require a GPA of 3.0 or more on a scale of 4.0, some schools accept incoming students with a lower score of 2.5 to 3.0. However, it is worth noting that a score lesser than 3.0 will bring the applicant’s last 60 to 90 undergraduate credits under scrutiny. Furthermore, students with a low GPA will do well to include strong Letters of Recommendation and perhaps even a high GRE score when applying to a social work degree program. Here are a few examples of colleges that will accept a low GPA:

University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work – accepts students to traditional MSW programs and advanced standing MSW programs with a GPA of 2.5.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Social Work – accepts students with a minimum GPA of 2.7 out of a possible 4.0 on all undergraduate work and a minimum GPA of 3.0 out of a possible 4.0 on all previous graduate work.

Western New Mexico University – accepts students who have a GPA of at least 2.75 on the most recently taken 64 hours of college or graduate coursework.


An interesting blend of disciplines in higher education is a BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing and an MSW or Masters in Social Work. Earning a BSN gives students foundational knowledge and skills in nursing and health care, and stepping forward to an MSW will enable these students to use that knowledge and skill in social work settings. Pursuing such a combination will require some prerequisite courses if specific subjects were not covered in the undergraduate program.

How to Pay for Masters of Social
Work Online Programs?

The most notable advantage of online education is that students can work while earning their degrees, making some educational costs easier to bear. Even though online students do not have to pay for transportation, course materials, or childcare during class hours, they must still pay tuition, which is significantly higher at colleges located outside of one’s home states than in-state tuition. Online programs have an edge here as well, in that they usually offer a set fee throughout all states in the country. Despite this, some students may find the expense of an online master’s degree in social work unaffordable, with the tuition for an excellent program in-state costing an average of around $10,342, and an average of around $18,814 at an out-of-state school. Fortunately, there are a variety of funding sources available that pay for a master’s degree tuition or that can significantly lower the overall program cost. Some sources of such funding include:

Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement along with other parameters such as community service, cultural heritage, religious affiliation, and so on. They are considered ‘free money because the awarded amount does not have to be paid back. As a result, scholarships are a popular choice for financing college. Often merit-based, scholarships may be offered privately by alumni, cultural, religious, or commercial organizations. (Note: Read about Scholarship Scams to avoid being scammed online.)

Grants are more need-based, unlike scholarships, in that they are usually awarded based on the student’s family’s finances. Universities that award these need-based grants factor in the applicant’s financial status but also consider an applicant’s grades and test scores.

Students can consider a Teaching Assistantship, where they are provided a fee waiver or stipend for working as assistants for professors – assisting them with instructional constraints, assisting in a lab or workshop, or teaching and demonstrating for undergraduates. Another option is the Research Assistantship, which provides a fee waiver or stipend, but differs by allowing students to help a professor with their research.

Student Loans

Students ready to pay interest against funds received can apply for a federal, bank, or private loan. These loans are sanctioned based on the applicant meeting specific eligibility criteria. It is essential to note that late or deferred payments will almost certainly increase student debt.

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a standardized form that applicants can fill in and submit to evaluate whether or not they are eligible for financial aid. More FAFSA-related information is available here.

More information on various funding options is available in the best Financial Guide.

Scholarships for Online Masters
Degree in Social Work

Students with good grades should consider the several graduate scholarships available to them for their master’s in social work online degree program. Scholarships are offered by universities, as well as other independent organizations and groups, to deserving students. A few instances are listed below:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardDeadline
Pi Gamma Mu ScholarshipsPi Gamma Mu Scholarships are intended for the first or second year of graduate work in a student’s first graduate degree program in social work and a few other disciplines. Eligibility is for up to four years from initiation into Pi Gamma Mu, and scholarships are awarded to Pi Gamma Mu members only.10 scholarships of $1,000 to $2,000 eachFebruary 15, annually
Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial ScholarshipThe Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who have shown a dedication to working with American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations, or who have a special affinity for them. Candidates who have shown a commitment to working with public or private nonprofit organizations, as well as local grassroots organizations in the United States, are also eligible.10 scholarships of up to $4,000 eachClosed for 2021-2022 | TBA for 2024-2025
Harry S. Truman ScholarshipThe Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation – the federal memorial to our thirty-third President – awards merit-based scholarships to college students who plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service. Scholarships are awarded for graduate or professional school and to those who participate in leadership development activities or have special opportunities for internships and employment with the federal government.Up to $30,000TBA
National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) OSA ScholarshipsThe National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) offers a multitude of scholarships to members who are full-time students in an accredited social work program. Applicants must be African-American and have a GPA of at least 2.5 on a scale of 4.0.VariesVaries

FAQs Related to Masters of Social
Work Online Programs

What is MSW degree?

An MSW or Master of Social Work degree teaches students the essential and fundamental aspects of social work such as human rights, social and economic fairness, egalitarianism, and respect for diversity, with an emphasis on core social work values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.

What can I do with a masters in social work?

How to get a masters degree in social work?

How long to get a masters degree in social work?

Should I get a masters in social work?

Can you become a social worker online?

Is an online msw worth it?

Do you need a BSW to get an MSW?

Do you need a masters in social work?

 Is getting a master’s in social work hard?

Career Opportunities and Salaries After Masters of
Social Work Online

There are a variety of positions within the field of social work that work in tandem with public health, family counseling, substance abuse, criminal justice, public health, rehabilitation, etc.  Although most of these positions may require a master’s degree, some will require a Ph.D. Depending on the individual’s state and employer, additional certification and licensure may also be necessary. “What can I do with a master’s in social work”? MSW online jobs can be found in a wide range of settings, including:

As for master’s degree in social work salary, the growing demand for social workers is apparent in the statistical figures that report growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median annual salary of social workers (general) is $51,760, with occupations projected to grow 12% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Here are some examples of careers in social work, along with their salaries and growth potential, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

OccupationSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)Job Description
Marriage and Family TherapistInterpersonal skills, listening skills, compassion, organizational skills, speaking skills.$51,34016% (much faster than average)Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships, and address relationships that affect mental and emotional disorders.
Social and Community Service ManagerAnalytical skills, managerial skills, problem-solving skills, time-management skills, communication skills.$69,60015% (faster than average)Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise programs and organizations that support public well-being.
Social Worker (General)

Emotional skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills

12% (faster than average)
Social workers work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, settlement houses, community development corporations, and private practices.
School and Career Counselors and AdvisorAnalytical skills, interpersonal skills, speaking skills, listening skills, compassion.$58,12011% (faster than average)School counselors help students develop academic and social skills. Career counselors and advisors help people choose a path to employment. Although some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development, a master’s in social work is also well accepted.
Rehabilitation CounselorCritical-thinking skills, communication skills, listening skills, interpersonal skills, patience, compassion.$37,53010% (as fast as average)Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. Candidates typically need a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field such as social work. Some positions require certification or a license.

Certification and Licensing for Masters of
Social Work Online

Certifications are an excellent approach to broaden one’s work prospects and income potential. They also serve as a “declaration” that the candidate possesses in-depth knowledge and the necessary competence in a certain field of social work.   Although a master’s degree is sufficient to practice as a social worker in many settings, an Associate Social Work (ASW) License is necessary for some roles in some cases (and states). This license can be obtained online by applying through the Association of Social Work Boards following graduation (ASWB). A $230 fee must be paid, and applicants must pass a multiple-choice licensure exam.

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work is necessary to apply for an ASW License in all states except in some states like Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, and South Dakota. Individuals with an associate license are not permitted to provide direct social work services, but they will be able to perform tasks such as intake evaluation and referral, case management and outreach, and education and advocacy.

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) – will require a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution or college. Students will have to also pass an online jurisprudence exam
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW) – will require a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution or college or a bachelor’s degree in another field with four years of documented experience in a human services field.
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – also known as Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW), will require a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution or college. Additionally, students would generally require to have taken up specific courses relevant to the state in which they reside, along with a certain number of hours of continuing education each time the license is renewed.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – will requires a master’s or doctorate in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution or college. Additionally, and in some instances, at least three years of post-graduate experience and some specific coursework relevant to the state in which the applicant lives is mandatory. Where experience and coursework may not count, an additional requirement of about 3,200 to 4,000 supervised (and verified) hours of clinical professional experience must be met.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides more information on what it will take to become licensed in your state.

Additional Resources for Masters of
Social Work Online

Connecting with peers and mentors is crucial for social work students, as is staying up to date on the newest advances in the field, identifying and solving problems with the help of others, and much more. The more one interacts with others, the more knowledge one will acquire to address real-world challenges and situations. Here are some resources for students pursuing an online master’s degree in social work to get started:

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the national association representing social work education in the United States. CSWE supports quality social work education and provides leadership and professional development opportunities. It is the only accrediting organization of social work programs in the United States. CSWE’s official portal hosts publications, events and meetings, research and statistics, educational resources, news, and more.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization for professional social workers in the world. The organization’s main objective is to advance the professional development of its members, establish and maintain professional standards, and promote supportive social policies.

The New Social Worker

The New Social Worker is a career publication that publishes articles on social work students, ethics, field placement, practice issues, practice specialty, technology in social work, book reviews, and other topics.

Phi Alpha Honor Society

Phi Alpha Honor Society aims to provide a closer bond among social work students and promote humanitarian goals and ideas. The society offers advisor tools, national service project resources, scholarships and awards, and more.

The Social Work Podcast

The Social Work Podcast covers a wide range of topics in social work, including clinical and community organizing practice, research, policy, and education.

Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR)

The Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), a non-profit professional membership organization, supports social workers, social welfare professionals, social work students, social work faculty, and researchers in related fields.

Author Bio:

Erika Lasrado

Erika has broad experience in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Although she has done a master’s in psychology, she is currently pursuing a master’s in educational psychology to change careers. Erika is a foodie and reader and loves to research and write about various topics when time permits.


Master of Psychology, Master of Educational Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


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