20 Best Online MSW Programs – 2024

January 20, 2024

best online msw programs

Pursuing a Master of Social Work, or MSW, is a way to join an inspiring, growing field that can sincerely impact the lives of the people and communities around you. From concentrations in social justice to healthcare and education to clinical therapy practices, social workers have the power to effect positive change in whatever realm they work. Social workers are in high demand, and job openings are expected to grow 12 percent through 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will be increased need in the fields of child, family, and school social workers; mental health and substance abuse social workers; and health care social workers. Fortunately, high-quality, Online MSW Programs are plentiful. In the following article, we explore the best of the best. 

The 20 Best Online MSW Programs

Here are the top 20 schools. Scroll below for more detailed profiles:

1) Syracuse University School of Social Work at Falk College

2) University of Kentucky College of Social Work

3) University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work

4) West Virginia University School of Social Work

5) Ohio University

6) Columbia University School of Social Work

7) Arizona State University

8) Temple University School of Social Work

9) Howard University School of Social Work

10) Simmons University

Best Online MSW Programs (Continued)

11) Portland State University School of Social Work

12) Rutgers School of Social Work

13) University of Southern California

14) University of Central Florida

15) University of North Dakota

16) University of Utah College of Social Work

17) University of Iowa

18) University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

19) Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service

20) Boston University School of Social Work

Funding – Best Online MSW Programs

While some graduate programs in the social sciences, like Clinical Psychology, offer fully funded assistantships with tuition remission, online MSW degrees will likely require you to finance your degree yourself. Carefully considering the costs, along with your capacity to complete a standard or advanced track program, can help you to choose the best program. 


The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the national association representing social work education and is the sole accrediting body of MSW programs in the United States. The CSWE accredits some 800 baccalaureate and master’s degree programs. The association works to support quality social work education and provides professional development opportunities. CSWE-accredited programs ensure that students are receiving a high level of education, which prepares them for an exciting and multifaceted career in a changing world. 

An Online Education – Best Online MSW Programs

Getting your MSW online means that you have the opportunity to access a rigorous, enriching education from anywhere. And an online degree may also enable you to work while you pursue your education. Many renowned universities have highly accredited MSW programs with options for students who are diving into social work for the first time and “advanced” students who have bachelor’s degrees in social work and can move into higher level coursework and fieldwork right away. 

The following schools represent a range of highly regarded and accredited online MSW programs that follow in the footsteps of the quality of their in-person programs. Schools tend to have the option of at least two tracks, both Standard and Advanced Standing tracks. Standard tracks are for students who studied something other than Social Work in their undergraduate degree. Advanced Standing is for students who have completed their BSW and are ready to begin straight away with more complex coursework. 

The 20 Best Online MSW Programs

Program Pertinent Info  Costs 
Syracuse University School of Social Work at Falk College 
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Complete in just 36 months 
  • No GRE required 
  • Gain 1,000 hours of fieldwork experience 
  • Two track options: Traditional MSW and Advanced Standing accelerated route for students with a BSW 
  • Charged on a per-credit-hour basis
  • 2023-24 rate is $1,139 per credit hour 
  • Traditional MSW is 60 credits, $68,340 
  • Advanced Standing MSW is 36 credits, $41,004 
University of Kentucky College of Social Work 
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Two track options: Regular Standing and Advanced Standing accelerated route 
  • Complete Advanced Standing in just 12 months 
  • 100 percent online or hybrid options available 
  • Charged on a per-credit-hour basis 
    • $737 per credit hour 
    • Regular Standing MSW is 60 credits, $44,220 total 
  • Advanced Standing MSW is 30 credits, $22,110 
University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work 
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Two track options: Online MSW and Advanced Standing Online MSW 
  • 900 and 500 hours of fieldwork, respectively 
  • Complete Advanced Standing MSW in as little as 12 months 
  • Charged on a per-credit-hour basis
    • $1,164 per credit hour 
  • Online MSW is 81 credits, $94,284
  • Advanced Standing MSW is 54 credits, $62,856 
  • There is a $4 technology fee per credit 
West Virginia University School of Social Work  
  • Higher Learning Commission accredited 
  • Fully online, asynchronous 
  • All students pay in-state tuition, regardless of location 
  • Regular Standing students finish in 3 years; Advanced Standing in 2 years 
  • Cost per credit is $676
  • Regular Standing degree cost: $40,560
  • Advanced Standing total degree cost: $24,336
Ohio University
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Two track options: MSW Foundation and Advanced Standing programs
  • Advanced program can be completed in 2 years 
  • Established relationships with 500 agencies nationwide for future fieldwork placements 
  • Ohio Residents: $508 per credit hour 
  • Out-of-state Students: $527 per credit hour 
  • Foundation program is 62 credits 
  • Advanced Standing is 36 credits 
  • Estimate cost based on where you live 
Columbia University School of Social Work
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Six degree pathways, including Advanced Standing 
  • Complete Advanced Standing in 1 year 
  • 100 percent online with majority synchronous classes 
  • Need-based scholarship, grants, loans, and Federal Work Study are based on students’ demonstrated financial need 
  • Columbia’s cost breakdown for its six degree pathways are complex. In-depth information can be found by clicking through the various degree options here 
Arizona State University
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Programs lead to professional licensure with the State of Arizona 
  • 960 hours of required applied practicum at two distinct internship sites 
  • Complete the program in 2 years 
  • Cost per credit is $818 for Spring 2024 
  • Part-time enrollment is 6 credit hours per semester: $9,437 per academic year
  • Full-time enrollment is 9+ credit hours per semester: $14,173 or more 
Temple University School of Social Work 
  • CSWE and CEPH accredited 
  • Classes taught by the same faculty as in-person classes 
  • Advanced Standing and dual MSW-MPH programs available fully online
  • Part-time program to be completed in 3 to 4 years; Advanced Standing in 12-18 months  
  • $1,039 per credit 
  • Regular Entry enrollment, 60 credits: $62,340
  • Advanced Standing enrollment, 34.5 credits: $35,845.50
Howard University School of Social Work
  • Part of the HBCU family 
  • Two track options: Traditional and Advanced Standing 
  • Complete Advanced track in as little as 2 years 
  • Grounded in the Black Perspective, focusing on intersection of oppression, self-determination, and culture


  • Price per credit hour: $1,214 
  • Traditional program, 60 credits: $72,840 
  • Advanced Standing, 45 credits: $54,630 
Simmons University 
  • Advanced, Accelerated, Full Time, and Extended program tracks available 
  • Traditional students experience 1,000 hours of practical experience 
  • Complete Advanced Track in only 9 months 
  • First school of clinical social work in the nation 
  • Traditional track, 65 credits: $74,620
  • Advanced Standing, 34 credits: $39,032 
  • Scholarships available
Portland State University School of Social Work
  • Three tracks: Generalist Curriculum, Advanced Macro Practice, Advanced Clinical Practice 
  • Healthcare placements may not be available outside of Oregon 
  • Courses identical to what is taught in-person 
  • Two-day synchronous intensive at the start of each academic year to build community 
  • Cost per credit hour determined by residency
  • ​​Oregon resident: $528/credit
  • Washington Border Discount: $580.80/credit
  • Nonresident: $755/credit 
  • Each track requires 78 credits
Rutgers School of Social Work
  • CSWE accredited 
  • 2-year full-time or 3-year part-time program options 
  • Advanced Standing and Regular Standing tracks 
  • Asynchronous classes 
  • 60 or 39 credits, Regular and Advanced Standing, respectively  
  • $1,007 per credit
  • Charges range from $4,532 to $11,077 depending on the number of credits taken each semester
University of Southern California 
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Traditional and Advanced Standing options, full and part-time
  • Complete the accelerated, Advanced Standing option in 12 months 
  • Designed to meet California and Association of Social Work Board licensure requirements 
  • $2,137 is the per-unit rate for students enrolled in 1-14 units.
  • $31,734 is the flat rate for students enrolled in 15-18 units.
  • Students enrolled in 6 or more units will be automatically charged for health insurance 
University of Central Florida
  • CSWE accredited 
  • Two tracks: Traditional and Advanced Standing 
  • Students prepared for state licensure exams 
  • Both tracks utilize a cohort model for stronger peer support 
  • $487.45 per credit hour 
  • Traditional: 62 credit hours 
  • Advanced: 32 credit hours 
The University of North Dakota
  • Advanced Generalist and Generalist Foundation tracks available 
  • 1 or 2 required campus visits, respectively 
  • Minor in Gerontology or Substance Abuse and Addictions 
  • 1 year to complete the Advanced Generalist  
University of Utah College of Social Work 
  • Advanced and Standard Standing tracks 
  • Partnerships with some 300 off-campus social service agencies for student fieldwork 
  • Opportunities for in-person office hours with faculty for students near campus 
  • $556 per credit hour 
  • 45 credits for Advanced Standing 
  • 60 credits for Standard 
The University of Iowa 
  • CSWE accredited
  • Advanced and Regular Standing program 
  • Required classes meet at 5:30 PM CST Monday–Thursday to accommodate student work schedules 
  • Top ranked online MSW in Iowa 
  • $626 per credit for in-state students 
  • Iowa and residents of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin qualify for in-state tuition 
  • Scholarships are available and assistantships exist for students in Iowa City 
University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work 
  • Students assigned to a cohort and take courses with that cohort throughout their time 
  • Cohorts are approximately 25 students each 
  • Required minimum 900 hours of practicum 
  • Courses are synchronous and asynchronous, depending on the instructor 
Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service
  • Promises the same quality of instruction as Fordham’s top-ranked in-person MSW 
  • Students graduate ready to sit for licensure in their state 
  • Generalist and Specialist/Advanced Standing Phase 
  • Class are live/synchronous 
  • $1,045 per credit 
  • 31 credits for Advanced Standing 
  • 62 credits for Traditional Standing 
Boston University School of Social Work
  • CSWE and NECHE accredited 
  • Three track options: Traditional, Human Service Experience (HSE), and Advanced Standing 
  • Required live weekly classes 
  • 1 or 2 internships required, depending on track 
  • $910 per credit hour 

(2021-2022 academic year) 

  • 65, 65, or 43 for Traditional, HSE, and Advanced Standing, respectively 

Additional Resources

If you’re feeling ready to apply for these online MSW programs, you might want to check out College Transition’s best advice for writing a grad school statement of purpose and examples for the statement of purpose you might need to write for your applications.  You may also want to check out What is a Good GRE Score?

If you find yourself considering a range of possible careers and are thinking about other programs in human services or social sciences, you might consider The 19 Best Master’s in Psychology Programs, our list of the top PsyD programs in the country  and How to Become a Psychologist.

In the end, social work can be an exciting, rewarding career whose practitioners have the opportunity to shape the communities in which they live and work. Studying with an online MSW can help you to finance your degree by working the day and taking classes asynchronously or at night. With accreditation and faculty who teach across in-person and online programs, pursuing your MSW online might be the enriching step that takes your life to the next level.