Social Work

An accelerated online Master’s in Social Work degree is in high demand. With so many professionals moving into graduate work, regardless of their work experience level, it has become a necessity to build competent programs that not only teach social work in a timely fashion but is also accessible as well. Professionals are also using these degrees to specialize in specific areas, making it more important than ever that these programs deliver the necessary options that professionals are looking for.

Online programs are generally more accessible, affordable, and flexible than online degrees. However, in the past, they have followed the traditional academic term schedule, meaning that professionals generally spend as much time, or perhaps more time, in the program than traditional programs. Currently, this is changing; more schools are creating advanced standing programs that are meant for in-service professionals, enabling them to complete a graduate degree in half the time that it would normally take an on-campus student. This is the focus of this ranking, so students should be aware that most of these programs are only open to in-service professionals with an undergraduate degree in this field.

Methodology

There are several online social work programs available; however, this ranking focuses on accelerated programs in the field. In order to narrow the search, the National Center for Education Statistics website was utilized. Searching for accelerated online Master’s in Social Work programs, an initial list of 60 schools was created. From there, each school was fed through the College Navigator database to compare certain factors; these included tuition rates and the average degree time to completion rates. The list was narrowed down by in-state graduate tuition rates; the final ranking names 20 schools, which are listed below.

Ranking Low-Cost Accelerated Master’s in Social Work

20. Indiana University

Indianapolis, Indiana

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Indiana University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from IU requires 42 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $23,280

Indiana University offers students an accelerated master’s online in social work that can be completed in just two years. This degree is delivered wholly online, with students following a set path forward when they choose the Advanced Standing track. This track is open to all students with an educational and work background in social work; at least one year of work experience and an undergraduate social work degree from an accredited university is required. Students will find that all courses are offered asynchronously or synchronously; courses are delivered on a 12-week term schedule. By taking two to three courses every term, students can complete the degree plan in five semesters. This degree calls for two practicums, which take place in a student’s community during the second year of their time at the school. Other degree requirements include 42 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exit exam. Sample courses include Assessment in Mental Health and Addictions, Clinical Theory and Practice, and Community and Global Theory and Practice.

19. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee

Online Master of Science in Social Work, Advanced Standing

University of Tennessee - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from UT Knoxville requires 37 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $23,280

Professionals interested in a one year Master’s in Social Work online degree should check out the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. This school offers an Advanced Standing program, that is open to students who have earned a bachelor’s of social work from a school that holds accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education. This program begins in the summer and is held on a synchronous cohort model. The degree comes with two concentrations: Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice and Organizational Leadership. The program requires that all students take on a field practicum, which is arranged by the College Field Coordinator and takes place in a student’s area of residency. Students can expect to complete 37 credit hours of coursework, the internship, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Students interested in learning about what kind of courses are available are encouraged to reach out to the school.

18. The University of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

University of Louisville - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from the University of Louisville requires 30 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $21,420

The University of Louisville offers students with a Bachelor’s of Social Work to their name a chance to earn a one year online Master’s in Social Work degree. This program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students in the Advanced Standing program will be required to take half of the required hours as the traditional degree plan and may enroll either in the summer or the fall. Courses are delivered both asynchronously and synchronously, with courses following the traditional academic term schedule. All students, regardless of standing, will be required to complete 900 clinical hours of field experience; there are no exceptions. Students will find that the degree is fairly straightforward and focuses on research and practice. This degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework, field experience, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Advanced Social Work Practice, Advanced Research Practice, and Current Issues and Trends in Social Work.

17. Boise State University

Boise, Idaho

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Boise State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from Boise State University can be completed in one year of study.

Website

Tuition: $20,110

Students at Boise State University are offered an affordable accelerated online Master’s in Social Work that offers an Advanced Standing Track. This degree track, which holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education, is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate work in social work within the last five years. They will be provided with a degree plan that can be completed in less than one year, provided they study full-time. All coursework and labs are completed online through asynchronous and synchronous delivery systems. Students will be required to complete 600 clinical hours, or 12 credit hours, of supervised social work in the field, which takes place over the last two terms in the program. Other degree requirements include 25 credits of coursework and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include The Evaluation of and Treatment of Mental Disorders, Program Leadership and Management, and Advanced Issues in Human Diversity.

16. The University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Online Master of Social Work — MSW for BSW Students, Advanced Standing

University of North Dakota - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from UND requires 34 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $20,085

The University of North Dakota provides students with the chance to earn an affordable and accelerated online Master’s in Social Work. This program is perfect for students who are interested in serving as generalist social workers in the field after graduation. Students will be met with a hybrid degree that offers them synchronous courses and lab work online while requiring only one on-campus visit throughout the length of the degree plan. The degree follows the traditional academic term schedule and yet can still be completed in less than two years. This degree also requires field experiences, which are generally taken during the last two terms in the plan of study. Students can expect to complete 34 credit hours of coursework, a research or capstone project, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Advanced Generalist Practice with Communities, Advanced Generalist Research Methods and Analyst, and Advanced Generalist Tools for Policy.

15. The University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work

University of Arkansas - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from University of Arkansas can be completed in one year of study.

Website

Tuition: $18,075

Professionals interested in a full-time 12 month online Master’s in Social Work degree will feel at home at the University of Arkansas. The degree is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This graduate degree comes with the Advanced Standing track, an option that will be beneficial to working social work professionals. This is a 100 percent online cohort program that can be completed in one year. Students will find that the courses are delivered both asynchronously, and synchronously, allowing for maximum flexibility. There is a year-long internship that is required for this degree that amounts to 22 hours per week; students may be able to complete this internship in their current place of work upon approval from the school. Students can expect to complete 39 credit hours of coursework, a thesis, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Advanced Practice with Children and Youth Using the MSLC Perspective, Social Work Research and Technology, and Advanced Practice with Adults using the MSLC Perspective.

14. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania -
The online MSW from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania requires 36 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $18,180

The Edinboro University of Pennsylvania offers professionals the chance to earn an accelerated online master’s in social work. The school’s Advanced Standing Track makes it possible for qualified candidates to complete their graduate degree in one year. Courses are delivered asynchronously and synchronously, with all courses delivered on the traditional academic term schedule with the exception of the winter term, which is four weeks in length. All students will be required to complete an internship that takes place over two consecutive terms. It is possible for Advanced Standing students to waive over half of the required courses, but they must do so prior to embarking on their plan of study; they are advised to speak to an admissions advisor about waiving certain courses prior to registering for classes. Other degree requirements include 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a comprehensive written exit exam. Sample courses include Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, Trauma-Informed Policy, and Trauma Theory and Treatment.

13. Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Louisiana State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from LSU requires 33 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $17,787

Working professionals in the field who wish to earn an accelerated online Master’s in Social Work degree from Louisiana State University have the ability to apply for the school’s Advanced Standing track. The degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This degree may only be taken by licensed students; there are no exceptions. This is a 100 percent online degree that makes it possible to complete the requirements for graduation in one year if a student chooses to study full-time. A year-long internship is required but may take place in a student’s current workplace provided that the department approves the internship. Students can expect to complete the internship, 33 credit hours of coursework, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam prior to graduation. Sample courses include Advanced Social Policy, Differential Diagnosis, and Community and Agency Contexts for Direct Practice Community.

12. Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Florida State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from FSU is available entirely online.

Website

Tuition: $17,327

Florida State University provides students with the opportunity to earn an accelerated online Master’s in Social Work through its Advanced Standing track option. Recently ranked as the best online social work program in Florida by U.S. News and World Report, this degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This degree is perfect for students who are interested in earning licensure; this is a clinically-focused program that can offer the requirements necessary to sit for the licensure examination. This degree is conferred entirely online, with students taking two synchronous courses per term, which can range from 12 weeks to 16 weeks. One field placement is required, which takes place in a student’s area of residence. This degree requires 39 credit hours, one field placement, a capstone project, and a comprehensive written exit exam. Sample courses include Gerontological Social Work, Physical Aspects of Aging, and Social Work in Health Settings.

11. The University of Alaska at Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

University of Alaska Anchorage - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from UAA requires 33 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $17,115

Students at the University of Alaska at Anchorage have the opportunity to enter into the school’s Advanced Generalist accelerated online Master’s in Social Work. This degree is built for professionals who wish to become generalist practitioners in the social work field. While the majority of this degree is conferred online through asynchronous courses and synchronous lab assignments, there is a campus residency requirement; students must spend two days on campus at the beginning of their plan of study. Students will also need to complete practicums, which take place over two consecutive semesters. Other requirements include 33 credit hours of coursework, a research paper, and a comprehensive exit exam; all of these requirements can be completed in less than two years if a student chooses to study full-time. Sample courses include Social Policy for Advanced Generalist Practice, Advanced Generalist Practice: Families and Groups, and Advanced Generalist Practice: Organizations and Communities.

10. The University of Missouri

Columbia University

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

University of Missouri - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from the University of Missouri requires 39 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $16,781

The University of Missouri is dedicated to bringing students the chance to complete an affordable accelerated Master’s in Social Work online degree within two years when they choose the Advanced Standing track. Students will note that only applicants in the state of Missouri and contiguous states are eligible to apply for this program. This degree is 100 percent delivered online and there is no reason to ever visit the campus. The only requirement that cannot be completed online is the field practicum, which requires approval from the university to take place in a supervised work setting in a student’s community. Students will take their coursework and labs online through the school’s virtual portal; courses are delivered asynchronously and synchronously and follow a 16-week term format. Taking two courses every term, a student can reasonably complete this degree in two years. Students can expect to complete 39 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive written exit exam for graduation. Sample courses include Evaluative Research in Clinical Social Work Practice, Fundaments of Social Work Administration, and DSM V and Psychopathology: A Social Work Perspective.

9. Campbellsville University

Campbellsville, Kentucky

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Campbellsville University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from Campbellsville University can be completed in 12 months.

Website

Tuition: $16,770

Campbellsville University offers students an Advanced Standing 12 month master’s online in social work degree that requires no campus residencies. This degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Students will find that the Advanced Standing track is available 100 percent online through asynchronous courses and synchronous labs. Two field practicums, held throughout two consecutive terms, is also required; students will need to work with the department to find a supervised work setting in their area that is approved for this requirement. It may be possible to complete the requirement in a student’s current workplace. Other requirements for this degree include 30 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a comprehensive written and oral exit exam. Sample courses include Advanced Practice with Children and Families, Leadership and Supervision in Social Work, and Program Evaluation.

8. The University of Houston

Houston, Texas

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

University of Houston - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from UH requires 38 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $16,480

Working professionals who meet the requirements for Advanced Standing will find a two-year accelerated online Master’s in Social Work that will help them become advanced generalist social work professionals. This degree was built for licensed social workers with at least one year of work experience in the field; students without an undergraduate degree in the field or with no work experience must apply to the traditional program. This program is built to be conferred entirely online; courses and labs are delivered through the school’s virtual portal and can be taken on-demand or as live courses. Students will need to complete two practicums, which are done in their area of residence, during the last two terms of their degree. Students can expect to complete 38 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive written exit exam prior to graduation. Sample courses include Foundations of Social Work, Policy, and Current Issues and Trends in Social Work Policy.

7. The University of Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama

Online Advanced-Standing DL Program — Master of Social Work (MSW)

University of Alabama - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from UA is a hybrid program.

Website

Tuition: $15,750

The University of Alabama offers holders of a Council on Social Work Education-accredited Bachelor’s of Social Work degree the opportunity to complete their Advanced Standing accelerated online master’s degree. This is a program built for professionals who are interested in generalist work in the field and is comprised of bridge courses, the core curriculum, and free electives. This is a hybrid program that sees coursework delivered asynchronously online; labs are taken at regional centers throughout the state on set Saturdays. Students are reminded that this degree can lead to licensure only if a student completes their practicum requirement in the state of Alabama. This is a full-time degree that can be completed in one year. Students will be required to complete 42 credit hours of coursework, 500 practicum hours, a research paper, and a comprehensive written exit exam prior to graduation. Sample courses include Components of Human Development and Social Systems, Advanced Social Welfare Policy Analysis, and Social Service Planning and Program Development.

6. The University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

University of Central Florida - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from UCF requires 32 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $15,600

Students at the University of Central Florida may opt to enter into the school’s accelerated online master’s in social work program. This program is known as the Online MSW Part-Time Advanced Standing Track. It is built on an online cohort model. The degree only admits students during the fall and those who choose the Advanced Standing track cannot opt for face-to-face courses or choose to study full-time because of cohort degree constraints. Students will be required to take their courses online, with lectures offered asynchronously and skills labs offered synchronously. Practicums are also required and must take place in a student’s community under the supervision of an approved preceptor. Other requirements for this degree include 32 credit hours, a research paper, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Introduction to Advanced Generalist Social Work Practice, Research Methods in Social Work Policy, and Advanced Generalist Practice for Individuals and Families.

5. Saint Leo University

Saint Leo, Florida

Online Masters of Social Work — Advanced Standing Program Full Time

Saint Leo University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from Saint Leo University can be completed in one year.

Website

Tuition: $15,360

Saint Leo University confers an Advanced Standing accelerated online Master’s in Social Work that can be completed in as little as one year if a student decides to study full-time. At this time, this degree is available to applicants in select states; students are encouraged to inquire if their state is among those that are open to apply. While this course is conferred mostly online, students should be aware that there are caveats: a weekend on-campus residency is mandatory during the summer, courses are delivered synchronously during the week, and an internship of at least 16 hours a week for the duration of the program are all requirements. Students can also expect to complete 32 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive written exam. Sample courses include Advanced Clinical Practice with Individuals, Ethical Foundations in Social Work Practice, and Social Work Practice in the Military.

4. Humboldt State University

Arcata, California

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Humboldt State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from Humboldt State University is available 100 percent online.

Website

Tuition: $15,300

Students who have earned a Council on Social Work Education-accredited undergraduate degree but are still pre-service professionals are invited to join Humboldt State University’s accelerated online master’s in social work program. This degree can be completed in one year if they decide to take summer bridge courses and study full-time. This is a 100 percent online cohort program that can be completed in two years. Courses are delivered asynchronously and skills labs are offered synchronously through the school’s virtual portal. There is also an internship, consisting of at least 16 hours a week, that must be completed during the student’s final two semesters in the program; this internship takes place in a student’s area of residency. Other requirements include 37.5 credit hours of coursework, a master’s project, a midpoint exam, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Child and Family Welfare, Advanced Practice in Indigenous and Rural Communities, and Integrated Clinical Practice.

3. Metropolitan State University of Denver

Denver, Colorado

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Metropolitan State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from Metropolitan Sate University of Denver offers three degree pathways.

Website

Tuition: $14,340

The Metropolitan State University of Denver offers students the chance to enter into an accelerated online Master’s in Social Work program that provides an Advanced Standing track. This degree comes with three different pathways: Children and Families, Mental Health, and Leadership and Management. Students who take on the Advanced Standing track will be able to choose one of the above pathways or stay on an advanced generalist pathway. This degree can be taken as a part-time or full-time plan of study; most Advanced Standing students choose the full-time track, which sees them complete the degree in one year. This course is offered 100 percent online and is delivered asynchronously and synchronously on the school’s virtual platform. Students will need to take on a year-long internship, consisting of 20 hours a week for the duration of the placement. Other requirements include 36 credit hours of coursework, a final project, and a comprehensive exit exam. Sample courses include Legal Issues in Social Work Practice, Advanced Policy and Advocacy, and Advanced Integrative Practice: Leadership.

2. Western New Mexico University

Silver City, New Mexico

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Western New Mexico University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from WNMU requires 45 credit hours of coursework.

Website

Tuition: $14,203

Students at Western New Mexico University have the opportunity to take on an accelerated online Master’s in Social Work. This is an Advanced Standing program open to licensed social workers who require advanced education in order to continue on their career path. Students will find that this degree is conferred 100 percent online; courses are offered on-demand while skills labs are delivered as live participation broadcasts. Students will also need to complete a two-part practicum that will take place during their final two semesters in the program. This degree requires 45 credit hours of coursework, two practicums, a capstone project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Applied Social Work Research, Social Welfare Policy, and Community Organization and Development.

1. Valdosta State University

Valdosta, Georgia

Online Master of Social Work, Advanced Standing

Valdosta State University - Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's in Social Work Online for 2018
The online MSW from VSU can be completed in one year of study.

Website

Tuition: $10,830

Valdosta State University offers students the chance to complete an accelerated Master’s in Social Work that is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This is an advanced generalist degree that was created to be completed in one year. This degree is offered 100 percent online and can be taken as a self-directed plan of study or in the cohort model. Students will note that a field practicum is required and is generally taken during the last semester in the program. Other requirements include 33 credit hours of coursework, a capstone project, and a comprehensive written and oral exam. Sample courses include Ethical and Policy Practices in Social Work, Legal Research for Social Work Professionals, and Current Issues in Social Work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Accelerated Online Master’s in Social Work Degree?

  • Social Worker
  • Foster Care Program Director
  • School Social Worker
  • Child Welfare Case Worker
  • Documentarian
  • Clinical Mental Health Social Worker
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Politician
  • Juvenile Detention Parole Officer

How Much Can You Earn in This Field?

Social workers generally make between $56,000 to $70,000 a year, depending on their work experience background, current position level, whether they work in the public or private sector, and where in the country they work and reside in. It is possible for those in social work to make substantially more; however, it is important to note that higher salaries come with specific certifications, endorsements, and in some cases, a doctoral degree.

What are the Various Disciplines of Social Work?

Social work is a vast field that incorporates a variety of disciplines. Most professionals in the field will focus on law, government, politics, public policy, community services, human development, sociology, psychology, culture, diversity, and social justice. This is true regardless of the specialty that a professional may have in the field.

Social workers who specialize in one field or another may focus on other disciplines. Some common disciplines include community services, foster care, education, health care, gerontology, and more. Social work professionals who are interested in learning more about the disciplines they may be required to have knowledge in are encouraged to research the specific career pathway they are pursuing.

The social work field requires educated, compassionate, and committed professionals. Because social workers are apparent in everything from family life to schools, it’s never been so necessary to have these professionals earn, at the very least, a graduate degree in this area. Now with the popularization of the accelerated online Master’s in Social Work, professionals can pursue their educational goals while remaining in their current jobs in the field.

FOM Staff
April 2018

This concludes our ranking of the Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in Social Work Online for 2018.