Social Work

In this ranking of the fastest online Master’s in Social Work, we will examine the following degrees:

  • Online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Online Standard/Generalist Master of Social Work (MSW)

For those who really want to make a difference in individual lives and the community, pursuing an accelerated online Master of Social Work is a good place to start. And with the current state of the world, now is the time to invest in helping people weather the storms of life. Whether you have a background in social work or not, you can still earn your MSW online in about 2 years. It isn’t necessary for a Master’s degree to work in the field, but for those desiring supervisory roles, clinical positions, or management social work careers, an online MSW is a must! Below we’ve shared 20 of the best online MSW degrees!

Methodology:

In order to rank the easiest online Master’s in Social Work programs, we scored the schools based on 3 criteria: their Student/Faculty ratio, the school’s graduate/in-state graduate tuition, and the duration of the program. We used the school’s website for information, as well as the National Center for Education Statistics. If any information didn’t fit within the parameters of the scoring, zero points were awarded for that category. In the case of a tie, the school with the lower tuition pulled the higher rank.

Student/Faculty ratio:

  • 13:1 or less – 3 points
  • 14:1 to 20:1- 2 points
  • 21:1 and above – 1 point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate:

  • Less than $8,000 – 5 points
  • $8,000 to $18,000 – 3 points
  • Greater than $18,000 – 1 point

Minimum Time to Completion:

  • 12 months or less – 5 points
  • 13-18 months – 3 points
  • 19-24 months – 1 point

#20 Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $9,684

At Florida State University, students can earn their accelerated online MSW in two ways:

  • For those with a BSW, an Advanced Standing Social Work program (2 years in length)
  • For those with a Bachelor’s in an area other than social work, a Traditional Social Work (3 years in length)

 Designed specifically for working professionals, this program is presented in a flexible, part-time format. Students will also have support along the way. For those that meet the requirements, GRE scores are not required. The Social Work programs at FSU are consistently ranked among the best by the U.S. News and World Report. 

Points: 5

#19 University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

MSW Online

Student-Faculty Ratio: 22 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $8,350

The fast-track online MSW at the University of South Florida is a perfect fit for students who desire a cohort-modelled program with structure. Students will attend online class at specific times and will work through the sequenced work alongside their peers. Online classes will be held at night to accommodate working professionals. Fieldwork will be required each week (12-15 hours). Required coursework includes:

USF’s online MSW is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).

Points: 5

#18 University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 18 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $10,534

If you need to continue working full-time, then take a good look at the University of North Dakota’s online MSW degree offering. In fact, it’s designed specifically for working professionals. Students will have two options, depending on their background. Option 1 is the 36-credit online concentration designed for students who already hold a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program. For students without this credential, an online foundation program is available for 60-credit hours. All online students, no matter their state of residence, will pay in-state tuition. A field internship is required. 

Points: 6

#17 West Virginia University

Morgantown, West Virginia

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 18 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $10,134

West Virginia University offers a fast online MSW degree that places emphasis on vulnerable and oppressed populations, especially in the Appalachia region. This regular standing MSW online degree features 19 courses and 60-credit hours. Sample courses include Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy and Programs, Professional Identity and Social Justice, and Contemporary Issues in Aging. Note, this is a part-time program that takes an average of 3 years to complete. An Advanced Standing program is an option as well.

Points: 6

#16 University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $9,264

Offered through the College of Human Environmental Sciences and the School of Social Work, the University of Missouri offers a 60-credit online MSW degree. The program is 100% online with no on-site requirements. Two programs are available: a traditional 3-year program and a 2-year Advanced Standing program. The curriculum will address the following social work foundations:

  • Intervention with individuals, families, small groups and communities
  • Policy making and advocacy practice
  • Human behavior and psychopathology
  • Research in social work
  • Management of social agencies

UM is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the online MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Points: 6

#15 University of Memphis Global

Memphis, Tennessee

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $9,216

The University of Memphis Global offers a 37-credit Advanced Standing online MSW degree. Students will take 3 foundational social work courses in Assessment, Diagnostics, and Psychopathy; Social Welfare Policy; and Advanced Standing Field. Next, students will choose a concentration in either Advanced Practice with Children, Youth, and Families or Advanced Practice with Adults and Families. Students are required to complete a 560-hour field placement to accompany the concentration. A 3.0 undergraduate GPA and GRE scores are required for admission. 

Points: 6

#14 Concord University 

Athens, West Virginia

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $8,658

For those wanting a specialty in rural practice, Concord University’s fast online MSW is a good contender. In fact, the program will adequately prepare professionals with the perspectives, approach, and knowledge needed to conduct social work in rural areas. Both a standard generalist degree and advanced standing degree program are available. Sample classes include:

  • Advanced Human Behavior and the Social Environment in Rural Settings 
  • Advanced Policy in Rural Settings
  • Advanced Rural Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups 
  • Advanced Rural Practice with Communities and Organizations 
  • Advanced Rural Research 
  • Advanced Field 
  • Appalachian Culture, Structures, and Environment 

Points: 6

#13 Humboldt State University 

Arcata, California

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 21 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $7,716

Students have two options for earning an accelerated online MSW at Humboldt State University. First, a generalist MSW degree is available and can be completed in 3.5 years on a part-time basis. For those with a BSW, an Advanced Standing option is available and can be completed in just 2 years part-time. While all the coursework can be completed online, there is a required 4-day on-campus residency each year. The course structure includes weekly live classes, and assignments you can complete on your own time. The program places an emphasis on Indigenous and rural communities. HSU’s online MSW is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Points: 7

#12 California State University San Bernardino

San Bernardino, California

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 29 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $7,176

California State University-San Bernardino offers an accelerated MSW online. While there are several on-campus options, the online offering is a three-year program. It is important to note that this is a rigorous, demanding program not designed for professionals who are working a traditional 40-hour workweek. You will be able to work, but maybe not full-time. In the last year of the program, students will choose a concentration track from a long list of options. Some include Domestic Violence, Mental Health, Inner City Populations, Sexism, Gang Members, and Racism/Ethnocentrism. 

Points: 7

#11 University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 30 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $6,916

Through the College of Health Professions and Sciences, the University of Central Florida offers a fast online Master of Social Work. The 62-credit, 9-semester program features 7-week class terms. This program is specifically designed for students who do not already have a BSW degree. A clinical field placement is required. Classes include Diverse Client Populations, Clinical Practice with Individuals, and Clinical Practice with Families. A part-time track is available. 

Points: 7

#10 Texas State University

San Marcos, Texas

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 22 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $6,751

Through the School of Social Work, students can earn a fast online Master of Social Work through Texas State University’s offering. Classes include Human Behavior in Individual and Family Social Environments, Advanced Social Policy and Social Justice, Advanced Diagnostic Assessment and Intervention with Individuals, and Advanced Program Planning and Grant-Based Resource Development. Practicum I and II are required. After completing the foundational core work, students can customize their degree with electives in subject areas like health care, diversity, international social work, gerontology, spirituality, adventure therapy, work with veterans, among others. TSU’s online MSW is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Points: 7

#9 Arizona State University 

Scottsdale, Arizona

MSW Online 

Student-Faculty Ratio: 23 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $6,384

The accelerated online Master of Social Work degree offered at Arizona State University requires 60-credits and 20 courses.  Note that a 960-hour field placement is mandatory, but it can be completed in your geographic region. Students will take courses in a sequence, as well as two synchronous professional seminars. Required courses include Micro Human Behavior/Social Environment, Macro Social Work, Social Policy and Services, and Assessment of Mental Disorders. The online MSW at ASU is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Points: 7

#8 Western New Mexico University 

Silver City, New Mexico

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $3,356

Western New Mexico University offers two online MSN offerings: an Advanced Standing and Non-Advanced Standing MSN degree. Which one you choose will depend on your background in social work and your degree. Core classes include Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice, Theories and Techniques of Clinical SWK Practice, and Social Work Administration and Supervision. Advanced Field Practicum I and II are both mandatory. A 3.0 GPA in undergrad social work classes is required. The online MSW programs at WNMU are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. 

Points: 7

#7 Boise State University 

Boise, Idaho

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $7,110

Boise State University offers an online fast-track MSW degree program for those interested in advancing in their social work careers. Benefits of the program include a fully online curriculum and no out-of-state tuition for online students. Two programs are available: a full program for students with a Bachelor’s degree in another area and an Advanced Standing program for students who hold a BSW degree. BSU’s online MSW degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Points: 8

#6 University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Edinburg, Texas

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 19 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $5,959

The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley offers a quick online Master of Social Work that focuses on services at-risk Latino communities. Core courses include Social Work with Diverse Populations, Social Work Practice with Latinos, Advanced Macro Assessment, and Advanced Policy Analysis and Development. Two practicums (250 hours each) are required. Graduates will be eligible to sit for exams to attain Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) credentials. 

Points: 8

#5 Delaware State University 

Dover, Delaware

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $5,160

Delaware State University offers the only graduate MSW program in the state of Delaware. While the degree is a generalist degree, students with a BSW undergrad degree can apply up to 28-credits towards the program. Sample classes include Theories of Personality and Adult Psychopathology, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Engagement and Assessment with Individuals, Families, and Treatment Groups. Field practicums will be required. The Graduate Social Work Program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Points: 8

#4 University of Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $4,878

The University of Wyoming offers an accelerated Master of Social Work online. Two options are available: a Standard Program and an Advanced Standing Program. Sample courses include Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, and Principles of Philosophy of Social Work. A field practicum is required. Students get to choose the path of their capstone project, which is the culminating element of the coursework. Option 1 is a 2-credit thesis, which includes an original research project. Option 2 is a practice-evaluation project. 

Points: 8

#3 New Mexico State University 

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Online Master of Social Work

Student-Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $4,844

New Mexico State University offers an accelerated online Master of Social Work that trains professionals to serve the populations of the Southwest. Four courses of study are available:

The program website shares that this online MSW degree will place an “emphasis on advanced generalist practice in multi-cultural settings with vulnerable populations.” Graduates will be able to work in a variety of settings and with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and/or communities.

Points: 8

#2 University at Buffalo

Buffalo, New York

Online MSW

Student-Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $11,310

The fast online MSW degree offering at the University of Buffalo offers a unique perspective. The program focuses on a trauma-informed and human rights perspective, especially poignant in current world trends. Two options are available: a 60-credit traditional online MSW and a 35-credit advanced standing MSW. The length of the program and coursework will vary between the two offerings. A 15-hour per week fieldwork practicum is required but can be completed where the student resides. The online MSW program at UB is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Points: 9

#1 University of Arkansas Little Rock

Little Rock, Arkansas

Online Master of Social Work

Student-Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1

Website

Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master's Degrees in Social Work

Graduate Tuition: $5,760

If you live in the state of Arkansas, you might want to check out the University of Arkansas Little Rock’s online MSW offering. The program is only available to Arkansas residents. While the coursework can be completed fully online, your field placement will be in-person. Among the 60 required credits include classes like Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policies and Services, Diversity and Oppression, Statistics for Social Work, and Social Work Research Methods. Students will then choose 6 hours of electives and complete an 18-credit hour internship. The M.S.W. program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Points: 9

What is a fast online Master’s in Social Work?

An accelerated MSW online is a graduate-level degree that helps professionals become leaders in the field of social work. To become a licensed clinical social worker, graduates will also need to seek licensure in their state.

Types of Degrees in the Easiest Master’s in Social Work Online Programs:

There are two main types of degrees in Social Work:

Advanced Standing MSW: Master’s degree program designed for students who already hold a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Programs will be a little shorter in length.

Standard Generalist MSW: Master’s degree designed for students who do not have a background in social work; programs are longer in length because they provide the necessary prerequisite work.

Coursework for Social Work Graduate Degree Programs:

Coursework in your online MSW degree will vary based on which type of program you are enrolled in.

Typically, the first year of the program will focus on coursework in social policy, human behavior, research, and clinical practice.

The second year of coursework will also have a clinical practice component, as well on focus on an area of concentration if the program offers it.

Areas of concentration for Social Work gradate degrees:

An area of concentration helps to focus your studies even more, and can give you additional expertise in your given field.

Concentration options could include:

  • Adulthood and aging
  • Youth & Adolescence
  • Behavioral health
  • Community and social systems
  • Death and dying
  • Family social work
  • Health and healthcare
  • Human service management
  • Mental health
  • Military social work
  • School social work
  • Social work planning and management
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Trauma and violence

Related Master’s in Social Work degree options:

If you are interested in the field, you might also be interested in a few social work-related degrees:

  • Community Health
  • Public Health
  • Mental Health Counseling

This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good start to finding a social work related degree that might peak your interest. 

Length of the quickest Online Master’s in Social Work programs:

The length of your Master’s in Social Work program will depend on two things: (1) the program’s details and (2) personal factors like:

  • your Bachelor’s degree (whether you have a BSW or not)
  • whether you are a full-time or part-time student
  • whether or not you are working full-time, too
  • family, personal, work obligations
  • extracurricular life

The length of your program will depend on whether you are pursuing a standard generalist degree or an advanced degree. You can earn a generalist degree in about 3 years, whereas you can earn an advanced degree in about 1-2 years, depending on your enrollment status.

Culminating Work for a quick online master’s in Social Work:

When it comes to the culminating element, this will depend on your program and/or your career goals. You might see:

  • a project
  • a thesis
  • a research-based project

Also, you can expect to engage in fieldwork or a practicum. Because of the hands-on nature of the degree, working in the actual professional setting will be necessary for your success.

FAQS for a Graduate Social Work Degree Program:

When searching for the best Social Work Master’s degree programs online, consider these questions!

Q: How will I get admitted to my graduate social work program?

When applying for fast online Master’s in Social Work you might need some or all of these components:

  • a Bachelor’s degree in a related social work field
  • a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 or higher 
  • standardized test scores, if required
  • letters of recommendation 
  • entrance essay

If you already hold a BSW degree, then you’ll be able to apply for Advanced Standing programs, which will be a little shorter in length. If you do not have a background in social work, no worries. You can still apply for a standard online MSW!

*Not all programs require GRE scores for admission. Check your program details for more information.

Q: What can I expect as an online graduate student?

Classes:

Your courses could be presented in one of two ways:

  • synchronously (at a specific day/time) 
  • asynchronously (on your own time/schedule)

Length of classes:

All online programs are different, and that could include how long each class runs. However, many online programs utilize an 8-10 week class model, while others could be monthly or even longer, like a traditional 15-week semester course.

Student Services:

Especially considering current events, online school will definitely be here to stay for the long term. Many universities already have a lot of experience in the field of distance learning but have also had to adapt to the changing times. And that includes taking care of their online students.

Online learning doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be all alone! Most programs have the same student services available for on-campus students–just online. You could have access to online libraries, online tutoring, online mentorship, online advising, online career help, and more!

In addition, some programs will utilize a cohort model that allows you to pursue your degree alongside like-minded peers in your field. Interactive programs will also allow you to connect with peers and faculty.

Q: Do I need to pursue licensure to become a licensed clinical social worker?

A: Yes, to become a LCSW, you will need to pass an examination by the Association of Social Work Boards.

Q: Is a Master’s in Social Work worth it?

A: The answer to this question could be two-fold. First, what does the future trajectory of the career path look like? As events in the world continue to shift, the field of social work could be in great demand, and the need for leaders in the field will be imperative. According to the U.S. News and World Report, community and service occupations are expected to rise by at least 11% by the year 2028. Same with the field of social work itself.

Secondly, it would be wise to look at the careers associated with this path. If you’re getting an online MSW, you’re probably already interested in social work. But it’s still worth taking a look at the leadership roles you could pursue and see if they line up with what you desire for your future.

Q: Does my program need special accreditation?

Accrediting agencies help develop and regulate standards for social work curriculum within various programs. It is very important that your program has special accreditation. One such accrediting agency is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Some MSW programs require a CSWE-accredited BSW for admittance.

Q: How do I know which degree to pursue?

A: This will depend on the type of degree you already hold. If you have a Bachelor of Social work, you can apply to Advanced Standing programs. On the other hand, if you have a background in something other than the field of social work, then you will need to pursue the standard generalist degree. Note that the latter will require more credits and time.

Q: Can I continue my education and earn a PhD in Social Work?

A: Yes, you can! There are two types of doctoral degrees in social work available: a Doctor of Social Work and a PhD in Social Work. The DSW degree is for professionals who want to work in the field in leadership positions. The PhD is for professionals who want to enter the education field.

Fast Online Master’s in Social Work Career Information:

Professionals in the field of social work will get to work in a variety of settings, making a difference in the lives of individuals, groups, and communities.

Sample careers include:

  • Human Services Case Manager
  • Child Welfare Case Manager
  • Human Services Administrator
  • Adoption Placement Specialist
  • Geriatric Social Worker
  • School Social Worker
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Average Master’s in Social Work Salary Information:

*Career and salary data is compiled from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

  • Social Workers: $50,470 per year 
  • Mental Health Counselor: $46,240 per year
  • Social and Community Service Managers: $67,150 per year 

Professional Organizations for Social Work Professions:

If you’re considering joining a professional organization for social work, it’s a pursuit that could yield huge dividends for your career. Professional organizations help you connect with your peers, stay up to date on research or news in your field, and can help guide your future endeavors. It’s a wise investment of your time and your energy. A few social work-related professional organizations to browse include:

This concludes our ranking of the 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Online Master’s in Social Work. Thanks for checking it out!

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