Now is a great time to pursue an education in social work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth of employment prospects for social workers stands at 19% between now and 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
More and more people are choosing to pursue social work degrees online because of the greater flexibility and affordability.
All online MSW programs on our list are either accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or official candidates for accreditation. The CSWE is a nonprofit national association representing more than 3,000 individual members, as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education. Founded in 1952, this partnership of educational and professional institutions, social welfare agencies, and private citizens is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the United States.
Dedicated completely to distance learning, Walden University was the first to offer a master’s of social work (MSW) online. This unique program can be pursued over two years full-time or part-time over a longer period. All classes are taught by scholar-practitioners with diverse professional experience, and students choose from several specialties, like addiction or medical social work. As a requirement for graduation, students also attend two, 4-day residencies to gain real-world experience. The entire program requires 92-97 quarter credit hours.
Capella University was founded to help professionals advance their professional lives through education. As a result, four out of five graduates say their experience at Capella directly impacted their career. Capella’s online doctoral degree in social work is designed along the same principles, helping social work professionals advance into managerial and academic positions. Totalling 74 credits, the degree can be completed online in three years full-time or part-time over a longer period. In addition to online classes, all students attend a week long dissertation writing retreat and participate actively in research. The tuition cost per quarter is around $4,000, but students can be confident in their investment. Capella gathers data on all of its graduates, and the majority of doctoral grads say they are satisfied.
As California’s oldest private research university, USC is highly regarded and regularly ranked as one of the best higher education institutions in the United States. The social work program is no exception, and it can be completed almost entirely online over two years. Students cover the fundamentals during the first year before they specialize in one of several areas, including families and children, community organization, planning and administration, mental health, and military social work. As part of the degree, students are placed at a social work agency to complete 1,000 hours of hands-on fieldwork. Tuition for the entire program comes out to around $90,000.