MSW programs were developed in an effort to help students gain knowledge of the social environment and the people within. There are many fields that focus on individuals directly or improvement of society, but this is the only field that blends both entities. The advancement of man and the environment relies on the utilization of public services, advocacy, and support. This is exactly with MSW programs help to promote within their students.
The Proliferation of the Online MSW
In response to the high popularity of these degree programs, universities across the country are offering MSW programs online, in addition to the traditional on-campus format. Colleges are also offering unique MSW programs that help more students enter an accredited program, including: MSW programs with no GRE requirements, Online programs are becoming a powerhouse for students seeking this degree program, due to the flexible nature of instruction and time-frames. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE, cswe.org) currently accredits 69 online MSW programs in the U.S., and is continuing to accept applications from accreditation from universities seeking accreditation.
Types of MSW Programs
- 100% Online MSW Programs: Many Master of Social Work programs are 100% online, and many are CSWE accredited.
- 1-Year Online MSW Programs: Some advanced-standing MSW programs have one-year curriculum.
- Online MSW Programs with No GRE Required for Admission: For many graduate Master’s-level programs, a GRE (or similar standardized advanced testing) scores are required, but not for all.
- Part Time Online MSW Programs: Catered more toward adults that are currently working in the profession or a related field, part-time MSW programs are a great fit to balance.
- Hybrid On-Campus/Online MSW Programs: For those located near a college campus, you might consider a hybrid program.
- Online Clinical MSW Programs: Clinical social work is a specific field, and colleges are offering online clinical MSW programs.
- CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs: Perhaps the most important consideration is to find an Online MSW program that is CSWE accredited.
Why consider working in social work?
The world that you live in contains many different professional areas for people that love helping others. One field that is popular for students with altruistic ideations is Social Work. This incredible field plays a role in the betterment of society from an inside perspective. In order to increase the quality of life for people within a community or neighborhood, Social Work professionals must be able to increase the positive interactions between people and their environment.
One of the most applied for MSW programs focuses on Child and Family Social Work. This field currently employs 298,840 professionals all over the country (BLS). Other specialty fields such as Mental Health Social Work and Healthcare Social Workers are also among some of the top employers for professionals in this field.
As mentioned, Online MSW programs are becoming an excellent option for current social workers, or those looking to advance to an LCSW, due to the flexibility of online degrees.
MSW Program Tracks, Admissions Requirements and Eligibility
If you are interested in pursuing your Master’s in Social Work online, you may be pleased to learn that these online programs have different eligibility criteria for graduates from undergraduate social work programs as well as for graduates of unrelated undergraduate degree programs. This aspect of online MSW programs allows for all bachelor’s earners to pursue a degree in this field under different requirements.
Advanced Standing MSW Program Tracks
The advanced standing track is the most common option for students that have previously obtained a Bachelor’s in Social Work. This track is typically shorter than other MSW programs and allows students to complete the program in 1-2 years. In order to be accepted into advanced educational tracks such as this one, students should be able to provide proof of completion of an undergraduate degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited educational program. Students may also be required to provide proof of 2-4 years of relevant work experience in the field of Social Work.
Human Services Experience MSW Track
Another track option for incoming students is the Human Service Experience track. This option is for students that have completed an undergraduate degree in another subject area, but have more than 2 years of work experience in human services. In order to be accepted into this program, students must provide proof of completion of a bachelor’s level degree as well as documentation of relevant work experience.
Traditional MSW Track
The final option for students that desire a MSW is the traditional track. This option takes the longest to complete, but requires less documentation at the forefront. Students enrolling in this program must provide proof of completion of a bachelor’s level degree from an accredited university and meet all other admissions requirements.
Admissions requirements that are included in all tracks include the submission of a completed application, application fee, and all required documentation (transcripts, GPA, GRE test scores, work experience). Students may also be required to turn in a professional resume or personal statement and sit for a formal interview. The GPA requirement may vary depending on the university, but some information regarding this requirement is listed in the next section.
Some Online MSW programs do not require a GRE: view our guide to Online MSW Programs with No GRE Requirement.
Typical GPA Requirements for Online MSW
One of the most well-known figures for determining eligibility for admissions into graduate programs is the GPA. The grade point average allows schools to determining your ability to function in a higher education environment without actually scrutinizing your course grades. For online MSW programs, the GPA is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for the right university.
Depending on the school you are looking at, you may notice that the minimum GPA requirement is different than others you have viewed. After reviewing some popular online MSW programs, our team of educational experts was able to determine that most universities require a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average. Some schools accept students with a minimum of 2.8, while others require as high as 3.2.
If you have worked hard throughout your undergraduate program, but have not met the minimum requirements of the college you are interested in attending, there may be some ways to offset your lower score through other documentation. Some students choose to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as a method of proving their worth to universities, while others choose to even out their odds with great performance in their human service related jobs.
Regardless of your circumstances, the best way to increase your odds of being accepted into online MSW programs is to contact a university’s admissions office for information and advice to offsetting your lower GPA scores. Most universities have different options that can help outweigh these scores during the admissions process.
One Year Online MSW Programs
One of the most interesting concepts associated with online MSW programs is their versatility in terms of degree completion. The field of Social Work is increasingly reliant on a person’s ability to provide great services to the public. This is why you might see shorter degree programs for people that either have extensive experience in the field or have completed Bachelor’s in Social Work programs.
One year online MSW programs have become a popular choice for Social Work graduates that are looking for quick entry into the field. These advanced programs have fast-paced scheduling that allows students to complete their degree program and begin pursuing licensure within 12 months of their start date. In order to be considered for acceptance into these programs, students must meet the recommendations of the university in which they are applying.
Some of the requirements for entry into these programs include a previous completion of a Bachelor’s in Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited degree program, have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in social work-related course work. Some example universities offering the one year option are listed below.
- The University of Southern California – Online MSW: USC’s online MSW program currently has 3 different options, including the one year online MSW. This program is catered to individuals that have completed a BSW and are looking for a fast-paced degree program to advance their career. This program requires that students complete 37 credit hours of advanced course work and choose from 3 specializations including Adult Mental Health and Wellness, Children, Youth, and Families, and Social Change and Innovation.
- Florida State University – Online MSW: Florida State University is another university that offers students the option of pursuing an online MSW that has a shorter completion date that traditional programs. As with other schools offering this option, students that are interested in this program must complete a Bachelor’s in Social Work from an accredited university prior to being admitted. This entire program consists of 39 credit hours of core courses and electives, which can all be completed within 12 months.
Online MSW Programs with Spring Admission
Making the decision to move forward into a graduate-level program is often one that is common in working adults looking for advancement in their careers. While there are still students that continue on into MSW programs after their bachelor’s program, most online MSW programs cater to the needs of the busy working adult.
One of the perks of pursuing your MSW online is the option of enrolling any time of year. Multiple start dates can allow students to begin their journey to degree advancement without having to wait for the school year to begin. When the time is right to enroll in a degree program, a person may want immediate satisfaction rather than having to sit back and wait.
Schools that offer enrollment in the spring can be found easily through online searches. Our team of experts has chosen a few of the most popular universities for online MSWs with spring admission for you to review. In addition to having start dates in the spring, these schools also have multiple start dates that can be taken advantage of year-round. Take a look at a short list of schools below.
- Florida State University – Online MSW
- Walden University – Online MSW
- Louisiana State University – Online MSW
- The University of Southern California – Online MSW
- Rutger’s University – Online MSW
CSWE Accredited Online MSW Programs
With online MSW programs on the rise, it is vital to address reliability for students that are interested in becoming a part of these programs. In the past, online degree programs have moved mountains to earn their worth within educational society, since attending college from anywhere other than a traditional institution was unheard of for college students.
The most prominent and reliable accreditation agency for MSW programs is the Council on Social Work Education. This organization was created in 1952, and provides important quality standards for educational programs that offer Social Work degrees.
While you are seeking out the right university for your education, be sure to locate the accreditation information on your degree’s website. This information can help ensure that you are getting a high quality education that has the potential to lead to licensure in the future.
100% Online MSW Programs
If you are currently a hard-working professional, the likelihood of halting your career to pursue a higher degree is probably small. Educational programs at the master’s level have been innovated in an effort to allow even more busy professionals, like you, to move into a higher degree without having to think about lost time and wages that can result from traditional education programs. There are colleges all over the country that offer students the option of 100% online MSW programs with CSWE-accreditation.
- Campbellsville University – Kentucky
- Indiana Wesleyan University
- Metropolitan State University of Denver – Colorado
- Northern Arizona University
- Northwestern State University – Louisiana
Hybrid MSW Programs
Students that still enjoy the traditional aspects of a college education do not have to sacrifice the flexibility of online learning or the face-to-face aspect of college courses through hybrid learning programs. These types of programs provide both in-person courses and online options for students that have the ability to attend school on a part-time basis, but want to complete their program in a shorter time period.
Hybrid MSW program can also be found at colleges around the country, due to the subtle blend of both traditional and online aspects. Check out our list of hybrid educational programs below.
- Metropolitan State University of Denver – Colorado
- San Jose State University – California
- Colorado State University
- Fordham University – New York
- Michigan State University
Full Time vs. Part Time Programs
Depending on your needs as a professional, family member, or individual, you may find that full-time programs may not be the best option for you. People talk a lot about the need for a fast result when enrolling in educational programs. However, this may not be the right option for some people. Taking it slow and steady through the degree earning process is a great option for people that have a full load at home or at work.
Part-time programs may include a curriculum in which courses can be taken 1 at a time, rather than 2 or more. These programs may take more time to complete overall, but can help busy people obtain their degree without having to make any drastic changes to their everyday lives.
Here are some CSWE-accredited universities that provide programs for students that are looking for part-time options with their degree program.
- Arizona State University
- Boise State University – Idaho
- Case Western Reserve University – Ohio
- Louisiana State University
- Radford University – Virginia
Types of Masters in Social Work Degrees
- Advanced Generalist: The generalist program is an excellent choice for individuals that wish to have a broad influence on the field of Social Work. This specialization is suitable for people that wish to pursue careers in leadership, research, policy development, or even applied Social Work within the field.
- Child and Family Social Work: Child and family programs focus on the needs of children and their families. This concentration helps students understand the different programs and funding provided for care of people in this group, as well as the advocacy, legal processes, and care of young children within the community.
- Community Development: This specialization focuses on a broader aspect of Social Work that includes developing communities for better support of the people within. This is a great option for individuals that want to better their society for all people.
- Social Work Policy and Change: At the top of the Social Work tier, professionals work hard to improve and develop social policies that have a direct effect on people seeking assistance from human services, social services, and public programming. If you want to influence the policies that surround Social Work in general, this is the best option for you.
- Clinical Social Work: Clinical Social Work is a branch of social science that includes aspects of counseling and one-on-one/group interaction. This concentration can help students move forward into licensure after graduation and future service with people that are dealing with the stresses of everyday life.
- Mental Health: If you have a desire to provide support and advocacy to people that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses, this is the concentration for you. Programs with this concentration focus on overseeing mental health care of patients, referring patient to the right services, and acting as a liaison between patients and their providers.
- Substance Abuse: Students that choose this specialty can learn how to address addiction within their client network. This can include helping clients find the right services, rehabilitation facilities, and support networks for their individual needs.
- Healthcare: Healthcare specializations include a look into how insurance, healthcare delivery, and advocacy affect patient care in the healthcare system. This concentration can help prepare Social Work students for careers assisting people with important healthcare decisions and responsibilities.
- Research: As society learns more about interactions between people and the environment, policies and programming can change. Pursuing a concentration in research can help you pursue a career that focuses on observation of these interactions to find better means for connecting people with the resources around them.
- Advanced Leadership: In addition to specialty groups and tasks, concentrations in leadership are also available to interested students. These programs focus on the need for proper leadership techniques within the social service field, and include topics such as Effective Leadership, Finance, and Employee Selection.