Illinois MSW Programs

Illinois is one of the top-paying states in the nation for social workers, and there are many opportunities available in Chicago, Champaign, and more. They also have numerous opportunities for accredited education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Schools in Illinois with online MSW programs include:

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Illinois CSWE Accredited MSW Programs

The state of Illinois has many opportunities to pursue a Master's degree in social work with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

This includes some of the top universities by enrollment, including the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Chicago, DePaul University, and Illinois State University. Having this designation means that the program has gone through review and offers high-quality graduate programs for various social work careers.

Finding a Campus Based Illinois MSW Program

Chicago has an abundance of accredited programs available for graduate social work education, which can be pursued at Loyola University at Chicago, the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University. Specializations available at some of these institutions include direct clinical practice, mental health, and working with children and families. Other locations to consider include Aurora, Normal, and River Forest.

Loyola University in Chicago's Online MSW

The School of Social Work offers the Master of Social Work that is available in various formats, including students that are eligible for advanced standing or those looking for more convenient evening courses. There is also an opportunity to pursue courses online or in a blended hybrid format of on-campus and online coursework. Two different tracks are available: Clinical, and Leadership and Development.

Students pursuing the evening format will be enrolled part-time with a cohort and is finished in three years. This curriculum is geared toward students aiming for a career in mental health social work. In order to be eligible for advanced standing, students must have a CSWE-accredited Bachelor's degree within the last five years and hold a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.

Curriculum Format

60 credit hours are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements, which includes foundational material and specializations. For the latter, students have an opportunity to specialize in working with family members, mental health, and general health. Examples of advanced courses include Human Sexuality and Sexual Dysfunction, Crisis Intervention, and Psychotherapy with Adults.

Field Requirements

Two internships with 1,200 clock hours are required for the full program, and this is divided up into 480 hours for the first year and 720 hours for the second year. Students with advanced standing will have the first internship requirement waived. There are over 300 organizations available near the campus to consider field education, and three days of work each week are generally needed for the second year.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Hybrid MSW

Prospective students can choose from undergraduate and graduate programs that are CSWE-accredited through the School of Social Work. Formats include the full on-campus program for full-time and part-time enrollment, and the hybrid version that requires some course education on-campus with the majority of work completed online.

Hybrid Format

Physical meetings for courses take place over four weekends or less at either the Urbana campus or Illini Center based in Chicago. Advanced standing is available for students that have a background in social work education. Students can opt for the specialization in Leadership and Social Change, which does not require any completion of courses on campus.

Admission Requirements

In order to get into the program, students should have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or higher over their last 60 credit hours. Academics do not need to be directly in social work, but educational background should have some social sciences and humanities courses completed. There should be some volunteer or research completed in human services.

Submissions prospective students should send in include an updated resume, unofficial transcripts, personal statement describing goals for the program, and three letters of recommendation. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not required in the admission process. The online version of the program administers students in the spring and summer semesters.

Aurora University's Online Master of Social Work

Another online opportunity based in the state of Illinois is the Master of Social Work at Aurora University. Students will gain further skills in working with individuals or families dealing with relationship problems and addiction. For additional studies, students may consider combining this degree with a Master of Divinity, Master of Business Administration, or Master of Public Administration.

There are five concentrations that students can choose from when pursuing the online MSW program. Additional specializations are available in the on-campus format.

  • Faith-Based Social Work
  • Forensics
  • Health Care
  • Leadership Administration
  • School Social Work

Curriculum Structure

60 credit hours are needed to complete the full program, and these are equally divided between the foundational and specialization years. Foundational courses include topics in social welfare, human behavior, and practice theory. Further practice and policy is looked at during the final year, and there are four total semesters of field instruction.

Admission Requirements

Prospective students must submit a transcript that shows the completion of a Bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, professional resume, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. The personal statement must include why the student has chosen to study at Aurora University and how they will use the education to succeed in their social work career.

Careers, Licensures, and Salaries in Illinois

Illinois has some of the largest employment by state for social workers according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over 3,500 workers are represented for specializations in mental health and substance abuse treatment. This includes clinical workers that analyze disruptions in their patients’ well-being and help develop treatment programs to get them out of addiction troubles.

Average Salary of an Illinois Social Worker

Mental health social workers in the state have annual salaries higher than the national average at $54,900. The Champaign metropolitan area sees even higher estimates at over $60,000 annually. Salaries for social workers in youth and school services are also higher than the national average at $55,390 annually, which jumps to over $86,220 for workers in the top 10 percent.

Illinois Social Work Licensure Requirements

Two different levels of social work licensure are accessible in the state of Illinois, with the final certification being for a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). In addition to receiving a Master’s degree from an accredited program, applicants will need to complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate experience. At least 15 hours of work per week is needed, and four hours each month must be supervised by an LCSW.

Endorsement and Renewal Requirements

Licensures from other states will be endorsed by the state of Illinois if they meet similar requirements and applicants submit proof of license and scores from their Association of Social Work Boards examination. Either license must be renewed every two years by November 30th of the odd year. 30 credit hours of continuing education is needed for each renewal, and six total credit hours are needed in ethics and cultural competence topics.

Online MSW Programs in Illinois That Are CSWE Accredited

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Specialized Area:
  • Availability:
  • Advanced Standing Option?
  • Admissions:
  • Status:

Campus-Based Illinois MSW Programs

Aurora University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Aurora
  • 60 credit hours for the traditional program with two to three years of study. Open to individuals without a social work background and available online.. Advanced standing requires a CSWE-accredited degree in last five years. Specializations available in school work, addiction treatment, and faith-based practice. Eligible for certification as alcohol and drugs counselor by the state of Illinois. May also get leadership and management skills with the MBA-focused track.

Chicago State University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Chicago
  • Concentrations available in direct practice, program planning, and a school emphasis. Includes full or part-time study for traditional and advanced standing formats. Advanced standing requires a 3.0 GPA or higher in social work courses. Courses with any C grades earned in Bachelor's degree are retaken. At least 33 credit hours needed to fulfill curriculum requirements. Field experience requires availability during daytime hours in the workweek.

DePaul University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Chicago
  • 14 total courses completed in two-year or four-year enrollment pathways. Available through the Loop campus with courses in the day or evening hours. Concentrations include community practice or forensic studies. Both options have courses in program evaluation and managing funds. Independent study option can replace courses or fill an elective when needed. GRE scores are not required in the admissions process.

Dominican University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: River Forest
  • Average time commitment to studies is two to three years based on enrollment. May specialize in military work, gerontology, and school work. Potential completion time in nine months with advanced standing and full-time enrollment. Advanced standing requires an accredited BSW. 1,080 clock hours required for field experience with licensed professional supervision. Elective courses include Crisis Intervention, Human Trafficking, and Play Therapy.

Erikson Institute

  • Program: MSW
  • Campus: Chicago
  • Concentrations offered in child/family policy, adolescents and adults, and childhood mental health. Available on-campus with start times in the fall or spring semester. 900 total hours needed for field experience with generalist and specialization work. Admission process accepts any undergraduate degree, but advanced standing requires an accredited BSW. No GRE scores needed for submission. Applications should include an interview with a faculty member.

Governors State University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: University Park
  • Specializations available in school work, holistic practice, and children and families. Field experience provides direct practice in the specialization selected. Completed in two to four years based on enrollment option. Admission into the full program requires undergraduate degree with 2.5 GPA or higher. Should have academic background in social sciences, science and mathematics, and humanities. Advanced standing requires a 3.0 or higher with an accredited BSW.

Illinois State University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Normal
  • 60 total credit hours needed with two years of study for full-time enrollment. Between 3 to 6 credit hours needed for electives, such as child welfare and human sexuality. Program director must approve elective choices. Concentrations are available in child/family practice, gerontology, and school-specific activity. Also offers graduate certification in social work with aging individuals and groups.

Loyola University Chicago

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Chicago
  • Concentration options feature clinical expertise or organizational leadership. Some courses are available online or hybrid version with on-campus experiences. Further specializations available in migration studies and group work. Migration studies focuses on social work with immigrants and refugees. Group work improves skill set with assessment and staff development. Requires official transcripts, personal statement, and two reference letters.

Northeastern Illinois University

  • Program: M.S.W.
  • Campus: Chicago
  • Offers a macro and micro concentration to emphasize studies in a specific area. Micro specializes in working with local communities and improving quality of life. Macro studies focus on advocacy methods and leadership skills within social work. Cohort begins in the summer and fall semesters with the Master's degree. Recommended for incoming students to have a liberal arts background. 1,080 hours needed for field experience with 600 dedicated to concentration selected.

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Carbondale
  • SIU-Carbondale msw Studies emphasized with social work in a rural community. Concentrations include mental health assessment and working with youth and family members. Topics covered in the main program include research methods and program evaluation. Admission requires 3.0 GPA with academic work in biology and human sciences. May pursue specific topics reflecting current situations or a thesis for further education.

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Edwardsville
  • 60 total credit hours needed for the program. Curriculum divided between foundational topics and concentration selected. Specialty topics in both micro and macro practice. Capstone project must have B grade or higher. Courses are generally offered during the evening hours. Career opportunities include working in policy development and substance abuse counseling.

University of Chicago

  • Program: Master of Arts in Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Chicago
  • Offers both clinical or administration emphasis in the concentration. First year of the program emphasizes policy impact and research methods. Students may choose to pursue courses on weekday evenings or part-time during the day. Part-time enrollment requires three years of continuous studies. Advanced standing requires 496 or 640 hours of field placement depending on concentration. Combination with graduate programs in divinity, business administration, and public policy available.

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Chicago
  • Students improve evaluation techniques and practice with ethical values. Graduates also advocate for community improvement and furthers diversity and quality of life. 450 total hours of field experience needed at the foundational level. This improves to 630 hours for the specialization selected. Specializations offered in community practice, mental health, and school. May consider dual-degree with public health discipline.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Champaign
  • Concentrations are available in leadership and organizational change, and clinical work. The latter option can further specialize in working with specific groups or industries. Also provides post-Master's degree program to gain state endorsement in schooling. Requires unofficial transcripts, personal statement, and three reference letters during application. A 3.0 GPA needed in at least the second half of the Bachelor's degree. GRE scores are not required in the admission process.

University of St Francis

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Joliet
  • 62 to 68 total credit hours needed in the full program. Some students may need to complete bridge courses if they do not meet the 2.75 GPA threshold. Courses include ethical considerations and practice with people from different cultures. CSWE-accredited Bachelor's degree needed for advanced standing consideration. Up to six credit hours transferable into the program. Also offers graduate-level certification in forensic studies and gerontology.