Iowa MSW Programs

Four different institutions in the state of Iowa offer multiple levels of accredited education in social work, which includes Clarke University and the University of Iowa. The city of Des Moines traditionally pays social workers at higher average rates, including the estimate of $59,630 for youth and school services.

Schools in Iowa with online MSW programs include:

  • University of Iowa: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Iowa CSWE Accredited MSW Programs

In total, there are four programs offering Master's degrees in social work that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in the state of Iowa. This designation shows that programs have been reviewed and follow guidelines set by the organization to prepare students for their career in social work.

The University of Iowa offers education in various locations throughout the state, including the capital city of Des Moines, and an online format.

Finding a Campus Based Iowa MSW Program

Full social work programs can be found at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Clarke University in Dubuque, and St. Ambrose University in Davenport. Specializations that students can consider include gerontology, rural social work, and management. The city of Des Moines tends to have more social work opportunities, including working with youth and school services.

University of Iowa's Online Master of Social Work

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers graduate social work programs at various locations, including the main campus at Iowa City, Des Moines, and Sioux City. An online format begins in the summer every two years and requires three years of part-time education. Students can choose to pursue a combination MSW and PhD in social work that lowers the credit requirement for quicker graduation.

60 total credit hours are needed for the full program, but this requirement can be truncated for students eligible for advanced standing. Having this designation requires the completion of a Bachelor's degree in social work accredited by the CSWE. No Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are required in the application process for the online program.

Accelerated Advanced Standing Format

Students that are near the Iowa City or Des Moines campus locations and meet eligibility for advanced standing may complete the program in just one year. This requires full-time enrollment and additional requirements in the application process, including more references and two essays.

Online Format

Online education is limited to residents that live in Iowa or are located in a bordering state. Many courses will require live attendance in the evening hours and others will utilize an asynchronous format. In order to succeed in this format, students should meet the technical requirements and be able to manage time effectively to pursue the degree in a proper manner.

Careers, Licensures, and Salaries in Iowa

Overall, the state of Iowa sees employment and salary estimates within social work hover around the national average. The highest-paid specialization is in mental health and substance abuse work with an annual mean wage of $47,720. This estimate does jump up to $72,860 for those in the top 10 percent of employment throughout the state.

Iowa Social Work Licensure Requirements

Three different stages of licensure are available in the state of Iowa. Those looking to independently practice in clinical work must obtain certification for the Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). Applicants must prove they have completed at least a Master’s degree and they need to submit a plan that designates an LISW professional that will supervise them in their post-graduate work.

Hours of Experience Requirements

At least 4,000 hours of social work experience must be completed after receiving the graduate degree, and this is must be completed between two to six years. The supervisor must have been practicing with an LISW licensure for at least three years. A clinical examination is also required through the Association of Social Work Boards.

Endorsement and Renewal Requirements

Licenses from other states can be endorsed by the state if they meet equivalent requirements. All licensures offered by the state of Iowa must be renewed every two years with 27 credit hours of continuing education. Those with LISW certification and are planning to supervise others looking to gain the licensure must complete three credit hours worth of supervision education.

Online MSW Programs in Iowa That Are CSWE Accredited


Campus-Based Iowa MSW Programs

Clarke University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Dubuque
  • Emphasizes social work in health care and working with clients in rural communities. 910 total field hours needed throughout the full program. Distributed in various formats, including traditional on-campus experience and advanced standing. Both options feature part-time or full-time enrollment. Hybrid option provides weekend education on-campus with convenient online options. Field experience often takes place during regular business hours.

Saint Ambrose University

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Davenport
  • Empowerment specialization focuses on achievements within a community to improve potential. Positive influence and collaboration leads to more success and defends people's rights. Initial year focuses on behavioral theory, research methods, and generalist practice. Dual degree available toward disciplines of business administration and public health. Both options add one year and application needed to school representing the discipline.

University of Iowa

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Online
  • Distribution of various formats of the program in Iowa City, Des Moines, and more. Sioux City provides advanced standing through the Briar Cliff University Learning Center. Online option available for those living in Iowa or neighboring border location. Most coursework distributed in asynchronous format for on-demand learning. Students enter in the fall semester except for accelerated advanced standing in summer. Provides focused practice on gerontology and end-of-life care.

University of Northern Iowa

  • Program: Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Campus: Cedar Falls
  • Graduate program that emphasizes trauma-informed care. Highlights systemic problems with trauma and how it can impact individuals and communities. Curriculum offered with foundational content or advanced standing pathway. Students may gain official endorsement for school social work positions. Field placement options differ in various parts of Iowa and for online students. Eligibility to sit for licensure exams in Iowa and other states where accepted.