Online MSW in Adult Practice Degree Programs

Last updated May 21, 2024 by
Online MSW in Adult Practice Degree Programs By Alyssa Middleton
Alyssa Middleton
Ph.D. in Social Work, focus Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care (University of Louisville) MSW (Washington University in St. Louis).

There are many opportunities to work with adults as a social worker. Earning an MSW degree in Adult Practice opens the doors to a variety of career opportunities in diverse settings. From corrections to veterans services to disability and long-term care and more, the first step is to earn your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in Adult Practice.

School Program Admissions
Case Western Reserve University Online Master of Social Work
No GRE required. Earn your Master of Social Work online at CWRU in as little as two and a half years. Bachelor’s degree required.
CSWE Accredited
George Mason University Online MSW: Children, Youth, & Families
CSWE accredited. Specialized online tracks focused on Children, Youth, & Families.
CSWE Accredited
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Click to view online MSW programs that are taking applications for 2024.

Are there online MSW in Adult Practice programs?

Yes, there are multiple 100% online Master of Social Work programs with an Adult Practice track or concentration available. It is even possible to earn this degree on a flexible schedule from home with part-time MSW programs. The social work schools below have been rated for their top-notch online education and real-world practicum placements. There are also a couple of campus-based social work programs with unique opportunities for students that should be considered if you're dedicated to working with adults in any capacity.

In Depth Review of Top Online MSW Programs in Adult Practice

Adelphi University Online MSW Program

The online MSW program at Adelphi University is part time, making it an enticing option for working adults. It involves 64 credit hours of sequential courses. Students start in the fall or spring semesters only, and advanced standing students begin only in the summer. Before classes begin, online students take a 3-week online learning orientation that provides an overview of the program and familiarizes students with the learning technology.

Some courses have no live components, and everything in that course is asynchronous. All practice courses, professional development seminars and practicum seminar meet live online between 6:30 and 9:50 pm EST on Thursdays. In addition, there are two 2-day virtual residency requirements that take place in August and January to build professional connections, collaborate with peers and faculty, and participate in networking opportunities. Tuition is $975 per credit hour, so traditional students can expect to pay $62,400 for tuition, and advanced standing students will pay $31,200 in tuition fees. Adelphi University does have a strong financial aid program, so it would be worth it to see what type of aid you would be eligible for.

Courses centered around Adult Practice include: Social Work Assessment and Diagnosis, Practice with Individuals in Family Contexts, Immigrants & Refugees: Issues and Interventions, Evidence Based Practice with Serious Mental Illness, Social Work Practice in Health Care, Practice in End of Life Care, Selected Issues in Social Work Practice with Older Adults, and Social Work Practice with People Living with Dementia. Upon graduation, along with the MSW degree, graduates are also eligible to apply for licensure as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).

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George Mason University Online MSW in Adults and Healthy Aging Program

The online MSW program offers a specialization in Adults and Healthy Aging. This is offered in an 8-week schedule format, and classes are taken in sequential order. The school offers a traditional track, an accelerated track, and an advanced standing program. The traditional and accelerated tracks are 60 credit hours, but students in the accelerated track take 9 credits per semester in order to finish the degree at a faster rate. Advanced standing students only need to complete 33 credit hours in order to graduate. Regardless of the track students select, the curriculum prepares all students to apply for clinical licensure in the Commonwealth of Virginia upon graduation.

The program also includes 1050 of supervised practicum hours. All courses can be completed online, with no campus visits required. Online students can begin classes in fall, spring and summer semesters. Tuition is $795 per credit hour. The estimated total for the full program tuition costs is $47,700.

The curriculum is centered around social justice, providing interdisciplinary perspectives on how to tackle the most pressing issues of today. Courses students can expect to take within the Adults and Healthy Aging specialization include Clinical Practice with Adults, Clinical Practice with Older Adults, Advanced Social Work Practice Skills, Program Evaluation, Psychopathology, and Community Practice Across the Life Course.

University of Memphis Online MSW Program

The online MSW program at the University of Memphis is designed to best prepare students to use evidence-based, ethically informed social work practices with adults. This includes developing advanced assessment skills, building and strengthening relationships, applying goal-oriented interventions to their practice and critically evaluating practices and programs.
The online MSW program in Advanced Practice with Adults and Families is a 60-credit hour program, which is completed over 2 years. New students start in the fall semester. Also included is 900 total practicum placement hours. All courses are online, with no on-campus visits required, however; during practice courses some synchronous remote learning meeting are required. Advanced standing students (those who have earned their BSW degree) complete 560 practicum hours and 37 credit hours over the course of 3 semesters.

Tuition for the University of Memphis Online MSW program is $744 per credit hour for Tennessee residents, and $897 per credit hour for non-residents. Courses that students will take as part of this specialization include Assessment, Diagnosis & Psychopathology, Advanced Individual Practice with Adults, Advanced Community Practice with Adults, and Advanced Family Practice with Adults.

Portland State University Online MSW Program

Portland State University offers an MSW with an Advanced Clinical Practice specialization. The schedule is based on quarters, and traditional students start in the fall semester. They take 3 years to complete the 78 quarter credit hour program. Advanced standing students begin in the summer, and take 2 years to complete their 46 quarter credit hour program. Tuition is $528/credit hour for in-state residents and $755/credit hour for out-of-state residents.

While there are no on campus visits that are required, students do periodically participate in online face-to-face meetings with faculty and other students via video conferencing. There is also a required 2-day synchronous intensive held each year in late September that allows for community building between students and faculty as well as provides some instructional time and assessment of student learning.

Online MSW students in Advanced Clinical Practice can also earn a graduate certificate in gerontology if they're interested in working with elderly adults. This is a collaborative effort between the School of Social Work, the Institute of Aging and the College of Urban & Public Affairs. Students interested in working with adults can take courses including Social Work Perspectives on Mental Health Disorders for Adults, Advanced Clinical Practice with Adults, Loss and Grief Across the Lifespan, Social Work in Native American Communities, Substance Use and Abuse, Perspectives on Aging, National Long-Term Care Policy, Midlife and Beyond, Social Work in End of Life and Palliative Care, Housing and Environments for the Elderly, Global Aging, and Biomedical Ethics. Students completing the certificate in gerontology will also complete an internship or an independent research project.

Rutgers University Online MSW Program

Rutgers University Online MSW program not only offers an MSW with a Clinical Practice Specialization, students also have the opportunity to earn a certificate in aging and health as part of their degree program. Students are admitted for spring, summer and fall semesters. Traditional students complete 60 credit hours in either a two year, full-time program or a 3 year, part-time option. Advanced standing students complete 39 credits over 4 semesters. All students pay $1007 per credit hour, regardless of their residency. The school does offer merit-based scholarships to online MSW students.

This program offers a wide variety of courses focused on adult practice and elderly adult practice. These include: Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis, Understanding Addictive Behaviors, Advanced Contemporary Policy in Aging, Understanding Violence and Abuse in Adulthood, Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice in Aging, Loss Across the Lifespan, Chronic Illness and Disability, and Community Social Work in Aging.

School Program Admissions
Virginia Commonwealth University Online Master's in Social Work
CSWE Accredited
University of Kentucky Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
University of West Florida Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
Syracuse University Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
University of Denver Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
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Click to view all online MSW programs that are currently accepting applications.

Review of Top Campus-Based MSW Programs in Adult Practice

During the research for this article, there were two campus-based programs that really stood out to earn a MSW in Adult Practice.

California State University Long Beach MSW Program

The School of Social Work offers an MSW with a specialization in Adulthood and Aging. The program provides students the knowledge surrounding unique psycho-social needs facing adults, older adults, and their families, along with the skills to be and effective practitioner. The program is 60 credit hours and students can choose between a 2 year, full-time or 3 year, part-time enrollment. Included in the program is 1000 hours of supervised practicum placement.

Tuition costs are different than other MSW programs reviewed here. For part time (0-6 credit hours per semester), the California resident tuition fee is a flat $2208. California residents taking 7 or more semester units pay a flat $3804 in tuition. Non-resident students pay an additional $420 per credit hour on top of the resident tuition fee.

Courses in the Adulthood and Aging specialization include: Advanced Social Work Practice in Adulthood and Aging, Assessment and Treatment of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders, Social Work Practice with Families and Couples, Social Work Practice with Death, Dying and Loss, Social Work Practice in Mental Health Services, and Homelessness Prevention and Interventions. Students also complete a thesis or an applied social work project.

Students have the opportunity to apply for two unique programs. First is the Geriatric Social Work Education Consortium, or GSWEC. This program provides specialized geriatric training and stipends for those in the specialization who have successfully completed their first year practicum placement. The LA County Department of Mental Health Stipend Program is for those interested in pursuing a social work career in the mental health field. Students earn a stipend and gain valuable experience during their program. Stipend recipients make a commitment to work full-time in a Los Angeles County mental health agency or a contracted agency for a minimum of one year after graduation. Both of these programs are by application only.

Eastern Michigan University MSW Program

The Eastern Michigan University MSW with a specialization in Health and Aging Services can be completed in as little as one year for advanced standing students, with just 35 required credit hours. Traditional students can take up to 4 years to complete the full 61 credit hour program. Residents pay $957.25 per credit hour, while non-residents pay $1659 per credit hour.

In addition to the Master of Social Work degree, students have the opportunity to also earn certificates in Gerontology and/or Dementia. Courses taken by specialization and certificate students include: Psycho-social Aspects of Aging Over the Life Course, Biomedical Aspects of Aging, Ethnicity and Gender Issues Among the Aged, Older Adults and Chemical Dependency, Sexuality and Aging, Intro to Alzheimer's and Related Dementia, Assessing and Preventing Elder Abuse, Advanced Issues in Dementia Care, Hoarding Behaviors and the Older Adult, Psychology of Death and Dying, Social Work Practice with Older Adults and Designing Activities for People with Dementia.

Typical Courses Taken in an Online MSW in Adult Practice Program

The first, or foundation year of social work programs offer generalized courses focusing on research methods, ethics, social work policy, social work practice, human development across the lifespan, social work theory and practicum placement hours. The practicum placement for students interested in working with adults can range from homeless shelters, addiction recovery service agencies, corrections facilities or parole offices, adult psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, domestic violence agencies and mental health clinics. Advanced standing students typically skip these courses in the MSW program, because they were covered in their Bachelor of Social Work program.

The second year is when most students start taking classes centered around their specialized area of interest, in this case, adult practice. Courses can range from Psychopathology, Assessment and Diagnosis, Trauma-Informed Behavioral Interventions for Adults, Elder Abuse, and Health and Aging. Other classes can focus more on the settings in which students may opt to work, such as Social Work in Corrections and the Justice System, Homelessness Prevention and Intervention, or Social Work in Mental Health Settings. Practicum hours are spent in a community organization or agency that works with adults and/or families in order to provide additional hands-on experience in that area.

What Can You Do With an online MSW in adult practice?

The beauty of earning an MSW in Adult Practice is that it is a degree that offers a wide variety of employment opportunities. There is a large adult and especially rapidly-growing elderly adult population that need services for a variety of reasons. You can find work in any of these types of locations:

  • Military/veterans affairs agency or VA hospital
  • Private practice providing psychotherapy to adults
  • Housing and community development organization
  • Detention centers or correctional facilities
  • Mental health clinics
  • Domestic violence shelters or agencies
  • Victim services office within the justice system
  • Medical or psychiatric hospitals
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Nursing homes or extended care facilities
  • Hospice organizations
  • Adult protective services
  • Adult day care facilities

The MSW in Adult Practice degree opens the door to all kinds of work opportunities, particularly if you’re interested in working with the elderly. There is a shortage of trained providers with the knowledge and experience needed to tend to the unique needs of the aged. This degree will allow you to work in that field where you can have a unique sense of pride for the difference you make in the lives of our elders.

CSWE Accredited Programs

CSWE (Council on Social Work Education) is the top accrediting board for Master of Social Work programs. Below, you will find a list of all of the CSWE accredited social work programs.