Medical Social Work MSW Degree Programs

Last updated May 22, 2024 by
Medical Social Work MSW 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).

Medical social workers provide social, emotional, and practical support to patients and their families within the healthcare system. The Master of Social Work degree, in particular the MSW in Medical Social Work, can train you on how to best work with these people in need.

Are there Medical Social Work MSW degree programs online?

There are plenty of online MSW programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the accrediting organization that verifies a social work program has top-notch faculty and only the highest quality courses and student support services. CSWE accredited MSW programs are available online.

Oftentimes online MSW programs have tracks or concentrations in Medical Social Work or Hospital Social Work. If you are looking at a program and they do not have those concentrations, then consider taking coursework or doing clinical work in that setting.

School Program Admissions
University of West Florida Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited, 100% online. Traditional and Advanced Standing MSW tracks.
University of West Florida CSWE Accredited MSW Program
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Click to view online MSW programs that are taking applications for 2024.

In Depth Review of Top Online MSW Programs in Medical Social Work

University of Denver Online MSW Program

This program is consistently ranked among the top social work graduate programs in the nation. They offer an MSW with a Pathway Concentration in Health, Equity and Wellness. This pathway covers the history of health, health disparities and culturally competent social work practice within healthcare. The program prepares graduates for culturally responsive social work practice with an interdisciplinary team. Also covered within the program are clinical skills, policy practice and leadership and advocacy in health and wellness administration.

The 100% online program has weekly live courses. Assignments are self paced, and students can complete them on their own schedule. The Online MSW in Health and Wellness is an 81 credit hour program, and costs $1,164 per credit hour. Advanced standing online students complete 54 credit hours.

Courses in the Health and Wellness Pathway include Evolving Perspectives and Trends in Health and Wellness, Wellness Promotion & Intervention Across the Lifespan, Integrated Health Care, Mind-Body Connections in Social Work Practice, Disability Studies, Social Work Practice in Health, Health Care Policy, Human Sexuality, Trauma-Informed Assessment & Interventions, Suicide Assessment & Interventions, and Disproportionality & Disparities.

Visit the University of Denver admissions website securely. Click "Learn More" to securely visit the University of Denver admissions website.

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University of Louisville Online MSSW Program

The University of Louisville offers an Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW), which is essentially the same as an MSW program. The Health concentration is available to students in the on-campus, hybrid (mix of on campus and online courses) and 100% online programs. With the online program, there are no campus visit requirements. It is a 60 credit hour program. The program can be completed in as little as 4 semesters. Advanced standing students with their BSW can earn their degree in as little as 2 semesters, completing 30 credit hours.

Graduate tuition for the MSSW program is the same whether you study online or in person. Full time tuition, which is 9 credit hours or more per semester is $6,972 per semester for Kentucky residents. Non-residents pay $14,170.

The University of Louisville is the only Master in Social Work program to offer a concentration in Psychosocial Oncology. Though centered around clients dealing with cancer, students learn a variety of skills to work in health care settings with people with a variety of medical conditions. Courses in this concentration include: Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families in Healthcare, Social Work Practice to Promote Health Equity, Social Work and Human Sexuality, Advanced Death and Grief, and Introduction to Epidemiology. Practicum placements are 2 days per week in a cancer care setting.

University of New England Online MSSW Program

The fully online MSW program in Health from the University of New England has a completely asynchronous format, allowing students to learn and complete coursework around their unique schedule. Traditional students can begin on one of six different start dates per year, and can complete the 60-credit hour program in 3 to 4 years. Nine hundred practicum hours are required in the traditional program. The advanced standing program is 30 credit hours, and has five enrollment periods per year. This option requires a 500 hour practicum and the entire program can be completed between 16 months and 2 years.

Courses within the Health focus area include Social Work in Health Care Settings, DSM: A Social Work Perspective, Psychopharmacology, Principles of Public Health, Foundations of Maternal and Child Health, Global Health, Aging & Health, and Grief, Loss, Death & Dying. Tuition is $950 per credit hour.

University of Hawai'i at Manoa Online MSW Program

This is a unique distance education option for students who reside in Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Marianas. Classes are delivered via Zoom on weeknights. A 2-day orientation on campus is held before students start their first fall semester. Up to 30 students form a cohort that go through the program together.

The MSW Distance Education program students follow a 3 year, part-time plan to complete the 57 credit hour program. Advanced standing students can complete their 30 credit hour program in either one or two years, depending on if they want to study part time or full time. Tuition is $650 per credit hour for residents, and $1402 per credit hour for non-residents.

Courses that can be taken in the Health concentration include: Community and Public Health Practice, Health and Aging, Social Work Practice in Health Care, Social Work Practice with the Aged, Seminar on Women and Health, Social Determinants of Health, Introduction to Medicare, Growing the Social Work and Health Workforce, Interdisciplinary Team Development, Health Law and Poverty, Health Economics, Cultural Competency in Health Care, Indigenous Health Activism, Sociology of Health and Health Services, and Advanced Social Welfare Policy and Change in Health.

School Program Admissions
Virginia Commonwealth University Online Master's in Social Work
CSWE Accredited
Website
University of Kentucky Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
Website
University of West Florida Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
Website
Syracuse University Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
Website
University of Denver Online Master of Social Work
CSWE Accredited
Website
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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

There are additional options to earn an MSW degree with a health concentration if you study in person on campus. Here are some on-campus programs to consider.

Indiana University MSW Program in Health

Indiana University offers an MSW with a Health concentration on both their Indianapolis and Northwest campuses. Students enroll in the Fall semester to start. The program is flexible, providing up to six years to complete the entire degree program. All MSW courses are offered every term, so if you have to pause your studies for any reason, you'll be able to pick right back up whenever you restart. Advanced standing students can complete the MSW in Health in just 12 months. Tuition is $763.50/credit hour for for Indiana residents. Non-residents will pay $1094 per credit hour. Of note, Indiana University offers an out-of-state tuition assistance program to make earning the degree more affordable.

Courses within the health focus area include: Practice Skills for Healthcare Settings, Practice with Individuals, Families & Communities in Healthcare settings, Practice with Older Adults, Confronting Loss, Grief, Death & Bereavement, Social Policy & Services in Health, Children with Special Health Care Needs & Their Families, and Telebehavioral Health Social Work Practice with Individuals.

Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare's MSW Program in Integrated Health

Another school that offers an MSW, but with a modern take on a health-related specialization is Stony Brook University. This specialization is actually in Integrated Health: Physical, Psychological, and Social Well Being. They've taken the holistic, person-in-environment approach that social work is known for and developed training to serve diverse and underserved populations in hospital, forensic and community-based settings that treat trauma, violence, behavioral health and addictions. The specialized training prepares graduates to work in chronic or acute illness, disabilities, health disparities, palliative care, care coordination, clinical preventive services, aging, mental health, forensic social work and substance use, among other areas.

This program is offered only on their Long Island campus and on their Manhattan Extension Site. However, all students are required to complete at least one course at the Stony Brook campus in order to complete the program. The year-long Community Learning and Professional Preparation course fulfills this requirement. The MSW in Integrated Health is a 72 credit hour program, and traditional students complete this in about 2 years. Advanced standing students can complete the program in as little as a year. They also offer a part-time program that takes 3-4 years for most students to complete. Stony Brook University charges $544 per credit hour for residents, and $944 per credit hour for non-residents.

Courses taken within the Integrated Health specialization include: Assessment and Skills in Integrated Health, Strategies and Interventions in Integrated Health, Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Integrated Health, Advanced Health Policy Systems, Psychopathology & Psychopharmacology, Forensic Social Work: Psychosocial and Legal Issues, Advanced Social Work Practice with the Aged, Aging in Place, Palliative and End of Life Care, Death and Dying; Loss and Separation, Therapeutic Approaches for People with Disabilities, Adolescent Development and Health Promotion, Public Health and Community Health Intervention, and Organizational Dynamics & Legal/Ethical Issues in Healthcare.

Case Western University MSW Program in Health

The curriculum was the first competency-based curriculum approved by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It combines research, theory and real-world practicum experience to prepare graduates for clinical and macro-level practice. The curriculum also fulfills educational requirements for licensure in all 50 states, though you'll need to check with your state to confirm the other requirements necessary for licensure. Traditional students complete 60 credit hours over approximately 20 months, while advanced standing students take 39 credit hours to graduate in about a year.Tuition is approximately $24,750 per semester, though the School of Social Work awarded more than $5 million in scholarships last year to make education more affordable and attainable for many.

Case Western Reserve has a unique approach to their practicum placements. Advanced standing students complete 500 hours in a local community agency or organization, and traditional students complete 900 hours during their program. The school partners with over 1000 organizations to find the best fit for the student's interests and experience. In addition, they offer an award of $6000 per year to all full time, on-campus students while completing their practicum placements.

Courses that are available in the Health concentration include: Health Disparities, Health Policy and Service Delivery, Integrated Health, Death, Grief and Loss, and Advanced Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare. To further supplement learning and increase post-graduate career opportunities, students can also earn certificates in Gerontology and Global Health. Courses in the Global Health certificate program include Fundamentals Concepts in Global Health, Introduction to International Health, International Health Research Ethics, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Geographic Medicine and Epidemiology, Major Tropical Pathogens, Health in the Global Community, and international Social Work.

Typical Courses Taken in an Online MSW in Health Program

As you’ve seen in the program descriptions above, there are a variety of courses available to students interested in pursuing an MSW in Health or Hospital Social Work. For traditional students, the first year will focus on providing a solid social work education in critical topics like research methods, theory, policies, social justice, ethics and social work practice methods. The second year is considered the specialization year, when the courses become more focused, depending on which pathway the student has selected, and if they’re interested in direct practice with patients, or if they want to work at a more macro level, running community health programs or advocating for legislative change related to healthcare policies. Courses can be broad, such as a Social Work in Healthcare class, or very focused, like a Psychosocial Oncology class to learn how to work with cancer patients and their families. From Global Health to Telehealth Social Work Practice, students interested in medical social work can tailor their learning experiences based on their interests and future career goals.

What does a medical social worker do?

Hospital and other healthcare social workers know extensive medical terminology so they can conduct biopsychosocial assessments for their patients. They have learned all about how healthcare is financed in America and know how financial resources for healthcare affect individual patient care. Medical social workers are also skilled in advocating for change that improves access to healthcare for all individuals, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other factors.

Medical social workers are not limited to working in hospitals. They can work in clinics and other healthcare facilities and in hospice as just a few examples. Medical social workers can provide crisis intervention, counseling, patient education about their illness, helping patients and family members navigate the complex world of healthcare systems, and provide assistance with insurance and financial issues, referring patients to local community agencies that can provide additional financial support. Earning an MSW with a concentration in health, which may also be called an MSW in Hospital Social Work can prepare you for this type of important and necessary work.

What can you do with a Medical Social Worker degree?

An MSW in Hospital Social Work is often more broadly based, and not simply focused on preparing graduates to work in a hospital. While many MSW in Health graduates do go on to work in a hospital, that’s not the only location available. Graduates may find employment in public and private healthcare facilities, clinics, community health centers, hospices, residential care facilities and home health agencies. Wherever someone is dealing with a health concern, a social worker should be available.

Due to the holistic approach social workers are trained and experienced in, medical social workers can have a wide variety of responsibilities in their role. From initial assessment and development of a treatment plan, to providing crisis intervention to individual or group therapy, to coordinating services to discharge planning, life as a hospital social worker (or that of a medical social worker in another work setting) can vary greatly from day to day. This is one of the things that make this career so exciting and rewarding, seeing the difference you can make in so many lives over the course of a single day.

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.