Best Master Of Social Work Online Programs Of 2024

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Feb 21, 2024

You can become a social worker with a Bachelor of Social Work, but many social worker roles require a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.). In most states, you need an M.S.W. to pursue clinical social work licensure or to become an advanced generalist practice social worker.

With social work licensure comes increased responsibility, more career opportunities and higher social worker salaries. If you plan on teaching at the postsecondary level, an M.S.W. is often an admission requirement for a doctoral program in social work.

If you’re unsure how you’ll fit a graduate school into your busy schedule, consider earning your Master of Social Work online. In this guide, we examine the 10 best online M.S.W. programs and discuss what makes each one stand out. We also point out some factors to research and consider before deciding on a program.

Why You Can Trust Forbes Advisor Education

The Forbes Advisor Education team is committed to bringing our readers unbiased rankings and trustworthy, informative articles covering higher learning institutions, individual degree programs, bootcamps, professional credentials and various career paths.

Our team sources data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also pull information from reputable professional organizations and education providers’ direct websites. Our rankings use a strict methodology to determine the best schools, programs or bootcamps for each category.

Moreover, an expert advisory board of experienced professionals and educators reviews and verifies Forbes Advisor Education content to ensure accuracy and completeness.

Our Methodology

We ranked 75 accredited, nonprofit colleges offering online M.S.W. programs in the U.S. using 16 data points in the categories of credibility, affordability, student outcomes, student experience and application process. We pulled data for these categories from reliable resources such as the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System; private, third-party data sources; and individual school and program websites. Data is accurate as of June 2023.

We scored schools based on the following metrics:

Student Outcomes:

Overall graduation rate
Median earnings 10 years after graduation

Affordability:

In-state graduate student tuition
In-state graduate student fees
Alternative tuition plans offered
Median federal student loan debt
Percentage of students in federal student loan deferment

Student Experience:

Student-to-faculty ratio
Socioeconomic diversity
Availability of online coursework
Total number of graduate assistants
More than 50% of graduate students enrolled in at least some distance education

Credibility:

Fully accredited
Programmatic accreditation status
Nonprofit status

Application Process:

Acceptance rate

We chose the 10 best schools to display based on those receiving a curved final score of 89% or higher.

Find our full list of methodologies here.