As long as social work specialists are earning master’s degrees in their respective fields, humankind will continue to progress toward a brighter and more mental-health-conscious future.

Most Affordable Online Masters in Social Work

Those with master’s degrees in social work (MSW) go into case management, human services (i.e. Child Protective Services, counseling, therapy assistance), and any number of other specializations.

If you’re interested in devoting your life to the betterment of other people, this is the kind of degree you’ll want to shoot for. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most affordable online master’s in social work degrees–ranked according to value, quality, accreditation, and cost–to make the process of steering your future that much easier.

Online MSW Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the schools below.

Methodology

All schools considered for these rankings

  • Are regionally or nationally accredited
  • Offer at least one fully online MSW degree (with no more than two weeks of required in-person work)
  • Were collected from official accrediting agency websites.

Schools are ranked solely by the average net price as released in the most recent IPEDs database collected in July of 2023.

Cheapest Online MSW Programs for 2024

RankSchoolAverage Net Price
# 1California State University-San Bernardino$2,232
# 2The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley$5,363
# 3University of Central Florida$9,217
# 4New Mexico State University$9,979
# 5Delaware State University$11,626
# 6Western Kentucky University$11,691
# 7Arizona State University$12,814
# 8Humboldt State University$13,335
# 9West Virginia University$13,380
# 10Western New Mexico University$14,023
# 11University of Memphis$14,023
# 12Rutgers University$15,365
# 13University of Arkansas at Little Rock$15,868
# 14Texas State University$17,033
# 15Aurora University$17,285
# 16Saint Leo University Online$17,321
# 17University of North Dakota$17,424
# 18University of Missouri$17,899
# 19Our Lady of the Lake University$17,926
# 20The University of Tennessee – Knoxville$18,853
# 21University at Buffalo$19,344
# 22Temple University$23,108

10 Best Affordable Colleges for Online MSW Programs

1. California State University-San Bernardino

Average Net Price: $2,232
School Type: Public Non-Profit
School Accreditation: WSCUC
Acceptance Rate: 91%

The California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) College of Social & Behavioral Sciences offers a part-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) program that can be completed in three years. The program is designed for students who are unable to attend the main campus in San Bernardino, or for students who prefer to complete their degree online.

The CSUSB online MSW program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program is offered in an advanced generalist concentration, which means that students learn both micro (interventions with individuals, families, and groups) and macro (interventions with local, national and international organizations and communities) social work.

The program requires students to complete 60 units of coursework, including 45 units of required courses and 15 units of elective courses. The required courses cover the following areas:

  • Social work foundation
  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Social work practice with individuals, families, and groups
  • Social work practice with organizations and communities
  • Social welfare policy and services
  • Field practicum

The program also requires students to complete a capstone project.

To be admitted to the CSUSB online MSW program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0
  • A score of 300 or higher on the GRE or MSW Admissions Test
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

2. The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Average Net Price: $5,363
School Type: Private, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 94%

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) offers an entirely online Advanced Standing MSW program with concentrations in Administration and Community Practice and Direct Practice with Latino Individuals, Families and Groups. The program can be completed in as few as 12 months and classes are held in seven-week semesters. Classes are delivered entirely online, though students are required to fulfill 500 hours of field work in a relevant practicum experience.

The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

To be eligible for the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program or a related field with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. They must also have completed the following prerequisite courses:

  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups
  • Social Work Research
  • Statistics

The program curriculum includes courses in the following areas:

  • Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups
  • Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities
  • Social Work Research
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Diversity and Social Justice
  • Field Education

3. University of Central Florida

Average Net Price: $9,217
School Type: Pubic, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 36%

The University of Central Florida (UCF) presents two enticing online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs to cater to diverse needs:

  1. Online Part-Time Track: Tailored for those seeking to secure their MSW degree while actively engaged in full-time employment. This path spans approximately 3 years and delivers courses in 7-week terms.
  2. Online Part-Time Advanced Standing Track: Geared toward individuals who’ve already triumphed with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a related field. This accelerated journey spans around 2 years.

These programs operate exclusively online, except for immersive in-person field experiences. Accumulating 60 credit hours is the ultimate goal, comprising 40 credit hours of core courses and an additional 20 credit hours devoted to electives. The core curriculum delves into critical domains like social work practice, social welfare policy, human behavior, and research methodologies. Electives empower students to channel their focus towards specialized interests, be it child welfare, mental health, or gerontology.

UCF’s MSW program bears the prestigious accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), signifying unwavering adherence to the pinnacle of social work education standards. Upon successfully navigating this educational journey, graduates will possess the eligibility to pursue licensure as esteemed social workers in the vibrant state of Florida.

To secure admission into the UCF MSW program, aspiring students must hold a bachelor’s degree from an institution boasting regional accreditation, boasting a robust GPA of no less than 3.0. Additional prerequisites encompass the submission of GRE scores and solicitations for letters of recommendation.

4. New Mexico State University

Average Net Price: $9,979
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 57%

The Master of Social Work (MSW) program at New Mexico State University Global Campus is a 100% online program that prepares students for advanced social work practice in a multicultural society. The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

The MSW program at NMSU Global Campus is designed to be flexible and affordable. Classes are offered in the evening and on weekends, so students can work and/or have families while they complete their degree. Tuition is also competitive, and there are a variety of scholarships available to help students afford the program.

The curriculum of the MSW program at NMSU Global Campus covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Social work practice with individuals, families, and groups
  • Social policy and social justice
  • Research methods in social work
  • Field practicum

In addition to the core curriculum, students in the MSW program at NMSU Global Campus can choose to focus their studies in one of four areas:

  • Child welfare
  • Community organizing
  • Health care social work
  • Mental health social work

5. Delaware State University

Average Net Price: $11,626
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: MSCHR
Acceptance Rate: 59%

Delaware State University (DESU) immerses students in a fully online MSW program, offering a concentration in Advanced Generalist Practice that encompasses individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. This program boasts accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Designed to empower working professionals seeking career advancement in social work, DESU’s online MSW program provides flexibility, enabling students to complete coursework at their convenience.

To secure admission to DESU’s online MSW program, aspiring students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additionally, they must have successfully completed prerequisite courses in social work, including subjects like human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, and research methods.

The program spans 60 credits and can be fulfilled within two years through full-time study or stretched over three years with part-time dedication. It splits into two distinctive phases: the foundational stage and the advanced stage.

The foundational phase, encompassing 30 credits, entails courses in social work practice, social welfare policy, human behavior and the social environment, and research methods.

Transitioning to the advanced phase, another 30 credits await, featuring advanced social work practice, social work with individuals and families, social work with groups, social work with organizations, and social work with communities.

Integral to this educational journey is the supervised field practicum, a hands-on experience allowing students to practically apply their acquired skills and knowledge from the classroom.

6. Western Kentucky University

Average Net Price: $11,691
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 98%

Western Kentucky University (WKU) offers an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program with an Advanced Standing option. The program is designed to prepare students for professional social work practice in a variety of settings, with a focus on rural populations.

The MSW program is 33 credit hours and can be completed full-time (one year), part-time (two years), or online (two years).

The program curriculum includes courses in social work practice, social welfare policy, research, and field education. Students also have the opportunity to specialize in one of the following areas:

  • Child and Family Social Work
  • Health Social Work
  • Mental Health Social Work
  • Social and Community Services
  • Social Work with Individuals and Families

To be admitted to the MSW program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program or a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0. They must also have completed the following prerequisite courses:

  • Social Work Foundations
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Social Work Practice

The MSW program at WKU is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

7. Arizona State University

Average Net Price: $12,814
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 88%

Arizona State University (ASU) offers two online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs:

  • Standard MSW Program is offered in two formats: asynchronous and synchronous.
    • Asynchronous format allows students to take courses at their own pace and on their own schedule.
    • Synchronous format offers live online classes at the same day and time each week.
  • MSW Sync is a fully online program that is offered in a synchronous format. All courses are offered virtually over Zoom. Students engage in live lectures and discussions with instructors and peers. Class times are in the evenings.

Both programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and prepare students for professional licensure. The programs also offer a variety of specializations, including:

  • Children, Youth and Families
  • Health and Behavioral Health with Adults
  • Public Child Welfare
  • Health Behavioral Health – Medical

To be admitted to the program, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. They must also have completed prerequisite courses in social work, statistics, and research methods.

8. Humboldt State University

Average Net Price: $13,335
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 91%

Humboldt State University (HSU) extends a welcoming embrace to aspiring social work professionals, offering a pair of dynamic online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs:

  1. The Traditional Standing MSW Program caters to individuals without a Bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). This path unfurls its riches over 3.5 enriching years on a part-time schedule.
  2. For those fortified with a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program, the Advanced Standing MSW Program stands ready. It condenses the journey to mastery into a swift 2-year part-time commitment.

Both these programs are woven seamlessly into HSU’s Distributed Learning (DL) framework. While coursework is dispensed through the digital ether, students are beckoned to the hallowed HSU campus once or twice annually. Here, they forge connections during orientation, gain field experience, and partake in various transformative activities.

At HSU, the MSW programs embark on a mission, immersing students in the realm of advanced generalist practice, with a particular focus on the tapestry of rural and Native American communities. Here, they hone skills in engaging with individuals, families, groups, and entire communities, traversing diverse landscapes, from schools and hospitals to the tapestry of social service agencies.

HSU’s MSW programs proudly bear the accreditation seal of approval from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), assuring that they adhere to the pinnacle of quality standards.

To unlock the doors to these MSW programs, aspirants must possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, adorned with a GPA of at least 3.0. Alongside this, the foundation of prerequisite courses in social work, spanning the domains of human behavior and social environment, social policy, and social work practice, is deemed indispensable.

9. West Virginia University

Average Net Price: $13,380
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 90%

West Virginia University (WVU) offers two online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs:

  • Regular Standing program is designed for students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in social work. The program can be completed in 3 years of full-time study or 6 years of part-time study.
  • Advanced Standing program is designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. The program can be completed in 2 years of full-time study or 4 years of part-time study.

Both programs are offered entirely online and asynchronous, which means that students can complete their coursework on their own time. However, there are synchronous online meetings that students are required to attend.

The curriculum for both programs is designed to prepare students to become advanced integrated practice social workers. This means that students will learn to integrate micro, mezzo, and macro practice skills to address social and human problems. The program also emphasizes effective models of rural service delivery.

To be admitted to the WVU Online MSW program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0
  • The GRE or MAT scores
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement

Graduates of the WVU Online MSW program are eligible to pursue social work licensure at their degree level. States can have varying requirements for clinical licensure.

10. Western New Mexico University

Average Net Price: $14,023
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 100%

Western New Mexico University (WNMU) offers two online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs:

  • Non-Advanced Standing: This program is for students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). It is a 60-credit program that can be completed in 3 years.
  • Advanced Standing: This program is for students who have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program. It is a 36-credit program that can be completed in 2 years.

Both programs are offered 100% online and are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). They prepare students to practice social work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Child welfare
  • Mental health
  • Health care
  • Schools
  • Community organizing
  • Criminal justice
  • Gerontology

To be admitted to either program, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 2.75 or higher. They must also have taken certain prerequisite courses, such as statistics, research methods, and human growth and development.

The MSW programs at WNMU are taught by experienced social workers who are committed to online learning. Students have access to a variety of resources, including online courses, discussion boards, and virtual office hours. They also have the opportunity to participate in field practicums, which give them hands-on experience in social work practice.

Graduates of the MSW programs at WNMU are eligible to take the social work licensing exam in New Mexico and other states.

Online MSW Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the schools below.

Resources:

Cheapest Online MSW Programs – EDsmart