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Education Reference Desk | Online Education Resources for Students and Teachers

Most Affordable Online Masters in Social Work

most_affordable_online_msw_degreesAs 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. 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’s, 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.

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 2020.

2020 Most Affordable Colleges for MSW Programs Online

Rank School Average Net Price
# 1 The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley $4,654
# 2 California State University-San Bernardino $7,876
# 3 New Mexico State University $9,930
# 4 University of Central Florida $11,617
# 5 Western New Mexico University $11,909
# 6 Western Kentucky University $12,174
# 7 West Virginia University $12,743
# 8 Texas State University $13,178
# 9 Delaware State University $13,213
# 10 University of Memphis $13,481
# 11 University of Arkansas at Little Rock $13,751
# 12 Arizona State University $14,081
# 13 Humboldt State University $14,766
# 14 University of North Dakota $15,654
# 15 University of Missouri $15,850
# 16 Rutgers University $16,873
# 17 University at Buffalo $17,264
# 18 Aurora University $17,906
# 19 Our Lady of the Lake University $18,012
# 20 Saint Leo University Online $19,843
# 21 The University of Tennessee – Knoxville $21,024
# 22 Temple University $23,032

10 Best Affordable Colleges for Online MSW Programs

1. The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Average Net Price: $4,654
School Type: Private, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 81%

The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valleyprovides accelerated online MSW programs for those who already possess a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Two tracks are available, which include: (1) Master of Science in Social Work Online – Administration and Community Practice (with Advanced Standing), and (2) Master of Social Work – Direct Practice with Latino Individuals, Families, and Groups (with Advanced Standing). This is a 100% online accelerated MSSW with affordable tuition and access to financial aid. The programs are uniquely focused on the Latino community with specific skills and knowledge training to serve the border region of southern Texas. Students also gain real-world experience during a required practicum, of which they get to choose the field setting.

2. California State University-San Bernardino

Average Net Price: $7,876
School Type: Public Non-Profit
School Accreditation: WSCUC
Acceptance Rate: 55%

California State University-San Bernardino is part of the public college system of California. A medium-sized university promoting small classes and strong student support services, the university also offers online degree programs for students, including the Master of Social Work (MSW). The online MSW degree program has been ranked #3 in the top 25 nationwide MSW programs by Great Value Colleges. This ranking was achieved due to the university’s outstanding reputation and its affordability. The online MSW program has a customizable curriculum, and, in the final year, students must choose a specialization that can be a field of practice, a particular social issue, or a specific client population.

3. New Mexico State University

Average Net Price: $9,930
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 66%

New Mexico State Universityis a mid-size public university offering an online program for a Master of Social Work (MSW). The University’s program mainly focuses on studies leading to an advanced generalist social worker role to work with the populations found in the Southwest. Building upon a liberal arts perspective, students develop advanced knowledge and skills for working with communities, organizations, groups, families, and individuals in the region. The Master of Social Work is one of the most popular graduate programs at the University.

4. University of Central Florida

Average Net Price: $11,617
School Type: Pubic, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 43%

The University of Central Florida is a growing part of the public university system in the state of Florida and offers two tracks for earning an online Master of Social Work degree. Ranked #1 on Intelligent.com rankings of the best MSW online programs, the fully accredited (by CSWE) program is available on a part-time basis only, with two distinctive tracks. One track is for students who do not already have a Bachelor’s degree in the field of Social Work, and it can take up to three years to complete. The other is the Advanced Standing track for those who have a Bachelor’s in Social Work earned within the last six years, and it takes 16 months for completion. MSW programs online courses are designed to provide skills and knowledge focused on working with diverse populations, engaging in social and economic justice and human rights, promoting the well-being of marginalized, vulnerable, and oppressed populations, and advocating for social change in both services and policies.

5. Western New Mexico University

Average Net Price: $11,909
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 100%

Western New Mexico University is a smaller university within the public university system of New Mexico and offers two tracks for an online Master of Social Work degree. These include the MSW Advanced Standing degree for those who have previously earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work within the last eight years, and the MSW Non-Advanced Standing: for those who do not have a bachelor’s degree in the field of social work. The focus of the MSW online programs is placed on such topics as social justice, service, dignity, human relationships, and integrity. The group of MSW professors for the online degree programs all have actual work experience in the field of social work.

6. Western Kentucky University

Average Net Price: $12,174
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 97%

Western Kentucky University, physically located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a large public university that offers a rigorous program to prepare students for Social Work Practice. The Master of Social Work online program’s primary focus is on the populations in non-urban areas. This includes small cities, small towns, as well as rural areas. Students gain skills and knowledge in the many levels of intervention in these areas, from the individual to the family to organizations to finally the community at large.

7. West Virginia University

Average Net Price: $12,743
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: HLC
Acceptance Rate: 82%

West Virginia University is a large, popular university located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Its Master of Social Work programs are ranked #3 on the OnlineU Most affordable Online MSW Programs and ranked #70 in the US News & World Report rankings for graduate schools for social work. The University offers two tracks, which include the Master of Social Work – Regular Standing and the Master of Social Work-Advanced Standing. The Advanced Standing Degree program is for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work within the last eight years, from a CSWE accredited program. The University’s online degree programs are only available on a part-time basis. Important emphasis is placed on advanced integrated social work practice, particularly focusing on the oppressed and vulnerable populations in rural areas and small towns, specifically those populations characteristic of the Appalachian region.

8. Texas State University

Average Net Price: $13,178
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 46%

A popular public graduate school, Texas State University has a highly competitive acceptance rate. With over 70 graduate programs offered, only the Master of Social Work is offered online. and it is only available as a part-time offering. There are two tracks for these MSW programs online, including:

  • Master of Social Work Degree in Advanced Practice Leadership (Advanced Standing Track) for those already holding a Bachelor of Social Work degree, and
  • Master of Social Work Degree in Advanced Practice Leadership (Foundation Track) for those students who do not hold a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

The MSW online degree programs foundation is built upon a liberal arts perspective. In addition to foundation courses, the program offers electives in such areas as diversity, international social work, spirituality, adventure therapy, gerontology, and working with veterans as well as several others.

9. Delaware State University

Average Net Price: $13213
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: MSCHR
Acceptance Rate: 49%

Delaware State Universityis known as a historically black college in the public university system of Delaware with national rankings by US News and World Report. Due to having the only Master of Social Work program in the state, admission is highly competitive. The Master of Social Work program itself is one of just four online programs offered by the University overall. Tracks within the program exist for those without a Bachelor’s degree in the field of Social Work, as well as those in Advanced Standing. Students with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program may apply up to 28 credits towards their online MSW degree. The concentration of both tracks is on advanced generalist practice, providing a variety of courses on social, economic, and political issues from a global perspective.

10. University of Memphis

Average Net Price: $13,481
School Type: Public, Non-Profit
School Accreditation: SACS COC
Acceptance Rate: 84%

The University of Memphis added its online MSW programs in 2019 and 2020. These online Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Programs are offered through UofM Global as an accelerated program for those with undergraduate degrees in social work, obtained within the last five years. New admissions to the online program occur during the summer session only. Students will need to choose between two concentrations: Advanced Practice with Children, Youth, and Families or Advanced Practice with Adults and Families. A field placement consisting of 560 hours is also required.

The concentration of Advanced Practice with Children, Youth, and Families includes a focus on behavioral interventions with special needs children, child welfare, foster care, adoptions, childhood trauma, and children’s mental health. This track also provides additional focus on community programs for children and advocacy.

The concentration of Advanced Practice with Adults and Families prepares students to work in a variety of areas, including family violence, military and veterans’ issues, homelessness, poverty, disability, geriatrics, and substance abuse, to name a few.