Affordable Accredited Online MSW Programs

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Updated: March 11, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

If quality and affordability are your two main concerns while finding higher study options, I can understand your struggles. A few years ago, I had to face a similar situation when I began my search for a Master’s program in Social Work after my bachelor’s degree. 

Keeping in view the concerns looming around it, I took some time to jot down this list of affordable accredited online MSW programs. 

10 Affordable Accredited Online MSW Programs

If you are enthusiastic about social welfare work and want to become an authority in this field, opting for a Master’s degree can open up lucrative job opportunities. Moreover, it also gives you job satisfaction by working in your passion. An MSW degree will enable you to become a licensed social worker, making you more valuable for the state’s social programs. 

However, following your passion should not have to be expensive. Considering students’ struggles in finding affordable graduate-level social work degrees, I have researched and found some of the quality institutes that offer higher-level degrees at affordable prices and flexible learning options.

Here is a quick run-down of the top 10 affordable online MSW programs you might find helpful in your search for quality higher education:

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University offers one of the most affordable MSW programs, allowing part-time or full-time learning enrollment. It requires the completion of 60 credit hours (CH) for non-advanced students and 30 for advanced students. Advanced students are the ones with bachelor’s degrees in social work. 

A woman holding a pen writing on a notebook near a cup and phone

The graduation rate of NMSU is 63%, and around 99% of students are recipients of financial aid. The university requires students to complete fieldwork on social issues before awarding the degree. Moreover, students can choose the elective subject that best suits their needs. 

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota is one of the 11 universities in the nation which provides a path to licensure. It offers the best online MSW for advanced and non-advanced students, with a requirement to complete 60 and 36 credit hours, respectively. Full-time students can take one to two years, and part-time students can complete the degree in two to three years. 

One distinguishing factor is that 84% of MSW graduates from the University of South Dakota since 2017 have passed the national master’s level exam, 17% more than the nation’s average. 

University of Arkansas

The program offered by the University of Arkansas is one of the shortest paths to earn an MSW degree. It is meant for advanced students who can enroll full-time and complete the program within a year, finishing 39 credit hours. 

An image of curly haired woman smiling while sitting with a table and laptop

They also require 900 hours of fieldwork to be completed in a year. 

Missouri State University

Missouri State University offers an MSW program in three varieties spanning one to two years. Regular full-time or advanced part-time students can complete the degree in two years, and advanced full-time students can complete it in as short as one year. 

Students need to complete 72 credit hours to earn an MSW degree. Moreover, there’s no GRE requirement for this program.

Ohio University

Ohio University offers two pathways for an MSW degree, both having part-time and full-time options: An advanced standing path and a regular one. The regular path is for students with a bachelor’s in any subject requiring two to four years to complete for full-time and part-time schedules. 

On the other hand, advanced students who earned their BSW in the last five years with a minimum 3 GPA and at least a B grade in all social work courses can complete the MSW degree in one or two years for full-time and part-time schedules, respectively. 

A man on a theater sitting on one of the chairs looking on some notes

One distinguishing factor about Ohio University’s MSW program is that 99% of the students can benefit from financial aid of some sort, making it an easily accessible degree for students.

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers two options to earn an MSW degree: an advanced standing program of 42 credit hours and 60-credit hour programs for regular students. Students can opt for one of the two concentrations, focusing on children and adolescents and adults with their families and the other with adults only. 

US News and World Report ranked the University of Alabama at 28th for its MSW program nationally. This new ranking is 16 spots higher than the previous one, telling us much about the constant improvement in the program over the years. 

California State University, San Bernardino

California State University offers an advanced standing program requiring 36 credit hours and a regular program of 60 credit hours, which can be completed in one and a maximum of three years, respectively. It also offers dual degree options where students can earn a public administration degree and social work. 

A group of multiethnic people in line smiling

In MSW from CSUSB, students can select a specialization in their graduate degree and undertake fieldwork and corresponding assignments.

Texas State University 

Texas State University offers on-campus and online options to pursue an MSW degree. Students can opt for one of the two pathways, regular and advanced, with 62 and 36 credit hours, respectively. The degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. 

The major subject offered by the university is Advanced Practice Leadership, which polishes leadership skills in students for diverse fields of interest. 

Arizona State University

Arizona State University is one of the leading universities in offering graduate-level social work education. It provides a non-advanced full-time study program with 60 credit hours. To obtain an MSW degree from ASU, you must also undertake 960 hours of fieldwork in two years at two distinct places. 

Its graduate-level social work degree is among the top 10%, according to US News and World Report. You will have peace of mind knowing that you are enrolled in a renowned degree acknowledged by accreditation bodies. 

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida is one of the few universities offering its graduates a grounded path to licensure. Its MSW degree is focused heavily on clinical studies, covering medical and behavioral healthcare. 

A pile of books

Its regular program requires 60 credit hours, and the advanced program consists of 30 credit hours. Both programs offer a mix of theoretical and practical studies to prepare students for a clinical license. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Online MSW Program Worth It?

Yes, the MSW is an extremely valuable program to advance your career in social work. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicts that employment opportunities for social workers will rise 7% between 2022 and 2032, a compelling reason for people with philanthropic inclinations to embark on a social work journey. 

How Long Does it Take to Earn an Online MSW Degree?

An online MSW degree takes one to three years maximum to complete, depending on the part-time or full-time schedule and whether you have done BSW or not.

What is the Difference Between an Advanced Standing MSW Program and a Traditional One?

The advanced standing program allows students of CSWE-accredited BSW degrees to complete a Master’s in Social Work within a year of enrollment. In contrast, the traditional program is meant for students without social work education and requires them to complete at least two years.

Affordable Accredited Online MSW Programs - fact


Social Work education is an excellent pathway for individuals with strong philanthropic tendencies. However, choosing an affordable online MSW degree is a personal decision that should be made after careful evaluation. 

After having all the required information, like the degree’s accreditation, format of delivery, and cost, you can pick any of the programs mentioned above according to your preferences. 

Additional Resource:

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