If you’re looking for an affordable way to earn your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, consider any of the top 8 cheapest online MSW programs we’ve discussed later in this article.
What are Online MSW Programs?
Online MSW programs are degree programs that are completed entirely or partially online. These programs offer the same curriculum as on-campus programs but with the added flexibility of online learning. Some programs may require students to attend synchronous (live) online classes at specific times, while others may be entirely asynchronous (self-paced).
Online MSW programs typically require students to complete fieldwork or field placements, which provide hands-on experience in social work settings. These placements may be completed at local organizations or agencies, and students may be required to attend in-person meetings or complete tasks on-site.
Flexibility: Online MSW programs allow you to complete coursework on your own schedule, which can be especially beneficial if you’re working or have other commitments.
Affordability: Online MSW programs are usually more affordable than on-campus programs, as they often have lower tuition rates and may not require additional expenses such as housing or transportation.
Types of Online MSW Programs
Full-Time vs Part-Time
Online MSW programs typically offer the flexibility to choose between full-time and part-time options. Full-time programs typically take two years to complete, while part-time programs can take up to four years. If you have a full-time job or other commitments, a part-time program may be the better option for you. However, keep in mind that part-time programs may be more expensive in the long run due to extended tuition payments.
If you have a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) degree, you may be eligible for an advanced standing MSW program. These programs allow you to skip some foundational courses and move directly into advanced coursework. This can save you time and money, as advanced standing programs typically take 1 year to complete- compared to 2 years for traditional programs.
MSW programs may offer concentrations or specializations in specific areas of social work practice. Examples of concentrations include healthcare, mental health, and child welfare. If you have a specific area of interest, a concentration can provide you with specialized knowledge and skills to excel in that field. However, note that concentrations may limit your job opportunities outside your chosen field.
Top 8 Cheapest Online MSW Programs
The University of Central Florida also offers an online MSW program that is fully accredited by the CSWE. Designed specifically for working professionals, the program boasts a rigorous curriculum with 32 credit hours that covers all aspects of social work practice. The average cost of tuition for the program is $15,598 per year, making it an affordable option if you already have a BSW degree, and are looking to advance your career in social work.
Louisiana State University offers an online Master of Social Work program that is ideal for individuals seeking to enhance their social work skills and knowledge while balancing a busy work and life schedule. The program features an intensive 7-week module format and six start dates per year, allowing you to complete the program in approximately 2 years of full-time study. If you have a BSW, the advanced-standing program can be completed in 9-12 months.
The program is fully asynchronous, giving you the flexibility to complete coursework at your own pace with guided dates and deadlines. The average cost for a year of full-time study is around $17,000, making it an affordable option, especially if you are pursuing the Advanced Standing track.
First on our list is the University of Arkansas, located in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Their online full-time MSW program offers a flexible curriculum with 39 credit hours that can be completed in 1 year. The average cost of tuition for the program is approximately $18,907 per year, making it one of the most affordable options available.
Saint Leo University offers an innovative and comprehensive online Master of Social Work program for students physically located in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
The program provides multiple cohort tracks for you to choose from, including a full-time 2-year program, a part-time 3-year program, and a 1-2 year Advanced Standing track, with the latter consisting of 32 credit hours and the former two of 62 credit hours. The program offers rigorous coursework and hands-on experience to help prepare you for a successful social work career. The cost of the program is around $19,200 for one year of full-time study.
Boise State University is another great option for those seeking an affordable online MSW program. Their program is designed to prepare students for advanced social work practice and offers a flexible curriculum that can be completed in 1 year. The average cost of tuition for the program is $19,850 per year.
Brescia University offers an online Master of Social Work program with two different options. The first option is an advanced standing program that requires completion of a CSWE accredited BSW program and consists of 30 credit hours. This program can be completed in one year of full-time study. The second option is a 2-year, 60-credit-hour program for students who have completed a non-BSW degree or have a BSW degree with a GPA of less than 3.20.
All classes are taught online and meet weekly in real-time using distance learning software to provide maximum support and instruction to students. The program attracts students from all over the country. The cost is about $20,000 per academic year.
Humboldt State University offers an Online Master of Social Work program through their Distributed Learning (DL) Program, providing you with access to education without needing to leave your area, job, and family.
The DL MSW program is a part-time pathway with a small student-to-instructor ratio, and while the majority of the course content is online, students attend weekly live webinar sessions, come to campus for a mandatory orientation at the beginning of their program, and then once a year to participate in the January Intensive. The program is only available to students who live in the state of California while they are in the social work program. The program takes approximately 2-3.5 years to complete, and the cost is about $20,655 for the 2-year DL MSW.
The University of North Dakota also offers an online MSW program that is fully accredited by the CSWE. Their program is synchronous and hosts classes in real-time. It is designed to prepare students for careers in social work and offers a rigorous curriculum that covers all aspects of the field. If you have a BSW, you will take 36 credit hours, which can be completed in 1-2 years. Without a BSW, you will take 60 credit hours. The average cost of tuition for the program is about $26,892 for the 36 credits.
To Wrap Up
That concludes our top 8 list of cheapest online MSW programs you can enrol in. When finding the right online MSW program, ensure that it is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high standards of quality and prepares you for licensure in your state. Also, consider the program’s licensure exam pass rates and graduation rates when making your decision. Lastly, double-check whether the program accepts students from your state.