Best Affordable Online MSW Programs


Working in the world of social services requires someone who has a heart that is big and soft, but strong enough to help people in ways that may be hard for them to do. Earning a Master’s degree in Social Work will allow you to provide struggling people with the support, guidance, and resources that will make a meaningful difference in their lives. You will be able to address their mental, emotional, and social issues.

Earning a Master’s degree, as opposed to a Bachelor’s degree, allows you to get to the next step of social work, which is in the clinical field. You will have opportunities to help people in clinics or community agencies to find access to the best social services for each situation. It also opens up the world of advising policymakers or organizations at all levels of government. You can advise on services and programs that become necessary to ensure people’s well-being.

If you want to go into private practice, you must become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. A Master’s degree is required to become a Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW). LCSWs diagnose and treat behavioral, mental, and emotional disorders in their own private practices.

Earning the Master’s degree in Social Work online is a flexible way to start your career out with little to no debt, which is always the goal of any college student and can help you have a financially healthy start in life.

Ranking Methodology

The most affordable Masters in Social Work Degree Programs ranking is based on four main data points in four categories:

  • Affordability (average net price)
  • Student Satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Academic Quality (4-year graduation rate)
  • Student Outcome (20-year return on investment per

Each data point is ranked with equal weight. Schools received a weighted overall ranking score for each individual point mentioned above–100 being the highest score possible.

In the case of a tie in scoring, the average net price was the determining factor for which school received the higher rank–the lower the net price, the higher the ranking.

All data was gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics website, College ScorecardPayscale, and school websites.

Most Affordable Online MSW Programs

1. Indiana University Bloomington


Score: 100.0

Average Net Price: $14,351
Retention Rate: 91%
Graduation Rate: 79%
PayScale ROI: $414,000

The University of Indiana has a robust online degree program. Online students have access to the same professors that on-campus students do. This school’s online Master of Social Work program begins with 31 credit hours of general social work education followed by choosing from one of six social work specialties. Its online campus is one of two Indiana University campuses that offers all of the university’s social work specialties. The Indiana University Direct program is much more flexible than its on-campus program and does not require students to be sorted into cohorts. Full-time students complete the program in two years, and part-time students complete the program in three years. Part-time students can spread their last year out over two years, but they must complete their coursework within five years. All students must complete either a two-semester practicum or a full-time block practicum.

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2. Arizona State University-Tempe


Score: 99.5

Average Net Price: $11,163
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 66%
PayScale ROI: $451,000

Arizona State’s School of Social work is housed under the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The college employs prestigious faculty, including an American Psychological Association fellow and National Academy of Public Administration member. Arizona State University’s online Master of Social Work offers unique social work courses on topics such as forensic social work, human trafficking, and border issues. Despite the diverse topics available to online students at the University of Arizona’s online campus, the program does not offer specialization. All online students will get their social work degree in Advanced Generalist Studies, which is not a clinical specialty. The specialization focuses on community outreach. Online students can choose a full-time or part-time course of study. Students must complete two distinct internships. The School of Social Work Field Education office helps students find internship opportunities in their area that fit the university’s requirements.

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3. University of South Florida


Score: 99.5

Average Net Price: $11,700
Retention Rate: 90%
Graduation Rate: 72%
PayScale ROI: $351,000

The University of South Florida’s Master of Social Work online program, housed under the university’s College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, prepares students for social work in a clinical setting. The university does not accommodate other social work specialties in their master’s program. The online program utilizes the cohort model to help students build relationships among one another and with their professors. Students follow a predetermined path of instruction with little room for electives. The University of Florida’s social work program requires all of its students to complete a capstone course in their final semester in which students apply and synthesize the concepts they have learned over the years. Students with significant undergraduate work in the social work field can enter the School of Social Work’s advanced standing track and skip the first semester of instruction or 15 credit hours.

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4. Rutgers University-New Brunswick


Score: 97.5

Average Net Price: $20,379
Retention Rate: 93%
Graduation Rate: 81%
PayScale ROI: $576,000

Rutgers University offers both a 100% online program and a blended program. The blended program is a three-year program consisting of two years of online learning and then one year of combined in-person and online classes at one of three New Jersey campuses. Blended students may either specialize in clinical social work or management and policy, but fully online students only have the option to study clinical social work. Students open to a blended program also have the opportunity to complete a certificate in aging and health, violence against women and children, or promoting child and adolescent well-being in addition to their Master of Social Work. Fully online students can apply for the violence against women and children certificate program. Blended students choose an area of emphasis in addition to their specialization. All students complete two fieldwork placements: one generalist placement and one advanced placement in the student’s specialty. The University offers a unique opportunity for Master of Social Work students to complete a study abroad program in one of four countries.

5. Ohio State University


Score: 97.3

Average Net Price: $17,699
Retention Rate: 94%
Graduation Rate: 81%
PayScale ROI: $413,000

Ohio State University’s online Master of Social Work program accepts students from any major who have taken at least 10 credit hours of social sciences. Online students can choose areas of emphasis in either mental health and substance misuse or child and youth services. Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. can take part in an accelerated MSW/Ph.D. track. Students may also pursue dual degrees in Social Work and Public Affairs, Public Health, or City and Regional Planning. The university partners with state child services agencies to offer a unique field placement with a $5000 award upon completion. Applicants to Ohio State’s Master of Social Work program have the option to explore an online course demo and take an online learning readiness assessment. In addition to its affordable price tag, students have access to financial counseling and discounts on essential technology.

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6. University of Southern California


Score: 97.3

Average Net Price: $30,232
Retention Rate: 96%
Graduation Rate: 92%
PayScale ROI: $608,000

The University of Southern California’s online Master of Social Work program is housed under their Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Students choose between three departments: Adult Mental Health and Wellness, Children, Youth and Families, or Social Change and Innovation. The university offers tutoring for its social work students, a resource not commonly offered in graduate settings. They post recordings of their online classes for students to study and review. To accommodate online students, the University of Southern California offers a virtual field practicum in which actors pretend to be clients and simulate real-world situations. The program allows students to gain experience and hone their skills before applying them to real-world clients. Students complete 210 hours of an online practicum before beginning 790 hours of in-person field training. Fieldwork takes up a significant portion of the program, consisting of 50% of student’s credit hours. Students must be able to spend at least 16 hours a week at a field placement during normal work hours for three semesters. Through its advanced standing program, students with a bachelor’s degree in social work can complete their Master of Social Work at USC in one year.

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7. California State University-Northridge


Score: 95.8

Average Net Price: $5,703
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 65%
PayScale ROI: $424,000

Currently, California State University-Northridge offers its Master of Social Work exclusively online. The program, which is part of the university’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, follows a cohort model, and most of the classes are asynchronous. Students complete the program prepared to serve in a variety of environments, but the program specifically focuses on urban issues. To graduate, students must complete around 1,000 hours of field practicum. Field placements are coordinated through the Field Department; students may not independently arrange a field placement. Occasionally, students may complete their second-year field placement at their place of employment or obtain a paid field position. Although all classes are asynchronous, and each cohort meets once a week, students benefit from building relationships within their cohort. In addition, field classes meet for one hour weekly. Students are guaranteed enrollment in the classes required for graduation and receive extensive academic support from the program manager. The university prioritizes distance learning and ensures that all its faculty are properly trained in online learning platforms.

8. University at Buffalo


Score: 95.5

Average Net Price: $17,469
Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 72%
PayScale ROI: $423,000

The University of Buffalo offers its Master of Social Work through its School of Social Work. Their program focuses on trauma-informed care and human rights. In addition to teaching their social work students the principles of trauma-informed care, it even employs trauma-informed instruction in its graduate program. The University offers a trauma counseling certificate. Students participate in two years of field placements, consisting of a minimum of 15 hours a week. Students are advised to avoid moving through the duration of their master’s program to ensure they can complete their field placements. The University of Buffalo Campus is located near Native American reservations, and appropriately located students have the option to work with those communities as part of their field placement. Students are occasionally able to complete their field placement in Canada or overseas. The University of Buffalo houses the Buffalo Center for Social Research, which engages students interested in research opportunities.

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9. University of Central Florida


Score: 94.5

Average Net Price: $15,286
Retention Rate: 89%
Graduation Rate: 72%
PayScale ROI: $329,000

The University of Central Florida designed its online Master of Social Work program for students who have not yet completed a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Online, the part-time, 3-year track is the only option available for students who do not qualify for the advanced placement track. The classes run for seven weeks each, with only one class per term. The program uses a cohort model to foster collaboration and professional networking. All their students complete coursework focused on working with diverse client populations, clients with substance use disorders, and families. Professors often offer online office hours. In addition to program administrators and professors, UCF students have access to success coaches, who coordinate resources to keep students on track for graduation. 

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10. West Virginia University


Score: 93.8

Average Net Price: $11,825
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Salary After Attending: $425,000

West Virginia University only offers part-time, online Master of Social Work programs. Students may also complete a dual degree in social work and public administration, but the program does not offer specialization. All students specialize in advanced integrated practice, which prepares students to work in a variety of social work settings. Students complete a generalist field placement and an advanced field placement. During their field placements, students participate in professional seminars to help students apply classroom theory to the real world. Students may not initiate contact with potential field placements, but they may propose a field placement for approval if the student is already employed at an organization with potential field opportunities. Students occasionally receive multiple potential advanced field placements and may pick the placement of their choosing.

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11. Appalachian State University

Score: 92.3

Average Net Price: $13,691
Retention Rate: 88%
Graduation Rate: 72%
PayScale ROI: $218,000

As one of the least expensive online MSW programs, Appalachian State University offers two concentrations for their online Master of Social Work students. The university is a public university in Boone, North Carolina. The program is hybrid, with some in-person instruction required. In-person instruction is taught in the evenings to accommodate student schedules. Students can choose between an Individuals and Families concentration or a Community and Organizational Practice concentration. Students may take courses in another concentration as long as the course complements their primary concentration. Students must complete 960 hours of field education. Appalachian State University requires high academic performance. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher and may not graduate with three or more C grades. The program director is available for one-on-one meetings with students and acts as students’ academic and professional advisor. The University includes students in its internal governance. Master of Social Work students participate in faculty search committees, faculty meetings, and the curriculum committee. The program also sends a representative to the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Work.

12. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Score: 92.3

Average Net Price: $18,181
Retention Rate: 83%
Graduation Rate: 68%
PayScale ROI: $443,000

Louisiana State University offers full-time and part-time courses of study. Its part-time Master of Social Work takes 3.5 to 4 years to finish, slightly longer than most Master of Social Work programs. The program runs classes year-round with short one or two week breaks in between modules. A full-time course load consists of two classes per module and takes at least 15 hours a week to complete. For their field placements, students can choose between 7-week long full-time internships or part-time 14-week internships. The first half of the program focuses on foundational courses, and the second half focuses on specialist courses. The only concentration available to online students is the advanced generalist concentration. Students are assigned a learner concierge to help with non-academic support for the duration of the program.

13. University of Nevada-Reno

Score: 91.3

Average Net Price: $14,505
Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 62%
PayScale ROI: $380,000

The University of Nevada- Reno’s online Master of Social Work degree takes two years to complete, including summers. The university also offers a shorter advanced standing program. The university does not offer specialties because social workers with an advanced generalist concentration graduate with a wider array of career options. Because it is a research university, the University of Nevada-Reno prides itself on promoting evidence-based practices. Social work students at this university have close relationships with their advisors, who students meet with at least once a semester. In addition to helping students fulfill their graduation requirements, they review student’s academic strengths, career options, and field placement interests. Already close to the cheapest online MSW programs, the University of Nevada- Reno offers institutional scholarships to its graduate students.

14. Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Score: 90.8

Average Net Price: $18,700
Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 68%
PayScale ROI: $402,000

Colorado State University’s Master of Social Work program offers online and in-person blended instruction. In-person classes are on weekends to accommodate working students. Students only attend in-person instruction twice each semester and can choose between attending classing in Denver or Colorado Springs. The traditional program takes three years to complete, but advanced standing students can complete the program in only two years. Although the university takes an advanced generalist approach to instruction, they offer six concentrations, which are integrated into field placements. Field placements occur at various human service agencies that accommodate student’s educational goals. Master of Social Work students at Colorado State University can pursue Advanced Clinical Behavioral Health or PreK-12 School Social Worker certificates to further their professional credentials. Although applicants do not need a related undergraduate degree, they must have completed relevant coursework and have 400 hours of verifiable work or volunteer experience human services.

15. University of New Hampshire-Main Campus

Score: 90.8

Average Net Price: $24,529
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 79%
PayScale ROI: $375,000

Students at the University of New Hampshire can choose between four specialties, including a disabilities specialty and substance abuse specialty. Students may even create a self-designed specialization if none of the existing specialties match their academic and career goals. For traditional track students, the university admits applicants to their online MSW program three times a year, meaning students have significant flexibility on their start date. Advanced standing students must start in the fall. Social work students are only allowed three elective courses, but two of those elective courses may be taken outside of the Department of Social Work. Students participate in seminars concurrent with their field placements. In-state students pursuing a career in child welfare are eligible to apply for a full-tuition scholarship with a $2500 stipend and additional training resources under the Title IV-E Project. The scholarship is offered by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services/Division for Children, Youth, and Families in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire Department of Social Work. It opens up career opportunities for its recipients.

16. University of Denver

Score: 90.5

Average Net Price: $32,174
Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 75%
PayScale ROI: $377,000

The University of Denver accepts applicants without any prior human services or social work experience, as long as the students meet the university’s other admissions criteria. Students choose between the Mental Health and Trauma specialization and the Health, Equity, and Wellness specialization. Although the classes are online, the University of Denver encourages students to interact using their online campus. Students participate in group work and can use the online platform to talk between classes. Classes are seminar-style, taught synchronously in small groups to encourage participation. The online platform allows for small group work, interactive quizzes, and polls. Students have access to a 24/7 virtual classroom for studying, socializing, and networking. Online students at the University of Denver receive a WeWork Global Access membership, granting them access to exclusive workspaces and amenities. In addition, students receive a LinkedIn Premium Career membership, which includes career-building resources.

17. The University of Texas at Arlington

Score: 90.0

Average Net Price: $13,200
Retention Rate: 70%
Graduation Rate: 56%
PayScale ROI: $495,000

Students completing their Master of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington can complete their degree with or without a cohort. For cohort students, the university offers three specialty areas in mental health, aging, and children and families. Non-cohort students have access to an additional health specialty. Cohort students are given priority and guaranteed enrollment in their classes provided that they stay on track. Non-cohort students should be flexible in their course selection and regularly meet with academic advisors to ensure they meet their degree requirements. All of the university’s specialties focus on direct practice. The program is only open to people living in Texas, except Texas residents who are military veterans, active-duty military, or military spouses. These students may have difficulty finding an adequate field placement. In addition to completing their program, masters students at the University of Texas at Arlington have the option to participate in and present research.

18. The University of Alabama

Score: 89.0

Average Net Price: $21,973
Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 67%
PayScale ROI: $366,000

The University of Alabama offers full-time, part-time, and advanced standing tracks for their Master of Social Work. Students can either concentrate on social work with children, adolescents, and their families, or adults and their families. Also, students may choose an emphasis on program and agency administration along with either concentration. With a Master of Social Work program, the University of Alabama offers dual degrees in Master of Public Health and a JD. Students must apply and be accepted into both programs to qualify for a dual degree. To finance living and education costs, some students receive stipends through the university or their field placement. The university coordinates with the Alabama Department of Human Resources to offer students interested in pursuing child welfare Title IV-E funds. Online students must attend the campus on weekends to participate in advanced course skills labs.

19. University of North Dakota

Score: 87.5

Average Net Price: $15,056
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 52%
PayScale ROI: $378,000

A public research university, the University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Master of Social Work students at the university can choose to complete one of five generalist practice options or complete a social policy concentration. All of the concentrations prepare students for clinical social work. Students should live near the campus, as the program demands students occasionally complete parts of their education on campus. The University of North Dakota offers an addiction counselor training program for graduate students that requires a 25-week long practicum in addition to all other graduation requirements. The university houses a Children and Family Services Training Center that serves students, practitioners, and the community. The center is the primary location for the state’s child welfare agency to train. Title IV-E funding is available for students who wish to pursue a career in child welfare. Students may also perform teaching and research assistantships in exchange for a tuition waiver and health insurance.

20. Salisbury University

Score: 87.3

Average Net Price: $18,792
Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 68%
PayScale ROI: $319,000

Salisbury University, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, offers an online MSW to students in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia. Although the program is open to students in all these states, students may have to travel to an out-of-state location within 50 miles of their home address to complete their field placement. Salisbury University focuses primarily on clinical practice in their Master of Social Work program, with all students participating in a direct practice specialty. Students apply early to their field placements at Salisbury University. Students are welcome to complete their field placement at their place of employment, given that the placement is appropriate for the program and course of study. For additional financial aid, Maryland students can apply for Title IV-E funding or participate in the Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care (BHIPP) field placement, which comes with a stipend.

21. University of Northern Iowa

Score: 86.8

Average Net Price: $16,496
Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 67%
PayScale ROI: $239,000

The University of Northern Iowa’s online Master of Social Work program is only offered for part-time students. They are the only midwestern University to offer a trauma-informed care specialization, emphasizing trauma-informed care in their curriculum. All UNI’s social work department faculty are student advisors, and students will have access to their assigned advisors through office hours and appointments. As a substitute for specialization classes, and at the discretion of the department director, students may take classes from the University of Northern Iowa departments outside of social work. The University of Northern Iowa maintains high academic standards. Students may not earn more than one C grade in the MSW program. The Master of Social Work program will admit students with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0, but only on a provisional basis.

22. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Score: 86.0

Average Net Price: $3,901
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 50%
PayScale ROI: $230,000

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is the southernmost university in the continental US to offer a master’s degree in social work, with the main campus located less than 15 miles from the US-Mexico border. Their program is the cheapest online master’s in social work program listed here. The program requires students to specialize in either administration and community practice or direct practice with Latino individuals. Both tracks emphasize interacting with at-risk Latino communities in the Texas-Mexico border region. The university’s School of Social work has a unique process to match students with field placements. Masters students attend a field placement fair to learn more about partner agencies and select programs they believe are a good fit.

23. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

Score: 86.0

Average Net Price: $12,021
Retention Rate: 75%
Graduation Rate: 49%
PayScale ROI: $347,000

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis houses the oldest university-affiliated school of social work and offers a 100% online program. Their online students specialize in clinical and community practice. Students may choose between the university’s full-time, 3-year, and 4-year programs. The variety allows students to participate in a cohort model that fits their personal needs. IUPUI offers a wide variety of field placements, including placements in a student’s current place of employment. The university’s field opportunities include a study abroad practicum for eligible students. Students complete 15 credit hours of electives, choosing between interesting topics like military social work and tele-behavioral health. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis is the first university to offer a certificate in e-social work, and the program offers a free introductory course for interested students or professionals.

24. Texas State University

Score: 86.0

Average Net Price: $15,545
Retention Rate: 78%
Graduation Rate: 62%
PayScale ROI: $342,000

The University of Texas is a public university, known for its high academic standards. Their School of Social Work employs a liberal arts approach to social work teaching. Students can complete the online program in a cohort model on either a full-time or part-time basis. Students concentrate on advanced practice leadership. The curriculum covers a wide variety of interesting topics, including international social work, adventure therapy, spirituality, social work with veterans, and more. Students complete a comprehensive exam at the end of their course of study as a graduation requirement. Students complete two field placements to which the field team assigns them. Students living outside of central Texas are asked to identify potential field placements in their area, which the field team then vets. During the first placement, students must have direct contact with service users. Texas students are eligible to apply for Title IV-E funding if they are interested in pursuing child welfare.

25. Virginia Commonwealth University

Score: 84.5

Average Net Price: $21,655
Retention Rate: 85%
Graduation Rate: 65%
PayScale ROI: $294,000

Virginia Commonwealth University’s online program is open to students anywhere in the United States. Students may complete their Master of Social Work online program full-time in 16 to 24 months or part-time in three or four years. The university admits students throughout the year so that students can start the program at their convenience. Online students must attend three synchronous classes a semester that take place after 6 PM to accommodate working students or students completing field placements. The class size averages 25 students per class, enabling professors to give individualized attention to every student. Students may choose between a clinical practice specialization and an administration specialization. In addition, students can get their certificate in aging studies online as part of a dual degree program.

26. Widener University-Main Campus

Score: 84.5

Average Net Price: $30,017
Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 55%
PayScale ROI: $411,000

Widener University is a private university in Pennsylvania, and its social work program is housed under its School of Human Service Professions. It does not offer specialization or concentrations, but the curriculum emphasizes using a client-first approach and trauma-informed care. Interested students can complete a dual degree in social work and Human Sexuality or complete one of Widener University’s certificates. The university helps students find field placements near their homes. For students close to the physical campus, the university works closely with the community and offers a variety of services, including social work counseling. They help underfunded human services agencies and vulnerable adults and offer internships to social work students at the university.

27. Boise State University

Score: 84.3

Average Net Price: $13,796
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 44%
PayScale ROI: $323,000

Boise State University is a public research university, and its social work program is housed under its College of Health Sciences. It houses the oldest social work program in Idaho. An online Master of Social Work at Boise State offers its students a generalist education with an emphasis on human rights and social justice. Online students complete 600 hours of fieldwork split between two placements. Students perform an average of 21.5 hours of fieldwork a day at Boise State University, which is a bit more than the usual requirements. The university offers graduate assistantships and offers scholarships to students with outstanding academic achievement.

28. University of Hawaii at Manoa

Score: 83.3

Average Net Price: $15,307
Retention Rate: 78%
Graduation Rate: 61%
PayScale ROI: $284,000

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is a public university with a wide variety of online offerings. Its Master of Social Work program offers four specialties, including gerontology and behavioral mental health. Students complete 900 hours of field education over four semesters. This includes a simultaneous Field Integration Seminar that will help students synthesize learning experiences from the classroom and the field. Part-time students who cannot complete their foundational courses concurrently with their field education can take classes the summer before beginning. Students can also choose to complete more hours of advanced fieldwork instead of an elective course. The university also offers an independent study course, where students complete research on a topic that the university does not typically cover. Students can choose between completing a thesis or an alternative, less intensive research project at the end of their master’s program.

29. Portland State University

Score: 83.0

Average Net Price: $14,160
Retention Rate: 73%
Graduation Rate: 54%
PayScale ROI: $318,000

Portland State University’s online Master of Social Work program is offered part-time and completed over three years. The program caters to alternative students. Students spend 10 hours a week on coursework as well as 16 hours a week on their field placements. Professors make an effort to build relationships with their online students, including periodic meetings. Portland State social work students can specialize in Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations or Health Across the Lifespan. The admissions to Portland State University’s Master of Social Work are competitive. The university rarely admits students with GPAs under 2.5, and students with GPAs under 2.74 are only admitted on the condition that they can raise their GPAs. The program admits around one-third of the applicants.

30. University of Maine

Score: 83.0

Average Net Price: $17,074
Retention Rate: 75%
Graduation Rate: 59%
PayScale ROI: $323,000

The University of Maine uses the developmental approach to teach its Master of Social Work program. Students take courses on practice, human behavior, and policy in a sequential design that builds concepts upon one another. The program uses the cohort model and integrates both synchronous and asynchronous classes. The University of Maine chooses field placements that provide students with mentors. In addition, faculty visit each field placement to provide support. The program is only available for residents of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The program offers an advanced standing course with bridging courses designed especially for students on that track. For students in need of financial assistance, the university has an Office of Major Scholarships that offers support and coaching to help graduate students obtain prestigious merit-based scholarships.

31. University of Louisville

Score: 82.5

Average Net Price: $16,692
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 53%
PayScale ROI: $287,000

The University of Louisville is a public university that offers its Master of Social Work program under the Kent School of Social Work. The program does not require applicants to take the GRE. The program prepares students to become CSWs or LCSWs and focuses heavily on social justice and community building. The university offers five different specializations, including Military Social Work and Psychosocial Oncology, but most students in the program choose not to specialize. Students complete 950 hours of practicum and must provide their own liability insurance. All of the students are placed in public and non-profit placements. The Kent School of Social Work offers scholarships for students pursuing practice in rural areas, gerontology, or public policy.

32. Western Kentucky University

Score: 81.3

Average Net Price: $11,850
Retention Rate: 71%
Graduation Rate: 48%
PayScale ROI: $244,000

The University of Kentucky’s Master of Social Work program serves students in western and southern Kentucky and nearby areas. The program focuses heavily on practice in rural areas, small towns, and small cities. They even offer a concentration in advanced direct practice in rural settings. The university offers a Public Child Welfare Certification along with many field placements in child welfare agencies. The university also offers employment-based internships so that students can stay with their current employers through their practicum. Scholarships and financial aid are available to graduate students at Western Kentucky University, as is the university food pantry.

33. Metropolitan State University of Denver

Score: 80.5

Average Net Price: $13,276
Retention Rate: 64%
Graduation Rate: 34%
PayScale ROI: $343,000

The Metropolitan State University of Denver is a public university that offers online and hybrid Master of Social Work programs. It boasts the title of the most affordable MSW program in Colorado. The program prides itself on small class sizes and a diverse faculty that prepares students to work with diverse populations. Its graduates’ ASWB Clinical Exam pass rate is 81%, well above the average pass rate for all exam takers. The program emphasizes social justice, and the university encourages its students to be politically engaged through its grassroots advocacy network. Students may choose between three specializations in Children and Families, Mental Health, or Leadership and Management. Students who choose not to specialize can fill their classes with the university’s wide array of interesting electives, including classes in human trafficking and maternal and infant mental health. Students who have already been admitted to the in-person or hybrid delivery options can later choose to switch to a fully online option if it becomes more convenient.

34. Humboldt State University

Score: 80.5

Average Net Price: $14,490
Retention Rate: 69%
Graduation Rate: 55%
PayScale ROI: $258,000

In Arcata, California, Humboldt State University is a public university. Their online Master of Social Work focuses heavily on working with Indigenous and rural communities. The program attempts to decolonize the social work profession, which has historically had a complicated relationship with certain communities. The online program requires students to visit campus four days every semester and attend synchronous classes at least once weekly. The program is offered part-time and requires 25 hours of coursework a week. The university offers many electives, and students can design an independent study if none of the courses cover their topic of interest. Title IV-E funding is available for Humboldt’s online MSW program.

35. University of New England

Score: 79.3

Average Net Price: $33,183
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 62%
PayScale ROI: $262,000

The University of New England was the first university in the US to offer a fully online, asynchronous Master of Social Work program. The program is part-time only and takes three years for traditional students to complete. Students gain an advanced generalist education at the University of New England and may choose electives outside of the social work department. The program offers an integrated clinical focus that aligns education with some of the material on state licensure exams for interested students. Students complete over 1000 hours of field education, including field instruction. Students are assigned to and maintain a relationship with a student support specialist to help them access recourses and navigate the university’s online infrastructure. More than 90% of the University of New England’s students receive financial aid, and the university encourages students to search for outside scholarships.

36. University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Score: 77.3

Average Net Price: $13,729
Retention Rate: 69%
Graduation Rate: 36%
PayScale ROI: $235,000

The University of Arkansas at Little Rick Master of Social Work is a generalist program with two curriculum tracks. Students can choose to specialize in either advanced direct practice or management and community practice. Although the program is online, it is only available to Arkansas residents, and field placements must be completed in-person in Arkansas. Each class meets synchronously five times each semester, and Students take 36 hours of foundation courses and may choose 6 hours of electives. The field coordinator selects student field placements with the input of students. The placements. The University of Arkansas offers a military student success center to help veterans and military reserve students. The online courses are taught on Blackboard, and the University has IT support staff available to help students with the platform.

37. University of South Dakota

Score: 76.8

Average Net Price: $17,359
Retention Rate: 74%
Graduation Rate: 50%
Salary After Attending: $221,000

The University of South Dakota is the state’s oldest public university, established in 1862. Its Master of Social Work program prepares students to work in a wide variety of settings, including clinical practice and policy analysis. Students complete 250 hours of fieldwork per semester, including a weekly meeting with their field supervisor. The South Dakota branch of the NASW holds its annual conference in the same city as the University of South Dakota, meaning that many social work students can attend one of their many workshops and talks. The university encourages social work students to complete research projects. Students can present their work at a campus-wide IdeaFest or the School of Health Sciences Research Conference. In addition to normal financial aid, the university provides two scholarships, specifically for social work students.

38. Saint Leo University

Score: 75.8

Average Net Price: $18,456
Retention Rate: 72%
Graduation Rate: 41%
PayScale ROI: $312,000

Saint Leo University is a Catholic liberal arts university in Florida. Their online Master of Social Work program is taught synchronously. He is only open to those physically present in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, New Jersey, Maryland, and Illinois. The university’s Master of Social Work program is only offered online, meaning the online curriculum is the focal point of the school’s master’s program. The program is offered full-time and part-time. The classes are held in the evening to accommodate employment and field placements. Students must attend a weekend seminar on campus in the summer. The program prepares students for advanced clinical social work, emphasizing aging, military personnel, and working adults.

39. Western New Mexico University

Score: 74.8

Average Net Price: $12,045
Retention Rate: 56%
Graduation Rate: 25%
PayScale ROI: $75,000

Western New Mexico University is a public university located in Silver City, New Mexico. Their Master of Social Work program offers full-time and part-time learning opportunities. Each module lasts eight weeks, and classes continue over the summer. Students meet with their advisors at least twice a semester to clarify their academic progress. Social work advisors help students use university resources and clarify their career goals. The university offers graduate certificates in Rural Community Social Work Services, Social Work Services and Military Families, and School Social Work. Along with four semesters of a field placement, students attend a concurrent field seminar to integrate academic theory into social work practice. Their admissions are highly competitive, with a GPA cutoff of 2.75.

40. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Score: 74.3

Average Net Price: $16,085
Retention Rate: 68%
Graduation Rate: 47%
PayScale ROI: $95,100

This public university offers its Master of Social Work program offers both fully online and hybrid options. Hybrid students attend classes on campus one day a week and otherwise complete their coursework online. Traditional students complete 900 hours of field practicum. The university chooses field placements that could potentially lead to full-time employment. In addition, the university works with employee development programs to accommodate employer tuition reimbursement. The program maintains high academic standards and does not allow its students to graduate with more than six semester hours of a C grade or more than one C grade for a field placement. Applicants with a GPA less than 2.8 must prove their aptitude by achieving a high score on the MAT or GRE.

41. Our Lady of the Lake University

Score: 72.0

Average Net Price: $17,640
Retention Rate: 58%
Graduation Rate: 44%
PayScale ROI: $211,000

A private Catholic university in San Antonio, Texas, Our Lady of the Lake University offers its online Master of Social Work through its Worden School of Social Science. The university offers a concentration on working with Hispanic populations along with social work across the lifespan concentration. The program partners with the psychology department to offer a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment Competency and Dissemination Project. It prepares students to handle the growing substance use disorder epidemic in the US. At least half of the program is spent completing the field placement program. Students are responsible for finding their fieldwork placements, but the university facilitates and contracts with the agency.

42. Campbellsville University

Score: 69.5

Average Net Price: $19,568
Retention Rate: 64%
Graduation Rate: 39%
PayScale ROI: $12,400

Located in Kentucky, Campbellsville University is a private Christian college. As a Christian institution, the university has high expectations for its students’ behavior, including off-campus. The university asks students to refrain from drinking and gambling. The university’s Master of Social Work, housed under the Carver School of Social Work, prepares students for advanced generalist practice. The curriculum is faith-based and incorporates Christian values of service. Students can supplement some of their required field placement hours with sanctioned service trips or mission trips. The university is military friendly and participates in the yellow-ribbon program, which helps students afford tuition not covered by the GI bill.

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