If your career goal is to become a social worker who helps people in a variety of situations, your first step should be to get the college degree that’s required for you to eventually become licensed. In most cases, that means completing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree through a school that’s accredited by the proper accrediting agency. For social workers, that’s the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
Fortunately, there are several reputable schools that are accredited by CSWE and can help you get the degree you need to get started in this field. Even better, many programs are offered entirely online so you have the flexibility to keep working as you get the education you need for your next career. Before you get ready to start filling out applications for schools, take a look at what you should know about CSWE accredited online MSW programs.
What Is CSWE?
The Council on Social Work Education is the only national accrediting agency that sets and oversees the standards on social work programs. This means graduates of CSWE accredited online MSW programs have the chance to get licensed in this field once they finish school. Those who attend MSW programs without accreditation will have trouble getting licensed to practice social work in most states. The good news is that more than 800 schools have accreditation from CSWE, and about 300 of them are master’s programs.
The Commission on Accreditation at CSWE is responsible for setting the standards and determining which schools get accredited by this agency, so you can be sure that all accredited online MSW programs have gone through a rigorous process to qualify. Schools that are interested in getting accredited by CSWE first have to fill out a form that states they want to become candidates for accreditation. They then must show that they meet several standards before they can get accredited.
An example of one of the standards to meet is that the social work program has been authorized by the CEO of the school. That school must also be accredited by a local agency that’s been approved by the Commission on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Another standard all CSWE-accredited online MSW programs must meet is that the school they’re at is legally authorized to operate as a college according to the laws of the state. Additionally, the college must have an affirmative action policy in place, as well as a policy against discrimination of any form.
Finally, to be accredited by CSWE, all accredited online MSW programs must show that the college has a chief administrator with clear leadership ability due to experience with teaching developing curriculum, or completing professional activities in the social work field. For master’s programs, the director of the social work program must have a Master of Social Work degree from a program that’s accredited by CSWE. And the college must show support for creating and further developing the social work program, getting faculty and staff involved in these endeavors whenever possible.
All CSWE accredited online MSW programs must go through the same accreditation process in order to earn this title. The Commission on Accreditation will oversee the process, which will start with requiring the social work program to email a Letter of Institutional Intent to show their interest in accreditation. The program will also need to send in a Candidacy Eligibility Application form, supporting documents, and fees.
Once the Commission on Accreditation receives these items from the social work program, it will decide whether to approve the application and continue with the process. At that time, the program will need to send in a document that states whether it meets all the benchmarks for accreditation. If it does, the CSWE will set up a site visit, and if that goes well, the program may be approved to become accredited. So as you look at accredited online MSW programs, know that all of those schools had to complete this process successfully, meaning you can rest assured they meet the strict standards put in place by CSWE.
What Is an Online CSWE Accredited MSW Program?
If you want the best chance of getting the proper licensing and certification to start your career in social work, you need to look at accredited online MSW programs. After all, there is little you can do in the social work field without getting a master’s degree. Simply stopping at a bachelor’s degree will limit your career options, as you cannot typically become a clinical social worker without a master’s degree and at least two years of experience in a clinical setting.
How Is the Average Online MSW Program Structured?
As you prepare to earn your master’s in social work, you can expect to spend about two years learning all the skills you’ll need to know to carry out your job duties helping individuals and families in difficult situations. Most accredited online MSW programs take place entirely virtually. This means you can usually complete most of the coursework on your own time, as you will read, take quizzes and tests and write papers online.
Many accredited online MSW programs also use video conferencing to teach students the knowledge they need to counsel people in the future. For example, they might hold mock therapy sessions in which other students role-play as adults or children who need a social worker’s help. The professor and classmates would then provide feedback on how each therapy session went and how to improve it.
What to Expect Beyond Coursework
Most CSWE accredited online MSW programs require students to get some field experience before they can graduate. This means they will practice using their social work skills in a supervised setting for a set number of hours per week.
Requiring work experience before graduation will give students a competitive advantage once they complete the program and start looking for jobs in social work. This is one reason that completing an accredited program is so important, as non-accredited programs don’t all adhere to the work experience standard that CSWE accredited online MSW programs do.
What Are the Benefits of a CSWE Accredited MSW Program?
Attending an accredited online MSW program is always a better choice than trying out a program that’s not accredited. Not only do you know accredited online MSW programs all meet the same standards so you get a quality education, but you can also expect to see the benefits of accreditation once you graduate and start looking for jobs.
You’ll Be Better Prepared for This Field
Attendance at one of the many accredited online MSW programs will ensure you learn the skills you’ll need for a career in social work. Whether you decide to become a case manager, school social worker, substance abuse counselor, mental health therapist or any other position that requires an MSW, you can be confident that the program you attended prepared for you this job.
After all, accredited online MSW programs have to meet high standards when it comes to the quality of their professors, support staff, curriculum and school overall. So no matter which accredited program you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll feel prepared when you get your first job in social work.
Employment of social workers is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2020 and 2030.
And the more prepared you are, the better, as this is a growing field that you’ll want to get into soon for the best chances of taking advantage of the faster than average job growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of social workers is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2020 and 2030, making it worth your time to get the right education for this industry.
You’ll Be Eligible To Get Licensed for This Career
Another reason to make sure you’re only considering accredited online MSW programs is the issue of licensure when you graduate from college. The majority of social work positions that require a master’s degree also require you to be licensed as a social worker.
One example of a popular career choice for people with an MSW is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), which—as the name suggests—means you need a license for this position. You typically take the test offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). In order to get the licensing test, you must have graduated from one of the many accredited online MSW programs available. So by choosing such a program, you vastly improve your chances of entering into a rewarding career in social work.
CSWE Accredited Schools in the US
|University Name||Main Location||State||Program/s Name|
|Adelphi University||Garden City||NY||MSW|
|Albany State University||Albany||GA||MSW|
|Angelo State University||San Angelo||TX||MSW|
|Arizona State University||Phoenix||AZ||MSW|
|Austin Peay State University||Clarksville||TN||MSW|
|Barry University||Miami Shores||FL||MSW|
|Boise State University||Boise||ID||MSW|
|California Baptist University||Riverside||CA||MSW|
|California State University, Chico||Chico||CA||MSW|
|California State University, Fresno||Fresno||CA||MSW|
|California State University, Northridge||Northridge||CA||MSW|
|California State University, San Bernardino||San Bernardino||CA||MSW|
|California State University, Stanislaus||Turlock||CA||MSW|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland||OH||MSW, MSSA|
|Catholic University of America||Washington||DC||MSW|
|Cleveland State University||Cleveland||OH||MSW|
|Colorado State University||Fort Collins||CO||MSW|
|Columbia University||New York||NY||MSSW|
|Delaware State University||Dover||DE||MSW|
|Dominican University||River Forest||IL||MSW|
|Dordt University||Sioux Center||IA||MSW|
|East Carolina University||Greenville||NC||MSW|
|East Tennessee State University||Johnson City||TN||MSW|
|Eastern Kentucky University||Richmond||KY||MSW|
|Eastern University||Saint Davids||PA||MSW|
|Edinboro University of Pennsylvania||Edinboro||PA||MSW|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||Florham Park||NJ||MSW|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee||FL||MSW|
|Fordham University||New York||NY||MSW|
|Fort Hays State University||Hays||KS||MSW|
|George Mason University||Fairfax||VA||MSW|
|Grand Canyon University||Phoenix||AZ||MSW|
|Humboldt State University||Arcata||CA||MSW|
|Idaho State University||Pocatello||ID||MSW|
|Indiana Wesleyan University||Marion||IN||MSW|
|Jackson State University||Jackson||MS||MSW|
|Lancaster Bible College||Lancaster||PA||MSW|
|Loma Linda University||San Bernardino||CA||MSW|
|Louisiana State University and A&M College||Baton Rouge||LA||MSW|
|Loyola University Chicago||Chicago||IL||MSW|
|Metropolitan State University of Denver||Denver||CO||MSW|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing||MI||MSW|
|Millersville University of Pennsylvania and Shippensburg University Collaborative||Shippensburg||PA||MSW|
|Missouri Baptist University||St. Louis||MO||MSW|
|Missouri State University||Springfield||MO||MSW|
|Morgan State University||Baltimore||MD||MSW|
|New Mexico Highlands University||Albuquerque||NM||MSW|
|New Mexico State University||Las Cruces||NM||MSW|
|Northcentral University||La Jolla||CA||MSW|
|Northern Arizona University||Flagstaff||AZ||MSW|
|Northern Michigan University||Marquette||MI||MSW|
|Ohio State University, The||Columbus||OH||MSW|
|Our Lady of the Lake University||San Antonio||TX||MSW|
|Pacific Oaks College||Pasadena||CA||MSW|
|Portland State University||Portland||OR||MSW|
|Roberts Wesleyan College||Rochester||NY||MSW|
|Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey||New Brunswick||NJ||MSW|
|Sacred Heart University||Fairfield||CT||MSW|
|Saint Leo University||Saint Leo||FL||MSW|
|Saint Louis University||St. Louis||MO||MSW|
|Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota||Minneapolis||MN||MSW|
|San Jose State University||San Jose||CA||MSW|
|Slippery Rock University||Slippery Rock||PA||MSW|
|St. Ambrose University||Davenport||IA||MSW|
|Stephen F. Austin State University||Nacogdoches||TX||MSW|
|Texas A&M University-Commerce||Commerce||TX||MSW|
|Texas A&M University-Kingsville||Kingsville||TX||MSW|
|Texas State University||San Marcos||TX||MSW|
|Touro College||New York||NY||MSW|
|Tulane University||New Orleans||LA||MSW|
|University at Albany, State University of New York||Albany||NY||MSW|
|University at Buffalo, State University of New York||Buffalo||NY||MSW|
|University of Alabama||Tuscaloosa||AL||MSW|
|University of Alaska, Anchorage||Anchorage||AK||MSW|
|University of Arkansas||Fayetteville||AR||MSW|
|University of Arkansas at Little Rock||Little Rock||AR||MSW|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando||FL||MSW|
|University of Colorado, Colorado Springs||Colorado Springs||CO||MSW|
|University of Denver||Denver||CO||MSW|
|University of Georgia||Athens||GA||MSW|
|University of Hawai‘i at Manoa||Honolulu||HI||MSW|
|University of Houston||Houston||TX||MSW|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Urbana||IL||MSW|
|University of Iowa||Iowa City||IA||MSW|
|University of Kentucky||Lexington||KY||MSW|
|University of Louisville||Louisville||KY||MSSW|
|University of Maine||Orono||ME||MSW|
|University of Michigan||Ann Arbor||MI||MSW|
|University of Missouri||Columbia||MO||MSW|
|University of Montana||Missoula||MT||BSW, MSW|
|University of Nevada, Reno||Reno||NV||MSW|
|University of New England||Portland||ME||MSW|
|University of New Hampshire||Durham||NH||MSW|
|University of North Alabama||Florence||AL||MSW|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte||NC||MSW|
|University of North Dakota||Grand Forks||ND||MSW|
|University of Northern Iowa||Cedar Falls||IA||MSW|
|University of Oklahoma||Norman||OK||MSW|
|University of Pikeville||Pikeville||KY||MSW|
|University of Saint Thomas||Saint Paul||MN||MSW|
|University of South Dakota||Sioux Falls||SD||MSSW|
|University of South Florida||Tampa||FL||MSW|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles||CA||MSW|
|University of Southern Maine||Portland||ME||MSW|
|University of St. Francis, The||Joliet||IL||MSW|
|University of Tennessee at Knoxville||Knoxville||TN||MSSW|
|University of Texas at Arlington||Arlington||TX||MSW|
|University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley||Edinburg||TX||MSSW|
|University of West Florida||Pensacola||FL||MSW|
|Valdosta State University||Valdosta||GA||MSW|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond||VA||MSW|
|West Virginia University||Morgantown||WV||MSW|
|Western Kentucky University||Bowling Green||KY||MSW|
|Western New Mexico University||Silver City||NM||MSW|
|Winona State University||Winona||MN||MSW|
|Winthrop University||Rock Hill||SC||MSW|
|Yeshiva University||New York||NY||MSW|
- Standard and accelerated online programs available
- Programs usually take one to two years to complete
- MSW degree program can be completed entirely online
- Prepares graduates to sit for licensure exam from ASWB
- Provides essential training for popular careers like licensed clinical social worker
- Offers opportunities in the high-growth social work industry
- Can be completed in as little as 12 months with an accelerated online program
- Graduates with an MSW degree are in high demand
- A high number of scholarships and grants are associated with the MSW degree
- Program costs are highly variable depending on the school
- Programs can cost as little as $5,600 per year