Western New Mexico University confers a CSWE-accredited MSW program that is available 100 percent online. It is also a program that is taught by licensed professional social workers, making it a great fit for students who want to learn from professionals who know the field from first-hand experience. The program also offers a variety of electives that touch on core areas of the field, enabling students to create their own concentrations for use in the careers. Students will find that field practicums are mandatory for all students, and as these requirements can be quite comprehensive, it may be necessary for students to reduce their working hours to part-time in order to accommodate the experience. The degree requires 39 credit hours of coursework and practicums, a research paper, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Community Organization and Development, Social Work Clinical Assessment and Intervention, and Theories and Techniques of Clinical Social Work Practice.
10 Most Affordable Master’s in Social Work Online
Online Master’s in Social Work programs are some of the most in demand by professionals in the field, and for good reason; with so many professionals choosing to go back to school, an online pathway to do just that is the best way for them to earn a graduate degree and move forward in their careers. The field is also becoming a critical part of many social services and because it includes everything from foster care to drug rehabilitation, it’s time for professionals with an undergraduate degree to really focus on earning an advanced degree.
An online MSW can make this a reality. With many schools offering asynchronous courses, an accelerated format, and even practicum experiences in a student’s area of residence, it’s becoming clear that an online education in social work is the way forward. With this ranking, professionals from all over the United States will be able to make the right choice for them.
Accredited Online College Programs
Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Social Work Online 2020
|1||Western New Mexico University||Silver City, NM|
|2||University of Wyoming||Laramie, W|
|3||Boise State University||Boise, ID|
|4||California State University-Northridge||Northridge, CA|
|5||California State University-Chico||Chico, CA|
|6||California State University-San Bernardino||San Bernardino, CA|
|7||Humboldt State University||Arcata, CA|
|8||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|9||University of North Dakota||Grand Forks, ND|
|10||University of Arkansas||Fayetteville, AR|
Research for this ranking began with collating information pulled from the National Center for Education Statistics and its public College Navigator database. In initial pool of 45 schools was created from NCES with the final 10 being chosen based on in-state graduate tuition rates. They are listed below, from most to least expensive MSW programs.
Ranking Low-cost Online MSW Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master’s in Social Work Degree?
There are various career options available to a professional who earns a graduate degree in social work. These include, but are not limited to:
- Social Worker
- Grant Writer
- School Counselor
- Substance Abuse Counselor
- Case Manager
- Clinical Social Worker
- Health Care Social Worker
Most professionals will find their career path will form while still in the graduate program, especially if concentrations are available. These concentrations range from substance abuse to clinical social work and often dictates what sort of jobs and licensures are available to a professional. It is best for a professional to do research on career options with a concentration in mind; many other avenues may be closed off to them once they complete their degree.
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
Social work consists of a variety of career options, so for the purposes of this question, the focus will be social workers. These professionals can make anywhere from $54,000 to $90,000 annually. This is a large jump from the $41,300 to $60,000 that a professional with just a bachelor’s in social work can make.
There is a significant difference in salaries for general social workers and those who specialize in one field. General social workers tend to make around $50,000 a year, depending on their region, while school or mental health social workers make around $65,000 a year. Hospital social workers tend to make the most money, especially if they live in metropolitan areas; the average salary is $90,000.
What are the Various Disciplines of Social Work?
Social work is a large field that consists of human services, public administration, government, psychology, and sociology. For the most part, these are the disciplines that are the major players in the field.
There are others, however; depending on what a student’s concentration is, they may find themselves focusing on education, substance abuse, nonprofit management, medicine, mental health, children and families, and more. This is because while social work is a general field, it is the subfields that make the most difference in a professional’s career; whatever they have chosen to focus on as their career will determine the disciplines they engage in.
Is Licensure Necessary Prior to Applying for This Degree?
No, licensure is not necessary to apply for a Master’s in Social Work.
The first reason is that licensure is not always necessary to move forward in a career in social work. While many students do obtain licensure, especially at the bachelor’s level, it is possible to find work without licensure in many states. This is a result of not all states having the same requirements for social workers in place, enabling some professionals to work their entire career without ever sitting for the distinction.
The second reason is that MSW programs often require a student to show proof of graduating from a Council of Social Work Education, or CSWE, accredited school. This means that most students often already have licensure as well as some work experience. Attending a CSWE-accredited undergraduate school is the only pathway to earn licensure at that level.
However, many MSW programs are now allowing pre-service professionals, or students without an educational or work background in social work, to take part in their graduate programs. This can only be done by removing the restriction of having licensure.
What this means is that any student with a regionally accredited undergraduate degree can apply for MSW programs. This provides them the opportunity to change careers or move from a related field into social work. It can also be a help to the field of social work because outside perspectives are valued.
There is a caveat to not having licensure. Most MSW programs have two tracks: a general track and an advanced standing track. The advanced standing track is for licensed social workers while the general track is for pre-service professionals. It is here where the difference emerges. General MSW graduate candidates are required to complete 1,000 hours of fieldwork experience as well as, in most cases, an additional 30 credit hours of coursework. These requirements are put in place to help bring pre-service professionals up to speed in the field. The fieldwork is also necessary to obtain licensure at the graduate level.
Why is it Necessary to Get a Master’s in Social Work?
A Master’s in Social Work, whether conferred online or in a traditional format, can open up a lot of opportunities for students. Professionals will find that the graduate degree provides chances to concentrate in one subfield or another of social work, enabling them to become abuse or medical social workers, work with children and families, and more.
The most important of these opportunities, however, is that a graduate degree in social work provides a pathway to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which is also known as LCSW. This is a popular career option for many professionals because not only does it enable them to work as an in-demand social worker, it also opens up their salary options. It’s also a respected licensure that can only be obtained after earning a graduate degree in social work.
Additionally, there are several other credentials and licenses that a social worker can earn after graduating with an MSW. These are often listed as possible pathways through different programs, so it’s critical that students research what credential they need for their career goal and inquire if the program offers a way to earn that credential.
The MSW is a great choice for social workers who want to do more in the field. While the bachelor’s in social work does a lot of good for professionals, it can be limiting in terms of career opportunities. Students who want to advance will want to continue their education, and the MSW is the best pathway forward.
Social work is a challenging but rewarding career, no matter what specialty or concentration a professional chooses. As the need for social workers rises, so too does the responsibility that comes with the job. Professionals will have an ample group of schools to choose from in this ranking as they make the choice to advance their career with a Master’s of Social Work.
This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Social Work Online.
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