2019 Online Master's in Social Work Programs

Quick Facts
Accreditation: CSWE
Avg Tuition: $28,424
Avg Salary: $60,900

Master's of social work students can choose from 132 online MSWs accredited by the CSWE, including advanced standing and clinical track programs. After earning an MSW, you can go on to become a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) by passing your state's board exam or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) after passing the exam and meeting the requirement for supervised clinical hours.

In order to earn licensure and to ensure that your degree meets national standards for social work education, you should make sure that your MSW program is accredited by the CSWE. Keep reading to learn more about social work licensure requirements in your state and to see the best online MSW programs of 2019 based on tuition and alumni salaries provided by PayScale.

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2019 Best Online MSW Programs

These 25 schools offer the best fully online MSW programs in the country. Top-ranked California State University-San Bernardino offers a three-year online MSW for $11,136 per year. Students who already hold a bachelor's in social work will find advanced standing options at Columbia University in the City of New York, Boston University, University of Southern California, and University of Hawaii at Manoa among others. University of Louisville offers a variety of specializations in the field, including alcohol and drug counseling, gerontology, and psychosocial oncology. Aspiring clinicians will find clinical MSWs at many of these schools as well.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 Annual Tuition $11,136 Median Salary $74,900
#2 #2 Annual Tuition $46,920 Median Salary $74,900
#3 #3 Annual Tuition $12,375 Median Salary $69,975
#4 #4 Annual Tuition $17,040 Median Salary $70,300
#5 #5 Annual Tuition $22,560 Median Salary $68,800
#6 #6 Annual Tuition $30,855 Median Salary $69,000
#7 #7 Annual Tuition $13,605 Median Salary $66,400
#8 #8 Annual Tuition $55,890 Median Salary $72,000
#9 #9 Annual Tuition $19,614 Median Salary $67,000
#10 #10 Annual Tuition $37,880 Median Salary $67,700
#11 #11 Annual Tuition $29,355 Median Salary $66,500
#12 #12 Annual Tuition $13,080 Median Salary $63,800
#13 #13 Annual Tuition $18,694 Median Salary $64,100
#14 #14 Annual Tuition $8,160 Median Salary $62,100
#15 #15 Annual Tuition $17,406 Median Salary $63,000
#16 #16 Annual Tuition $20,956 Median Salary $63,400
#17 #17 Annual Tuition $19,500 Median Salary $63,200
#18 #18 Annual Tuition $21,420 Median Salary $63,200
#19 #19 Annual Tuition $9,405 Median Salary $61,400
#20 #20 Annual Tuition $7,311 Median Salary $61,000
#21 #21 Annual Tuition $7,273 Median Salary $60,800
#22 #22 Annual Tuition $15,864 Median Salary $61,800
#23 #23 Annual Tuition $23,026 Median Salary $62,200
#24 #24 Annual Tuition $8,274 Median Salary $59,700
#25 #25 Annual Tuition $22,710 Median Salary $60,600
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.

Comprehensive List of Online MSW Programs by State:

Alabama

There are three levels of social work licensure available in the state of Alabama. Individuals with a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree in social work are eligible to become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW). Candidates must pass the board exam and then complete two years of supervised practice. To become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in Alabama, individuals must have a masters or doctoral degree in social work and pass a board exam. After becoming an LMSW and receiving two years of supervision, you are eligible to take the exam to become a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). All three levels of licensure are renewed every two years and require 30 hours of continuing education each renewal period.

There are currently no schools in Alabama offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Alaska

The state of Alaska has three levels of social work licensure: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). All three require passing a board exam but differ when it comes to education and experience requirements. The LBSW requires a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree in social work. To earn an LMSW, one must have a master's or doctoral degree in the field. An LCSW also requires a master's or doctoral degree as well as minimum of two years and 3000 hours of clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW or licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. All three levels of license are renewed on June 30th of even numbered years, and require 45 hours of board approved continuing education each renewal cycle.

There are currently no schools in Alaska offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Arizona

The state of Arizona has three levels of social work licensure. The Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) requires a bachelor's degree in social work and the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) requires a master's degree in social work. For both licenses, the social work degree must be earned from a CSWE-accredited program and individuals must pass a board exam. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) requires an accredited graduate degree in the field, with the addition of 3200 hours of supervised work experience completed in no less than 24 months, and passing the clinical level of the social work board exam. All three levels require 30 hours of continuing education per two year license renewal period.

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Arkansas

The state of Arkansas has three levels of social work licensure. Becoming a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) requires a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and passing the board exam. The Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) is similar to the LSW but requires a master's degree or higher in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. The Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) requires having worked for two years and 4000 hours under supervision as an LMSW, and passing the appropriate board exam. All three levels of licensure must complete 48 hours of continuing education within each two year renewal period.

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California

The state of California has two levels of social work licensure. Individuals with a CSWE-accredited MSW are eligibly to become Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASWs) if they successfully pass a board exam and the California Law and Ethics exam. Those who received their MSW from an out-of-state school must also complete an 18 hour California Law and Professional Ethics course. Once registered as an ASW, social workers can begin to accrue the two years and 3,200 hours of supervised experience needed to apply for the second level of licensure, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Eighteen hours of continuing education credit are required each one year renewal period.

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Colorado

The state of Colorado only offers two licenses for social workers: the LSW and the LCSW. Applicants with only a bachelor’s degree in social work are not able to attain a license in Colorado as the LSW and the LCSW are only for those at the master’s degree level. Since 2009, those looking to apply for an LCSW license have been required to first obtain an LSW (provisional license). The LSW requirements include passing the ASWB exam and the Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Exam. The LCSW also requires a minimum of 3,360 supervised work hours, including 96 direct contact hours. People who have a social work license from another state must complete the License by Endorsement Application and provide proof that they have passed the ASWB exam.

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Connecticut

An applicant looking to apply for the LCSW license in Connecticut must meet the following requirements: hold a master’s or doctoral degree from a CSWE-accredited program, have completed at least 3,000 hours of post-degree social work experience with a minimum of 100 hours of work experience under direct supervision by a licensed clinical or certified independent social worker, and provide proof of successful completion of the Clinical Level ASWB Examination. Applicants trained outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for a social worker license in the state of Connecticut if they meet the equivalent requirements. For a Master’s Level Social Worker license, applicants must meet the following requirements: hold a master’s degree from an accredited social work program or, if educated outside the United States, have completed an educational program deemed by the CSWE to be equivalent to an accredited social work program.

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Delaware

Social workers hoping to practice independently in Delaware must hold an LCSW. Requirements for this licensure include an MSW or doctorate in the field, at least 3,200 hours of clinical experience, 1,600 supervised clinical hours, and a passing score on the ASWB exam. Social workers who have already passed the ASWB exam and hold a current clinical social work license in another state or U.S. territory can apply by reciprocity.

There are currently no schools in Delaware offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Florida

To be licensed to practice as a clinical social worker in Florida, an individual must have at least a master’s degree in social work from an accredited institution, have completed 24 semester hours or 32 quarter hours in theory of human behavior and practice methods with at least one course in psychopathology, and a supervised field placement as part of the educational program during which the individual has worked directly with clients. Additionally, the applicant must have completed 2 years of post-degree work experience under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker. The applicant must also pass the ASWB national clinical level examination and have completed an 8-hour laws and rules course as well as a 3-hour HIV/AIDS course and 2-hour domestic violence course within 6 months of licensure.

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Georgia

Social workers in Georgia are required to possess a master’s in social work in order to practice in the state. Those with a bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited program are allowed to practice social work under the supervision of an experienced social worker. In order to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), you must take the master’s level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam within one year of graduation from your master’s program. The exam takes about 4 hours, consists of 170 multiple choice questions, and costs $260 plus the application fee which is $25. Once you have passed the exam, you must then apply for licensure by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.

There are currently no schools in Georgia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Hawaii

To become a licensed social worker in Hawaii, the applicant must hold a master’s degree in social work from a program that is accredited by the CSWE or hold a doctoral degree from a social work program that is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Applicants must then pass the Association of Social Work Boards’ clinical level national examination. Also, applicants must complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work after graduation. This clinical work is required to be completed in no fewer than 2 years and no more than 5 years.

There are currently no schools in Hawaii offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Idaho

There are three levels of social work licensure in Idaho: LSW, LMSW, and LCSW. To become an LSW, you must have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program and you must pass the ASWB exam. Graduates of an MSW or doctoral program in social work are eligible to become LMSWs. To do so, they must pass the ASWB master's level exam. After receiving your LMSW license and completing 3,000 hours of supervised practice, you are eligible to become an LCSW in the state.

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Illinois

Social work licensure in Illinois is available to those who hold either a bachelor’s (BSW) or master’s in social work (MSW). Applicants with a BSW can become Licensed Social Workers (LSWs) once they obtain 3 years of supervised experience after completing their bachelor’s degree program and pass the ASWB exam. Those with an MSW can become LSWs after passing the exam without any years of experience. Individuals with an MSW or doctorate in the field can become Licensed Clinical Social Workers after passing the ASWB exam and completing 3,000 hours of supervised practice.

There are currently no schools in Illinois offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Indiana

Social workers in Indiana can be licensed at the bachelor's or master’s level. To become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), applicants must pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. MSW graduates or BSW graduates with two years of supervised experience can become Licensed Social Workers (LSWs) in Indiana after passing the ASWB master's level exam. To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state, you must have an MSW and have completed 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in addition to passing the clinical ASWB exam.

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Iowa

There are three types of social work license that can be received in Kansas: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker, and Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker. A Licensed Bachelor Social Worker needs to have a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. A Licensed Master Social Worker needs a CSWE-accredited MSW and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. Finally, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker needs to hold a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program, pass the ASWB Clinical Competency Exam, and complete 4,000 hours of post-graduate clinical social work.

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Kentucky

Kentucky has three types of social work certifications: Licensed Social Workers, Certified Social Workers, and Licensed Clinical Social Workers. For all three types of certifications, the application process must be completed before the appropriate ASWB exam can be taken. For a Licensed Social Worker, along with the application one must have a bachelor's in social work. For a Certified Social Worker, applicants must have an MSW. For a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, an MSW or doctorate in social work is required as well as documentation of at least two years of supervised clinical practice post-graduation and having passed the ASWB clinical exam.

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Louisiana

Louisiana offers four types of social work licenses: Registered Social Worker, Certified Social Worker, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Board Approved Clinical Supervisor. Aspiring Registered Social Workers applicant needs a bachelor's or master's in social work from an accredited program. Applicants for a Certified Social Worker license need an MSW from an accredited program and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, you must have an MSW from an accredited program, 5,760 hours of post-graduate social work practice, 3,840 hours of supervised experience, 96 face-to-face hours of supervision, and must pass the ASWB clinical exam. 

There are currently no schools in Louisiana offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Maine

Maine offers five different social work licenses: Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Social Worker (Conditional), Licensed Master Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker (Conditional Clinical), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. A Licensed Social Worker needs a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited program and must successfully pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. For those without a degree in social work, a Licensed Social Worker (Conditional) needs a bachelor's Degree in a sufficiently related field, evidence of employment in a social work setting, and four supervised social work practice hours per month. A Licensed Master Social Worker needs a master's degree in social work from an accredited institution and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. A Licensed Master Social Worker (Conditional Clinical) needs all the required documentation of a Licensed Master Social Worker and completion of the board provided clinical consultation form signed by the LCSW or the CSW-IP engaged as the consultant (An Agreement to Provide Consultation Form). A Licensed Clinical Social Worker needs a Master's Degree in Social Work from an accredited program, Verification of the Consultation Form, and Passage of the ASWB Clinical Exam.

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Maryland

There are four types of social work licensure in Maryland: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Graduate Social Worker, Licensed Certified Social Worker, and Licensed Certified Social Worker - Clinical. LBSWs must have a CSWE-accredited BSW and pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. LGSWs must hold an MSW and pass the ASWB master's level exam. The certified social worker license requires an MSW, as well as 3,000 hours of supervised practice as an LGSW. A Licensed Certified Social Worker - Clinical is similar to a Licensed Certified Social Worker. However, an LCSW - Clinical must have 12 credits of clinical coursework in his or her master's program to be eligible for clinical licensure.

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Massachusetts

The Board of Registration of Social Work in Massachusetts determines eligibility to take licensure examinations at one of four levels of licensure: Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). LSWA is the lowest level of licensure and require a bachelor's degree in any field, an associate degree in human services, or 1000 educational hours in social work that have been approved by the ASWB. If you hold a bachelor's in any field, you can become an LSW after completing 3,500 hours of supervised experience in the field. Individuals with a BSW can become an LSW without the aforementioned hours of experience. An LCSW in Massachusetts must have an MSW in the field. To become an LICSW, you must have a current LCSW, 3,500 hours of supervised clinical experience, and 100 hours of one-on-one supervision from an LICSW. At all levels of licensure, individuals must pass the relevant ASWB exam in addition to educational and experiential requirements.

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Michigan

Michigan has two levels of social work licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). To be eligible for the LBSW, you must have graduated from a CSWE-accredited BSW program and have completed 4,000 hours of supervised social work practice over a period of two or more years. the applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree in social work and have at least 4,000 hours of post-degree social work experience over at least a two-year period. To be eligible for a Master Social Worker License (LMSW), you must have graduated with an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and have completed at least 4,000 hours of supervised work experience in social work over at least a two-year period. The work experience must be in the area of the license designation: either Clinical, Macro (administrative), or both.

There are currently no schools in Michigan offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Minnesota

To be eligible to apply for an LSW license in Minnesota, the applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited social work educational program and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelors level social work licensure examination. To apply for LGSW licensure, the applicant must have a graduate degree in social work and a passing score on the masters level national social work licensure examination. Applicants for the LISW license must have a graduate degree in social work and pass the ASWB advanced generalist level social work examination. The LICSW licensure application requires a graduate degree in social work and at least 360 clinical hours, including hours in clinical intervention methods, culturally specific clinical context, and psychopathology.

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Mississippi

A social worker who wants to become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in Mississippi must have a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and must pass the ASWB licensure examination. For licensure at the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) level, you must submit verification of a master's degree from a CSWE-accredited school of social work or of a doctorate in social work (D.S.W. or Ph.D.) and you must pass the ASWB master's level exam. Applicants for the Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) level must have a master's in the field, two years of post-master's supervised clinical experience, and have passed the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Mississippi offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Missouri

In the state of Missouri, Licensed Baccalaureate Social Workers (LBSW) and Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW) follow one process for licensure, while Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Licensed Advanced Macro Social Workers (LAMSW) follow another. The LBSW/LMSW process includes filling out an application, submitting official college transcripts, undergoing a background check, and passing an exam. The LCSW/LAMSW process involves having a current LMSW license, filling out an application, registering supervision, completing 3,000 hours of supervised experience within a 24-48 month time frame, and passing the exam. In both cases, the Committee for Social Workers will notify the applicant in writing to schedule the exam once their application is approved, and issue licenses once successful exam results are confirmed. LCSWs and LAMSWs must remain supervised until they pass the exam and receive their license.

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Montana

There is only one level of social work licensure in the state of Montana: Licenced Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Attaining licensure as an LCSW requires possessing an MSW or Doctor of Social Work degree, completing 3,000 hours of supervised, post-degree psychotherapy completed in no fewer than 2 years. Prospective LCSWs must also pass the ASWB clinical exam. Active LCSWs in the state must complete 20 hours of continuing education credits every year.

There are currently no schools in Montana offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Nebraska

Nebraska offers two different credentials for licensed social workers; Certified Social Worker and Certified Master Social Worker. Unlike most other social work licenses, a Certified Social Worker license in the state of Nebraska does not require passing the ASWB exam. In order to be eligible for this license, individuals must have a bachelor's degree or higher in social work. In contrast, a Certified Master Social Worker must have a master's or doctorate in social work from a CSWE-approved program, complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience practicing as a social worker, and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

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Nevada

Nevada has three levels of licensure for social workers: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). Those seeking to become an LSW need to have a bachelor's or master's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. They must pass either the bachelor's or master's level ASWB exam in order to receive a license from the state. To earn an LCSW license, individuals must have an MSW and must have passed the clinical ASWB exam. Social workers who want to work independently but not practice clinical social work can pursue Independent Social Work licensure. To become an LICSW in Nevada, you must have an MSW or doctorate in social work as well as 3,000 of supervised practice. Candidates must also have passed the advanced ASWB exam.

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New Hampshire

The only option for social work licensure in New Hampshire is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). All candidates for LICSW licensure in the state must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program with a focus on clinical social work. Individuals must also have two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience or a total of 3,000 hours. Lastly, prospective LICSWs in New Hampshire must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

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New Jersey

New Jersey has three levels of social work licensing: Certified Social Worker (CSW); Licensed Social Worker (LSW); Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). To become a CSW, applicants must have received a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited program. No exam is required for this level of licensure. Applicants for the LSW must hold an MSW and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become an LCSW, applicants must have completed an MSW program that included at least 12 graduate credit hours in clinical social work. In addition, they must pass the ASWB clinical exam and complete two years or 1,920 hours of face-to-face clinical social work in order to be eligible for LCSW licensure.

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New Mexico

The Board of Social Work Examiners in New Mexico provides three levels of licensure: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). LBSW applicants must have a bachelor's in social work from a CSWE-accredited school and must pass both the state jurisprudence exam and the ASWB bachelor's level exam. Prospective LMSWs must have an MSW and pass the state jurisprudence exam and the ASWB master's level exam. After attaining an LMSW license, individuals can pursue an LCSW. In New Mexico, an LCSW must already have an LMSW, must complete at least two years of post-graduate supervised clinical work, and must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in New Mexico offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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New York

In the state of New York, there are two forms of social work licensure: Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). To become an LMSW you must have a master's degree in social work and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. For an LCSW, applicants must have completed an MSW that included at least 12 hours of clinical courses and they must have completed a minimum of 3 years of post-graduate supervised clinical work.

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North Carolina

There are multiple levels of social work licensure available in North Carolina: Certified Social Worker (CSW), Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA), and Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM). Applicants for a CSW must have a bachelor's degree in social work and must pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam. Applicants for the CMSW must have an MSW, a DSW, or a PhD in social work and must pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become an LCSW, you must have an MSW or higher in the field, pass the ASWB clinical level exam, and have 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. The LCSWA is an option for aspiring clinical social workers who have not yet completed the LCSW requirements. LSCWAs must pass the ASWB clinical exam within their initial licensure period and should be working to complete the required supervision hours during that time period. To become a CSWM, applicants must have either a BSW, MSW, DSW, or PhD in social work. They must also pass the ASWB advanced generalist level exam, have 3,000 hours or two years of post-graduate experience, and a minimum of 100 supervised hours by a Social Work Administrator.

There are currently no schools in North Carolina offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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North Dakota

There are three levels of licensure in North Dakota: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). Applicants for the LSW must have a bachelor's degree in social work and must pass the ASWB bachelor's level exam within one year of submitting their application. Applicants for the LCSW must have a master's degree in social work and pass the ASWB master's level exam. To become an LICSW, applicants must have an MSW, pass the ASWB clinical level exam, and complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work within 4 years of their graduation.

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Ohio

Ohio has two different levels of social work licensure: Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). LSWs must hold either a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate in social work from an accredited school and must pass the ASWB bachelor's or master's exam. To become an LISW, you must have already have an LSW and a CSWE-accredited MSW. You must also complete an additional 24 months of supervised social work which includes a minimum of 3,000 hours of social work practice and 150 hours of face-to-face training supervision. After completing the required hours of experience, you must then pass the ASWB clinical or advanced exam.

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Oklahoma

> Oklahoma issues licenses to five different levels of social workers: Licensed Social Worker Associate (LSWA), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Social Worker-Administration (LSW-Adm). Eligibility requirements to become an LSWA include completing a BSW, MSW, or doctoral degree in social work and passing the ASWB exam at either the bachelor's or master's level. LMSWs must have an MSW and must pass the ASWB exam. To become an LSW in Oklahoma, you must have an MSW, two years of post-graduate supervised social work experience, and must pass the ASWB exam. An LCSW is similar to an LSW; however, you must have completed two years of supervised clinical practice to be eligible to become an LCSW. Lastly, you can become an LSW-Adm if you have a master's degree in the field and two years of supervised experience practicing administrative social work.

There are currently no schools in Oklahoma offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Oregon

The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers issues four different types of social work licenses. There are two non-clinical options: Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW) and Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). The RBSW requires a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited institution and a passing score on the ASWB bachelor's level exam. The LMSW requires an MSW and a passing score on the ASWB master's level exam. Those seeking to practice clinical social work can pursue Clinical Social Work Associates licensure or become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). A Clinical Social Worker Associate (CSWA) must have an MSW and submit a plan for completing the required 3,500 supervised practice hours. After your CSWA application is approved, you must carry out that plan and pass both the ASWB clinical exam and the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam. Once those criteria have been completed, you can apply for an LCSW.

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Pennsylvania

The State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors regulates the licensing of social workers in Pennsylvania. Most licenses require a master's degree, though provisional licenses can be obtained by aspiring social workers who meet the criteria of having a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree, three years of supervised work experience, and proof of current enrollment in an MSW program. Licensed Social Worker (LSW) requirements include having an accredited graduate degree and passing the ASWB master's level exam. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) applicants must have an LSW and complete 3,000 hours of Board-certified work experience, 1,500 hours of which must be spent performing specific duties that include assessment, consultation and therapy. They must then pass the ASWB clinical exam.

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Rhode Island

Rhode Island provides licensure for Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSWs). Requirements for obtaining an LCSW include having a graduate degree in social work from an accredited university or college and passing the ASWB master's level exam. No work or field experience is required for this license. The LICSW, however, requires a graduate level degree in social work from an accredited university, plus 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work, 1,500 hours of which must include direct client contact. Applicants must also successfully pass the clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Rhode Island offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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South Carolina

There are three levels of social work licensure in South Carolina: LBSW, LMSW, and LISW. To become an LBSW, you must have a degree in social work from program accredited by the CSWE and must pass the ASWB exam. LMSW licensure requires an MSW or doctorate in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and a passing score on the ASWB masters level examination. There are two levels to the (LISW): clinical and advanced practice. To become a clinical LISW, applicants must have a master's or doctoral degree and must complete 20 continuing education contact hours or 15 academic contact hours in professional ethics during their supervision period as well as 3,000 hours of supervised social work practice. They must also pass the ASWB's Clinical level exam. The advanced Licensed Independent Social Worker must complete all of the above and must pass the ASWB's Advanced Advanced Generalist level exam.

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South Dakota

There are four social work licensure levels available in South Dakota. The Social Worker Associate license requires a BS in a non-social work field or an AA in a human services major approved by the board plus a passing grade on the ASWB exam. Social Worker Associates can only practice under supervision. The Social Worker license requires a CSWE-accredited BS in social work plus a passing grade on the ASWB exam. The Certified Social Worker requires a doctorate or master's in social work as well as a passing score on the ASWB exam. Certified Social Worker to engage in Private, Independent Practice is the highest level of licensure and requires a current Certified Social Worker license as well as two years of experience under a licensed social worker and a passing grade on the Board exam.

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Tennessee

Tennessee has four levels for their social worker licensure. The Baccalaureate Social Worker requires a BS in social work and a passing score on the ASWB bachelor's exam. The Master's Social Worker requires a master's in social work from an accredited institution and a passing sore on the ASWB master's level exam. The Advanced Practice Social Worker required a master's or doctorate in the field, a passing score on the ASWB advanced generalist exam, and at least two years of supervised practice amounting to 3,000 hours of non-clinical experience. The Clinical Social Worker license has the same requirements as the Advanced Practice Social Worker except the 3,000 hours of supervised practice must be clinical.

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Texas

There are three social work license levels in Texas. The LBSW requires a bachelor's of social work and a passing score on both the state jurisprudence exam and the ASWB exam. The LMSW and the LCSW must meet the same requirements except their degree must come from a master's in social work program and they must present evidence of qualifying supervision/experience.  Texas also offers several specialty recognitions for LMSWs, including an advanced practitioner recognition and independent non-clinical practice recognition.

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Utah

In Utah, there are three primary levels of social work licensure. To become a Social Service Worker, applicants must have bachelor's degree in social work or a master's degree in psychology, mental counseling, or Marriage and Family Therapy. All applicants must also take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor's exam. Certified Social Workers must have a master's or doctorate in social work and pass the ASWB Master's or Clinical exam in order to receive their license. Applicants to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) must already be a Certified Social Worker and have passed the ASWB clinical exam. They must have also completed 4,000 hours of experience as a licensed CSW.

There are currently no schools in Utah offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Vermont

In Vermont, generalist social workers do not require a license, but in order to practice clinical social work a license is required. To be a licensed clinical social worker in Vermont, you must possess a Master of Social Work or Doctorate in Social Work by an accredited program. There are two types of licenses: licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). Besides the master’s or doctorate degree, applicants must pass the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam, which costs $230 for the exam fee and $25 for the application fee. To become a LMSW, you must pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination and submit your application along with a $100 fee to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The LICSW includes the same requirements plus you must register as a non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapist with the OPR, and complete 3,000 hours of clinical work if you have not already received a LMSW, or 2,000 hours if you have already received a LMSW.

There are currently no schools in Vermont offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Virginia

Licensed social workers in Virginia must have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. To become a Baccalaureate Licensed Social Worker (LSW), applicants must submit an application to the Virginia Board of Social Work, with the $100 fee, and an official transcript from their college. A baccalaureate candidate must have completed a minimum of 3,000 supervised hours after their degree. 100 of those hours must be face-to-face supervision, and no more than 4 hours and no fewer than 1 hour of this face-to-face supervision must be fulfilled for every 40 hours of work. This must be competed in 2 – 4 years after graduation. Applicants must then pass the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam, which costs $230 for the exam fee and $25 for the application fee. A Master’s Licensed Social Worker (LSW) must complete the same process except for the supervision hours which are not required.

There are currently no schools in Virginia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Washington

There are 3 licenses available in Washington: licensed advanced social worker, licensed independent clinical social worker, and associate-advanced and independent clinical license. Applicants for the licensed advanced social worker must have a master’s or doctorate in social work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and include official transcripts with their application. Applicants must also have at least 3,200 hours of supervised experience after graduation. 90 of these hours must be under the supervision of a licensed associate social worker (LASW) and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). 50 of those 90 hours must be under direct supervision by a LASW or LICSW and can include group supervision or one-to-one supervision. The remaining 40 hours may be with a licensed mental health practitioner and must be one-on-one supervision. Applicants must also pass the American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam and complete 36 hours continuing education. 6 of those hours being in professional law and ethics. To become a licensed independent clinical social worker, applicants must complete all of the same requirements except they must have a minimum of 4,000 hours of supervised experience over three years. 1,000 of those hours must be supervised by a LICSW. 70 hours must be under direct supervision by a LICSW and can include group supervision or one-to-one supervision. 60 hours may be with a licensed mental health practitioner and must be one-on-one supervision. For the associate-advanced and independent clinical license, applicants must have a master’s or doctorate degree, answer a number of personal data questions, and complete 4 hours of HIV/AIDS training.

There are currently no schools in Washington offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Washington, D.C

People who wish to practice social work in the District of Columbia may apply for a license after completing the appropriate degree from an accredited social work educational program, passing the ASWB exam, and obtaining work experience. Applicants by examination must provide an official transcript from their institution appropriate to the level of their social work application. The Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA) requires at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. The Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) requires a master’s degree or doctorate in social work. The Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) and the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) both require a master’s degree or doctorate in social work and 3,000 post-degree work hours.

There are currently no schools in District of Columbia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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West Virginia

There are three license types in West Virginia: regular license, temporary permit, and provisional license. The regular license has 4 levels: (1) Level A – Social Worker; (2) Level B – Graduate Social Worker; (3) Level C – Certified Social Worker; and (4) Level D – Independent Clinical Social Worker. Level A requires a bachelor’s degree in social work, a passing grade on the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Basic level exam, and an application along with a fee. Level B requires a master’s degree in social work, a passing grade on the ASWB Intermediate exam, plus the application and fee. Level C requires a master’s in social work, two years post-graduation experience, a passing grade on the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam, along with the application and fee. For the Level D license applicants must hold a master’s, Ph.D., or DSW degree in social work, a completed supervised clinical field placement at the graduate level, or its equivalent, and they must have completed a graduate course in abnormal psychology, psychopathology or an equivalent course. The supervision must consist of either two years or 3,000 hours with 60 hours being face-to-face individual or group supervision with the clinical supervisor. The temporary permit allows applicants to practice social work while waiting to take their ASWB exam and the provisional license allows social workers to practice on a very limited basis.

There are currently no schools in West Virginia offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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Wisconsin

Wisconsin has 5 levels for licensed social workers: social worker training certificate (SWTC), certified social worker (CSW), certified advanced practice social worker (CAPSW), certified independent social worker (CISW), and certified licensed clinical social worker (CLCSW). To receive a SWTC, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in sociology, psychology, criminal justice or another approved human service program. Your coursework must include an introductory course, a professional ethics and value course, a qualitative and quantitative social research methods and statistics course, and a senior seminar capstone course. The application must be submitted along with transcripts and a $10 fee. To become a CSW, applicants must have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree in social work. The applicant must then pass the Wisconsin open-book exam, as well as the Association of Social Work Board bachelor’s exam, which costs $230. A substance abuse specialty authorization program is also required, along with an application and the $165 fee. To become a CAPSW, applicants must fulfill the same requirements as the CSW except they must pass the ASWB master’s exam. To obtain a CISW license, applicants must fulfill the same requirements as both the CSW and CAPSW, along with 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised social work. 1,000 of those hours must include face-to-face work with clients and DSM diagnosis and treatment. They must also pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam. The requirements for the CLCSW are the same as the CISW except applicants must pass the ASWB clinical exam.

There are currently no schools in Wisconsin offering online MSW programs. See the best online MSW programs.

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MSW Degree Tracks and Specializations

Some online Master of Social Work programs have several specialization tracks. The specialization options allow students the opportunity to focus on coursework that directly relates to their future career path of choice. For example, Walden University offers concentration tracks in advanced clinical practice, military social work, and social work with children and families. Sacred Heart University has clinical and community specializations. Boston University offers clinical and macro tracks. Students can usually complete their degrees in about two years of full-time enrollment.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs

School Annual Tuition
Boise State University Annual Tuition $24,070
Boston University Annual Tuition $51,716
Columbia University in the City of New York Annual Tuition $46,956
Florida State University Annual Tuition $26,707
Saint Leo University Online Annual Tuition $9,990
University at Buffalo Annual Tuition $24,724
University of Alabama Annual Tuition $28,100
University of Arkansas Annual Tuition $20,792
University of Denver Annual Tuition $47,823
University of Louisville Annual Tuition $25,682
University of Northern Iowa Annual Tuition $20,667
University of Southern California Annual Tuition $44,013
The University of Texas at Arlington Annual Tuition $18,878
Walden University Annual Tuition Not Provided
Widener University Annual Tuition $22,600

An advanced standing MSW program allows students with undergraduate education in social work to earn their graduate degrees at an accelerated rate. Schools that offer online MSW degrees include Sacred Heart University, the University of Southern California and Boston University.

To be accepted to an advanced standing program, students need BSW from a CSWE-accredited school. Some schools have a minimum GPA requirement and other admissions criteria. For example, the MSW programs at Sacred Heart and BU programs require students to have a 3.0 GPA. Undergraduate degrees must come from schools accredited by the CSWE. Additionally, Sacred Heart and BU accept undergraduate degrees less than six years old, whereas USC accepts degrees less than five years old.

Clinical MSW Programs

School Annual Tuition
Boston University Annual Tuition $51,716
Columbia University in the City of New York Annual Tuition $46,956
Rutgers University Annual Tuition $30,792
Sacred Heart University Annual Tuition $28,114
Saint Leo University Online Annual Tuition $9,990
University of Denver Annual Tuition $47,823
Walden University Annual Tuition Not Provided

A clinical track MSW prepares students for careers as licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). All states require LCSWs to have master's degrees in social work. Clinical programs focus on skills that prepare students to treat patients with behavioral or mental disorders in health care and human services environments. For example, students in the clinical social work curriculum at Boston University learn assessment, diagnosis, and treatment skills and apply them in clinical practicums. LCSWs are usually required to work under supervision in a clinical setting for two years after they graduate from their degree program before they get their state license.

How do clinical track and non-clinical track programs differ?

Non-clinical social workers pursue careers in health care practices, public health agencies, and other non-profit organizations. Unlike LSCWs they do not diagnose and treat patients. Non-clinical MSW degree curricula focus on topics such as social welfare policy and human behavior. Students also do fieldwork practicums but do not perform diagnosis and treatment.

Clinical social work programs are ideal for students who know that they want a career in clinical practice. Non-clinical social work degree tracks allow graduate students to specialize in important areas outside of clinical practice such as social welfare and policy. The main disadvantage is that non-clinical graduates who desire to shift their careers to clinical practice will not be able to do so without additional education.

The MSW Curriculum

Online MSW students can expect to begin with foundational courses to learn the theory that supports practicum experiences required by their degree program and their future professional careers. After completing foundational courses, students move into advanced practicum and research projects.

For example, Walden University students take courses such as Introduction to Social Work, Essential Skills for Social Work Practice, and Social Policy and Psychopathology for Social Work Practice. At Sacred Heart University, online MSW students take foundational courses such as Social Welfare as a Social Institution, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Human Diversity and Social Justice.

Students' curriculums also vary depending on their specialization tracks. For example, in the clinical social work curriculum at Boston University, students learn assessment, diagnosis and treatment skills supported by coursework in human behavior theory and evidence-based practice. They also apply theoretical coursework in three clinical practicums. The macro track in the Boston University online MSW covers multiple specialty areas and allows non-clinical students to prepare for a range of careers in social work.

Fieldwork and Capstone Requirements

MSW students also complete three to four fieldwork practicums during their degree program. Online MSW students in the Boston University clinical track complete individual, family and group clinical practicums. Students usually write a capstone paper based on their fieldwork experiences to complete their degree requirements.

Admission Requirements

To gain admission to an online MSW program, applicants need a bachelor's degree in any field. Some degree programs also have a minimum GPA requirement. For example, Sacred Heart and Boston University both require a 3.0 GPA. Some programs, such as the MSW at Sacred Heart University, offer advanced standing to students who have an undergraduate degree in social work. Students with an undergraduate degree in social work may be able to complete their MSW at an accelerated rate. For example, accelerated students in the Sacred Heart MSW program can complete their degree in one year.

Career Paths and Licensing Requirements

MSW graduates can pursue careers as clinical or non-clinical social workers.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers pursue career paths in various settings that include human service agencies, mental health clinics, schools, hospitals and schools. Licensed clinical social workers must usually complete two years of supervised practice after they graduate from an MSW program and meet the requirements of the state where they plan to practice.

Non-clinical social workers typically pursue careers in community organizations, hospitals and healthcare practices, public health agencies, and other non-profit organizations. Most states also have licensure or certification requirements for non-clinical social workers.

References

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