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Best Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Florida for 2024: Online & On Campus

Explore today’s top online and campus-based MSW programs in Florida to find the one that’s best for your social worker career. Learn about how to get help to pay for your degree, career opportunities for MSW graduates, and more.

Author: Michael Hoffman
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A simplified blue silhouette map of the U.S. state of Florida, showing its distinctive panhandle and peninsula shape on a white background.

If you live in Florida and want to begin a career in social work, you’ll need to earn a master in social work degree to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). But, you are in luck. Florida is home to many public and private colleges and universities that offer quality, fully accredited master of social work programs with a wide range of specializations, study options, and content delivery formats including online, hybrid, and in-person.

We’ve written this guide to provide you with a one-stop resource for information and advice to help you locate, gain admission to, and succeed in your Florida MSW program. You’ll also find plenty of valuable information on the career opportunities awaiting you upon graduation. Keep reading to discover how you can launch your social work career by earning your master’s degree through one of top MSW programs in Florida for 2024.

Best Colleges to Earn a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Degree in Florida: Campus-based

The best way to start your search for the right Florida MSW program for you is to see what the top programs in the state have to offer. That’s why we’ve spotlighted three of the best campus-based MSW programs below and three of the best online MSW programs. We based our choices on important program elements, including Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation, quality academics and faculty, affordability, study options, and access to valuable student support services. See who’s leading the way in MSW academics in Florida for 2024. Also, consider these spotlights as a preview of our full Florida MSW program rankings coming later this year.

There are a number of quality master of social work programs in Florida available from public universities, including this MSW program offered by Florida State University on its Tallahassee and Panama City campuses. Tallahassee students have the greatest variety of program options, including full-time (12 credits per semester) or part-time (six credits per semester) study and choice of Clinical Social Work or Social Leadership concentrations. Current tuition rates for the Tallahassee program are $479.32 for Florida residents and $1,110.72 for out-of-state residents. Panama City students are limited to the Clinical Social Work concentration only and a three-quarter time (nine credits maximum per semester) format. Tuition rates for Panama City students are $444.26 (in-state) and $1,075.66 (out-of-state).

Both campuses offer both traditional (for students with a previously earned bachelor’s degree in a non-social work major) and advanced standing (for students with a previously earned BSW degree) track options. All program options include a clinical internship at program-approved social work agencies. Internship requirements are 944 contact hours for traditional students and 512 contact hours for advanced standing students. Completion times vary from two to four years, depending on choice of traditional or advanced standing track and study pace.

FSU also offers the Clinical Social Work concentration online. Both traditional and advanced standing options are available; study is part-time only.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Specializations Offered:

  • Clinical Social Work
  • Social Leadership

The University of Central Florida in Orlando is another public school offering a quality, highly affordable MSW program with a number of curriculum and study format options. The program focuses on preparing graduates for advanced community-based clinical practice with individuals, families, and groups. The curriculum includes core social work (traditional track only) and clinical specialization courses along with a number of electives that allow students to tailor their studies to include specific social work subjects of particular interest. Traditional and advanced standing tracks are offered, both with the choice of full-time or part-time study. Along with campus-based classes, all MSW students complete substantial clinical practice hours at any of more than 200 agencies serving diverse populations in the surrounding community. The current per-credit cost (tuition and fees) is $369.65 for all students, regardless of residency. First-year students in the full-time track with a GPA of 3.5 or higher may be eligible for a $10,000 fellowship award.

UCF additionally offers an online part-time MSW program with both traditional and advanced standing track options. Courses in the online program are completed one at a time in seven-week terms. The current per-credit rate for the online MSW program is $487.45.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Specializations Offered:

  • Advanced Clinical

Continuing with the theme of quality, affordable public master of social work programs in Florida, students living in the southern region of the state can earn their social work master’s through the MSW program at the University of South Florida. Like the program at UCF, South Florida’s MSW program features a specialized curriculum designed to prepare graduates for community-based clinical practice. And, like UCF, the MSW program at USF is available on two campuses. Program options on the Tampa campus include both traditional and advanced tracks which can be completed either full- or part-time. Current per-credit costs (tuition and fees) for Tampa students are $431.43 for Florida residents and $877.17 for non-Florida residents.

USF’s Sarasota-Manatee campus also offers both traditional and advanced standing tracks, but only part-time study is available. As with all MSW programs, USF students are required to complete substantial field hours (900 for traditional students, 600 for advanced standing students) at local area social work agencies. The current costs for Sarasota-Manatee students are $429.93 for Florida residents and $875.67 for non-Florida residents.

Students interested in earning their social work master’s via distance education can opt for USF’s online MSW program.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time

Specializations Offered:

  • Clinical Social Work

Top Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Florida

As you might have guessed from the campus program spotlights, there are lots of online master of social work programs in Florida. Online programs offer students a number of benefits you simply can’t get with an on-campus program. Most notably is the major convenience of being able to access and complete your coursework and attend classes from anywhere and, in some cases, at any time you like. As with campus-based programs, online MSW programs in Florida are available in a variety of formats including full and part time, traditional and advanced tracks, various specializations, etc.

Below are spotlights of exemplary Florida online MSW programs to give you an idea of how these programs work. These online program spotlights provide a preview of our full program rankings coming soon. And to learn more about getting your social work degree online, be sure to visit our guide to the Best Online MSW Programs.

Barry University is a private, Catholic institution located in the south Florida community of Miami Shores. Barry’s online MSW program is designed to prepare graduates for advanced community-focused clinical practice. Program coursework is completed entirely online through a combination of asynchronous course components and live virtual class sessions. As with any MSW program, students are also required to complete substantial field experiences at program-approved social work agencies. Both two-year traditional (63 credits, 1,000 education hours) and one-year advanced standing (32 credits, 580 field hours) tracks are available in part-time formats. The current tuition rate is $599 per credit. Online MSW students may be eligible for a number of financial aid opportunities including school-sponsored scholarships, grants, and tuition discounts.

Barry also offers its MSW program on its Miami Shores campus. Campus program options include both traditional and advanced standing tracks as well as choice of full- and part-time study.

Program Options:

  • Part-Time
  • Fully-Online coursework with in-person field education training.

Specializations Offered:

  • Advanced Clinical Practice

Saint Leo University is a private university located in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area. Its online Master of Social Work program is designed for students living in all parts of Florida and 11 other states. The program offers many of the same options as most campus-based programs, including both traditional and advanced study tracks and choice of full- and part-time study. Program lengths are one to three years, depending on track and study pace. Students attend weekly evening classes via webcam and must be available to complete face-to-face internship hours scheduled during the day at program-approved social work agencies in the student’s local area. Additionally, all students are required to travel to the Saint Leo campus to attend one weekend seminar during the summer of each program year. Graduates are prepared to provide trauma-informed community-based care to patients in a variety of clinical settings.

The per-credit tuition rate for the 2024-2025 academic year is $620. MSW students may be eligible for a number of financial aid opportunities including in-house scholarships and grants, military and veteran benefits, and more.

Program Options:

  • Full-Time
  • Part-Time
  • Fully-Online with one on-campus seminar each summer and in-person internship

Specializations Offered:

  • Trauma-Informed Care Clinical Practice

With a current tuition rate of just $450 per credit for all students, UWF’s Master of Social Work online program is a good example of how public colleges and universities are often your most affordable option. This clinically focused part-time program is offered with both traditional (60 credits, 40 months) and advanced standing (30 credits, 20 months) tracks. All didactic coursework is completed 100% online with no campus visits required. The bulk of coursework is delivered asynchronously (a few classes may include some synchronous components) that allows students to log on and complete their coursework at any time.

As with all MSW programs in Florida, students will additionally participate in in-person clinical internships at local social work agencies. The course of study culminates in a capstone project in which students make an oral presentation based on a case from their internship experience.

Program Options:

  • Part-Time
  • Fully-Online with in-person internship.

Specializations Offered:

  • Clinical

Financial Aid and Scholarships for MSW Students in Florida

Finding the money to pay for graduate education is a major concern for nearly all Florida MSW students. The good news is that the full array of financial aid types is available to qualifying MSW students, whether they’re studying online or on-campus. That includes scholarships and grants, fellowships and assistantships, federal and private loans, work study programs, employer tuition reimbursement, military education (VA) benefits, and more.

The most obvious place to start your funding search is at the financial aid offices of the schools you’re considering. A great online resource is the State of Florida’s Office of Student Financial Assistance website where you can get information on student loans and a variety of state-sponsored scholarship and grant opportunities. And for more on finding help to pay for your Florida MSW program, be sure to check out STEPs own Social Work Student Resources, Scholarships, and Support Services webpage, as well as our 30 Top Scholarships for Public Service Students and Getting Financial Aid for Your Public Service Degree guides.

Job Outlook and Earnings Potential for MSW Graduates in Florida

Generally speaking, the job market for Florida MSW program graduates is respectable and, for some occupations, pretty impressive. As the Department of Labor figures in the chart below indicate, job growth projections for several common occupations for MSW degree holders beats the 13% projection for all Florida occupations and substantially tops the 7.7% projected increase for all occupations across the entire U.S. during the same period.

As for earnings, Department of Labor figures indicate annual median salaries for many common Florida social work jobs hover around the mid-five figures mark, which puts them in line with those for all Florida occupations combined. Keep in mind, though, that what you actually earn in your social work job will depend on several factors, most impactfully your specific job title and employer, your geographic location, and level of professional work experience.

To learn more about careers in the social work field, visit our What Can I Do with a Social Work Degree? guide.

Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings (2020-2030)Annual Mean Wage (2022)
Child, Family, and School Social Workers15.3%1,400$49,910
Health Care Social Workers17.8%1,240$55,270
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers17.9%500$47,520
Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary13.5%40$70,310
Social Workers, All Other7.0%520$55,990

Sources: Projections Central; Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida Social Work Professional and Student Resources

There are lots of resources available to you to help you succeed as a Florida MSW program student and in your career as a professional social worker, starting with the academic and career support services offered by your own college or university. Below are links to five additional resources providing support to social work students beyond their campus’s borders.

  • Florida Association School Social Workers (FASSW)
    State affiliate of the School Social Work Association of America, the FASSW is dedicated to the promotion of the school social work profession and development of school social workers throughout the state. Visitors to the site can access lots of useful information on Florida LCSW licensure, employment opportunities, association sponsored scholarships, and more.
  • Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling
    This State of Florida agency handles the licensing and practice of clinical social workers in the state, including Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Certified Master Social Workers, and Registered Clinical Social Worker Interns. Visitors to the site can access detailed information on requirements (including fees) for both initial licensure and license renewal.
  • Getting Your Social Work License: State-by-State Requirements
    This STEPs guide offers a list of the requirements for social work licensure in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. You’ll also find answers to a number of frequently asked questions about social work licenses and the licensing process.
  • How to Become a Licensed Social Worker Step-by-Step
    Also from STEPs, this guide will walk you through the steps you’ll take to becoming a licensed, employed, and successful social work professional.
  • National Association of Social Workers – Florida Chapter
    The NASW is the preeminent association of social work professionals in the United States. Joining the NASW includes membership in both the national organization and Florida’s state chapter. Student memberships are available that offer a variety of valuable benefits such as participation in state and national events, plus access to an array of valuable resources including the NASW research library, association publications, online member community, and more.
  • Phi Alpha Honor Society
    With chapters currently operating on over 450 college and university campuses throughout the U.S., Phi Alpha is the nation’s social work honor society. Florida schools with Phi Alpa chapters include Florida A&M University, Florida International University, and all six schools spotlighted in this guide. Graduate student membership is open to students who are currently ranked in the top 35% of their class. Membership benefits include networking opportunities and eligibility to apply for any of several member scholarships and other awards.
  • Social Workers in Florida
    This Facebook group has nearly 3,000 members and “gives all levels of social workers, DSW, MSW, BSW, and students in social work throughout Florida a forum to discuss ideas and share creative interests with others in the field.” Access to content is limited to group members, so you’ll have to join to participate.