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Most Affordable Online MSW Programs in 2024

Discover budget-friendly online master’s degrees in social work that fit your busy schedule and don’t skimp on quality.

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Updated

10/10/2023

During times of crisis, social workers often play a critical role in the resolution. They are employed in a variety of settings, including schools, government agencies, hospitals, and clinics, to assist vulnerable populations in coping with various challenges.

Social work positions are projected to grow by 12% in the coming decade, resulting in almost 90,000 new jobs by 2030. If you hold a bachelor’s degree and are already employed in the field, or if you are contemplating a career change and considering entering the social work industry, now is the ideal time to do so.

Finding an affordable online MSW program can make the difference in whether a busy, cost-conscious student decides to go down this path. Learn about the top accredited MSW programs with the most affordable price tags.

50 Most Affordable Online MSW Programs in 2024

Due to the abundance of online MSW programs, finding an affordable option is relatively simple with a little research. Although cost is only one of several factors to consider when selecting a program, it can be a determining factor for some students.

To create our list of the most affordable MSW programs, we ranked schools based on factors such as affordability and quality. The data comes from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). If you want to learn more about how this year’s rankings were calculated, click our “About the ranking” button below.

Keep reading to learn about our picks for the most affordable online MSW programs for this year.

About the ranking

College Ranking Methodology

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in the subject area offered partially or fully online.
  • Career placement and academic counseling services.
  • Maximum tuition of $15,000 per academic year.

Assign Weightings

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on their performance in a variety of key categories. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Learning

  • Number of online programs in subject area self-reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Percentage of graduate students at the school taking at least one class online

Affordability

  • Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on in-state tuition for undergraduates per academic year.

Academic Quality

  • Student-to-faculty ratio: Schools with lower ratios ranked higher.
  • Percentage of students admitted. More selective schools ranked higher.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: August 2023

Accreditation Glossary

ABHE: Association for Biblical Higher Education, Commission on Accreditation

ABHES: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

ACCJC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges

ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

DEAC: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

HLC: Higher Learning Commission

MSCHE: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

NECHE: New England Commission of Higher Education

NWCCU: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

SACSCOC: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

TRACS: Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, Accreditation Commission

WSCUC: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

1

Westfield State University

Westfield, Massachusetts

Westfield State University's Master's in Social Work is a single-concentration MSW in clinical practice. Graduates will have mastered the knowledge, values, and skills required to be succesful social worker in clinical practice. Students can choose to focus their electives and advanced social policy course in one of four specialties: Child, Youth, and Family, Health Social Work, Latinx Community Health, or Substance Use and Addictions. Divided into two parts, the curriculum covers the generalist practice foundation common to most social work programs and the second part provides the advanced knowledge, values, and skills needed for clinical practice. Students must also complete a 400 hour hands-on practicum. Students can choose from a traditional full or part-time track or an advanced generalist standing track.

Program Highlights:

Social Work, M.S.W.

  • Credits: 66
  • Length: 2 years (full-time); 3-4 years (part-time)
  • Cost: $520 per credit hour
  • Mode: Fully-online or on-campus
  • Accreditation: CSWE
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation NECHE
Online Students 50%

2

Angelo State University

San Angelo, Texas

The Social Work M.S.W. at Angelo State University prepares graduates for master's-level licensure to advance their social work career. Students receive immersive instruction in a wide variety of social issues affecting different populations in a range of practice settings, gaining valuable practical experience through field education placements and research. Students can choose either Advanced Generalist Practice or Clinical Practice. In each track, students are required to complete field education to gain real-world experience. Graduates will be prepared to seek licensure as a Licensed Master Social Worker or Licensed Clinical Social Worker. They can seek careers as advanced social work practitioners in case management, family social work, counseling, clinical social work, criminal justice, healthcare, schools, and social services administration.

Program Highlights:

Social Work M.S.W.

  • Credits: 36-66
  • Length: 1-4 years
  • Cost: $7,246 per nine credit hours (Resident); $14,808 per nine credit hours (Nonresident)
  • Mode: Online or On campus
  • Accreditation: CSWE
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 87%

Fort Hays State University's Masters of Social Work offers a flexible online education while maintaining a commitment to a strong emphasis on hands-on clinical training. The curriculum features innovative strategies to train practitioners and prepares graduates for successful careers in clinical social work. Coursework is delivered in synchronous, face-to-face online learning so students can use collaborative technologies to interact with each other and learn from each other. Students can choose from Advanced Standing MSW Pathway (open to students with a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from an accredited social work program) or a Regular MSW Pathway. Students must also complete a practicum experience at an agency in their community. This hands-on experience provides students with the opportunity to complete supervised training in the field, coordinating weekly learning experiences with field instructors that corresponds to what is being taught in the practice classes.

Program Highlights:

Masters of Social Work

  • Credits: 36-66
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Cost: $319.45 per credit hour
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CSWE
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation HLC
Online Students 94%

4

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation HLC
Online Students 63%
Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 18:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 84%

6

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation SACSCOC
Online Students 93%

7

Delaware State University

Dover, Delaware

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Accreditation<