Campus and Online MSW Programs in North Carolina

If you’re ready to earn your master’s and help those in need, an MSW program in North Carolina may be the right education move for you. Learn about standout online and campus programs, MSW degree options, and social work job prospects in the state.

Last Updated: 06/22/2021

A woman in Charlotte escapes an abusive husband and she and her child need housing. A family in Durham falls on hard times and needs access to public services. A foster care student in Winston-Salem needs extra support to make sure he graduates from high school on-time. These are the types of scenarios that social workers in North Carolina face daily.

To navigate these serious problems and get people the help they so desperately need, social workers must have strong training from a quality MSW program. In this guide, you’ll learn more about what that training entails and how North Carolina MSW programs, whether they’re offered online or on campus, help students become highly effective social workers. Keep reading to find out what types of programs are available, which schools offer those programs, and what job prospects look like for graduates of MSW programs in NC.

Best MSW Programs in North Carolina

If you want to find a school that offers MSW programs in NC to become a social worker or advance your career in social work, this best-in-class list is here to help. Based on affordability, accessibility, and student support, the list showcases standout schools around the state that offer MSW programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You’ll find quick descriptions of these top schools so you can get a sense of what to expect as a grad student in one of these programs.

1

NC State University

Those in the master’s degree programs at NC State University benefit from an expert faculty involved in research on numerous social work topics and published in the Journal of Social Work, the Journal of Early Childhood Research, and the Journal of Social Work Education. The school offers a traditional MSW option that is made up of 60 credit hours of coursework designed to familiarize students new to the profession with social work concepts. Classes cover topics such as social justice, generalist social work practice, child welfare, and research methods for social work. To be admitted into the program, applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. In addition, prospective students must complete prerequisite classes in biology, statistics, and the social sciences.

The school also offers an advanced standing MSW program that allows those with a bachelor’s in social work to jump into a more advanced curriculum, which includes classes about legal aspects in social work, social work in schools, direct practice with older adults, and hunger and homelessness. Admissions requirements for this degree include having a social work bachelor’s degree with a 3.5 GPA, a B average in all social work classes, and educational and professional references.

Delivery:

  • On-Campus

Program Options:

  • Advanced Standing
  • Traditional
  • Full-Time
  • No-GRE

2

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Since its founding in 1920, the School of Social Work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been dedicated to the mission of advancing equity, transforming systems, and improving lives in the community by offering rigorous degree programs designed to create professionals who are as compassionate as they are skilled. The school is also actively involved in social work research and is the home to research programs that cover areas such as older adult services, child welfare, behavioral health, and interpersonal violence.

UNC Chapel Hill offers several master’s degree programs to meet the individual needs of students at different points in their education path. For example, there are two traditional MSW programs, one full time and one part time, that give students expertise on social welfare policy and services, social work practice, and human behavior. In both cases, students are required to participate in field experiences to discover how their classwork is applied in practice. Also, there are 12-month and 20-month advanced standing MSW degrees for students who studied social work as undergraduates. These intensive programs provide advanced training on social work policy, theory, and research, as well as an advanced field practicum.

Delivery:

  • On-Campus

Specializations:

  • Community, Management, and Policy Practice
  • Direct Practice

Program Options:

  • Advanced Standing
  • Traditional
  • Full-Time
  • Part-Time
  • No-GRE

3

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University offers an MSW program in NC that trains students to provide interventions to individuals, small groups, large groups, vulnerable populations, and entire systems, which is often referred to as micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social work. Coursework teaches these students the values, knowledge, and skills social workers need to help the community. The school offers a traditional program, which takes two years to complete, with classes covering the foundations of social work, human behavior, and social work research. To be admitted, prospective students need a bachelor’s degree and at least a 2.75 GPA. When they apply, they will submit a personal essay explaining their interest in the program, an academic writing sample, a resume, and two professional recommendation letters.

North Carolina Central University also offers an advanced practice MSW program that requires applicants to have a bachelor’s in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), at least a 3.0 GPA, and a minimum 3.2 GPA in social work classes. Applicants submit a personal narrative, three letters of recommendation, and an academic writing sample. When students are admitted, they take classes in specialized topics including forensic social work, psychopathology, leadership, and substance abuse.

Delivery:

  • On-Campus

Specializations:

  • Advanced Generalist Practice With Individuals, Families, Groups, and Communities

Program Options:

  • Advanced Standing
  • Traditional
  • Full-Time
  • No-GRE

Types of MSW Programs in North Carolina

Traditional MSW Programs in North Carolina

Traditional MSW programs in North Carolina allow students who have earned bachelor’s degrees in a discipline other than social work to become familiar with the field. These programs generally take three years to complete, with a curriculum that is a combination of coursework and field experience. Although students are not expected to have a social work degree to be admitted, they may be expected to have some coursework or educational experience in a related field, such as social services or psychology.

Accredited Traditional MSW Programs in North Carolina Worth a Look

North Carolina State University (Campus)

North Carolina Central University (Campus)

No-GRE MSW Programs in North Carolina

Since many schools recognize that standardized tests are not necessarily a good predictor of graduate school performance (instead favoring undergraduate grades and relevant work experience as better indicators), schools are increasingly changing their admissions standards to no longer require applicants take the GRE. Preparing for the GRE can be time consuming and expensive, so no-GRE MSW programs in North Carolina are gaining popularity.

Accredited No-GRE MSW Programs in North Carolina Worth a Look

Western Carolina University (Campus)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Online and Campus)

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in North Carolina

Advanced standing MSW programs in NC are for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work. Since these students have already learned the basics of the field, these degrees take about two years to complete. Students dive right into advanced coursework and build on their prior education by participating in an advanced fieldwork experience.

Accredited Advanced Standing MSW Programs in North Carolina Worth a Look

North Carolina State University (Campus)

North Carolina Central University (Campus)

Part-Time MSW Programs in North Carolina

Part-time social work master’s degree programs are a great option for students who want to change careers and need to continue working as they earn their master’s degree. Like full-time programs, part-time MSW degrees in North Carolina have a curriculum that teaches students the theory and practice of social work. In addition, students are required to participate in fieldwork, though it is stretched out longer since the students are attending part time.

Accredited Part-Time MSW Programs in North Carolina Worth a Look

Fayetteville State University (Campus)

Appalachian State University (Online and Campus)

A Closer Look at Online MSW Programs in North Carolina

Students who may not be able to enroll in traditional MSW programs can get the flexibility they need, while still getting a quality education, from online MSW programs in North Carolina. While the curriculum is the same as traditional programs, students who enroll in online MSW programs in NC have different options for their courses; depending on the program, some may be delivered live via distance learning and others may be available on demand, at any time that’s convenient for the student. In some cases, students may be able to handle all coursework for their online MSW program in NC at their own pace. Find more information about these degrees on our main guide to online MSW programs.

North Carolina Online MSW Program Spotlights

1

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers an advanced standing hybrid online MSW program in NC that requires students to complete 33 credit hours to learn the skills to become an effective manager in the field, offer advanced social work services, and conduct industry research. To be admitted, students need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, resume, three references, and a personal statement. Students who have at least a cumulative 3.2 grade point average may be eligible to have the GRE requirement waived.

When admitted, students are able to choose between two concentrations: individuals and families or community and organizational practice. The individuals and families concentration focuses on best practices for working with families across the lifespan, and the community and organizational practice concentration helps students gain expertise in social problems and how they can be addressed on the community and organizational levels. Both of these NC online MSW programs also require that students take foundation classes that cover human behavior, social work research, and social work practice evaluation.

Specializations:

  • Individuals and Families
  • Community and Organizational Practice

Program Options:

  • Advanced Standing
  • Part-Time

2

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a part-time online MSW program in NC that can be completed in nine semesters. The program is delivered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The majority of classes are offered in the synchronous format, which means lectures are scheduled online live on Wednesday or Thursday evenings, as well as Saturdays, while the asynchronous classes do not require live lectures. Also, students are expected to participate in networking events online or on campus, so they can engage with their peers and share ideas. A 16-hour-per-week internship is also required.

To be admitted to this online MSW program in NC, applicants must have a 3.0 grade point average in an undergraduate program, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume detailing their relevant work or volunteer experience.

Program Options:

  • Traditional
  • Part-Time
  • No-GRE

Frequently Asked Questions About Online MSW Programs in North Carolina

Can I complete my MSW program in North Carolina completely online? 

Depending on the MSW program in North Carolina that you enroll in, you may be able to complete all of your classes online. In some cases, schools offer hybrid options that require students to complete a portion of their classes online and the rest of the classes on campus.

How do fieldwork requirements work for online MSW programs in North Carolina? 

Like traditional programs, you will be required to complete a fieldwork experience when you enroll in an online MSW program in North Carolina. You’ll complete the same number of hours as those in on-campus programs, and, generally, your school will help place you in an organization that will supply your hands-on training.

Will earning my MSW online in North Carolina be cheaper and faster than a traditional program? 

Although an online MSW program in NC takes the same amount of time as an on-campus program, students may be able to save money, depending on the school. Even if they don’t save on tuition costs, not traveling to campus every day saves students money on transportation and parking passes.

Can I enroll in an online MSW program in North Carolina if I live out-of-state? Will it fulfill licensing requirements in my state? 

Out-of-state students should consult with their state’s licensing board to determine if the coursework from an online MSW program in North Carolina meets the requirements for a social work license in their state.

Social Work Licensing Requirements in North Carolina

To receive a social work license in North Carolina, professionals are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, supervised field experience, and a passing grade on the licensing examination. For more details, consult this state-by-state licensure guide.

Job Demand for MSW Grads in North Carolina

Projections Central reports that the social work field in North Carolina is expected to grow 10%-20%, depending on the specific area of the field. For example, mental health and substance abuse social workers will see the most growth by 2028, with an increase of 18.9% and an annual average of 310 new jobs each year. Around the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers are projected to have a 13% increase in available positions.

Employment in 2018 Projected Employment in 2028 Growth Rate Average Annual Openings
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 11,730 12,910 10.1% 1,320
Healthcare Social Workers 3,470 3,870 11.5% 400
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 2,440 2,900 18.9% 310
Social Workers, All Other 1,070 1,110 3.7% 110

Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Social Workers in North Carolina

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that social workers around the country make a median salary of $51,760 per year. In North Carolina, the annual mean salary for social workers ranges between $48,670 to $60,620, depending on their specialty. In the surrounding states of South Carolina and Virginia, salaries range from $38,970 to $57,790 and $56,350 to $77,060 respectively.

Median Hourly WageMean Hourly WageAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers $22.82 $23.40 $48,670
Healthcare Social Workers $27.31 $27.73 $57,670
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $26.07 $27.18 $56,530
Social Workers, All Other $31.80 $29.14 $60,620

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Social Work Student and Professional Resources in North Carolina

National Association of Social Workers – NC Chapter

The North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers gives professionals the opportunity to network with each other during events in the state, as well as access to a career center, publications, and continuing education opportunities.

NC Social Work Certification and Licensure Board

The NC Social Work Certification and Licensure Board website includes details about first-time licensing and renewals.

North Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work

Since its founding in 1979, the North Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work has given professionals access to a variety of resources, such as workshops, education programs, and social events. In addition, students and new professionals can receive mentoring services from the group.

North Carolina School Social Workers Association

This group caters to the unique needs of school social workers and provides resources and professional development services to help them succeed.

National Association of Black Social Workers

With several chapters in North Carolina, this association is dedicated to empowering African-American social workers. The group provides research, advocacy services, and continuing education.