Top 10 Accelerated Online MSW Programs – Master of Social Work 2024

CVO Online MSW

Author: Adam Birch / Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson / First Covered: December 2016
Updates: 4

Are you looking for accelerated online MSW programs? If you hold a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited school or college, you can qualify for a one-year master’s in social work (MSW program). Your undergraduate degree will work as the foundational knowledge for the degree. Most colleges waive the first year for those with a bachelor’s degree, and students can graduate in about one year. 

There are numerous masters in social work online programs to choose from. We have listed the top schools that offer accelerated MSW programs online and are known for the quality and delivery of their programs. You can review the article to identify and choose a program that best suits your needs, interests, and career goals.

Featured Programs

An accredited master’s in social work will set you up for a rewarding career. As a social work graduate, you will learn to:

  • Promote social change
  • Bring about positive development
  • Enhance the well-being of people and communities

The curriculum will train you to evaluate at-risk individuals and identify ways to support them. You will train to provide counseling and secure resources for their well-being. 

The field evolves with the changing needs of our communities and populations. An online social work degree helps students gain knowledge of these changing needs. They gain hands-on experience working with local communities. Students in an MSW program can also focus on a particular area, like:

  • Families
  • Veterans
  • Rehabilitated prisoners
  • Clinical patients

This list of fast MSW online programs offers information on accredited social work degrees. We have covered vital details about each program. They are ranked based on cost and affordability. Some tuition information is listed per credit, year, or full tuition. Costs were taken primarily from the school’s website. If information was unavailable, we referenced the NCES College Navigator website.

Learn more about our ranking methodology here

#10 Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, LA 

Accelerated Online MSW Program

Website
Points: 12
Tuition per semester: (in-state) $9,132; (out-of-state) $15,173

Louisiana State University offers an accelerated online MSW program. It prepares students to work in various social work settings and help diverse populations. Students with a BSW are eligible for advanced standing options and must complete at least 33 hours as LSU students. 

Students who work full-time will plan to complete the internship while working. They should plan to spend a minimum of 15 hours per week per class on coursework. Internships required for the accelerated program can be completed in social service agencies near students’ homes. 

The advanced standing program requires students to complete Differential Diagnosis (3 hours) before beginning advanced coursework. It is a popular choice among the accelerated MSW programs online.

Pros:

  • Advanced placement program available
  • LSU is known for its academic excellence

Cons:

  • Large class sizes
  • Lack of faculty diversity

Fast Facts:

  • 33 credits
  • Offered through the School of Social Work
  • Format: Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL  

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 12
Tuition per credit: $440

The University of Alabama offers an accelerated online Master of Social Work degree program. The innovative program prepares students to make a difference in the lives of others. There are two concentrations to choose from: Children, Adolescents, and Their Families or Adults and Their Families. Both equip students for a rewarding career in social work.

The 42-credit Advanced-Standing Program is for only those who hold a CSWE-accredited BSW. Students can complete it in three semesters and 500 hours of practicum. Advanced-standing students complete ‘bridge’ courses offered in the spring or summer before beginning the concentration year to fulfill professional foundation requirements.

Pros:

  • Offers both academic and career counseling
  • Has a solid financial aid program

Cons:

  • Limited diversity in the student population

Fast Facts:

  • 42 credits
  • Offered through the College of Continuing Studies
  • Format: Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL

Accelerated Online MSW Program

Website
Points: 12
Tuition per credit: $444

Florida State University offers an accelerated online MSW program. It is designed for working professionals nationwide, with a part-time, flexible format and dedicated student support. Students have two options for earning their MSW online: traditional and Advanced Standing. 

The two-year Advanced Standing Social Work program is designed for students with a BSW. The program includes one field placement, and the courses are clinically focused on helping students qualify for social work licensure.

Students enrolled in online MSW programs can take two courses per semester online. Each course spans 16 weeks, and the average completion time is two years. It is a popular choice among the accelerated MSW programs online.

Pros:

  • Rigorous academic programming
  • Low tuition prices

Cons:

  • Internship process can be tough to navigate

Fast Facts:

  • 39 credits
  • Offered through the College of Social Work
  • Format: Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 Saint Leo University 

St Leo, FL

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 13
Tuition per credit: $600

Saint Leo University offers an accelerated online Master of Social Work degree program. It prepares graduates for advanced practice in social work services and serves all populations in the social environment. Students prepare to lead in advanced clinical social work practice and promote social and economic justice and human rights for all. 

Students with a BSW degree from an accredited program can opt for the accelerated option. The program is fully online except for a single weekend seminar students must attend on campus. 

Graduates of these online accelerated MSW programs are equipped to serve diverse populations, including the elderly, veterans, individuals, and groups who have faced discrimination and oppression. 

Pros:

  • Online program flexibility

Cons:

  • Lack of online student support reported

Fast Facts:

  • 32 credits
  • Offered through the College of Education & Social Services
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 University of Arkansas 

Fayetteville, AR

Online MSW Program

Website
Points: 13
Tuition per credit: $437.54

The University of Arkansas offers an Online Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program. The flexible format is designed for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and want to advance their education through an accelerated online program. 

It is a popular choice among the accelerated MSW programs online. The one-year, full-time MSW program allows working adults to maintain a life-work balance as they study. All classes are conducted online, but they mirror the on-campus program. 

Students gain practice in the field through internships that are arranged near their homes. Orientation is also online, and no campus visits are required. The internships, however, are set up and monitored by the faculty to ensure a quality learning experience for you. 

Pros:

  • Small class sizes
  • Faculty excellence

Cons:

  • Offered only on a full-time basis

Fast Facts:

  • 39 credits
  • Offered through the Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences
  • Format: Online/on-campus; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Higher Learning Commission

#5 University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 14
Tuition per credit: $487.45

The University of Central Florida offers an online Master of Social Work degree program. It trains students to address national and global health issues and various mental health challenges in the social environment impacting individuals, groups, families, and communities. 

The advanced standing track is designed for students with a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program. This track completes 32-credit hours over four semesters in a cohort model.

Students enrolled in these online accelerated MSW programs gain a deeper understanding of our society’s challenges, including mental health, and how they are interconnected with other communities. They learn ways to promote positive change for future generations through the rewarding field of social work.

Pros:

  • Rigorous academic standards
  • Good student support system

Cons:

  • Expected salary for UCF graduates is lower than national average

Fast Facts:

  • 32 credits
  • Offered through the College of Health Professions and Sciences
  • Format: Online
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Humboldt State University

Arcata, CA

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 14
Tuition per unit: $510

Humboldt State University offers an online social work program. The MSW is designed to decolonize mainstream social work education practices and emphasizes working with indigenous and rural communities. 

Students undergo professional internships to build reciprocal and dynamic relationships in their communities. The curriculum blends theory with hands-on learning experiences to prepare students for real-life situations, including those impacting mental health. 

The Advanced Standing program is a one-year, full-time program designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited college or university. All they need to do to join the advanced year curriculum is complete summer “bridge” courses.

Pros:

  • Rigorous academic program

Cons:

  • Lack of diversity

Fast Facts:

  • 30 semester units
  • Offered through the College of Extended Education and Global Engagement 
  • Format: Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; WASC Senior College & University Commission

#3 University of South Florida

Tampa, FL 

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 14
Tuition per credit: $495

The University of South Florida offers an online Master of Social Work degree program. It prepares students to become social work and clinical practice leaders. The curriculum helps them build a strong foundation of social work ethics, professional standards, and values.

The Advanced Standing program is designed for students with a BSW. It seeks to produce graduates who become exemplary professionals in clinical social work. It is a popular choice among the accelerated MSW programs online.

The MSW program uses a cohort model so that students can connect and build relationships with their classmates. Students can get course content online and participate in live online learning experiences with faculty. The advanced scholarly study prepares them for clinical social work with families, individuals, groups, and communities.

Pros: 

  • Has been called the country’s fastest-rising university

Cons:

  • Larger class sizes

Fast Facts:

  • 35 credits
  • Offered through the School of Social Work
  • Format: MSW Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 University of Texas at Arlington

Arlington, TX 

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 15
Tuition per credit: $792.41

The University of Texas at Arlington offers an online social work program. The versatile MSW degree prepares students to serve and support diverse populations across settings. 

Students who earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited institution can apply for the Advanced Standing format. The 12-month full-time online cohort allows students to pursue specialties like:

  • Community & Administrative Practice
  • Direct Practice in Mental Health & Substance Misuse
  • Direct Practice in Aging
  • Direct Practice with Children & Families

Since the Advanced Year is the second year of the MSW program, the Foundation Year is waived for eligible students. Although the one-year master’s in social work is a cohort, students can register and enroll in courses as available to meet degree requirements.

Pros:

  • Research program availability and student collaboration
  • Out-of-state students can have non-resident tuition costs waived

Cons:

  • Lack of communication between faculty/staff and students reported
  • No part-time student cohorts available

Fast Facts:

  • 35 credits
  • Offered through the School of Social Work
  • Format: MSW Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#1 University of Nevada, Reno

Reno, NV 

Accelerated Online MSW

Website
Points: 16
Tuition per credit: $385

The University of Nevada, Reno, offers an online Master of Social Work. This MSW program helps students gain the knowledge and skills to address the complex problems in diverse communities, including underserved rural communities. The program aims to create effective, ethical social work leaders and practitioners. It is one of the cheapest online programs in our ranking.

It is structured around advanced generalist practice (AGP) and helps prepare social workers to meet the challenges and opportunities. The 32-credit-hour program is designed for students with a BSW degree. Once enrolled in online accelerated MSW programs, they can attend four consecutive semesters and graduate in as few as 15 months. Students are also trained to collaborate with many professions, including:

  • Public Health
  • Psychology
  • Medicine
  • Education
  • Business

Pros:

  • UNR is a research intensive university
  • Affordability

Cons:

  • Though steps are being taken to improve, there is still a lack of diversity in the student population

Fast Facts:

  • 32 credits
  • Offered through the School of Social Work
  • Format: MSW Online; Advanced Standing
  • Accreditation:  CSWE; Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

 

More About Accelerated Online MSW Programs

Top 25 Accelerated Online MSW Degree Programs

What does a social worker degree online mean?

An online social worker degree trains students to focus on and help diverse populations like:

  • Families
  • Older adults
  • Children
  • Veterans
  • Ex-prisoners
  • Clinical patients

Graduates go on to:

  • Promote development
  • Social change
  • Positivity to enhance the well-being of the community and its people

Students who take accelerated MSW programs online hold a bachelor’s degree in social work. They learn to analyze and study at-risk populations. They can provide counseling and support them with emotional, social, and other issues

They arrange the best resources for people in need, like:

  • Food stamps
  • Child care
  • Job counseling
  • Health care

Earning a social work degree online prepares graduates to get into careers and become social work leaders.

All professional social workers must have licensure to practice. They must also complete a degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students can pursue a wide range of specialized roles, such as a government liaison or a clinical social worker position.

Completing a degree online helps students learn about the evolving needs of communities. They gain hands-on experience through their internships in local communities. Choosing a specialization helps them focus on particular areas like:

  • Families
  • Adolescents
  • Veterans
  • Clinical settings

Who can opt for a fast-track MSW program?

Students with a bachelor’s degree in social work can apply for a one-year master’s in social work. Their undergraduate degree provides foundational knowledge. This is what lets them bypass the first year of study. Most colleges will waive the first year. Students can graduate early with an accelerated MSW program online.

What will you learn in an online social work degree?

Students enrolled in accelerated MSW programs online can choose from various programs. The two-year or one-year MSW is the advanced social work degree. It has become the standarrulent in the industry. MSW students take up specialized positions, such as:

  • Clinical policy
  • Administration social work
accelerated online MSW programs

Courses may include:

  • Social Work Practice Theory and Methods 
  • Foundation/Advanced Field Instruction
  • Social Work Electives 
  • Social Work Practice and Policy 
  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment
  • Family Assessment and Intervention
  • Clinical Social Work Practice in Health Care
  • Adolescent Client: Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Psychotherapy with Adults
  • Interventions in Clinical Social Work
  • The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Psychotherapy
  • Issues in Treatment of Women
  • Clinical Social Work Practice with Children
  • Clinical Practice in Addictions
  • Substance Abuse Treatment in Groups
  • Social Work with the Severely Mentally Ill
  • Clinical Social Work Practice with Family Violence
  • Advanced Clinical Social Work with Older Adults
  • Neurodevelopment and Trauma
  • Ethics: Theory and Application
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Social Work and Law
  • Loss, Grief, and Dying

Typically, two-year online MSW programs require 60 credits for degree completion. Students with a BSW, however, can enroll in a fast-track social work degree online. They must complete 33-43 credit hours and graduate within a year. They must also complete a minimum of some supervised hours in field instruction or an internship. It is important to note that they have to complete an accredited degree.

Students who complete their MSW degrees can become a part of various professional organizations like:

  • The Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)
  • Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW)
  • The National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

What specialization options exist in a fast-track social work degree online?

Accelerated MSW programs prepare students for specialized social work in their chosen field of concentration. They can tailor their master’s degrees according to their interests and career plans. Some of these specialization options include: 

accelerated online MSW programs
  • Addictions Social Work
  • Clinical Social Work
  • Child Welfare Social Work
  • Employee Assistance Program Social Work
  • Faith-Based Social Work
  • Psychiatric Social Work
  • Forensics Social Work
  • School Social Work
  • Gerontology Social Work
  • Health Care Social Work
  • AIDS and HIV Services Counselor

What is the difference between 1 year MSW programs and 2-year online MSW programs?

The two-year online MSW programs are the standard master’s in social work programs. They are open to students with a bachelor’s degree in any field. The one-year master’s in social work or the fast-track degree are open to students with a BSW. Colleges waive the first year for these students since they already have foundational knowledge. They can complete the degree and graduate early with an accelerated MSW online.

Which schools offer accelerated MSW programs?

Many schools offer accelerated MSW programs online. They are known for the program’s quality, flexibility, and delivery. Students can choose a program that best suits their needs, interests, and career goals. Some of the schools that offer accelerated MSW programs online are:

  • University of Southern California
  • Columbia University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Simmons University
  • Boston University
  • University of New England
  • Fordham University
  • Colorado State University
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Texas State University
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Houston
  • University of Missouri
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of Alabama
  • Florida State University
  • Saint Leo University
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Central Florida
  • Humboldt State University
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • University of Nevada, Reno

What can you do after completing an accelerated social work degree online?

Students who complete accelerated MSW programs online focus on working with vulnerable communities. Those in the corporate sector focus on employees and all stakeholders. They help them work through various social and emotional issues. Social workers partner with other agencies to address many problems and emergency situations. They often work in specialty care areas like:

  • Helping terminally ill patients cope with a diagnosis
  • Guiding families to navigate the foster care system
  • Helping veterans access the resources they need

Some of the top career choices for MSW graduates are:

  • Case Consultant
  • Child Life Specialist
  • Child Protective Services Worker
  • Court-Appointed Special Advocate
  • Gerontology social worker
  • Corporate responsibility manager
  • Criminal justice counselor 
  • Healthcare administrator
  • Human resources manager
  • Nonprofit administrator
  • Policy and planning specialist 
  • Program Administrator
  • Social Science Researcher
  • School Social Worker 
  • Family Services Social Worker
  • Health Educators
  • Local and State Government Agency Social Worker
  • Ambulatory Services Social Worker
  • Human Service Workers

How to choose from the top social work degree online?

The best MSW programs provide students with the skills to:

  • Promote systemic change
  • Specialize in communities’ needs
  • Focus on the interactions between systems

They prepare the next generation of social work leaders by focusing on digital innovation and social justice. Students need to choose a fast-track social work degree that offers the right tools for social work training. Some of the things they should also consider are:

  • Accelerated options
  • Format
  • Cost
  • Coursework

Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding MSW programs:

Online vs. traditional format: Traditional schools can be more expensive than most online schools. Most of the top social work degrees online are offered on campus as well. It is easier to find a master’s degree in the field online. Students who wish to attend live classes can attend a campus that best fits their needs like the commute or cost.

Accelerated MSW programs online give students the skills they need to excel. They gain and master the knowledge and skills in:

  • Research
  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Patience
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Self-care
  • Cultural competence


Cost
: The cost of a social worker degree online MSW program is an essential consideration. Private universities have higher tuition rates than public universities. Some regional universities offer affordable tuition rates. Online colleges and universities tend to be more cost-effective and affordable.

On-campus students enrolled in MSW programs spend a lot on tuition, fees, and other school-related items. There are personal expenses and transportation to consider. But they can also get aid and tuition waivers to control their costs and incur less debt.

Online MSW programs offer a good alternative. Programs are flexible and designed for working adults who can complete their education. They can get an advanced degree while continuing their day jobs. Students need to research the school they plan to attend thoroughly before applying. They should consider the schools’:

  • Accreditation
  • Admissions and graduation rates
  • Faculty profiles
  • Student support system
  • Program quality

If they are looking for a fast MSW, they should look for schools that waive the first year of study and get their degree in approximately one year. These programs are often cheaper than the regular master’s degrees in social work.

Students interested in MSW programs should keep one thing to keep in mind, however. That the degree outcomes and quality of education are not directly proportional to the format or the cost. So the cheapest online MSW programs can also offer high-quality education. The best schools for accelerated MSW programs online are known for their high academic standards.

Accreditation: The accreditation process is key to understanding the quality of a program. It adds to the credibility and recognition and tells us whether it meets the standards for excellence. The main accreditation commissions students and professionals should consider are:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Accreditation agencies gather information and resources on MSW programs. They provide links to the various regional commissions.

  • Quality in academics
  • Student services
  • Graduate profiles
  • Other benchmarks

Accreditors use this process to assess how an educational institution meets the criteria.

Some schools seek out specialized organizations to support their knowledge and industry-based credentials. These are the programmatic accreditations that assess the curriculum, faculty, and program outcomes. Specialized accreditations offer an evaluation-based standard for accelerated MSW programs. They use a list of criteria of the nationally recognized accreditation commissions. For MSW degrees, this is the CSWE.

CSWE, or the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a joint organization. It includes:

  • Social Welfare Agencies
  • Educational and Professional Social Work Institutions
  • Private Citizens

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes it as the sole accrediting agency for all social work education. This includes online social work programs (including MSW programs) in the United States. A CSWE accreditation signifies that an online social work degree meets the council’s standards for:

  • Student competencies
  • Institutional policies
  • Satisfactory curricula

Related:

This concludes our list of the top 10 accelerated MSW online programs.

Sources:

  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 
  • U.S. News & World Report 
  • National Association of Social Workers