Full-Time Online MSW Programs: Earn Your MSW Online in Two Years
Full-Time Online Master of Social Work Programs for Traditional Standing Students
Full-time online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs are designed for students who have the bandwidth and resources to attend graduate school on a full-time basis but do not have access to or want to attend a traditional campus-based program. The majority of full-time online MSW programs can be completed in approximately two years, compared with two and a half to four years for part-time programs. As of December 2017, there are 34 full-time online MSW degree programs compared to 28 part-time programs.
For professionals who already work in a health services field and want to expand their career options, earning a MSW degree opens the door to advanced careers in the field of social work. In the United States, a MSW is required to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Earning a MSW online is also an option for individuals who are looking to change careers and want to enter a rewarding and growing profession. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of social workers is expected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026. The BLS continues to report that this anticipated growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations.
Unlike part-time programs, there is not a lot of variability between the different full-time online MSW programs. Students are required to complete 60 to 66 credit hours to graduate and half of the programs only have Fall admission (7 out of 14). The other 7 schools offer full-time programs that have multiple start dates per year. The full-time program curriculum usually follows one of two formats (although other formats do exist:
Four semesters over two years
Year-round classes over two years: six semesters or eight quarters
For programs that are four semesters long, students typically take 15 units per semester. Programs with year-round classes have lighter course loads since the credit hours are spread over a greater number of terms.
Class Structure: The majority of full-time online MSW programs use a cohort model where students enter and proceed through the program together as a group. Depending on the school, students may then have the option to select concentrations or electives during their second year in the program.
Types of Instruction Methods: The instruction method used, synchronous (i.e. students are required to be online at specific times for real-time classes) versus asynchronous (i.e. students can log in to complete lectures and view other class materials at their convenience), varies by program. For some programs, the majority of instruction is synchronous, while for others, the majority of instruction may be asynchronous. Some schools also use both methods depending on the class and instructor. For classes that have real-time instruction, students typically know ahead of time when they are required to be online.
Field Education: Students are required to complete 900 to 1,160 hours of field education, depending on the program. Most programs follow a similar format with students completing four semesters of field education: two internships that are each two semesters long. (Note: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania follows the quarter system and requires four quarters of field education). In order to complete the required number of hours, students should expect to work 16 to 20 hours per week at a local agency. In addition, most internships take place during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, when proper supervision is present.
Due to the course load and field education requirement that students must complete each semester, most full-time programs do not recommend students work full-time while pursuing their degree. Students should be aware that full-time online programs have the same standards and curriculum as the campus-based programs, and working full-time while enrolled as a full-time student is not advised.
(For students who have already earned a BSW from a CSWE-accredited undergraduate program, we have compiled a comprehensive list of schools offering Advanced Standing Online MSW Programs complete with program information and admission requirements.)
CSWE Accredited Full-Time Online MSW Programs
The following schools all offer CSWE-accredited full-time online MSW programs designed for students who have not already earned a Bachelor of Social Work. On OnlineMSWPrograms.com, we classify any program that requires two or fewer visits to the campus per year as an online program. We do this to avoid any confusion around how schools name their respective programs.
As with all degree programs, admission requirements, and student eligibility are subject to change at any time; therefore, students should confirm the information below with an admission advisor before applying.
Areas of Focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy
Program Length: The advanced standing program can be completed in eight months full time or 16 months part time, and the traditional program can be completed in 16 months full time, 24 months full time, or 32 months part time.