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Here Are The Top Social Work Masters Programs In The U.S. In 2023

4 minute read

By Ryan Pratt

A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is often a crucial step for those seeking leadership positions in the demanding field of social work. With a wealth of MSW programs offered in the United States, it can be challenging to determine which ones are the best fit for you.

Let’s review the individual strengths of each program and determine the top social work masters programs in the U.S. for 2023.

California State University, Fresno

Admission Rate: 58 percent
Average Tuition In State: $7,176
Average Tuition Out of State: $16,680

Offered as a 60-credit degree, the Master of Social Work program focuses on Behavioral Health and Integrated Practice, School Social Work, and Child Welfare. The combination of these subjects provides students with a well-rounded education to work with vulnerable communities.

The program offers both a traditional full-time, 2-year MSW, which includes 1,000 hours of practicum, and a part-time option that takes 4 years to complete. Before enrolling in the program, candidates must fulfill prerequisites in Research Methods and Data Analysis, Human Biological Development, and Cultural Diversity.

University of Southern California

Admission Rate: 16 percent
Average Tuition In State: $29,630
Average Tuition Out of State: $29,630

The MSW program at the University of Southern California is a 42-credit-hour program that offers outstanding fieldwork placement. After all, the private institution has connections with over 700 agency partnerships in the Los Angeles area alone!

Unsurprisingly, the program boasts a 91 percent employment rate for its graduates within six months of graduation. In the meantime, the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work presents a wealth of research jobs to help students manage their financial burden.

Washington University In St. Louis

Admission Rate: 13 percent
Average Tuition In State: $22,850
Average Tuition Out of State: $22,850

This MSW program, offered at The Brown School, is a flexible option that accommodates full-time and part-time students. The full-time program takes two years to complete, whereas the part-time program takes 3.5 years to finish. All students must complete two fieldwork practicums in order to graduate.

The program offers nine different concentrations from which to choose, including Violence and Injury Prevention and Mental Health. Once you’ve decided on a concentration, you can then select one of seven specializations, including Research and Policy. An especially unique feature of this MSW is its focus on American Indian and Alaskan Native populations.

The University Of Texas At Austin

Admission Rate: 32 percent
Average Tuition In State: $12,028
Average Tuition Out of State: $22,886

The Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas (UT) offers a 60-credit-hour MSW degree with a generalist focus and two concentrations. Students choose between Clinical Social Work or Administration and Public Practice, and must complete 1,020 hours of supervised field internship on top of their coursework.

Much like Washington University’s itinerary, UT’s program offers five different timelines in order to accommodate their students’ schedules. This is a hands-on program, judging from the opportunities to travel and help underserved populations internationally. Meanwhile, students can apply for a range of research jobs on campus to help them pay off their tuition bills.

Columbia University at School of Social Work

Admission Rate: 74 percent
Average Tuition In State: $49,024
Average Tuition Out of State: $49,024

One of the U.S.’s top-ranked schools for social work, Columbia’s 60-credit program provides a strong foundation in social work theory and research, as well as practical skills and experience. Students can specialize in areas such as Social Enterprise Administration, Mental Health, or Children, Youth, and Families.

Beyond the expected coursework, Columbia sends its students out into the field via partnerships with over 800 community-based organizations. Many of these real-world encounters are in New York City, but students will develop international relationships as well – both with colleagues and instructors. On average, students who earn their master’s degree here make $7,230 more than graduates from other MSW programs.

Align Your Education With Your Goals

Earning a master’s degree can be a vital step in your career. The programs offer a range of opportunities for students to build their knowledge and skills via electives, fieldwork placements, and research opportunities. Graduates then enter the workforce with the specialized training and competencies necessary to help vulnerable people.

Acceptance rates vary significantly across the country, so it’s advised that you assess your grades prior to applying. Tuition costs can be misleading, as some schools provide prices per semester whereas others give the full program price. Consider your financial needs in advance.

Finally, as you research these social work degree programs, keep in mind the difference you want to make in the community. Each school has its own specialties and focuses, so make sure they align with your goals.

Shutterstock: DGLimages

Ryan Pratt



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