A master of social work (MSW) degree is a degree that will train you in clinical social work skills. It may seem like a tall mountain to climb, but there are some less difficult ways to get there. Below, we’ll look at the MSW programs that are the easiest to get into.
An MSW is the study of social work, usually with a specialization in a certain area when compared to a bachelor’s of social work. An MSW focuses on the macro and micro aspects of the social work practice, whereas in a BSW degree, the focus is more on completing social work in a community.
Typically, MSW programs require that you have a certain undergraduate GPA. They also require that you achieve a balance between coursework and fieldwork, which can be challenging. In this article, we will walk you through the easiest MSW programs to get into in the US.
Why Should You Complete an MSW Program?
Earning an MSW will qualify you for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) accreditation. As a social worker, this could boost your salary from $49,294 up to $73,390 each year. For example, a social service manager who is LMSW certified will have a median annual wage of $84,981.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, more online colleges have begun offering accelerated programs that require just 12 to 24 months of schooling after you have received your BSW. This has made it easier to become a social worker, with programs also accepting applicants with lower GPAs and offering more affordable rates.
What Can You Do With an MSW?
This field is quite broad, so you may want to check out Career Karma’s post on the different fields within social work. Below are a few examples of some possible jobs you can obtain once you have an MSW.
- Human services case manager
- Child welfare case manager
- School social worker
- Human services administrator
- Adoption placement specialist
- Geriatric social worker
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Different Types of Social Work
Macro-level social work involves dissecting the systemic causes of social injustice on a broad scale. It assesses the community, state, national, and international levels to develop interventions for these systemic causes.
Micro-level social work involves engaging with individuals and groups in a more therapeutic capacity. Macro social work is intended to help large groups of people indirectly through research, political advocacy, and far-reaching programs that address prevalent social problems.
For many students, fieldwork is the most challenging part of social work, and also the most exciting and rewarding part. Working with people who are facing difficulties is tough, but it is rewarding to see your clients’ lives improve.
Different Degree Programs in Social Work
An MSW opens the door to more career possibilities in roles that involve both social work and managerial skills. Whether you prefer to study online or in-person, it is worth considering getting an MSW if you want to move up the ladder in your career and focus on the psychology behind social work.
An associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in social work are both easier to obtain than an MSW. You can begin working in the field once you have a license to practice social work.
What Is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?
The main difference between clinical and direct practice social work is that clinical social workers can provide counseling. Direct practice social workers can provide clients with resources and offer guidance through difficult situations, but cannot provide counseling treatments.
How to Make Your Application Go Further
If your college GPA is not as high as is required for most master’s programs but you still want to apply to a top school, don’t fret. Focus on other ways to improve your applications, like writing an impressive personal statement, attending psychology classes, or volunteering at an agency.
Another way to improve your application is to look at job skills requirements for a social worker and explain your intention to develop those skills once you have been accepted into the program.
Top 5 Schools With MSW Programs in the US
These are the best MSW programs in the country, so they are not the easiest to get into. We have included them because it’s important to look at all of the possibilities, as some of these schools may provide financial aid, such as grants.
- University of Michigan
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Columbia University
- University of California, Berkeley
- The University of Chicago
The Easiest MSW Programs to Get Into
Here is a list of the easiest Master of Social Work programs, based on their duration, cost, and GPA requirements. These are a mixture of online, on-campus, and hybrid classes, so there’s something for all types of learners.
The Shortest MSW Programs
In order to get an MSW in a short period of time, students must usually complete an advanced standing program. To qualify for advanced standing, you must have a bachelor’s in social work.
- Class: Online MSW
- Time: 2 years
- Tuition: $95,298
The advanced standing program of Columbia University’s online MSW takes just two years of synchronous online courses to complete. It includes 12 months of field education, and students can select from two concentrations: management social enterprise or advanced clinical practice.
At the end of the program, students must complete a field placement within their own community.
Case Western Reserve University
- Class: Master’s in Social Work Online
- Time: 1.5 years
- Tuition: $1,997 per credit
The Mandel School offers this online MSSA program which also has on-campus and weekend options. The advanced standing track takes a little over a year to complete and includes 500 hours of fieldwork.
University of Southern California
- Class: Master of Social Work
- Time: 1 year
- Tuition: $1,995 per unit
The online MSW at USC prepares students to help individuals and the wider community. It includes an innovative virtual and in-person fieldwork approach. Students can work in a range of areas, including mental health, family counseling, military, and community advocacy.
This program is available for both full-time and part-time students. It is the quickest advanced standing track, which can be completed in just 12 months.
- Class: MSW Direct Online Program
- Time: 1.5 to 2 years
- Tuition: $473.13 to $1,020.72 per credit
The MSW curriculum has three paths, with the full-time MSW program taking just two years, while the part-time program takes three years. Students eligible for advanced standing in the MSW program will need to have received a BSW.
- Class: Online Master of Social Work Program
- Time: 8 to 16 months
- Tuition: $963 per credit hour
Fordham University is one of the largest schools of social work in the US. This online MSW program, accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), will give you brilliant field experience.
The advanced standing program allows you to bypass the foundation coursework and earn your advanced MSW degree in eight months if you’re attending class full-time, or sixteen months if you attend class part-time.
Most Affordable MSW Programs
Here are some of the more affordable MSW options. These degrees offer multiple options in terms of cost, credit hours, and financial aid, and can be attended either in-class or in-person.
Indiana Wesleyan University
- Class: On-Campus MSW Program
- Time: 30 to 60 hours
- Tuition: $559 per credit
IWU-Marion’s MSW program includes both classroom learning and field placement. It has two tracks, based on your previous education. To qualify, students must have only a 2.7 GPA, and provide a personal statement, as well as experience with an emphasis on clinical skills.
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Class: Master of Social Work Degree Program
- Time: Varies
- Tuition: Varies based on residency and length of program
Students who do not have a BSW will need to complete 1,100 hours of fieldwork and 62 credit hours for this MSW. Unfortunately, UNC does not award academic credit for life experience or previous employment.
However, students who are already employed as social workers and are enrolled in either the three-year MSW or the 20-month advanced standing program can use their work hours to count as fieldwork.
University of Georgia
- Class: Master Of Social Work
- Time: Varies
- Tuition: Varies
The best part about this MSW program is that it is open to any applicant who holds an accredited baccalaureate degree in any field. During this online program, you will participate in field internships and research opportunities that will help you develop your skills.
Students can also tailor their degree to fit their career goals, including specialization options in community development, clinical practice, or a combination of the two.
The Lowest GPA MSW Programs
These MSW programs are easy to get into because they accept students with GPAs as lost as 2.5. These MSW programs are either online, on-campus, or in some cases both.
- Class: Master of Social Work (MSW)
- Where: Online
- GPA: 2.5
Walden University’s MSW program accredited by CSWE combines a practical curriculum with cutting-edge tools and new experiences. The exciting aspect of Walden’s program is its use of virtual reality to test your abilities in challenging scenarios.
- Class: MSW
- Where: Online and on-campus
- GPA: NA
Also accredited by CSWE, Northcentral University lists no minimum GPA. In the program, students will gain an understanding, skills, and experience that will transfer directly to the workplace.
Students will interact directly with individuals, groups, and communities in their local area, with supervision. You will gain hands-on experience and learn to become adaptable, flexible, and resilient.
Our Lady of the Lake University
- Master of Social Work
- Where: Online and on-campus
- GPA: 2.5
Our Lady of the Lake University’s MSW program focuses on social work with Hispanic children and their families. Candidates can choose either a 57-credit foundation track or the 30-credit advanced track. The program is offered online or in-person.
University of Denver
- Class: Master of Social Work
- Where: Online or on-campus
- GPA: 2.5
The university’s Graduate School of Social Work offers a progressive program that will teach you to think creatively and critically. In it, you will learn to empower populations that are impacted by oppression so you can become a leader of social change.
The University of Denver is looking for candidates from various backgrounds and educational experiences and encourages anyone to apply.
Should You Study for an MSW Degree?
Consider whether you want to progress past your BSW to become a clinical social worker. If you love social work and have a genuine passion for helping others, you should consider getting an MSW.
Studying for a master’s degree might seem excessive to some, but an MSW will give you the clinical skills you need. You will learn to help others on a deeper level, provide positive change to communities, and empower individuals to take care of their social welfare and mental health.
We hope our guide to easy MSW programs has helped you find the right education path. Be sure to chat with the Career Karma community if you have questions, or check out our related articles on master’s degrees in counseling and the best on-campus BSW degrees.
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