Written By - Derick de Souza

Edited By Darryl S.

Review & Contribution By Tracy C. Eidson

As a rule of thumb, the more education a person obtains, the more money they can make. But there’s a catch – getting that education can be expensive, especially when students enter graduate programs leading to the best jobs. In fact, students often cite the cost of an education as a roadblock to obtaining their degree. That is why it is important to be smart about searching for the Most Affordable Online MSW Programs. Online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs prepare students for the rigorous job duties of social workers while providing the benefits of affordability that only online schools can offer. And though many of them might seem prohibitively expensive, regardless, there are several affordable programs out there. But how does someone interested in earning an MSW find the cheapest online MSW programs? Read on to look at how to find a program that won’t break the bank!


Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees in Social Sciences

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the GetEducated.com Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

What Are the Most Affordable Online MSW Programs?

Affordability is a key factor when choosing graduate degrees, as the tuition fee can get high. Online MSW programs can get very expensive as well. But not every university is expensive. Many universities offer cheap online MSW programs. It is a general misconception that the cheapest online MSW programs mean they are inferior to other MSW programs. Cheap does not mean that the programs are of low quality. It simply means that the tuition fee is lower for various reasons. Some of these universities get funding from multiple sources, which helps keep the tuition fee lower. Here are some of the most affordable online MSW programs:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/msw-programs/most-affordable/">Find the Most Affordable Online MSW Programs</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
New Mexico State University
2850 Weddell Street, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003
Louisiana State University
One University Place, Shreveport, Louisiana 71115
University of Central Florida
4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32816
California State University, San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, California 92407
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave, Tampa, Florida 33620
University of Houston
212 E. Cullen Building, Houston, Texas 77204
Concord University
1000 Vermillion Street, Athens, West Virginia 24712
University of Missouri
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
Indiana University, Bloomington
107 South Indiana Ave., Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Florida State University
222 S. Copeland Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32306
University of Kansas
Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 230, Lawrence, Kansas 66045
University of Iowa
101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Blvd, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
University of Buffalo
12 Capen Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
527 Andy Holt Tower, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
Ohio State University
190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, Ohio 43210
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
Temple University
1801 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122
Rutgers University
83 Somerset St, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan 48824

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Factors to Consider When Choosing an MSW Graduate Program

Choosing the best Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate program is an important decision that will significantly impact future prospects. When comparing MSW programs, it is crucial to consider several things to make sure the selected one will support one’s career objectives, learning preferences, and unique situation. The following are essential factors to take into account when making a decision:


The first and most important consideration is whether the program has Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. The program’s accreditation guarantees that it satisfies the exacting requirements for social work education and that, upon graduation, one will be qualified for state licensure. Employers and peers will respect and acknowledge the education received because accredited programs have undergone a thorough review process.

Average Cost

The price of an MSW program can differ significantly based on the school and whether one enrolls full- or part-time. It is essential to determine how much the programs one is interested in typically cost, considering tuition and other costs. Remember that enrolling in an online program or attending a state school may be more cost-effective.

Ways to Pay

Investigate the different funding options accessible, including student loans, work-study programs, grants, and scholarships. Graduate students may qualify for assistantships or fellowships from certain universities, which can drastically lower the cost of their education. In addition, those employed in a related field can check with their employers for offers on tuition reimbursement.

GMAT or GRE Scores

While some MSW programs do not require GMAT or GRE scores, others do. Students must consider their willingness and ability to study for and appear for these standardized exams. If they have been out of school for a while or have a lot of work experience, programs that waive these requirements may be more appealing.

Programs with the Highest-Paying Careers

Examine the professional results of the graduate programs being considered. Certain programs may have a history of matching their alums with well-paying jobs or in-demand roles. Also, examine the specializations that the programs offer because there may be higher-paying opportunities in certain social work fields, such as clinical social work or healthcare.

Personal Circumstances

Prospective students must factor in their unique situation when selecting the best program. Programs that provide flexible scheduling, online learning, or part-time enrollment options should be considered if they must balance work and school.

Career Objectives

The choice of MSW program should be based on one’s long-term professional goals. For example, seeking out programs with a strong clinical focus that offer courses and hands-on experience in mental health, counseling, or therapy is essential if working in a clinical setting is the goal. Programs emphasizing macro social work and offering opportunities to participate in policy analysis and program development are ideal for individuals interested in policy, advocacy, or community organization.

Possibilities for Field Placements

A vital component of social work education is field education, which offers practical experience under supervision. Examine the caliber and range of field placement options provided by each program. Students must consider whether the program has affiliations with the kinds of businesses or institutions they hope to work for once they graduate.

Research and Faculty Expertise

The educational experience can be greatly improved by the faculty’s interests and areas of expertise. Seek out courses taught by distinguished professors who are leaders in their fields and actively conduct pertinent research. Doing so may create opportunities for collaboration, mentoring, and a deeper comprehension of the field.

Alumni Network and Career Support

As graduates begin their careers, having a strong alum network and access to excellent career services can be quite helpful. Ask about the resources offered to students and graduates, such as help finding employment, networking opportunities, and opportunities for continuing education.

Location and Lifestyle

The choice one makes may be influenced by the program’s location, especially if one has ties to the area or if state licensing requirements differ. Students should also consider the lifestyle they will lead during the program, considering the general surroundings, the cost of living, and access to cultural attractions.

Program Rankings and Reputation

Although rankings should not be the only consideration, the program’s reputation can affect how prospective employers view the degree. Examine the program’s reputation in the industry and the opinions of former and current students.

Work-Life Balance

Obtaining an MSW can be difficult. Therefore, it’s advisable to consider how one will manage personal obligations and academic obligations. For those with significant obligations outside of school, programs that promote work-life balance through flexible scheduling, online course options, or part-time study may be especially appealing.

In conclusion, carefully weighing various factors is necessary when comparing and selecting the best MSW program. Prospective students must invest time thinking about and conducting in-depth research on their top personal and professional priorities. They should speak with admissions counselors, current students, and alums to gain insight.

Online MSW Programs Without a GRE Requirement

Some universities that offer the most affordable online MSW programs maintain high quality in their programs. These universities believe in the program’s strength and do not want to induce entry barriers to the most affordable online MSW programs. This includes GRE requirements for the programs. Here is a list of universities that offer the most affordable online MSW programs no GRE:

The University of Central Florida (UCF) offers an online MSW degree program specifically designed for master’s students who either do not have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or received their BSW more than five years ago. Consisting of 62 credits spanning nine semesters, students can take all their coursework remotely through mostly asynchronous means. However, a few classes are given through synchronous learning, which will require grad students to be present online at a certain time.

UCF’s online MSW program is unique in that it’s only offered in a part-time format. Traditional part-time MSW students will complete their 62 credits in three years utilizing a cohort model. However, students with advanced standing (students who earned a BSW within the past five years) will only need to complete 32 credit hours and can do so as part-time students in just four semesters.

Admission requires master’s students to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (3.3 for advanced standing), three letters of recommendation, transcripts, a professional statement, writing samples, and completion of prerequisite courses in the following areas:

  • Humanities
  • Social sciences
  • Physical/biological sciences
  • Math

GRE Not required

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Find the Best Online Master’s Program By Subject

How to Pay for Your Online MSW Degree

The cost of attendance for an accredited online MSW program can range anywhere from roughly $400 to more than $1,700 per credit hour. Some of the more affordable online MSW programs can still add up to about $30,000 for the total cost of attendance. However, this number assumes master’s students cannot lower the cost. The actual bottom line can be much lower when a student takes advantage of the following resources:

Scholarships & Grants 

The best and most popular way to reduce the cost of attendance is to obtain a grant or scholarship. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they are technically different. Grants are usually given based on a student’s financial need, while scholarships are awarded based on a student’s merit, such as academic performance. Many schools will have grants and scholarships specifically for admitted master’s students.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

Many employers provide benefits that include full or partial payment of tuition costs when employees seek advanced degrees to improve their professional prospects. The specific terms of these reimbursement benefits will vary based on the employer, but often, employees will be contractually obligated to return to their former employer for a set period after completing their graduate degree.

Graduate Assistantships

Some social work programs will have part-time job openings for graduate assistants. These positions require master’s students to help professors with classroom instruction or research projects. While many online MSW students will not be able to take full advantage of these opportunities, they are an option to consider, especially for online students who live close to the school.

FAQs About Online MSW Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a Master of Social Work?

You can pursue various careers that involve assisting individuals, families, and communities if you have a Master of Social Work (MSW). Graduates of MSW programs can work in clinical settings, offering therapy and counseling. In addition, they can work in government, social service, education, and hospital settings in capacities including advocacy, policy analysis, case management, and community organizing. A master’s degree in social work also opens doors to leadership and administrative roles and is an essential step for those who want to work as licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).

What is the average cost of an MSW?

Is an online MSW worth it?

How important is it for an MSW program to be CSWE-accredited?

Related Content

Find more information from the following excellent resources on several aspects that can help make informed decisions when choosing an MSW program:

  • Best Financial Aid Guide – Discover the various ways to get financial aid for online master’s programs, including MSW programs.
  • GRE Resources – Learn about the Graduate Record Examination and how to prepare for it.

The affordability of a social work online master’s program is one of the most important aspects, but there are other points to consider as well. To learn more about social work programs, check out these pages:

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