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Affordable MSW Programs List

Find the Most Affordable Online MSW Programs


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 quite expensive, especially when students get into the graduate programs that lead to the best jobs. In fact, the cost of an education is often cited by students as a roadblock to obtaining their degree.

That’s why it’s so important to be smart about searching for the most affordable 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? Let’s look at how to find a program that won’t break the bank.

What Does “Affordable” Really Mean?

By definition, “affordable” means something doesn’t cost a lot of money. Many master’s students might believe that tuition defines what’s affordable for college. But there’s more to finding an affordable online MSW degree that looking for the lowest tuition. Other factors that play a large role in the total cost of an education include:

Academic fees and expenses.

Many schools are under pressure to keep tuition low. But the cost of attendance has steadily increased. How is that possible? Schools do this by adding or increasing the costs of expenses besides tuition. For example, schools may charge technology fees, activity fees, academic advising fees and so on. Then there is the cost of books, supplies and housing. This is where online programs can really save money, as distance learning master’s students don’t have to worry about living in a dorm, and they often don’t have to pay full price for hardcover textbooks – they get all their materials online for a nominal fee.

Payment plans.

At most schools, students are expected to prepay for their education each term. Schools can make their programs much more affordable without lowering the cost by simply allowing master’s students to pay for their courses over time. Whether it’s breaking up a semester’s worth of tuition over multiple payments or allowing students to pay for each class, one at a time, the ability to spread out the cost of an education over time can make it more obtainable.

Availability of financial aid.

Most students, regardless of where they attend school, will have access to certain sources of financial aid, such as from the federal government, state government and private organizations. But many forms of financial aid are exclusive to a specific school. This is especially true with scholarships and grants, where many schools and programs have awards specifically allocated for only their students. These are typically awarded based on need or academic merit. Many have no formal application process; admitted students are automatically placed into consideration when they accept the school’s offer of admission.

Spotlight Schools: Cheapest Online Master’s Degree in Social Work Options

Looking for an affordable MSW online program? We’ve compiled a list to help. The following spotlight schools can give master’s students a better idea of what to expect.

University of Central Florida

Boise State University

Western New Mexico University


Accreditation and Financial Aid

Financial aid can make a huge difference in the cost of a program, but many financial aid awards will only go to those who enroll in an accredited institution or program. That’s one major reason why accreditation is so important for master’s in social work students choosing among competing schools and programs. Failing to attend an accredited school or program can mean being ineligible for state and federal student loans and grants, as well as many private scholarships.


The Master’s in Social Work Online: Cost and Other Financial Options

Cost of attendance of 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 have no other ways to lower the cost. The actual bottom line can be much lower when a student takes advantage of the following resources:

Gift-based financial aidEmployer tuition reimbursementGraduate assistantshipsAccelerated learning
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 individual merit, such as academic performance. Many schools will have grants and scholarships specifically for admitted master’s students. 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 employer, but often, employees will be contractually obligated to return to their former employer for a set period after completing their graduate degree. 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 won’t have the ability to take full advantage of these opportunities, they are an option to consider, especially for online students who live close to the school.Technically speaking, completing a program in an accelerated manner won’t save money, just time. But saving time can lead to saving money, or more accurately, earning more money by graduating sooner. Every week a student can shave off the time they spend in an online MSW program is an extra week they will have to work full-time and take advantage of the benefits the MSW degree brings.

Find out more about Financial Aid here.

Learn More about Social Work Online Master’s Programs

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:


Affordable Online MSW Programs

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
University of Nevada, Reno
North Virginia Street, Reno, NV, 89557
Texas State University
601 University Dr, San Marcos, TX, 78666
University of North Dakota
264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193, Grand Forks, ND, 58202-8193
University of Missouri
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO, 65211-1050
San Jose State University
One Washington Square, San Jose, CA, 95192-0001
University of Alabama
739 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487-0166
University of Arkansas
Administration Bldg 425, Fayetteville, AR, 72701
Louisiana State University
156 Thomas Boyd Hall, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803-2750

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