15 Best 1-Year MSW Online with No BSW Requirement for 2024

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A Master of Social Work (MSW) is a degree granted to students who complete certain requirements, which often include some type of fieldwork. The top programs cover research methods, social work practices, and more. While some programs require that incoming students already have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), there are also accelerated programs designed for those who studied a different subject.

Many traditional programs have strict requirements. You need to attend classes on a regular basis, work on projects in small groups, and do internships or fieldwork near the campus. Looking at the top 1-year MSW programs online with no BSW requirement gives you a different way to complete your studies. These social work programs are 100% online and do not require campus visits. You can even do your required fieldwork if you live across the country.

Who Needs an MSW?

Though many states hire social workers with just a BSW, getting your graduate degree opens more opportunities. You need your MSW if you plan to work in specific fields like health care social work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that these professionals work in hospitals, home health care systems, and outpatient centers. If you want to work with clients who have substance abuse or mental health issues, you will also need an MSW. Social workers in this area help their clients get the treatments they need and inform them about programs and resources that can help them.

Many schools only hire social workers to work with students if they have an advanced degree. School social workers assist students with issues that impact their lives. They might support a student who is a victim of bullying or someone who suffers abuse at home. School social workers often have some of the same duties that counselors do, which is why they need advanced degrees.

15 Best Online Accredited MSW with no BSW Programs

1. University of Alaska Anchorage Master of Social Work

Length of Program: 12 months
Admission Requirements: Application, application fee, personal statement, three letters of reference, writing sample, transcript

The MSW program at the University of Alaska Anchorage is our top choice because it’s one of the only options we found for 1-year MSW programs online no BSW. While there are other accelerated programs, they take 16 months or longer to complete. Open to students around the world, the program features 31 credits of classes. If your transcript shows you took some social work classes, you may need to take fewer classes. The university awards you six credits for the two practicums you do, each of which requires 240 hours of fieldwork with supervision.

2. Fordham University Online Master of Social Work

Length of Program: 16 months or more
Admission Requirements: Essay, college transcript, resume, three letters of recommendation, personal statement, application, application fee

If you have a degree from an accredited college or university, Fordham has an online MSW program for you. Not only does the program accept full-time and part-time students, but it has concentrations that include community practice, individual and families, and social advocacy. You’ll complete general fieldwork to gain experience and then specialist fieldwork that relates to your concentration. Fordham helps you find fieldwork opportunities that are close to your location.

3. University of Cincinnati Accelerated MSW

Length of Program: 12 months
Admission Requirements: Undergrad degree, transcript, 3.0 GPA, three letters of reference, application, application fee

UC designed an accelerated MSW online program for those who want to complete their studies quickly. Students pick an area of study like mental health, health and aging, or children and families. UC has more than 200 places where you can complete your fieldwork and asks you to work up to 17 hours a week. Not only do your credits transfer to PhD programs, but you pass the main requirements for becoming a licensed social worker. The accelerated program begins in the summer.

4. Case Western Reserve University Online MSW

Length of Program: 30 months
Admission Requirements: Online application, resume, transcripts, letter of recommendation, personal essay

Though it takes longer to earn an MSW through Case Western, the university offers a lot of financial aid for incoming students. As an Ohio resident, you qualify for up to $20,000, but even those from other states can get up to $15,000. Case Western works with more than 1,000 organizations to provide students with fieldwork placements across the country. You’ll complete 900 hours of fieldwork once you pick a concentration in children, youth, and families, community practice of social change, or mental health with adults.

5. Howard University MSW Online

Length of Program: 16 months
Admission Requirements: Application, resume, transcript, personal statement, application essay, three letters of recommendation

As a historically all-black college, Howard University prepares students for working with and helping those in the African American community. If you have an undergrad degree, you qualify for the online program, even if you didn’t study social work. It includes up to four courses that give you credit for fieldwork and let you work in organizations or groups that interest you and apply to your future job. Howard offers concentrations in direct practice and community, administration, and policy.’

6. University of Denver Online Master of Social Work

Length of Program: 27 months
Admission Requirements: admission application, application fee, admission essay, transcripts, current resume

The University of Denver has a 100% placement rate when it comes to helping online MSW students find local internships. You’ll complete 900 hours of internship work, which gives you the option of working for just one organization or multiple groups. While it usually takes 36 months to complete the program, the accelerated version for full-time students only takes 27 months to finish. You can also choose between pathways in health, equity, and wellness or mental health and trauma.

7. Cleveland State University Online MSW

Length of Program: 19 months
Admission Requirements: 2.75 GPA, two letters of recommendation, essay, transcript, undergrad degree

In just 19 months, you can earn your MSW online from Cleveland State University. The program features 900 hours of fieldwork and 60 credit hours. CSU offers specializations in clinical social work practice and advanced generalist practice, but it also lets you earn a certificate in chemical dependency, veterinary social work, or gerontology before you graduate. Though you do not need to visit Cleveland while in the program, you will need to work with the university to find places to complete your practicums.

8. Tulane University Online MSW Program

Length of Program: 16 months
Admission Requirements: Application, application fee, transcripts, personal statement/essay, resume, two letters of recommendation

Tulane University offers an online MSW program you can complete in 18 months as a full-time student. You can also enroll part-time, which will take around 32 months to finish. Tulane places an emphasis on community practice and asks you to take classes on social work fundamentals. The program also includes some fieldwork, but it lets you work with an adviser to find the best option. Tulane has partners with leading organizations to ensure you can complete your fieldwork without living in Louisiana.

9. Virginia Commonwealth University Master of Social Work

Length of Program: 16 months
Admission Requirements: Essay, three letters of recommendation, resume, transcript, application, application fee

Live and work anywhere you want as you earn your MSW through Virginia Commonwealth University. Not only can you enroll part-time or full-time, but you can choose fieldwork placements that are close by. Prospective students can go online to attend virtual information sessions or to get help with their applications. VCU only offers a concentration in clinical social work practice for online students, which prepares you for working directly with individual clients. VCU plans to offer an administration concentration, too.

10. Baylor University Master of Social Work Online

Length of Program: 16 months
Admission Requirements: 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, transcript, essay, application, application fee

Complete the Baylor online MSW in 16 months or take as long as 32 months to fit the courses around your schedule. As a Christian university, Baylor allows you to practice your faith and even learn how to use it as you work with clients in need. The university uses a cohort system that lets you collaborate with other students and learn from them. It includes two concentration areas: community practice and clinical practice. Baylor also offers financial aid opportunities for online students.

11. University of Louisville Online Master of Science in Social Work

Length of Program: 4 semesters
Admission Requirements: Two letters of recommendation, essay, transcript, resume, 3.0 GPA, application

The University of Louisville offers an online MSW program that lets you pick a concentration and a specialization and still finish your studies in just four semesters. Ranked as the best program of its type in Kentucky, it includes concentrations in gerontology, psychosocial oncology, military social work, mental health, and alcohol and drug counseling. Though you must choose one of these concentrations, you can select another as a specialization area. A minimum of 21 credits of the required 60 credits will come from your concentration. You also earn six through your fieldwork.

12. University of Southern California Master of Social Work Online

Length of Program: 16 months
Admission Requirements: Transcript, three letters of recommendation, 3.0 GPA, personal statement, resume

As one of the best options for students looking for 1-year MSW programs online with no BSW, USC offers many choices for students. The university has a standard track and an advanced track. Popular concentrations include children, youth, and families and adult mental health and wellness. You can also choose an optional track such as school, medical, or military social work. USC requires that you complete 1,000 hours of practicum work or more. While you’ll do some of this work off campus, you can also do virtual practicums.

13. Western New Mexico University Master’s of Social Work

Length of Program: 16+ months
Admission Requirements: Resume, personal statement, 3.0 GPA, application, three letters of reference

Western New Mexico University offers an online MSW program that doesn’t require you to have a BSW. Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, the program features 17 courses. Two of the courses relate to your practicum work, while two hours require that you do advanced fieldwork. The university also offers electives to help you study things your other classes do not cover, such as Child Welfare and Spirituality in Social Work. WNMU also offers scholarships and financial aid packages for online students.

14. Ohio State University Online Master of Social Work

Length of Program: 24 months
Admission Requirements: Application, application fee, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, essay

Though it takes two years to finish the online MSW program at OSU, it helps you become a licensed social worker in Ohio and other states. The traditional online program starts every year in August and doesn’t include any on-campus work. The only time you need to leave your home is when you do your fieldwork. OSU offers resources for students outside of Ohio and has a quiz to help you decide if you should apply. Tuition discounts are available for veterans and military students.

15. Columbia University Online MSW

Length of Program: 24 months
Admission Requirements: Application, application fee, letters of recommendation, transcript, essay

The online social work program at Columbia University takes 24 months to complete, but you can graduate faster if you take summer classes. You’ll focus on generalist social work during your first two semesters to ensure you have the solid foundation necessary to move forward. The university then asks you to pick a specialization and focus on it for your last two semesters. Options include advanced clinical practice, policy practice, integrated practice, and leadership and social justice. Columbia also lets you focus on a specific area of practice like children’s services or aging services.

Salary and Job Prospects for MSW Graduates

The average salary for a social worker is $58,380 a year, which equates to just over $28 an hour. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), professionals with an MSW earn $13,000 more than BSW holders. The BLS believes that the industry will grow at a faster than average rate of 7% and that more than 53,000 jobs will become available from now until 2032.

Mental health, substance abuse, and healthcare social workers are among the areas that are the most in demand. The need for social workers capable of working with children and families will grow by 5% as nearly 19,000 people begin working in this field. While the need for social workers will grow, it’s clear that the country will still need these professionals. As the older generation retires, organizations and other employers will need educated social workers to replace them. There will also be a high need for those working in gerontology and aging fields to help the older population find the assistance they need.

Getting Started

Getting your MSW is easier than you might think. These online programs accept students who have an undergrad degree in a different subject and who want to study social work. You just need to complete the online application and submit all the required documents by the posted deadline. To help you cover the cost, most schools offer financial aid packages that include scholarships you don’t need to pay back along with grants and loans from the federal government.

Online MSW programs include many of the same opportunities and features that traditional programs do and allow you to gain experience through fieldwork in your area. You study, take tests, and do assignments online as you work on your degree. The programs even help students complete their degrees in just one year. Apply today and see how quickly you can earn your MSW and increase your prospects. Consider the best 1-year MSW programs online to get the career opportunities you want.