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Top Online MSW Programs: Massachusetts

Social workers make an incredible impact on the individuals, families, communities, and organizations they serve. By combining your dedication to helping others with a master’s degree in social work (MSW), you can set yourself up for a fulfilling career.

Author: Kristina Brune

Editor: Staff Editor

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Panoramic view of a vibrant public park featuring a prominent statue of a historical figure on a pedestal, surrounded by colorful floral arrangements, with a backdrop of modern city skyscrapers under a cloudy blue sky.

Social workers are often the unsung heroes of their communities. They help people struggling with mental health or addiction issues, families dealing with trauma, individuals looking to escape abusive situations, or those undergoing adverse life events. Dealing with such delicate situations requires empathy, tact, and specialized knowledge that can only be gained by earning a Master of Social Work (MSW). Graduating with an MSW also sets you up for state licensure, which is often a requirement to practice social work in most states.

While many states need licensed social workers, they are in particularly high demand in Massachusetts. According to an article in Commonwealth Magazine, Massachusetts has opened 25 community-based behavioral health centers in an effort to meet the state’s community mental health needs — most of which are understaffed. By 2026, the state’s social work field is expected to grow by more than 11%, meaning there will be an even higher demand for licensed social workers.

To practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) in Massachusetts, you must first earn your MSW. Fortunately, there are many affordable and convenient online MSW programs in Massachusetts to choose from. This guide spotlights colleges offering online MSW programs in Massachusetts, along with degree options, career paths, licensing, and financial information.

College Spotlights: Best Online MSW Programs in Massachusetts for 2024

The best online MSW program for you depends on your career goals, availability, and the clients you want to work with. When choosing your program, you’ll also want to consider the cost, course delivery, faculty, and student resources.

Below, we’ve identified some of the top online MSW programs in Massachusetts. These programs offer the affordability, flexibility, and student support you need to begin or advance your social work career.

Boston University MSW Online

The online MSW program at Boston University School of Social Work allows students to tailor the program according to their academic and professional experience. The program’s innovative part-time format offers three track options with majors in clinical and macro practice, making for a highly flexible setting. Students can also choose to deepen their knowledge and skills by specializing in one specific area: aging; behavioral health; children, youth, and families; and trauma and violence.

This fully online program is accredited by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). The format is mostly asynchronous, with students attending weekly required live classroom sessions. In addition to online classes, students must also refine their skills and knowledge by helping clients in the field. To help with placement, the university’s field education team finds fieldwork opportunities in the student’s geographic area, which is great for online students who are unsure where to start.

Admissions requirements include an application fee, bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA, personal statement, résumé, three references, transcripts, and interview. Tuition is $956 per credit hour, with many opportunities for financial aid, including scholarships, work-study, and subsidized loans.

Delivery:

Specializations:

  • Aging
  • Behavioral Health
  • Children, Youth, and Families
  • Trauma and Violence

Program Options:

  • Clinical Practice
  • Macro Practice
  • Traditional Tract
  • Human Service Experience Tract
  • Advanced Standing Tract
  • Part-Time
  • No-GRE (Graduate Records Examination tests)

University of Massachusetts Global MSW Online Program

The University of Massachusetts Global Online MSW Program is designed to satisfy all academic requirements for licensure in California and Washington, as well as most other states. This CSWE-accredited program is delivered fully online and offers six start times per year to fit busy schedules. While this online MSW program is based in Massachusetts, students must meet field placement practicum requirements to graduate; fortunately, the school can help place students based on their geographical location. There is also an advanced standing track available for students who want to graduate in as little as one year.

Admissions requirements include a completed application, official transcripts, and a personal narrative. Tuition is $695 per credit hour, with financial aid available, including scholarships, work-study, and more.

Delivery:

  • Online

Specializations:

  • None

Program Options:

  • Standard Advanced Generalist (SAG)
  • Advanced Generalist/Advanced Standing (AG/AS)
  • Full-Time
  • Part-Time
  • No-GRE

Regis College Online MSW

The online MSW program at Regis College was developed by the college’s full-time faculty, who all have direct clinical practice experience as LCSWs. The program — which specializes in clinical social work practice — is designed to help students graduate with strong clinical skills, allowing them to confidently work with individuals, families, and groups in direct practice settings. While this online MSW program is based in Massachusetts, students are prepared to sit for the licensure exam in their state of residence.

This CSWE-accredited program is fully online and offers three start times throughout the year. Under the advanced standing track, it can be completed in as little as four to eight semesters; meanwhile, the traditional track — which is broken into educational and clinical segments (respectively) — takes just under three years to complete for full-time students. The program also includes an experiential learning component with a field placement requirement.

Admissions requirements include a current résumé that details education, work, and volunteer history; official transcripts; a statement of purpose; two letters of recommendation; and an interview (if necessary). Tuition is $850 per credit hour, and financial aid is available.

Delivery:

  • Online

Specializations:

  • Clinical Social Work Practice

Program Options:

  • Traditional Track
  • Advanced Standing Track
  • Full-Time
  • Part-Time
  • No-GRE

Types of Master of Social Work Programs in Massachusetts

Traditional MSW Programs in Massachusetts

In traditional MSW programs, students complete the coursework required for both a BSW and MSW simultaneously. This can take about two to three years to complete for students enrolled full-time. Traditional MSW programs often require about 65 credit hours and roughly 1,000 hours of fieldwork (minimum).

Traditional MSW Programs in Massachusetts Worth Exploring

No-GRE MSW Programs in Massachusetts

Over the past several years, many universities across the United States have been rethinking their admissions requirements regarding test scores, and specifically the GRE. While some programs still require certain GRE scores to be admitted, others may waive GRE scores based on a student’s GPA and coursework. Others don’t require the scores at all. It will not be hard to find a school that does not require the GRE if you’re concerned about your scores or otherwise don’t want to submit. These programs are no less prestigious or effective than programs that require GRE scores to be submitted.

No-GRE MSW Programs in Massachusetts Worth Exploring

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Massachusetts

Most schools that offer an online MSW program have several options to complete the degree. One program is an advanced standing MSW program, which is designed for students who have earned their BSW from a CSWE-accredited program within a certain, more recent time frame (usually about six years). These programs typically take about a year to complete and require fewer credit hours than a traditional track.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in Massachusetts Worth Exploring

Part-Time MSW Programs in Massachusetts

Many schools in Massachusetts offer students an option to complete the MSW program while enrolled part-time. This option is designed for students who want to remain dedicated to their professional and personal obligations while also pursuing their graduate degrees. Most of these programs take about four years to complete.

Part-Time MSW Programs in Massachusetts Worth Exploring

What You Can Do with an MSW in Massachusetts

Obtaining your MSW prepares you for a wide variety of careers, including counseling, therapy, advocacy, rehabilitation, community health, and more. In these roles, your duties may include diagnosing disorders, creating treatment plans, conducting group and individual sessions, and getting involved in government or policy. Licensed social workers with an MSW can work for hospitals, schools, community organizations, government entities, law enforcement, mental health clinics, and private agencies. Upon graduation, you’ll be ready to launch a totally new career or use the skills you learn to advance your current role in social work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social work careers are projected to grow an impressive 9% by 2031, with a median pay of $50,390 per year. Social workers are always in demand, with plenty of jobs to choose from all across the United States. In Massachusetts, tens of thousands of social workers assist their clients and communities across the state.

To help you project your career opportunities, below are three potential vocations for graduates of online MSW programs in Massachusetts.

Social Worker

“Social worker” is a broad term encompassing many jobs. However, social workers generally help people prevent and/or cope with and recover from problems in their lives through therapy, advocacy, education, and research. Social workers work in various settings, including schools, therapy offices, hospitals, government agencies, prisons, and private practices.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$36,520

$50,390

$82,840

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities learn life skills so they can live independently. They accomplish this by locating resources, educating and counseling individuals and groups, arranging services or medical care, and more. Earning an MSW ensures rehabilitation counselors have the most up-to-date training and knowledge to assist clients with a variety of medical and developmental needs.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$28,890

$38,560

$65,880

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Family Therapist

Family therapists meet with individuals, couples, and families to manage problems and mental health issues in their relationships. They help clients learn coping skills, process trauma, practice better communication, navigate difficult life changes, or simply be a trusted advisor who listens. An MSW ensures therapists can provide effective, informed care and help their patients succeed.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$37,050

$49,880

$96,520

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Social Work Licensing Requirements in Massachusetts

According to Mass.gov, the official site of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are four different types of licensures:

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA)

Each license has different requirements, although all require proof of your examination/education, professional references, at least one supervisory reference, and documented experience. Documented experience may include clinical experience or supervised experience from your education (i.e., fieldwork hours earned while obtaining a degree). The required length of documented experience depends on your level of education — more education means less documented experience requirements. Less education means you’ll have to show more. To renew a social work license you’ll have to provide proof of continuing education credits.

The specific application requirements in Massachusetts vary based on which type of license you’re interested in. But in general, to complete an application you’ll be required to:

  • Pay the application fee (all licenses) of $173.
  • Pay exam registration fees.
    • Bachelors or Masters: $230
    • Clinical or Advanced Generalist: $260
  • Pay licensure fees.
    • LICSW: $82
    • LCSW: $68
    • LSW: $54
    • LSWA: $42
  • Complete an application, which requires:
    • Providing official transcripts.
    • Passing a clinical exam.
    • Submitting three references.
    • Completing a criminal history acknowledgment form.
    • Submitting a photo.

After you complete your application, you will be notified via email when it is approved or if additional information is needed. If approved, you’ll be required to register for and complete the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination.

Costs and Financial Aid for Online MSW Degrees in Massachusetts

As with most advanced degree programs, enrolling in an online MSW program is a significant financial investment. Tuition rates will likely vary from about $500 per credit hour to more than $1,000 per credit hour. Understanding the total financial commitment of earning your MSW should be a very important part of your decision-making process and having a plan in place is vital. Luckily, there are many options for financial aid, including public and private scholarships, grant programs, fellowships, work-study programs, employer tuition assistance, and more. Each school should have a page listing the financial aid options available to students. You can look at Scholarships.com, organizations like the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for scholarship opportunities, or access our financial aid page. You can also speak to your employer directly to inquire about reimbursement.

How Much Your Online MSW in Massachusetts Might Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Tuition Cost

65

$910/credit hour

$59,150 plus fees

66

$520

$34,320 plus fees

56

$1028

$57,568 plus fees

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Massachusetts MSW Degrees

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online MSW in Massachusetts?

Admissions requirements for online MSW programs in Massachusetts will vary from school to school. Each program will have its specific specifications and requirements for admission. However, there are many standard requirements that you can expect to find in most, if not all, online MSW programs.

  • Application fees
  • Official academic transcripts
  • Prerequisites
  • BSW from a CSWE-accredited program
  • Letters of reference/recommendation
  • Résumé
  • Professional statement/statement of purpose
  • 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (may be specific to GPA in social work courses)
  • GRE scores (requirement may be dependent on GPA)
  • Work or volunteer experience pertinent to social work
  • Interview

How do you meet fieldwork requirements for online MSW programs in Massachusetts?

The fieldwork portion of an MSW program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to implement their classroom education with actual practice, developing and practicing their skills in real-life situations. Each MSW program will have different requirements in terms of how many hours of fieldwork are required to complete the program, although it typically ranges from 500-1,000 hours in the field. In an online program, the school’s fieldwork team will assist students in finding a fieldwork placement near the area in which they live.

How long will finishing my online MSW in Massachusetts take?

Most MSW programs take about two years to complete. Credit hour requirements will range from about 36-66 hours. The number of semesters required depends on whether students are enrolled full or part-time. Part-time students will take about twice the time to complete an MSW program as full-time students. Online programs don’t differ too much in length; you’ll see more variation in course delivery and a student’s day-to-day schedule. For example, Westfield State University’s MSW programs offer full- and part-time enrollment, either online or hybrid, but take about the same amount of time to complete.

Can I earn my MSW in Massachusetts 100% online, or do I need to go to campus?

Many online MSW programs in Massachusetts are fully online. In these programs, students can typically access the courses and course material at any time that is convenient to them. Many will have specific days and times for test taking or online classes or meetings. Hybrid programs combine online work with some in-person classes. In most programs, fieldwork is a requirement to complete the program. As fieldwork is designed to provide students with experience working with actual clients, it must be completed in person.

If I live out of state, can I enroll in an online MSW program in Massachusetts?

Most online programs are available for students to take from anywhere. However, given that many states have different licensing requirements, you’ll want to be sure to confirm that the program you’re interested in will fulfill the licensing requirements in whichever state you intend to work in. Most schools will readily have this information on their website or in the course materials. You can also confirm via your state licensing agencies.

Social Work Student and Professional Resources in Massachusetts

  • National Association of Social Workers – MA Chapter
    One of the largest NASW chapters in the United States, the Massachusetts chapter provides resources for social workers so they can enhance their professional growth and development, maintain professional standards, and help advance social policies in the field. As a member, you can find resources and continuing education, guidance, networking opportunities, and more.
  • Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers
    The MA Board of Registration of Social Workers licenses and oversees the social work profession in Massachusetts. You’ll find opportunities to access news and research, apply and renew your license, and access policies and guidelines.
  • NASW Student Membership
    As a student member of NASW, you’ll gain access to a wide variety of resources to help you plan your future career. You’ll find news and research and job and networking opportunities.
  • Reddit Thread: Social Work
    Reddit can be a surprisingly valuable resource for current and future social workers. Other social work professionals answer questions about continuing education, obtaining advanced degrees, resources for clients, information about current issues in the field, and more.
  • Student Organizations
    Many schools you may be considering for your MSW will have a student association for social work students. These groups provide students with the ability to meet and learn from fellow students, organize activities, and simply meet like-minded individuals. Simmons University offers several student social work groups.