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Best Online MSW Programs in New York (NY)

Many of the nation’s best online master’s in social work (MSW) programs are based in New York. In this guide, we’ve identified the best online MSW programs in NY and cover everything you need to know about earning your degree.

Author: Quinn Dannies

Editor: Staff Editor

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A woman wearing glasses smiles while using a laptop, seated beside a window overlooking a cityscape with skyscrapers during a sunny day.

Sometimes, you can have it all. For example, if you’re looking for a career that makes a difference and gives you room to grow, earning a master’s degree in social work (MSW) can set you up for the best of both worlds. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that an additional 53,800 social work jobs will created by 2031. These positions will be in essential sectors such as healthcare, education, and policy, where you have the potential to dramatically improve people’s quality of life.

While this all sounds great in theory, for some people, returning to school for an advanced degree sounds intimidating. You may be concerned about selecting the right program, paying for it, and succeeding in your studies while balancing work and family responsibilities. That’s normal, but we can help alleviate some of your stress. We’ve created this guide to answer your questions about earning your MSW online in New York. We highlight some of the best online MSW programs in New York, take a close look at tuition, layout career options, and answer your most important questions right here.

College Spotlights: 2024’s Best Online MSW Programs in NY

There is no shortage of excellent online MSW programs in New York, but after extensive research, we’ve identified three that should be at the top of your list. Each of these programs meets our exacting criteria for top-tier academics, outstanding student support, fair tuition costs, and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation.

Keuka College’s online MSW program has so much going for it, that it’s hard to know where to begin. To start, all of Keuka’s MSW professors perform fieldwork alongside their teaching responsibilities. This means your class content will be relevant, up-to-date, and enriched by your instructor’s lived experiences. Perhaps it is this type of dynamic curriculum that makes Keuka the top provider of social work programs in New York.

Academic quality is essential, but logistics also must work. Fortunately, Keuka offers multiple program tracks, including part-time, traditional, and advanced standing to cater to learners at every speed and experience level. On top of that, the school is committed to connecting you with fieldwork sites wherever you are studying. If you need extra support along the way, you can count on your dedicated advisor to keep you on track and set you up with the resources you need to succeed.


  • Online


  • Clinical Mental Health

Program Options:

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

Columbia University’s reputation for academic excellence extends to its online MS in social work program. For starters, 96% of Columbia MSW graduates find a job in their field within a year of graduating. Those graduates go on to earn 8% more than the average U.S. social worker right out of the gate.

One reason for the success of Columbia MSW students is the school’s six degree-path options designed to serve all types of students. Alongside traditional and advanced tracks, Columbia offers programs specifically designed for transfer students and working professionals. You can also opt for accelerated or extended studies based on your needs.

As a Columbia student, you’ll benefit from extensive student support services, and this support doesn’t end when you get your diploma. Columbia graduates have access to ongoing career counseling, job placement services, and networking opportunities to support their long-term success.


  • Online


  • Advanced Clinical Practice
  • Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming
  • Policy Practice
  • Leadership, Management, and Entrepreneurship for Social Justice

Program Options:

  • Traditional
  • Advanced Standing
  • Part-Time
  • Full-Time
  • Part-Time to Full-Time Bridge Program
  • Low Residency for Social Work Professionals
  • Transfer

While some online students may worry about feeling isolated from their peers and instructors as they study for their degrees remotely, Adelphi’s online master of social work program goes to great lengths to alleviate those concerns.

The key to Adelphi’s high levels of student engagement is its mix of online learning formats. Students have more opportunities to attend synchronous classes than many other programs, and this gives them a chance to connect with their colleagues in real-time. To get more face time, students participate in four-day virtual residencies twice a year. These events encourage networking and create opportunities to expand their knowledge by connecting with guest experts.

As with all our preferred schools, Adelphi offers flexible program tracks to meet different needs. All programs are designed for busy students who prefer to study part-time. They also offer an advanced standing program for BSWs looking to continue their training.


  • Online
  • Online & On-Campus


  • Social Work Practice in Healthcare
  • Practice in End-of-Life Care
  • Contemporary Social Work: An Integrative Approach
  • Social Work Practice with Older Adults
  • Stress, Crisis, Trauma, and Coping
  • Social Work Practice with People Living with Dementia

Program Options:

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

Types of Master of Social Work Programs in New York

Traditional MSW Programs in New York

All MSW programs require a bachelor’s degree. If you earned an undergraduate degree in social work, you’ll enter the program with advanced standing and may be able to finish your MSW in 12 months. Even if your bachelor’s degree is in another subject, you can still become an MSW, you just need to look for traditional programs. Traditional MSW programs incorporate the foundational knowledge you may have missed during your undergrad with the high-level expertise expected of MSW graduates. For full-time students, these programs typically take between 18 and 24 months.

Traditional MSW Programs in New York Worth Exploring

No-GRE MSW Programs in New York

Standardized tests like the GMAT and GRE have long been a source of anxiety for future graduate students, but they seem to be on the way out. Many MSW programs, including prestigious ones, have stopped requiring GMAT/GRE scores on their applications. These schools believe that these tests don’t offer much insight into a student’s potential. So, if these high-pressure tests make you break out into a cold sweat, go forth and apply for no-GRE programs with confidence.

No-GRE MSW Programs in New York Worth Exploring

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in New York

If you have a bachelor’s degree in social work, you are one big step ahead of the game. Many programs offer advanced-standing MSW programs for students just like you. These accelerated programs avoid rehashing knowledge you’ve already covered during your BSW and get straight into the new material. This means you can finish your program and earn your LMSW faster. The timeline for accelerated programs varies, but full-time programs tend to last between 12 and 18 months.

Advanced Standing MSW Programs in New York Worth Exploring

Part-Time MSW Programs in New York

You may have noticed that many programs emphasize how quickly students can graduate, but maybe you’re more of the “slow and steady” type. Part-time programs let you space out your workload and are ideal for students who are working full-time or juggling other demanding responsibilities. Since studying part-time means less day-to-day work, it can be the difference between earning an MSW or not for many future students. Plenty of schools offer both full- and part-time programs, so you’ll have options to choose from.

Part-Time MSW Programs in New York Worth Exploring

Pathways with an MSW Degree

Many social workers are driven by the desire to help others and make the world better. While those are admirable motivations, it is also important to have a plan to pay the bills after graduation. The good news is, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers are in high demand. This means that as an LMSW you’ll likely have career options that match your interests and goals. But that isn’t the only benefit of earning an MSW. Entry-level social work jobs can be emotionally taxing and usually don’t pay as well as those that require an advanced degree. When you become an LMSW, you can move into better-paying and higher-level roles. We’ve put together a few examples of LMSW career paths in the tables below.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Pursuing a career as an LCSW means playing the long game. You will need to gain some work experience and earn an advanced license before you can call yourself an LCSW. However, it is a worthy goal since you can opt for private practice positions that offer higher pay and more consistent schedules. Or you can expand your influence by working in higher-level positions in schools, hospitals, and government.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile




Source: Payscale.com, 2023

Social Services Director

This is a great role for big thinkers who want to make a big difference. Social services directors manage bigger programs, work with policies, and manage other social workers. These roles tend to have less hands-on work with clients but give you the opportunity for you to steer the ship and influence program design at the highest levels.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile




Source: Payscale.com, 2023

Rehabilitation Counselor

If your goals include working one-on-one with clients to improve their lives, working as a rehabilitation counselor might be a great fit. In these roles, you’ll work with individuals and small groups to offer guidance, develop treatment plans, and connect patients with other essential services to aid in their recovery.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile




Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in New York

Most students who earn their MSW plan to seek licensure as a licensed master social worker (LMSW). Becoming an LMSW is the first step in the progression to becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and other advanced licenses. For social workers in New York, you’ll complete your licensing process through the New York State Education Department. Although you shouldn’t stress too much about the licensing process until after graduation, it is important to understand the requirements before you commit to a program.

At its most basic level, LMSW certification requires that you meet a set of criteria including educational accomplishments, work experience, and completing a qualifying exam. Of course, there is also some paperwork involved. Here are the details:

  • Age: You must be 21 or older.
  • Paperwork: At a minimum, you’ll need to submit an Application for Licensure (Form 1) and a form verifying your education (Form 2).
  • Application fee: The cost for your initial licensing and registration is $294.
  • Education: You must graduate from an MSW program that is accredited by the CSWE.
  • Fieldwork: As part of your educational requirement, you must demonstrate at least 900 hours of hands-on fieldwork.
  • Exam: You must pass the American Social Work Board’s (ASWB) master’s exam. Your school’s curriculum should prepare you for this test, and the ASWB offers prep materials on its website. Don’t forget to factor the $230 cost of the test into your budget

You may want to grab a copy of New York’s LMSW licensing process checklist to help you stay organized.

Costs and Financial Support for Online MSW Students in New York

The upfront cost of an MSW can feel daunting, but you can make your tuition costs more manageable with some thoughtful planning. A program’s cost isn’t necessarily an indicator of its quality. As long as your chosen program is accredited by The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you can be sure that your education will prepare you for licensing and your future career.

By taking advantage of financial aid and tuition assistance programs, you’ll pay less out of pocket. So, before you start ruling out programs based on cost, look into your options. For starters, many employers offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education. Contact your HR department to see if this is available. Depending on your career goals, you may qualify for New York’s Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program after graduation. Many schools offer need- and merit-based financial aid packages to promising students, and you can always apply for external scholarships and grants. There are many options for financing your tuition. Visit our financial aid page to learn more.

How Much Your Online MSW in NY Might Cost

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










Frequently Asked Questions About Online New York MSW Programs

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

Each school you consider will have its own admissions standards and processes, but there isn’t a huge range when it comes to application components. Schools tend to build their applications by mixing and matching from a standard set of requirements. This can turn filling out applications into a tedious process.

But think about it this way: you can reuse many of your application materials from school to school. So, you can focus your energy on writing a stellar resume and essay that helps you stand out from the crowd instead of spreading your efforts across multiple, unique submissions. These are some of the common items you’ll see on your MSW application:

  • Essay or statement of purpose
  • Résumé or CV
  • GMAT or GRE scores
  • Official transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Application fee

How do online MSW programs in New York facilitate fieldwork components to meet practical experience requirements?

This is an essential question to ask during your research. Even schools that advertise 100% online typically require in-person fieldwork. These field hours are an essential component of your education and are required for future licensing, but you can earn your practical hours without having to set foot on campus. Some online programs coordinate with social service providers state or nationwide so you can earn your hours locally. Others allow you to arrange your own fieldwork arrangements with services in your area.

What factors may impact the length of time needed to complete the online MSW in New York?

To a point, you get to decide how long you want your master’s program to take. At the short end, some programs, like the one at Fordham University, set students up to complete their coursework in as few as 16 months. However, for full-time traditional programs, a two-year program is more typical. If you opt to study part-time, you can stretch your studies out for three years or longer.

However, if you hold a bachelor’s degree in social work, you can consider applying for an advanced standing program to accelerate your degree. These accelerated programs build on your undergraduate work and can typically be completed within 12-18 months.

Is it possible to earn an MSW degree through 100% online study in NY, or do I need to visit the campus?

Most New York MSW students opt for 100% online programs for their flexibility and convenience. As you’ve seen, there are quite a few great 100% online programs in the state that you can complete without setting foot on a college campus.

However, if you live near – or want to live near – the school you are attending, you may have the option to enroll in a mix of online and in-person classes. Some students find that these hybrid setups help them feel more connected to the college community.

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

In general, yes. Most states will license eligible social workers who earned their degrees from a CSWE-accredited institution regardless of the school’s location. This means your degree from a NY MSW program should be fine for your licensing application.

However, there are some exceptions, so be sure to check the requirements for the state you wish to practice in before you enroll. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has put together a helpful database of the licensing requirements for each state and province in the US and Canada.

Essential Social Work Resources for Students and Professionals in New York

  • New York State School Social Workers Association
    If you’d like to work in schools, the NYSSWA is going to be an essential resource for you. This group provides resources for aspiring social workers, helps LMSWs find jobs in education, and advocates on behalf of social workers statewide.
  • National Association of Social Workers, New York State Chapter
    This professional organization offers networking opportunities, continuing education resources, and job-search support to its members. Check out their additional benefits for students including exam-prep materials.
  • What Do Social Workers Do?
    If you’re still deciding whether an MSW is right for you, spend some time with this helpful site from The University of Buffalo. This page covers what to expect as an LMSW, potential careers, and essential skills for LMSWs, and highlights current conversations in the social work field.
  • Social Work Scholarship Resources
    Whether or not you apply to Columbia University, this database of social work scholarships is a great place to start your search for funding.
  • LMSW Jobs in New York
    Want to get a better picture of what your career as an LMSW might look like? Consider perusing these current job postings to get a feel for your opportunities.