Real-world training that prepares you for state licensure
Walden’s accredited MSW program blends the flexibility of online learning with hands-on experiences to prepare you to become a licensed social worker. Earning an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program is required to obtain licensure in most states and begin serving—and empowering—those in need.
A CSWE-Accredited Program
Walden University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CSWE's Commission on Accreditation is responsible for developing accreditation standards that define competent preparation for professional social workers and ensuring that social work programs meet these standards.
Learn from curriculum that prepares you to pursue licensure in your state.
Delve into award-winning, custom case studies to enrich your learning.
Experience virtual reality (VR) scenarios that simulate actual situations you may face as a social worker.
Participate in two MSW Skills Labs to build practical skills and readiness for your licensing exam.
Choose from four concentration options that align with today’s in-demand social work jobs.
Earn your degree your way with three degree completion options to accommodate your lifestyle and goals.
MSW Degree Completion Options
Choose from three degree completion options that match your goals and schedule, as well as four start dates throughout the year.
- The Standard option helps you balance your online master’s in social work program with other life commitments by limiting your workload to one or two courses per term.
- The Accelerated option is an ideal choice if you can dedicate yourself to full-time studies. This option requires a strong time commitment, as you’ll take three courses in most terms.
- The Advanced Standing option is for students who already hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program and graduated with a minimum GPA of 3.0. If eligible, you can reduce your completion time by skipping intro-level classes and starting your degree with advanced-level courses.
You can further customize your learning by adding elective courses.
Program Admission Considerations: A bachelor's degree or higher.
General Admission Requirements: Completed online application, transcripts, and Acknowledgement Statement. Speak to an Enrollment Specialist who will guide you through the application process. More information for international applicants.
Change the Way You Change Lives With an Online MSW
Accredited by CSWE, our master’s in social work program combines practical curriculum with groundbreaking classroom tools and experiences. Two Skills Labs give you the unique opportunity to meet faculty and peers, hone your skills, and prepare for your field practicum. In Walden’s VR experience, you’ll hone your instincts and skills to better prepare for difficult scenarios you may face in the field.
Learn Through Simulated VR Field Scenarios
Walden’s online MSW program features cutting-edge virtual reality experiences that simulate challenging situations you might face as a social worker. Innovative and intuitive, this tool allows you to build valuable skills and instincts in a safe—yet highly authentic—environment. Being well prepared for stressful encounters in the field can improve your ability to help people in need.
Graduates of Walden’s online master’s in social work program will be prepared to:
- Develop a professional orientation and identity as a social worker.
- Apply legal and ethical standards in the administration of social work.
- Apply principles of advocacy that promote cultural understanding and positive social change in individuals, communities, and society.
- Utilize evidence-based research and critical thinking skills to inform practice in meeting the needs of diverse clientele.
- Synthesize and apply theories of human growth and development to develop culturally responsive social work practices.
- Apply knowledge and skills in the areas of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
The Master of Social Work (MSW) program prepares scholar-practitioners who demonstrate culturally responsive ethical, evidence-based practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The curriculum emphasizes cultural humility within a strengths-based, generalist intervention model and provides advanced clinical skills needed for specialized practice. The program prepares students to be change agents within and beyond their local communities and to advocate for social justice on behalf of diverse populations, with particular attention to people who are vulnerable and/or oppressed.
What’s the Career Impact of Earning an MSW Online?
Social Work Professionals Are in Demand
Now is the time to pursue your passion for helping others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for social work professionals is expected to increase 16% by 2026—much faster than the national average for all occupations.1 This is particularly true for clinical social workers.
An estimated 109,700 social work jobs will be available through 2026, with the areas of healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse experiencing the most growth.1
Take Your Career to New Places
Open exciting new doors in your professional journey with a master’s in social work degree from Walden. Social work professionals with graduate degrees are sought by employers nationwide in industries such as healthcare, education, and human services.
In 2018, the social work job titles with the greatest employer demand included:2
- Medical social worker
- Clinical social worker
- School social worker
- Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
- Mental health counselor
- Social service assistant
Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this online MSW degree program.
Increase Your Earning Potential
A Walden master’s in social work degree can potentially lead to higher earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work professionals in healthcare, mental health, child and family services, education, and other services earn median salaries between $43,000 and $61,000 per year.1
- Mental health and substance abuse workers $43,250
- Child, family, and school social workers $44,380
- Healthcare social workers $54,870
- All other social workers $61,980
Learn more about the career outlook for graduates with a Master of Social Work.
My journey with Walden was incredible, life-changing, and molded me into the social worker I am today.
Laura Weatherly Master of Social Work (MSW) Graduate
The residency allowed me to meet others who shared my journey, concerns, passion, and motivation to become a licensed social worker and therapist.
Tiffanie McNeil Master of Social Work (MSW) Graduate
Walden helped me develop professionally and to find my purpose in life.
Lonnie McDonald Master of Social Work (MSW) Graduate
FAQ About Walden’s Online MSW Program
The Walden online experience is designed with the adult learner in mind, allowing students to balance their courses with their careers, families, and other responsibilities. Students work on their own to meet course deadlines. Students interact with faculty and peers using online discussion boards, and assignments are submitted via the online classroom.
Students have access to a wide variety of support services, including the Writing and Career Services Centers, as well as to the Student Success Advising team, whose advisors can help track academic progress and answer questions regarding academic policies and programs.
The MSW program at Walden University is designed specifically for online learners and their distinct needs. One of the most compelling aspects of the Walden MSW program is the comprehensive use of case studies.
Students are provided with written case studies covering some of the most critical issues facing social work clients today. Then, in the online classroom, students are exposed to a series of video case studies, custom-designed and produced by Walden. These case studies allow students to apply their learning to situations that social workers face in their daily practice.
On November 12, 2019, the Walden MSW program achieved reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the U.S. We are proud to say the reaffirmation is for the maximum allowed—eight years, through October 2027.
You can find more information about accreditation at the CSWE website.
Our curriculum is designed incorporating required elements as determined by CSWE, making it comparable to campus-based programs that are structured in accordance with CSWE guidelines.
In addition, the Walden MSW program offers a great deal of flexibility for working professionals because of its online format and the university’s comprehensive student support for online learners. This flexibility allows students to earn their degrees from wherever they have internet access and study on their own schedule.
For admission to the part-time and two-year full-time tracks:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a GPA of 2.5 or higher
- Lower GPAs can be considered on a case-by-case basis
For admission to the Advanced Standing track:
- Applicants must have graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a Council of Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited program within the last eight years with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- GPA in social work courses may be considered if favorable
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a GPA of 2.5 or higher
Walden students may qualify for government student loans and grants. For more information about the financial aid process at Walden, talk to an Enrollment Specialist at 1-866-492-5336.
Walden also offers social work scholarships frequently. Be sure to ask an Enrollment Specialist about availability.
Field experience is required by all CSWE-accredited MSW programs and is an opportunity for students to work in real-life settings, interacting with clients under the supervision of a professional social worker. As part of the Walden MSW curriculum, students complete two field experiences over four quarters/terms for a total of 900 hours (students in the Advanced Standing option will complete one field experience for 500 hours). It is important that students consider how they will manage the field experience requirements with other responsibilities.
Field experiences can normally be completed in or near a student’s town or community, and some sites offer tele-practice experiences to meet the direct practice requirements. While we cannot guarantee field sites in any community will have availability or be able to provide a field placement, we partner with students to help them thoroughly explore their community options. Our dedicated team of field education experts, all of whom hold MSW degrees, supports students in selecting and working with field locations that are appropriate for the curriculum and have the necessary supervision.
In addition, students are enrolled in a synchronous (online live with an instructor) field seminar course, which meets weekly, while in their field placement to guide the monitoring and reflecting processes required by CSWE.
To learn more, call an Enrollment Specialist at 1-866-492-5336.
You will not need to come to a campus, but the MSW program includes two 4-day, in-person Skills Labs held in various locations in the United States. When you attend your Skills Labs depends on your degree option (Standard, Accelerated, Advanced Standing) and when you plan to enter your field placement. Students work closely with their academic advisors to plan their attendance.
Skills Labs are an integral part of the MSW program at Walden, providing invaluable hands-on experiences. The labs allow MSW students to meet and collaborate with peers and faculty, get support, discuss ideas, and practice critical professional skills needed to be a social worker. Advising is available and important information about obtaining your license is covered.
We know that time is precious in the lives of our busy students, so Skills Labs are planned carefully to provide the most benefit possible.
Skills Labs are offered several times throughout the year at various locations in the United States. Locations selected are typically major air travel hubs that are easily accessible from most airports and where the cost of accommodations is reasonable.
Please see the Skills Labs calendar or call an Enrollment Specialist at 1-866-492-5336 for more information .
The amount of time it takes to complete your degree will vary based on your previous educational experience, course load, and field placement schedule. We anticipate that students with other life commitments will take two courses per quarter and complete their program in approximately three years.
Some students will take longer and some will complete the program in less time by decreasing or increasing their course load. Talk with an Enrollment Specialist at 1-866-492-5336 to discuss your individual time commitment.