List of Top Colleges with Master of Social Work Degrees

Oct 20, 2021

Get the specifics of Master of Social Work degree programs at three top universities. Learn about school rankings, program options and internship opportunities at these schools.

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School Overviews

Depending on whether you pursue your studies on a full- or part-time basis, a master's degree in social work can be completed in 2-4 years. Dual degree programs can take longer to complete. Master's degree programs in social work usually offer areas of concentration, such as children and families, seniors, and mental health. This is the case for three of the top schools offering master's degrees in social work: the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Columbia University, and New York University. These schools each have nationally-ranked social work programs and offer varying concentration areas.

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor was named the 3rd best public university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2020. Also in 2019, the publication listed the university as #1 in its ranking of the top graduate social work programs. The university's School of Social Work offers specialized scholarship programs in the fields of child welfare, pediatrics, urban social work, and more. Students in the Master of Social Work program specialize in a particular practice method and area of concentration. Students who are unable to enroll full time may enroll in the MSW Extended Degree Program, which combines part- and full-time enrollment.

Columbia University

Columbia University is an Ivy League school and was tied 3rd in a 2020 ranking of top national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Additionally, U.S. News tied Columbia the 3rd best graduate school in the nation for social work in 2019. Columbia offers a Master of Science in Social Work, which may be completed in two years of full-time study or up to four years of part-time study. Students can choose from four method areas and seven fields of practice. Practice areas include aging, family and youth, mental health and disabilities, and immigrant and refugee services. During the course of study, students are required to perform 1200 hours of fieldwork at social organizations and agencies.

New York University

In 2019, New York University (NYU) was tied at #13 on U.S. News & World Report's list of best social work graduate schools in the country. The university's Silver School of Social Work has educated more than 14,000 social workers since 1960. The Silver School offers a Master of Social Work with numerous field learning experiences, as well as global learning opportunities in countries that include France, Germany, and Israel. There are five dual-degree programs available. Students can combine their Master of Social Work with a degree in law, public health, child development, health advocacy, or public administration.

Top Social Work Master's Programs

The following schools also offer programs that lead to a Master of Social Work (MSW):

School Name Location Distinction
Rutgers University (aka The State University of New Jersey) New Brunswick, NJ Offers both a 100% online and a blended online MSW program
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA Tied for 3rd place on U.S. News & World Report's 2019 list of schools with best graduate social work programs
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Offers a Leadership Initiative for students enrolled in its Luskin School of Public Affairs
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL MSW students may be able to participate in the school's new international field placement option in South Africa.
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA U.S. News & World Report ranked at #22 for national universities in 2020
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Provides MSW students the opportunity to conduct research through The Center for Social Work Research
University of Washington - Seattle Seattle, WA Tied at #3 on the U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate social work programs for 2019

Some schools offer Master of Social Work degree programs that can be that can be completed entirely or partially online. Practical fieldwork components of MSW degree programs may be offered in domestic or international settings.

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