How Much Does Masters in Social Work Cost?

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$ Graduate Tuition Averages $13,800 a Year at Public Universities $ $ Graduate Tuition Averages $36,300 a Year at Private Universities

Social workers can choose from a variety of positions such as case management, private counselling, and community activism.

Social work is further a part of the growing health care professional field and the employment outlook for people who hold an MSW.

Social workers also assist clients who are in need or transition; they can assist children in distress, help the homeless find shelter, and counsel people through mental illnesses or the loss of a loved one.

As the federal government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook states, a master of social work is required for almost all social work positions.

Typical Costs

  • The average tuition and fees for a master’s degree program are $13,800 annually at public universities and $36,300 at private universities, according to the National Center for Education Services.
  • There are currently 186 MSW programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • At the top-ranked University of Michigan, and second-ranked overall MSW program, according to U.S. News and World Report, the tuition is approximately $20,000 annually for Michigan residents and $32,000 for out-of-state residents.
  • At the same time, the tuition is $30,180 per year at Washington University, ranked number one according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • In the top ten were presented five state schools, charging from, 802 at the University of Washington to 200 at the University of California, Berkeley for in-state residents.
  • The tuition costs listed above are annual, but most MSW programs last two years.

What Is Included

  • A great deal of the programs requires two years of full-time study in the classroom and around 1000 hours of hands-on training in the field.
  • Hands-on internships are usually required.

Additional Costs

The MSW program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia estimates that students will need approx. $21,000 for costs outside of tuition, including room, board, healthcare and books.

Columbia provides a similar estimation for the cost-of-living, in contrast with the University of Michigan, which estimates that students will need $13,000 for a room, board and books.


  • Fellowships are provided for MSW students through organizations including the National Association of Social Work.
  • Some states provide loan forgiveness to social workers who meet specific criteria, and New York State’s program forgives up to $26,000 of student loan debt for social workers.
  • Various financial aid packages are offered to MSW students and may include university assistance for tuition.
  • Columbia University students received more than $2 million in university grant money during the 2007-2008 academic year.
  • Certain universities, including Loyola University in Chicago, provide an accelerated, one-year MSW for students who’ve already completed a BSW.

Shopping For A Masters In Social Work

  • The Guide to Selecting and Applying to Master of Social Work Programs can support the prospective students while choosing and applying to MSW programs.
  • In addition to U.S News and World Report, the Princeton Review provides their Gourman Report of Graduate Programs for rankings of MSW programs.
  • Universities granting MSW degrees should be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
  • The online magazine and networking site for social work professionals, The New Social Worker, further offers resources for prospective students.

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