Social Work

Are Advanced Standing MSW Programs Right For You?

Are Advanced Standing MSW Programs Right For You?
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Noodle Staff February 15, 2018

Are Advanced Standing MSW programs right for you? Noodle provides the information necessary to achieve your goals.

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Social workers have an important job and serve in many different settings. Essentially, social workers work to improve the lives of others. For some social workers, this means advocacy and work in the community. For others, it means working with children and in schools. For those who earn a MSW (Master of Social Work), they may be licensed and work in a clinical setting.

If you aspire to become a licensed social worker, you must earn an MSW. For those individuals who are already considering a career in social work, they should earn an undergraduate degree in social work. For those who follow do earn a bachelor’s degree in social work, this guide will explain the possibility of earning a graduate degree in less time through advanced standing MSW programs.

What is an advanced standing MSW?

What does advanced standing mean? Advanced standing is a type of graduate program designed for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from a university with a CSWE (Council of Social Work Education) accredited program.

Advanced standing MSW programs typically take less time (or less hours) than traditional MSW programs. This is because the first year of a traditional social work graduate program is spent covering topics those holding a bachelor’s degree in social work have already learned. In short, an advanced standing MSW program builds upon the knowledge from the BSW program.

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There are a couple of significant practical considerations:

- A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work
- A license to practice or required social work certification

Credentials vary among careers, states, and territories. Licenses include:

- Certified Social Worker (CSW)
- Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
- Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW)
- Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
- Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
- Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP)
- Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Most of these licenses require a Master’s or Doctorate, along with additional coursework or clinical internships. (source)

A survey of 2017 social work graduates by the National Social Work Workforce Study found that social workers with Master’s degrees and Doctorates made substantially more than those with no advanced degree. (source)

- People with MSW degrees made $13,000-plus more than those with only BSW degrees
- MSWs make more in large cities or urban clusters
- People with doctorates earned $20,000 to $25,000 more than people with only MSW degrees

University and Program Name Learn More

Who is eligible for advanced standing MSW?

What is advanced standing in college? It means candidates have spent their undergraduate years preparing for their graduate years. The foremost eligibility requirement for entrance into an advanced standing BSW program is that the candidate must have earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from an CSWE accredited program.

Additionally, universities have various eligibility requirements such as GPA, recommendations, field experience, and application materials. Since advanced standing programs allow students to earn a graduate degree in less time than their peers, acceptance is more competitive. Therefore, it is imperative for students to work to achieve high marks through their undergraduate years.

Benefits of an advanced standing MSW program

There are several benefits of earning your master’s degree of social work through an advanced standing MSW program. The biggest benefit of this type of program is the amount of time you will save overall. Rather than having to go through a traditional MSW program, which may take from two to three years, you can complete your graduate degree in approximately half that time. This means you will be closer to becoming licensed as a social worker and moving forward in your career sooner than you would if you entered a traditional program.

Additionally, advanced standing MSW programs are specially designed for students who have already studied the fundamentals of social work and earned a bachelor’s degree.

Rather than spending time and money relearning the same material, you will be in a program that builds upon what you already know.

Benefits of an accredited advanced standing MSW program

Before we can discuss the benefits of online advanced standing MSW programs, we must first discuss the importance of earning a degree from an accredited program. If you want to work in the field of social work, you should always check to see if the program is accredited by the CSWE. This council oversees over 750 undergraduate and graduate social work programs. This council makes sure the programs offer quality education and are held accountable.

Plus, in order to be a licensed social worker in the United States, you must take and pass the required social work licensing exam. However, you may only take this exam if you have a social work degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program. Finally, it also helps you find employment as a social worker as many employers require you hold a degree from an CSWE-accredited university program.

Benefits of accredited online advanced standing MSW programs

Now, we can discuss the benefits of earning a degree from accredited online MSW advanced standing programs. Today, more and more students are earning graduate degrees through online programs. This is because online programs offer much more flexibility than traditional programs. For instance, you do not have move to attend school for online programs. Should you choose an advanced standing distance learning program, you may have to travel to a class a few times (a campus requirement) during the program, but you will still be able to maintain your home address. Online programs also give you more flexibility with your time. For example, many students work on their advanced standing Master’s of Social Work while working. Advanced standing MSW programs online make this an even more realistic possibility.

It is important to note that you should choose an online MSW program that is CSWE accredited for the reasons we discussed previously. These online advanced standing MSW accredited programs maintain the same accreditation standards as traditional programs.

Searching for a list of the best online MSW programs for you? Make sure to check out our guide published in April 2018!

Accredited online advanced standing MSW programs list

Boise State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Boise State University has a fully online MSW program. Advanced standing is offered to candidates who earned a BSW within the last five years, or candidates that graduated within the last ten years and have significant post-BSW social work practice experience. Candidates should have maintained a cumulative 3.0 GPA for their last two years of university or an overall undergraduate 3.0 GPA. The MSW advanced standing program includes 37 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition – $495 per credit, 37 credit hours = $18,315
  • On-campus visit required? No

Boston University

  • Advanced standing overview – Boston University includes an advanced standing MSW two-year part-time program, which can be completed in six consecutive semesters (or 43 credit hours). The program is fully online; however, students must “attend” live online sessions. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last six years, and candidates must have maintained a 3.0 GPA.
  • MSW tuition – $875 per credit, 43 credit hours
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical social work and macro social work

Campbellsville University

  • Advanced standing overview – Campbellsville University offers an advanced standing MSW program for students who have completed a Bachelor of Social Work degree at a CSWE accredited program within the past 7 years and maintained a 3.0 GPA. Note – if the candidate’s GPA was less than a 3.0, the candidate may submit a personal statement with the application explaining why he/she will be successful in this program. The advanced standing program is 30 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition – $559 per credit, 39 credit hours
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas – Clinical, addiction

Case Western Reserve University

  • Advanced standing overview – Advancing standing online program for students who earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 7 years. The advanced standing program is 36 credit hours with live sessions. GRE is not required if your undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or above.
  • MSW tuition – $1,550 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas – Community practice for social change; direct practice for child, youth, and family; direct practice for mental health with adults

Colorado State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Colorado State University offers a two-year advanced standing distance learning MSW program. This hybrid program combines online classes with two intensive learning weekends per semester. Advanced standing candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 7 years.
  • MSW tuition – Approximately $26,760
  • On-campus visit required? Yes

Columbia University

  • Advanced standing overview – The MSW program is fully online, yet the classes are live, so you must “attend” class at certain times. The advanced standing program requires a minimum of 33 credit hours. It is open to candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 5 years.
  • MSW tuition – Approximately $61,000
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas – Advanced Clinical Practice; Social Enterprise Administration; Family, Youth & Children’s Services; Health, Mental Health & Disabilities

Delaware State University at Wilmington

  • Advanced standing overview – The Delaware State University advanced standing program is offered to candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 5 years. Candidates must also have an overall GPA of 3.0 and maintain a “B” average in their social work courses. In the program, you skip 10 introductory courses, and you may complete your MSW in as little as one year.
  • MSW tuition – $438 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? No

Edinboro University

  • Advanced standing overview – Edinboro University’s advanced standing program allows candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 5 years with a 3.0 GPA or higher to waive the first semester of the MSW program (equivalent to 12 credit hours).
  • MSW tuition – $516 per credit in-state; $568 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No

Florida State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Florida State University’s advanced standing program is composed of 39 credit hours. Candidates must meet general admissions requirements and have earned a BSW from an accredited program, as well as submit a copy of a final BSW internship evaluation from their field instructor. Candidates must have maintained a 3.0 GPA as an undergraduate.
  • MSW tuition -$444.00 per credit hour/$17,316.00 total in-state students; $625.00 per credit, $24,375.00 total
  • On-campus visit required? No on-campus visits for advanced standing students
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical social work

Fordham University

  • Advanced standing overview – Fordham University’s advanced standing program is open to candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program maintaining a 3.0 GPA, or students who have completed one-year of an accredited MSW program. Advanced standing students can complete the program in as little as a year while taking online classes with live sessions. The program is 33 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition – Approximately $32,000
  • On-campus visit required? No.
  • Specialized practice areas: Individuals and Families; Organizations and Community; Evaluation; Policy Practice and Advocacy

Humboldt State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Humboldt State University offers what they call a distributed learning program. The advanced standing program is a two-year part-time online program. Advanced standing candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program with an overall 3.5 GPA and a grade of B or higher in all social work courses. They must have earned the degree within the last 5 years.
  • MSW tuition – $510 per credit hours
  • On-campus visit required? Yes. Classes are fully online, but students are required to make some on-campus visits (mandatory orientation and January intensive).
  • Specialized practice areas: Focuses on advanced generalist practice in rural and Indigenous communities

Indiana University

  • Advanced standing overview – Indiana University offers advanced standing eligibility to anyone who has earned a BSW within the past 5 years. The advanced standing program may be completed as full-time in five semesters or part-time in six semesters.
  • MSW tuition – $473 per credit in-state, $1,021 per credit nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical and community practice

Louisiana State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Louisiana State University offers an asynchronous online MSW program with multiple start dates per year. Advanced standing candidates may earn their MSW in as little as one year by taking 33 credit hours. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program and maintained a “B” or higher.
  • MSW tuition – $539 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No

Michigan State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Michigan State University offers a blended online and on-campus advanced standing MSW program. In addition to needing to live close by, candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 6 years and to have maintained a 3.25 GPA overall. Advanced standing students will need to take at least 38 credits.
  • MSW tuition – $478 per credit in-state
  • On-campus visit required? Yes. To be eligible for the advanced standing MSW program, candidates must live more than 50 miles from the East Lansing and Flint campuses or, if out of state, must live within 50 miles of the Michigan border. This requirement is necessary as the program is a blend of online and on-campus courses.
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical

Our Lady of the Lake University

  • Advanced standing overview – Entirely online that offers a MSW Concentration track for those with advanced standing that can be completed in one year and eight months (or 30 credit hours). Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program.
  • MSW tuition – $925 per credit, 48 credit hours = $44,440
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Focus on services to Hispanic families and children

Radford University

  • Advanced standing overview – Radford University offers a part-time online and on-campus hybrid MSW program alternating between Saturday classes and online classes. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 7 years and maintained a 2.75 GPA overall with a minimum 3.0 GPA for social work courses. The advanced standing program is 40 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition — $371 per credit hour for in-state students / $726.00 per credit hour for out of state students
  • On-campus visit required? Yes
  • Specialized practice areas: Community-based family practice; interdisciplinary minor option in health in aging

Salisbury University

  • Advanced standing overview – Salisbury University offers a satellite program for students who live in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia or Pennsylvania. It offers an advanced standing program that is 32 credit hours. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last three years. However, if a candidate has earned a BSW within the last five years and has worked in human services, he/she will be considered. Candidates also need to maintain a 3.2 GPA for social work courses and a 3.0 GPA for other undergraduate coursework.
  • MSW tuition – $765 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? Yes
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced direct practice with individuals, families, groups, and organizations

Simmons College

  • Advanced standing overview – Social work at Simmons offers various tracks for earning a MSW. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program and maintained 3.0 GPA. The school’s social work advanced standing graduate programs include an accelerated program, a full-time program, and an extended program.
  • MSW tuition – $1,100 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical; advocate for children and families; provide trauma-informed services; work with adults and families across the lifespan; support those with mental illness and substance abuse disorders

Texas State University

  • Advanced standing overview – Texas State University offers an online MSW program with full-time or part-time options. Advanced standing candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last ten years. The advanced standing program is 36 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition – $347 per credit in-state; $756 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? Yes

Tulane University of Louisiana

  • Advanced standing overview Program open to those who have earned a BSW in the previous five years from a CSWE-accredited program; minimum undergraduate GPA 3.3 required. 44 credits, three-semester/12-month program full-time; six-semester/24 months part-time.
  • MSW tuition – $1,140 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Disaster and collective trauma; mental health, addictions, and the family

University at Buffalo (State University of New York)

  • Advanced standing overview – The University at Buffalo offers a part-time MSW program with advanced standing options completing the degree in 35 credits. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 6 years with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The advanced standing online MSW program may be completed in 1.5 years.
  • MSW tuition – $749.50 per credit for New York residents and $809 per credit for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Perspectives on trauma and human rights and professional development courses

University of Alabama

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Alabama offers a 42-credit hour advanced standing online MSW program. Candidates must hold a BSW from an accredited program to apply. If students are accepted and attend full-time, the program can be completed in three semesters.
  • MSW tuition – $420 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? Yes. Coursework is primarily completed online, but students will need to attend select skills labs on some Saturdays.
  • Specialized practice areas: Children, adolescents and their families; adults and their families

University of Alaska at Anchorage

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Alaska offers a distance learning MSW program that is only open to students who live in the state of Alaska. The advanced standing program takes 1 – 2 years to complete. To apply for the advanced standing program, you must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the past five years, maintain a 3.5 GPA in undergraduate social work courses, hold a 3.0 overall GPA, and reside in Alaska.
  • MSW tuition – $513 per credit in-state; $1079 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? Yes. While most course work is completed through distance education, many courses must be attended at off-site locations. Additionally, students will need to orientation and intensives on campus.
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced generalist with special focus on the people of Alaska

University of Arkansas

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Arkansas offers an advanced standing online MSW program that may be completed in 12 months (39 credit hours) at full-time status. In addition to meeting requirements for the University of Arkansas graduate school and MSW program, advanced standing candidates must also have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 6 years and a 3.0 GPA.
  • MSW tuition – $491.22 per credit in-state; $1,228.93 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Multi-system life course perspective

University of Central Florida

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Central Florida offers an advanced standing online MSW program in four semesters. The program allows students to take one class per term every seven weeks. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last five years.
  • MSW tuition – $288.16 per credit in-state; $1,043.31 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No

University of Houston

  • Advanced standing overview – Offers an online advanced standing MSW program for students in reciprocal states. Advanced standing students may complete the program in 2.5 years. The program is ideal for independent, self-starters. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program, as well as a 3.0 GPA and a recommendation from a faculty advisor of his/her undergraduate program.
  • MSW tuition – app. $400 per credit in-state; app. $900 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical – health and behavioral health

University of Illinois

  • Advanced standing overview – University of Illinois offers two different focus areas. For those focusing on leadership and social change, they can take part in the fully online advanced standing program that consists of 44 credit hours. For those focusing on advanced clinical, they can take part in the hybrid program, which combines online classes and face to face weekend sessions that consists of 44 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition – $598 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? Leadership and social change online program – No. Advanced clinical program – Yes.
  • Specialized practice areas: Leadership and social change; advanced clinical (mental health, health care, school social work, or children, youth, and family services)

The University of Iowa

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Iowa offers different advancing standing social work programs for individuals who have earned a BSW from an accredited program. For those who met the basic requirements, they may take the 48 credit hours program. They also offer an accelerated advancing standing program that students will complete in three full-time semesters. These candidates must also have a 3.2 overall GPA and a 3.5 GPA in social work courses.
  • MSW tuition – $560 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? Yes

University of Louisville

  • Advanced standing overview – University of Louisville offers an advanced standing online MSW program for candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 7 years. Candidates must also have a 3.0 overall GPA and a3.25 social work coursework GPA. The program consists of 30 credit hours.
  • MSW tuition – $737 per credit (active-duty military: $250 per credit)
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Psychosocial Oncology; Mental Health; Alcohol and Drug Counseling; Military Social Work; Gerontology

University of Maine

  • Advanced standing overview – Advancing standing acceptance at the University of Maine is dependent on recommendation of advanced standing by the Admissions Committee. Candidates must hold a BSW from an accredited program. Additionally, advanced standing students must complete a summer bridge program before beginning the advanced standing program of 46 hours. Candidates have the option of completing the social work advanced standing program in one year as a full-time student, or extended over two years, or through distance learning using weekend video conferencing.
  • MSW tuition – $461 per credit in-state; $576 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? Yes

University of Missouri

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Missouri offers an advanced standing program that is 39 credit hours. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 7 years or who qualify for a credit waiver. Candidates must also have a 3.0 GPA. Classes are either on-campus or online.
  • MSW tuition – $395 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical practice or policy; planning and administration

University of Nevada, Reno

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Nevada offers an online advanced standing program that is completed in 32 credit hours in as little as 15 months. Candidates must have a BSW from an accredited program, have passed statistics and research methods, a 3.0 overall GPA, and a 3.25 GPA in social work courses.
  • MSW tuition – $350 per credit for residents / $700 per credit for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No

University of New England

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of New England offers an advanced standing program that may be completed in as little as 16 months.
  • MSW tuition – $950 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical; Community; Integrated

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of North Carolina offers an advanced standing program for candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program. Upon acceptance, advanced standing students will enroll in the summer to take 13 advanced standing credit hours before beginning the rest of the 29-credit hour advanced standing MSW program.
  • MSW tuition – Full-time $5,276 per semester in-state; $14,139 nonresident.
  • On-campus visit required? Yes

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Tennessee offers a fully online masters of social work advanced standing program for candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program and maintained a 3.0 GPA. Advanced standing students can complete the 37-credit hour program either full-time (twelve months) or part-time (eighteen to twenty-four months).
  • MSW tuition – $639 per credit in-state; $714 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical (Evidenced-Based Interpersonal Practice) or Organizational Leadership

University of Texas of the Rio Grande Valley

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Texas offers a 33-hour advanced standing MSW online program in an accelreated seven-week semester format. Candidates must have earned a BSW from an accredited program and maintained a 3.2 GPA in social work courses.
  • MSW tuition – $1,333.32 per three-credit course
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced practice with Latino individuals and families; administration and community practice

University of Wyoming

  • Advanced standing overview – The University of Wyoming offers an advancing standing program to individuals who have earned a BSW from an accredited program. Advanced standing students begin the summer and complete a bridge program before starting the MSW program.
  • MSW tuition – $2,538 based on 9 credits per semester for residents, $5,076 based on 9 credits per semester for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? Yes. The program is a hybrid model consisting of online courses and face to face site visits.

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Advanced standing overview VCU offers a one-year, 42-credit advanced standing online program; students complete 12 to 15 credits per semester. Content delivery is primarily asynchronous (each class holds three live synchronous classes per semester).
  • MSW tuition – $634 per credit in-state; $750 nonresident
  • On-campus visit required? No.
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical

Walden University

  • Advanced standing overview – Walden University offers an MSW advanced standing online program option for candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program and graduated with a 3.0 GPA.
  • MSW tuition – Use the Net Price Calculator to estimate tuition.
  • On-campus visit required? Yes. While the program is mostly online, there is one six-week hybrid course requiring students to spend 4 days in a face to face experience.
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced clinical practice, military social work, social work in healthcare, social work with families and children

Western Kentucky University

  • Advanced standing overview – Western Kentucky University offers three different advanced standing MSW programs. Candidates who have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 7 years and maintained a 3.0 GPA may apply to the full-time, part-time, or online advanced standing program. Advanced standing students will earn their MSW after one or two years depending on the program they choose.
  • MSW tuition – $707 per credit hour for distance learning
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Focus on rural areas

Western New Mexico University

  • Advanced standing overview – Candidates for Western New Mexico University’s advanced standing MSW program must have earned a BSW from an accredited program within the last 8 years. Advanced standing students may complete the program in as little as a year.
  • MSW tuition – Approximately $288 per credit hour for residents and $372 per credit for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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