Master’s in Social Work (MSW) Programs in Massachusetts (MA) – Online & On-Campus

Building a successful social work career in Massachusetts is a difficult but worthwhile challenge. One of the most important steps in achieving this is advancing your educational attainment. Pursuing MSW programs in Massachusetts can be hugely beneficial in furthering your career. This is the most easily recognized way to gain new skills, expand your knowledge base, and accumulate more valuable experience as a practitioner and a researcher of social work.

Massachusetts is one of the highest-paying states for social work. Social workers earn a mean annual salary of $74,220, while top earners in the field make an annual salary of $103,730 (BLS, 2022).

In this guide, we will present our research into the requirements, costs, and benefits of pursuing MSW programs in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Master’s in Social Work Careers Table of Contents

  1. How to become a social worker in Massachusetts?
  2. How long does it take to become a social worker in Massachusetts?
  3. What is the typical cost of MSW programs in Massachusetts?
  4. Massachusetts Schools Offering a Master’s in Social Work program
  5. Online Master’s in Social Work Programs in Massachusetts
  6. What can I do with an MSW degree in Massachusetts?

How to become a social worker in Massachusetts?

There are many levels of social work education that can lead to your first job as a social worker. The first step to becoming a social worker in Massachusetts is acquiring a social worker degree from an institution accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). An associate’s degree in social work (ASW), and a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) are the primary pathways to beginning a career in social work. A master’s in social work (MSW) or a doctorate in social work (DSW) are the main ways to advance a social work career.

After acquiring the necessary credentials, you must obtain a license in order to practice. Massachusetts offers multiple categories of licensure, covering different scopes of practice. Licensure in Massachusetts is handled by the Board of Registration of Social Workers.

  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA): This is the entry-level licensure for social workers in MA. LSWAs have completed at least an associate’s degree in Social Work (ASW) and have met the supervised practice requirements. They work under the supervision of a higher-level licensed social worker or other qualified professionals.
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): This is the mid-level licensure for social workers in MA. LSWs have completed a bachelor's degree in Social Work, accrued supervised practice hours, and passed the licensure examination. They are authorized to practice non-clinical social work independently, without the need for direct supervision. LSWs can provide a wide range of services across various settings, such as healthcare, schools, or community organizations.
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW): This is advanced-level licensure for social workers in MA. LCSWs have completed a Master's degree in Social Work, accrued a specific number of supervised practice hours, and passed the licensure examination. LCSWs often work in private practice or clinical settings, offering specialized mental health services and addressing complex social and emotional challenges faced by individuals, families, and communities. LCSWs are authorized to provide clinical social work services, including therapy and counseling, under supervision from a LICSW.
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): This is the highest level of licensure for social workers. LICSWs have completed at least an MSW program, accrued extensive clinical experience, and passed the licensure examination. They have the authority to practice clinical social work independently, including psychotherapy and diagnosing mental health disorders.

Across all sectors, over 27,000 social workers are currently employed in Massachusetts. There are 9,920 working as child, family, and school social workers. 11,630 work in healthcare. 5,090 work with mental health and substance abuse. (BLS, 2022) Progressing your career to the point that you can be counted among them might just be a matter of finding the best online social work degree available.

Source: BLS, 2022


How long does it take to become a social worker in Massachusetts?

The quickest path to becoming a social worker in Massachusetts is by completing an associate’s degree in social work (ASW), which typically takes two years. Unfortunately, an ASW can only offer very limited employment opportunities. A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) typically takes four years to complete.

Most individuals in the social work field have BSWs or other social services degrees, and it is a good way to start to really get a social work career off the ground. Earning a master’s in social work would usually take two more years after completing the required four-year BSW courses in order to qualify for MSW programs in Massachusetts, meaning it would take around six years to complete. Since an MSW is a requirement for licensure, acquiring one is one of the most effective ways to advance your career in social work. While a doctorate in social work (DSW) would take two additional years after the four-year BSW, and two-year MSW program, for a total of eight years to complete (, 2020). But it might also be useful to discover employment opportunities in the humanities and social sciences.

MSW programs massachusetts program length

What is the typical cost of MSW programs in Massachusetts?

Costs for an MSW program in Massachusetts can vary widely. Yearly tuition can range from $8,700 per year on the low end to more than $68,000 on the high end (NCES, 2020). There are several factors that can directly impact yearly tuition costs such as whether the school is in-state or out-of-state, or if the school is private or public. It should be noted that the most expensive courses tend to be shorter, one to two-year courses, while the lower-cost courses tend to be two to three-year programs.

msw programs massachusetts tuition

Massachusetts Schools Offering Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs

Trying to find the right school for MSW programs in Massachusetts is relatively easy. The state is home to some of the top schools in the United States with some of the best social work degree programs. Despite the healthy number of options, deciding on which one is right for you is an important step, and should not be taken lightly. The following institutions all offer strong MSW programs in Massachusetts:

Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College's MSW program holds accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). It follows an Advanced Generalist practice model rooted in liberal arts and the person-in-environment framework. The program equips students with a diverse range of prevention and intervention methods to promote well-being. Advanced Generalist practitioners prioritize human rights, social justice, and cultural diversity while leveraging research and adapting to contextual factors in their professional practice. They value and nurture the strengths and resilience of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Boston University

The BU MSW program is a dual degree program in Social Work and Public Health. It offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that leads to both an MSW and MPH degree. Public health social work practice encompasses areas such as prevention, program planning, policy analysis, and health equity. The program allows for full-time or part-time study, granting the MSW or MPH in advance based on completed requirements. This flexible program enables students to merge two fields of study and choose from various tracks and certificates. Graduates gain valuable field experience and are equipped to work in diverse social service and healthcare settings.

Salem State University

The MSW Program at Salem State University provides students with a comprehensive and integrated learning experience in health and behavioral health practice. The program is flexible, allowing students to personalize their MSW journey by selecting elective courses and field placements. The program can be completed in a timeframe of two or more years, accommodating different schedules and pacing. It also offers online, and Advanced Standing options.

Springfield College

Springfield College's Master of Social Work (MSW) program equips students with the knowledge and experience necessary to create a positive impact on the field of social work. Renowned faculty members and practical training opportunities contribute to a comprehensive education. The program focuses on advanced generalist practice, enabling graduates to effectively work at various levels with evidence-based and knowledge-guided approaches.

Westfield State University

The MSW program at Westfield State University concentrates on clinical practice, while also including courses in several related, and useful fields, skills, and competencies. The course requires six elective credits, and an advanced social policy course as well. The program can be completed on-site at the Westfield State Campus, and there is a completely online option on offer.


Online Masters of Social Work (MSW) programs in Massachusetts

Getting an online MSW offers flexibility and convenience, allowing students to pursue their master's while balancing other commitments. It can be a convenient option for working professionals or those with limited access to on-campus programs.

Boston University

Boston University School of Social Work's Online MSW Program offers a flexible part-time format with majors in Clinical Practice or Macro Practice and three track options. Students can tailor their program to align with their academic and professional background. The program combines self-paced online learning, live classroom sessions, and field internships. BUSSW's curriculum emphasizes diversity, ethics, populations-at-risk, and social and economic justice, which are integrated into both foundational and advanced MSW courses.

Regis College

Regis College values "Love and service of the Dear Neighbor without distinction" and recognizes the importance of social work in supporting vulnerable populations and advancing social justice. Their online MSW program, accredited by CSWE, is designed for individuals seeking career growth or a new career in social work. The program provides an accessible education to empower students to make a meaningful impact in their current roles and pursue licensure.

Bethel University

At Bethel University, the Master of Social Work (MSW) program has a mission to prepare graduate students for advanced and ethically sound social work practice while emphasizing values such as service, social justice, and human dignity. The program is rooted in ecological systems theory and encourages an emergent social imaginary that recognizes clients and communities as experts in their own experiences. By integrating the exploration of diversity and justice theology, students gain the skills to practice advanced social work locally and globally through scholarship, service, justice, and leadership.

Walden University

Walden University offers CSWE-accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) programs that equip students to address the needs of individuals, families, and communities. The CSWE accreditation ensures the application of ethical principles and critical thinking in social work practice and prepares students for licensure exams. Walden's online MSW program provides a practical and relevant curriculum, interactive simulations, immersive Skills Labs, and field practice experiences with real clients, enabling students to gain valuable skills and confidence in their abilities as social workers.

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is a pioneering research institution offering an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, expanding its renowned social work education across the nation. With flexible pacing options, this CSWE-accredited program prepares students for various career paths, including licensure as a clinical social worker. The comprehensive MSW program fosters skills for positive change at the individual, community, and macro levels. Students engage in foundational and advanced generalist training, with advanced standing students completing the program in 24 units. The curriculum also allows for customization through specialized training to enhance the core foundation.

What can I do with an MSW Degree in Massachusetts?

Once you have completed one of the MSW programs in Massachusetts and earned your degree, you can pursue a variety of career paths and work in various settings. These are a few common roles and areas an MSW can find employment. The following are a few things you can do with an MSW degree:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): Provides therapy, counseling, and support services to individuals, families, and groups in healthcare settings, mental health clinics, or private practice.
  • Policy Advocate: Influences social policies, evaluates programs, and advocates for policy changes to address systemic issues, promote social equity, and protect the rights of individuals and communities.
  • Substance Abuse Counselor: Helps individuals struggling with addiction by providing counseling, treatment planning, and support to facilitate recovery and prevent relapse.
  • Nonprofit Administrator: Oversees and manages social service programs, coordinates resources, and provides leadership in nonprofit organizations dedicated to addressing social issues.
  • Researcher/Evaluator: Conducts research, evaluates programs, and contributes to evidence-based practices in social work, shaping the field and informing policy decisions.

These are just a few examples, and the field of social work offers a wide range of opportunities for specialization and career growth, and completing any of the MSW programs in Massachusetts is a guaranteed way to go about achieving that. But it might be also worthwhile to see some of the highest paying jobs with a human services degree.

Social Worker Job SectorsMedian Annual Salary
Child, Family & School Social Workers$57,370
Healthcare Social Workers$65,440
Mental Health, Substance Abuse Social Workers$56,860
Social Workers, All, Other$74,220

The Worthwhile Pursuit of an MSW Program in Massachusetts

A career in social work can be highly rewarding for those who have a passion for helping others and making a positive impact on individuals, families, and communities. Social workers have the opportunity to address social injustices, advocate for vulnerable populations, and contribute to the well-being of society. And completing one of the many MSW programs in Massachusetts and advancing your career in social work is an excellent way to make that contribution.

While the work can be challenging and emotionally demanding, the ability to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to social change often outweighs the difficulties. Ultimately, the worth of a career in social work is subjective and depends on individual values, interests, and aspirations. If you want to broaden your research, you can also review programs in other states, for instance, our guide on social work programs in Colorado. Alternatively, we compiled a list of online DSW programs that you can check to inspire you in your future studies.