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Online MS in Social Work Program

An Education Designed for Change Agents

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Be ready to be challenged. For more than a century, the Columbia School of Social Work has led a transformation in how we study, teach, and practice social work. We have never been content with the status quo, and our willingness to embrace new approaches has kept us at the forefront of social work education and research.

Columbia’s Master of Science in Social Work is one of the oldest and most esteemed MSW programs in the world. Columbia students have unparalleled access to rigorous training, innovative teaching, and proven methods to transform lives and lead society forward. Our Online Campus option combines all the benefits of the MSW program within an award-winning online experience.

“The Columbia School of Social Work dedicates itself to maximizing human well-being and ensuring that all can reach their full potential. Our research initiatives, educational programs, and community partnerships are designed to promote social justice across all sectors and strata of society. Our work spans the most pressing issues impacting social welfare: from poverty and economic opportunity, to anti-racism efforts, to opioid and substance use disorders, to immigration and migration, to technology’s effects on the lived experience, and of course, to environmental justice. For us, ethics is not only a philosophy, but a practice performed at all levels of society; and justice is the conscious practice of avoiding harm, undoing harm, and re-imagining and building equitable societies.”

Courtney D. Cogburn, Associate Professor of Social Work
  • 100% online coursework with majority synchronous classes
  • Practicum placement sites available across the United States
  • 6 degree pathways, including Advanced Standing
  • Choose from 4 method specializations and 7 fields of practice
  • See our next start dates

Columbia University Online MSW Program Benefits

Proven methods with real-world impact. This is a degree where research meets clinical practice, where evidence-based decisions are balanced with individual needs, and where a multitude of perspectives converge to solve complex social justice problems.

World-changing research led by exceptional faculty. Participate in real-time classes taught by some of the most compelling voices in the social work world; their research has examined the relationship between gang violence and social media, the effects of racism on health, responses to the opioid epidemic, new frontiers in clinical interventions, innovations in poverty alleviation, and the nuances of prolonged grief.

A Columbia education, anywhere. Our Online Campus expands access to our world-class education and New York City connections. Online students can attend events hosted by influential scholars, conduct research with our 16 research centers and programs, and participate in nearly 30 student caucuses, no matter where they live in the United States. They are also able to complete practicum placements near their home with full support from our Practicum Education Department.

Steadfast advocacy. We are a community united by unwavering commitment to justice, human rights, and respect for diversity. By understanding the structures that can constrict society, we are empowered to dismantle them. Our faculty, staff, and students are dedicated to non-oppressive practices, both within the MSW program and in professional service.

Nearly all Columbia students are employed (96%) or pursuing further education (2%) within one year of graduation.
Social workers with a master’s degree make 25% more than those with a bachelor’s degree alone. Columbia graduates earn a median salary that’s 8% higher than social workers overall.
Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Request information

To learn more about the Master of Science in Social Work from the Columbia School of Social Work, please fill out the fields below to download a brochure. You can also contact an admissions counselor directly at (866) 627-4750.

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The PROP Framework

A guiding principle of the School of Social Work and the MSW program is PROP, which addresses the ways that power, race, oppression, and privilege shape our world and our responses to it. This framework is rooted in helping students understand that anti-Black racism and white supremacy are endemic in our systems and institutions. Students become more mindful, self-aware practitioners who are empowered to challenge stagnant ideas and create meaningful change.

Choose the Online MSW Degree That Works Best for You

The Columbia University online master of social work degree options accommodate students at all levels of experience — from recent graduates and career changers to social work professionals who want to deepen their commitment to serving others. Choose from six different pathways:

Jobs That Transform Lives

Our students are ready to change the world. We provide the foundational knowledge, applied skills, and professional network they need to make that change happen at any scale. Recent Columbia University MSW graduates have gone on to social work jobs as care coordinators, medical social workers, behavioral healthcare managers, clinical case managers, policy advocates, research analysts, directors of outreach, program coordinators, licensed master social workers (LMSWs), and so much more.

We build compassionate, knowledgeable leaders who understand all facets of the profession. No matter how they choose to specialize, Columbia students learn both clinical and macro concepts.

Visit our Method Specializations page to see our graduates’ variety of employers and the job skill sets they use, broken down by area of interest.

Columbia MSW Graduates by Employment Type

  • 52% Combination of direct practice, mezzo, and macro‐level work
  • 40% Direct work with individuals, groups, and families
  • 8% Macro‐level work (includes higher education)

Source: 2021 MSW Degree Recipients Career Outcomes

Access our Columbia MS in Social Work career outcomes report.

Social Work Career Support for Students and Graduates

The Columbia master’s in social work attracts bright, driven students who want to use their MSW to promote social justice, equity, inclusion, and the overall well-being of others. We are proud to support our incredible students and their careers, as they pursue new roles and new opportunities to make meaningful change. To that end, all Online Campus students and alumni have access to a full suite of career services through our Office of Career Services and Leadership Management, including:

  • One-on-one career coaching
  • Networking events
  • Exclusive job postings
  • Recruitment events and job fairs
  • Access to an alumni network of 19,000 graduates
  • Workshops on job searching, resumes, interviewing, career building, and licensing
Social Work Career Support for Students and Graduates

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Download our program brochure to learn more about how our students have developed their clinical skills and policy insights in the online MSW from the Columbia School of Social Work.

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