Becoming a Social Worker in Alabama: The Path to Success

The job of a social worker is one of the few careers that you can choose where you wake up everyday knowing that you are making a difference in the world. Social workers run the gamut of being able to help everyone from young children to the elderly, and their job is often equally challenging and rewarding.

If the road to helping others is one that you are interested in traveling, let it lead you to Alabama, where there is a need for empathetic, qualified social workers. In Alabama, this profession has a competitive salary, as well as benefits, a pension plan and paid vacation and time off to entice those with their Master’s in Social Work to choose this state as their workplace. In addition to the financial packages, the state also possesses beautiful coastlines, an interesting history, and a wide variety of schools for you to choose from that offer MSW programs in Alabama.

Why enroll in an accredited MSW program in Alabama?

There are many job opportunities available for those who have their MSW and choose to work in Alabama. Social worker salaries generally range from $38,779-$41,771, depending on where you live in the state, how much experience you have, and what your level of education is. Those who have a master’s or higher in social work with the equivalent experience receive higher salaries.

Under the umbrella of social work, you can specialize in working as a Child, Family, and School expert, a healthcare social worker, or one who focuses on those in the area of mental health and substance abuse. All of these fields are expected to increase by 2026 by an average of 16%.

With the increase in openings comes the need for more qualified social workers with their master’s to fill these vacancies. However, getting this degree is now simple with the abundance of MSW programs in AL.

Overview of accredited MSW programs in Alabama

The need for social workers in Alabama is great, so there is a wonderful selection of schools that have MSW programs near Montgomery and all over the state for your convenience. The following seven are accredited and approved by the Alabama Council on Social Work Education.

Alabama A&M University
This university has a campus located in Normal, Alabama, that was initially accredited in 1996 and most recently in June 2010. The next accreditation is in June of 2019. Out-of-state tuition is estimated at $17,136, while in-state residents’ tuition is approximately $9,366 per full-time semester.

Alabama State University
Alabama State University’s campus is in Montgomery, where it was initially accredited in 2015 and is undergoing its next accreditation as of June 2018. In-state tuition at this university is $10,156, while out-of-state is $17,572 per full-time semester.

Auburn University
Located in Auburn, this university was first accredited in 2017 and most recently in February 2018, with the next accreditation due in February 2019. Residents of Alabama attending Auburn University full-time can expect to pay $5,484 per semester, while non-residents’ full-time tuition is $14,820 per semester.

Samford University Samford University has a campus based in Birmingham. This university was initially accredited in 2014 and then again most recently in June 2017. Tuition for 2018-2019 was set at $31,650.

Troy University
This university is located in Troy, Alabama and was initially accredited in 2013, with the latest accreditation in February 2016. For the most recent available tuition rates of 2016-2017, in-state residents paid an estimated $8,260 for the semester, while non-residents paid $15,484.

University of Alabama
With a campus in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama was initially accredited in 1969 and then again most recently in February 2011. There is an upcoming accreditation scheduled for June 2019. Tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year is $10,780 for residents and $29,230 for non-residents.

University of Alabama at Birmingham
This university is based in Birmingham and was first accredited in 2016, with the most recent review in February 2018 and another review in June 2018. Graduate tuition rates for residents are $451 per credit hour and and $1,025 for non-residents per credit hour.

Overview of accredited online MSW programs approved to operate in Alabama

If campus classes are not what you were looking for, you can look for one of the many online MSW programs in Alabama for one that suits your needs and is convenient for you. Getting an MSW in Alabama is as easy as choosing one of the following schools to obtain your degree from.

Arizona State University (AZ)
This university offers fully online courses to students anywhere in the United States delivered through primarily asynchronous full-time and part-time options, with 24/7 access to your classes. The MSW at Arizona State University specializes in the practice of Advanced Generalist. Tuition is $522 per credit hour.

Boise State University (ID) Boise State University offers full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options delivered fully online to students anywhere in the United States with no campus presence required. Their MSW offers a specialization in Individuals and Families. Tuition for the year is $9,588.

Boston University (MA) The MSW programs at Boston University are offered as part-time programs with three options, including advanced standing, and are fully online with no campus visits required. The content is presented in weekly live classroom sessions and asynchronous content for students anywhere in the United States except U.S. territories and U.S. military bases overseas. This MSW program specializes in Clinical Social Work Practice and Macro Social Work Practice. Tuition is $825 per credit hour.

California State University, Northridge (CA) California State University in Northridge offers the MSW program full-time online through asynchronous instruction with 24/7 access to classes for students anywhere in the United States. International students are also welcome if field site availability and appropriate TOEFL scores. The specialization is in Urban Family Studies. Tuition is $622 per unit.

Capella University (MN) Students anywhere in the world are welcome to attend these fully online full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options. However, student cohorts are required to travel to pre-established locations in the United States for five-day residencies to complete coursework. This is done once for Advanced Standing students and twice for all others. The specialized practice in this MSW is in Advanced Generalist. Tuition is $505 per credit hour.

Case Western Reserve University (OH)
Case Western Reserve University’s MSW programs are offered through full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options online to students anywhere in the United States. The specialized practices are in Community Practice & Social Change and Direct Practice (Child, Youth, & Families or Mental Health/Adults). For information on tuition, you can request information from the site.

Catholic University of America (DC)
Part-time programs to obtain your MSW are offered to students anywhere in the United States and to service members who are stationed throughout the world by the Catholic University of America. Their content is delivered through online programs with asynchronous instruction, where students have 24/7 access and support. There is no requirement for a physical presence and the specialized practice is in Clinical. For information on tuition, you can request information from the site.

Colorado State University (CO) This university offers a hybrid program model with 80% online and 20% in-person attendance at a cohort location in Colorado Springs or Denver. Students anywhere in the world are welcome, but a campus visit for research defense is required in the last semester. Part-time and advanced standing options are provided with a specialization in Advanced Generalist. Tuition is $619 per credit hour.

Columbia University (NY) Columbia university’s MSW program is provided in full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options to students anywhere in the United States. Their programs are fully online with live synchronous virtual classroom delivery. Students can access asynchronous content 24/7 and there is no campus visit required. The specialized practice is in Advanced Clinical Practice or Social Enterprise Administration. Tuition for online courses is $1,564 per credit hour.

Delaware State University (DE) This university’s programs are open to students anywhere in the United States through their full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options. The courses are fully online with no campus visit required and specialize in Advanced Generalist. Tuition is $515 per credit hour.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (PA)
Full-time and advanced standing options for an MSW are offered online to students anywhere in the United States through this university. The specialization is in Family Social Work Practice. Tuition is $500 per credit hour for residents, $750 for non-residents.

Florida State University (FL) Florida State University extends their MSW programs to residents of Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. They offer part-time and advanced standing options through asynchronous instruction, however, two weekend campus visits are required for full-time and part-time students. Advanced Standing students have no campus visits required. Specialization is in Clinical Social Work. Tuition and other financial information is available in their downloadable MSW program guide.

Indiana University (IN)
At Indiana University, students anywhere in the United States are welcome to enroll in their advanced standing program, where open enrollment and three opportunities to start each year are offered fully online. The specialized practice is in Advanced Generalist. Tuition is as follows: In-state resident: $557 per credit hour, out-of-state resident: $695.25 per credit hour.

Louisiana State University (LA) This university offers full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options to students anywhere in the United States except Delaware, Washington, DC, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina. Their programs are delivered through asynchronous 7-week modules with six start dates per year. Advanced standing students are offered two start dates. No campus visits are required. Tuition is $4,748.30 full-time total for residents, $14,898 total for non-residents.

Our Lady of the Lake University (TX) Full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options are offered in Our Lady of the Lake University’s fully online MSW program. Students from all U.S. states except Delaware, all U.S. territories, and all U.S. military bases overseas are welcome to enroll, with no campus visit required. Specialization is in Direct Practice with Hispanic Children and Families. Tuition is $907 per credit hour.

Portland State University (OR)
This fully online program is delivered through synchronous and asynchronous courses. Students attend in a 3-year cohort model and are required to attend 3-day on-campus intensives before the academic year begins. The program is offered to students nationwide, with a specialized practice in Practice and Leadership in Communities and Organizations. Tuition is a graduated step depending on courses, beginning at $414 per credit hour for residents and $630 for non-residents.

Rutgers University (NJ) Rutgers University’s MSW is a fully online and part-time program that is available to students nationwide. The specialization is in Clinical Social Work. For information on tuition, you can request further information from the site.

Simmons College (MA) Full-time and advanced standing options to obtain an MSW are offered at Simmons College to students nationwide, including the District of Columbia. The programs are fully online with weekly 90-minute synchronous sessions and asynchronous course work. Specialization is in Clinical Social Work, with specialized areas in Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Child and Family Welfare, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence, and Health and Aging. Tuition is $1,060 per credit hour.

Tulane University (LA) Tulane University offers a full-time online MSW to students throughout the country. Specialization is in Disaster Mental Health and Trauma Studies, Family Practice, and Advanced Standing. Tuition is $1,018 per credit hour.

University at Buffalo (State University of New York) (NY)
Open to students throughout the United States and Canada, this university’s MSW program is fully online and offers part-time and advanced standing options. The courses are delivered through both asynchronous and synchronous methods. The specialized practices are in Trauma-Informed and Human Rights Perspective. Tuition is set at a full-time rate of $7,796.75 for NY Residents and $12,361.75 for non-residents.

University of Alabama (AL) The University of Alabama provides mostly online full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options for an MSW. Students anywhere in the United States are welcome to enroll, but all students are required to participate in face-to-face skills labs. These are held on selected Saturdays at locations across the state of Alabama. Field placements are within a 200-mile radius of Tuscaloosa, AL. Tuition for online learning is $375 per credit hour.

University of Arkansas (AR)
Advanced standing programs with no campus visits required are delivered through online asynchronous courses that are augmented with pre-scheduled webcasting. Students anywhere in the United States are able to enroll and the specialization is in Multi-System Life Course. Tuition is $420.19 per credit hour.

University of Central Florida (FL) The University of Central Florida’s MSW programs can be obtained through part-time and part-time advanced standing options. Courses are offered to students throughout the United States online through primarily asynchronous delivery with some synchronous components, and no campus visit is necessary. Tuition is $288.16 per credit hour.

University of Denver (CO) - Online Program The MSW with a specialized practice in Mental Health and Trauma is offered to students anywhere in the United States at the University of Denver’s online program. Full- and part-time options are available through live classrooms facilitated online, with no campus visit required. For information on tuition visit their site.

University of Houston (TX)
Students nationwide are able to attend this university’s fully online program through their part-time courses with advanced standing options available. There is no campus visit required, and specialization is in Clinical, with an optional emphasis in Health and Behavioral Health. For information on tuition, you can request further information from the site.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (IL) Full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options are offered through this university’s fully online program for macro practice. The clinical practice is available as a mostly online program. Courses are open to macro practice students anywhere in the United States, but the clinical practice students have face-to-face skills labs required, which are held on selected Saturdays. Specialized practices are in Leadership and Social Change, Mental Health, Health Care, Children, Youth, and Family Services, and Schools. Tuition fees are $12,266 for the year for residents and $26,502 for the year for non-residents.

University of Louisville (KY) The University of Louisville offers full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options available through programs that are delivered either online or through a hybrid mix. No campus visits are required, and students anywhere in the United States can enroll. Specializations are offered in Military Social Work, Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Gerontology, Mental Health Counseling, and Psychology Oncology. Tuition is $714 per credit hour.

University of Nevada, Reno (NV) MSW programs are available through this university in a mix of predominantly asynchronous courses with limited synchronous options in practice and field classes. They are offered in full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options to students anywhere in the United States with a 2-day residency requirement. The specialized practice is in Advanced Generalist. For information on tuition, you can request further information from the site.

University of New England (ME) Full-time and advanced standing options are available to students anywhere in the United States, as well as internationally. Programs are facilitated through asynchronous learning with no campus visits required. Specialization is in Individual, Family, & Group Practice (clinical-based) and Organizational and Community Practice (policy-based). For information on tuition, you can request further information from the site.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC) This university’s MSW is offered as a 3-year distance education program with an advanced standing option. Courses are delivered through a hybrid model with in-person and online classes, but they are offered to students throughout the United States. However, a campus visit is required at their distance education site in Triangle or Winston-Salem. Specialized practices in Direct Practice and Community, Management, and Policy Practice are received. For information on tuition, you can request further information from the site.

University of Southern California (CA) The University of Southern California offers an MSW to students anywhere in the United States through live classrooms that are facilitated online. Tuition is a flat $26,724 per year for full-time students.

University of Tennessee at Knoxville (TN) Full-time, part-time, and advanced standing options are available through this fully online MSW program. Students throughout the United States are welcome to enroll, with no campus visit required. Specialization is in Clinical or Macro (Management, Leadership, and Community Practice), but certificates are available to online MSW students in Gerontology, Veterinary Social Work, and School Social Work. Tuition per year for full-time students is $13,084 for residents and $31,502 for non-residents.

Walden University (MN) Walden University offers standard, accelerated, and advanced standing options to students both in the United States and internationally. Their programs are available year-round through online courses that are delivered asynchronously, as well as custom video case studies. There is a requirement of two 4-day in-person residencies. Specialization is in Advanced Clinical Practice, Military Social Work, Social Work in Health Care, and Social Work with Children and Families. For information on tuition, you can request further information from the site.

Western New Mexico University (NM) Students anywhere in the United States can attend Western New Mexico University’s MSW programs delivered through part-time, full-time, and advanced standing options. Courses are taught online and via Poly-com (a program similar to Skype). Tuition is a graduated amount, beginning with 3 credit hours for $992.31.

Widener University (PA) Widener University offers students throughout the United States, as well as service members who may be stationed around the world, a part-time MSW program delivered online through mostly asynchronous content. There is no on-campus requirement, and the specialized practice is Advanced Clinical with a focus on trauma and its impact on mental health. Tuition is $1,004 per credit hour.

Online or on-campus, your MSW is around the corner

If you need to pick from one of the MSW programs near Birmingham, or you’d prefer one of the dozens you can access online, finding a convenient school is as simple as choosing from the list. Alabama desperately needs qualified social workers like you, and through these accredited programs, you can focus on a career where you know at the end of the day that you have made a difference in the world.

Works cited

State of Alabama Salary, Glassdoor. (n.d.) Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/State-of-Alabama-Social-Worker-Salaries-E42906_D_KO17,30.htm.

Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Careers in Social Work. (March, 2018). Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/article/social-workers.htm.

Council on Social Work Education: Directory of Accredited Programs. (n.d.) Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx.

Council on Social Work Education: Directory of Online and Distance Education. (n.d.) Retrieved June 18, 2018 from https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs/Online-and-Distance-Education.

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