An Introduction to MSW Programs in Virginia

Social workers make a difference in their communities every day. By helping people who are suffering, social workers improve the lives of those in need. While their careers can be challenging and demanding, social workers can go to sleep each night knowing they are doing something meaningful with their lives. If the idea of helping others is something you are passionate about, then earning your Master’s of Social Work (MSW) and working as a licensed social worker in Virginia may be the career for you.

Social workers are in high demand across the country, but they are in greater need in areas dealing with the opioid epidemic. As Virginia has felt the strains of opioid abuse, the Virginia Board of Social Work reports, "State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine has declared Virginia’s opioid abuse crisis a Public Health Emergency in the Commonwealth."

As a result, Virginia is in need of social workers in the area of mental health and substance abuse. In fact, this need is so great need in our country – and especially in states affected by the opioid epidemic – that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identifies social workers as comprising the largest group of mental health service providers in the country. Furthermore, substance abuse issues often led to the need for more child and family social workers as increasing numbers of children are placed in foster care.

In addition to the areas of mental health and substance abuse, social workers may also focus on the following fields according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: child and family social work, school social work, and healthcare social work. The BLS finds that the demand for social workers will continue to grow at a higher rate than that of other occupations in the United States. Additionally, the highest number of social work occupations falls within the child and family social work umbrella, which is expected to continue to be in high demand.

Why you should enroll in an accredited MSW program in Virginia

Those hoping to work in any for-profit social work capacity must be licensed social workers in the state of Virginia. Only those who plan to work for nonprofits do not have to hold a license. The Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority explains, "In order to become licensed in Virginia, two years of post-master’s (MSW) work experience and a passing score on an examination must be completed." Therefore, it is critical that those pursuing this career earn their MSWs from an accredited institution that can guide them through the licensing process in Virginia.

Without a license, you should expect to earn a lower salary and have fewer job opportunities. While salary varies greatly depending on where you live and the social work area in which you practice, the BLS reports that, "Social workers had a median annual wage of $46,890 in 2017, higher than the $37,040 wage for all workers in 2016." Virginia’s median annual wage was reported as $46,000. Again, this figure is for licensed social workers.

Overview of accredited MSW programs in VA

You must pass the social work licensing Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) exam to be a licensed social worker in the state of Virginia. As a caveat, only those who have earned their degrees from social work programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)are allowed take these required exams. Hence, if you plan to enroll in an MSW program in Virginia, it is imperative that your program is CSWE accredited. Fortunately, there are four accredited MSW programs in Virginia. In addition, if you are looking for MSW programs near Charlotte or MSW programs near the Triangle Region, there is a CSWE accredited option near you.

George Mason University

  • Fairfax, Virginia
  • Brief Description: Students can enroll in a two-year, three-year, or four-year program. After completing their Generalist courses, they will move on to Specialized study (Clinical Practice or Social Change).
  • MSW Tuition: $564 per credit
  • Initial Accreditation Date: 2002
  • Latest Accreditation Date: June 2018

Norfolk State University

  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Brief Description: Students must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours covering Social Work Practice Methods, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, Research Methods, and Field Practicum. They also offer an Advanced Standing program.
  • MSW Tuition: $714 per credit
  • Initial Accreditation Date: 1975
  • Latest Accreditation Date: June 2014

Radford University

  • Radford, Virginia
  • Brief Description: One of the largest schools of social work in Virginia which focuses on community-based family practice and rural practice.
  • MSW Tuition: $371 per credit
  • Initial Accreditation Date: 1996
  • Latest Accreditation Date: October 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Brief Description: Students can choose from multiple program options on their path to earning an MSW. After completing their Generalist courses, they will move on to Specialized study (Clinical Social Work Practice or Social Work Administration, Planning and Policy Practice).
  • MSW Tuition: $674 per credit
  • Initial Accreditation Date: 1919
  • Latest Accreditation Date: June 2011

Overview of accredited online MSW programs approved to operate in Virginia

If none of these four CSWE accredited Virginia MSW programs is a workable option for you, you still have other options. You can earn your MSW through an accredited online program. If you are considering an online MSW program in Virginia or an online program in another state that is open to students living in Virginia, here is a list of CSWE accredited online MSW programs and their websites.

Arizona State University

  • MSW Tuition -- $512 - $1,312 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No.
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced Generalist

Boise State University

  • MSW Tuition -- Approximately $17,865-$18,165
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Individuals and Families

Boston University

  • MSW Tuition -- Financial aid is available. For tuition information, contact an admission representative at 877-308-9945.
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical Social Work Practice and Macro Social Work Practice

California State University, Northridge

  • MSW Tuition -- Total Tuition to Degree is $39,186-45,120
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Urban Family Studies

Case Western Reserve University

  • MSW Tuition -- $1,450 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Community Practice & Social Change and Direct Practice (Child, Youths, & Families or Mental Health/Adults)

Catholic University of America

  • MSW Tuition -- you may need to check the website URL
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical

Columbia University

  • MSW Tuition -- $1,504 per credit
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced Clinical Practice or Social Enterprise Administration

Delaware State University

  • MSW Tuition -- $438.00 Per Credit Hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced Generalist

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

  • MSW Tuition -- $605.00 per credit hours
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Family Social Work Practice

Indiana University

  • MSW Tuition -- In-state residents pay $541.00 per credit hour/Out-of-state residents pay $675.00 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced Generalist

Louisiana State University

  • MSW Tuition -- $539 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No

Loyola University Chicago

  • MSW Tuition -- $700 per credit hour or $42,000 for 60 credit hours
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Note: Offers a bilingual MSW degree in English and Spanish

Morgan State University

  • MSW Tuition -- $514.50 per credit hour for residents | $932.50 per credit hour for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Urban Children, Youths, and Families

New Mexico State University

  • MSW Tuition -- $364.68 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced Generalist

Our Lady of the Lake University

  • MSW Tuition -- $889 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Direct Practice with Hispanic Children and Families

Portland State University

  • MSW Tuition -- $630.00 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Practice and Leadership in Communities and Organizations

Rutgers University

  • MSW Tuition -- $900 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical Social Work

Salisbury University

  • MSW Tuition -- $765 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, and Organizations

Simmons College

  • MSW Tuition – Total cost to a degree is $68,900.
  • On-campus visit required? Yes
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical Social Work, specialized areas in mental health and substance abuse; Child and Family Welfare; Trauma and Interpersonal Violence; and Health and Aging

University at Buffalo

  • MSW Tuition -- $713 per credit for New York residents and $777.03 per credit for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Trauma-Informed and Human Rights Perspective

University of Arkansas

  • MSW Tuition -- $420.19 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Multi-System Life Course

University of Central Florida

  • MSW Tuition -- $487.45 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No

University of Denver

  • MSW Tuition -- $947 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Mental Health and Trauma

University of Houston

  • MSW Tuition -- See University of Houston’s [Academic Calculator] (http://www.uh.edu/financial/undergraduate/tuition-fees/)
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical with optional emphasis in health and behavioral health

University of Louisville

  • MSW Tuition -- $714 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Military Social Work, Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Gerontology, Mental Health Counseling, and Psychology Oncology

University of Nevada, Reno

  • MSW Tuition -- $350 per credit for residents / $700 per credit for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Advanced Generalist

University of New England

  • MSW Tuition -- $890 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Individual, Family, & Group Practice (clinical-based) and Organizational and Community Practice (policy-based)

University of South Florida

  • MSW Tuition – Contact the school at 813-974-9416 for tuition information
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical Social Work Practice

University of Southern California

  • MSW Tuition -- $1,800 is the per credit hour for students enrolled in 1–14 units.
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Adult mental health and wellness; Children, youth, and families; Social change and innovation

University of Tennessee at Knoxville

  • MSW Tuition -- $6,542 per semester for residents / $15,751 per semester for non-residents
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical or Macro (Management, Leadership, and Community Practice)

Western New Mexico University

  • MSW Tuition -- $ 992.31 per 3 credit hours
  • On-campus visit required? No

Yeshiva University

  • MSW Tuition -- $1050 per credit hour
  • On-campus visit required? No
  • Specialized practice areas: Clinical Practice with Individuals & Families, Group Work & Community Practice

In Summary

Taking steps to pursue an MSW program in Virginia is a decision that may improve not only your life but also the lives of others. Whether you choose to study on-campus at a Virginia MSW program or to earn your MSW through a CSWE accredited online MSW program that is accepted in Virginia, you can rest assured that you will receive a quality education and expert guidance for social work licensure.

Works Cited

Association of Social Work Boards. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.aswb.org/

Careers in social work: Outlook, pay, and more: Career Outlook. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/article/social-workers.htm

Directory of Accredited Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx

Virginia Board of Social Work. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/social/

Workforce. Retrieved August 28, 2018, from https://www.samhsa.gov/workforce

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