Online Master of Social Work


The Online Master of Social Work Program from Fordham University

Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service was ranked as one of the nation’s 2022 Best Schools for Social Work.1 This same top-tier education is also available online at Fordham. OnlineMSW@Fordham is future-focused and offers an advanced integrated practice curriculum that spans populations and contexts. Students focus on graduate-level social work concepts, undergo extensive fieldwork training in or near their communities, and graduate ready to sit for licensure in their state.

Online MSW Admissions

The online MSW program seeks highly capable and dedicated students who are committed to the profession’s values and ethics. We review applications holistically to ensure we admit a diversified population of qualified students with a range of academic backgrounds and professional skills.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.6 (3.0 or higher preferred), as well as 18 undergraduate liberal arts credits. Learn more about online MSW admission requirements.

To apply, you must complete or submit the following:

  • Online application
  • Personal statement
  • Undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate transcripts (electronic preferred)
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Current résumé/CV
  • $60 application fee

View a complete list of application items here.

Requirements for International Applicants

International applicants must reside in the United States for the duration of their enrollment in the online MSW program. To apply, you may be required to submit the following items in addition to the standard application items:

  • Certified English translations of transcripts (if in a language other than English)
  • English language proficiency assessment (if undergraduate degree was not taught primarily in English), such as TOEFL.

Learn more about international applicant requirements.

Female student smiling and speaking to three other students, all sitting at round table

Program Options

The online MSW program offers two plans of study—traditional and advanced standing—to ensure your experience best fits your academic background and personal schedule.

Advanced Standing Online MSW

MSW candidates who have previously earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), or who have completed the first year of a CSWE-accredited program within the last five years, may be eligible for advanced standing. The advanced-standing plan of study includes 31 credits of advanced direct-practice coursework, and may be completed in as few as eight months full time, or 16 months part time.

Traditional Online MSW

Candidates with a bachelor’s degree—other than a BSW—from an accredited institution, and who have not completed the first year of a CSWE-accredited program within the last five years, will enter the traditional plan of study. The traditional plan of study is made of 62 credits of generalist and advanced direct-practice coursework, and may be completed in as few as 16 months full time, or 24 to 32 months part time.

Tailor the Online MSW Curriculum to Your Goals

Fordham’s online MSW emphasizes holistic, 21st-century professional social work practice as defined by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). We prepare students for meaningful careers across a range of practice areas, which may include:

  • Clinical practice: Provide direct services that address clients’ overall well-being.
  • Organizational leadership: Work effectively with entire communities and organizations, including private and public companies and non-for-profits.
  • Advocacy: Manage organizations, create policy, and advance social, economic, and political change.

Curriculum Overview

Our skills-based, integrated approach to social work education prepares you to operate successfully at all levels of practice, from working with individuals to working with entire communities. You will learn a range of advanced concepts and skills, from culturally responsive, evidence-informed direct practice, to policy advocacy and research, all of which speak to Fordham’s compassion-based, community-focused values.

The curriculum features both a generalist phase and a specialist phase — Traditional MSW students must complete both phases, whereas advanced-standing MSW students need only to complete the specialist phase.

Traditional MSW students take 62 credits of foundation and advanced-practice coursework. Advanced-standing students build on their BSW foundation and take 31 credits of advanced-practice coursework. 

The program can be completed in as few as four terms for Traditional MSW students, and two terms for Advanced-Standing MSW students.

Generalist Phase (Traditional MSW)

If you are enrolled as a Traditional MSW student, you will begin your program by building a strong foundation in human rights and social justice, the history and evolution of social work, theoretical underpinnings of the field, and methods for conducting research and evaluating practice.

Each of your eight foundation courses will prepare you for your clinical field training, as well as for serving communities, organizations, groups, families, and individuals across the lifespan.

Specialist Phase (Traditional and Advanced-Standing MSW)

Both Traditional and Advanced Standing MSW students will complete coursework centered around individuals and families, organizations and community, evaluation, and policy practice and advocacy.

The specialist curriculum is responsive to the changing needs of the social work profession as well as to a student’s unique interests and needs. Each course imbeds the competencies required for integrated professional practice, while also providing the forward-facing skills required of social workers to effectively support diverse individuals and communities. 

You can customize your program by selecting courses in a particular area, or you can utilize our sophisticated matrix of offerings to create a more inter-professional focus.

man helping young girl with her school assignment


Field Education Near Your Community

Field education is an integral part of the online MSW program. Both Traditional and Advanced Standing MSW students may begin their clinical training soon after starting classes. This allows students to spend the maximum amount of time possible refining their skills while serving their community and tackling urgent social needs.

Field Education Phases

Generalist Field Work (Traditional MSW)

Designed for those in the traditional plan of study, this phase exposes students to foundational graduate-level social work tasks and opportunities. Students spend approximately 50 to 60% of their time in direct client contact in diverse settings like schools, nonprofits, or government agencies. Students also receive at least one hour of individual clinical supervision per week.

Specialist Field Work (Traditional and Advanced-Standing MSW)

All online MSW students complete specialist field placement work, typically in their preference of micro or macro field work. In this phase, students operate more autonomously while still receiving at least one hour of individual clinical supervision per week.

Common tasks in micro field work could include individual, family, or group therapy, or treatment planning. Common tasks in macro field work could include advanced research projects, engagement with political entities, or program evaluation.

Field Advising Seminar

Every MSW student completes a field advising seminar each year they are enrolled. These seminars are led by faculty advisers. Students meet with their faculty adviser and classmates in small groups to discuss their field education experience, receive direct feedback, and create a community of learning.

Online MSW Student Experience

Fordham’s online MSW program offers a fulfilling online academic experiences focused on caring for the whole person—and that starts with caring about our students.

The program is designed specifically for online learning: It integrates classes, coursework, and communication into one intuitive platform. We are dedicated to help future practitioners begin improving, more effectively, the lives of others and of their communities, as well as prepare for licensure in their state.

Here are a few highlights of the online experience:

  • Live classes hosted weekly in a digital classroom, let by Fordham’s expert social work faculty
  • Small group break-out sessions for peer discussion and opportunities for real-time feedback
  • Mobile app for completing assignments, attend classes, and more, all on the go
  • Face-to-face study sessions with classmates for total academic immersion
  • Live, 24/7 chat with technical support specialists
  • Lifelong membership into the same Fordham alumni network as on-campus students

Student Support

Your personal and professional responsibilities do not fade while you study toward your MSW degree. Fordham recognizes this challenge and seeks to fully support students as individuals with busy lives. We’ve carefully crafted our online experience to offer a wide range of comprehensive support that is rooted in our tradition of caring for the whole person.

Here are a few of the academic and technological resources you will encounter:

  • An Admissions Counselor who will answer your questions about the curriculum and student experience while guiding you through the application process.
  • An academic adviser who will help you choose your courses and help you stay on track to earn your degree.
  • A placement specialist who will identify local and faculty approved sites where you can practice key social work skills.
  • A field adviser who will provide constructive, ongoing professional feedback.
  • A student support adviser who will acclimate you to the online campus, check in with you along the way, and serve as a resource throughout your journey.
  • Career Services specialists who will help you define your professional goals and prepare for the next step in your career.
  • Technical support specialists who will be available 24/7 to help, if needed.

The digital campus connects students to the school and greater Fordham community. Online MSW students create lasting connections with experienced practitioners—and classmates—who share their commitment to serving others.

You will graduate prepared to pursue licensure in your state, and to confidently pursue social work employment.