Affordable North Carolina MSW Programs

Written by Jack Levinson

studying in the library

Going to graduate school is meant to be an investment that will pay you back with a thriving and remunerative career. But for many students, the high cost of tuition means debts that may feel insurmountable. If you’re a prospective student struggling to figure out how you can afford graduate school in the short-term and the long-term, don’t blame yourself: pursuing higher education is expensive, and many balk at the high overhead of sending oneself to school. That said, don’t give up on your goals, because there are still ways to make your educational dreams possible.

Thanks to affordable accredited online MSW programs, students from all economic backgrounds can find their social work education within reach.

Beyond the low cost of tuition, online Master’s in Social Work programs also allow greater scheduling flexibility, which can be a must for students whose plans for graduate school depend on maintaining a job at the same time. This game-changing educational model means that more and more talented students are able to attend MSW programs, and in turn enter the social work profession.

To learn more about making the cost of grad school work for you, the benefits of online education, and the best affordable online MSW programs in North Carolina, read on.

Taking on the High Cost of Graduate School

It’s a situation many prospective graduate students are familiar with: you’re calculating the cost of a master’s program against the income you’ll be able to earn while in school, and the numbers aren’t adding up. Many who are considering master’s programs end up giving up on the process, daunted by the expenses and the threat of a loss of income while taking classes. But with persistence, careful planning, and good research, it’s likely you can find an excellent program at a cost that is actually manageable for you.

You’re not alone if you’re worried graduate school is simply too expensive for you. But everyone should be able to access the incredible opportunities a graduate degree can bring.

It’s all a question of finding affordable online MSW programs and calculating your budget carefully to determine how much money you hope to earn while in school. This in turn can lead you toward a full-time or part-time academic track, depending on how much you need to work and how quickly you’d like to enter the field of social work.

Affordable Online MSW Programs Mean More People Can Become Social Workers

Prospective social work students who are considering their options are in a uniquely fortunate position that has only emerged over the past few years. Thanks to the arrival of online educational models, it’s now possible to take a full degree program’s course load remotely. (Some schools also make it possible to opt into a partially remote option.)

Just as part-time programs and night-time classes expand access to school to a huge number of working students, online degree programs extend opportunities even further.

Many students are concerned that online degree programs will be inferior to in-person options, or that degrees from such programs will not hold as much weight as those earned from traditional courses. However, there’s no reason to be worried. There are many affordable accredited online MSW programs that will earn you a degree exactly commensurate with one from an in-person program. In fact, many if not most in-person programs now also offer an online option, embracing this technology and the expanded student body it offers.

So what do online Master of Social Work programs provide? In short order:

  • Online degree programs make it possible for students to attend their favorite programs without needing to relocate, an absolute game-changer for students who don’t live near a school with a desirable MSW program. They also provide a crucial convenience to students who work or have family-raising responsibilities, eliminating the concerns that come with commuting and spending extended periods away from home.
  • Most online degree programs offer at least some classwork that can be completed asynchronously – in other words, on your own schedule. These can include pre-recorded lectures or other material review sessions. Being able to take one’s classes at your own pace is another key benefit of an online degree program for working students, as it means you can thoroughly organize your academic schedule around your work commitments.
  • Academic innovation. Beyond convenience, online degree programs are also spaces where innovative new approaches to learning are taking place. From enriched materials to improved opportunities for connections between students, online programs are helping to grow and evolve the field of social work in real time.
  • Last but certainly not least, online master’s programs can be significantly more cost-effective than in-person programs. Some of the most affordable online MSW programs actually offer a tuition that is lower than in-person alternatives. In all cases, students save on the many expenses that come from attending class on campus, such as transportation, housing, and campus fees. Because online programs make it easier to maintain outside employment while in school, students also are able to continue earning an income, perhaps the most significant factor of all.

Maybe online degree programs haven’t occurred to you as an option. You may even have a stigma against them, concerned that your experience won’t be up to par. The good news is, you can dismiss those fears: excellent affordable online MSW programs are plentiful, and there’s almost certainly one that will suit your needs.

Strategies for Finding an Affordable Online MSW Degree

If you’re struggling to find an affordable social work masters program, it may not be enough to know that options are out there – it’s a question of actually finding them. So how can a prospective student learn enough about a school to be sure they could actually handle the costs, course load, and deadlines?

Doing the research to find affordable online MSW programs takes a proactive approach that may require you to look beyond your own web browser, but it will reward you in the long run.

Here are a few things you should do to make the best determinations possible about your academic needs and the programs you are considering.

Now that you know a few of the best ways to track down the best affordable online MSW programs and the foremost considerations to take into account as you plan your educational journey, you’re ready to take the next steps toward becoming a social worker. Thanks to the arrival of affordable MSW programs online, your future social work career is more attainable than ever.


Do I need an MSW in order to become a social worker?

Yes. In the state of North Carolina (as well as the rest of the country), social workers are required to hold Master of Social Work degrees in order to qualify for licensure and in turn, become eligible for full-fledged social worker positions. This is true even for social work positions outside of clinical practice (such as therapists and counselors). This means that no matter what your specific professional goals are, if you are hoping to start a career in the field of social work, getting your MSW is a must.

Are the best affordable online MSW programs as good as in-person programs?

Absolutely. Like so many branches of education, the field of social work has quickly embraced remote technology, recognizing that online classes allow educational opportunities to more students. This means that you’ll receive just as good of an education from an online MSW program as an in-person one, and your degree will hold just as much standing as that of someone who completed an on-campus program.

Do online MSW degree programs take longer than in-person programs?

Not necessarily. When completed on a full-time schedule, online Master of Social Work programs will take the same amount of time as an on-campus program, which is two years total. Both in-person and online options are available on part-time schedules, which is likely to extend your studies by an additional year. It is possible that thanks to the flexibility of online programs, more students opt to pursue part-time degrees online, but this does not mean online programs automatically will take longer to complete.

Is the entirety of an online MSW program conducted online?

No. An online Master of Social Work program will make all class time remote, including lectures, seminar-style discussions, and group work. However, you can assume you will be expected to complete the field work component of your MSW in person. This is to help you gain exposure to the on-the-job responsibilities of social workers, deepen your connection to the branch of social work you are focused on, and introduce you to communities you may spend your career helping. Because of that, you should plan to have extra time in your schedule during your second year of your MSW program, as this is when your field work hours will commence.

How else can I receive financial support while pursuing my Master of Social Work?

Resourceful applicants can find a variety of funding opportunities. First thing’s first: you should always look into financial aid packages at the programs you’re looking into. You may need to apply specifically for additional funding, but this can be a make or break factor in whether or not you’re able to attend your dream program. It’s also always advised to look into outside scholarship, fellowship, and grant opportunities, which can be administered by government organizations as well as nonprofits. Because graduate school is so expensive across the country, many organizations exist to help students find the funding they need to commit to several years in school.