The cost of obtaining an MSW is no minor issue, but there are a number of factors that can mitigate the cost of a graduate program in social work based on the school you select. Graduate programs at well endowed universities are usually more supportive of students than is the case at the undergraduate level. Schools like the University of Pennsylvania underwrite just about all their doctoral students and most of the masters programs as well. These may be partial grants or scholarships, but there is usually something available for virtually every student. The University of Denver provides support to 90% of their MSW students; New York University allocates aid to 75% of MSW enrollees.
There are also work-study programs available at the graduate level that aren't to be found during the first four years of college. For an MSW student this would be a field placement that provides some sort of stipend - usually through a funding source from the school. Any sort of payment for internship rendered in the field will help to offset living expenses if nothing else. Our brief sketches below are designed to highlight the range of tuition costs that you'll encounter in MSW programs; the level of university support to offset these costs is something that students should explore individually. All of the costs you see listed below are for "traditional" enrollee, which means students who did not major in social work as undergraduates. Those who did complete a bachelor's in social work will have a vastly reduced tuition cost for the MSW as the credit requirements are much lower.
- Arizona State University is juggling the loss of stimulus funds and state budget cutbacks in assessing their tuition increase for 2011. By their estimate it is slightly above the median for public universities of their caliber. Tuition for two-year graduate programs will be $8,848 per semester with another increase likely the following year. That puts total tuition at about $17,500 per year or $35,000 for the two year program.
- San Diego State University has an annual tuition rate for 2011 graduate students who are California residents of $14,870 which includes all mandatory fees. That would push the two year tuition total to near $30,000, with increases sure to follow in the coming years.
- Boston University has an annual tuition for full time MSW students of $21,500 per year plus another $400 in fees. Completing this program in two years would result in a tuition bill of almost $44,000.
- Colorado State University charges a flat $444 per credit, which adds up to $27,528 in tuition for the sixty two credit program. There would be some campus fees on top of this cost; there are slight variations in tuition cost depending on which campus you select.
- University of New England offers a two year online MSW program that is fully accredited, with excellent support from the school for field placement. Their costs are currently $715 per credit for a 64 credit program, which translates into $47,760 in tuition costs that will reach $50,000 with the addition of technology fees and other ancillary charges.
- Fordham University also charges a flat rate per credit for graduate studies. In the field of social sciences that figure is $787; the 66 credit program for traditional students would cost about $52,000 without the additional fees added in. The cost for students who graduated with a BS in social work is exactly half, as the advanced program requires 33 credits.
- University of Iowa has managed to stave off the budget increases that have plagued so many public schools in recent years. The current tuition and fee costs for an Iowa resident enrolled in the MSW program are $9,669 per year. Without including living expenses, that is a bargain rate for an MSW at an excellent school, totaling $19,339 for the two years - including books.
- University of Chicago has a flat rate for tuition on a per-quarter basis, for full time students. Cost per quarter is $11,965, which with fees and books is going to lead to a tuition cost approaching $75,000. This program is also ranked among the top five in the nation consistently.
- University of California/Berkeley was charging 5,616.25 per semester for state residents, a cost that included student health insurance. That would result in a total tuition cost of $22,465 plus the student fees, which at Berkeley can be another few hundred dollars per semester. Nevertheless it's an incredible bargain for a California resident, as the program is ranked among the nation's top ten. But costs have escalated dramatically over the last year and remain in flux as the University's budget has been axed by the state.