Military Social Work Programs Online

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A military social work program, you will find, is most often a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Here, you would study the many ways to help people solve and cope with problems. Then, you will learn to apply these concepts to support active duty personnel, veterans and their families.

If you want to utilize your counseling methods, then you need a master’s degree and a state license. You will also need 2 years of supervised field work. Earning a military social work degree may ready you to pursue this licensure. Or, at the bachelor’s level, you would be prepared to help out as a case manager.


Master of Social Work  Military Social Work

In the online MSW at USC, you will find both an advanced standing program (37 credits) and traditional (60 credit) program. The Military Social Work track helps you learn how to meet the unique needs of active military members, veterans and their families.

Course Examples:

  • Clinical Practice with the Military Family
  • Clinical Practice with Service Members and Veterans
  • Military and Veterans Policy and Program Management

Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) Military Social Work Specialization

The online MSSW at the University of Louisville offers you an advanced standing (30 credit) program and a regular (60 credit) program. Here, you would complete an advanced field practicum in an approved military social work placement.

Course Examples:

  • Military Social Work
  • Mental Health
  • Psychopathology

Master of Social Work

The online MSW at Simmons allows you to meld social justice values with a strong emphasis on field education. Here, you will find full time, part time, and accelerated options. You can choose from courses of study in child and family, mental health and addictions, as well as health and aging.

Course Examples:

  • Social Policy
  • Human Behavior
  • Advanced Clinical Practice

MSW Specialty

Usually, you will find military social work to be an area of emphasis within broader MSW programs. At the most basic, you will study specific ways to assess and support this vital group. This can mean you could study military culture in order to understand specific issues of concern:

  • Support for stressed military personnel facing deployment
  • Anxiety of active duty and veterans upon their return home
  • Physical, mental and psycho social issues of service members and veterans
  • Assisting service members find health and career services
  • Counseling for military families
  • Helping to provide links to resources (career, financial, housing and benefits)
  • Stressors for active duty, guard, reserve and veteran groups
  • Post traumatic stress

In many schools, you will see two types of programs: (1) traditional or general, (2) advanced standing. You will find that advanced standing MSW programs often entail about 30 to 37 credits. This is right for you if you have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). As such, you will skip the basic courses. Instead, your classes will cover clinical upper level content. As such, your classes will be shorter, though you will complete a practicum in your area of emphasis.


Before we talk curriculum, it’s important to know what kind of program you’re looking for.

  • Are you new to social work?
  • Do you already have a BSW?
  • Would you prefer to study addictions, aging, mental health or the needs of children?

In general MSW Programs, you will often need to complete 60 to 65 credits. In this case, you will be building a foundation, as the courses cater to non social work students. You will still need a bachelor’s degree to enroll, but it doesn’t need to be a BSW.

In such programs, you will complete two parts plus  fieldwork. Firstly, you’ll take foundation courses. Secondly, you will take advanced practice courses. You will often take a wide range of courses in human behavior and social justice. In these courses, you will touch on how to assess and work with a wide variety of people.

After this part of the program, you will likely take higher level, clinical classes. In these, you may get into leadership and management themes in social work. You may, for instance, study ethics, diagnosis and assessment. In some schools, this is the point where you choose a direction.

In advanced practice classes, you would cover how to intervene when faced with a problem. As a result, you taking these classes may expand your skills. If you choose a direction, it may be a useful way to leverage your interests. Your interest, for example, might be addiction, domestic abuse, or policy advocacy.

Some common courses include:

Clinical Practice with the Military Family: This type of class may help you understand the family life cycle for military families. How the demands and stressors of military culture affect dynamics. For instance, how they cope with the deployment of a parent, spouse or child.

Clinical Practice with Service Members and Veterans: Here, you may study active duty, retired and deployed service members and veterans. What are their needs? How to deal with health, mental and psychosocial issues. It may pay attention to themes like combat trauma, stigma and mental health therapy.

Field Education Internship: Apply what you learned in real settings. It’s a part of all the programs below although each school specifies the number of hours and location.

Substance Use and Use Disorders: In this course, you will learn to prevent, identify, and provide specialty appropriate interventions for patients who use drugs.

Intro to Family Therapy: Learn various therapeutic modalities in family therapy. You would discuss indirect methods for initiating and sustaining change in family systems.

Mental Health: This course will help you identify, understand, and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.

Trauma and Interpersonal Violence: Learn how to focus on the social forces, prevalence, dynamics, types, effects and interventions specific to trauma and interpersonal violence.

Social Change: In this course, you will gain an understanding of how society changes through social movements and how these movements form and evolve over time.


If you are a full time student, it may take 2 years or less to earn an online MSW in military social work. To get to this point, you will need to first earn a bachelor’s degree.

Some BSW programs could take you 4 years to complete. You could also attend a school (e.g. Simmons University) that offers a 3+1 program. In that case, you could roll the BSW and MSW degrees into 4 years.



School# of Credits RequiredStart DatesMinimum Months to Complete
Northcentral University36Multiple24
Simmons65September12 to 16
University of Southern California35Multiple12


What you will pay for an online military social work degree depends on several factors. One is where you live. In state tuition for a social work degree will cost you $7,170. For out of state tuition, you could pay $32,748.

The other factor you need to consider is how many credits you have to complete. Many schools charge by a per credit rate while others may charge a flat fee for the course. If you are paying per credit, then the fewer credits you need to complete, the fewer you need to pay for. Sometimes, you can reduce costs through eligible transfer credits.

School# of Credits RequiredCost Per CreditTotal Tuition Cost
University of Southern California37$1,863$68,931
Northcentral University36$2,163(per course)$25,956
University of Louisville30$714$21,420


As per Data USA, you can see, there were over 794 schools that offer social work degrees or programs. From those schools, you will find there were 58,326 social work degrees awarded to students. The majority of these, you will find, were degrees from MSW programs.

School2021 Degrees awarded2023/24 Tuition (out of state unless *)
University of Southern California1,081$68,237*
Rutgers University New Brunswick784$36,001
The University of Texas at Arlington985$29,660
Fordham University1,058$61,992*
New York University555$60,438*
Aurora University712$28,220*
Wayne State University454$30,419
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis617$33,717
CUNY Hunter College661$15,332
Columbia University in the City of New York501$69,045*

Estimated for full time, beginning undergrad students


There are two main reasons you are wise to look for an accredited online military social work degree. The first speaks to your program’s quality. The second fact you need to consider revolves around licensure.

Regionally accredited schools, you will find, may also have programs that are CSWE accredited. The Council on Social Work Education (or CSWE) is a national association. It has a Commission on Accreditation. This, you should know, is the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the U.S.

Did you know that as a policy and standards setter, the CSWE has criteria which a school must meet? This, you will find, includes the types of courses and skills in a curriculum. Overall, you will find, they conduct a stringent peer review of each social work program to check for compliance.

Candidacy, or the review, you will find, takes about three years. It does not guarantee accreditation, you should know. However, once accredited, you can rest ‘reasonably assured’ of the program’s quality. That said, your school must reaffirm its status every few years. This means maintaining or improving itself.

The CSWE, you will find, only accredits programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. You can find a directory on their website. This is a great way to check where your choice schools stand. It is something for you to keep in mind, since this relates to the second point, licensure.

You may have gathered that social work is a regulated field. As such, you will find that each state has policies about licensure. Yet, there is one rule of thumb per the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). To pursue a license, you will usually need to earn your degree from a CSWE accredited program.


Did you know that the number of people in the social work workforce is 788,822 strong? Also, as you can guess, it’s growing by 3.54%. Reports also point to a gender imbalance. This, you will find, is because 87% of employees are women. The average age is 43.1 years. Newcomers are getting younger, but in one year there has only been a 0.26% change in the average.

Are you interested in this track? Well, it’s an exciting time for you to pursue a career in social work. Per, the employment of social workers is on the rise by 7% through 2032. This is much faster than average for all occupations.

Projections are even more favorable if you are interested in a specific type of social work. The demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers is growing by 18%. A close second, the growth rate for health care social workers is 17%.


StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Rhode Island140$93,520
District of Columbia280$94,250
New Hampshire80$93,910


There are a variety of exciting career paths you can pursue with a military social work degree. For entry level roles like case worker and mental health assistant, you can expect to need a BSW degree. Clinical roles will require you to have an MSW and possible state license.


As a military social worker, your primary focus centers on providing support to active service members and veterans. This pivotal role can be fulfilled as a civilian professional or while serving actively or formerly in the military.

Individuals with military backgrounds often face unique challenges stemming from their experiences. These challenges encompass isolation, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, financial strains, and the transitional hurdles of shifting to civilian life post-deployment.

In military social work, your role revolves around tackling these challenges head-on. This could entail utilizing your expertise in homeless outreach social work, facilitating access to essential services, offering counseling to military families, or assisting individuals coping with addiction.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $58,380per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 7% (Faster than average)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work


As a social worker, your primary role revolves around assisting individuals in navigating their daily challenges. However, clinical social workers take an additional step by diagnosing and addressing mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

At the Bachelor’s level (BSW), social workers often collaborate with various groups, community organizations, and policymakers. This involvement operates at a broader, macro level, involving the development or enhancement of programs, services, and policies. This might include advocating for marginalized communities.

To practice clinical social work, an MSW degree and licensure are necessary. In this capacity, you could provide therapy to individuals, families, groups, or couples. Your specialization might focus on areas like school social work, child and family services, healthcare, addiction, or mental health.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $58,380per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 32% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work


Mental health and substance abuse social workers specialize in addressing mental health issues or addiction concerns. In this role, you may provide counseling and support services, such as facilitating support groups or coordinating 12-step programs.

You might also engage in military support programs, like the Navy’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program or the Air Force’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program. Alternatively, opportunities exist in outpatient centers or family services to support those struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $53,710per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 18% (Much faster than average)

Typical Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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