Social work professionals dedicate their professional lives to helping people find ways to live their best life. Many rewarding social work careers are first available by earning an undergraduate degree in social work. But direct care social work professionals typically are required by state agencies to hold a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree to apply for licensure.
So, if you want to study to become a direct care social worker at a New York-based institution, you’re in luck. There are numerous high-quality MSW programs in NYC that are available through on-campus, online, or hybrid formats.
Top 5 MSW programs in NYC
|1||The City University of New York (Lehman College)||New York City, New York|
|2||The City University of New York (CUNY – The College of Staten Island)||Staten Island, New York|
|3||The City University of New York (York College)||Queens, New York|
|4||The City University of New York (Hunter College)||New York City, New York|
|5||Touro College||New York City, New York|
Social workers help clients work through challenging situations and assist in finding ways to make more permanent changes to their clients’ environments and circumstances. Social workers help their clients by offering services available through social work organizations and advocating for policy changes that facilitate improvements to social conditions. Additionally, some social workers work with individuals and family members on a one-on-one basis or through group therapy.
Social work offers a tremendous variety of professional work opportunities and settings. Social work professionals work for private companies; federal, state, and municipal agencies; medical centers, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes; schools; and in the criminal justice system.
Social workers work in direct care, management, and administration. They also work as researchers, educators, and therapists. Some even apply their social work talents as members of local legislative councils or even elected political leaders.
Some of the top MSW programs in New York are listed below. It should be noted that many quality MSW programs are available in and around the NYC area, including New Jersey, upstate New York, and in southwestern Connecticut.
The most affordable of the MSW programs in NYC noted below are offered through the various affiliated colleges of the City University of New York System (CUNY – with 25 member campuses). CUNY is recognized as the largest public urban university system in the nation, with nearly 275,000 students. CUNY was created in 1961 by the state of New York’s then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller and was initially (and for a very long time) tuition-free for New York City residents.
CUNY has a long list of distinguished alumni that includes – Henry Kissinger, Bella Abzug, Jonas Salk, Jennifer Lopez, Barbara Boxer, Mel Brooks, Shirley Chisholm, Bernie Sanders, and Jerry Seinfeld, to name a few. The alumni are only matched by the amazing faculty over the years, which included – Allen Ginsberg, Michio Kaku, Paul Krugman, Abraham Maslow, John Matteson, Itzhak Perlman, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and Elie Wiesel, among many others.
Best 9 MSW Programs in NYC
The City University of New York (Lehman College)
The City University of New York (CUNY Lehman College) School of Social Work offers one of the best MSW programs in NYC that can be completed in two years on a full-time basis. Additionally, CUNY Lehman offers three other MSW academic delivery paths that allow for part-time studies for working learners. Classes for this degree program include social welfare policy analysis, human diversity, human behavior in the social environment, and special topics in social work, plus the state-required clinical field experience hours, to name a few.
The City University of New York (CUNY – The College of Staten Island)
Established in 1956, the City University of New York (CUNY – The College of Staten Island) one of the top CUNY MSW programs in NYC that can be completed in two years for full-time students. Classes for this graduate degree offered by the College of Staten Island include integrative social work practice for people with disabilities, ethics, and diversity, plus the required comprehensive experiential practicum.
The City University of New York (York College)
The City University of New York (CUNY York College) offers one of the top MSW programs in NYC that requires full-time study participation, which for this degree, with a specialization in healthcare, includes two evenings and Saturday classes, plus another two to three days required for practical field experience. Classes for this graduate degree in social work include social welfare and policy in healthcare, social work practice in healthcare settings and communities, human behavior and the social environment, and evaluation research in social work, to name a few.
The City University of New York (Hunter College)
Hunter College, a member school of the City University of New York (CUNY Hunter College), offers several MSW programs in NYC that provide social work students with a variety of educational options. In addition to the traditional two-year graduate program, Hunter College offers accelerated programs that can be completed in only 18 months, including a one-year residency program. Academic, social work specialties include aging, mental health, children and youth, immigrants, and the world of work. Additionally, many students opt for the school’s dual degree program offering an MSW with a Master of Science in Education (MEd).
Located in the heart of Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, New York, Touro College’s Graduate School of Social Work offers one of the top MSW programs in NYC that is available on-campus, through a hybrid delivered program, and as a full-time (less than two years to completion) or part-time students (3 – 4 years to completion). Clinical options for students enrolled in Touro College allow for specializing in the elderly, mental illness (through the NYSOMH), or veteran’s issues, among others.
Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler Social Work School offers a number of quality MSW programs in NYC that provide social work students several ways to earn their graduate degree in social work, plus more than 550 field placement options. In addition to online MSW program options, Yeshiva University offers six program concentrations and a CASAC credentialing program, plus three advanced practice methods for groups, communities, or individuals. Yeshiva University is the oldest higher learning institution that combines liberal arts with Jewish studies and education.
New York University
New York University’s Silver Social Work School offers one of the top MSW programs in NYC with its graduate social work degree that offers eight MSW degree academic pathways. In addition to exploratory social work degree options, NYU offers an accelerated 16-month option, a traditional two-year pathway, plus a host of part-time options, including international placements. All MSW students must matriculate through the program in a maximum of five years. The MSW graduate program begins with a generalist practice level, which is proceeded by a specialized practice level.
Located in upper New York City, Columbia University is an ivy-league higher learning institution often ranked among the top schools across the globe. The School of Social Work, located at Columbia University, was established in 1898, about one and one-half centuries after Columbia was established. Students can enter the program as full-time students who complete one of the top MSW programs in NYC in two years or longer as part-time students. It is noted that this degree program is available on-campus or online. Concentrations for this MSW degree include policy practice, social enterprise administration, advanced clinical social work practice, or advanced generalist practice.
Located in the Bronx, Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service offers a Master of Social Work degree (MSW) that is considered among the top 10% of MSW programs in NYC and across the country by US News. Fordham University’s MSW degree options are available online, hybrid, or on-campus.
Our MSW Programs in NYC Ranking Methodology
The schools listed above include a cross-section of MSW programs in NYC of both private and public institutions of higher education. The colleges and universities have been ranked with the most affordable schools listed first.
Each school includes specific information about the school that will help each potential student determine if the school’s offerings meet the student’s academic and career objectives. The tuition data represents the costs of tuition for the 2020 to 2021 school year unless otherwise noted. The information for each of the MSW programs in NYC disclosed above includes:
- Tuition fees are per semester, but, where noted, including 15 credit units for schools that disclose per credit fees only.
- Semester credits are included to identify the depth of the work required to earn the MSW degree.
- Student enrollment data indicates to prospective students the size of the school.
- Accreditation information is included to help students know who has accredited the program’s contents.
- The NYC borough in which each school is located.
It is noted that all data and information used in the above analysis was extracted from each higher learning institution’s website or the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website.
How Many NYC MSW Programs Are CSWE Accredited?
As you are looking for the best MSW programs in NYC, you may want to look at a number of different programs to determine which can offer you the best overall benefits. There are about 25 colleges in the state of New York that offer Master of Social Work programs. Of these, there are about 17 of them located in or near New York City. That includes both in-person and online programs.
MSW Salary in NYC
The salary of an individual working after earning their education with an MSW program will range widely. In New York City, this is typically between $75,100 and $91,435, though there are a variety of factors that play a role in that. Salary.com indicates that the average person working as a social worker in New York City earned $82,922 in June of 2023.
What Can I Do with an MSW Degree in NYC
Once you obtain your education through the MSW programs NYC offers, the next step is to obtain licensing, and then you can start to work in the field. Some of the potential career options for those who work through this process include:
- Child, Family, or School Social Worker
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker
- Medical and Health Services Manager
- Social and Community Services Manager
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
You may be able to work in doctor’s offices, specialized facilities, rehab centers, hospitals, and emergency rooms.
What Is the Cost of MSW Programs in NYC?
The cost of the MSW Programs NYC offers will differ significantly from one school to the next. The cost of these programs will range based on the number of credit hours, the overall school cost, and the type of program. In many situations, you can expect to pay $300 to $800 per credit hour, but there could also be a wide range of MSW programs New York schools offer with scholarships, grants, and financial assistance options. The key here is to know that financing your MSW degree may be common, but there are ways to reduce costs. All schools post their per credit-hour cost online.
NYC Social Worker Licensure Requirements
To obtain a licensed clinical social worker in New York State, you must:
- Be of good moral character
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Have completed an accredited master’s degree in social work, and that degree must include at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework within an accepted department
- Have at least three years of post MSW education in a supervised arena, which typically means in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based planning
- Meet all necessary clinical examination requirements set by the Department of Education
- Complete the necessary training related to identifying and reporting child abuse which is provided by the state
New York City Social Worker Career Outlook
MSW programs New York offers prepare students to work in a range of career paths and with numerous potential options for further growth. As a global city, New York City MSW programs will prepare students for programs around the world. The growth outlook for this field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 9%, which means that, from 2021 to 2031, there will be a need for an additional 64,000 people across the country.
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