Online Campus

Welcome to the School of Social Work’s Online MSW Campus!

Advantages of Our Online MSW Programs

  • Avoiding the disruption and expense of a move to New York City.
  • Not having to travel anywhere to take your classes.
  • Being able to do your field placement in the city where you live.
  • Building a strong network of contacts through close online interactions with faculty and peers.
  • Knowing you can balance your studies with other life commitments.

Video Highlights:

Elia Inglis: “I chose to study social work online because I did not want to live in New York City. Online is a really great way to still get to go to Columbia but in a different environment.”

Kirsten Gundel: “I want to live in San Diego so I thought having a field placement somewhere I wanted to live once I graduated would lend itself to getting a job.”

Ready to Apply?

Our 2019 MSW application is now open. You may begin your application by clicking here.


MSW Online: Three Key Points

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Online students can complete most programmatic elements—including orientation, coursework, and the final capstone program—entirely online. Online MSW program students are welcome to visit campus at any time, and they can take part in the week-long orientation held on campus, if they wish (though residential orientation does not take the place of the required online orientation).

For the capstone project at the end of their final year, online students may participate in person or virtually by computer linkup; alternatively, they can complete a thesis project. Go to Capstone Options for Online Students (PDF: 1 page).

At graduation, online MSW students are urged to come to campus to take part in this crowning ceremony; they are not, however, required to attend graduation to receive their diplomas. 

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Most classes are synchronous (live). You must always be at your computer when class is taking place.

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The online MSW offers 5 program choices:

  1. Two-Year Program
  2. Advanced Standing
  3. Reduced Residency
  4. Extended Program
  5. Transfer Program

And for degree specializations, it offers 2 concentrations

  1. Advanced Clinical Practice
  2. Social Enterprise Administration

—and 2 fields of practice:

  1. Family, Youth & Children’s Services
  2. Health, Mental Health & Disabilities

Testimonials on Online MSW Courses from Recent CSSW Graduates

Maciel jimenez smiling

Maciel Jiminez (MSW’16)
“My confidence has increased, as has my accountability, strategic time management, and online professional written and verbal communication, thus furthering my professional development.”

Kathleen Ebbitt (MSW’15)
“I oversee a small staff of writers largely online, and my online management courses at CSSW have enhanced my ability to communicate, delegate, and strategically plan my team in a digital space. Having practice through my online classes in coordinating in digital teams gave me a definite leg-up as a candidate during the interview process, and the strategic time management and discipline I learned from my online education has helped me immensely as a new manager. Further, I feel confident in my ability to meaningfully connect and manage staff online — even though some of my writers are living as far away as Peru!”

Man in suit smiling in library

Derrick Li-Wei Kung (MSW’15)
“The online course has helped develop my virtual presentation and communication skills, which is key as I will likely be in positions in which I am expected to deliver effective online trainings and webinars.”

Cost of Attendance & Financial Aid

As a student on our online campus, your tuition will be calculated per credit. The per-credit charge for 2017–2018 is $1,504. Full-time students typically enroll for 13.5–16.5 credits per term, which brings the total tuition to $20,304-$24,816 per term. In addition to tuition, you will be charged a $200/term Learning Resource Fee. Other possible fees include the Health Service Fee and Student Medical Insurance Fee. Costs for books, transportation, and personal and living expenses will vary by student. These costs will be estimated and included in your budget and financial aid package. For an explanation and breakdown of fees, go to Cost of Attendance, Online Option.

Financial aid is available for Online MSW students. To find out how to apply, go to Financial Aid page.

Student Support Services

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Online students have access to the same team of student support professionals as our residential students, to ensure you have the best possible Columbia experience. Officers in Advising, Financial Aid, Student Services, Field Education, and Career and Leadership Development are available to answer your questions.

You may also make appointments with our Writing Center for assistance with writing assignments.

It is important to note that our Office of Advising will assign a social work professional who lives in your area to serve as your advisor. Your advisor’s role is to support your academic coursework and field work, as well as the integration between the two kinds of learning. You will have face-to-face meetings with your advisor once a month.

Students enrolled in both the Online or NYC-based campuses follow the same policies and procedures for addressing student grievances, should any such issues or concerns arise while studying at Columbia. Information on how to file grievances, either academic or non-academic, can be found here.

Additionally, frequently asked questions about various aspects of your program can be found here.

Have questions on topics common to all students, such as Evaluation Methods, Personal and Health Matters, Safety, and related topics? Find answers here.