10 Best HBCU MSW Programs – 2023

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Do you have a bachelor’s degree in social work or a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to find a meaningful career with a higher degree? Does the idea of helping individuals, families, and social groups improve their health, well-being, and lives interest you? Would you like to earn your degree from a college founded on strong principles, solid values, and ethics? If so, an HBCU MSW program could be the option you have been searching for!

HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) offer excellent opportunities for prospective students like you who want to earn a graduate degree and make a difference in others' lives. If you have thought of enrolling in an HBCU and becoming a Master of Social Work, you may wonder, “What are the best HBCU MSW programs?”

I am glad you asked! In this article, I will share information with you about the nation’s 10 best HBCU MSW programs for 2023. You will find insight into the programs, graduate income opportunities, job outlook and opportunities, and answers to frequently asked questions. When you finish reading, you will have enough information to decide if further research is needed or if you want to apply to one of these exceptional programs and earn your degree.



Historically Black Colleges and Universities were originally founded to provide Black Americans with an opportunity to receive higher education. HBCUs continue the legacy of helping Black students receive an education and thrive professionally and academically. Today, students from all racial and cultural backgrounds attend HBCUs, enjoying the benefit of a diverse, inclusive, and nurturing learning environment. These colleges aim to embrace the American education experience in its entirety. HBCUs offer undergraduate and graduate programs, including degree opportunities in criminal justice, nursing, psychology, and social work, to name a few.

The goal of the best HBCU MSW programs is to prepare students for generalist practice in social work in private and public human service agencies. These programs prepare you for the independent delivery of professional social work services as an advanced social work practitioner. Top HBCU MSW programs will teach students to think critically and solve large and small-scale issues to enhance the lives of people in need. These programs are dedicated to training students to have long and happy careers and to foster in them a strong work ethic and a desire for professional development.


HBCU MSW programs can be challenging. You will learn foundational courses but also master graduate-level social work coursework, practical training, and specialty-specific classes. Despite the level of difficulty and challenges, with determination and dedication to your studies, you can succeed!


When you pursue your degree through HBCU MSW programs, you will develop several important skills and abilities. The skills and abilities you obtain will help you become an effective social worker. The following are some of the most important skills and abilities you develop.

1. You will learn to assess people in need and create individualized plans to help meet their needs:

As an MSW, you will work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and with diverse beliefs. Your job is to meet them where they are, so to speak. HBCU MSW programs prepare students to assess people based on a holistic approach and to create and implement plans to help meet their needs or improve their current situations.

2. You will develop the ability to use active listening:

Active listening is essential for effective social work care. In your HBCU MSW program, you will learn ways to promote active listening by concentrating, asking open-ended questions, and using techniques such as summarizing and paraphrasing to engage clients and build a trusting relationship.

3. You will learn to help clients navigate through the social care system:

As a Master of Social Work, you will have an in-depth knowledge of the social work system and can use your knowledge and skills to help clients in need navigate the system. This means you can help your clients find resources for appropriate care, housing, employment, or financial assistance and help them get on the path to a healthier, more stable life.

4. You will learn to coordinate care with other social workers and interprofessional team members:

At times, your clients will need more help than you can provide alone. In HBCU MSW programs, you will learn to collaborate with other team members and to know when to refer clients for more specialized care. Social work is about the well-being of those you serve, and as such, learning to collaborate and coordinate care for clients is essential.

5. You will develop an understanding of self-care as it applies to both you and your clients:

Self-care is important for everyone, no matter what our background, profession, or personal situation. As an MSW, you may feel overwhelmed or overworked at times, which can lead to burnout. Clients become overwhelmed with situations that make them feel weak or vulnerable. In your HBCU MSW program, you will learn about self-care measures and how to use them for yourself and to teach them to your clients. Simple things like eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and getting plenty of rest can make a significant difference in your and your client's health and well-being.


As you search for the right school and program to earn your degree, comparing the pros and cons is always important. If you weigh the difference between the advantages and disadvantages of a social work career, you can make a more informed decision about whether the path of social work and pursuing HBCU MSW programs is right for you.

The following are five of the main advantages of earning your degree through these unique programs.

1. You can help people through difficult life situations:

One of the greatest advantages of earning your degree through HBCU MSW programs is that you can make a significant impact in others’ lives. With an MSW, you will have the authority, knowledge, and skills needed to advocate for clients. You may work with children, the elderly, or families in crisis.

2. Social workers with an MSW report high levels of job satisfaction:

According to a report published by the National Association of Social Workers, 90.4% of MSWs who responded to a job satisfaction survey reported being “very or somewhat satisfied” with their roles.

3. You can diagnose and treat patients:

With a Master of Social Work degree from an HBCU, you can become a clinical social worker. In this role, you will have the authority to diagnose and treat patients with substance abuse problems and mental or behavioral health issues. If treating patients interests you but you do not want to become a nurse practitioner or physician, this is an awesome opportunity.

4. The job outlook for graduates of HBCU MSW programs is good:

If you are looking for a job with meaning and the potential for long-term growth and stability, earning a Master of Social Work degree is a perfect option. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this industry will grow by more than 11% through at least 2031.

5. With a Master of Social Work degree, you can choose from a wide range of social worker job options:

Another excellent advantage of HBCU MSW programs is the variety of social worker specialties upon which you can focus your career. Just a few examples of types of social worker jobs you can get with an MSW include Criminal Justice Social Worker, Environmental Social Worker, Occupational Social Worker, and Political Social Worker.

6. Attending an HBCU MSW program offers more than the opportunity to earn a degree:

Earning a high-quality degree is of utmost importance to anyone who wants a successful career. Historically Black Colleges and Universities encourage competitive learning, pushing you to do your best, and have long histories of influential alumni, academic excellence, and positive societal impacts. HBCU MSW programs offer a sense of community, making it easy to form meaningful relationships with peers and professors.


Like all career options, there are both pros and cons of being a social worker and earning a degree through HBCU MSW programs. As you continue to read and research, compare the advantages and disadvantages and determine if the risk or downside is worth what you will gain in the end.

1. MSW jobs are often stressful:

Although you have the privilege of helping others, the truth is your job as a Master of Social Work will involve stressful situations. You may work with clients who are angry, victims of crimes, or battling mental health issues. Knowing how to approach and care for these clients requires patience and skill. Despite your best efforts, there are times when you will feel overwhelmed or stressed.

2. You could have a heavy caseload:

Depending on where you work and your defined role, you could manage 15 or more cases at one time. This is especially true in areas where social work agencies are understaffed. Each case assigned to you requires your time and attention. You must learn to prioritize client needs using clinical reasoning and time management to get the job done.

3. Some cases may put your safety at risk:

At one time, I worked home health and often went to some homes and neighborhoods where safety was a huge risk. More than once I was put in situations where I could have experienced serious harm. As an MSW, there will be times when your cases put you in places where safety is at risk. For example, you may visit homes where there is suspected abuse or neglect. Some clients may resist your presence or feel angry because you are in their homes or on their property. If you work in a case where there is suspected physical or mental abuse or the presence of drugs is suspected, it is wise to ask a member of law enforcement to accompany you.


One of the most important things to verify when choosing a college degree program is accreditation. The best HBCU MSW programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

S.NO.Accrediting Agency
1Council on Social Work Education


HBCU MSW programs start at different times throughout the year. Some programs offer one start date each year, usually in the fall or spring. Other schools offer multiple start dates. The following are the start dates for five of the nation’s top programs.

Howard University begins its HBCU MSW program in the spring and fall semesters of each academic year.

At Grambling State University, classes begin twice yearly in the fall and spring.

Clark Atlanta University begins classes in the summer and fall semesters.

At Jackson State University, the HBCU MSW programs have different start dates. Advanced Standing students begin in the summer semester. Full-time traditional students start in the fall semester. Part-time traditional students begin in the summer semester, as well.

Alabama A&M University offers three start dates for its programs in the summer, fall, and spring semesters each year.


The credit requirements for the top HBCU MSW programs vary depending on whether you enroll in an Advanced Standing or Traditional program. Most programs range between 38 and 60 credits.

At Clark Atlanta University, the two- and three-year campus-based traditional MSW programs feature 59-credit curriculum plans. The advanced standing pathway requires students to complete 38 credits.

Norfolk State University offers five specialization options for its HBCU MSW programs. The School, Military, and Macros specializations require 63 credits. The Child Welfare and Clinical specializations are 60 credit pathways.

If you pursue your degree at Albany State University, you will complete 64 credits.

At Grambling State University, students complete between 39 and 63 credits. The two-year full-time and four-year part-time programs require 63 credits. The one-year Advanced Standing program is 39 credit hours.

Howard University’s MSW programs require between 45 and 60 credits, based on your pathway. Two- and three-year traditional HBCU MSW programs feature 60-credit curriculums. Advanced standing students will complete 45 credit hours.


HBCU MSW programs last between one and four years, depending on the type of pathway. For example, Advanced Standing programs may take 12 to 18 months. Full-time traditional programs usually take two years, and part-time traditional programs take an average of four years to complete.

Grambling State University offers three campus-based HBCU MSW programs. You may choose from a two-year full-time program, a four-year part-time program (pg. 23 of MSW handbook), or a one-year Advanced Standing option (pg. 24 of MSW handbook).

At Norfolk State University, you may choose from a two-year Academic MSW, one-year Advanced Standing MSW (for students with a BSW), or three-year Extended MSW pathway.

Clark Atlanta University offers two-year and three-year on-campus traditional HBCU MSW programs. The school also offers an Advanced-Standing option that can typically be completed in 12 months.

Alabama State University offers three HBCU MSW programs. Each of the three programs are presented in a hybrid format. There is a two-year traditional program, a four-year part-time program, and a 12-month Advanced Standing option.

Albany State University’s program is designed in a two-year format. The first year consists of generalist practice classes, and the second year includes clinical practice coursework.


The cost for HBCU MSW programs can range significantly, with programs costing as little as $13,000 to more than $67,000. Program costs can be based on a number of factors, including whether you attend in-person or online and if you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. Also, for schools that charge a per-credit tuition rate, your cost is based on the credits you need after determining any transferable credits from your previous degree.

Clark Atlanta University charges $951 per credit hour for tuition. The HBCU MSW program requires 38 to 50 credits, depending on the pathway you choose. Therefore, tuition costs between $36,138 and $47,550. The university also charges $2,136 per year in other fees, such as student activity, sustainability, student health, technology, and library assessment fees.

Tuition for the HBCU MSW program at Delaware State University is calculated based on a student’s residency status. In-state students pay $455 per credit hour, and out-of-state students pay $948 per credit hour. (In-state tuition is extended to residents in Virginia, New Jersey, DC, Maryland, and New York.) The traditional MSW program requires 60 credits, making the cost $27,300 for students with in-state tuition rates and $56,880 for out-of-state students. The Advanced Standing pathway is a 30-credit option, costing between $13,650 and $28,440, depending on your state residency.

At Jackson State University, tuition and fees for the HBCU MSW program are determined by whether you live in the state or out-of-state. In-state students pay $547.50 per credit, and out-of-state students pay $$1,047.50 per credit. The Advanced Standing program includes 30 credits, making tuition range between $16,425 and $31,425. The part-time and full-time options are 60-credit pathways, with tuition ranging from $32,850 and $62,850.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University calculates tuition on a semester basis and is based on in-state or out-of-state residency. The two-year program costs approximately $67,594 for in-state students and $9,134 for out-of-state students. These costs include tuition, fees, room, board, books/supplies, and loan fees. Therefore, depending on whether you live on- or off-campus, your total program cost could vary.

Alabama A&M University, tuition for state residents, costs $422 per credit hour, and non-resident students pay $840 per credit hour. The traditional two-, three-, and four-year pathways require 60 credits, and the Advanced Standing pathway requires 39 credits. Therefore, based on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student, you will pay between $16,458 and $32,760 for the Advanced Standing program. Traditional students pay between $25,320 and $50,400.


One criterion that schools consider when reviewing applications for admission is your previous grade point average. The average GPA required for admission to HBCU MSW programs is 3.0. Some schools calculate your grade point average based on your cumulative college average, while others consider your average for your recent bachelor’s degree or most recent 60 credits of college coursework.

Although the average GPA needed is 3.0, some schools accept different averages. For example, Jackson State University accepts applicants with a college GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. At Alabama A&M University, candidates for the traditional program may enter with a cumulative college GPA of 2.75. However, Advanced Standing applicants must have a 3.0 grade point average.


In addition to meeting the minimum grade point average, HBCU MSW programs require candidates to meet other specific admission criteria. Most programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree and some amount of work or volunteer experience. Also, you will be expected to submit supplemental documents such as letters of reference, admissions essays, transcripts, and statements of intent. The following are admission criteria for some of the nation’s best HBCU MSW programs.

Howard University offers online and campus-based HBCU MSW programs. Admission criteria are the same for both programs. You must submit an online application, current resume, personal essay, application essay, resume, and three letters of recommendation. All applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, have a minimum of 60 credits in the liberal arts, and have a cumulative 3.0 college grade point average. Additionally, all students are required to have current immunizations for approval to enroll in the program.

Admission to the HBCU MSW programs at Clark Atlanta University is contingent upon meeting the following criteria. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college that includes a diverse liberal arts base. Candidates with a BSW from an accredited social work program may apply for advanced standing. Those without a BSW must have 21-semester credits in social and behavioral sciences and humanities, three credits from general biology/biological science, and three credits in mathematics. Applicants must provide three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, official transcripts from any college or university they ever attended, and have a college GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

At Delaware State University, candidates for the HBCU MSW program must submit an online application and a non-refundable application fee ($50). All applicants must have proof of having earned a baccalaureate degree at an accredited college or university with a cumulative college GPA of at least 2.5 and a 3.0 GPA for their undergraduate major. In addition to meeting these criteria, you must provide official transcripts from any post-secondary school you attended. Two or three letters of recommendation, GRE, GMAT, or Miller Analogies Test results are also required.

Jackson State University’s HBCU MSW program admission requirements include having a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum cumulative college GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. You may be admitted with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social welfare or social work as long as your transcripts reflect program requirements for a liberal arts background, including passing courses in statistics and human biology. Applicants must have relevant work or volunteer experience in the social work field. You must provide a personal statement and three letters of reference and participate in an interview with the Admissions Committee.

Candidates seeking admission to the Advanced Standing pathway at JSU must have a Bachelor of Social Work degree earned at a college and program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and have a BSW grade point average of at least 3.0, including a “B” or higher in all social work classes.

Alabama State University offers traditional and Advanced Standing options for its HBCU MSW programs. Candidates for both pathways must submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended, a Statement of Purpose, an admission essay, three letters of recommendation, a professional resume, an application to the Alabama State University Office of Graduate School, and GRE scores.

Applicants seeking admission to the traditional pathway who do not have a bachelor's in social work must have a baccalaureate degree with a wide liberal arts base, including six credits in social, behavioral, or psychological sciences, three hours of statistics, and four hours of human biology and must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Advanced standing applicants must have a Bachelor of Social Work from a Council of Social Work Education-accredited program and a minimum BSW grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.


HBCU MSW programs feature foundational courses and advanced social work courses. If you choose a specific MSW specialty, your curriculum will include classes relevant to that specialty. The following are examples of classes offered for five of the best HBCU MSW programs in the nation.

At Albany State University, you will take classes, including Psychopathology/Psychopharmacology, Family Dynamics through the Life Cycle, Legal & Ethical Issues of Child and Family Policy, Human Behavior & Social Environments, and Social Welfare Policies & Programs.

The curriculum for the HBCU MSW program at Clark Atlanta University includes classes such as Human Behavior and Social Environment, Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations, Social Welfare Policy & Services, Clinical Social Work Practice & Theory, Psychopathology, and Research Methods & Evaluation of Practice.

At Jackson State University, you will take classes, including Advanced Research Methodologies, Psychopathology, Integrative Social Worth Practice, Social Work Practice with Individuals & Families, and Oppression Power Change.

Norfolk State University’s HBCU MSW programs are available with concentrations in Child Welfare, Clinical Social Work, Macro, School Social Work, or Military Social work. The classes you take may vary, depending on which concentration you choose to pursue. A few examples of classes from each of the curriculum plans include Differential Assessment, Human Behavior & the Social Environment, Diversity, Inclusion & Oppression, Trauma, and the Military, Intervention Strategies for Military Families & Personnel, Community Organization Practice, and School Law.

At Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, the curriculum for the MSW program includes classes such as Human Behavior & the Social Environment, Dynamics of Oppression, Social Welfare Policies & Programs, Social Work Practice, Theories of Communities & Organizations, and Community Development in Social Work Practice.


Practical training for HBCU MSW programs is often referred to as field education. Field education is the component of the graduate social work program that involves developing social work skills in clinical settings. Most field experience is conducted in human service settings under the supervision of experienced MSW preceptors.

The number of hours you must complete in your MSW program will be determined by whether you are in a Traditional or Advanced Standing pathway. Depending on your path, you can expect to complete between 400 and 1,000 field training hours.

At Howard University, you will complete 1,000 hours of field training. The first year of the program includes two days per week in a field site, and the second year includes two and a half days of field experience. First-year students must complete four integrated seminars, and second-year students participate in three seminars. These seminars are taught by Field Practicum Faculty Consultants.

The Office of Field Education arranges field placement for students with your input as much as possible. If you wish to complete field placement at your place of employment, you must complete, sign, and submit an Employee-Based Field Education Intent Form. Upon receipt of your request, the field placement faculty will contact your employer to verify their willingness to accept you for preceptorship and to arrange appropriate contracts. Please note, not all EBFE options are approved.

If you pursue the MSW program at Grambling State University, you will complete a minimum of 900 hours of field education training. Field education involves 225 hours of field placement each semester. Preceptors for field training use apprenticeship and role modeling systems to provide you with the best experiences and opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and hone your skills in social work practice.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s program includes 1,000 hours of field training. You will complete two field practicums each year of the program, with each practicum including 225 hours of training. Additionally, at the end of the first year, you will complete a Foundation Block Field, which combines master’s level field practicum courses and integrative seminars. The second year culminates with a Field Block Placement combining two advanced master’s level field practicum courses and integrative seminars. In the second-year block placement, you will develop specialized knowledge of Social Work practice in administration and community development.

When you pursue your degree through one of the HBCU MSW programs at Delaware State University, you will complete between 500 and 900 field training hours. The Advanced Standing pathway features 500 field training hours, and the traditional MSW program requires 900 hours. Field practicum advisors will help negotiate clinical practicum sites and preceptors.

At Alabama A&M University, field training is as follows: Advanced Standing MSW students complete 450 clock hours of field training. These hours are broken down into 16-hour weeks for two semesters. Traditional MSW students complete 900 practical training hours over three semesters.


(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 10 Best Online and Campus-Based HBCU MSW Programs in the nation for the year 2023.)

1. Howard University - Washington, DC

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (On-Campus) and Online MSW (Traditional MSW and Advanced Standing MSW)

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Direct Practice and Community, Administration, & Policy Practice

Online MSW Concentrations Offered:

Direct Practice and Community, Administration, & Policy Practice

2. Clark Atlanta University - Atlanta, GA

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (Two-Year MSW (On-Campus), Three Year MSW (On-Campus), and Advanced Standing MSW (On-Campus))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Child & Family and Health/Mental Health

3. Jackson State University - Jackson, MS

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (Two-Year Full-Time MSW (On-Campus), Three-Year Part-Time MSW (On-Campus), and Advanced Standing MSW (On-Campus)) and Online MSW (Two Year Full-Time MSW (Online) and Advance Standing MSW (Online))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Children, Youth, & Families

Online MSW Concentrations Offered:

Children, Youth, & Families

4. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University - Tallahassee, FL

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (Full-Time MSW (On-Campus) and Part-Time MSW (On-Campus))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Social Work Administration, Policy, & Community Development

5. Alabama A&M University - Normal, AL

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (MSW Advanced Standing MSW (On-Campus), Traditional 2 Year MSW (On-Campus), and 3 Years+ Part-Time MSW (On-Campus))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Family & Child Welfare and Community Mental Health

6. Norfolk State University - Norfolk, VA

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (2 Years Academic MSW, 1 year Advance Standing MSW, and 3 Years Extended MSW)

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Child Welfare, Clinical, Macro, Military, and School Social Work

7. Delaware State University - Dover, DE

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (Full-Time MSW (On-Campus & Online), Part-Time MSW (On-Campus & Online), and Advanced Standing MSW (On-Campus & Online))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Advanced Generalist Practice

8. Alabama State University - Montgomery, AL

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (Two-Year Traditional MSW (Hybrid), Four-Year Part-Time MSW (Hybrid), and 12 Months Advanced Standing MSW (Hybrid))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Mental Health and Forensics

9. Grambling State University - Grambling, LA

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (2 Year Full-Time MSW (On-Campus), 4 Year Part-Time MSW (On-Campus), and 1 Year Advanced Standing MSW (On-Campus))

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Direct Practice

10. Albany State University - Albany, GA

MSW Programs Offered:

MSW (On-Campus), Advanced Standing MSW (On-Campus), and Online MSW (Online)

MSW Concentrations Offered:

Children & Families Across The Lifespan

Advanced Standing MSW Concentrations Offered:

Children & Families Across The Lifespan

Online MSW Concentrations Offered:

Children & Families Across The Lifespan



When you pursue your degree through HBCU MSW programs, you will undoubtedly face some challenges. Knowing what to expect is the first step in addressing the issue and overcoming it. Remember, faculty and preceptors are there to help you succeed; so, utilize them. The following are three of the main challenges you will face in one of these programs.

CHALLENGE #1: You must learn to work with vulnerable people.

About the Challenge:

As you begin studying to become an MSW and even after graduating, you will work with vulnerable people. Your clients may come from different backgrounds and have various cultures and beliefs. Depending on their situations, it can be challenging to relate to them, especially if they are guarded about who they feel they can trust.

How to Overcome:

A few important characteristics of effective social workers are patience and consistency. When you work with vulnerable clients, you may have to slow down and work on building rapport with them. Use open-ended sentences, which encourage communication. Allow your clients the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings and show respect for their beliefs. Be consistent with your support. If you give them your word about something, follow through. These are a few tips to help you learn to deal with the vulnerability your clients feel.

CHALLENGE #2: MSW curriculum can be emotionally challenging.

About the Challenge:

There is more to an MSW program’s curriculum than learning facts and taking exams. You will read lots of material, interview clients, complete research papers, and learn to advocate for others. Some of the topics you study can be emotionally disturbing or challenging.

How to Overcome:

Emotionally charged conversations, assignments, and practical experiences are not only part of the MSW curriculum, but you can expect the same feelings after graduating. To overcome this challenge, the best thing to do is to face tough topics head-on. Take advantage of opportunities for open forum discussions with faculty and peers. Ask questions from instructors and preceptors and glean from their experiences to help develop healthy coping mechanisms for when you face challenging situations.

CHALLENGE #3: You need to choose an area of specialization.

About the Challenge:

Social work has many areas of specialty practice, and as an MSW student, you must choose a specialization. If you are interested in a specific client population or social work focus, choosing a specialization may be easy. However, if you are unsure, you could feel overwhelmed with so many options.

How to Overcome:

The best way to overcome this challenge is to research different MSW specialties to find one that interests you most. According to the National Association of Social Work, there are many types of social work practice. You may elect to work in Advocacy & Community Organizing, Clients with Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, or Clinical Social Work, to name a few.


HBCU MSW programs prepare graduates for jobs in many settings. Your preference for a client population or specialty focus will largely influence the type of setting where you work. Although there are many options, the following are three of the most common places where program graduates work.

1. Government Policy and Planning Centers:

Graduates of HBCU MSW programs who work in this setting analyze programs, policies, procedures, and regulations to determine the most effective way to provide social services to people in need. You may study needs and issues related to social problems, conduct research, and propose new or amended legislative changes to promote better access to social services among diverse populations.

2. Schools:

Many MSW graduates work in school settings. Here, your role involves being the link between the student’s home, school, and community services. Your role in a school setting will be to provide access to services that meet the student’s emotional, educational, and developmental needs.

3. Substance Abuse Clinics:

MSWs who work in substance abuse clinics help individuals and families find healthy ways to recover from substance abuse disorders. In this setting, you may provide counseling for individuals, families, or groups or advocate to help clients find housing, jobs, or educational resources.


There are many types of social workers who specialize in different patient populations or whose practice focus is on a specific field, which means that after graduating from one of the best HBCU MSW programs, you can choose from a wide variety of jobs. The following are just a few of the best jobs for graduates of these excellent programs.

1. Child Welfare Social Worker:

In this role, you will serve some of the most vulnerable clients, children, and youth. You will specialize in educating and strengthening families, helping them to provide safe environments for their children. When you find children in dangerous situations or situations of neglect, you will intervene to ensure their safety and well-being, often through the legal system. You may be responsible for finding placement with a foster family until the child’s family is remediated and the home becomes safe for the child’s return.

2. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker:

Many MSWs work with clients suffering from mental health or substance or behavioral health disorders. In this role, you will evaluate not only your client’s immediate issues but also socioeconomic factors that may impact their recovery. You will work with clients, their families, and their healthcare providers to develop workable plans to achieve and maintain sobriety and mental wellness. Your job may involve arranging outpatient therapy, helping find placement in a facility that offers more long-term care, or locating housing or employment opportunities in an atmosphere conducive to your client’s long-term recovery.

3. Political Social Worker:

Today, many social workers hold elected positions in settings, including county or state governmental jobs, school boards, state legislation, or national roles such as in the Senate or House of Representatives. In fact, Congress has a Congressional Social Work Caucus designed to enable social workers to focus on issues of relevance to the profession. As a political social worker, you will use theory, research, and practice to focus on the use of politics and policies to create social change. The National Association of Social Workers has a Political Action for Candidate Election committee designed to promote social worker candidates who support the values of the profession.

4. School Social Worker:

As a school social worker, you will act as the advocate who connects students’ school, home, and community lives. You may be the first to identify children facing difficulties in school or at home. You will help mitigate and resolve problems of alcohol or drug abuse and issues at school, such as truancy, and address issues of homelessness or teenage pregnancy.

5. Corrections Social Worker:

Another popular job for graduates of HBCU MSW programs is to work as a justice system or corrections social worker. In this job, you may work with inmates to determine their ability to aid in their own defense in their trial, provide rehabilitation for drug or alcohol use, and offer life-skills training. Some corrections social workers work as parole or probation officers, arrange job training opportunities, or assist offenders in transitioning to civilian life after a period of incarceration.


New graduates of HBCU MSW programs typically make a starting wage of $22.64 per hour, $906 per week, or $3,930 per month. This pay is equal to $47,100 per year.



The average salary for graduates of HBCU MSW programs is $37.49 per hour, $1,500 per week, or $6,500 per month. This income is equivalent to $77,989 per year.



The ten-year job outlook for graduates of HBCU MSW programs is positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSWs should see an increase in jobs by at least 11.09% between 2021 and 2031.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


If you are considering an education through any of the available HBCU MSW programs, comparing the cost of the program to your potential return on your investment is a good idea. As with any degree or career path, it is natural to wonder if the money you will spend on your education can be recouped and if the return is worth the investment.

To determine if your return is worth the investment, let us look at the programs’ costs and your estimated potential earnings. Among the top ten programs featured in this article, tuition costs range from $13,000 to $67,000 or more. The starting salary for most graduates of HBCU MSW programs is approximately $47,100. The average income you can expect after getting some experience is $77,989.

Depending on the cost of the HBCU MSW program you choose, you could begin to see a positive return on your investment within a few short years of earning your degree. For example, if you choose a less expensive program, you could turn a profit even in your first year of employment. Likewise, if you attend a program that is more expensive, although it may take longer to see a positive return, the cost of the program is still worth the long-term return on your investment.


Admission to HBCU MSW programs can be quite competitive. To improve your chances of admission, I want to share a few tips to help you get into top MSW programs like the ones featured in this article.

1. Get relevant work or volunteer experience.

One of the best ways to get the admissions faculty’s attention is to demonstrate genuine interest by having work or volunteer experience. Although your undergraduate degree may be in a non-social work field, you can still get experience relevant to social work. Consider working or volunteering at a senior citizen center, nursing home, hospice, after-school program, or homeless shelter. You can help set up a charity drive to help get homeless citizens off the street or to raise money for underserved populations.

2. Make your admission essay/statement of intent personal.

Social work is a "personal" career. What I mean by this is you will be involved in some of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your client's lives. Admission teams want to know what makes this line of work important to you. For example, what difference do you hope to make in the lives of others? What do you want to accomplish with an MSW? Did something happen in your life that led you to social work as a career? Share a personal story, if applicable.

3. Choose the right people to write your letters of recommendation.

An important component of your admissions application is the letters of recommendation you must submit. Your letters should come from professional sources. Good examples include previous employers or individuals who mentored you in a volunteer capacity. Anyone with a social work degree/background who can speak to your professionalism, dedication, and likelihood of success is a good choice for writing recommendations.

4. Get to know the schools that interest you.

Anyone can research a school and get basic information. What you want to do, though, is to really get to know the HBCU MSW schools where you think you would like to apply. Go to information sessions and introduce yourself to admission faculty and academic advisors. Ask for their advice about what they look for in candidates. When you take the time to be present and show genuine interest, you will stand out to the ones making decisions about who to admit to their programs.

5. Turn in a complete, on-time application and follow-up!

As a former college instructor and admissions advisor, I can tell you from experience that this step is critical if you want to improve your chances of getting into any of the best HBCU MSW programs. Admission faculty carefully review every part of your application. They expect your application to have all required documents, complete forms, and for all submissions to be grammatically correct and error-free. Even if all of your information is correct and the application is complete, if you turn it in late, your chances of admission are not good. Finally, once you submit your application, wait a few weeks, and follow up with the admissions department to verify receipt and to ask if there is anything else you can provide for their review.


If your dream is to earn a Master of Social Work degree and you want to learn at a school steeped in tradition and culturally competent values, an HBCU MSW program could be an excellent option. You may have considered this type of program but wondered, “What are the best HBCU MSW programs?

In this article, I shared information about the nation’s 10 best HBCU MSW programs for 2023 to help you gain a clearer understanding of what the programs offer. You have learned about the advantages and disadvantages of the programs, potential job opportunities, income potential, and job outlook. With the information from this article, you can decide which programs interest you, begin applying, and start your journey to a master's degree in social work. When you achieve this goal, you can make a true difference in the lives of others!


1. What Is The Best HBCU MSW Program In The Nation?

Howard University is home to the top HBCU MSW program in the nation.

Howard University - Washington, DC

2. Is It Easy To Get Admission Into HBCU MSW Programs?

Admission to HBCU MSW programs can be somewhat competitive. However, if you follow the admission guidelines, meet all requirements, work on getting a good undergraduate GPA, and be persistent, you can improve your chances of getting into a good program!

3. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into HBCU MSW Programs?

HBCU MSW programs typically require candidates to have a 3.0 college GPA to be admitted. However, each school designates admission criteria for its programs, and you may find some that allow prospective students with lower GPAs.

4. Can I Get Into HBCU MSW Programs With A Low GPA?

Some HBCU MSW programs accept candidates with lower GPAs. For example, Jackson State University and Alabama A&M University accept applicants with 2.5 and 2.75 grade point averages, respectively. One thing I feel is important to remember, however, is that even if the school accepts candidates with lower GPAs, admission can be competitive. Therefore, if there are candidates whose GPAs and the overall application are stronger than yours, you may lose your chance of admission.

5. What Is The Typical Cost-Per-Credit For HBCU MSW Programs?

The per-credit cost of HBCU MSW programs varies, sometimes significantly, with some programs costing between $450 and $1,000 per credit.

6. Can I Work Part-Time And Complete This Program?

It is possible to work part-time while enrolled in HBCU MSW programs. It takes careful planning for both your work and school schedules and strict dedication to your studies, but it is truly possible to succeed.

7. Can I Work Full-Time And Complete This Program?

HBCU MSW programs feature an in-depth curriculum and often intense practical training. As such, working full-time while enrolled is a decision that should be weighed carefully. If you feel you have no option but to work full-time while pursuing your MSW, you may find attending a part-time program makes it easier to succeed.

8. What Are The 3 Hardest Classes In HBCU MSW Programs?

One of my closest friends earned a Master of Social Work degree from an HBCU, so I asked her opinion about the most difficult classes in the program. She told me, in her opinion, the three most challenging classes in HBCU MSW programs are Psychopharmacotherapeutics, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social Welfare Policy & Services.

9. How Much Do New Graduates Of This Program Make Per Year?

New graduates of HBCU MSW programs earn an average of $47,100 each year.


10. On Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Make Per Hour With Experience?

Graduates of HBCU MSW programs earn approximately $37.49 per hour.


11. On Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Per Month With Experience?

The average monthly pay for graduates of HBCU MSW programs is $6,500.


12. On Average, How Much Can Graduates Of HBCU MSW Programs Make Per Year With Experience?

On average, graduates of HBCU MSW programs earn $77,989 per year.


Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).