Online Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSSW)

Social Work

College of Social Work

Program Overview

Looking for the right place to pursue your social work master's degree? Earn your MSSW through the online master's degree program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You'll be learning from one of the country's first and most highly ranked MSSW programs while enjoying the flexibility of UT's fully online coursework.

UT's College of Social Work offers full-time and part-time options, synchronous and asynchronous social work classes, and the choice of a Clinical or Organizational Leadership route.

Credit Hours

Total: 60
Advanced Standing: 36**

Cost Per Credit Hour*

In-State $700 + possible fees

Out-of-State $775 + possible fees

Testing Requirements


Field Experience


*Cost per credit hour is an estimate based on maintenance and university fees. Some programs may have additional course fees. Please contact your department for additional information on any related fees, and visit Tuition and Fees in Detail at One Stop.
**Advanced Standing may be granted to students who earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW, BSSW, etc.)

social worker and therapy dog sitting with a young girl in wheelchair

Earn Your Masters in Social Work From a Top-ranked Program

Steeped in tradition, the University of Tennessee College of Social Work is one of the country’s first and most highly ranked MSSW programs. Students appreciate the flexibility and personal touch that they receive with the College of Social Work. Students can expect a strong social justice orientation in all classes that focus on anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices. Courses are immersed in trauma-informed practice and interprofessional learning so that all graduates are prepared to be competent practitioners in their communities. Alumni consistently remark about the excellent preparation that they received while in the online program.

Asynchronous & Synchronous Courses

Choices are what set this program apart. Students can choose from both full-time and part-time options and synchronous and asynchronous classes that meet in the evening for convenience. Students can choose a Clinical route in which they work with clients by applying therapeutic interventions. Alternatively, they can select the Organizational Leadership route, which prepares students to lead social service organizations.

Specialized Add-on Graduate Certificates

Students can also choose between several certificate programs like Trauma, Veterinary Social Work, Gerontology, and Forensic Social Work. We also have the coursework necessary for School Social Work licensure. With so many choices, flexibility, affordability, and individualized attention, UTK is a fantastic choice for graduate social work education.

Social connection is what makes us shine! Students in our online programs have many avenues to develop relationships while at the College of Social Work. Community building occurs within classes and through various organizations in which online students can take on leadership roles. Some of these organizations include The Coalition of Black Social Workers, Phi Alpha, Macro, and the Rainbow Collective, to name a few.

Fall & Summer Admission

Advanced standing students start the program in the Summer, and Fulltime and Extended study students start each Fall. All students have access to a dedicated MSW advisor to help them with any issues arising while in the program. Lastly, our students work very hard while they are in the program, and because of that, we are proud to offer unlimited access to mental health therapists while they are students of UTK. Our students are the MVPs, and because of that, we work diligently to ensure that they are all a part of the Big Orange Family.

Check out the University of Tennessee College of Social Work today!

Featured Courses

When you enroll in the online Master of Science in Social Work program, you will have the opportunity to take courses that align with your interests and career goals, here are just a few of them:

SOWK 503: Intro to Interpersonal Social Work Practice

A required generalist course, taken concurrently with Interpersonal Social Work Skills Lab, which covers micro and mezzo practice, specifically with individuals, families, and small groups. Introduces the profession of social work, its history, ethical code, and theories related to interpersonal practice with an emphasis on social justice, trauma-informed care, and interprofessional practice.  

SOWK 538: Social Justice and Anti-oppressive Practices

A required generalist course designed to increase students’ awareness of the dimensions of human diversity and forms of oppression, discrimination, and inequality. Students will learn to apply and articulate social justice frameworks, critical theory, and a human rights perspective to complex social problems. Students will be prepared to integrate these concepts into future ethical decision-making and practice with marginalized populations. 

SOWK 529: Beyond Combat: Military Social Work Practice

Draws from research data that explore the effects of deployment and combat stress on the physical and mental health of active duty U.S. service members and their families. Modalities grounded in a synthesis of trauma, attachment and cognitive-behavioral theories include individual, couple/family, group, and clinical case management approaches.

SOWK 531: Trauma Theory

Will immerse students in the theoretical knowledge of trauma types, dynamics, and the neuro-biopsychosocial consequences that individuals who are survivors of maltreatment, interpersonal abuse, manmade/natural disasters, and other types of chronic stress and trauma across the lifespan experience. Will use case examples supplemented with salient readings.

black man working with pen and paper

Program Concentrations

The Online MSSW program offers the following concentrations of study:

Clinical Practice (CP)

A clinical concentration that is based on the underlying principles of social justice, Anti-Racism and Anti-Black Racism, Interprofessional practice, and trauma informed care. Students in the CP concentration develop skills in interpersonal evidence-based treatments and interventions for use in individual and group settings. The goal of the CP concentration is to produce empathetic and culturally-responsive social work clinicians who are critical thinkers in using evidence-based practices for diverse clients and client systems. knowledge, skills, and competencies acquired by students in this concentration produce practitioners who are prepared to work as professionals on interdisciplinary teams and in interdisciplinary settings. These concepts are all taught through a social justice and trauma-informed lens with a special concern for those living in poverty and that have been marginalized.

Organizational Leadership (OL)

A macro concentration that is based on the underlying principle of social and economic justice. The concentration equips students with management, social-economic development, and policy practice skills that enable them to lead non-profit agencies, work for the government, and engage with communities to help address pressing needs.

The goal of this concentration is to produce social workers who are critical thinkers in skill-based, evidence-based practices, including social and economic development, planning, organizing, coordinating, developing, and evaluating services and policies for at-risk clients and client systems. The knowledge, skills, and competencies acquired by students in this concentration produce practitioners who are prepared to work as professionals on interdisciplinary teams and in interdisciplinary settings. Students will be prepared to deliver, develop, manage, and evaluate programs; acquire funding; write grants; and analyze and advocate for policy change in political systems, organizations, and communities.

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