Master's Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

Updated January 4, 2023

Looking for the best Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) in Illinois? You should consider these top-tier institutions and jobs in the social work field.

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Master's Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

Earning a Master's Degree in Social Work in Illinois

In Illinois, the best degrees for Social Work give you a broad foundation of knowledge. With a master's degree, graduates are well-equipped to pursue diverse career opportunities, and master's degree students gain the skills required to move forward in their careers.

A master's degree can lead to an average annual income of approximately $6,296 per month and $81,848 annually.

Social Work Master's Programs For You

Working and Living in Illinois in the Social Work Profession

If you're interested in helping people who are in tough situations, a degree in social work is a great way to start your career. You'll learn how to assess a situation and make recommendations for improvement, whether that's presenting better parenting skills or recommending treatment options for an illness. Common course topics in these programs include ethics in social work and social welfare policy and services.

The median salary in Illinois is $46,630 a year, or $22.42 per hour. This statistic includes all 5,618,830 employees in Illinois. Based on the BLS, the lowest 10% of earners in the state earn about $24,470 per year, whereas the highest 10% earn approximately $103,490. Social workers earn a range of wages, as shown below.

Key

Social Workers in Illinois
Social Workers Nationally
All Occupations in Illinois
All Occupations Nationally

Social Work Careers and Salaries in Illinois

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Among 51 states (including Washington D.C.), Illinois ranks number 13 on the cost of living index, according to MERIC. The cost of living index measures the average cost of living in the U.S. against specific places in the U.S. In the U.S., the average is calculated as 100, and all locations are either above (expensive) or below (cheaper). On a 100-point scale, Illinois has a cost of living index of 91.4, which is 8.6% lower than the national average. Degree-seekers interested in relocating to Illinois may be interested in the following cost of living comparison.

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Source: Missouri Research and Information Center
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Social workers can expect a 5.8% growth rate in their profession in the next decade. Currently, employment in occupation is projected to change from 71,400 in 2020, to 75,500 by 2030. These positions require a master's degree. These are some of the typical job titles that can be found in the industry:

Master's Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

#1 Master’s Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

University of Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The online master's degree in social work at University of Chicago offers high academic quality. The master's in social work program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum emphasizes current research in social work. Learners choose electives or a specialization to gain focused career training. Applicants without a background in social work may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Those who attend the program on campus can enjoy the common amenities and facilities available at most institutions, such as the library and gym. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

University of Chicago at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Admission Rate: 6%

Program Name: Master's in social work

Graduate Tuition In State: $60,300

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $60,300

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,642
Out-of-state
$57,642
Retention Rate
100%
Admission Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
17,834
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Master’s Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Champaign, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The master of social work program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a flexible online format. The MSW program builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. A master's degree helps candidates advance in their current field or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum examines advanced theories and practices in social work. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. Applicants with a background in social work typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Common facilities and services offered at most universities, like the library and gymnasium, are accessible to students living on campus. Graduate students grow their professional connections through internships and virtual networking events.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 59%

Total Online Master's Programs: 30

Program Name: Master of social work

Graduate Tuition In State: $14,997

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $28,404

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,317
Out-of-state
$33,824
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
52,679
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Master’s Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master of social work program, offered by the University of Illinois at Chicago, ranks as a top program. The MSW program emphasizes industry-relevant knowledge and skills, preparing graduates for decision-making responsibilities. A master's degree helps candidates advance in their current field or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum explores social work research and methodologies. Learners specialize the program by choosing from a variety of electives. Applicants who majored in social work or a related field typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their area. Common facilities and services offered at most universities, like the library and gymnasium, are accessible to students living on campus. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

University of Illinois at Chicago at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 73%

Total Online Master's Programs: 8

Program Name: Master of social work

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,276

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $23,850

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,105
Out-of-state
$26,726
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
33,518
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Master’s Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

Governors State University

  • University Park, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in University Park, Illinois, Governors State University offers an online master's in social work. The MSW program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. After earning a master's degree, candidates also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum emphasizes theory and practice in social work. Learners specialize the program by choosing from a variety of electives. Applicants without a background in social work may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. Students who attend the program on campus can access the library and gym, as well as other amenities and facilities. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

Governors State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 46%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of social work

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,354

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $12,708

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,512
Out-of-state
$15,024
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
4,650
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Master’s Degrees in Social Work in Illinois

University of St. Francis

  • Joliet, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of social work program at the University of St. Francis, located in Joliet, offers a flexible online format. The master of social work program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. A master's degree also helps candidates pursue new career paths.

The master's curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. Applicants with a background in social work typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. On-campus students have access to the library and gymnasium, as well as other equipment and facilities available at most institutions. The MSW program encourages graduate students to attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

University of St. Francis at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Admission Rate: 46%

Total Online Master's Programs: 8

Program Name: Social work (MSW)

Graduate Tuition In State: $13,464

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,464

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,000
Out-of-state
$35,000
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
3,529
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Financing a Master's Degree in Social Work

It is possible to obtain financial aid to help pay for college. Scholarships and fellowships help many degree-seekers cover costs. Some students qualify for federal and private student loans as well. You should research the colleges you are interested in and find out if they offer scholarships.

Checklist for Maximizing Your Financial Aid:

Average Cost of Attending College in Illinois

In Illinois, college costs vary from institution to institution. The private sectors and the public sectors share a number of similarities. You can determine whether attending a public institution is right for you by reviewing the information below.

Public 4-Year School Tuition Rates: Illinois vs. National Average

Key

Illinois
National Average

Chart

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The chart has 1 X axis displaying salary types.
The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
End of interactive chart.

How about attending a private college? There is usually a higher cost associated with private colleges. You will find information about attending private colleges in Illinois below.

Private 4-Year School Tuition Rates: Illinois vs. National Average

Key

Illinois
National Average

Chart

Bar chart with 5 bars.
The chart has 1 X axis displaying salary types.
The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
End of interactive chart.

Federal Student Loan Information

If you are considering borrowing student loans to pay for your education, what are your options? Prior to taking out a loan, you need to consider a few things to avoid making any mistakes.

You can review the data below to learn what students typically borrow.

Undergraduate Federal Loans
Demographic Percent who borrowed Amount borrowed
Total 66.6% $27,400
Female 69.6% $28,100
Male 62.5% $26,500
White, not Hispanic or Latino 66.1% $26,700
Black, not Hispanic or Latino 85.7% $34,800
Hispanic or Latino/a, of any race 67.7% $25,700
Asian, not Hispanic or Latino 43% $22,700
Other or Two or more races, not Hispanic or Latino 70.4% $28,300
Source: NCES

Online vs. On-Campus

Pros and Cons: Online Degrees

Pros

  • Cheaper tuition
  • Flexible, asynchronous classwork
  • No on-campus fees for parking, tech, etc.

Cons

  • Less structure
  • Minimal peer-to-peer interaction
  • Less facetime with professor
  • No access to on-campus amenities

Pros and Cons: On-Campus Degrees

Pros

  • Gym, library, etc. access
  • Smaller class options
  • Face time with peers and professors

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Transportation or housing costs
  • Rigid scheduling
The main differences between an online degree and a degree completed on campus are the degree's cost and class size. There are a number of advantages to studying online, such as flexibility, affordability, and convenience. There is usually a higher cost associated with on-campus degrees due to student fees, which are typically optional for distance learners. However, there are numerous benefits of attending in-person classes regularly.

Top Social Work Degree Options Available by State
State Degree Level
California Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Florida Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Georgia Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Illinois Associate, Bachelors, Doctorate
New York Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
North Carolina Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Pennsylvania Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Texas Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Virginia Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Washington Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Private vs. Public

The differences between public and private colleges are numerous, and they are worth considering. First, the cost of a public school will differ from that of a private school. Generally, public institutions have fixed costs, and grants and scholarships are used to cover those costs. For those with high GPAs or SAT scores, private institutions often offer merit scholarships.

A private college will generally offer smaller class sizes, allowing students to connect with professors one-on-one. An assessment of the pros and cons of attending a private versus a public institution is presented below.

Pros and Cons

Private

  • Unique program offerings
  • Cultural or religious options
  • Local prestige
  • Higher costs
  • Less regulatory oversight

Public

  • Government-issued tuition costs
  • Government funding, benefits, and regulation
  • Oftentimes large classrooms

Frequently Asked Questions

For social workers in Illinois, what is the salary?

The mean annual salary for social workers in Illinois is $66,490.

In today's environment, are social work majors in high demand?

The total number of social workers is expected to change by 5.8% from 2020 to 2030.

Can I study for a master's in social work online?

There are many opportunities to earn an online master's degree in social work. Most schools today offer some form of online education.

How much time will you spend earning a master's degree?

Typically, a full-time student can complete a master's degree in two years. It will take longer for part-time students.

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