Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in Tennessee
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Turn Your Dreams Into Reality
Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.
Tennessee, with a population of 7.1 million people, employed more than 16,000 social workers across all specialties in 2022. As opportunities for social workers continue to expand, earning an MSW in Tennessee can launch you into a fulfilling career as a licensed social worker. An on-campus or online master's in social work (MSW) is the minimum educational requirement for three of the state's four levels of social work licensure. You must hold an MSW to practice independently in the state.
At a Glance: Social Work Programs in Tennessee
- You need an MSW accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to practice social work independently in Tennessee.
- Several MSW programs in Tennessee offer on-campus and online options.
- Advanced-standing MSW programs require an accredited bachelor's of social work (BSW).
CSWE-Accredited MSW Programs in Tennessee
Tennessee offers a variety of learning options for aspiring social workers. Our directory of CSWE-accredited MSW programs in Tennessee can help you find a school that fits your personal needs and career goals.
|University||Location||Available Concentrations||Enrollment Type|
|Austin Peay State University||Clarksville, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Online, Advanced Standing Option|
|East Tennessee State University||Johnson City, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Online, Advanced Standing Option|
|Middle Tennessee State University||Murfreesboro, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Advanced Standing Option|
|Southern Adventist University||Collegedale, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Online, Advanced Standing Option|
|Tennessee State University||Nashville, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Advanced Standing Option|
|Union University||Jackson, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Online, Advanced Standing Option|
|University of Memphis||Memphis, TN||N/AAdvanced Practice Across Systems||Full-Time, Part-Time, Advanced Standing Option|
|University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||Chattanooga, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Advanced Standing Option|
|University of Tennessee at Knoxville||Knoxville, TN||N/A||Full-Time, Part-Time, Online, Advanced Standing Option|
Featured Online Social Work Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What to Expect from an MSW Program in Tennessee
All nine CSWE-accredited MSW programs in Tennessee offer full-time, on-campus plans of study requiring approximately 60 credits. Eight of the nine schools offer part-time options. Additionally, five schools provide online and hybrid programs that can help meet the needs of working students and those with family responsibilities.
If you have a bachelor's in social work from an accredited program, you may apply for admission with advanced standing at all nine schools. While students admitted with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than social work typically take two years to complete their degree, students with advanced standing can finish MSW degree requirements in half the time.
All MSW programs in Tennessee prepare graduates for advanced generalist practice, but some schools also provide certificate opportunities that can translate into broader social work career possibilities, such as play therapy and veterinary social work.
How to Apply to an MSW Program in Tennessee
Before applying to any MSW program, you should check the admission requirements to ensure you have the necessary credentials and prerequisites for admission. Most MSW programs in Tennessee require a minimum 2.75 GPA, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation but do not ask for GRE scores.
Traditional two-year MSW programs typically admit students with bachelor’s degrees in a non-social work field, such as sociology, psychology, or counseling. However, you'll need a CSWE-accredited BSW for admission into an advanced-standing MSW program. Most applications require a personal statement and may ask you to take part in an interview.
What You Can Do With an MSW in Tennessee
The Tennessee Board of Social Workers authorizes four levels of licensure:
- Licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW)
- Licensed master social worker (LMSW)
- Licensed advanced practice social worker (LAPSW)
- Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
Like most states, Tennessee requires an MSW for the advanced licensure levels.
The LMSW license does not have field requirements. After passing the master exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards and receiving licensure from the state, LMSWs may provide general non-clinical services as part of an organization or practice clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW, but they cannot practice privately.
LAPSW applicants must hold an LMSW license, pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam, and complete 3,000 hours of field requirements. LAPSWs may provide non-clinical services privately or as part of an organization. They may also practice clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW.
In Tennessee, the LCSW is the only license that authorizes social workers to provide clinical services independently. LCSW candidates must complete 3,000 hours of direct clinical social work services under supervision and pass the ASWB clinical exam.
According to information reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average salaries for licensed social workers in Tennessee range from roughly $42,000-$54,000. Healthcare social workers and those in specialties such as forensic or criminal justice social work often earn the highest wages.
Everything Else You Need to Know About MSW Programs in Tennessee
Can LMSWs practice independently in Tennessee?
No, LMSWs may engage in social work practice for an agency or organization and offer clinical services under the supervision of an LCSW, but they may not practice independently or privately.
What are the requirements to be a social worker in Tennessee?
You cannot use the title of social worker in Tennessee without a state license. To qualify for a state license, you need to earn a social work degree, pass the corresponding ASWB exam, and complete any required supervised experience. A BSW from an accredited program is the minimum education requirement for a social work license. However, LMSW, LAPSW, and LCSW licensure require a CSWE-accredited MSW degree.
Does Tennessee have reciprocity for a social work license?
Social workers who hold valid licenses from other states may apply for licensure reciprocity with the Tennessee Board of Social Workers. Social workers who meet the state's educational and training criteria for Tennessee reciprocity will receive a social work license without needing to retake the ASWB licensing exam or fulfill supervised field requirements.
How much does an MSW get paid in Tennessee?
Salaries for social workers in Tennessee vary by type of employer, specialization, and experience. While typical salaries range from $42,000-$54,000, those with the most experience and MSW degrees or higher can earn considerably more. For example, Tennessee healthcare social workers among the top 10% of earners in their field make more than $77,000 annually.