Forward osmosis (FO) is an emerging and promising water treatment technology. However, selection of an optimal draw solution (DS) is essential for efficient FO process operations. In this study, the potential of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) functionalized SiO2-covered magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) as DS in FO process were investigated. The MNPs were synthesized and characterized for their morphology, size distribution, magnetic behavior, and dispersibility. Investigations were carried out to determine the effects of DS concentration and MNPs type, utilizing bare, SiO2 covered, and EDTA coated MNPs at concentrations of 20, 40, and 60 g/L. Furthermore, water flux generation capability and rejection efficiency of octanoic acid (OC) was evaluated with EDTA-MNPs as DS in FO mode (active layer facing feed solution) and PRO mode (active layer facing draw solution). Our results showed that a maximum water flux of 9.59 ± 2 LMH in FO mode, and 11.104 ± 2 LMH in PRO mode was achieved using 60 g/L of EDTA-MNPs. Additionally, we investigated the reusability of the EDTA-coated MNPs and found that their recovery was higher than (>90%) with no aggregation. The stability of EDTA-MNPs was due to strong covalent linkages between their four carboxylate groups and the hydrophilic SiO2 surface layer, which resulted in steric hindrance and prevented their aggregation. Finally, we assessed the rejection efficiency of OC at different pH values and found that it was low (30–39%) at pH values below pKa and high (90–97%) at pH values above pKa. Owing to internal concentration polarization, the rejection of OC in FO mode was (10–20%) higher than in PRO mode. The findings demonstrate EDTA-coated MNPs have significant potentials as an effective DS in FO process .