Newswise — CLEVELAND,OHIO--Whether you live as far north as Barrow, Alaska, or south to the Texas border, you can earn a Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University’s nationally ranked social work school through its new online degree program.
Case Western Reserve’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, ranked ninth nationally by U.S. News and World Report and one of the longest-running social work programs in the country, plans to offer its first online degree courses starting in January 2013. It’s also the university’s first online degree program.
“The creation of a virtual academy is about giving access to very high quality, advanced training in social work to more people,” explains Grover “Cleve” Gilmore, dean of the social work school. “There are many people who wish to develop the skills and knowledge base so that they can help address the problems of people and their communities.”
The social work school is already accepting applications and enrolling students for January.
Online study offers an option to people, bound to geographic areas with family or job responsibilities, to gain advance knowledge and skills in the social work field.
Over the past five years, social work schools have begun offering online degree programs for the convenience and flexibility. Case Western Reserve joins other national and regional universities—Boston University and the Universities of New England, Southern California and Tennessee among them — to offer social work degrees online.
“Our MSSA virtual academy gives these people the opportunity to receive the same education as persons who come to campus,” Gilmore said, who estimated the online program could be completed in about 2 1/2 years.
The CWRU program targets students who have worked for at least a year at a human social service agency and want to advance their knowledge.
Online students apply for the program the same way as on-campus students. The tuition and financial-aid opportunities are also the same.
The hallmark of the social work program at Case Western Reserve is the field experience that MSSA students undertake in their first two years. Students are matched with a field advisor and social service or community agency, generally in the field of the student’s interest. Online students will be aligned with agencies in their communities. Students apply what they learn from their virtual lectures and discussions and assigned readings to their real-world experiences.
A student’s schedule will include two online courses and the field placement experience, said Sharon Milligan, MSASS associate dean for academic affairs.
Milligan says the program is modeled after the school’s successful “Intensive Weekend” program, in which students also have field experiences in their home communities, but also travel to campus several times each semester for two days of intensive classroom sessions.
To learn more about the program or apply, visit socialworkdegree.case.edu/.