Online Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA, equivalent to an MSW)

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  • 100% online coursework with no campus visit required
  • No application fee
  • Choose from 3 specializations
  • Advanced track available for BSW applicants
  • All applications considered for scholarship
  • Full student support from application through graduation

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A Path Toward Making a Difference

At Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, we understand what it feels like to want to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s helping an individual, family or an entire community, we are passionate, caring and committed to helping others through social work practice.

The Online Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA; equivalent to an MSW) program helps social workers develop the confidence and competence to lead and practice in a variety of professional settings.

Featuring two distinct concentrations in:

Community Practice for Social Change: Develop the practical skills and values needed to lead and organize comprehensive social change on a broad scale.

Direct Practice: Learn to engage with individuals, families and groups and assess client needs and strengths. Discover how to provide or help arrange needed services and support, weigh intervention alternatives, implement change strategies, and evaluate results.

Our specializations for Direct Practice are:

Why Choose the Mandel School?

When you join the Mandel School family as an online student, you join a distinguished network of professionals who share your commitment to improving lives through social work. The Mandel School is more than a place to study. It’s a community that has led nearly a hundred years of social change and advocacy and an institution where you can find opportunities to help lead the next hundred.

When the Mandel School was founded in 1915, it was the nation’s first university-affiliated professional graduate school of social work. Today, the Mandel School is ranked #9 among all graduate schools for social work and #1 in Ohio by U.S. News & World Report.

Our mission is to advance leadership in social work and nonprofit education, scholarship and service to build a more just world. Our alumni include prominent educators, government officials, accomplished practitioners, researchers and chief executives of national and regional agencies in all 50 states and 41 countries.

The bond shared by all Mandel School alumni is characterized by a pride in their first-rate education, earned from one of America’s most storied institutions of social work.

To achieve your goals, we have scholarship support available to students who have received above a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate coursework. Those scholarships are determined based on the application the student submits to the program.

Online Master's in Social Work Curriculum

Download a detailed description of our curriculum, or check out the course listings below.

This concentration is a detailed examination of mental health practice for adults. It focuses on helping students develop the skills to create healthy and sustainable mental health environments by developing and disseminating effective theory and practice for community-based mental health practice. The curriculum examines public health, drug treatment, and mental health policies, practices and services.

This concentration focuses on theory and practice directly relating to the identification and assessment of problems that affect young people and families, including adoption, drugs, child and adolescent mental health, physical abuse and violence. Coursework may be applied toward educational requirements for membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

This concentration is designed to help social workers develop the real-world skills and values to lead and advocate for comprehensive social change, implement policy development initiatives and focus on community empowerment on a broad scale. The curriculum addresses a range of issues including globalization, poverty, inequality and oppression, cultural diversity, women’s issues, human rights and more.

Traditional Track

This track can be completed in as few as 2 ½ years. Students will take 24 credit hours of general courses and 36 hours of specialized courses for a total of 60 credits.

Traditional Track Degree (Non-BSW)
SASS 426 Research Methods in Social Work
SASS 440 Human Development I: Child & Adolescent
SASS 441 Human Development II: Adult
SASS 470 Social Policy
SASS 477 Direct Practice Foundation Methods and Skills
SASS 478 Macro and Policy Practice Skills
SASS 484 Theories of Oppression and Social Justice
SASS 495V Field Education Seminar
SASS 651AV Field Education I
SASS 651BV Field Education I

Advanced Standing

Applicants with a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) are automatically considered for Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing students receive up to 24 credits towards their MSSA degree.

Traditional Track

This track can be completed in as few as 2 ½ years. Students will take 24 credit hours of general courses and 36 hours of specialized courses for a total of 60 credits.

Traditional Track Degree (Non-BSW) Credit Hours
SASS 532 Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation 3
SASS 534 Theoretical Contexts Shaping Community Practice 3
SASS 407 Nonprofit Revenue Planning & Development 3
SASS 521 Supervision 3
SASS 567 Assessing, Building & Organizing Community 3
SASS 569 Planning & Implementing Social Change 3
SASS 561 Community Practice Policy: Analyzing & Changing Social Policy 3
SASS 425 Nonprofit Financial Management 3
SASS 545 Program Design 3
SASS 652A Field Education II 1.5
SASS 652B Field Education II 1.5
SASS 653A Field Education III 1.5
SASS 653B Field Education III 1.5
SASS 654A Field Education IV 1.5
SASS 654B Field Education IV 1.5
Total Hours 60

Advanced Standing

Applicants with a Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW) are automatically considered for Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing students can complete the program in just 36 credit hours, in as few as 2 years.

Advanced Standing Track Degree (BSW) Credit Hours
SASS 532 Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation 3
SASS 534 Theoretical Contexts Shaping Community Practice 3
SASS 407 Nonprofit Revenue Planning & Development 3
SASS 567 Assessing, Building & Organizing Community 3
SASS 569 Planning & Implementing Social Change 3
SASS 561 Community Practice Policy: Analyzing & Changing Social Policy 3
SASS 531 Collaboration & Strategic Partnership 3
SASS 425 Nonprofit Financial Management 3
SASS 545 Program Design 3
SASS 652A Field Education II 1.5
SASS 652B Field Education II 1.5
SASS 653A Field Education III 1.5
SASS 653B Field Education III 1.5
SASS 654A Field Education IV 1.5
SASS 654B Field Education IV 1.5
Total Hours 36

Traditional Track

This track can be completed in as few as 2 ½ years. Students will take 24 credit hours of general courses and 36 hours of specialized courses for a total of 60 credits.

Traditional Track Degree (Non-BSW) Credit Hours
SASS 517 Family Systems Intervention 3
SASS 547 Problem Identification, Screening & Assessment/Diagnosis 3
SASS 549 Theory/Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work 3
SASS 585 Social Work with Groups 3
SASS 550 Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice 3
SASS 579 Cognitive Behavioral Interventions 3
SASS 529 Child & Family Policy & Service Delivery 3
SASS 530 Practice Evaluation 3
SASS 582 Social Work with Child Abuse & Family Violence 3
SASS 652A Field Education II 1.5
SASS 652B Field Education II 1.5
SASS 653A Field Education III 1.5
SASS 653B Field Education III 1.5
SASS 654A Field Education IV 1.5
SASS 654B Field Education IV 1.5
Total Hours 60

Advanced Standing

Applicants with a Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW) are automatically considered for Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing students can complete the program in just 36 credit hours, in as few as 2 years.

Advanced Standing Track Degree (BSW) Credit Hours
SASS 517 Family Systems Intervention 3
SASS 547 Problem Identification, Screening & Assessment/Diagnosis 3
SASS 549 Theory/Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work 3
SASS 585 Social Work with Groups 3
SASS 550 Trauma Informed Social Work Practice with Children & Families 3
SASS 529 Child & Family Policy & Service Delivery 3
SASS 530 Practice Evaluation 3
SASS 582 Social Work with Child Abuse & Family Violence 3
SASS 505 Adoption: Practice & Policy 3
SASS 652A Field Education II 1.5
SASS 652B Field Education II 1.5
SASS 653A Field Education III 1.5
SASS 653B Field Education III 1.5
SASS 654A Field Education IV 1.5
SASS 654B Field Education IV 1.5
Total Hours 36

Traditional Track

This track can be completed in as few as 2 ½ years. Students will take 24 credit hours of general courses and 36 hours of specialized courses for a total of 60 credits.

Traditional Track Degree (Non-BSW) Credit Hours
SASS 547 Problem Identification, Screening & Assessment/Diagnosis 3
SASS 549 Theory/Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work 3
SASS 564 Social Work Practice in Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse 3
SASS 583 Social Work Practice in Mental Health: Adults 3
SASS 587 Integrative Seminar in Mental Health: Adults 3
SASS 514 Mental Health Policy & Service Delivery 3
SASS 530 Practice Evaluation 3
SASS 562 Social Work Intervention in Co-occurring Mental & Substance Abuse disorder 3
SASS 579 Cognitive Behavior Information 3
SASS 652A Field Education II 1.5
SASS 652B Field Education II 1.5
SASS 653A Field Education III 1.5
SASS 653B Field Education III 1.5
SASS 654A Field Education IV 1.5
SASS 654B Field Education IV 1.5
Total Hours 60

Advanced Standing

Applicants with a Bachelor's in Social Work (BSW) are automatically considered for Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing students can complete the program in just 36 credit hours, in as few as 2 years.

Advanced Standing Track Degree (BSW) Credit Hours
SASS 547 Problem Identification, Screening & Assessment/Diagnosis 3
SASS 549 Theory/Practice Approaches in Direct Practice Social Work 3
SASS 564 Social Work Practice in Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse 3
SASS 583 Social Work Practice in Mental Health: Adults 3
SASS 587 Integrative Seminar in Mental Health: Adults 3
SASS 514 Mental Health Policy & Service Delivery 3
SASS 530 Practice Evaluation 3
SASS 562 Social Work Intervention in Co-occurring Mental & Substance Abuse disorder 3
SASS 579 Cognitive Behavior Information 3
SASS 652A Field Education II 1.5
SASS 652B Field Education II 1.5
SASS 653A Field Education III 1.5
SASS 653B Field Education III 1.5
SASS 654A Field Education IV 1.5
SASS 654B Field Education IV 1.5
Total Hours 36

Field Experience

At the heart of the Mandel School difference is experience—not just the in-depth experience of our distinguished faculty, but also in the knowledge you can obtain with field education. The field education experience for the MSSA Online program allows you to immediately apply what you are learning in the online classroom to your field education, connecting theory with real-life social work situations.

You can further expand your skills with structured, supervised field learning opportunities developed through interactions with your field education instructor. By choosing your field placement you have the opportunity to develop skills that best fit your future career needs and interests.

Our online program gives you the unique opportunity to complete your field work at your current place of employment. Advanced Standing applicants can accelerate the field placement process by using SOFE, a self-paced online resource to help formulate your required field proposal.

Tomorrow’s Social Work Leaders

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Online Master’s in Social Work Faculty

An education from the Mandel School is more than preparation. It is an opportunity to join a national network of scholars and practitioners who are shaping the course of social work in communities throughout the world. Mandel School faculty members continue to develop and advance the practice of social work. We have an interdisciplinary faculty that has experience in a wide range of practice areas.

In recent years, the Mandel School faculty has seen a substantial increase in federally funded research. Awards of research and training grants to our 31-member faculty totaled more than $10 million in external funding.

Their work extends beyond study and examination; it improves lives and impacts and changes policy at all levels. Faculty research and training activities have been used by human service agencies, county and state governments, and federal agencies to improve public policy and service delivery.

Our students benefit from a high level of access to these leading social work experts and their cutting-edge research that is helping to shape the future of social work.

"The #1 priority for every faculty member at the Mandel school is teaching. We have a great combination of scholars and practitioners who are dedicated to instruction and to working with students throughout the program. Frankly, I believe that no other school matches this commitment of teaching and scholarship."
— Sharon Milligan, PhD​, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor

The Innovation of Online Learning

What makes our Online MSSA one of the best in the nation? It has the same high academic standards and exemplary reputation of our #9 ranked on-campus program, with the added convenience and accessibility of learning online.

With cutting-edge technology and teaching methods, our students can complete assignments from anywhere. They can collaborate in real-time with peers and faculty through a combination of self-paced or teacher-led course sessions and dedicated live sessions.

Our online social work degree also allows students to gain real-world application of course teachings through the field placement component. For added convenience, students have the choice to use their current place of employment as their field location.

Our most successful online students are dedicated to making a difference, passionate about learning, and understand the importance of pursuing an advanced degree in our top-ranked program. At the Mandel School, our goal is to deliver a high-caliber, innovative program to social work leaders anywhere around the nation.

About Case Western Reserve University

One of the nation’s leading research institutions, Case Western Reserve University has a proud history of providing high-quality and innovative education to the Cleveland community and beyond. With roots that date back nearly two centuries, the university as it currently stands was borne of a federation of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University in 1967.

Today, Case Western Reserve University serves a student body nearly 12,000 strong — 5,150 undergraduate and 6,674 graduate students. The university boasts several nationally recognized programs in arts and sciences, dentistry, engineering, law, management, nursing and medicine. Case Western Reserve's Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 graduate schools for social work, providing a future-focused and progressive curriculum backed by a century-long legacy of industry leadership.

About the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Consistently ranked as one of the top schools of social work in the country, the Mandel School has a proud history of providing the highest-quality social work education and helping to advance the field. The Mandel School allows students to take part in extensive field education opportunities as they enjoy the enduring traditions and prestige of a major university. In 2016, it was ranked No. 9 among the best graduate schools of social work in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

For more than a century, the Mandel School has provided a rigorous and innovative educational experience designed to give students the comprehensive, interdisciplinary training they need to become leaders in the social work field. Our experienced and active faculty provide outstanding education that draws from practice in professional organizations, research and consultation.

And our 8,000-plus alumni have made a great impact in the field, in their communities and in countless lives. The Mandel School has trained leaders and innovators in social work, and graduates have landed in prominent, high-impact roles in their communities and beyond. In addition to practitioners and researchers, Mandel School graduates have found success as educators, government employees, and executives of national and regional agencies.

Learn more about our history and mission

What is the difference between an MSSA and an MSW?

A Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) is equivalent to an MSW (Master of Social Work) and is recognized as such by accrediting boards, state licensing boards and employers. So why does the Mandel School award an MSSA?

Historic: When we were founded in 1915 as America's first professional university-affiliated graduate school of social work, the MSSA was designated as our degree was designated an MSSA. This predates the MSW designation currently in use by some schools.

Interdisciplinary: A hallmark of our top-ranked education is reflected in the scope and name of our innovative social work degree.

Distinctive: An MSSA can distinguish your educational achievement and can elevate your career to greater heights. Our alumni say that when employers see the MSSA designation, they immediately know they went to a rigorous social work school that excels in creating leaders.

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