Online MSSA Info Session – Community Practice Concentration
Thinking about applying to the Online Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA, equivalent to MSW) program? Check out this Information Session for an overview of the online program, the Mandel School, our rankings and accreditation, application tips, financial aid and scholarships. This session also includes an in-depth review of the Community Practice for Social Change concentration and the potential career paths graduates can pursue.
Richard Sigg, Director of Recruitment and Enrollment
Dr. Mark Chupp, Ph.D., Assistant Professor; Chair, Community Practice for Social Change
Robin Nathan, Lead Enrollment Advisor
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the Case Western Reserve University Mandel School of Online MSSA information session. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to find out more about this program. My name is Christina, and I’ll be your host today. Before we begin, I’d like to cover a few housekeeping items. At the bottom of your audience console are multiple application widgets you can use. If you have questions during the webcast, you may submit your question using the Q&A widget. We will answer as many questions as time allows at the end of the session. If you have any technical difficulties, please click on the help widget. An on-demand version of this session will be available tomorrow, and can be accessed using the same link that was sent to you earlier. You will also be emailed that link again tomorrow for your reference.
Now I am pleased to introduce our panelists. Our first speaker today is Richard Sigg. He is the Director of Recruitment and Enrollment for the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University. Richard has over 10 years of experience working in higher education to help students realize their graduate school goals. He currently co-chairs the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work Admissions.
Our next speaker is Dr. Mark Chupp. Mark is an Assistant Professor and chair of the Concentration in Community Practice for Social Change at the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University. He also directs the community and innovation network, a leader in community development research and practice that connects and strengthens leaders in bridging the divide across people, organizations, and communities. His work over the past 25 years has focused on community building and inter-group conflict transformation. Mark is an international consultant and trainer in civic engagement, appreciative inquiry, and conflict transformation, having worked in Northern Ireland, Egypt, Columbia, and throughout Central America and Mexico.
He provided leadership in the establishment of the Culture of Peace program as part of an effort to create a UN local zone of peace in post-war El Salvador. Mark holds a PhD in social welfare from Case Western Reserve University, a master’s of social work degree from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College. He has published numerous theory and practice-oriented articles, manuals, and book chapters. He has conducted numerous action-research projects, including a project in a town in El Salvador suffering from gang conflict, a race relations project in Cleveland, and a violence-prevention effort in Indiana.
Our final speaker is Robin Nathan, a lead enrollment advisor for the online master’s of science and social administration. She has worked as an enrollment advisor for over four years assisting MSSA applicants through the application process. Prior to her current role, Robin has worked four years as an enrollment advisor on other university programs, university graduate programs, and also garnered eight years of experience in the nonprofit and fundraising industries. She graduated from Bradley University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Here is a quick look at today’s agenda. We will start with Richard, who will give us an overview of the Mandel School, the online MSSA program, and the ideal student. Next, Dr. Chupp will dive into the community practice for social change concentration and provide insights into learning outcomes, curriculum, and potential career paths for graduates. Robin will then talk about the application process, including some helpful tips, and then review some scholarship information. Following our speakers, we will have a Q&A session to answer any of your outstanding questions. Without further ado, I will hand it off to Richard.
Thank you. Thank you also for joining us today. We look forward to connecting with you regarding the Mandel School Case Western Reserve University, and in particular our online program. Once again, I appreciate you joining us. To highlight the Handel School at Case Western Reserve University, I’d really like to touch base on the history of our school and our program. Case Western Reserve University is a conglomerate of a couple different institutions. The two most notable, Western Reserve College, which was actually founded in 1826, and Case School of Applied Science, which was founded in 1877. The two actually merged in 1967.
Our school, the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, was founded as a school of applied social sciences in 1915. We were actually the first university affiliated professional school of social work in the country. There were other schools and programs of social work before us, but we were the first one established a professional degree at the graduate level within an institution of higher education. Because of that history, in the early 1900s social work was actually not viewed as a profession or a professional degree. When we established our program in 1915, the trustees decided to establish our program as a master’s of science in social administration, which provides our graduates with the very unique distinction of having an MSSA when they go out into the field of social work as graduate social work professionals. We’re very proud of that history and the reputation that it provides our students in the field of social work.
As I mentioned, because we were founded in 1915, we were fortunate to become among the first group of schools of social work that were originally accredited when the accreditation was established in 1919. Most recently, with the Council for Social Work Education, which is now the main accrediting body for schools of social work, we’ve been accredited with them as well. We’re fortunate to be ranked as the top program in the state of Ohio, but nationally number nine by US News and World Report. Among other rankings, something that really signifies the strength of our faculty and the work that they provide as well is the ranking focused on scholarly productivity, which looks at what’s called the H index, where our faculty are ranked number eight as well.
This is evident through the research that they’ve produced both individually, as faculty members, as part of the institution, as well as in connection among the five research centers as part of our school. Annually, our faculty receive over $9 million in external funding, which support various initiatives and work that they do that provide a lot of opportunity for our students as well. Among some of the research opportunities, we’ve even had faculty that have hired our online students to become research assistants on projects that they’ve been working on during the academic year.
Our degree itself, the graduate social work program, the master’s of science in social administration is taught in three distinct formats. We have a traditional program, which is taught where classes meet during the week. Most of the students in our traditional weekly program pursue the program full-time and complete the degree in either one year or two years, depending on if they’re advanced standing or not. We also teach the program in what’s called the intensive weekend model. The intensive weekend model is designed for individuals working in the social work profession that do not want to leave their current role. It was originally established in the mid-80s, the intensive weekend program, as a workforce development program for social workers primarily working with county agencies.
Since then, we’ve grown the program and it allows students working in the field to come to campus one weekend a month over the course of two or three years to complete out the graduate social work degree. Most recently, in 2013 we started our online social work program, which allows a lot of flexibility for students around the country to pursue the degree 100% online. Though you’re always welcome to campus to connect with our library, our faculty, as well as other student support services within the institution, you have the flexibility and the opportunity to do the program 100% online.
As a school of social work and applied social sciences, we are driven by our core mission and vision. The mission of the Mandel School is to advance leadership in social work and nonprofit education, scholarship, and service to build a more just world. We do this by putting students at the central of everything that we do. One thing that I find unique about our program, as a research-based institution, our faculty puts students at the center of everything that they do. They focus on your learning experience to ensure that you have the best possible social work education and experience throughout the degree.
Our goal is to develop leaders of social change, both in direct practice as well as community practice. Our hope is to transform the world of people and organizations to achieve their full potential. Ultimately, our graduates are prepared to be future leaders who turn knowledge into action that furthers health, well-being, and social justice. This is a commitment that you’ll find throughout the whole school among faculty, staff, as well as your colleagues as other students.
In thinking about a social work program, social work education ultimately trains you to think holistically from the concept that social work really identifies as the person and environment perspective. Our hope is that you’ll learn how to apply values, principles, and techniques to connect individuals with resources and services, to provide potentially direct practice support, to help communities or groups provide and improve social or health services, or possibly even advocate for policy change. We do this through a curriculum that’s really divided into three key areas. There are generalist, or sometimes called foundation courses that all traditional students complete coming into the program.
Then students have advanced courses that are focused specifically on their concentration and specialization. Then students also have integrated throughout their whole program field education, or what’s also sometimes called practicum. Students that are entering without prior preparation in social work, so students that have completed degrees in anything from anthropology through engineering, business, psychology, sociology or zoology come in to complete the full program, which the full program is 60 credits. If you have a bachelor of social work, then you may be eligible for advanced standing that allows you to complete the program in a shorter period of time.
Students completing the full 60-credit hour program online complete the program essentially over about three years. It’s a total of 60 credits divided over eight semesters. Students in the 60-credit hour program typically take seven and a half credit hours each semester fall, spring, and summer. Students with advanced standing are able then to complete the program in as short as two years, or over six semesters. Students in advanced standing are taking anywhere between four and a half and seven and a half credit hours each semester. Generally, what that means is you’re taking two academic courses that are three credit hours each in conjunction with field education where you may be registered for one and a half credit hours of field education. One and a half credit hours of field education over a semester really equals out to about 10 to 12 work hours per week at a field site. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a moment.
To highlight advanced standing, if you have a bachelor of social work from a CSWE accredited program, you’ve graduated with that degree within the past seven years, and you have received a B or better in those social work courses, then you would be eligible for advanced standing. Advanced standing students receive a maximum of 24 credits that are then applied to the 60-credit hour degree, which allow you to complete the program in 36 hours. That’s where if you divide it over the course of the online program, students can complete the degree in six semesters, which is two years.
In order to receive full advance standing, you do have to have a B or better in all of your social work courses. If for some reason you have one B minus or C plus in a particular course, then we would then ask you to retake that particular course. For example, if you had a B minus in research methods through your BSW, but had an A or B in all of your other courses, you would be eligible for 21 credits of advanced standing. You would be taking research methods as part of your master’s in social work degree, and completing 39 credits with us as part of your program.
Beyond the foundation and generalist courses that you begin the program with, you then move into the requirement to choose a concentration and potentially a specialization. Within the online program, we offer three distinct concentration specialization options. Community practice for social change, which Mark , Dr. Chupp will be talking about in a little bit. We also offer two other focus tracks, one with direct practice focused on children, youth, and family, and the other one that’s direct practice focused on mental health with adults.
I mentioned the third part of social work education is the field education, or practicum experience. Field education is really identified by CSWE as a signature pedagogy of social work education. Its purpose is for you to acquire professional knowledge, integrate knowledge, skills, and values, develop professional identity, and reflect on those values and ethics.
One of the opportunities that exist with our program is we allow you the flexibility to choose your own site. It is important for us as a school that we have you integrate your field education and coursework throughout the whole program. For students that are advanced standing, you actually begin your first semester in working with the field site. You incorporate that field experience throughout your whole six semesters. Traditional students, during the first semester of our program, you enroll in a field education seminar class that’s designed to help you understand what the experience is all about, how to establish a strong field site, and part of this is because many of you are going to be in other locations other than Cleveland, Ohio. You would be working directly with a field faculty member that would support you through the process to identify a site that will provide you really with the skills necessary as part of the academic requirements of the program.
In total, you will complete 1,050 hours as a traditional student, students completing the full 60 hours. For advanced standing students, you would complete 900 hours. Once again, these hours are spread out across the whole program. You don’t have the pressure to complete those within a condensed period of time. It’s nice being that it’s spread out over the course of the program, it equals out to about 10 to 12 hours per week that you’re working at a field site. The field site, I will say, allows you really to begin the networking process of connecting with professionals in the field that may allow you to expand your current network beyond maybe even your current employer. Many times the field experience will lead to a student’s job after they graduate from the program.
To talk a little bit more about the online learning experience, I mentioned that our online program is really designed for working professionals, or students that really want to manage having a work-life balance. That’s one of the reasons why our program’s designed where most students are actually taking seven and a half credits a semester. Instead of having to manage four classes and field education, students are just managing two classes and field education throughout the semester.
The classroom experience though for each three credit hour course, they’re designed in eight-week modules. Over the course of a 16-week semester, you’re actually only taking one course at a time. For the first eight weeks of a semester, you’re in the first course. For example, the first eight weeks you may be in research methods, and then second eight weeks of a semester you’ll be in then a second course, having already completed that first course. At no time are you having to worry about two academic courses really at the same time. It helps you better manage the experience as well as really build that connection between your classroom experience and your field experience.
One of the components of our online program as well is thinking about the support that we provide our online students. Our online program is really designed to be at the same high level academic standards of our campus-based program. We want to provide you with the flexibility of online learning, however with the same high academic standards as part of the experience. This means that typically on average each week for a course students are spending, I would say, on average between 15 and 22 hours a week focused on that course or their academic requirements, whether it be working on papers, discussion board postings, readings, or other assignments related to that particular course.
We value establishing very strong connections. This allows for real-time connections with faculty members, with classmates, through these online discussions, projects, and some synchronous sessions. You’ll find throughout our courses some of them will have synchronous sessions. That may mean you meet once throughout your eight weeks, or that may mean you meet multiple times throughout your eight weeks at a specific time during that week. We also provide you with very hands-on field experience for allowing you to once again provide that, have that practical application to really accompany your coursework.
We have an enrollment advising team that supports you throughout the application process, and then a student support team and an advising team to really support you through your academic success as a student. It’s to help navigate the process, to help answer questions about course options or what courses to take and registration, as well as just to help navigate the experience itself knowing that you’re not here in Cleveland itself.
Some of the things that we look for when students are applying to the program, ultimately we’re looking for students that want to make a change in their community. We want students who have a passion for social justice, have a passion to improve their knowledge and learning in the field, to really make a difference in the future. Academically, I know that Robin is going to be talking a little bit more about the application process later, academically we’re looking for historical strong academic success for those students that are currently in or completed bachelor’s degrees. As I mentioned, we do accept majors from all disciplines. In particular though, for those that do have a social work background, it is important that you have a strong field experience as well as strong academics so that you can receive that advanced standing credit moving into the program.
We’re happy to be a resource, so whether you’re an hour away from Cleveland or three or four hours or states away, we’re happy to host you on campus. We can always set up a time for you to meet individually with a faculty member. We can have you meet with financial aid, admissions, or other team members. If you’re interested in connecting with a current student within the program, we can always make those connections via email. There are a lot of resources on campus that our online students are still able to take advantage of no matter where you’re located because of the livestream and live sessions. I appreciate you joining us this afternoon. I’m going to be passing this off to Professor Chupp to talk more about the community practice for social change concentration. Thank you.
Thank you, Richard. It’s great to be here, and talk with you. I want to first again with just a comment about our concentration in community practice for social change and the history of social work. From the origins of social work, community has always been a very, very important component. Throughout the history of the academic profession, there has always been two major areas or concentrations that we talk about. Sometimes they’re called micro and macro, in our case we call them Direct Practice and Community Practice. Many people out in the community assume that social work is like a case worker, somebody who works with individuals or families. I want to assure you that there’s a deep, deep history from the origins of social work for doing this community level work or macro work.
What is community practice for social change? It’s a concentration that aims to prepare students to influence social change through working with groups, organizations, communities, and other institutions that all of those arenas actually influence the lives of individuals and families. The difference is that we are not working directly with individuals and families, but in the larger context of their lives. Community practice for social change really is about preparing students to be change agents by addressing broad societal issues of social justice or injustice, social change, and policy-level work, for example, and working at an organizational, community or policy level rather than, as I said, directly with individuals and families.
They complement each other very well, direct practice and community practice. Students in the community practice for social change concentration are interested in ways to make a lasting, sustainable difference to combat poverty, inequity, and other kinds of social problems. They also believe that lasting change requires building capacity and power in addition to providing services and programs. It’s about building the capacity of individuals and families and organizations and communities so that they become less dependent on services and programs to meet their needs. Self-sufficiency is an important concept.
Students are also interested in changing systems as well as changing people’s lives. It’s looking at that, going upstream if you will, and looking at why are people in poverty, why are people in need of services, and trying to address some of those root causes at a systemic level.
You may ask what kind of careers do students who graduate from our program in community practice prepare you for? Rather than just read this list, I’ll give you some examples. Even in the context of social service or human service agencies, it’s often important to have someone with this community practice orientation.
For example, we have a graduate who was doing community development and community organizing work for a number of years, and she found out that a family social service agency created a new position because they wanted to have greater engagement in the community in which they were serving, and they wanted to reach a broader population in their service area. They created a position for someone to do just that, and so our student, our graduate applied for that position and has made a big difference in that agency and its relationship to its surrounding community. Part of that is outreach, but it’s much broader than that. It actually is a way in which that student or that graduate is actually influencing how services are provided and to whom.
We also have many of our graduates working in community-based organizations. Those could be a local nonprofit, or around the arts, or around any number of kind of health and recreation, any number of community-based organizations that are working at a community level.
The next two we’re very well known for throughout our school and throughout our history, and that’s working in community development corporations at a local level or at an international level as well doing community development work, and working at neighborhood initiatives. It could be that a city government has a new initiative of working at a neighborhood level in different neighborhoods, so they will hire one of our graduates to do that kind of work.
Another area that has a rich history in our school is community organizing and activism. This can be political organizing, it can be working with refugees, it can be working with any kind of marginalized population and really working to organize and promote change for that group of individuals. That can be place-based, but it could be more issue oriented and not specific to a geographic location. As I mentioned, government departments, departments of community development, departments of neighborhoods, departments sometimes of planning and economic development will often work with our graduates and hire our graduates. Also in the areas of political and policy roles, so we have had experiences with that as well.
Finally, the last two foundation and philanthropic community has hired many of our graduates, and some of the foundations locally in Cleveland, some of the foundation leadership have come back and gone through our program and have gotten promotions as a result of their advanced degree from us. Many opportunities for working with foundations and funding intermediaries. Then at our school, as in many of the universities as well as policy organizations, there is often a research role that our students can play in researching public policy around education or health, and so that the research skills you learn in our program are often attractive to employers. Some of our students then go on to be consultants in all of the areas I just mentioned, but they do that independently as a consultant.
If I were to spend a little bit of time talking about what are the curriculum does cover in broad strokes. This slide captures that for us, because in all of our curriculum we as a professional school, we emphasize three areas, which are in the center there. Obviously, as a professional school we want you to go out as a skilled practitioner, and so focusing on the skill development is critical. Many of our courses have practice exercises, either simulations in our classroom, small-group setting, or in your field. You go and practice something in your field and bring it back to the classroom. There’s that integration there. We also, of course, are embedding our students with a set of knowledge so that you become masterful in key concepts and frameworks and theories that are important to community work and to social work.
Then of course the values of social justice, of equity, of empowerment, these are values that are important in working with marginalized populations, people who have suffered injustice. Those are values that are embedded in the classrooms as well. We don’t have to impose those values on you, but there’s a value, a recognition that values drive much of this work. Then around the outside are the different content areas. I’d mentioned a number of these already, community organizing, the development, policy work, planning focus. One of our classes does a lot on organizational planning and strategic planning and strategic positioning of organizations, for example. Research and evaluation is critical as well as becoming an advocate on behalf of the population you work with, whether it be at the community level or organizational level or institutional level or a group level.
The last slide I want to cover is really just the curriculum itself. After you’ve completed the foundation year, you would go through these sets of courses. There’s nine courses that constitute the community practice for social change. As Richard said, you take one of these courses at a time so you can really focus in on needs, assessment, and program evaluation, for example, the first course. You’ll see that this list includes a number of different areas. There’s the research and evaluation side of this, so the courses that focus on that. There’s theory and context, understanding the history of community development and community practice. Then a series of courses that focus on organizational level, especially the nonprofit. There’s a course on revenue planning and development, because we recognize that most of our students are working in nonprofit organizations and have to work with lots of issues with budgeting and developing a plan for sustaining the organization in terms of revenue, especially as funding needs change as they constantly are. That becomes a very important course.
The fourth course is about looking really at the strategies and tactics for building and organizing community. There’s a set of practices you learn about in that. We’re trying to fill your toolbox with different approaches, and then you as a practitioner decide which approach, based on your assessment of the situation with the organization or community or group, decides which strategy makes most sense. That fifth course is the course I talked about in terms of planning and implementing social change, especially at an organizational level. You get very practical skills there. Then we’re looking at policy, looking at collaboration and strategic partnerships, and financial management. Then the last course on the list is the program design course. Maybe there’s a need out in the community and there’s no program actually to address that, so you may be working with your organization or institution to actually develop a new program to address an emerging need or unmet need in the community.
That kind of summarizes the program and what we attempt to cover in that. I think you’ll learn through this program, and our graduates certainly would attest to this, that it really advances their leadership abilities by going through this program because of the courses and the field experience really taking them to the next level in their agencies. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Robin.
Thank you. Good afternoon everyone. I wanted to echo the previous thoughts, and kudos for everyone who was able to join us today and take time out of their busy day. I did want to start this part of the discussion by talking a little bit about the role of our team as advisors. We do have a dedicated team of advisors that work with all of our incoming students, really any potential applicant that does reach out to us for more information. Our initial role is really three parts. One, we want to learn about any of our potential applicants. We want to learn about not only their educational and professional background, but also their interest in social service and their interest in the MSSA program in general.
Beyond that, our secondary role is to answer any questions that you might have not only about the application process but the actual program itself. Then lastly, our role is to guide any potential applicant really from the very, very start of the initial inquiry into the program all the way through submitting an application and other documentation, the onboarding process, and then as we move into that first day in class.
As a student is preparing their application file, our enrollment advisors are working with potential applicants ensuring that we do have all of the documentation ready for review. It usually takes an applicant about two to three weeks on average to submit all the required documents, which we’ll talk about in the next slide. After a student does submit all of their complete application file, they are reviewed immediately. We don’t wait until the deadline, or we don’t wait until a certain number of applications have come in. There is a benefit to submitting applications well before the application deadline. In terms of the turnaround, the review for admissions review usually takes another two to four weeks on average.
If you’re not already working with one of our assigned enrollment advisors, we do encourage you to reach out to us. You will see contact information on a future slide, but you are more than welcome to send a follow-up email or phone call and reach out to us at any point. In terms of the actual application requirements, I should mention first and foremost that we do work with a website, an application portal. It’s called Apply Yourself. It’s very convenient, very streamlined. Everything is available online and can be submitted online as well.
In terms of required documents, we do look for a student’s professional resume. Secondarily, a three to five page personal statement. I should mention there is a very good outline for applicants that’s part of the Apply Yourself website. As Richard Sigg had mentioned before, the admissions committee is looking for some specific talking points as part of the essay itself. There’s a really good framework for students to help them craft a strong essay as part of their application file. We do require official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. This would include both the degree conferring transcript as well as any transfer credit or any post-graduate work.
I should mention that unofficial transcripts can be reviewed as part of the academic application, however all official transcripts are due upon acceptance to the program. Three letters of recommendation are also required, as well on the Apply Yourself website you will see a one-page form that is provided for applicants. Colleagues are provided the opportunity to send in a more formal letter if they choose, or they can do both. An additional note on letters of recommendation, they should be coming in from professional sources. That definition of professional can be broad. Current and past managers or supervisors would be preferred. Anyone that can speak to academic references, any volunteer work could also be used as well.
Kind of skipping ahead to talk a little bit more about the field education questionnaire, which is for our traditional track, or non-BSW applicants only. This is also where an application requirement for those students. We do ask students to complete a field education questionnaire. It’s roughly 20 to 25 questions. It gives the applicant the opportunity to discuss any potential agencies in mind with the field education team, but also talks a little bit more about plans that they have in place for completing field work once they get into that first semester.
Moving back up to the field education proposal, this is a requirement for our advanced standing or BSW applicants only. I should also mention that this proposal does not need to be submitted as part of the academic application, but can be submitted upon conditional acceptance to the program. This would include the actual proposal itself, which gives the student opportunity to demonstrate what they’re going to do for field placement, a copy of their field education instructor’s resume, and a signed agency agreement form. Let me also take a moment to touch on our SOFE, which stands for Supporting Online Field Education. This is an online tool that we offer for applicants who have submitted their academic application. It is an opportunity for incoming students to connect with a member of our field education team should they need field education placement assistance.
Our next topic will be tuition and fees. As you can see, we have included billing out information for the upcoming and current 2017-1018 school year. Our cost per credit hour is the same for all tracks, $1,450 per credit hour whether you are traditional or advanced standing. I should also note that this cost per credit hour is the same based on residency. We don’t make a distinction between in and out-of-state cost as well. The traditional track is a total of 60 credit hours over two and a half years. That’s also equivalent to eight semesters. Advanced standing is also a minimum of 36 credit hours for two years. That would be six semesters.
Finally, I did want to mention that we do work with two additional departments. We do have a very dedicated financial aid office that we have the opportunity to turn any students over as they’re working on financial aid documentation, and we do also have our registrar’s office as well. For any students that are looking at using military benefits, they’re invited to work with those departments in terms of submitting all the required documentation. We do ask that all students submit a FAFSA application, as that is the traditional source of funding for programs. Outside of that, additional sources of loan funding like graduate plus loans, tuition reimbursement, or military benefits can also be considered.
With that vein, I did want to talk a little bit more about scholarship opportunities. Scholarship really is an investment in our future students. With that said, we do offer our 15% centennial scholarship to all students. This is based on academic merit. All students are reviewed for the centennial scholarship program. It is an automatic review, given a very streamlined process. Students are reviewed based on their undergraduate GPA. For those students that have a undergraduate cumulative GPA above a 3.0, they are automatically reviewed and awarded the 15% centennial scholarship at the time of admission to the program.
For the students who are entering into the program with a GPA of 3.0 or lower, they’re reviewed at the end of their first semester in the program, and provided that they are in good standing, they do receive that centennial scholarship beginning in the second semester. The scholarship is automatically renewed for every student as long as they provide a good academic standing. I did want to talk a little bit more about some important deadlines. We are currently recruiting for our spring semester. As you’ll see, that is the January 8th start date. A couple of important dates for you to keep in mind. Friday, November 3rd is the academic application and field education questionnaire for traditional track students, that deadline. Then two weeks after that we do allow our advanced standing applicants a little bit more time to submit their field education proposals. That deadline is Friday, November 17th.
I should mention also we do have an onboarding process for all incoming students, which does take place during the month of November and December as well. Students do participate in a welcome webinar, and an online orientation as well. We do that so students have a feeling of comfort, a feeling of knowledge as they enter into the first week of class. They’ve already had exposure to the online technology, done some practice runs with assignments, and got to meet a number of their incoming students.
Finally, you will see contact information for our offices below. You’ll see we have a toll-free number and we also do have an email. Like I said, if you’re already working with one of our enrollment advisors, you’re more than welcome to reach out to us as soon as possible, and we look forward to working with you. I’m now going to turn this back over to our host, Christina. She’s going to lead us in a question and answer session.
Thank you, Robin. Yes, we’ll now move on to the Q&A portion of our session today. If you haven’t already, please go ahead and submit your questions through the Q&A widget on your console. We’ll do our best to get to all questions before the end of the session. If we run out of time, any remaining questions will be answered via email by the advisors. The first question is for Richard. Do you currently have to work in the social work or human services field for the program?
You do not have to have work experience in the social work/human services field. It does help. There’s no question that having some experience can be helpful coming into the program, but it is not a requirement of admission.
Great, thank you. The next question. Are you able to help me with securing a field placement?
Yes. We do have field faculty members that do support students in securing field. Robin touched on this a little bit with regards to the field education proposal, as well as questionnaire. It does change a little bit depending on a student’s status of having advanced standing or not. Advanced standing students, during the application process, begin working in an online module called SOFE that helps support students through the process. It’s a self-paced module that can be completed very quickly or can be spread out over as long as the student or the applicant would really like to. Through that process, as well as through their own exploration of sites, they would then be connected with a field faculty member to help secure a site. There is support on the front end.
Then for students that are traditional students, they really work within the field seminar, which is a class that students register for. It’s a one-credit hour course over the course of their first semester in the program that they would be connected with other students as well as working with a field faculty member to establish a field placement to begin in their second semester. There’s definitely support systems in place to really ensure that it’s a successful experience for you.
Great, thank you. This next question kind of building on that field placement topic. Do my job hours count towards my field placement?
They do not. That’s a really good question. If you are working in an organization that could also be a field experience, then we do allow you to complete your field within your place of employment, but there are requirements and expectations that your field experience would be separate from what you are hired to be doing. For example, if you were working within an agency, you would have to actually be working under a different supervisor for your field experience. Those hours would have to be different than what you’re actually hired to be doing originally.
Working within your place of employment though, there are some employers that do provide a lot of flexibility to allow you to focus one of the days within the week towards the work that you were not originally hired to be doing for that field experience. Your employer can provide some flexibility with the way the hours work, but the field experience does have to be different than what you were actually hired to be doing for your full-time job. I will say the field faculty member can really, as you’re exploring that as an option, be very specific with what those expectations would look like as well as connect with your current supervisor or the field site supervisor to talk about how that would work within your place of employment.
Great, thank you. Speaking of the field advisor, will students have the same field advisor throughout the entire program?
Not necessarily. We have a team that works more with students on the front end for their first field experience. It is likely that you would be working with different field faculty throughout your time within the program.
This next question again for Richard. Will it show up on my degree that I was an online student?
It will not. On the degree conferral or the diploma, it does not distinguish whether a student completes it online, on campus, or in the intensive weekend program. Ultimately, you’re earning the graduate social work degree, the master’s of science in social administration here at Case Western Reserve University.
Great. This next question, this attendee is not sure which concentration is best for her. Which would you recommend she choose? She’s not sure if she wants to end up in macro or micro practice.
The good news is if you’re not sure, and you’re a traditional student doing the full 60 credits, you really have the first year and a half in the online program to determine exactly what your concentration is. That’s because of the foundation and generalist course requirements within the curriculum. It allows students to be exposed to all of the areas so throughout the generalist curriculum you would take coursework that allows you to understand policy and macro practice, but you’d also take coursework that provides you with the understanding of direct practice. Through that experience, you could then really then solidify what track you ultimately will be pursuing. Because before you move into your advanced courses, you will have had to have completed all of the generalist foundation requirements. It gives you some time to figure that out.
If you’re advanced standing, because advanced standing students in their first semester jump right into concentration advanced practice courses, I would say it would be important that you really explore the different options to consider what is best for you. The other thing, one other kind of side note to the tracks though is the track itself that you choose, ultimately does not mean that that’s the only thing that you can be doing with the degree. It is very common that students pursue one particular track and through their professional experiences in their different jobs that they have, they move into different roles and leadership positions that tend to take them in different areas as well. It is important to note that many of the skills, though they’re very valuable obviously to help put you on a specific path to begin with, ultimately the degree is very versatile with where you can actually be working and what it allows you to do long term.
Thank you very much. Richard, would you be able to offer any guidance for those who are looking to choose between the online or intensive weekend options to earn the MSSA?
Yes. I would say two things. If you’re regional, meaning within a drive distance, I would recommend that you come to campus and we have you meet with a faculty member too that teach in both of the programs so that they can talk about that experience in both programs. Both of them are amazing options for students that want to be really kind of … I mean, a work/life balance with the classroom experience, but at the end of the day they are also different experiences. One where obviously the courses are online throughout the time, the other one where students are on campus, kind of in an intensive way, one weekend a month. It is obviously a different experience with the way in which students complete out those programs. I mean, I would recommend if you could come to campus, we’d love to have you come to campus. You could talk with us, we can have you meet with a faculty member, and to talk to you really about the structure of the different programs to figure out what’s best for you.
Another potential, though, indication of the track could also then be what concentration and specialization you want. In the online program, we have direct practice with children, youth and families, direct practice in mental health in adults, and of course community practice for social change. In the intensive weekend program, we do teach the direct practice with children, youth and families and the direct practice with mental health in adults, but we do not teach community practice for social change in the intensive weekend format. Though the intensive weekend program, we do have a different concentration available called direct practice with alcohol and other drug abuse, which really puts students on a track to work within substance abuse, recovery, as well as within the state of Ohio there’s a chemical dependency licensure that that puts students on the track for.
In a similar fashion, with our full-time program during the week, in addition to the community practice, mental health in adults, and children, youth, and families, we also have the alcohol and other drug abuse, but we also have aging. We have health, we have about five dual degree options with other graduate disciplines as well. The full-time weekly program, you really have the scope of all of the concentrations and curriculum options, and then in the intensive weekend and online there’s a subset of each of those. You’ll find some different options within each of the formats within our school.
Great, thank you. Let’s see, we have time for a couple more questions here. How much interaction will I get with my fellow students and faculty? This is for you, Richard, or Mark. What would you say?
Mark, do you want to touch on that as a faculty member?
Yeah, I’m happy to talk about that a little bit. The online program is … One of the things about online education that I would ask you to look at if you’re considering a different option is how the program is structured. I can personally as a faculty member I was somewhat skeptical of the ability to teach, practice professional degree program in an online format. The way in which we have designed this program is so interactive and so intense in those eight weeks with the course that I actually, as a faculty member, felt like I was able to get to know the students in my online class better in eight weeks than I was to get to know my students in the full-time on campus program in 15 weeks. There’s a lot of interaction back and forth. In my courses, there’s live sessions as well. There’s small group activities. It’s a very intense structure.
I know from the student perspective, because they go through, especially advanced curriculum, they go through the courses together, it’s not an eight-week relationship with a student, it’s all the way through those nine courses. They’re often with the same students. They become very familiar with each other, even if they live on different coasts in the country. They become very close to each other, and know about each other’s lives, much as our students do on campus. Unlike maybe some online education degrees, this one is not like that. There’s a lot of community building and relationship building, both among students and with the faculty.
Great, thank you Mark. It looks like we are at our time. In the interest of everyone’s schedules, we will wrap things up today. On the screen, you will find our contact information for our recruitment services should you have any additional questions. If you are ready to apply, or would like to schedule an appointment to speak with your advisor, links to do so can be found within the resources widget. Additional program links, program information links are also available to you there. I’d like to thank each of our presenters for sharing their expertise, and thank you to everyone who participated today. We’re glad you could join us, and hope this session was helpful for you. Now I’d just like to say thank you again everyone for attending, and enjoy the rest of your day.