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New Online Master of Social Work Proves Popular

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By Judy Creel

Students from across the nation now have the opportunity to earn their Master of Social Work online from the School of Social Work at UCF.

Like UCF's face-to-face M.S.W. program, the Online M.S.W. track is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Among the advantages of the Online M.S.W. are convenience, flexibility and a cohort model for stronger peer support. The initial cohort began in January and included students from Florida, Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

A new cohort begins this week, the first of summer term A, and school officials expect the largest cohort to date - 50 to 75 students - to start in the fall.

"We're thrilled to have launched our Online M.S.W., providing access to working professionals and other nontraditional students who would like to attain an M.S.W. and can't always participate full time," said Bonnie Yegidis, director of the School of Social Work.

The three-year, part-time Online M.S.W. is designed for students who do not have a Bachelor of Social Work or who earned their social work degree more than five years ago. First-year students take one class at a time for a seven-week term, with two terms held each semester. School of Social Work faculty members specifically converted the classes to accommodate the shorter terms and accelerated pace.

"Many of our students work full time and have families," said Adriana Kelly, M.S.W. online advising coordinator. "They can sign in after the kids are asleep. And there's no internship the first year, so if they have to travel for work or other reasons, they can log in from anywhere."

Field education starts the second year, integrating learning with practice. The first internship is a generalist placement in an organization such as the Salvation Army or a homeless or domestic violence shelter, with an average of 10 hours per week. The second includes placement in a clinical setting such as a hospital, nursing home or hospice, with an average of 15 hours a week.

Online M.S.W. students experience internships as close to home as possible. Professional field instructors with the school place them in approved agencies that meet their interests, based on availability, and they work with the students throughout. The first cohort will begin field education in spring 2017.

The school's vision is to prepare students to become practitioners who promote optimal well-being, human rights, and social and economic justice. An M.S.W. can lead to careers in a wide variety of fields, ranging from case managers, counselors and school social workers to lobbyists, teachers and nonprofit organization directors.

"One student had the aspiration to be the mayor of her town, which had a large number of homeless students," said Kelly. "Her platform was childhood poverty, and she wanted to make changes in her community."

Equipping students to make a difference in their communities is the aim. The M.S.W. focuses on social change from a regional and global perspective with individuals, families, groups and communities in diverse practice settings.

Students may enroll in the Online M.S.W. in the spring, summer and fall semesters. Deadline for fall 2016 is June 17. Complete details can be found at www.ucf.edu/online/degree/master-of-social-work-msw/.

(Photo by Abi Bell)

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