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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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Social work program to transition master’s program online


social work

The Graduate College of Social Work is shifting their master’s program to be fully online. | Sonia Zuniga/The Cougar

Students can obtain a master’s in social work completely online starting Fall 2016, adding yet another option of advancing education in the field of social work.

With this addition, the graduate social work program will become UH’s 10th master’s program offered online.

“We were able to get support from the University to help in that development process,” said Ginger Lucas, a clinical assistant professor and online master’s Social Work Program Director. “It’s been a developing process for a year because we will be constantly tweaking, adding new things, creating new courses and offering more opportunities for online students as we move forward.”

Social work graduate Cassie Manley did not find the online program option appealing at first.

“I wanted a classroom experience because I felt I could do better when I have a schedule and meet people face-to-face,” Manley said. “Then they transitioned into a hybrid last semester and it’s surprising what I appreciate about it. The program allows the best of both worlds. It gives people all these options to pick and choose what meets their needs best.”

The hybrid program will prominently take effect this fall as “an experiment” and move towards an online program, said Ann Webb, a doctoral student assisting with the hybrid program.

“We’re going to see how we can embrace that sense of community, sense of congeniality that happens in a live classroom into an online setting,” Webb said. “That’s one of the challenges, we don’t know how that’s going to work. We have to figure that out as we go and that’s where we are right now.”

Although classwork is moving its way online, students are still expected to meet their field requirements. In the three years of the graduate program, students have to meet all 900 field hours in the community.

However, the idea of obtaining a master’s degree fully online is not appealing to everyone; Webb’s daughter took an online class and found it challenging.

“It requires a lot of self-motivation and not enough interaction and it didn’t work well for her,” Webb said.

One of the benefits the GSCW focused on in planning for the hybrid and online option, is to offer this education at a wider radius.

“For people who are outside of Houston, it definitely provides greater access,” Manley said, “that’s the social workers goal.”

Lucas said that accessibility and opportunity was in mind when the College of Social Work faculty pushed the online program’s momentum forward.

“Online education kind of falls into the mission of social work which is to provide access to people who may not have it,” Lucas said. “We’re excited about the potential this allows for more people to become more educated, qualified and really be able to give back to the Houston community.”

Online applications for the Fall 2016, FAQs and faculty contact information can be found online at the Graduate College of Social Work’s website.

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