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Advantages for Students and Employers

MSW study offers robust staff development opportunities for human services agencies.  Weekend in-person classes provide a dynamic learning environment in a retreat-like atmosphere for students that facilitates knowledge transfer and application to the workplace. 

As students take classes with a cohort of similarly employed individuals from diverse human service backgrounds, they examine and often challenge their practice, learn from the experiences of others and discover ways to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills, enhancing their effectiveness even while they study. 

The hybrid design of the Intensive Weekend Program and manageable field hours means minimal disruption of the workplace.    During the Pandemic, in-person classes have become face-to-face synchronous remote classes, maintaining opportunities for active learning, small group activities and discussion, in depth interaction with students and instructors. We will be back in the classroom, in-person, as soon as the University determines it is safe to be so!

Benefits for employing agencies

  • Student involvement in year-round field education projects, without semester breaks, ensures continuity.  Projects can be developed that address a gap in services or area which the agency may wish to further develop 
  • MSW education contributes to staff development and retention. Because students remain in the employ of the agency while in school, they continue to contribute to the work of the agency 
  • MSW education for employees can help agencies build a cadre of skilled clinicians and managers from within, among their most promising and committed employees who know the agency, its work and its clients   
  • Agency, employees and clients benefit from increased professionalization and the continuity of skilled social service staff who stay on the job as they further their education and advance in their careers

Benefits for students

  • Students complete requirements for the MSW while remaining employed full time without losing the salary and benefits of full time employment.
  • Weekly field hours, often prohibitive in traditional MSW study for full time employees, are manageable and easily integrated within the student’s work week. 
  • The rhythm of classes and the ability to concentrate on one subject matter at a time is conducive to managing academics and professional life.
  • The course schedule and active learning format encourages students to apply what they have learned in field and on the job. 
  • Studying with a cohort of similarly employed students is a source of support and enriches classroom learning.

The Importance of Supervisor and Agency Support

Supervisor and agency support is critical for study in the IW Program.  Students are encouraged to consult with their employer as they make plans for MSW education and particularly field.  Signatures on students’ Field Plans are an acknowledgment that these discussions have occurred.

Employing agencies can support their employee in the pursuit of their MSW by:

  • Providing an opportunity for a workplace-based field placement at the agency. 
  • Establishing a flexible or adjusted schedule for field hours at the agency or at another agency; providing educational release time or partial reassignment of duties.

Some agencies may be able to provide tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance in support their employees' educational goals, possibly in return for post-completion commitments.  Such agreements and any other personnel matters as they may relate to the employee’s participation in the program are at the discretion of the employer, pursuant to the policies of individual agencies.  

We welcome employed students and their employing agencies to our growing family of Intensive Weekend stakeholders who are committed to workforce development and professionalization across the human services!  

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