As the national projected employment for social workers is expected to grow 16 percent between 2016-26, SRU’s Council of Trustees approved to send the Master of Social Work to the chancellor for approval last month.
Social work is a field growing much faster than average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected change in employment for all occupations between 2016-26 is 7 percent.
Most of the time, a master’s degree is required to obtain a job as a social worker. According to Larry Breitenstein, assistant professor of public health and social work, while a bachelor’s licensing option exists in Pennsylvania, the regulations have not been passed yet.
“Most social workers in most jobs out there that are licensed social workers have to have the master’s degree in social work,” Breitenstein said.
The Master of Social Work would include 60 credits offered in a blended format, with some classes meeting on campus and other coursework being held online, and have a maximum capacity of 72 students.
Breitenstein said that class meetings will accommodate students who currently work in human services.
“We’re trying to set it up on the weekends and the evenings so that people who are working in human services jobs in the area can get here on the weekends and evenings and take the classes and keep their jobs,” Breitenstein said.
The Master of Social Work will include two focus tracks: forensic social work and crisis invention. The program will also offer classes in animal-assisted interventions, which will complement either focus track.
“In a lot of settings now, it’s very helpful to have a therapy dog to ease the stress of an interview with clients,” Breitenstein said. “We’re going to be the only program around here that has something like that.”
Students will also need to complete 900 hours of field-learning experience, which aligns with some of the Council for Social Work Education’s core competencies. Upon graduating, students can take the exam to become a licensed social worker.
Students with a bachelor’s degree in social work can complete the advanced standing track in one calendar year. Students with advanced standing will need to complete about half as many hours as those without advanced standing.
“You can leave here in five years with a master’s degree in social work,” Breitenstein said.
Pending chancellor approval, SRU will be the seventh university in the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE) to offer a Master of Social Work. The University of Pittsburgh also offers a master’s program with an administrative component.
“All these fields are really growing right now, so if we don’t get those students, they’re probably going to go someplace else,” Breitenstein said.
To read the full report on the Master of Social Work from the Council of Trustees meeting, click here
The Council of Trustees also approved to send the Master of Accountancy for the chancellor’s approval to be implemented for fall 2019.