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Portland State launching new online Social Work masters degree
Author: John Kirkland
Posted: October 7, 2013

The School of Social Work at Portland State University (PSU) is launching an online program that will enable students to earn their masters degree from home. 

Scheduled to begin in fall 2014, the three-year online Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree program will be the only one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.  It’s targeted toward working students and those who have difficulty coming to the downtown Portland campus for classes, said Sarah Bradley, coordinator of the program.

“A lot of people who work in social services can’t afford to quit their jobs to go back to school. These are people who have traditionally lacked access to the MSW degree,” she said.  “This program supports a family, work and school life balance.”

PSU’s School of Social Work is ranked 33rd in the nation (out of 200) by U.S. News & World Report, and has the only accredited graduate-level social work program in Oregon. 

The new online program will focus on community and organizational practice. Ann Curry-Stevens, curriculum coordinator for the new program, said it will prepare students to build and manage programs that meet the needs of communities; address issues such as racial disparities, equity, and inclusion; and work in policy advocacy at the organizational and legislative levels. 

Community and organizational practice is one of the tracks offered at the School of Social Work.  Bradley said it was the best candidate for an online program because the content lends itself to online delivery, and there was a demand for it among clinical students in the school’s Distance program held in Ashland, Eugene, Salem and Bend.

Creation of the degree is part of a larger effort by PSU to offer more online programs. Most lectures will be recorded so students can listen and participate on their own time. The only on-campus requirement will be a three-day intensive session at the beginning of each school year. 

The school will admit 40 students for the first year of the program. A full description and a course map will be available in November at http://www.pdx.edu/ssw/online-msw-program.