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Project #91

Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree with Specialization in Community and Leadership Practice

This project took an existing 2-year Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and placed it into a 3-year online format, increasing accessibility for non-traditional students, including students of color, parents, low-income students, students with disabilities, tribal members, and students who live rurally. The online program focused on developing student competencies for community and organizational practice. Overall the project converted 20 courses from the approved campus foundation curriculum and the advanced concentration in Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations into a 3-year online format. The project converted the School of Social Work MSW degree approved courses to an online format with synchronous and asynchronous delivery in all required courses. Students initially travelled to campus for one 3-day intensive session at the beginning of the year and all other course work has been completed through online delivery. The project attempted to address access barriers faced by non-traditional students, particularly since its design allowed students to retain full-time employment while attending much of the program.


  • Initiated a fully online Master of Social Work program by Fall 2014
  • Finished course development and course offering so a student can complete the MSW degree


The development of the Online MSW Program has had an impact on PSU students and faculty, as well as on online social work education around the country.

For students, this project has allowed the School of Social Work (SSW) to offer state-wide access to a graduate social work degree. It has also increased access for students who live near one of our traditional programs, but who are unable to utilize their current educational format. Faculty have also noted that all students in the online courses are more engaged and display more depth in their thinking than traditional students because they are required to be actively engaged with the material. Faculty also foresee being able to utilize the modularized online content with traditional students who need additional support in learning the material. 

For faculty, this project has impacted how we think about instructional practices and curriculum development. The exposure to online pedagogy and the curriculum development process has influenced both how we teach online and in the classroom, by demonstrating the benefits of “flipping” some of the content. Finally the online curriculum development process was done collaboratively and with an eye toward vertical and horizontal integration across the program. This was an exciting process that informed the overall MSW program curriculum revision process that was happening simultaneously.

Finally, this project has influenced online social work programs throughout the country. Sarah Bradley, Project Lead, and Lisa Hawash, Online MSW Program Coordinator, attended the first national conference on online social work education and it was clear our program reflected the highest standards for online education. Sarah presented on the pedagogy used in our curriculum development and some of the norms, values, and practices of our program. It was clear from the audience response that our program reflected some of the highest quality in the nation and will influence other programs designs.


For more information, please see the project End-of-Project Report, Project Artifacts and Final Expenditure Report.



  • Laura Nissen - Dean, School of Social Work
  • Johannes De Gruyter - Executive Director, Office of Academic Innovation
  • Bowen McBeath - Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Dawn Williamson - Adjunct Professor, School of Social Work
  • James Nash - Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Keva Miller - Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Lindsey Day - Adjunct Professor, School of Social Work
  • Michael Taylor - Associate Professor of Practice, School of Social Work
  • Traci Boyle - Adjunct Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Ann Curry-Stevens - Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Lisa Hawash - Senior Instructor, School of Social Work
  • Roxanne Dinca - Administrative Assistant, School of Social Work




Project Management Plan

Project Plan

Status Reports

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Original Proposal

Sustainability plan