Wayne State University first in the state to offer first fully online asynchronous MSW program

Starting this year, School of Social Work students interested in pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) at Wayne State University will have the option of an online asynchronous program. The program is exclusively available to full-time Interpersonal Practice Concentration students. This offering is the first of its kind in Michigan. Other colleges in Michigan offer online MSW programs, however, none of them are fully asynchronous.

WSU student with laptop on campus“Many of our social work students are first-generation, have caregiving responsibilities, and must work while attending college. These factors can serve as barriers to accessing education. The online committee was excited to create an online program to increase educational access for these and all students who are drawn to our program and its mission,” said Debra Patterson, professor and associate dean of academic and faculty affairs.

Patterson took the lead on the project, writing materials for the website and obtaining approval for the new program, working closely with Anwar Najor-Durack, assistant professor clinical and assistant dean for student affairs.

“Students were asking for and seeking other online programs. The pandemic allowed all students to experience what it was like to have online classes, even if they were synchronous. This option gives them the flexibility of finding time that works best for them to do the work,” said Najor-Durack.

“The faculty members teaching these courses do so in-person and online. Faculty have been honing their skills in delivering content online to ensure it is engaging and will make time to meet with students to support learning and encourage engagement,” she said.

The online MSW program promises to be as rigorous, if not more so, as the in-person program.

“Students will have to make sure they use self-discipline and make time to do the work for each course, reach out to faculty members with questions, attend office hours, and reach out to their fellow classmates for group work as part of various assignments,” she said.

All program classes will be taught using the Canvas educational program, and online tools such as discussion boards and video lectures will be available to help students with assignments, activities, and other requirements. Courses will be taught in an asynchronous format, meaning there are no scheduled class times. Other resources such as social work exclusive advisors, online mentors, writing support, tutoring, and opportunities for Zoom and campus-based activities with peers are just some of the ways online students can get the support they need. Successful students should expect to spend at least eight hours of work per week on each course and will need access to a computer with a microphone, a camera, and a high-speed, secure internet connection.

“We are still working out the details and thinking about the best ways to support students for success and completion. That is the most rewarding—seeing students move toward completion and realizing their goals and desire to help others and make change,” Najor-Durack said.

It is recommended that students ask themselves what kind of learner they are and whether their study habits will help or hinder their success in the program before they consider applying.

“We are thrilled to be the first in the state to offer an asynchronous MSW program. COVID certainly changed the landscape, as well as our student’s preferences, but Wayne State’s commitment to excellence has not - and will not – change,” said Sheryl Kubiak, Dean of WSU’s School of Social Work.

The online asynchronous MSW program will be available for MSW advanced standing students this summer, and in the fall 2023 for MSW core students. To learn more about the admissions process, curriculum, and requirements, click here.

Author: Laura Hipshire laurahipshire@wayne.edu

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