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Westfield State’s MSW program tops regional list for affordability, access

Westfield State’s MSW program tops regional list for affordability, access

WESTFIELD, Mass., March 7, 2016- Westfield State University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program topped the list of “The 14 Most Affordable Accredited MSW Programs in the Northeast 2016” by Social Work Degree Guide.  This ranking comes on the heels of a February 25, 2016 story published in the national education publication Inside Higher Ed, which suggests due to growing student interest in issues including social justice, social activism, and economic inequality, the MSW degree is becoming this generation’s law degree. According to the article, law school applications have been dropping since 2010 while MSW applications have been increasing.

Westfield State University’s MSW program is particularly attractive to students. Students pay one price regardless of whether they are in-state or out-of-state. Additionally, it is a hybrid program of both classroom and online course work. The program has single focus on applied clinical social work preparing students for a wide array of clinical positions including work with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative, two areas of high need in the Commonwealth.

These factors contribute to a successful track record in job placement for both its bachelor and master of social work programs. More than 95 percent of the university’s BSW graduates are accepted into graduate school or find employment in their field within one year of graduation. For the MSW graduates, more than 95 percent are working in their field within a year after graduation.

Dr. Robert Kersting, chair of the social work department, attributes the department’s success to the department faculty.

“Today, a social work degree is one of the nation’s most relevant degrees despite the fact it is not known for being a high-paying field,” Kersting said. “Westfield State’s program sets students on a path to success because the social work faculty have worked tirelessly to create access to programs and opportunities for our students that speak to their desire to be engaged within the communities in which they live and work, but which do not leave them in debt for years afterward.”

Established in 2010, Westfield State University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program’s mission is “to provide a high quality accredited graduate level social work education that is accessible to our students.” The program has two goals: to prepare graduates who will have mastered the knowledge, values, and skills of the social work professional generalist practice core and are prepared for clinical social work practice in today's complex world. The MSW program is offered through part-time and full-time options.

Westfield State’s 66 credit program costs $400.00 per credit (including all tuition and fees).  At this time students can attend the MSW at WSU part-time for as little as $3600.00 per semester and approximately $6400.00 per semester full-time.

Increasing scrutiny regarding Department of Children and Families (DCF) caseload has caused state-wide concern and prompted action from the governor’s office. News station WCVB reported last fall, the number of social workers with crisis-level caseloads, defined as 20 or more cases, is on the rise. As of August 2015, there were 27,000 open cases in the state, 40 percent of which were assigned to social workers in western Massachusetts.

The Social Work Degree Guide is an online resource for "finding up-to-date information about educational and career options in social work." They examined 129 institutions located in the east that offer a master’s in social work. From those schools, accreditation status was confirmed with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE is recognized by the Council for Higher Education as the only accrediting agency for social work in the nation. Then, the pool of schools was narrowed to include only those from states in the northeast: all New England states, as well as Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Each school’s graduate tuition and fees were reviewed, as listed by NCES College Navigator, and the schools were ranked in order of affordability.