In February, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) approved the addition of the online Master of Social Work (MSW) program at Jackson State University, making it the only institution in Mississippi to offer the curriculum entirely online. Subsequently, the Institutions of Higher Learning board also agreed for the program to operate on the campus of JSU. JSU is also the only Historically Black College and University in the deep south to offer this program of study.
“As associate dean for the School of Social Work, I am extremely pleased with our advancement to a fully online program,” says Isiah Marshall. “Moving to an online platform for our MSW program was part of our 2020 strategic plan, that was initiated in 2015.”
The online program will provide access to a larger group of potential students in the state of Mississippi and beyond. The program is designed to prepare students professionally and ethically to address societal problems in their own communities, which is linked to the University’s mission.
“Our faculty have been trained to work online with great proficiency and the investment in more training is planned as we move forward; additionally, we have recruited a large yet diverse group of faculty to teach for our program, which will be representative of the diverse populations that we will attract in the future.”
The School of Social Work will offer a one-year, advanced standing, MSW program and a two-year, full-time online curriculum with no residency requirements. Additionally, the SOSW will continue to offer the two-year full-time residential format of advanced standing, and the three-year part-time plan, to meet the learning needs of all students.
“This program will provide the necessary training and educational opportunities for students to become competent social workers, acting as change agents with systems of any size, in a variety of communities,” says Marshall. “Students will be provided with the essential knowledge, skills and experiences to achieve their professional goals.”
The online program option and the curricular focus allows MSW program to be competitive on a national level and it elevates the profile of the program. Furthermore, access to this program will allow social workers to meet the workforce demands in geographical areas that may not have enough qualified practitioners.
The brand of Jackson State University as a dynamic urban research institution is well respected in the state and around the country. Additionally, the MSW program’s curricular focus on children, youth, and families is appealing to students and their numerous employment related opportunities.
“As we continue to grow as an institution, we want the best and brightest leaders in the field of social work to represent our program and their communities; especially those that represent urban and rural communities. We are also excited about the opportunity to interact with unique field education sites across the country for student training. We are looking forward to forming solid partnerships that will produce innovative practice resources and research.”
In the spirit of gratitude, Marshall is thankful for the students, faculty and staff that supported his vision for the online program nearly four years ago. He also noted that Mark Roth, MSW program coordinator made contributions to a substantive change self-study and Patricia Sheriff-Taylor of Academic Affairs assisted in facilitating the approval for the program with IHL.