Online master’s degree in social work is first for CWRU

News Release: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Case Western Reserve University is launching its first online degree program, a master’s degree offered by the university’s nationally ranked Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The new Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) begins Jan. 7, 2013.

The Mandel School, one of the longest-running social work programs in the country, is ranked ninth nationally by U.S. News and World Report. The online program expands the school’s geographic reach.

“The creation of a virtual academy is about giving access to very high quality, advanced training in social work to more people,” explains Grover “Cleve” Gilmore, dean of the Mandel School. “There are many people who wish to develop the skills and knowledge base so that they can help address the problems of people and their communities.”

Online study is also about flexibility and convenience, offering students with family or work obligations to pursue a master’s degree.

“Our MSSA virtual academy gives these people the opportunity to receive the same education as persons who come to campus,” said Gilmore, who estimated the online program could be completed in about 2 1/2 years.

The CWRU program targets students with at least a year’s experience at a human social-service agency.

The application process for the online program is identical to that of on-campus students. Tuition and financial-aid opportunities are also the same.

The hallmark of the Case Western Reserve social-work program is the field experience that Mandel Center students tackle in their first two years. Students are matched with a field advisor and social-service or community agency, generally in the field of the student’s interest. Online students will be aligned with agencies in their communities. Students apply what they learn from their virtual lectures and discussions and assigned readings to their real-world experiences.

A student’s schedule includes two online courses and the field-placement experience, said Sharon Milligan, the Mandel Center’s associate dean for academic affairs.

Milligan says the program is modeled after the school’s successful “Intensive Weekend” program, in which students have field experiences in their home communities, but also travel to campus several times each semester for two days of intensive classroom sessions.

To learn more about the program or apply, visit

Posted by: Susan Griffith, December 5, 2012 02:25 PM | News Topics: Official Release