June 26, 2018
From the opioid epidemic to aging baby boomers, new and emerging societal challenges have created a dire need for licensed clinical social workers in Indiana and across the nation. To help meet this demand, Ball State University has created a new Master of Social Work (MSW) program.
The recently approved program in the Department of Social Work will provide advanced clinical and management training for students starting in Fall 2019.
“This new degree reflects the University’s commitment to social responsibility and to empowering our graduates to transform lives,” said Marilyn Buck, interim provost and interim executive vice president for academic affairs. “As the only Advanced Generalist MSW in Indiana, it will prepare social workers to solve complex problems through coursework, simulations, case studies, immersive experiences with real clients, and mentoring. A special emphasis will be on rural communities, where social workers need to be innovative and have a diverse skill set.”
In the new program students will learn both advanced clinical skills — with individuals, families, and groups — and non-profit management practices. Those practices include program development, budgeting, fundraising, personnel management, and leadership.
“We believe that students learn best by doing, so every course is focused on preparing competent, professional social workers who are ready to work,” said Dr. Greta Yoder Slater, an associate professor of social work and director of the new MSW program.
MSW coursework will concentrate on addictions, gerontology, and health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these three areas are projected to have the highest rates of job growth in the next decade.
“Employee demand for master’s-level social workers consistently outpaces the number of trained workers. Just this morning, there were 345 MSW jobs open in Indiana on LinkedIn and 545 on Indeed,” said Dr. Slater. “The demand for clinical social workers is intense, especially in rural areas of the state. Non-profits, substance abuse clinics, community mental health centers, hospitals, community corrections, and long-term care centers often have clinical and leadership positions open for a year or more due to the shortage of MSW graduates.”
Students appear eager to fill that shortage. In a survey, 106 Ball State undergraduate social work majors said they would “definitely” or “probably” enroll in the new MSW program. And a recent department Facebook post providing an update on the program was viewed by almost 8,000 people within 48 hours, with Slater receiving many follow-up calls and emails requests for more information.
In 2019, the Department of Social Work will be moving to the new, $62-million Health Professions Building, with dedicated social work skills labs and community-based clinic space. Social work students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities including simulation labs, professional clinics, and technology-rich classrooms. The new location will bring lots of opportunity for collaboration with other College of Health departments and community partners, Slater said.