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Online Social Work ranked best in the nation

The digital badge created by College Choice Photo credit: College Choice

By | Charlotte Rutigliano

The Online Social Work Bachelors program and the Master’s program have been ranked 13th and 12th by College Choice, an online source dedicated to helping students find the best schools for their academic and career goals.

Alyssa Koh, managing editor from College Choice said that the team she works with often says that figuring out what college to attend can be like drinking from a fire hose.

“We have all been through the process of researching, applying and choosing a school,” Koh said, “we really are coming at this from experience.”

According to Koh, the ranking criterion is a question that they got a lot, and one that is very important to them and that they feel confident about.

“Our methodology is always data-driven and as scientific as possible,” Koh said. “We collect data points from trustworthy sources.”

Sources that include university and college websites, PayScale, U.S. News & World Report, and the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Koh said that what they’ve done is come up with a way to measure quality, reputation, affordability, value, and satisfaction.

“Going to college isn’t just books and tests,” Koh said, “it’s a whole host of factors, and we take that into account.”

According to Koh, the methodology College Choice uses first looks at what students want, what they are looking for and what they can help them with. The data gathered is aggregated into different criteria that composite scores.

“Most of our lists use three composite scores for determining the ranking,” Koh said, “institutional excellence, student satisfaction and return on investment.”

Jamie Jensen, assistant professor and director of distributed learning programs for the online Bachelor’s and Master’s, said while she’s less concerned about the ranking of the programs, and that it feels good to see the department and the university out there.

According to Jensen, the social work programs are generalist programs that teach students to work on issues, populations and system levels. The online Bachelor’s program is set up just like the on-campus program, and the online Master’s program is a part-time year round option that has a new cohort starting every January.

“The Master’s program model is targeted at providing educational opportunities to those already living and working in rural or Indigenous Communities,” Jensen said.

Geneva Shaw, lecturer and the Master of Social Work director, said that the online programs allow students who work full time, have families or are currently working in the field to stay rooted where they are and continue their education.

According to Jensen, these online programs first got started because of an expressed need to bring a pathway to education for people in the surrounding rural and tribal communities who were already doing great work but didn’t have the privilege to attend the program on campus.

“We graduated our first Bachelor’s in social work distributed learning (BASW DL) in 2013,” Jensen said, “and the first Master’s in social work distributed learned (MSW DL) in 2016.”

Jensen said that as of May 2017 the program had graduated 68 new BASW and 38 new MSW into underserved rural areas of Northern California, as well as 54 students in both the BASW and MSW scattered across California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington state, Rhode Island and Alaska.

Shaw said that though she’s also unsure of the ranking process, it gives acknowledgment to programs both on campus and online, and the connections made not only in our own community, but also in the students’ home communities.

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