VCU offering online undergraduate social work courses for Fall 2022
The nationally ranked Virginia Commonwealth School of Social Work is launching a selection of online courses for its Bachelor of Social Work degree, providing more flexible access for students who aspire to become change-making social workers and help address the critical need for mental health professionals in the commonwealth.
Junior-level social work courses will be available in a two-semester sequence, starting with Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 and continuing for the Spring and Summer 2023 semesters. Also available will be two sophomore-level social work courses that must be completed before starting the junior-level major coursework. Both current students and qualifying incoming transfer students are eligible to sign up during the spring registration period this April and through late July.
There is a critical need for social workers, and a B.S.W. degree is the first step in expanding the social work workforce and ensuring that communities have the best resources available to them.
“In the United States and around the world, we are experiencing a mental health crisis, and the need for social workers is greater than ever,” says Rebecca Gomez, Ph.D., associate dean for academic and student affairs in the School of Social Work. “The current workforce is overwhelmed, and it is expected that the need will continue to grow beyond capacity.”
The addition of online courses gives students the option to select the format that fits their learning style and lifestyle. For those whose employment or caregiving responsibilities restrict studying in a traditional format, online courses provide more accessibility. In addition, the transition process is more seamless for the many transfer students who are in online programs at their community colleges.
“Online education is about access,” Gomez says. “We want to ensure that all students have access to high-quality social work education. This includes students who are unable to travel to campus due to work and life demands, rural students and military affiliate students.
“Creating access increases the diversity of our students and ultimately the diversity of social workers in the communities they serve. This is important because every individual in every community deserves great social workers.”
Sarah Burton-Everette, M.Ed., director of advising and retention in the School of Social Work, adds, “Our community college partners have been leaders in offering online courses, and it is critical for us to offer the same online access in order to serve our students who have come to appreciate and expect the ability to learn from wherever they are and to not be tethered to a physical classroom.”
“Our faculty are dedicated to developing innovative courses that allow students to directly apply their knowledge in an inclusive and innovative online classroom environment,” says Stevara Haley Clark, Ed.D., director of online education in the School of Social Work. “As the demographics of our student population change, this means using case studies, textbooks and open educational resources that reflect the diverse populations our profession serves.”
The school has been a leader in the development of online academic programs, having launched a fully online Master of Social Work option in 2019. The M.S.W. format offers an engaging and innovative 21st century learning experience that includes advanced technology and a simulated service agency that complements real-world field placements for students in their local communities.
The B.S.W. format will offer students the opportunity to immerse themselves in “Ramsville,” an immersive virtual community that will expose students to different community agencies and clients.
The school’s faculty have experience and expertise in a broad range of areas including mental health, homelessness, disability, child welfare, aging, substance use and misuse, and health, among others. The online M.S.W. format and online B.S.W. courses offer students the ability to learn from top researchers in the field as well as educators who are practitioners from around the world and who bring real-world learning into the virtual classroom.
Two sophomore and three junior-level courses will be offered in Fall 2022, and all courses will have required synchronous class days. The five are:
- SLWK 201 – Introduction to Social Work
- SLWK 230 – Communication in the Helping Process
- SLWK 311 – Social Work and Oppressed Groups
- SLWK 313 – Person in Society
- SLWK 380 – Foundations of Social Work Research I
Senior-level B.S.W. courses will begin being offered online in Fall 2023. See the VCU Undergraduate Bulletin for detailed course descriptions.
Information for students
Current students interested in online courses will be invited to information sessions, and will be administratively registered by the B.S.W. administrative team. Incoming or prospective students interested in online courses should contact the school at firstname.lastname@example.org and attend one of our admissions events.
- B.S.W. Program goals, curriculum and career areas
- Capacity of Virginia’s licensed behavioral health workforce