Online Program Coordinator King Shares Expert Advice with Online Master of Social Work

Assistant Professor of Social Work and MSW Online Program Coordinator Daphne King provides guidance for prospective Master of Social Work (MSW) students considering online programs.

King’s original interview was part of Segment Ask an Expert from MSW Online.

Daphne King, Assistant Professor of Social Work and MSW Online Program Coordinator

What are the most important factors students should consider when choosing an online MSW program?

I believe that when choosing an online MSW program, applicants need to understand the difference between an asynchronous and synchronous program, as well as their learning style so they can choose a program that best suits their needs. Asynchronous learning is self-directed by the student at their own pace, with professors posting pre-recorded lesson videos in class and using outlets like zoom to host virtual office hours. Synchronous learning could also be self-directed, but there is an element where students will be required to attend online class sessions on a certain day and time each week through platforms such as Zoom. Whether asynchronous or synchronous, I believe applicants need to understand if they need more in-person time for their learning before choosing an online MSW program.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of an online MSW program?

I think the most difficult aspect involves part of my answer to the previous question, establishing a connection between professors and students in a virtual environment. It takes effort on the part of both teacher and student to engage in activities aimed at establishing this connection and engagement. This is especially difficult in asynchronous formats where you wouldn’t have in-person lessons or class time.

How do the fieldwork components of an online MSW program work?

In the program where I am the online MSW program coordinator, the fieldwork or internship works the same as for on-campus students. Online program students must complete the same hours as on-campus students based on Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requirements and complete their field placement in person at the host agency during business hours of the agency.

Can students take electives or customize their MSW experience online?

In our 60 credit hour program, 12 credits are elective courses that students can take based on their interest or the population they wish to serve as social workers.

What Kinds of Jobs Do MSW Graduates Find?

In my experience, MSW graduates find jobs as school social workers, therapists, working in social services or child protection agencies, working on policy to shape legislation and laws that govern our work, and hospital social work to name a few. There are too many jobs to list in which MSW graduates find themselves employed.

If you had to choose one or two books, articles, documentaries, podcasts, etc. to include in a required reading list for social work students, what would it be?

I would recommend Johnathan Kozol’s NASW Social Work Speaks and Savage Inequalities podcast. I read this book over 20 years ago when I got my MSW and many of the social issues and challenges discussed in this book are still relevant today.

Learn more about Mason’s online Master of Social Work here.

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