Masters of social work degree offers flexibility

by joseph cotton, campus news editor
Photo courtesy of
College of Professional Sciences Associate Dean Dennis Long (left) and Social Work Department Chair Jaylene Schaefer (right) pose for a photo.

Starting this August, Xavier’s newest master’s program will give students passionate about social work an opportunity to stay in Cincinnati as they pursue their degree.

The university has teamed up with Saint Louis University (SLU) to offer a master’s degree in the Social Work (MSW) program that is taught in a hybrid format. According to Xavier’s College of Professional Sciences website, approximately 2/3 of the classes will be taught by SLU faculty, while the other third will be taught by Xavier faculty. 

“We’ve been asked forever, ‘When is Xavier going to get an MSW program?” social work department chair Jaylene Schaefer said. “We were really lucky to end up finding SLU. They said they had this creative way that smaller schools could do an MSW program.” 

Schaefer stated that the program fills an unmet need in the area for a master’s program in social work that has some flexibility but is not fully online. This newest program will allow students to stay in the area as they complete their degree. 

According to Schaefer, some aspects of social work education, specifically the required field placement and the accompanying seminar class, are not suitable for an online format. “There is a lot that you can do to teach social work online, but a fully online program would be more challenging. It’s the best of both worlds,” Schaefer said. “Social work practice classes where you try to figure out what kind of techniques and approaches work with individuals, families and groups would be challenging in an online environment.”  

Schaefer also noted that there are several aspects that will be taught online, since they can be worked through independently and don’t require conversations about social work practice. 

According to Schaefer, the new MSW program aligns well with the Jesuit values of the university. 

“Xavier’s social work program is very old. It existed outside of the university when it was part of Edgecliff College,” said Schaefer. “Social work has always been about offering clients help on changing the things that they want to change. It’s not prescriptive.”    

SLU has also collaborated with Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio, Avila University in Kansas City and College of Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, Massachusetts to offer a similar hybrid MSW program. 

The degree is designed to be completed over two years. The program also offers an advanced standing path that will allow students who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Xavier, or any other accredited institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, to complete the degree with 39 credit hours instead of the usual 57. 

Interested students can find an application from on the social work department’s website. Applications for the fall semester are due by august 1st.