Online Campus FAQ
As an overview to the online option, please find answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.
Where is the online option available?
Our online campus is available nationwide. If you are interested in applying for our online MSW, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the difference between a degree earned online and one earned in New York City?
There is no difference in quality in the two degrees. The curriculum is exactly the same. The only difference is that we are offering only two concentration areas online, Advanced Clinical Practice and Social Enterprise Administration, and only two fields of practice (our most popular): Health, Mental Health, and Disabilities; and Family, Youth and Children’s Services.
How does field education work for the online option?
In your first year of study, the Field Education Department will place you with an agency or other site in the metropolitan area closest to where you live. You will be asked to fill out a field placement form, which, along with the work experiences indicated on your resume, will help the staff members in our Field Education Department determine your first-year placement site. In addition, they will assist with your transition to the field through a Preparation for the Profession Seminar.
NOTE: Your second-year placement is determined by your choice of method area (Advanced Clinical Practice or Social Enterprise Administration) as well as field of practice (Health, Mental Health, and Disabilities; or Family, Youth and Children’s Services), and you will have more input into the decision-making process.
What is it like to take classes online?
The online classroom is similar to the physical classroom in many ways. Classes are scheduled at a fixed time. Professors present information and students participate by raising their hands to answer questions, dividing into breakout groups for discussion, and giving short presentations.
The main differences are that sessions take place in a virtual space via Adobe Connect, and professors and students engage with one another via Webcams and microphones.
Also, before and after class, students complete their classwork using an online learning management system called Canvas, which permits them to access readings, view mini video lectures, and participate in discussion forums with their classmates.
Are there any required visits to the New York City campus?
No, students enrolled in our online program are not required to come to the New York City campus. They may join the on-campus students for Orientation if they would like to; likewise, they have the option of appearing on campus in May of their final year to join their residential classmates for the week-long group exercise known as the Capstone Integrative Project. (If they do not wish to join in person, they can opt to participate via Skype or complete a thesis project.) To reiterate, the decision to visit the New York City campus on is entirely up to the student. It is not required.
What are the technology requirements?
The online platform is easy to use. To participate in the live sessions with your professor, you will need:
- a computer with up-to-date browsers
- high-speed Internet access (hard-wired or Ethernet connection is preferred)
- a headset with a microphone
- a Webcam
In the feedback we’ve received about our online courses, students say they find the communication tools less intimidating than those used in the traditional classroom. But, just in case, we offer trainings during Orientation as well as 24/7 technical support.
What is the cost of attendance for the online campus?
As a student on our online campus, your tuition will be calculated per credit. The per-credit charge for 2016–2017 is $1,446. Full-time students typically enroll for 13.5–16.5 credits per term, which brings the total tuition to approximately $19,521-$23,859 per term. In addition to tuition, you will be charged a $200/term Learning Resource Fee. Other possible fees include the Health Service Fee and Student Medical Insurance Fee. Costs for books, transportation, and personal and living expenses will vary by student. These costs will be estimated and included in your budget and financial aid package. For an explanation and breakdown of fees, go to Cost of Attendance, Online Campus.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once our Financial Aid office receives your FAFSA data—which generally is not available to the School until after February 15th—we can begin the evaluation process for determining your financial aid award package. If you are applying for admission by December 1, you can expect to receive your financial aid package by early-to-mid March. Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional scholarships, federal loans, and other types of loans. For more information, go to Costs & Financial Aid.
- Have you served in the military? Find out if you are eligible for veterans educational benefits by completing the checklist on the Columbia University’s Veteran Affairs site.
- Have you completed a term of service with AmeriCorps? Contact AmeriCorps directly to see if you are eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
What are the admissions requirements?
Admissions requirements are the same as those for our New York City campus. For more details, go to MSW Application Requirements (PDF: 9 pages). Once you have submitted all required items, you can expect to receive an admissions decision within three to four weeks upon completion of your application.
NOTE: Admissions officers are available to walk you through every step of the application process and answer any questions you may have, via phone or Skype appointments and/or Webinars. Questions? Please contact email@example.com.
How many hours a week will I need to dedicate to my studies and field work?
Students enrolled in the full-time Two-Year or Advanced Standing programs will take three or four courses each term, which requires being in class approximately 6–8 hours per week. Part-time students in the Extended or Reduced Residency programs typically take two classes each term during their first year, spending 4-6 hours per week in live class sessions. Additionally, students will spend time outside the classroom completing readings, role plays, group projects and various assignments. For more information, go to Online Campus Study Plans.
All classes are synchronous, meaning you are required to sign in to the online platform at the scheduled class time, and you must be physically present at your computer for the duration of the class.
In addition, full-time students registered for field education will be interning 21 hours a week or three days, generally from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at a nearby social service agency, government entity, school, hospital or business under the supervision of a field supervisor, to gain hands-on experience relevant to your social work practice. Go to Field Education Manual (PDF: 110 pages).
What is a typical M.S. program course load?
Students enrolled in the full-time Two-Year or Advanced Standing programs will take three or four courses each term, spending two days a week in the classroom and three days a week in their field education placement. Part-time students in the Extended or Reduced Residency programs typically take two classes each term during their first year, and then take two to four classes per term during the subsequent two years of their program, depending on their selected concentration area.
For more information, go to Online Campus Study Plans (PDF: 1 page).
SEE ALSO: Student Handbook (PDF: 209 pages).
Can I complete the degree while working full time?
If you apply for our Extended Program, it is possible to work and study at the same time, but only during your first year. As an Extended Program student, you can take a reduced course load during the first year. Once you begin field education, however, you must enroll in the program full-time. Extended Program students have up to four years to complete all degree requirements (coursework and field instruction).
If you are employed in a human service organization working in direct practice, then you may be eligible to enroll in our Reduced Residency Program, which allows you to remain employed at your organization for at least the first two years of your studies, taking a reduced course load. In the third year, your status changes to that of full-time student as you complete the requisite course and field instruction requirements (900 hours) for earning the MSSW degree. In some cases, Reduced Residency students are able to complete their final year internship at their place of employment.
For more information, go to CSSW Study Plans (PDF: 21 pages).
Can I earn my degree entirely online?
You can do all of your coursework online, through classes taught by Columbia School of Social Work faculty in real time over the Internet. Your field work, however, requires you to be physically present at a field placement in your metro area.
Can I switch from the online campus to the New York City campus?
Yes—but please note that you may only switch at the beginning of each academic year. You may not switch mid-term or mid-year. NOTE: A switch in programs may affect your tuition and fees, as well as financial aid package.
When is the deadline for Fall 2017 admission, and how do I apply?
We are currently accepting applications for Fall 2017. Go to MSW Application Requirements (PDF: 9 pages). Ready to apply? You may submit your materials to the Columbia School of Social Work’s Online Application Portal. Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.