Reduced Residency Program

Students in the Reduced Residency Program at the Columbia School of Social Work remain employed by their social service organizations during the first two years of their M.S. degrees. In Year 3, some of them are able to remain at their agency to work while also completing their field requirements in another department. Many Reduced Residency students, however, leave their agency in Year 3 and take a placement organized by the School. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

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  • Field Placement, Advising & Registration - Header

    Field Placement, Advising and Registration

  • Am I able to complete the program part time?

    You can complete a portion of your program with a reduced course load. This does not, however, make it a part-time program. You must be prepared to enroll full time once you begin your field placement. Full-time status is determined based on registration for at least 10.5 credits.

  • How long can I maintain a reduced courseload?

    You may maintain a reduced course load for two years (generally, Year 1 and Year 2).

  • What classes do I take during my first year?

    In your first year, you should plan to take:

    • T660A Human Behavior and the Social Environment-A
    • T660B Human Behavior and the Social Environment-B 
    • T6501 Social Work Research
    • T6801 Social Welfare Policy. 
    In Year 2, you will take: 
    • T6011 Field Education Seminar in the Fall and Spring along with T7100 Foundations of SW Practice (Fall)
    • T7102 Direct Practice II (Spring); and T7103 Advocacy for SW Practice (Spring or Summer).
  • How many classes will I take each year?

    Typically, you will take four to six classes per year—two to three classes per term—depending on your selected method area. For sample schedules and program plans for Reduced Residency students, go to our Student Handbook.

  • When will I find out who my advisor is?

    Your advisor’s name and contact information will be viewable on Student Services Online by the end of orientation week. You will receive an e-mail once the information has been posted online. NOTE: If you have questions about your academic program, class scheduling or registration prior to orientation, please contact the Office of Student Services by sending an e-mail to sw-studentservices@columbia.edu.

  • What is my advisor's role?

    In Year 1 and 2, when you are completing your background courses and foundational practice courses (7100, 7102 and 7103), your advisor will be an Office of Advising staff member. That person will help you map out a program plan for your three years of study. When you begin your field placement in Year 3, your advisor will be a social work professional who is employed by CUSSW to serve as your educational support in both the classroom and the field. You may consult with that person about issues concerning your courses or program requirements. If you have to miss class, it is always a good idea to keep him or her in the loop. In addition, your advisor assesses your performance in the field. He or she meets with your field instructor and also reviews that person’s evaluation of your work at the end of the term. In preparation for your second year, your advisor helps you decide on your method specialization and field of practice.

  • What is my field instructor’s role?

    Your field instructor is the agency employee responsible for overseeing your training at your field placement. He or she is there to support your learning in the field, to answer questions you may have about interactions with clients and agency employees, and to help you develop direct practice skills. At the end of the term, your field instructor evaluates your work at the agency for your advisor as well as recommending whether you should receive a pass or fail grade. NOTE: Your advisor is the final arbiter of the grade you receive for field education. Under some circumstances, he or she may choose to override the recommendation of the agency field instructor. 

  • Can I use my job as my field placement site?

    While you are not allowed to use your current position to complete your field placement requirement, your agency may serve as your second-year placement site as long as it meets our placement criteria. To check this, please go to the Field Manual. If your agency is approved as your field placement site, you will be required to move under a different supervisor and complete different tasks as outlined by your education coordinator and our Field Education Department. During your second year, a representative from the Field Department will visit your T6011 class to discuss the placement process in detail. You will be required to submit specific paperwork and meet one-on-one with field representatives to discuss your placement needs for your final year of study.

  • If my job initially agrees to be my field placement site but then later backs out, will the school help me find a field placement?

    Most definitely! If you initially made arrangements with the Field Education Department to have your agency serve as your second-year placement site, but this is no longer feasible, the department can step in and find you a suitable second-year placement.

  • When do I declare my method specialization?

    You will officially declare your method specialization at the end of your second year, when completing T6011 and requisite “first-year” practice courses. However, most RRP students make this decision in Year 1 as it could affect their program plans for Years 2 and 3. Your advisor will assist you with mapping out a plan of study.

  • Can I take summer classes?

    Yes. The School offers one summer session, which begins the week after commencement in May and ends either the last week of June (for classes that meet twice a week) or the last week of July (for classes that meet once a week). If your first term of enrollment is in January, then you should automatically plan to take summer classes. But before taking action on summer classes, please consult with your advisor and then the Office of Student Services to confirm whether the class(es) you have in mind will be offered and you are eligible to sign up. You must enroll for at least 6 credits in order to be eligible for federal loans.

  • Can I complete a minor?

    Yes, but with some restrictions. If you are selected to pursue the Law Minor, please be mindful that Columbia Law School will not allow you to enroll in classes there unless you are already registered as a full-time student. All other minors do not require full-time status. For more details, go to minor requirements in our Student Handbook.

  • What happens if I leave the agency/organization at which I was employed when I started the program?

    Leaving the agency or organization at which you were employed at the time of acceptance may have an impact on your Reduced Residency status. As soon as this change of employment occurs, immediately notify the Office of Student Services (sw-studentservices@columbia.edu) to discuss how it could affect your overall program plan.

  • When do I absolutely have to complete all of my requirements?

    All degree requirements must be completed within five years of matriculation at the School.

  • What is the cost per year?

    The cost of attendance per year will vary depending on the number of credits for which you are enrolled. Your tuition for 2014–15 will be charged at an estimated rate of $1,336 per credit, and University Fees vary depending on whether you are registered for less than 10.5 credits (half-time) or more than 10.5 credits (full-time). For an explanation and breakdown of fees, go to Cost of Attendance.

  • Will I always be charged per credit?

    Yes. Even when you are enrolled full-time and are in field education, you will always be charged per credit for your tuition. 

  • What fees do I have to pay each term? Is it the same as the regular Two-Year Program students?

    Your fees will vary slightly depending on your enrollment status. For example, when you are registered less than full-time, you are not automatically charged the Health Service Fee or Student Medical Insurance Fee, unlike Two-Year students who immediately incur these charges. Each term, you should expect to be charged tuition (per credit), a Facilities Fee, Student Activity Fee, and Technology Fee. Once you are enrolled full-time, you also will be charged the Health Service Fee and Student Medical Insurance Fee—though the latter can be waived if you already have comparable coverage. Also during your first term of enrollment, you will be charged a Student Events Fee and a Transcript Fee.

  • What types of financial aid are available? Am I eligible for scholarships?

    Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional/merit scholarships, federal loans, Federal Work-Study, and other types of loans. As long as you are registered for at least six credits per term, you are eligible for federal loans. You may also be eligible for the Reduced Residency 50% Tuition Scholarship if you are employed in an agency that qualifies you for this (your registration status does not matter for this scholarship). Once you are enrolled in your second-year field placement and are full time (10.5 or more credits), you may also be eligible for a general scholarship and/or work-study, if you are not receiving the RRP Scholarship.

  • How can I apply for financial aid?

    Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once we receive your FAFSA data, we can begin the evaluation process for determining your financial aid award package.

  • When are the forms for financial aid due? And where do I find them?

    Your FAFSA is due by February 1 of each year, and loan request forms are due by July 1 of each year. If additional forms are required, the Office of Financial Aid will notify you via e-mail and communicate due dates at that time. Financial aid forms are accessible online.

  • How do I know if I’m eligible for the Reduced Residency 50% Tuition Scholarship?

    Eligibility is determined by your employment by an agency that has hosted a Columbia student for a field placement within the past three years. To apply, go to the online Reduced Residency Scholarship Application. (It is accessible via Net Partner, the main financial aid account resource for CUSSW students.) Our Office of Financial Aid, after consulting with our Director of Field Education, will notify you of the result by mid-August.

  • If I get the RRP scholarship in my first year, will I get it every year after that?

    As long as you remain employed at the qualifying agency, and it continues to be an eligible placement site for Columbia students, your award will be renewed. But please remember that you must submit a new RRP Scholarship Application every year. NOTE: If you choose to accept a School-selected placement rather than use your agency as your placement site, you will no longer be eligible for the RRP scholarship. However, we will review your FAFSA to determine if you qualify for an institutional scholarship. 

  • What types of loans can I apply for?

    All students who complete a FAFSA are eligible to receive the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Once you accept the loan, you must complete an entrance interview, sign a master promissory note, and fill out a loan request form. The funds will then be disbursed automatically to your student account at the beginning of each term. NOTE: The Department of Education charges a 1% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed. 

    In addition to the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, you may choose to borrow either a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan or a private loan. The maximum amount you may borrow for either loan is listed under the Alternative Eligibility fund in your award letter.
     
    The Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan is a fixed interest loan program that enables graduate students to borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education to help pay for their educational expenses. This loan, which is based on credit-worthiness, requires a separate entrance interview, Master Promissory Note (MPN), and loan request form. For more information, go to Questions and Answers About Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Students (PDF: 2 pages). If you are approved for a PLUS loan, the funds will be disbursed automatically to your student account at the beginning of the term. NOTE: The Department of Education charges a 4% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed.
     
    If you are a first-time borrower or have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Financial Aid at swfinaid@columbia.edu or 212-851-2293; or make an appointment to speak to one of us.
     
  • What if I’m denied the PLUS loan or a private loan?

    If you are denied the PLUS Loan, we strongly encourage you to request a copy of your credit report and clear up any delinquencies of 90 days or more, or challenge any discrepancies you find on that report. You should then appeal to the Department of Education, providing documentation that those discrepancies or issues have been resolved. In our experience, most students who do this succeed in having their initial denial overturned. Another option is to reapply for the PLUS Loan with a credit-worthy co-signer or endorser. If neither of these options works, we suggest that you reach out to our Office of Financial Aid. A financial aid officer will ask you to compile and submit a monthly budget listing all of your basic living expenses (rent, food, utilities, personal expenses, etc.). This additional information will allow the financial aid office to calculate the assistance you still need and how much CUSSW can cover.

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