October 26, 2020 at 6:54 p.m.

Fall 2020 Evaluation and Preliminary Information Regarding Spring 2021

Dear CSSW Students,

I hope your fall semester is going well despite the many challenges we face.

Leaders at the School and the University are engaged in deep conversation about our plans for spring. As we deliberate, we keep the following key principles top-of-mind:

  • The health and safety of our community remain paramount.
  • We seek to provide a vibrant education using all modalities available to us.
  • We need to prepare for the unexpected, given the continuing uncertainties around the COVID pandemic.

To inform our planning, we’d be grateful for some feedback from you. Please follow the link below to respond to a survey on your experiences this fall, and your thoughts about the spring term:

This message provides preliminary guidance on spring plans. Note that these plans pertain to CSSW only, and not to other units at the University. Please also bear in mind that current plans are subject to change as we continue to monitor the uncertain public health situation, and that University-level decisions for the spring semester will be made in mid-November as University leadership continues consultation with public health experts to ensure the safety and well-being of the Columbia community.

Please note that the spring semester at CSSW will begin earlier than usual, with classes starting on January 11th for all students; and practicum placements beginning on January 4th for continuing students. While we plan to increase the number of in-person courses at CSSW, the bulk of social work classes will continue to be offered remotely. Practicum Learning will continue to be primarily remote, allowing for hybrid and in-person work when public health protocols are in place and being scrupulously followed, and when the student and agency agree that it is a match. All practicum host sites for new and continuing students will be based in the United States.

We are optimistic that the unique challenges faced by international students, including visa delays and restrictions, will lighten in the coming months. No matter what happens, we are committed to supporting our international students as they navigate these obstacles. Our intention has always been for students in our residential program, whether international students or US citizens and permanent residents living abroad, to join us on our New York City campus as soon as possible, and we hope all will be able to make their way to the US for the Spring 2021 semester.

Our aim is to enable all students, new and continuing, to engage in Practicum Learning during the Spring 2021 term if Field is part of the typical academic plan for their program, and even if living outside of the United States. However, there are unique challenges to successful practicum placements when students reside in time zones that differ dramatically from their US-based practicum sites. Students living abroad and facing time-zone challenges are required to speak with the Advising Office as soon as possible to make appropriate plans for spring.

Thank you for choosing Columbia for your education, and thank you for joining the field of social work. Your dedication as social workers is greatly needed in today’s world, and we look forward to the start of your careers as you press and persist in your call for social justice.

Remember that essential information and updates are always available on our Information Hub, which will be updated in the next 24 hours with this new content:


In community,