Extended Program FAQ
Students in the Extended Program are permitted to take a reduced course-load during their first year of study. They must enroll full-time once they are in the field, and have up to four years to complete all degree requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
Have questions about Financial Aid? Answers here
Have questions about Registration? Answers here
Have questions about Field Education? Answers here
Have questions about Advising? Answers here
What is the Extended Program?
The Extended program is the ideal pathway for those who would like to combine part-time with full-time study. It allows you to complete the course and field instruction requirements for your MSW program in three or four years. In the first year, you take a reduced course load and have no field work. In your final two years, you continue to take a reduced course load while adding the field instruction component. Students who opt for this program appreciate having the flexibility to balance other responsibilities, such as work or childcare, while easing into full-time graduate studies.
- Once you begin field education, you must plan to be at your placement site three days per week (21 hours). Weekend or evening only placements are not available.
- For each term of registration, you must register for a minimum of one course or three credits, and must complete a maximum of six courses (18 credits) before you will be able to start your field practicum.
- Extended Program students generally are able to take all background courses in the evening (6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.); however, most practice courses are only offered during the day or early afternoon.
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 Document 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. However, you are only eligible for scholarships and/or work-study once you are enrolled full time and are completing field education. In your first year, when you are enrolled part time, generally for six credits a term, you will be eligible only for loans.
How can I apply for financial aid?
Your first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once the School receives your FAFSA data, we begin the evaluation and awarding process for financial aid.
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 can be downloaded from our Forms & Documents Library.
When will I find out about my financial aid package?
We usually begin processing financial aid packages in March, and notifications are sent out thereafter. You will receive your financial aid award letter via e-mail.
What if I’m not satisfied with my package?
You may appeal for more scholarship money to the Director of Admissions at email@example.com. (If you have received a higher scholarship offer from another graduate school of social work, a copy of that offer should be included in your appeal.) All other appeals, including those for work-study, should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be mindful that while we do our best to provide need-based awards to all eligible students, our scholarship and work-study funding is limited.
Scholarship appeals are generally responded to within two weeks. Work-study appeals will initially be reviewed in late summer and will continue to be reviewed throughout the academic year; you will be notified via email if we are able to grant your appeal.
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 1.068% 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 educational 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, and loan request form. For more information, go to Questions and Answers About Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Students. 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 4.272% origination fee on this loan, which will be deducted prior to the funds being disbursed.
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 at email@example.com. 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 CSSW can cover.
What if I have additional questions on my financial aid package, scholarships, loans, or related matters?
For help with additional financial aid questions, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at:
- By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.) Go to online appointment system.
- Walk-in: Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
What is the difference between the Extended Program and the Two-Year Program?
The Extended Program and the Two-Year Program are the same in terms of degree requirements.The unique feature of our Extended Program is that you are able to extend the time it takes you to complete your degree requirements as you are permitted to take a reduced course-load during your first year. In your second and third years, when you are in field placement and registered for concurrent required practice courses, you will be enrolled at the School full time. The biggest practical difference between the Extended and Two-Year programs is how students are billed for tuition. As an Extended Program student, you will be billed per credit each term until you complete your degree requirements. Two-Year Program students, by contrast, are charged a flat-rate tuition.
Am I able to complete the program part-time?
The Extended Program is not a part-time program. This program allows you to begin, and possibly end, your studies at CSSW with a reduced course load. Once you begin your field placement requirements, you will be registered as a full-time student. Full-time status means you are registered for at least 10.5 credits, which usually equates to Field Education and two classes (the required concurrent practice courses). NOTE: In order to qualify for scholarships and/or work-study funding, you must be enrolled full time and in field.
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.
These are background courses that should be completed prior to beginning field education.
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 (classes that meet twice a week) or the last week of July (classes that meet once a week). If your first term of enrollment is in January, then you should automatically plan to take summer classes. As a first step, please consult with your advisor and the Office of Student Services (send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm whether the summer classes you have in mind will be offered and you are eligible to sign up. NOTE: You must enroll for at least six 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 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 the Student Handbook
When do I declare my method area?
At the mandatory Field Placement Fair held in February, you will have opportunities to meet with agency representatives and listen to panel discussions from instructors who teach in the four method areas and seven fields of practice. Thereafter, you may schedule one-on-one meetings with Field Department staff to discuss your interest areas and possible placements in those areas. You will also have access, online and in hard copy, to a Placement Planning book, which provides instructions regarding placement selection, an overview of the various methods and fields of practice, and an annotated list of placement sites. Approximately one month following the fair, you will be asked to submit a form listing your top six placement choices. Most students receive one of their choices. (In rare cases, Field Department staff may develop a new placement they think would be a great fit for a particular student, but they will approach the student first before moving forward.) NOTE: One of the best sources of information about your second-year placement are students who are now completing their second year. Opportunities will be provided for you to reach out to them as well during the selection process.
What happens when I start field? How many classes do I take then?
Once you start field, you are required to take the following classes concurrently:
- First term: T7100 Foundations of SW Practice
- Second term: T7102 Direct Practice II and T7103 Advocacy in SW Practice
- Third term: Method area practice course (T7113, 7133, T7143, or T7122) and a field of practice course (T69XX)
- Fourth term: Second practice course (T7114, T7134, T7144 or T7124 and T7126).
In addition to these courses, which must be taken in the listed sequence, you will be required to take an advanced research course along with electives or other required courses. For more details, go to program requirements for your selected method area in the Student Handbook.
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 if I have additional questions about class listings, course registration, or related matters?
For help with additional registration-related questions, please contact the Office of Student Services and Enrollment at:
Telephone: 212-851-2436; 212-851-2367
- By appointment: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. (After 5:00 p.m., appointments available by request.) Go to online appointment system.
- Walk-in: Wednesdays, 10 a.m – 6 p.m.
How does the field placement process work for an Extended Student?
Your field placement process is the same as that of Two-Year Program students, with the exception that you’re allowed to start first-year field in either the Fall or the Spring term. You will be asked to declare when you intend to begin field via an e-mail notice in October, prompting you to complete the First-Year Field Placement Form (PW & UNI required). The form is identical to the one required of first-year students in our Two-Year Program.
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 and recommends 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.
If I have questions about my field placement, who can I talk to?
Please reach out to your advisor or the Office of Advising (send an e-mail to email@example.com). Your e-mail should detail your questions and concerns.
Your advisor and the Office of Advising want to help you and address any field-related concerns you may have, so please reach out to them. All CSSW staff are here to assist and support your learning. We are committed to providing you the best education possible.
Will I have an advisor?
Yes. Your advisor’s name and contact information will be viewable on Student Services Online by the end of orientation week. Prior to that, if you have questions about class scheduling or registration, please contact the Office of Student Services by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is my advisor’s role?
In the pre-field phase of your program, your advisor will be an Office of Advising staff member, Natasha Dachos. She helps you map out your program of study. When you enter field, your advisor will be seasoned professional social worker who is employed by CSSW to serve as your educational support in both the classroom and field. Click here for Direct Practice Advisor. Click here for Final Year Advisor.
What if my advisor is not available: is there someone else at the School I can speak to?
If you’re not able to reach your advisor, you should contact the Office of Advising. Email