Second Year FAQ
Have questions about Financial Aid? Answers here
Have questions about Registration? Answers here
Have questions about Minors/Capstone Workshop? Answers here
Have questions about Practicum Learning? Answers here
Have questions about Advising? Answers here
What does the second year of the Two-Year Program consist of?
Our full-time Two-Year program, consisting of two years of consecutive fall and spring semesters, is the path most frequently chosen. As a student in the Two-Year program, you spend two days a week in the classroom and three days a week in practicum. In the second year, you select a concentration area and field of practice for more specialized training and field work. A wide range of elective courses makes it possible for you to develop additional expertise in areas such as family or group interventions; treatment of children, adolescents and young adults; responding to trauma; working with veterans and their families; or managing a nonprofit agency. By the time you graduate, you are prepared for entry into advanced social work practice in the area of your choice.
- Students may not be employed by their Practicum Learning agency.
Information for Transfer Students
A maximum of 30 credits, earned while an MSW degree candidate, may be granted toward the Master of Science in Social Work degree at Columbia. In order to earn the 60 credits required for the M.S. degree, at least 30 credits must be completed at CSSW (regardless of the number of transfer credits eligible for transfer). These credits include 9 credits in Practicum Learning and 21 credits in social work classroom courses. (When evaluating transfer credits, the School is looking for equivalent coursework to T660A-B Human behavior and the Social Environment I & II, T6501 Social Work Research, T6801 Social Welfare Policy, T7100 Foundations of Social Work Practice, T7102 Direct Practice II, T7103 Advocacy in Social Work Practice, T6010 Practicum Learning [two terms worth no more than 6 credits], and an elective.)
Transfer students are not permitted to pursue Dual Degrees. They may pursue some minor programs (not the Law Minor).
Study plans may vary slightly for Transfer students who receive less than 30 transfer credits. In such cases, the student should meet with staff in the Office of Student Services to discuss an adjusted plan of study.
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.)
Is the financial aid process the same as last year?
Yes—and just as you did in the first year, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as the data from the previous year does not carry over
Will I receive the same types of financial aid as last year?
Yes. Financial aid awards typically include a mix of institutional/merit scholarships, federal loans and Federal Work-Study.
When will I find out about my financial aid package?
Continuing students can expect to receive their financial aid packages in late May to early June, depending on when we receive your FAFSA data.
What if I’m not satisfied with my package?
You may appeal for more funding by e-mailing email@example.com. Please be mindful that our scholarship and work-study funding is limited, and we do our best to provide need-based awards to all eligible students. 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.
Are there special scholarships I can apply for as a second-year student?
We offer a handful of competitive scholarship awards for continuing students, which are announced via e-mail in March or April of your first year. In addition, we circulate any scholarship announcements from outside organizations to the student body via e-mail. As you approach your second year, we strongly encourage you to research possible scholarship opportunities via the Internet, community and/or religious organizations, professional networks, and so on. NOTE: If you are awarded a scholarship from an outside source, you must notify the Office of Financial Aid (send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org) so that it can be included in your financial aid package. If you are receiving federal loans or work study, it is a federal requirement that you report any outside awards to the School.
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 Grad 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. A second option is to reapply for the Grad PLUS Loan with a credit-worthy co-signer or endorser. If all else fails, submit an Alternative Funding Appeal Form and supporting documentation to the email@example.com. This additional information will allow the financial aid office to calculate the assistance you still need and how much CSSW can cover.
I’m worried about how I’m going to repay my loans after I graduate. Any advice?
We strongly encourage you to research federal loan repayment programs, as well as loan forgiveness programs. For instance, the Income-Based Repayment Plan for the Direct Loan and FFEL Programs helps in lowering your monthly loan payments to a manageable level. For more details, go to IBR information sheet (PDF: 2 pages). IBR is particularly beneficial when combined with the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which allows students to have their loan debt forgiven after completing 10 years of qualifying employment in the public service sector while simultaneously making 120 on-time loan repayments. For more information, go to the PSLF fact sheet (PDF: 2 pages).The Department of Education also has two helpful resources: a brochure, “Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt” (PDF: 56 pages); and a Web site full of useful information about the repayment of student loans.
I understand that I select one of four method areas for my second year. How does this decision affect my practicum work and coursework?
The choice of the method area determines the type of practicum placement for your second year as well as the series of second-year practice courses, including the advanced research course. For instance, if you were to choose Advanced Clinical Practice, your practicum placement would entail working directly with individuals, families and groups. You would be required to take T7113 (Advanced Clinical Practice in a Field of Practice) and T7114 (Advanced Clinical Practice with Populations, Modalities, and Professional Practice Issues) as your practice method courses, and T7501 (Clinical Practice Evaluation) as your advanced research course.
Is it possible to do two methods and/or two fields of practice?
It is not possible to complete two method areas of specialization or two fields of practice. Likewise, you are not permitted to register for a practice course outside of your method area of specialization. NOTE: This is even true of the students who are pursuing the International Social Welfare Minor in combination with a field of practice other than International Social Welfare. Taking two Field of Practice platform courses—T6925 for the minor and another T69XX course for the selected field of practice—does not constitute completion of two fields of practice.
I would like to take classes at another Columbia graduate school. How do I do that?
You are able to enroll in classes at other Columbia University schools to count either as elective credits (related and pre-approved graduate-level courses only) or as “extra” courses that are covered under the School’s flat-rate billing program, which allows you to register for a maximum of 19.5 credits per term in the Fall and Spring. NOTE: Our flat-rate tuition plan does not cover classes taken at Teacher’s College, Jewish Theological Seminary, or Union Theological Seminary. If you choose to register for a course at one of those schools, you will be charged tuition in addition to your flat-rate cost.
As each Columbia graduate school has its own cross-registration policies and procedures, our Office of Student Services compiles a document every term with links to classes at other schools that are open to CSSW students along with detailed instructions for registration, with links to necessary forms. This information is e-mailed to all students during the registration period and can also be found online.
How do I verify that I’m taking all the required courses and sufficient credits to obtain my degree at the end of this year?
Program requirements are listed in the Student Handbook which can be used as a checklist for completing your degree requirements. We suggest that you also get in the habit of checking your Degree Audit Report on Student Services Online (SSOL). Additionally, you are welcome to reach out to the Offices of Student Services and Advising to verify that you’re on track. NOTE: The Office of Enrollment and Student Services monitors students’ enrollment and registration and, where possible, will alert you if any problems are identified, but it is your responsibility to complete your degree requirements. Dual-degree students should meet with representatives at both schoolseach term to ensure they are successfully completing their requirements at both schools.
What if I have additional questions about class listings, course registration, or related matters?
For help with additional questions on registration-related matters, please contact the Office of Student Affairs 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.
Can I pursue a minor during my second year?
Yes, you may pursue and complete the Business, Public Policy and Administration or International Social Welfare minors during your second year. You must declare your intent to pursue one of these minors no later than April 15th of your first year, and then register for the appropriate classes to fulfill your minor requirements. NOTE: You are not able to begin the Law Minor as a second-year student.
What is the capstone project?
As a second-year student, you will participate in the required capstone project at the end of the Spring semester. You will be placed on a project team with several other second-year students. Each team will conduct an analysis and evaluation of a case that exemplifies a pressing contemporary social work issue using a variety of practice methods.
How does the Practicum Learning Department determine my placement in the second year?
At the mandatory practicum Placement Fair held in February of your first year, you will have opportunities to meet with agency representatives and listen to panel discussions from instructors who teach in the four method specialization areas and seven fields of practice. Thereafter, you may schedule one-on-one meetings with practicum 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, practicum 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.
Once I’ve received my practicum placement assignment, if I have questions on it, who can I talk to?
Please reach out to your advisor or the Office of Advising (send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org). Your e-mail should detail your questions and concerns.
Your advisor and the Office of Advising want to help you and address any practicum-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.
What if I have additional questions about my practicum placement or related matters?
When will I find out who my advisor is? Will I have the same advisor as last year?
Your advisor’s name and contact information will be viewable on Student Services Online by the end of the first week of classes. You will likely have a different advisor than assigned in your Direct Practice year.
What is my advisor’s role?
The Office of Advising assigns each Advisor to a cohort of approximately 20 students. The advisor is your primary resource of advising, both academic and practicum, and any life issues that may impact graduate school performance. You can expect mentorship from a seasoned practitioner, a visit to your practicum site, one-one-one meetings to discuss practicum and academic challenges and successes and email/phone contacted as needed. Over the academic year, you will attend advising seminars twice a semester with your cohort for professional social work practice development and to create a bonded supportive group of fellow students.
When will I have Advising Seminars? Are they mandatory?
There are 3 Advising Seminars in the second year. The sessions are mandatory. Meeting dates will be emailed to students, and also will be listed in Courseworks for your field course.
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 email@example.com.