Monday marked the start of orientation for 22 graduate students who, for the first time, will be able to work toward obtaining a master of social work degree at TCU.
Dee Casper, an administrative assistant in the social work department, said the degree offered by the social work department has been years in the making.
“This is something that [the department] has been working to establish for many years. And it’s finally here,” Casper said. “I’ve been here for four years, and Dr. Jenkins [chair of the social work department] has been working even before I got here to get this program started.”
Crystal Ledet, an academic program specialist in the social work department, said the master's program will be unique in that students will receive a more intimate education with smaller class sizes and chances for one-on-one learning.
Students will also spent a great deal of time in the field applying what they learn to real world situations, Ledet said.
The 22 students in the first class do not have an undergraduate background in social work, but have degrees in linear fields such as psychology, Ledet said.
The next group of 15 to 20 students will enter in the fall and have undergraduate degrees in social work. Those with strong social work foundations will graduate in one year, not two.
According to literature provided by the social work department, those without a social work undergraduate degree are part of the “traditional program,” while those with a social work-specific degree are part of the “advanced standing program.”
Casper said the majority of the students have taken time off from working full-time jobs in order to devote themselves to their studies.
“With the exception of maybe two or three who are going to be part-time students, everybody here will take fifteen hours a semester,” Casper said. "They’ll take 60 in all, over the course of two years.”
Ledet said the program will teach about macro and micro social work roles, The macro side of social work includes fields such as counseling, and the micro side is more administrative.
A student at orientation said chose to attend TCU to earn a graduate degree because of the allure of the new program. Several other students said they are hoping to find a better job by obtaining a graduate degree.
TCU is only North Texas school besides the University of Texas at Arlington to give students a chance to pursue social work at the graduate level, according to the literature.
“Most urban areas of this size have probably four to nine master of social work programs in their area,” David Jenkins, professor and chair of the department of social work at TCU, said in March. “It’s time for some competition in this metropolitan area.”