In an effort to better prepare individuals as social workers — especially those of color and those from other minority groups — Spalding University announced Feb. 12 that it plans to offer a doctor of social work degree program (DSW) this fall.
The new degree was designed with “working professionals in mind,” according to a press release from the school. The program will consist of 48 credit hours meant to be completed over a four-year period. Most lessons will be offered online and there will be a total of 12 one-day sessions on the school’s campus for workshops, lectures and group discussions.
The program will focus on “advancing the clinical and leadership skills of practicing social workers,” said the release. It will include an advanced clinical-practice track and a leadership and administration track.
The program still needs approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the accrediting body for higher education institutions in Kentucky and the region.
Dr. Shannon Cambron, chair of Spalding’s school of social work, said there’s a need for social work education in this region.
“There is no doubt that the world needs more social workers and for that to happen, social workers need people to train and lead them,” said Cambron in the release. “Spalding’s DSW program will prepare practicing social workers to become those faculty instructors and non-profit leaders that our industry critically needs.”
Cambron said Spalding is inviting students of diverse backgrounds — race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity — to apply. After earning the new degree, the students will help “infuse agencies and schools with social-work leaders who look, think, worship and love like the clients they serve and the students they teach,” she said.
The program also aims to prepare students to identify trauma, not only from a clinical perspective and how it affects clients and their families but also how it affects individuals who work on the “front lines” of non-profit agencies, Cambron said.
The curriculum will also emphasize how social workers can “understand and recognize explicit and implicit biases,” according to the news release.
The leadership and administration track is designed to help social workers, particularly those from minority backgrounds, gain management and administrative skills needed to lead “successful” organizations, the release said.
“It will transform agencies both locally and regionally to be led by advanced-level social workers who understand, first and foremost, vulnerable populations and the clients they’re serving while also having significant leadership skills,” said Cambron.
Cambron and Dr. Cynthia Conley — the school of social work’s director of graduate education — will share responsibilities of program director in its first year.
To learn more or to apply for the program, visit spalding.edu/dsw. The deadline to apply is April 30 and there is no application fee.