Presented live: June 27, 2018
MSW Program Director Fran Gomory talks about Florida State University, the College of Social Work, and the two Master of Social Work offerings (tracks available for those who enter the program with or without a Bachelor's of Social Work). Audience questions on field work, the admissions process, online coursework, and more are answered.
Featuring Guest panelists:
- Fran Gomory, MSW Program Director
- Rae Ann Menotti, Enrollment Advisor
- Katie Macaluso, Moderator
Katie Macaluso: Hello everyone and welcome! We're going to go ahead and get started here today. I want to thank you for joining us for today's webinar on Florida State University College of Social Work's Online Master of Social Work program.
Before we get started, I'd like to go over a couple of housekeeping items. You are in broadcast only mode, which means you can hear us but we won't be able to hear you. If you have any questions during the webinar, please feel free to type your questions in the question box to the side of that presentation slide as you think of them. We'll do our best to answer all of the questions at the end of the presentation.
I'm going to go ahead and introduce our speakers for today. My name is Katie Macaluso, I'll be your moderator. I am joined here by Rae Ann Menotti, our admissions counselor for the online program, who many of you have probably already spoken with, and our featured speaker, Fran Gomory, who is the Director of the MSW program at Florida State University College of Social Work and an associate teaching professor who has been on faculty since 2000. She teaches in both the clinical and social leadership program and was the latest recipient of the Professor of the Year Award in 2017. So, we're excited to have everyone here today.
Here's a quick look at our agenda, before we get started, where we'll be talking a little bit about the university, going into the online Master of Social Work program highlights, talking a little bit about the differences between the Advanced Standing Program versus the Traditional program. We’ll touch on the online experience and then we'll discuss any frequently asked questions, any questions that you have as well as next steps in the admissions process, should you be interested in applying. So with that Fran, I'll go ahead and turn over to you now.
Fran Gomory: Alright. Hey everybody, I'm happy that you're all here. Basically, I'm just going to go through an overview of the program. I think one of the most important things about this webinar is for you to ask questions because that's the only way we're going to know what you're thinking about and what you're concerned about. So, please feel free to write any questions you have. If I don't know an answer to something, I will let you know that and we will get back to you and give you the information that you were wanting to know.
So basically, our online Master of Social Work program was the first one in the country and now there are many, but because we were first, we have a lot of knowledge about how to do this program, and how to do it well. One of my goals is always to have students feel very connected to us and to each other and that makes the learning experience a lot better. So it's not the kind of thing where you're just sitting in front of a computer and there's no interaction, there'll be a lot of interaction. Our faculty has all gone through lots of different trainings in order to teach online, and so teaching online is different than teaching in a classroom and you need to have different skills and you need to do different things to connect with people. And so all of us who teach online myself included, are very committed to doing so.
Okay. So the online program has a clinical focus, which means that we are preparing you to get your license if that is what you choose to do. Many people go through the program and they don't get a license and that's okay too. The clinical program is one where you're going to learn clinical skills that will help you with the population that you are interested in working with. We think about skills in a way that might be a little bit different from what you're used to. A lot of people come into this field and they have experiences themselves and although that is good, you don't have to have trauma in your past or any kind of experience to be a really fantastic social worker.
So I get that a lot from students that they're worried because they feel like they don't have things in their past; that's okay too, either one is okay. The point is that we want you to learn real clinical skills that will help you with the clients that you want to work with. For the Traditional program, which means that you don't have a BSW, you will have two field placements, and for the students who have a BSW in our Advanced Standing Program, you will have one field placement.
The other thing in our program, which is different from other people and students feel a little nervous about it first, is that we require you in the Traditional program to come to campus twice, once in the practice class, once in the groups class. I happen to teach the groups class. You come to campus, and we do a skills building weekend and the wonderful part of that—and I just did one recently so I heard this from students very recently—they were so excited to meet some faculty and to meet each other because they're in a lot of classes together and they get to spend time together and they all really like it. They learn very important skills and generally they all ask me, "Can we come again?" So if anyone's a little hesitant about that, please know that it is a really, really wonderful experience that you get to have when you're in our program.
Let's see what else I want to tell you. So, electives are ones that you will get to choose yourself, and we have a list of those, and we help people after they graduate as well. We have an Office of Professional Development and that helps students with their path to licensure. We also have a job board with jobs all across the United States and all those jobs are posted and everyone has access to that.
As I said, we have two programs, Advanced Standing and Traditional. They both have a clinical focus. They both are at a part-time pace at two courses at a time. For the Advanced Standing program, the course is just 16 weeks. In summer might be a little less, depending. And as I told you, it's for students already who have a BSW. It's 39 credit hours. And as I said, one field placement and the average completion time is two years, five to six semesters.
For our Traditional program for those who do not have a BSW, and for anyone who's on this webinar who doesn't have any undergraduate degree that seems like it would fit with social work, that's totally fine. We've had students that have been accountants. Don't worry about that if that's a concern. So the Traditional program, again, that's 61 credit hours, and you do two field placements and the weekends on campus, and your average completion time is three years, eight to nine semesters.
We have lots of different specialties, specialty populations that you might be interested in that would work out for you in field, and these are some of them: Substance Abuse, Child Welfare, Veterans. A lot of our students want to go into private practice. And as I told you, building up those skills will really help you with that. You can be in a government agency, corporations, hospitals, clinics, and we do also have international organizations as well and that's just something that you would have to start early on in your program. Again, as I told you, the way we conduct our classes is very interactive. You are doing the work at your house, but you still are interacting with faculty and students. And the main thing that we want you to do is learn and then apply what you've learned to real life situations. Okay, at this point, I am going turn it over to Rae Ann, and she can talk a little bit about the application process and what the next steps are.
Rae Ann Menotti: Okay, thank you Fran. Hello everyone, I hope you're doing well today. So we are currently accepting applications for Spring term and that starts January 7th and our deadline is October 1st. And of course, your advisor is here to work with you, to help you throughout this process so it is as seamless as possible. If you have not already started your application, there is a link available and you can click on that to apply.
Your Admissions Advisor will work with you throughout the following steps to help you complete your file. So we will need a submitted resume. You'll need to schedule a GRE, and your test scores can be sent to our FSU school code, which is available right there. We do require three letters of recommendation, and also a personal statement. Our team of advisors here is available to walk you through the entire application process and encourage you as you're working towards pursuing your degree. If you have any questions you can certainly reach out to us through email or call us at the number available here and we are also planning on following up with anyone directly just to kind of check in and see if you have any questions after the webinar.
Fran Gomory: For admissions, I can add that people should really pay attention to the personal statement, the questions that are written there, and make sure that you write the question and then answer it. That helps our Admissions Committee to be able to follow up what you've written and it's very clear. So I just wanted to put that in in case people were concerned about that.
Rae Ann Menotti: Yes, absolutely thank you Fran. And our goal too with the Admissions Team here is to make sure that everyone is feeling good about this process and is very informed about the expectation. So we will definitely be reaching out and just making sure that you guys are feeling good about everything and informed about what to do moving forward. So if you get an email from us just kind of a heads up.
Katie Macaluso: Perfect. Okay, so we'll go ahead and move into our question and answer session now. If you haven't already submitted a question -- it looks like there are a number of questions waiting for us -- but if you have any other questions or if you haven't already submitted one, this is the time to go ahead and use that question box, submit your questions, we'll do our best to answer as many as we can today. If we don't get to your question on the live session, we'll certainly respond by email following the presentation. So let's see what we have here. Our first question is, "Do you need to have a GRE to enter the program?"
Rae Ann Menotti: Yes. So that is a good question. We do require the GRE, we don't have a minimum score required with the GRE, but your advisor is going to work with you. We do encourage obviously that you take the test and take it seriously. It is a part of our review process and in your best interest to study and prepare for an exam like that.
Katie Macaluso: Next question we have is, "Can more than two courses at a time be taken for the Traditional program?"
Fran Gomory: So unfortunately the answer to that is, no. Right now this program is part-time, which means two classes a semester. You can speed it up in one way, and that is to do your field placements full-time. And so that will shave off a semester or two for you depending on if you're Traditional or Advanced Standing.
Katie Macaluso: Okay, alright very good. Our next question is, "Are there students who use electives to meet requirements for being a certified school counselor in Florida?".
Fran Gomory: I think sometimes, yes, it depends on the certification if they approve the elective or not. And if we have a syllabus that fits in with what it is that the certification is and that's always a great question one to ask as you get closer in. Recently, we've had lots of teachers apply to our program and be in our program and so that's something that is been going on, so we can certainly look into that.
Katie Macaluso: Okay, alright, our next question is, which we've had a couple of questions on this. "Would a Bachelors in Psychology qualify someone for the Advanced Standing program?".
Fran Gomory: No, unfortunately I feel like all of my sentences are starting with unfortunately... But you have to have a Bbachelor’s in social work to be in the Advanced Standing program and that's because we are governed by CSWE and that's their requirement.
Katie Macaluso: And another question on the Advanced Standing program, "Is there a time frame for when you need to have completed your BSW ahead of that?" And by that, they mean courses within seven years or five years.
Fran Gomory: Actually right now we do not have limitations to that. So you could have gotten your BSW a long time ago, and still apply.
Katie Macaluso: Perfect, and there's your yes answer!
Fran Gomory: Yay, yes.
Katie Macaluso: Here's a good one, "I'm sure many of you have... What sort of recommendations can be accepted as far as professional or academic?"
Fran Gomory: That is a really, really good question. So we like to see a mixture of both, but we also understand that sometimes people haven't been in school for a long time, so they don't have that academic reference. So we're looking for someone who you've worked for. We don't want to hear from a family member or a friend, or even a co-worker. We want to make sure that it's someone who has supervised you and that would be a really good professional reference. Someone that can see your work, that you've worked for them and they understand how you are successful.
Katie Macaluso: Okay, very good. And then the next question is, "Whether there is a GPA requirement for the master's program?"
Fran Gomory: So yes, we do have a GPA requirement and it's 3.0. This is not to say that if you have less than that, we won't take you because oftentimes we do. We might admit you provisionally, depending on other things in your application. But provisional admittance means that we give you one semester to I guess prove yourself in some way that you can do graduate work and that we're looking, you need to make sure that you continue with a 3.0 in that first semester and you don't get any grade less than a B minus.
Katie Macaluso: Okay.
Fran Gomory: So, if you have less than a 3.0 which many students do because other things happen to them, as an undergraduate, which is understandable. Part of the application process is to tell us about that. So that you're going to write a statement that talks about what happened and what's different now, so that you will be successful in graduate school. Because really what we want to see is that you are successful, that you can be successful.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is, "How does the GRE weigh into the admissions process, how much weight does it have?
Fran Gomory: Well, the GRE is something that again we do require. If every part of your application is really, really excellent, that's not something that we focus... Not that we don't look at it or take into consideration, but it's possibly not as important as the other pieces. So what I tell students is do the best you can, try not to stress about it or worry about it too much, just do the best that you can. And just if you know that you haven't done very well on that, make sure that your personal statement is perfect, your letters are good, your resume is really good and you'd be in the running just like anybody else.
Katie Macaluso: Okay, our next question is, “What can I expect in terms of exams and other homework assignments in the online courses? And how do exams fit into that?”
Fran Gomory: Okay. So an exam... That's going be different for every professor. So not one, not two classes are so much alike, because you have very qualified professors teaching, they're going do it differently which makes it interesting, I think, and that you get different kinds of experiences. So some professors do exams and quizzes, and others don't do any of that, and it's more papers and online presentation. So it's hard to say exactly how that would fit in, but you have to be prepared to work hard and do a lot of reading in most of the classes.
Katie Macaluso: Makes sense. Alright, our next question is from someone who's interested in the Traditional track as she currently has a bachelor's in an unrelated field, but works full-time and is a little nervous about the two field placements. The question is, do you know a field placement option for those who are only free on the evenings and weekends?
Fran Gomory: So that's a question that lots of our students come to us with, and part of the reason for having an online program is to understand that people are working. However, if you're committed to getting the MSW, you might have to figure out a way to work around it a little bit. So, what that might mean is that if you can save time off or take a leave of absence, we'll try and help you and work with you around that. Now, we have placements that are in the evening and weekends. The only problem is that we don't have a lot of that. And the reason for it is not that there's not availability, it's that we want to make sure that you're getting an excellent experience. And what that means for us is that you have a supervisor there that is teaching you, because you're paying a lot of money for this, and we don't want you to be in a situation where there's not a supervisor, a social work supervisor who's actually mentoring and teaching you.
So we've had students in those kinds of situations. And in one situation, a student was at a shelter for the homeless population, and the nights that her supervisor, her social work supervisor wasn't there, they had her folding laundry and feeding clients in the kitchen. And while those are a good skills that you can learn, and it's okay to pitch in sometimes, that's not why you're here. So we want to make sure that the internships are excellent. And if we can't guarantee that you're going to have a good supervision while you're there at night and weekends, then we won't use that agency. So there is a possibility, but the possibility is less than a daytime placement.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. And on a similar note also on field placements, we had a question about the criteria for field placements and how are they approved?
Fran Gomory: That's a good question. So, they're approved through us and we have a list of objectives that we want to make sure is being shown to the students. And I don't have it in front of me so I can't tell you the list of objectives, but certainly, we're open to any agency that a student brings forward. And as long as we could vet it and it fits in and they're willing to sign whatever paperwork they need to sign, we can be good to go.
One of the requirements however is that there is an MSW there. And so sometimes if there's not an MSW there, they know someone in the communities that can supervise you and that's good too. Again, we just have to vet the agencies for the same reason that I described about nights and weekends. We want to make sure that you get a really good experience. The other thing here is that the field placement to us is a culmination of a lot of things that you've been working on, and we want to make sure that you're learning so that your clients get the best services that they could possibly get.
Fran Gomory: The internship is not something to just get through. We really want you to know what you're doing so that, again, that you want to to be helpful, that you actually will be helpful, and if you don't have that good experience, then that is harder. And we really want to make sure that the clients get what they need once you're finished.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. And I think this kind of dovetails in with that, but we had someone ask if the placement can be in the field that they want to go into, for example, grief counseling.
Fran Gomory: Of course, yeah. I mean, especially with the second field placement, we want it to be in an area that you have an interest in, because a lot of times you get hired then, because they trained you for a whole semester, they know you. So there's a job opening you earn if you've done well. You're natural a candidate for that. So yeah, I mean we have lots of different placements. We're always developing new placements in different areas that we're now in. And so we can definitely work with you on that.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is from someone who asked how much time, on average, they should expect to devote to the program each week.
Fran Gomory: That's a really hard question to answer because it really so much depends on who you are, who you are as a student, and what the professor expects. And so there's really no way for me to answer that question. Though there are some students that just do a lot of work and other students that do less. And there's no better way, it's just how you learned that. I think that you need to be prepared for graduate school, which is very different than getting a bachelor's. I think you need to be prepared to work a lot and hard, but that doesn't mean you're not efficient with it. And so it really just depends on your style of learning and working.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is from someone who asks if online students can still participate in on-campus activities, events, or student organization. So I assume if it's someone who is able to travel the campus from time to time.
Fran Gomory: Absolutely! We love that. We love our online students to come to campus. We love to meet them. There's also... This is a little off the topic, but we also have scholarships at the College of Social Work gives out if you apply for them, and many of our online students have gotten them. And then we have a banquet and they come to the banquet, and it's wonderful for all of us to meet them. We let you know if there's a conference going on, or anything that's going on, we try and let you know.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is, "I currently work in the child welfare field and notice that FSU recently established a Florida Institute of Child Welfare. Can online students partake in this? And by partake, I mean contribute to research work?"
Fran Gomory: Probably. And that's something that we have to get back to you on. We can connect you with the director of that institute, and you can talk with her about that.
Katie Macaluso: Okay, perfect.
Fran Gomory: So if you can make a note of that, then I can make that connection.
Katie Macaluso: Absolutely. Our next question is just about connecting with other students. "How are students able to network in an online community? Do students still have a chance to form relationships with other students and faculty?"
Fran Gomory: Sure. So, I'll answer the student part first. So for example, the Traditional students that come to my group work class, one of the things that we do is discussion boards in a lot of the courses, which means that there's a question and it's interactive and everybody has to answer it and be part of it. And... I just got knocked out of this. Can everyone still hear me?
Katie Macaluso: I think so. Yeah, you sound good.
Fran Gomory: I don't know what just happened. But anyway, so what I do when people come to campus for that intensive weekend is that they work with students who are in their discussion boards group, and so they really get to know each other very well, and they get to meet other people, and they really, really like that. So that's a wonderful advantage of having these two weekends coming to campus. With the Advanced Standing students, that don't come to campus, that sort of interaction between classmates still exists in those classes. So you absolutely get to do that, and you're free to reach out to any of the professors and talk to them, talk to them about their research or what they're doing, and everyone is really open to that.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is, how long will it take to get licensed after graduation?
Fran Gomory: Well, that also depends on what state you live in. For Florida, you have to have a certain amount of hours, and then... So what happens in Florida is that you're allowed to take the licensing exam upon graduation as long as you have a qualified supervisor that you're going to be working with. So once you take the exam, then you just have to do the hours, and that usually takes about two years.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is, "Are there various certificates one can achieve throughout the program? And how do they become acquired, speaking along the lines of child welfare, gerontology need in social work, etcetera?"
Fran Gomory: So we have a certificate in gerontology, a certificate in social welfare, and a certificate in leadership. And you can use your electives to take the courses that you would need to get this certification. And it's a really nice way to take a cluster of classes that are all sort of focused on one area. And then of course you could put that on your resume, and it's a really nice way to get your foot in the door for an interview.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is, "What is the purpose of the two mandatory on-campus sessions? And what kind of accommodations can be made for online students who live out of state?" This person happens to live in Hawaii.
Fran Gomory: Hawaii. We'll come to you. Just kidding.
Fran Gomory: How that works is that you want to think about the costs associated with this weekend as sort of part of how much you would pay for tuition. Usually, meals are provided. Some meals are provided. We give you a list of reasonable hotels so that you can stay nearby. People have done Airbnb. People have camped. They brought their families, made a weekend of it. So there's just various ways of doing the weekend. Repeat that question for me again, so I can make sure that I answered it right.
Katie Macaluso: Yeah. The purpose of the two mandatory on-campus sessions, and then the kind of accommodations that can be made for online students who live out of state.
Fran Gomory: Okay. So I think I answered the second part. We've had students come from very far away, and again, that's just part of what this program is, so you have to plan for that. And the first part of the question, the purpose of it is that you get to meet your cohort and get some intensive clinical skills that you will need to be the best social worker that you can be.
Katie Macaluso: Okay. Our next question is if online students participate in the regular graduation ceremony.
Fran Gomory: Absolutely. We love the students to come. I've met a lot of students that way. The College of Social Work has a reception in the summer, and in December, where it's still a formal-ish sort of ceremony, but you don't have to wear a cap and gown. If you graduate in the spring and you come to our convocation, then you will be wearing a cap and gown. The other part is that FSU has a big graduation that social work is welcome to attend, and there's a special time for that. There's three or four graduations because the university is quite large, and we will let you know all of that information. But yes, you are very welcome to come.
Katie Macaluso: Great, perfect. I think that's about all the time we have for questions and answers today. If you have additional questions, or if we didn't get a chance to respond to your question, we'll certainly follow up with you after the webinar. Just a reminder that you'll also be receiving a copy of the webinar, usually the next day, so you can certainly review the webinar as well.
We want to thank all of you so much for attending today. We hope it was informative, and we look forward to speaking with you further about the social work programs at FSU.
Rae Ann Menotti: Yeah, thank you.
Fran Gomory: Thanks everyone