UK Social Work’s online program certified for quality, among 1st in the country

The accomplishment, which took more than two years, marks a significant milestone for the College of Social Work.
Photo by Pete Comparoni | UKphoto

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This article was originally published by Lindsey Piercy of UKNow

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2024) — The online Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Kentucky has received the Quality Matters (QM) Certification mark following a rigorous review by a global organization that measures online course success of innovative digital teaching and learning environments.

The accomplishment, which took more than two years, marks a significant milestone for the College of Social Work (CoSW).

“Embarking on the certification process for the entire core curriculum demonstrates our commitment to quality online programming,” Amanda Brown, director of graduate studies, said. “This achievement not only elevates the quality of accessible remote education but ensures viable pathways to address critical workforce needs in social services.”

Quality Matters — a global leader in effective online and hybrid course design — ensures that courses are well-conceived, well-designed and well-presented.

QM review processes are recognized nationally and internationally for using standards based in research and best practices. Additionally, for courses to receive QM certification, they are required to undergo an examination by a team of external QM-certified peer reviewers.

As part of the “Forward, Together Plan,” implemented in 2021, the CoSW has launched several strategic initiatives aimed at ensuring high-quality, student-centered learning experiences across all program offerings.

The MSW includes options for an advanced program (30 credits) and a regular program (60 credits) to give experienced social workers and/or passionate newcomers the practical skills needed to be effective in the field.

The program is open to all undergraduate degrees and may be completed full time or part time, in either a hybrid or online format. MSW students also have the option to earn specialized certificates in clinical social work, child welfare, military behavioral health, rural population well-being, integrative behavioral health and substance use disorder, among others.

The MSW graduates have the highest clinical licensing pass rates in Kentucky and routinely score above the national average — making those who complete the program uniquely poised to enter a competitive job market. And in so doing, students will positively impact the lives of individuals, groups and communities around the world.

Over the last decade, there has been a steady rise in the demand for online education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than 11 million college students took at least one online class in 2021.

“Every indication is that online programming will continue to grow. And to meet the growing demand, the CoSW continues to expand its degree and certificate offerings, which include traditional, hybrid and fully online programs,” Kalea Benner, CoSW associate dean for academic and student affairs, said. “UK, and the college, have also worked extremely hard to establish and maintain the highest quality online education possible.”

Online learning is not just a convenient option for many of today’s college students — it’s a necessary alternative to traditional classroom instruction for those who are unable to commute to campus.

For the CoSW, ensuring students can earn advanced degrees in the communities where they work and live is top priority.

“Without question, our primary goal is to ensure that everyone has access to quality education — online or otherwise,” Jay Miller, dean of the CoSW, said. “Having our online program certified for quality exemplifies our commitment to that goal and actualizes our mission to positively impact the Commonwealth and beyond.”   

More information on the CSWE-accredited online MSW program can be found here. You can also learn more about the academics, research and programs that make up the CoSW here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It’s all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.  

For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.  

UK Social Work’s online program certified for quality, among 1st in the country