UW-Green Bay had a successful collaboration with UW-Oshkosh since launching a Masters of Social Work (MSW) in 2003. Not even optimistic program leaders could have predicted the explosion in applicants when UW-Green Bay decided to go at it alone in 2015.
Enrollment doubled and the University could only admit half of the cohort that applied. The MSW Program is now one of the University’s largest graduate programs with 89 students — half expect to graduate with their advanced degree in May, 2017.
MSW students graduate with a clarity of vision and mission as well as pragmatic and strategic skillsets to make immediate, concrete contributions to the communities in which they choose to work, say program leaders. They come with insights and tools to help people, communities and economies thrive in a multi-cultural, evolving world. MSW grads bring on-the-ground experience to engage and facilitate positive personal and societal change by empowering individuals, groups, and communities to reach their optimal potential.
Gail Trimberger, MSW, Ph.D, LCSW and UW-Green Bay Associate Professor/MSW program coordinator sees a far-reaching role for social work skills.
“The social work skill set involves broad and deep capabilities in field research and practice, assessment, evidence-based program evaluation and development and interdisciplinary experience,” she said.
“Many people are familiar with the more traditional examples of social work, with individuals and families in need of support and advocacy for those whose voices are not heard, ” she says. “But the social work skill set offers significant practical and strategic value to all aspects of society, including leadership in business and public policy.”
Program organizers believe that UW-Green Bay’s MSW program is unique in a number of ways:
- The MSW Program is very student-centered with low student/faculty ratios. It is also surrounded by rural Wisconsin communities — many times mirroring the environments in which MSW graduates will live and work.
- UW-Green Bay offers evening courses for working students and facilitates field placements in areas that best serve the community and the students.
- The MSW Program offers an advanced generalist concentration which provides a strong social work foundation for all students. Unique to the UW-Green Bay program, students are encouraged to identify an Individualized Area of Emphasis (IAE) if they wish to study a particular population or area of practice in depth, e.g., clinical, medical, child welfare, older adults, etc. Faculty and advisors work closely with students to help them identify and develop their IAE.
- The MSW Program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. This diversity in the classroom enriches the dialogue and, as a result, enriches the educational experience for all the students. Social work students are taught to see the world from an interdisciplinary systems perspective, not only from an individual perspective. This multi-level view is unique to our profession and, as such, can contribute greatly to discussions related to the health and well-being of individuals and society.
“As the needs of our communities increase, so does the need for skilled social workers,” said Trimberger. “MSW students possess the knowledge and skills to engage and facilitate positive personal and societal change by empowering individuals, groups, and communities to reach their optimal potential. Social workers are committed to advocating for individuals and groups who have been historically underrepresented, ensuring social policy and social services are inclusive and provide equal access to all. Our graduates can help navigate complex social service systems as well as promote social justice for the vulnerable and oppressed.”