TROY - Troy University will launch a new master’s program on its Dothan Campus this fall.
The Master of Social Work program will help the region provide needed clinical services in the Wiregrass region and the southern half of the state. The degree is considered the highest degree a student may earn in social work, or a "terminal" degree. Graduates are immediately qualified to sit for the licensure exam.
"This has been 23 years in the making," said Dr. Denise Green, a professor of social work and chair of the department. "It's long been the University's vision to provide social workers for southern Alabama and it fills a need for clinical services in the region."
The program, two years for completion by people without a bachelor's degree in social work or human services and one year for completion by those with the undergraduate degree, will offer two concentrations: direct practice with a focus on military families, and organizational management and leadership. The program is designed to accommodate working students, and will be offered on weekends and evenings.
In addition to the degree program, the University will add five new faculty positions on the Dothan Campus - including two new undergraduate positions, in addition to Green, who serves as the multi-campus director. The University began offering undergraduate programs in social work and human services on the Dothan Campus in 2010, the programs showing a consistent 15 percent per year growth rate.
"Both of the undergraduate degrees are 'working degrees' - when the student graduates, they are trained for work and are able to obtain a job," Green said, adding that social work is a nationally recognized growth field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 25 percent over a 10-year period.
She said that much of that success - and the demand for the Master of Social Work program - is spurred by community support and direction, much of that through the Dothan Campus Advisory Council consisting of business and civic representatives.
"Friends of Fort Rucker and community agencies were integral to designing and crafting the concentrations of the master's program and an extensive 3 year needs assessment helped us put together the type of program that addresses needs in south Alabama, regionally, nationally and internationally. We will be competitive in the marketplace," Green said.
Added to that input was TROY's unique experience both as a leading supplier of military education and as Alabama's international university.
"Alabama is the nation's fifth-largest National Guard state, as well as hosting Fort Rucker, Maxwell AFB and other military installations. Our direct practice concentration will allow us to train students to deal with military families and their unique requirements," Green said.
The organizational management and leadership concentration speaks to the globalization of U.S. developed social work strategies.
"In China alone, they will need to have 1.4 million social workers by 2020. England, Ireland, India, South American countries, and other nations are asking for U.S. trained social workers. The Peace Corps offers student loan forgiveness for social work majors and the military commission's people for their social work degrees," she said.
TROY social work students routinely complete practicums in military, state, federal and local agencies, in addition to overseas placements in such places as Uzbekistan, China, Europe, and the Peace Corps.