Indiana State University Newsroom

State approves Master's of Social Work degree at Indiana State

August 15, 2011

A Master of Social Work degree is the latest in a series of new health care programs at Indiana State University to receive approval from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The commission approved the program on Friday.

The 60-credit hour program will offer concentrations in health or mental health and addictions. Consistent with Indiana State's commitment to address the health care needs of rural communities, the new program will focus on rural practice and require 940 hours of clinical practice. There will be a possibility of advanced placement in the program for those with an undergraduate degree in social work.

"This program, with its two concentrations and rural emphasis, has been developed to meet current and future workforce needs," said Peggy Weber, associate professor of social work.

In today's health care environment, social workers play a vital role in ensuring comprehensive care for the millions of Americans without insurance and helping patients and their families address a variety of social, legal and ethical issues, Weber said. Health care social workers also help communities prepare for and respond to traumatic events and disasters, she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment for social workers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. A 2009 assessment by the West Central Indiana Area Health Education Center identified an important need for master's level social workers with shortages occurring most frequently in rural areas.

"The College of Nursing, Health and Human Services is doing a phenomenal job of developing and quickly implementing new programs to meet the changing health care needs of Indiana, especially rural areas. We thank the commission for its prompt action in approving the Master of Social Work degree," said Jack Maynard, ISU's provost and vice president for academic affairs

"Faculty throughout the college continue to work hard, in conjunction with our partners in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, to address health care shortages. We appreciate the continued support for these efforts by the university and the commission," said Richard "Biff" Williams, dean of the college. "As with all of our programs, the goal is not only to give students the skills they will need to be good social workers but also to have them learn and work alongside students and professionals from other health care fields."

The Master of Social Work program is one of four new programs the college has implemented or proposed in the past year. It is expected to be in place by fall 2012 along with a new master's degree program in occupational therapy that received commission approval in June. Still pending before the commission is a Ph.D. in health sciences, a program designed to train health care educators. A new Master of Science program in physician assistant studies was launched in January.

Contact: Richard "Biff" Williams, dean, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-3683 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or