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Located in downtown Portland, Oregon, Portland State University (PSU) is a public research university that was founded in 1946. Initially established as a post-secondary institution of higher learning for World War II veterans, it later evolved into a four-year college until 1969 when it was finally granted university status. PSU is the only public university in the state that is located in a major city and is composed of seven colleges that offer postgraduate degree is 117 fields and undergraduate degrees in 123 fields. The Princeton Review ranked PSU among the top 15 percentile of U.S. schools in 2012, and its graduate programs in Rehabilitation Counseling, Public Affairs, Social Work and Health Care Management were ranked in the top 50 in the country in 2017 by U.S. News and World Report.
Portland State University Accreditation Details
PSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, indicating that the school has met or exceeded criteria for the assessment of high-quality education via a peer-review process. Accreditation indicates that the school has the necessary resources available to achieve its stated purposes through well-developed and appropriate educational degree programs. In addition, the master's degree in social work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Portland State University Application Requirements
The application process into the MSW program in the School of Social Work at PSU can be started by submitting an online application. Students must submit all application materials electronically, including letters of reference. Students are required to provide their contact information, personal information, the program option for which they are applying for admission and their residency status. In addition, students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college, and Advanced Standing applicants must have earned a BSW degree within the past five years from a degree program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Other application materials include transcripts from previous institutions, a resume including social work-related experience, three letters of reference and a three- to four-page statement of purpose essay.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Students pursuing a master's degree in social work from PSU will pay tuition depending on whether they are earning their degree online or from a distance. Distance option students pay differential tuition, which allows students to study at home and complete a field placement near or in their city of residence. Online option students pay differential tuition in addition to online course fees. The extra tuition helps to support the technology required to deliver online courses and helps to pay for the administrative support for students to pursue their MSW while remaining in their community. Oregon residents can expect to pay $456 per credit hour, and non-residents can expect to pay $660 per credit hour.
In terms of financial aid, PSU considers students "part-time" if they take eight credit hours or less during any given term. "Full-time" students are those who take nine credit hours or more. PSU offers a number of financial aid options for graduate students, and those interested must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Available resources may include an employed social worker option, child welfare education program, SSW scholarships, a PSU Laurels Graduate Award and federal education loans such as the Graduate PLUS Loan, the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Perkins Loan.
Master of Social Work Degree Available
The School of Social Work at PSU is ranked among the best in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report. In addition, it is the only public MSW degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education in the state of Oregon. The MSW program prepares students to become professional social workers with the skills, values and knowledge needed to help families and individuals, influence social policy, transform communities and promote economic and social justice.
The mission of the degree is to educate students for advanced practice and leadership that dismantles and recognizes systems of oppression while building racial equity and economic, political and social justice. In addition, the program works to advance the well-being of diverse communities, groups, families, organizations and individuals. PSU strives to deliver an MSW degree that is theoretically driven, critically informed and empirically supported.
The MSW program consists of 78 credits that can be completed online or in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Bend or Ashland. The curriculum combines standard courses and field education in a number of human service organizations. Students can utilize their classroom knowledge and apply their skills as they work effectively with the region's increasingly diverse communities.
First, students pursuing the on-campus option in Portland can complete the MSW program in two, three or four years. Students are required to choose an Advanced Year concentration in an area such as Health Across the Lifespan, Clinical Social Work Practice, Practice and Leadership of Community Organization or Social Work with Children, Youth and Families. Students also have the option to complete a specialization track, certificate program or dual degree, and the classes meet once per week. Evening and day classes are available.
Students wishing to pursue the online option can complete the MSW degree in three years as long as they follow a prescribed cohort and curriculum model. Students can study either the Health Across the Lifespan concentration or the Practice and Leadership with Communities and Organizations concentration. Students complete their classes online but are required to attend occasional face-to-face meetings with faculty via technology. Students must also come to the Portland campus for two days of instruction and community-building prior to every academic year, but they have the opportunity to complete their field placement near or in the community in which they reside.
Finally, students pursuing an MSW can opt for a distance option, allowing them to earn their degree in three years. There are distance learning sites in Salem, Eugene, Bend and Ashland, and students are required to participate in field placements in their second and third years within their local communities. PSU offers local site coordinators who provide individual support, assistance with field placement and faculty advising.
Students wishing to pursue PSU's Advanced Standing option must complete a minimum of 46 credit hours of an advanced curriculum throughout four or five terms. In order to be eligible for this program, students must have earned a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program. The Advanced Standing option may be completed online or at a Portland State University campus in Salem, Eugene, Bend, Ashland or Portland.