Cleveland State University Highlights Graduate Certificates

Schools of Social Work

By Peter Craig

Clevland State Students Photo by B. Thomas Hart/Courtesy of Cleveland State University

The Cleveland State University MSW program is a lot like MSW programs at other social work schools in offering a clinical or advanced generalist option, with course material largely mandated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Where the Cleveland State School of Social Work really stands out is with its diverse graduate certificates, says Dr. Christopher A. Mallett, school director and professor.

Certificates: A Full Range

  • School Social Work: Although it’s become easier to get hired as a school social worker—at least in Ohio—following the rise in K-12 students’ mental health problems thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, this certificate is still in high demand, says Mallett. The required courses are “Social Issues in Education,” “Introduction to Special Education,” “Collaboration & Partnerships Among Parent & Professionals in Special Education” and “Social Work in Educational Settings,” along with a practicum course.
  • Gerontology: Students from a number of disciplines take an overview course, either “Aging & Social Work Practice” or “Long-Term Care,” and pick two electives offered by various Cleveland State schools such as “Grief, Death, Loss, and Life,” “Physiology of Aging,” “Sociology of Aging” or “Functional Performance of Older Adults.” They also do a capstone project, which for MSW students is often a clinical internship working with older adults.
  • “It’s always drawn a good number of students,” says Mallett, “probably in part because it’s an interdisciplinary program, involving the School of Nursing.” And, of course, social workers have long been fundamental to elder and end-of-life care. As Dr. Cynthia Ann Hovland, MSW director, pointed out in a seminar about caring for dementia patients, “Along with other long-term care workers, [social workers] have a unique opportunity to engage family caregivers, establish a trusting relationship, and provide grief and loss support throughout the dying process.”
  • Chemical Dependency Counseling: This certificate is a joint program with Cleveland State’s counseling department, says Dr. Patricia Stoddard Dare, program coordinator and professor. One option is to become a chemical dependency counselor assistant, with professional endorsement from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board. The other, more common option is to pursue professional licensure as a chemical dependency counselor.
  • In addition, post-grads can earn their chemical dependency counselor license by, among other things, completing a 12-credit, five-course package that gives them 180 hours of chemical dependency-specific education in nine content areas.
  • “It really is very much a win-win,” says Stoddard Dare. “It’s good for the students to have an extra credential, and for them to have specialized knowledge in this particular practice area.”

Join the Club!

On another front, Cleveland State has the “nation’s first NASW-authorized student club” for BSW and MSW students, says Dr. Kimberly A. Fuller, BSW program director and associate professor, who is club adviser. “We developed it to address some of the core principles of social work for our students.” Member activities have included book drives, getting supplies to Cleveland community centers and, since February, raising money to help residents of East Palestine, Ohio, after the train derailment and chemical spill there. “The last time I spoke with them they were coordinating with some other clubs at the university to see what kind of environmental justice work could be done [for East Palestine],” Fuller says. Overall, the future looks bright for the Cleveland State School of Social Work. At the undergraduate level, the BSW program recently obtained online accreditation from CSWE. And the MSW program seems equally promising, says Mallett. “Our MSW admissions numbers are up over 40% in four years, so we’re doing pretty well.”

Group of graduates

Dr. Patricia Stoddard Dare (left) with top BSW student Edith Cabrera

Glickman-Miller Hall: home of the School of Social WorkPhoto by B. Thomas Hart/Courtesy of Cleveland State University

Pictured above: (1): Dr. Christopher Mallett, director of the School of Social Work (far left), with 2023 BSW and MSW graduates; (2): Dr. Patricia Stoddard Dare (left) with top BSW student Edith Cabrera, who took the online chemical dependency counseling course last fall and intends to get the related graduate certificate when pursuing her MSW degree at Cleveland State; (3): Glickman-Miller Hall: home of the School of Social Work.

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