UNC Board of Governors approves master’s in social work for Western

CULLOWHEE – The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has authorized Western Carolina University to establish a new master of science degree program in social work to help meet a growing need for graduate-level social workers both in the public sector and in private practice.

Approval of the program came at the Board of Governors’ September meeting.

“We are very pleased to hear that approval has been granted for the MSW at Western, because we have had hundreds of inquiries about a graduate degree in the discipline from people all across Western North Carolina over the years,” said Terry L. Gibson, head of the department of social work.

“The department has been preparing social workers with undergraduate degrees since 1974, and we have seen many of our graduates leave the state for graduate training because of a lack of an MSW program here. This program will meet a great need in our area,” Gibson said.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of social workers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through at least 2010, due in part to the increasing elderly population and a growing need for qualified social workers in hospitals, long-term care facilities, assisted living centers and home health care settings.

The bureau also predicts that employment of substance abuse social workers will continue to increase as rehabilitation and treatment programs become more popular sentencing options than prisons. Rising student enrollments are expected to lead to more school social work jobs, and master’s degree-level social workers are increasingly providing mental health services.

Details on the master’s degree program in social work at Western will be available at a later date. Interested individuals may place their names on a mailing list by contacting the department of social work at (828) 227-7112.