Mandel School to offer MSW degree

Exterior of Mandel School

Case Western Reserve University and the Ohio Department of Higher Education have authorized the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences to offer the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.

In surveys of current students and alumni, there was strong support for adopting the MSW degree name. In their comments, respondents recognized that the MSW is the degree that is most identified with professional social work. With automated application processing by human resource departments, it was acknowledged that the Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) could be a barrier to obtaining a job interview. Alumni shared their own stories of challenges they had faced, particularly in recent years. There was also great appreciation for the distinctiveness of the MSSA and what it has represented in social work for over 100 years.

The faculty also unanimously supported this decision—they provided a strong message to the University Faculty Senate and other university leaders who evaluated our degree name change request. Throughout its history, the faculty of the school have led social work educators in conceptualizing fresh approaches to training effective social workers. From creating the first group work courses; to the first competency-based curriculum in social work; to most recently, launching a landmark, comprehensive generalist and advanced curriculum, the faculty have striven to create a learning environment that challenges both faculty and students to achieve their best.

This decision did not come lightly—the Mandel School has great respect for the MSSA degree name and all it represents.

"In making the transition to a new degree name, we are maintaining our commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience for every student," said Grover C. Gilmore, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Dean in Applied Social Sciences. "Indeed, we are recommitting ourselves to the mission and future of the school."

Although the degree name will be different going forward, the Mandel School’s level of excellence and commitment to its incredible alumni community will continue well into the future.

We invite you to join us for a virtual panel discussion about the transition process and the reasoning behind the change on Monday, May 17, from 5:30–6:30 p.m. via Zoom. View our Events page for details

Degree details

  • All students who matriculate in August 2021 and thereafter will earn the MSW.
  • Students who graduate in May and August 2021 will receive both the Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) diploma and a certificate stating that the MSSA is equivalent to the MSW.
  • All other currently-enrolled students who graduate at a later time will be able to choose to receive a diploma with either the MSSA or the MSW degree name.
  • Alumni will be given the opportunity to obtain a degree equivalency certificate. The certificate will state the year in which the alumna/alumnus received the MSSA with a note that it is equivalent to the MSW now offered by the Mandel School.

Learn more about the history of the Mandel School and its degree program.