Preview Day showcases social work graduate options

By Ashley Yeaman

Prospective students were offered the opportunity to learn about potential master’s degrees offered through the School of Social Work at the biannual MSW Preview Day that took place Friday.

Preview Day provides potential students with an opportunity to learn about the school’s graduate programs, including admissions, curriculum, internships and financial aid.

Tracey Kelley, director of recruitment, career services and alumni relations in the School of Social Work, said MSW Preview Day gives prospective students the chance to see if programs at Baylor are right for them.

The School of Social Work offers several degree options, including a standard two-year Master of Social Work and an advanced standing option for those with a bachelor’s degree in social work. This allows them to earn a master’s degree in 10 months, Kelley said.

Dual degrees can also be earned. Along with a Master of Social Work, students can choose to pursue a master’s in divinity or in theological studies. These are offered through George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

About 40 students participated in the event Friday, with half of those from Baylor, Kelley said.

“[The Baylor participants] were not all undergraduate social work majors, but were from all sorts of majors, like psychology and religion,” Kelley said. “Then we had people from Texas A&M Central Texas, Mary-Hardin Baylor and other colleges around the state.”

Prospective students also receive details on internship opportunities, which are a required part of the master’s degree programs. Field directors discuss internship opportunities in Central Texas, as well as throughout the state, country and around the globe, Kelley said.

Another part of Preview Day is meeting with current faculty and students through sessions and a student panel, Kelley said.

“Students are looking for partners in research and scholarship,” Kelley said. “They want faculty they can work alongside with to do research and write publications.”

While the master’s programs within the School of Social Work are similar to other accredited programs statewide, Kelley said one factor sets the Baylor program apart.

“The thing we do here that’s special is the integration of faith and practice,” Kelley said. “It’s very unique to our school of social work.”

This is one reason Houston senior Erin Nolen, a social work major, decided to pursue her Master of Social Work at Baylor.

“Baylor allows a discussion of faith and practice, and the professors are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive,” Nolen said. “Master’s of Social Work is unique because social work focuses on a strengths perspective, building on strengths and assets as opposed to focusing solely on the needs, and empowering people where they are.”

Palestine senior Hannah Abernathy, a social work major who will also pursue a Master of Social Work at Baylor, said support from the department after the loss of her grandmother showed another aspect of the program.

“The Baylor School of Social Work is not just a school, it is a family,” Abernathy said. “There is not other place like the Baylor School of Social Work. I know that I am loved and supported by my peers and faculty.”

The next MSW Preview Day will occur in the spring of 2012.