UM Partners With Montana Colleges For Online Social Work Program

Billings Area Highlights

MISSOULA – Applications will open Feb. 1 for the University of Montana’s School of Social Work’s 2+2 Bachelor of Social Work Distance Program, which has continually expanded since launching in 2013 and now accepts new students every year.

The 2+2 BSW Program began with a partnership with Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. It has since grown to include seven other sites in rural and tribal communities.

“Demand continues to rise for the experience to be a part of such a unique program,” said Paige Furniss, the program’s coordinator at UM. “It provides great opportunities to people in rural and tribal communities to complete their education without leaving their own communities.”

Partner colleges include Flathead Valley Community College, Blackfeet Community College, Helena College, Miles City Community College, Montana Tech Highlands in Butte, Chief Dull Knife College, Fort Peck Community College, Aaniiih Nakoda College and Stone Child College.

Furniss said the program initially was set up to accept students in the fall of every odd year. Yearly cohorts start this year, helping the school meet the demand of students who are looking to get into the field of social work.

“This will provide flexibility for those who prefer part-time options, and contribute to providing a much-needed professional workforce in underserved areas,” she said.

While most of learning is online through distance teaching, the 2+2 BSW program includes blended learning, with faculty travel and teaching, student exchanges and travel to the UM campus. These opportunities are invaluable for bonding the classes and exposing students to communities across Montana, as well the Missoula campus.

Students are required to complete a 450-hour practicum at a local agency. Practicum placements benefit students, agencies and the communities they serve. Agencies that previously have not had social workers are now actively recruiting for practicum students and working on pathways to sustainability for permanent positions.

2+2 BSW students also are able to complete their licensed addiction counselor curriculum and take part in the nationwide Area Health Education Centers scholars program. Students also may qualify for support from Title IV-E Stipend Program. More information about that program is online at http://bit.ly/37wT05d.

The current cohort consists of 27 students, and the program plans to accept 25 students in the fall. For more information visit the Distance Learning page (http://bit.ly/30QTj8x) or email paige.furniss@mso.umt.edu. Read a story about 2+2 program student Cody Magpie at http://bit.ly/38KbAaq.  

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