For the first time in its history, The Ohio State University College of Social Work’s graduate program is ranked in the top 10 among public universities and in the top 20 among public and private colleges and universities in the United States.
According to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” the college ranks 9th and 17th, respectively. The ranking of 17th is out of 220 social work programs nationally. The score is based on a survey, conducted every four years, of academics at peer institutions. Some of the factors academics consider are the rigor of the curriculum, quality of doctoral students, innovation in programming, quality of faculty research and impact in the community. In 2012, the college ranked 26th and 15th, and 31st and 19th in 2008.
“This is really a meaningful movement in a ranking system where it is notoriously hard to move at all, let alone achieve a jump such as this,” said College of Social Work Dean Tom Gregoire. “Our college, as a community, has achieved its highest rankings ever. Our hard work is reflected in this national recognition.”
The huge jump in rankings comes nearly a year after Gregoire was reappointed dean through June 30, 2020. Since becoming dean in 2010, he has made it a priority to develop innovations in teaching, research and funding that will advance the College of Social Work through the 21st century. In 2012, the college introduced a new, extremely dynamic curriculum redesigned at the BSSW, MSW and PhD levels, empowering social work graduates to be better prepared to provide leadership and scholarship and understand society’s most vexing social problems.
The redesigned curriculum was soon followed by a push toward technology which resulted in iPads being provided to all of the college’s honors students, faculty and staff for research, teaching and field work. The college was the first unit on Ohio State’s campus to make such a leap, aimed at developing the technology as a teaching and learning skill. The move resulted in the nation’s first three social work courses on the Apple content management system, iTunes U, as well as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on human trafficking, taught by the college’s Dr. Jacquelyn Meshelemiah. The MOOC attracted more than 30,000 students from 187 nations, with between 5,000 and 14,000 active students in any given week.
Another faculty member, Dr. Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, incorporated technology to meet educational objectives in her courses. She used FaceTime to bring in practitioners to help classes see real-world applications, the college’s iPad-equipped classroom space to let students record each other and practice interpersonal skills and the app Poll Everywhere to survey students in real class time.
“I want technology to find its way into the classroom, not because it’s novel or cute, but because it engages people in a broader way around their learning,” said Gregoire. “Integrating technology into the classroom so our students can put it into practice is critical to our program, and to social work as a whole. The most effective social-work practitioners will be those who adapt as the technology evolves.”
Gregoire also recognized the imperative to establish an online presence for the college. In 2013-14, the College of Social Work offered 58 sections of 20 different courses online, enrolling 1,106 students. Just three years before, the college had no online courses. The college will be offering its first fully online graduate-level ASAP (Advanced Standing Alternate Program) in autumn 2016.
The improved rankings are indicative of other milestones.
As an extension of its online mission, the college expanded its undergraduate program to regional campuses in Lima, Newark, Mansfield and Marion. The move not only increased enrollment, it helped social service providers in all four communities, where the need for social work graduates has largely gone unmet. Also in his first term as dean, Gregoire worked aggressively to raise the national profile of the college by recruiting noted researchers and helping bring the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery to Ohio State.
Other achievements since the last rankings include:
- Becoming the first of three programs at OSU to offer an international undergraduate track that allows students to prepare for practice abroad.
- Developing the first social work doctoral program designed to prepare students for careers as scholars in translational research.
- Creating or expanding research, teaching, and service collaboratives with campus partners in Nursing, Law, Pharmacy, Student Life, Engineering, Public Health, Food Agriculture and Environmental Health, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Education and Human Ecology, and Athletics.
- Exceeding its fundraising goals and expanded alumni activities in central Ohio and outside the state.
“Ohio State’s College of Social Work is a great place to teach, engage in the community, and conduct research,” added Gregoire. “And we won’t stand still as the world changes around us.”