SRU trustees approve two new degree programs


Professor presents a program for trustee's approval

Larry Breitenstein, Slippery Rock University assistant professor of public health and social work, describes the proposed Master of Social Work degree program to the University's council of trustees Sept. 20.

Sept. 21, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's council of trustees today voted to send two academic programs to Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education chancellor for approval.

The programs, a Master of Accountancy and a Master of Social Work respond to student and employer demand.

State System Chancellor Dan Greenstein will review the proposals through the State System's accelerated degree-approval process.

The proposed Master of Accountancy program would be a new hybrid housed in the College of Business as a 4+1 option that would allow students to earn both the Bachelor of Science in Accounting and the Master of Science in Accounting at a substantial savings of both time and money. The program would join the current MBA, offering students seeking graduate business degrees a choice of direction.

"SRU current MBA is a generalist master's degree in business," said Melanie Anderson, professor in the University's School of Business. "As the accounting field is becoming more specialized, the proposed program is becoming the more preferred graduate degree for individuals who desire to work in public accounting firms or become CPAs.

"We conducted a study to assess the impact that the proposed program would have on the current MBA program and results indicated that the number of accounting students in our MBA program is less than 20 percent, therefore we do not anticipate a significant impact on MBA enrollment caused by the implementation of the proposed program. In fact, there may be synergy in providing additional master's programs such as this; students will be attracted by the various options they have at SRU."

The proposed program would allow students to be eligible for several national certifications, including certified public accountant, certified management accountant, certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner. The CPA, CMA, CIA and CFE have education, testing, work experience and continuing education requirements. The proposed program would include specific courses to assist students in preparing for these exams and certifications.

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The factors that are contributing to this demand include globalization, a growing economy and a complex tax and regulatory environment. The best job opportunities will be for accountants and auditors who have an accounting degree and CPA license.

The proposed Master of Social Work, which would be accredited by the Council of Social Work Education, anticipates an annual program enrollment that would develop to a capacity of 72 students. It would utilize a hybrid curriculum, with approximately half of the credits offered face-to-face and half online. It would also include a 900-hour internship requirement and service learning component.

The program would offer a clinical concentration in social work that would prepare students to offer the proper diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. Students would select one specialization track, either crisis intervention or forensic social work. Although there will be clinical practice emphasis to the program, the curriculum would address the general practice competencies required for all graduate social work programs. Students would also be able to pursue an option in animal-assisted social work that would enable students to pursue certification in animal-assisted interventions. The animal-assisted social work courses would compliment both the crisis intervention and forensic specializations.

Upon completion of the proposed degree, graduates would be eligible to take the licensed social worker exam in Pennsylvania and most other states. In Pennsylvania, an LSW who receives 2,000 hours of clinical supervision may then take the licensed clinical social worker exam.

"The clinical curriculum proposed is uniquely designed to prepare students for practice in agencies providing mental health services," said Larry Breitenstein, assistant professor for public health and social work. "The market analysis of employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow at 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment will grow as more people seek treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. In addition, rather than prison, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs, which are staffed by these social workers.

"Data for the 150-mile region around SRU shows that jobs for master's-required counselors and social workers will grow by 2,700 from 2015-2025. Growth and turnover together should generate 930 annual openings in the region. And while gerontology is not a focus of the program, coursework will prepare social workers to work with the growing aging population in Pennsylvania."

Data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the need for social service managers and mental health counselors will grow by 25 percent between 2012 and 2022.

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