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With the growing number of online courses – and even fully-online degree programs – you may be surprised to find that many of the top bachelor’s in social work degree programs are residential. Find out precisely what it means for an undergraduate degree program to be residential and what factors to consider when deciding whether or not a residential program is right for you.
What Does “Residential” Mean in Context of an Undergraduate Social Work Program?
Generally speaking, a residential program in social work means that the program has “residence requirements.” These requirements don’t mandate where you actually live, but rather that you take at least a minimum number of your college classes on-campus. Some schools may require all of your courses be taken on campus, while others might require in-person study only for your major courses.
Just because you’re studying on campus doesn’t mean you’re missing out on technological advances that could enhance your education. Some schools that have a traditional on-campus program with residence requirements also offer online learning options. However, students may or may not have the opportunity to mix online and on-campus courses in pursuit of their degrees. Your on-campus courses may also be hybrid classes, a format that combines in-person instruction with online resources, course materials and assignments.
There are a number of reasons why a social work program would have a residence requirement. Often, the social work program or department seeks to cultivate a sense of community beyond what you would typically find in a virtual classroom. Some undergraduate social work programs enhance students’ educational experience by holding numerous, lectures and conferences.
The Pros and Cons of Residential Bachelor’s in Social Work Programs
There are both advantages and disadvantages of choosing a bachelor’s in social work degree program that has a residence requirements. These programs often offer students plenty of opportunity to gain hands-on experience – often, hundreds of hours of hands-on experience – through supervised field work.
If you’re interested in research opportunities, an on-campus program might be an excellent choice for you. Some top-performing residential social work degree programs offer undergraduate students the kind of intensive research opportunities normally only available to graduate students.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of residential undergraduate social work programs is that they don’t offer quite as much convenience and flexibility as online programs do. Since you have to attend on-campus classes on a set schedule, you can’t work around your work or home responsibilities as easily as you could when studying online. You need to choose a program that’s within a reasonable distance from you so that you can make the regular commute weekly or several times a week.
However, many programs that require you to take traditional on-campus classes do offer different options to improve convenience. For example, many schools that have multiple campuses often offer the same program at each campus, so you can choose the location that works best for you. Some programs offer evening and weekend programs in addition to daytime classes, which can help make advancing your education possible if you work a steady job during the week. If you can’t balance a full-time course load with your current work-schedule, many residential programs offer part-time options.
Ultimately, whether you should pursue your bachelor’s in social work degree program at a residential program or through an online program depends on your needs. Do you want a close, on-campus community loaded with special events and opportunities for research and fieldwork? Or do you place more value on the convenience of studying when and where your schedule allows? These are the factors you should consider when deciding between a traditional program and online learning.