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Released June 29, 2004


LONG BEACH -- The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast's new bachelor of social work program is gearing up for its fall kickoff. The program will complement the master of social work program at the Gulf Park campus that has been active since 1996.

"There are a growing number of agency social services needed for the growing population on the Coast," said Dr. Michael Forster, director of the Southern Miss School of Social Work. "Agencies are straining to respond to the personnel need. The highest demand is at the bachelor's level and this new program means we can respond in a way we never could before."

Demand for the program on the Gulf Park campus had been building for years, since a shortage of qualified social workers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast emerged as a major problem for employers such as the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

"There has been a lot of interest in the program and I think it's going to have a lot of students," said Kristen Beard of the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Division of Health. "I think it will be a valuable service because there is a need for social workers in this growing field."

Students in the BSW program are required to complete 35 hours of university core classes, such as English 101 and 102; basic sciences and mathematics; history and culture; art, dance or music classes; and decision-making classes in economics, philosophy or political science. A 30-hour social work core comes next, with classes in Spanish, psychology and sociology, followed by the specific social work classes. Students in the program must also complete a semester-long internship in an agency setting, where they are taught to apply classroom learning to real-life situations.

"Students interested should call and see what we offer," Beard said of the new program. For more information about the Southern Miss Gulf Coast social work programs, call (228) 865-4517.


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July 15, 2004 4:39 PM