UTEP MSW Program Breaks U.S. News and World Report Top 100 List
Published April 11, 2022
By Darlene Muguiro
UTEP College of Health Sciences
The UTEP Master of Social Work program has risen in the biannual rankings for the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Health Schools, moving from its 2020 position of 137 to its current 2022 ranking of 94 in the United States. The social work program is also ranked at 6th in Texas, or the top third of all graduate social work programs in the State.
The program’s upward move of 43 positions is noteworthy, particularly when considering the rankings are based on peer reviews of academic quality. To gather data, U.S. News sent surveys to representatives of 298 social work programs, all accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education. The National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work supplied U.S. News with the lists of accredited social works schools and programs and the respondents’ names.
As the former chair of Social Work, Dr. Bruce Friedman was responsible for completing the questionnaire on behalf of UTEP. He recalls discussions among his peers prior to the questionnaire’s release, with everyone coming to an agreement that the survey results were important pieces of data used by each of the respective academic institutions for both faculty and student recruitment.
Friedman attributes the change in positioning to multiple factors, including increased faculty productivity, faculty’s affiliation with national social work associations such as the Network for Social Work Management and ACOSA (Association for Community Organization and Social Action), as well as UTEP’s national reputation following its designation as an R1 research institution.
“If we look at the list, we see the schools tied for the last ranking position are Capella, Union, and Walden universities. All are online programs. They are not research institutions, so they don’t necessarily have a reputation of contributing new knowledge to the field of social work,” he said. “On the other hand, UTEP’s Social Work faculty are leading research and practice studies, presenting in national and international conferences and publishing. Several have published in Oxford’s Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work.”
Friedman also mentioned that the humanitarian immigration crisis during former President Donald Trump’s administration brought national and international attention to El Paso and UTEP. He says the media’s spotlight on the border, along with the Department of Social Work’s leadership in organizing efforts to respond to humanitarian needs during this time, helped to increase the image and position of the program nationally.
Dr. Eva Moya, associate professor and interim chair of Social Work, added that the department’s success in recruiting some of its faculty and staff from top universities and social work programs is another important factor in the MSW program’s recent ranking. She believes the ranking will attract more faculty and students and hopes to have the opportunity to grow both the MSW and BSW programs.
“I want students to know that they are coming into a social work program that will offer them a quality education with top practitioners and researchers, which highlights our multinational and multicultural presence, and which offers a bicultural, multinational experience,” she said. “We absolutely have an opportunity to grow if we bring on excellent and culturally responsive faculty and instructors, ideally who are immersed in the U.S.-Mexico border region.”
Moya added that she had been recently approached by alums also asking about a potential Doctor of Social Work program at UTEP. “The interest and the need are there,” she said. “We’d like to offer a doctoral program grounded in the study of borders between communities and of populations rich in diversity, in order for these practitioners and researchers to address the needs of the nation’s demographics.”
For more information about the Master of Social Work program, please visit: https://www.utep.edu/chs/sw/academic-programs/prospective-students/master-of-social-work.html