Interview with Dr. Dale Lindquist – Director of the Online MSW Program at Fordham University

About Dr. Dale Lindquist, LCSW, D.Min: Dr. Lindquist is the director of the online MSW program in the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University. He is also the managing director of the Bertram M. Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty, which works to promote collaboration between different departments at Fordham University as well as the broader community to alleviate poverty in New York City. Dr. Lindquist earned his D.Min from New York Theological Seminary and his M.Div from the Yale Divinity School. He also earned as MSW from Fordham University.

Dr. Lindquist has practiced clinical social work for over 25 years working in various settings including clinics, schools and hospitals. He has also worked in private practice. In addition to his Theological and Social Work degrees, Dr. Lindquist also holds an MFA from the Yale School of Art and has directed several documentaries on mental health, social and cultural issues. Dr. Dale Lindquist was compensated to participate in this interview.

[] Currently, there are approximately 20 universities offering fully online MSW programs. How long has the program at the Fordham University been offered and how is it structured?

[Dr. Lindquist] Fordham University has been offering the Online MSW Program since Fall 2011. Students can start the program in either the fall or spring semester. Advanced Standing students begin the program in the fall and take a prerequisite course the summer preceding their fall start. The instruction is offered in an asynchronous format only. All courses run for 8 weeks with students taking one course at a time, totaling two courses each semester.

Students enter in cohorts but are combined with other cohorts in their advanced year. We find this combination increases the experience of meeting fellow students who are going through the program, and serves to broaden and enhance dialogues the students have already begun. If necessary, students may defer up to 1 year before needing to re-apply to the program. Fordham University offers the same MSW degree program both online and on-campus. All students, regardless of whether taking classes online or on-campus receive the same diploma.

[] For students who want to become licensed clinical social workers, licensing requirements vary by state. What advice do you have for students in terms of researching the requirements in their state of residence and how does Fordham University help with the process?

[Dr. Lindquist] Students should contact their respective states licensing office for information on the requirements to be eligible to both take the state licensing exam as well as practice social work in their respective states. Fordham University has a career services department which will further assist students with licensing information, licensing preparation seminars. It has updated information for licensing requirements in most states, particularly in the tri-state area.

[] Field Education is a major component of MSW programs and requires a significant time commitment from students. Many online programs are geared towards working professionals, how do you recommend students balance field education with other responsibilities?

[Dr. Lindquist] The Online MSW Program at Fordham is geared towards the non-traditional student, that is a student who is perhaps working full time, raising children, caring for a family member, or even those who are returning to a second career in social work. A major benefit is the flexibility the program provides regardless of the type of student. The program is part time and uses an asynchronous format. Students can log in at any time day or night to complete their coursework.

In addition, the weekly modules open the weekend before to help students plan their schedule for the upcoming week’s coursework. We do recommend that students who do have significant responsibilities outside of their studies choose a 14 hour field placement or if they are working in the field, consider doing a work study at their place of employment. These two approaches can help students balance their studies and field placements along with their personal obligations.

[] What advice do you have for professionals who are considering earning a MSW and possibly entering the field of social work for the first time?

[Dr. Lindquist] For those considering the field of social work, they may want to consider taking one to two classes as a non-matriculated student before fully applying to an MSW program. These students may also consider volunteer opportunities at any type of social service program. Lastly, those considering the field of social work will want to speak with others who are currently working in the field and attend orientations, or speak with admission personnel at graduate schools they are interested in attending.

[] For students who have already decided they want to pursue a MSW, but are unsure about online education, can you briefly explain the pros and cons to pursuing a MSW online?

[Dr. Lindquist] The advantage of an online program is the flexible schedule that allows the student to log in and complete coursework at any time, primarily in the asynchronous format. This allows the student to manage their own time and set their own schedule for when “going to class” is good for them. The disadvantages would be the loss of the face to face interactions with other students and the faculty directly. However, the contact the online student has with other students and faculty is much more involved and takes place over a [prolonged] period of time often facilitating a relationship.

[] Online education requires discipline from students to stay on track and keep up with coursework and assignments. What systems are in place to ensure that online students do not fall behind? Do you have any recommendations for online students in terms of staying on track with coursework?

[Dr. Lindquist] The faculty and administration involved in the Online MSW Program at Fordham are extremely accessible to our students. The program has its own program director and support staff specifically for online students that includes a program administrator/student liaison providing academic advising and student support services, a dedicated Director of Field Instruction for online students in field placement, and a 24/7 technical support person assisting students in overcoming any technical barriers to learning. The faculty is in constant contact with the administration working collaboratively to ensure students do not fall behind, as well as providing outreach and support to students who may. We are proud of our high retention rate and contribute this to the faculty investment in our students as well as the administrative student support.

Because online learning does require a high level of independent learning, self-discipline, and time management, it is suggested that students develop a consistent system that works for them in accessing coursework and completing assignments, we encourage students to reach out to faculty and administration if they find they are falling behind.

[] Currently, Fordham University has both a traditional program and an advanced standing program, what is the typical academic background of the students in the traditional program?

[Dr. Lindquist] In the online MSW traditional program, students have a variety of undergraduate degrees representing different disciplines. Our students represent a wide age range and experience with some having worked in the social work field in some capacity, and some having no previous social work experience.

[] Online programs have really helped to open the door to higher education for more individuals, especially those who do not have access to a local university. Currently, Fordham University only accepts students from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, are there plans to expand the program to more states in the future?

[Dr. Lindquist] The Online MSW Program has recently lifted the geographic restriction and is now open to residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, including NYC and the surrounding metropolitan areas. The program has also expanded to now offer a hybrid option at our Long Island, NY location for students interested in attending classes both on campus and online. With respect to the tri-state geographic requirement, it was devised to be able to closely monitor our students who are in field placement as to not compromise their learning experience from a distance. Due to the success of the program, Fordham is currently in its planning stages to expand the program beyond the tri state area to include additional states where students can earn a Fordham degree online.

[] For students who are ready to apply to an Online MSW Program at Fordham University, what advice do you have in terms of preparing their application? I know the program requires an autobiographical statement.

[Dr. Lindquist] Prospective students should be able to demonstrate excellent writing skills and express why they are interested in pursuing social work as their career, including what they feel they bring to the field, and why they want to attend the program online versus at an on campus program. The autobiographical statement is an opportunity for prospective students to express these interests and goals for the social work field. Prospective students should consider their three references wisely, including those who can provide both a professional and character reference.

[] Finally, with more universities starting to offer online MSW programs, why should students consider Fordham University?

[Dr. Lindquist] Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service is ranked #11 in the country of top social work schools by US News & World Report. Our mission in human rights and social justice guides our curriculum and provides students with the highest quality education, informed by Jesuit values. Our dedicated faculty and administration is engaged in cutting-edge research, defining the future of social work theory and practice. The online courses are designed by Fordham faculty.

The asynchronous format of the online program allows students more flexibility to log in and complete their coursework without the pressure of needing to sign in at a certain day or time. There is no need to ever travel to our campus, unless students wish to, and they complete their field placements at a location close to them. With manageable class sizes, 24/7 technical support, and ongoing availability of faculty teaching their courses, students receive the highest quality education through the online program.

Students who are interested in getting more information about Fordham University’s online MSW programs can visit Fordham University’s website.

Thank you Dr. Dale Lindquist for your time and insight!

Last updated: April 2020