Frequently Asked Questions




1. What is this program?
This is a unique opportunity to obtain a Master of Science in Social Administration degree, with a concentration in
Community and Social  Development, from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social
Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The school is consistently ranked
among the top  ten schools of social work in the U. S. by U.S. News and World Report.
The Louis B. Stokes Fellowship in Community and Social Development  is a tuition
scholarship. Students  attend classes on campus one weekend per month, in the School’s
Intensive Weekend Program. They obtain the  Master’s degree in three years, without having to
leave their place of full-time employment in their home state.The Louis B. Stokes Fellowship in
Community and Social Development was created by the United States Congress to honor
Congressman Stokes for his  many years of highly-effective public service. Courses are taught by the
distinguished faculty at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
The faculty are leaders in their fields who bring considerable scholarship and practical experience
at a very high level to their classrooms, engaging students in learning.
2. How much time will I miss from work?
Students travel to campus one weekend per month for three continuous years and take an average
of five courses each year, one at a time, throughout the academic year. Advanced Standing status
is possible if the student has obtained a Bachelor of Social Work degree within the last seven
years. Advanced Standing students usually spend two and one-half years in the Intensive
Weekend  Program, instead of three years.Each course is completed in a two-month period,
given on Friday through Sunday during the first month and on Saturday through Sunday during
the succeeding month. During the first academic year, students must also attend additional Thursday
classes during December, January and February weekends to prepare for field work, which begins
in the Spring of the first year of study.Classes are held 9:00 am – 5:00 pm each day of the scheduled weekend.
Travel time will vary depending on point of origin, but students must be in class during the stated hours.
This sometimes means spending long weekends on campus, for example needing to arrive on Wednesday afternoon for a
Thursday to Sunday class session.
3. Is Cleveland the right place for me to study?
It is difficult to learn about a place without visiting, but the web makes an enormous
difference. Click here to learn more about Cleveland, the home city of the University.
4. Are African American and Hispanic students at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School?
Thirty percent (30%) of the student body at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School identified themselves as African
American and 4.0% identified as Hispanic. The faculty is 10.7% African American.
5. I have not been in an academic environment for many years. Will that be a problem?
A majority of our Stokes Fellows have been out of school and working for a number of years, so
you will not be alone. A substantial orientation program is held on campus in August, which will
give you the opportunity to get all of your questions answered, and learn what you need to know for
a successful start.


6. What learning will occur by obtaining a Social Work Master-level degree?
You will learn about fundamental change from the unique perspective that social work provides,
focusing on people – their motivations, differing methods of communication, learning theories,
social role theory, etc.The core curriculum includes the study of development and behavior of groups; personality
development in various environments; how culture develops and serves to influence human behavior;
social policies and how and why they are shaped; how political and organizational processes are
used to influence policy.The curriculum of the Community  and Social Development concentration prepares students

  • empower communities, plan for, and manage organizational change;
  • design social programs;
  • develop strategic alliances,
  • manage mergers and consolidations;
  • attract government, foundation and corporate funding;
  • manage budgets;
  • understand the impact of power and politics on community processes; and
  • recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas.

Students learn how to use research methods to examine neighborhood and community intervention
strategies for evidence of success, and how to incorporate problem-solving methodology in their
ongoing work responsibilities. They also develop and enhance their awareness of diversity to
increase their competence in working with people different from themselves. 

7. How can a Social Work Master-level degree help the student to perform better in his/her community development work situation?
Several degrees are applicable to community  and social development, e.g., public policy,
urban planning, or finance – but only social work approaches community development issues from a
human standpoint first. In the Master’s program at the Mandel School, students learn strategies
that are related to both people and place.They begin the program with a focus on relationship building with people.
They learn the basics of adult development and progress to gain an understanding of group, organization,
neighborhood, and community development. Later, they gain an understanding of legislative politics and advocacy.
They develop budgeting and finance skills, learn to assess community needs, develop effective
programs, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs. Place-based strategies become significant as
they learn about housing, commercial, and other aspects of neighborhood development. 
The Louis Stokes Fellowship for Community and Social Development at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School
Intensive Weekend Program requires students to retain their jobs in their communities while pursuing the
degree. Not long after the courses begin, your employer is likely to see a change in you, the
employee/student, that will benefit your work organization. Students bring new ideas and
approaches, leadership skills, and take a more macro view regarding issues.
8. How will I arrange field education time around a full-time job?
Most students do their field placements at their places of employment and incorporate most of
the 10-14 hour weekly requirement into their regular work week. The total commitment for field
placement is four periods over three years totaling 1,184 hours, lasting from Spring of the first
academic year until Spring of the third academic year. Advanced standing status requires three
periods, and the commitment over two years totals 1008 hours. The schedule for field work is
somewhat flexible and mutually agreed upon by student, employer, and field instructor.
9. What kinds of projects are acceptable for the field requirement?
Projects typically involve macro-level activities. Areas for projects may include combinations
of policy making, staff training and development, needs assessment, organizational assessment,
advocacy, board involvement, fund raising, and development of alliances.
10. Who supervises the field work?
The field instructor must hold a Master of Social Work degree and a current license at the
highest level available in his/her state of residence, or they may be license-eligible.
The field instructor must be someone other than the student’s supervisor. Some students utilize
field instructors from outside their own organizations. Sometimes, a social work professor at a
nearby social work school or program will be able to provide the necessary supervision. The student
and field instructor must meet for at least one hour each week. The position of field instructor,
which is unpaid, is well-recognized within the social work field.
11. Does my employer relinquish privacy by having someone from the outside review my work?
The student and field instructor must be able to fully discuss the student’s fieldwork. For that
reason, often a suitable employee elsewhere within their organization can be found to act as a
field instructor. However, we have not found that outside field instructors create problems of
confidentiality and many have proven to be most helpful by providing a unique outside perspective
regarding issue development and solutions.
12. What is a typical MSASS graduate course like? How are they structured for the intensive weekend program?
The courses are rigorous and generally require a considerable amount of reading, as well as
assignments. The master syllabus for course SASS 470: Social Policy is available through the link
below. It will give you a general idea of course content. In the intensive weekend program,
assignments and readings are issued ahead of time, and are due when you arrive on the first day.
Once you are admitted to the Program, whenever you get a packet from Case, do not wait to open it -
it may be your next reading assignment. Click here for a sample syllabus.
13. How important is the employment requirement in the community development concentration?
One of the criteria of the intensive weekend program is one year of experience and current
employment in the field. Field education will take place in the student’s work setting. Thus, the
work requirement is essential to the Fellowship program.


14. What does the Stokes Fellowship application process involve?
The process for admission to the School is described on the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School website.
No additional application or information  is needed to be  considered for eligibility for the Stokes
Fellowship. However, you must be accepted for admission to the School before being evaluated for
the Stokes Fellowship.
15. The personal statement in the application seems important. Any advice?
The essay is important, and one should approach it conscientiously. Until the telephone
interview (if you are selected for one), both the essay and the letters of recommendation are the
best way for us to get a sense of who you are, how you think, how you write, and what you aspire to
in the community development field.
16. When am I likely to hear if I am to be interviewed for the Fellowship?
Stokes Fellowship applicants are interviewed, by telephone, at various points during the year.
17. What is the interview like? How long? Is there ever more than one interview?
No two interviews are alike. The interview, done usually over the telephone, is intended to
bring out the candidate’s strengths and to give the applicant a view of the program. One or two
faculty members will contact you for an interview. The interviewer will try to put you at ease, but
you will also be challenged in a fair and even-handed manner, so the interviews are rigorous. The
telephone interview lasts about 25-30 minutes.
18. What previous academic achievement is required? Is there a minimum GPA?
Intellectual ability is an important criterion, but it cannot be measured by grades and academic
honors alone. Reference letters, the personal statement, and the interview (for those candidates
selected for one) are extremely important as well. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required.
19. How many Stokes Fellowships are awarded each year?
Three to five Fellowships are awarded each year, for entry in the fall semester of the academic


20. May I speak with a school representative about further questions or concerns?
Depending on your questions, there are different people ready to help you. Please contact the
project coordinator who can answer you or direct your questions to the right people:

Sharon E Milligan, PhD

(216) 368-2335

Fax: (216) 368-5157

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