Top Hybrid Degree and Credentialing Programs


To identify the top 10 hybrid college degree programs, as well as the top 10 credentialing programs. For each, the following information should be provided: 1) an analysis of their model for delivering the program, 2) the legal structure(s) surrounding the program, 3) key partnerships surrounding the program, 4) an analysis of whether the program is totally online, partially online or if there is an option available to do the whole program in-person, 5) whether the program provides coaches or only professors/teachers, 6) an analysis of the enrollment process, and 7) what the program's primary demographic is.

Early Findings

The Columbia School of Social Work Master's Degree Program

What Makes This Program Top:

  • The Columbia School of Social Work features an award-winning online campus and incorporates innovative technologies.
  • This is the only Ivy League school to offer a Master's of Social Work program online.
  • The Columbia School of Social Work is ranked as one of the top five schools for social work by U.S. News & World Report.

Model for Delivering the Program:

  • Classes are run live and online. Outside of the class time, students complete their work via an online learning management system.
  • The system allows students to access reading material, watch video lectures, and have discussions with other students in a forum.
  • Students are also required to "complete field placements within their own communities." These placements are managed by the college to ensure quality.
  • Videoconferencing, live streams, and other similar types of tools are used to help deliver this program.

Legal Structures Surrounding the Program:

  • No specific legal structures surrounding the program were identified. However, Columbia's online campus FAQ page encourages visitors to ask any other questions they have via a provided contact form, so it may be possible to obtain further insight regarding legalities using this method.

Program Format (Online or In-Person):

  • The classes are given online.
  • While there is not a required in-person element to this specific online program (aside from the field placements noted above), the online classes are given live and allow students and instructors to interact together in real-time.
  • Columbia notes that some online students do decide to attend their final year at the school's in-person campus, so this hybrid course option is available.

Partnership Opportunities:

  • The program includes guest lecturers from around the world, which enables students with the opportunity to network.
  • Through this program, students are also given access to Columbia's alumni community, which has over 17,000 members.
  • Through this program, students also have access to Columbia online student services, which include an online library, access to writing experts, and guidance counselors.
  • Students will be mentored by a social work professional in their own community.

Instructor Types:

  • This program is built, administered, and taught by specialists in social work.

Enrollment Process:

  • Students can apply for the program online.
  • It appears that online applicants go through the same enrollment process as traditional students, thereby, they must apply to the Columbia School of Social Work.
  • Prospective students go through three steps to narrow down their program of choice. First, the student chooses the specific social work program they are interested in as well as selecting the platform they want to learn in (on campus or online). Next, they select the social work specialization they want to focus on during their second year of the program. Lastly, the student can opt for a dual degree or minor.
  • Once they have identified their intended program path, they then complete an online application, pay a $75 application fee, submit a current resume with specified details, answer three essay questions, provide three letters of reference, and submit their transcripts.

Primary Demographic:

  • Columbia states that their Master's of Social Work students come from diverse backgrounds.
  • These individuals have high educational standards and a passion for human rights, social justice, and human diversity.
  • These students often work in job roles such as "clinicians, advocates, planners, policy analysts, researchers, and managers" and have strong leadership skills.
  • Applicants to the program must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a strong academic record, and must either be a native English speaker or pass a specific English proficiency test.

Results of Initial Research

  • There appears to be sufficient information available to build 10 profiles of hybrid degree programs and 10 profiles of credentialing programs.
  • Although the concept of 'top' can be subjective, it is possible to include an analysis of any key factors that qualifies the chosen program as 'among the top'. Things like awards won, the uniqueness of the program, recommendations from industry experts, or even high attendance rates are all examples of metrics that can help illustrate whether a school is top. However, it should be noted here that there does not seem to be a comprehensive and truly objective resource that provides a pre-compiled list of the top programs. Therefore, the 'top' status of each program will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis using whatever metrics are available (as it's unlikely to locate programs that have all the same metrics available).
  • Once a program is identified, it becomes relatively simple to locate the rest of the requested information. However, there are two clarifications that will be needed before research can proceed: 1) What are some examples of 'legal structures' we should be looking for in regards this request, as this part of the request is a bit unclear, and 2) For partnerships, is it acceptable to include insights on the type of partnership opportunities that the program offers the student, such as networking, access to mentors, etc, or does this approach miss the mark? These questions can be answered upon selecting the next steps below.
  • Lastly, it should be noted here that it's unlikely that these programs will have hard data available showing the demographics of the students who attend the program, however, there does appear to be various types of qualitative insights available that can give insights into the students, such as those shown above about Columbia's social work program.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.

Research proposal:

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