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The development and administration of collaborative social work programs: challenges and opportunities

Donna Wang (Associate Professor, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York, NY, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this exploratory research was to document the history, structure and administration of current collaboratives, as well as overall challenges and benefits. Little is known about how and why collaborative graduate social work programs were started, how they operate or what are the challenges and benefits.


Six case studies were conducted through semi-structured interviews of a purposive sample of key personnel from collaborative programs.


Findings revealed that each collaborative program grew from existing undergraduate social work programs. Key primary benefits include that collaborative programs provide service to regions that would otherwise not have access to graduate social work education and added diversity and depth to programs. Greatest challenges are day-to-day operationalization and the cohesiveness to be “one program” among faculty and students.

Practical implications

Suggestions are provided to programs interested in developing a collaborative program.


Because such little is known about collaborative programs, it is hoped that this article offers insight and issues to consider when beginning and administering collaborative social work programs.



Wang, D. (2015), "The development and administration of collaborative social work programs: challenges and opportunities", On the Horizon, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 46-57.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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