online degree program - how online learning works
educating armed forces and veterans
contact admissions
education investment
undergraduate academics - schedule a campus visit
online learning - start your online degree today
image showing top half of building on Saint Leo University's campus

Saint Leo 360 Podcast

Episode 34: Dr. Nancy Wood on Saint Leo’s MS in Human Services Administration

Posted by Greg Lindberg on April 28, 2021
Episode 34: Dr. Nancy Wood on Saint Leo's MS in Human Services Administration

Download Episode 34 Transcript

Speaker 1:
Saint Leo 360, a 360° overview of the Saint Leo University community.

Greg Lindberg:
Welcome to another edition of the Saint Leo 360 podcast. My name is Greg Lindbergh on this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we are speaking about our masters in human services administration program here at Saint Leo University. And we have a wonderful guest joining us to discuss this great program. Her name is Dr. Nancy Wood and she is the director of this graduate program in human services administration, and is also an associate professor of human services administration, Dr. Wood, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Thank you, Greg. Thanks for having me.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. We got definitely plenty to discuss, and I know this is a very exciting program and I think has a lot of future growth potential as well. So a lot of good stuff here to talk about. So first off, Dr. Wood, why don't you just introduce yourself, give us your background, your practical experience, how you got into teaching and how long you've been with Saint Leo.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes. So yes, my background is in management administration for many years, I worked in corporate, in human resources, in accounting and other those kinds of facets. So through the years I gained various degrees and once I achieved my PhD in human services, I made that transition to teaching. So I actually started with Saint Leo in 2009 as an adjunct faculty. And from there, I was able to continue my teaching as full-time in 2012 in human services. And as you share it, I am currently the director of the graduate program in human services administration. So it's been a very rewarding career at this point.

Greg Lindberg:
Nice. So it sounds like you've been with us for quite a while now.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes, I have.

Greg Lindberg:
Excellent. And let's talk about the history of this human services administration program, how long it's been around and the reasons behind Saint Leo starting it.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So we do have an undergrad human services program. So from there, the idea was, let's have a graduate program. So when the program was created, it was originally launched at the Savannah Center, in Savannah, Georgia, and that was around 2015 and then it grew pretty quickly from an on ground to online in January 2017. So it's been fully online since that time. So pretty exciting that we've had the program online this many years and it being successful. As the need continued in human services, the administration piece obviously became evident, where people who were managers, directors, supervisors wanted that additional coursework to not only in their professional lives, whether it's promotion, but more importantly, we solve a need of a program that provided people the opportunity to start their own nonprofits. So the program is 36 credit hours and can be completed in one year's time.

Greg Lindberg:
Wow. Very interesting. And in terms of prospective students, I know you've touched on it already, but I would imagine this program is geared toward those currently working in the field that are looking to advance, or like you mentioned, perhaps even start their own business or non-profit, right?

Dr. Nancy Wood:
That is correct. So as you share, the students are majority already working and they are looking for that flexibility. So we're able to do that, offering these eight week courses at any term that they would like to start, whether spring one, spring two, summer one, summer two, fall two, fall one. So any of those terms, a student can enter in and start the program at their convenience, particularly students that like that online learning and like that opportunity just to be able to get into the course, do their work online and not be tied to a specific schedule or meeting time.

Greg Lindberg:
Gotcha. I see, very interesting. In terms of admission requirements, what must a student possess in order to actually be admitted to this graduate program?

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So they would need to hold a bachelor's degree, or even if they have a master's degree already from a US regionally accredited institution with a minimum GPA of a 3.0 on a four point scale. Though, there are exceptions. So again, depending on their application and information they share, there would be other considerations for a waiver.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Let's dive into some of the courses and specific topics covered in this program. If you could just give some examples of some of those and what students can expect.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So some of the courses are certainly administrative, management related topics, whether it's leadership, we have course of ethics and legal issues that come up in human services. The community needs assessment and program evaluation course is very helpful in providing that information as to the need of the community what's happening in the community. The course that students really enjoy is the creating new human services organizations, which provides them the tools to get that new agency started. Whether it's the by-laws or articles of incorporation. We also have a funding class, advocacy and policy analysis course, a human resource course, which is related to managing employees, particularly the piece on managing volunteers and what that looks like from an administrative perspective, grantsmanship class, which is very popular, the students really enjoy that. Being that grant writing is a big part of nonprofit work in human services.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
We have a marketing class, which from the perspective of a nonprofit, what does that look like and how you manage the marketing component? And then we have a class that's obviously like a capstone, like a graduate project class. All these courses, again, build upon the idea of what administrative management skills one needs to be successful as a director, supervisor, whatever leadership role they have in their agency, as well as, as we've discussed, starting that new agency or that new human services organization to help meet a need that they see in their community.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. So it sounds like the coursework really gives students that option of whether they're looking to advance to a role within their current organization or join another organization or even start their own organization.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Correct. You said it very well. Oftentimes students do come into this program wanting to advance their career, improve their hiring prospects, or I see a lot of students switching careers. So perhaps they were in the corporate world and they're finding they want to now move to the human services, nonprofit world and having this degree will help facilitate those career objectives.

Greg Lindberg:
I see. Very interesting. And I was also wondering if you could just speak about some of the courses that you teach and perhaps some of your favorites or ones that stand out to you.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Certainly, the creating new human services organization course, which I often teach. Whereas I mentioned earlier, that's the part about the articles incorporation, filing your tax forms for the 501(c)(3) designation. Students really oftentimes find that initially this is a lot of information in terms of processing it on their own. So when they take this course, it makes sense to them. And for oftentimes, that's where they're stuck on their own before they've entered this program. And so when they take this course, it all comes together for them in a very nice way where they understand that those basic beginning steps to starting your own non-for-profit. In fact, some students will even file for their 501(c)(3) designation in this course, because now they understand the steps because they've had this idea of starting their own profit and now they can, they feel like they now have the confidence to do so.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So it's always exciting when students share with me that they've received that letter of their tax ID number for their 501(c)(3) incorporation. So that's one of my favorite courses. And certainly the graduate project, capstone courses is a favorite of mine. This is taken at the end of the program and students are obviously excited to be done with their... This is our last class, they'll be done with their work soon and in the program, they'll be graduating. And just to see and hear about, and they always share with me, of course, their next steps. Whether they're going to apply for a new position, a management position, or they're starting their own non-for-profit. That's just an exciting time to see them launch their career goals and their professional goals. So it's also a great class to teach.

Greg Lindberg:
And just as an instructor faculty member, I'm sure that's pretty rewarding. Just seeing the students complete the coursework.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes, it is. And especially to share a part of their lives or their lifetime goals of starting their own human services organization, many of them sharing, "I've been thinking about this for many years, didn't have the confidence, or didn't think I had the skills and this program has elevated them in their skillsets, has elevated them, knowing confidence as well that they can do this and they've started doing it. So to know that they're making a difference already in their communities with starting a new agency is just also very fulfilling. As well as for those that again, were looking to transition to this new career path that they've always interested in, but didn't know how to get to those opportunities. And again, through the program, they were able to do that. So it's just an exciting course to be involved with, to see that transition in their growth as well.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. No question about that. As far as the faculty who teach in this program, let's talk about the faculty and just the one-on-one connections that students really have in general with their faculty at Saint Leo. And I would imagine in this program as well.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes. As with all of the faculty at Saint Leo, very fortunate to have a wealth of experienced and frankly, experts in the field teaching these courses, whether their past experience has been in management and in administration and human services organizations, or they're currently administrators to be able to bring that real world, real time information to students and letting them know well, in my experiences as well as, well, this is what I'm doing now. Whatever they could share with students so that students can then say, okay, I can now connect to what I'm learning in my class to real world application. So that's a very powerful thing that when someone is teaching you that this is obviously the content and here's how you can apply it. And this is what's working. It's very impactful for students to have that real-world and real time experience being shared in the class and as well as making those networking connections.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So if the faculty is from their area, they can share what opportunities are occurring, as well as again, more information about the discipline and how to do networking. There's so many layers to that piece, as well as their passion for human services. We have such a passionate group of faculty as well. So again, bringing it all together just makes for a very enriching teaching experience for the students.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. Well said. And I'm curious, just from your standpoint, specifically as a professor in the program, how would you describe the availability of yourself, let's say for example, and just the faculty in general, in this program, how students can easily access and connect with their faculty?

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Very easily. I know, again, as I shared, my faculty are very passionate for what they do not only in teaching but being able to share that information with students. So whether they have a weekly Zoom meeting that students can jump into, or a Q&A session certainly available by email as well as by phone. So even as an online program, there is that connectivity to feel like there's a sense of community is certainly available in the classroom with this instructors. Even though they're not meeting in a classroom per se, but within the course, as well as like I said, those virtual opportunities, which we're all experiencing now with today's situation and climate.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. I see. Very interesting. As far as career opportunities go, I know we've spoken about, in general, whether a graduate or even student currently still in the program looking to start their own nonprofit, can you give me some examples of very specific types of nonprofits and perhaps even ones that some of our alumni have actually started themselves?

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes. So I've had a lot of students share with me their ideas of what they'd like to start and a few have actually launched their non-for-profits. So I guess the idea is for students to really think about, for those that are interested in starting their own non-for-profit is where their passion lies, what population they want to serve. And what does that look like for them in terms of what that would look like as an agency. So I've had students start a not-for-profit related to a homeless shelter for just women so that the women can work upon their life skills, address any mental health or physical needs that they need to address, so that they can then be reunited with their children.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
I've had one student particular, his interests was addressing veteran homelessness. And so where he's located, he's participating in Operation Tiny Home. So he's acquiring, funding and working with community and starting, I think it's going to be 10 tiny homes in a part of the town, which is geared towards serving veterans so that the veterans can not only have a home but have services as well. So there's quite a few, again, ideas out there that students have provided or shared with me that again, whether it's related to elderly or working with youth. It could be a program they wanted to start, perhaps they've partnered up with another agency.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So I know a lot of students have provided additional programming opportunities, whether working with children who are differently abled, working with youth in terms of perhaps providing more activities after school. So again, it's just wherever that passion is and doing that community needs assessment as to where the needs are in the community, and then partnering up with other community members or again, whether you start your own agency, there's certainly a lot of opportunities out there. It's just finding out what that is for the student and what they're interested in doing.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. Very interesting. So it sounds like quite a variety of opportunities.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes. And there's certainly positions in the government, whether at the federal state local level, there's opportunities with other agencies as well, who's doing the work that perhaps someone is interested in. And you can even, students can consider doing a for-profit organization, like a social entrepreneurship, which we also talk quite a bit in our different courses. So that's also an opportunity to start your own agency, but really have it be a social entrepreneurship, serving a specific population.

Greg Lindberg:
And I will say again, it's great that this program not only has the human services focus, but like you were saying before, really give students those tools on the legal side of starting an actual nonprofit entity and all the paperwork involved. And like you were saying before, I'm sure there's been some hesitation from some of these students in the past, just not knowing what to do, the process involved. And it sounds like this program really gives that full comprehensive overview in terms of not only the field side of it, but like you were saying before, the nonprofit designation and then paperwork side as well.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yes. And with human services, there's so many opportunities, as we've been talking about. And I think what I often share with students is to find those opportunities, do your research. It's important to look at what organizations are you interested in working for, or working with, volunteering is probably a great way to start that process. If you enjoy the experience as a volunteer, then those tend to lead to employment opportunities where you've made those connections as a volunteer and then you know the organization. So I would certainly encourage that to find out more about those opportunities. Whether again, from the program, you can then connect those opportunities using the coursework, especially if you see a position in an organization like some of the common titles could be like agency director, agency administrator, volunteer director, program manager, executive director, community and engagement manager. The titles are quite endless.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
And it would take our whole program to go through the titles, but I would encourage a potential student to go look for those opportunities within the organization and to aim for that, especially for someone who's thinking of switching career paths, maybe from one industry to another. So as well as those opportunities can be related to marketing or can be related to human resources, or can be related to finance. So if you have experienced in other disciplines, they're certainly applicable to the human services sector. So I see a lot of that crossover as well.

Greg Lindberg:
Absolutely. No doubt. So I'm curious, as far as other human services administration's programs out there, if you could just give maybe an overview, just in terms of your knowledge of how common these programs are, and then what would you say really separates this program from the rest of the pack?

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Yeah. I appreciate that question. In the title of the program name, human services administration, right there that differentiates us from other programs that perhaps are titled human services. So that's definitely the biggest differentiator. At the master's level, you'll see human service programs again with just the name human services, and perhaps they may have a leadership class or a grantsmanship class, some courses peppered in, related to management, or they may have a leadership track. So what I find that is the biggest differentiator for this program is that we really, that's what we focus on, administration. Obviously it's in the name of the program. And the course is build up to that, starting off with the first course of leadership and management, and then building up with all the courses that I mentioned earlier.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So that's the biggest differentiator as well as the creating new human services organization class, which as I shared was one of my favorites. Going through that step-by-step process, in terms of those beginning steps of starting your human services not-for-profit organization. So our courses are quite unique in providing that administrative management lens to human services and that being our complete focus.

Greg Lindberg:
Sure. I see. And then to wrap up here, obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in so many different ways. And from what I understand, there's definitely a growing need for human services professionals, for these types of organizations out there to serve a variety of populations. And if you could just talk about how the pandemic has really impacted this field of human services, maybe specifically the administration side, and just potentially more increased opportunities out there.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Thanks for that question, Greg. The pandemic has certainly created a new found emphasis and an overwhelming need of human services across the communities obviously whether you're local, State, nationally. You think of any human services issue like food insecurity, digital internet access, the inequalities there, homelessness, and again, any type of social services that was available. And so that need just has greatly increased. There was certainly human service organizations, there was some uptick in hiring in the spring and fall, but like any industry there's been an impact. Perhaps less of an impact than other industries like entertainment, what have you, but there's certainly the need again there and it certainly has increased. So the opportunities are certainly there for employment, certain agencies, especially the federal agencies are hiring now and also federal money is becoming more available as well.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
So there's the increase for grant writing skills, the increase to, how do we meet the services and the needs of people in the community. So I do see more of an interest in this program now because people are realizing it's not just simple to, I see need, and I want to start my agency, that there does require some experience there and skills. And so the program will certainly help with that piece of it, as well as people that are still looking for that promotional piece. So as you mentioned, as there are agencies out there and there is growth in those agencies in terms of managing the administrative piece of human services. So it certainly would be an opportune time to be enrolled in the program to obtain those skills.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
And the additional challenges the pandemic has brought on is certainly the Zoom piece. So people are certainly still working remotely. How do you manage services through Zoom as well as within the community and keep everyone safe. So again, that piece of how to manage that administrative piece. We've actually created an elective for our students to address those. So those students that are already in the program are now having that experience, we just offered it as an elective. So as shared, there's just certainly opportunity with human services administration. And it's just as a student, where's your passion? Where do you see yourself serving your community? And what population you want to serve.

Greg Lindberg:
Exactly, very well said and well summarized. All right, well, again, we've been speaking with Dr. Nancy Wood about the masters in human services administration program here at Saint Leo University. And I did want to mention that you can check the show notes for this episode to get a link to the program page on our website so you can learn more about this program through that as well. So Dr. Wood just want to thank you so much for your time and really appreciated your insight on this program. And thanks so much for joining me here on the Saint Leo 360 Podcast.

Dr. Nancy Wood:
Thank you, Greg. I really appreciate it.

Speaker 1:
To hear more episodes of the Saint Leo 360 Podcast, visit saintleo.edu/podcast. To learn more about Saint Leo's programs and services, call (877) 622-2009, or visit saintleo.edu.

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Saint Leo 360 podcast, we are joined by Dr. Nancy Wood, the director of the master’s in human services administration degree program at Saint Leo University. Dr. Wood discussed:

  • An overview of her professional background and how she got into teaching for Saint Leo University
  • A brief history of the MS in Human Services Administration program and why Saint Leo started it
  • Where this graduate degree program is offered
  • Who this program is intended for
  • Admission requirements to enroll in the program
  • An overview of the courses and specific areas of focus in this graduate-level curriculum
  • An overview of the faculty who teach in this human services administration degree program
  • Career opportunities with this master’s degree
  • Alumni success stories with this degree from Saint Leo
  • What sets this program apart from others
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for human services professionals

Links & Resources

Learn more about this exciting graduate degree program at Saint Leo University on the master’s in human services administration degree program page

pursue human services degree

Recent Episodes

Subscribe to Email Updates

Request more information