Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Basic Definitions

To ensure that we're speaking the same lingo, here are some basic definitions:

  • Learning Management System (LMS): Technology environment used to complete coursework. At the University at Buffalo we use UBlearns (customized Blackboard Learn) for our LMS.
  • Seated: Any course taught in a traditional classroom environment, in person and taken on campus.
  • Hybrid (or Blended): Any course that is delivered as a mix of online and seated. At UB SSW we state that hybrid courses are approximately 70 percent online and up to 30 percent seated. The 30 percent seated time translates to three to four times in the semester, which will be scheduled prior to the start of the semester and will be on weekends, which may include Friday evenings.
  • Online: Any course that is delivered 100 percent online.
  • Technology Enhanced: Any course that uses an LMS and/or other technology to assist in the seated course delivery.
  • Home Region: For the purposes of this program, this refers to the vicinity of the student's residence.
  • Out-of-region: For the purposes of this program, this means 50 or more miles from the University at Buffalo North Campus.
  • Synchronous Coursework: This will be real-time traditional or virtual classroom sessions. The online participation will be done via a webinar tool. While leveraging webinar technology, these sessions will require students to attend at the prescribed times indicated by the faculty member, unless watching the recorded version meets the faculty member and course needs.
  • Asynchronous Coursework: This will be time completing coursework outside of the classroom by doing assignments, listening to video lectures or recordings, etc. This occurs at your own pace, within the faculty prescribed course schedule.

What Does the MSW Online Program Entail?

  • Our online courses can have both synchronous and asynchronous components to them. Faculty members will advise students on the number of synchronous sessions required in any course.
  • Students are required to have routine access to a computer with high-speed Internet access and audio/visual capabilities. While students may supplement their computer with a tablet or smart device; to complete our program efficiently students need to use a computer because a tablet or smart device will not lend itself to completing assignments in a timely fashion. The computer should be capable of transmitting video via a camera and transmitting voice via a microphone, and it should have speakers or a headset to hear. Please refer to our minimum requirements FAQ below.
  • Visit the MSW Online page for more details on the program.

I live in/near Buffalo. Can I still apply to the online program?

Local students can technically still apply to the online program. However, accepted applicants living 50 or more miles from the Buffalo, NY campus will be given priority for seats in the program. Due to the limited number of seats available, we encourage all students who are a commutable distance from campus to apply to the seated program options instead. 

What Does It Take To Be a Successful Online Learner?

The MSW Online program is part of Open SUNY, and as such, we have certain resources available to our online students. To help you determine if online learning is a good fit for your learning style and current lifestyle, please complete this Quick Readiness Quiz. Another section of the Open SUNY Readiness Guide you should review is checking your computer skills. Finally, you should review this YouTube video presentation on what it takes to be a successful online learner.

screen capture from video

SSW shares information on what it takes to be a successful online learner.

SSW Computing Orientation: How Do I Access University Resources?

This computing orientation will familiarize students with the UBlearns LMS and the library reserves. This orientation will also provide students with a basic overview of how these systems work and where they can go to get more help with them.

Where Do I Purchase My Textbooks?

All course syllabi will indicate any required textbooks. Students can opt to purchase their textbook(s) at our University Bookstore (operated by eFollett) or through any online textbook retailer.

What Will Help Me Book Accommodations or Find a Place to Eat When Visiting the Campus?

Our University's Visiting UB Web page will assist students in locating accommodations, finding places to eat, getting directions, etc.

Minimum Technology Requirements: What Type of Technology Will I Need to Take an Online Program?

Computing Device

You are required to have routine access to a computer running Windows 8 or later. This computer needs to have audio/visual capabilities. Some of the course and video content within the program will require you to have the latest versions of Windows Media Player, Flash and Acrobat Reader (all free programs).

Many courses will conduct synchronous class sessions via different webinar tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom, Skype for Business or Google+ Hangouts. We recommend that you have a headset with a boom microphone for audio participation and a webcam for video participation in these sessions. Make sure to test your computer with the webinar tool before the scheduled synchronous session.

We cannot ensure the availability of our online courses on Apple computers. If you use an Apple computer, you will be responsible for all technical issues.

Many of our courses use video and applications that are not currently supported on tablets, Android or iOS devices, so students may not be able to successfully complete courses using only a mobile device. You may be able to access course websites and some of the documents for the class on these devices, but you will need routine access to a computer to make sure that you can access all of the required course content.

Internet Access

Online courses require that students have routine access to a computer with high-speed Internet access. This is needed to efficiently stream video content and conduct research for your courses. Dial-up Internet access will not support the coursework.

Ideally, you should have operate that computer on a wired connection to the Internet. While wireless connections are allowed, wireless can at times produce a lag in the quality of the connection, which may lead to disconnections and other inefficiencies of time.

Learning Management System (LMS)

Our university uses UBlearns as an LMS. This system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


After having registered as a UB student and successfully received and activated an UBIT username (the main UB network account), students will have access to the latest academic and productivity software, including Microsoft Office and anti-virus programs. Please review these software offerings before considering any software purchases for coursework.

Web Browsers

Students can use multiple web browsers when completing coursework within UBlearns: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Google Chrome. Internet Explorer and Apple Safari tend to provide the best user experience. No matter which browser students decide to use, we suggest installing the most current version.