Several traditional colleges or universities and private online schools offer training in case management through distance learning. Program levels that are available include associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees, along with graduate certificates. Generally, the subject is taught as part of a curriculum in areas like human services, rehabilitation counseling, social work and nursing. An on-site internship or hands-on practicum may be included so that students acquire real-world training. These can usually be arranged in the student's local area.
Beyond such in-person requirements, students pursuing online case management training can typically access their coursework anytime through their school's virtual classroom environment. Course management software allows professors to post lectures, assignments, exams, videos and other materials. Message boards, web conferencing or chat rooms may be used to facilitate class interaction and discussion.
Community colleges that offer online Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degrees in human services or one of its specialty fields, like alcohol and drug counseling, prepare graduates for careers in the case management field. Prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED.
Unlike most other online programs (because of the special requirements of professionals in the health and human services fields) some on-site requirements may need to be met, including internships or participating in on-campus classes. Depending on interests, graduates may find work in elder care, addiction, social services, community outreach, the justice system or behavioral management.
Along with general education requirements, these types of programs offer professional and technical training. Case managers take a human-oriented approach to care and relevant online classes may cover:
- Treatment models
Because no specific licensure is required of general case managers, students in human services programs are qualified to find work as case managers upon graduating. Some online programs operate using an eight week model, allowing courses to be offered multiple times throughout the year. Prerequisites are likely to be a high school diploma or GED with the possibility of prior coursework in the field of study. This modular format allows students to finish their degrees in a shorter amount of time than a traditional, on-campus format. Distance learners may be required to participate in internship or practicum experiences prior to graduation.
Some online bachelor's programs allow for concentrations in topics like the court system, civic engagement, psychology, leadership, child development, cultural studies, or even a self-designed concentration. Courses involved in preparing graduates for careers as case managers include the following:
- Human services administration
- Intervention methods
- Ethics of human services
- Research methodology
- Social welfare
Online programs are designed primarily for physicians and registered nurses, while some on-campus programs are open to other professionals, such as social workers. Graduate certificates require students to hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with prior work experience. Online certificates take no more than a year to complete. Delivery may be fully online, or else may involve certain on-campus classes.
Case managers assess patients, plan goals, implement strategies, coordinate care, monitor documentation and measure changes in health, as well as the financial impact that care has on patients and their families. Distance learning graduate certificate programs can provide important training in these areas through the following courses:
- Clinical ethics
- Case management in the field
- Life care planning
- Utilization review
- Quality management
Programs like the Master of Science (M.S.) in Nursing or M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling and Case Management offer training in related areas and can be found fully online. However, due to the interpersonal nature of the field, participation in an in-person internship is often required. Prerequisites include work experience and a bachelor's degree, though not necessarily in a specific field. These programs take roughly two years to complete.
Good communication, as well as an ability to research (and think critically about) a problem are vitally important to good case management. Below are examples of common classes:
- Rehabilitation technology
- Psychological evaluation
- Evidence-based practice
- Caring for diverse populations
- Clinical systems
Because case managers come to the profession from a variety of backgrounds (including social work and nursing) there are a wide variety of certification options available to case managers. Those coming to the field with a bachelor's degree in social work may opt for certification as a Certified Social Work Case Manager, while those coming in with a bachelor's or master's degree from an administrative field may choose to opt for the Case Management Administrator Certification.
One of the most generally applicable certifications is the Certified Case Manager credential from the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC). These applicants must be licensed or certified by their state to independently practice case management. The CCMC additionally requires that applicants have completed a sufficient amount of case management experience, lasting between 1-2 years. This credential remains valid for a five years.
Students can obtain case management education through graduate certificate, undergraduate degree and graduate degree programs fully online or in a hybrid format. Upon graduation, students can seek certification once they meet training and experience requirements.