Online Case Management Education, Training and Certification Programs

Case management, which involves negotiating and locating services for individuals, is a patient-advocacy specialty in the human services and health fields. Many schools offer online training in this area at the undergraduate and graduate levels, so read on to see programs and certification info.

Overview of Online Training Programs

Several traditional colleges or universities and private online schools offer training in case management through distance learning. Programs solely in general case management aren't the norm, but instead the subject is taught as part of a curriculum in areas like human services, rehabilitation counseling, social work and nursing. It's not uncommon for distance learning programs related to case management to include an on-site experience so that students can get real-world training in this type of work. 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 for distance learners. Message boards, web conferencing or chat rooms may be used to facilitate class interaction and discussion.

Program Options & Coursework

Prospective distance learning students have several undergraduate and graduate options when it comes to finding online training in case management. Because the programs are so varied, so are the admission requirements. For instance, an associate degree program may only require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. Some online bachelor's programs, however, require students to have some level of college credit prior to admission. Graduate-level programs, including certificates and master's degrees, require applicants to have relevant bachelor's degrees and often related work experience.

The following list provides details on what distance learners can expect to study once admitted into an online program related to case management.

Associate Degrees Covering Case Management

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 - can prepare graduates for careers in the case management field. 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 their 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:

  • Assessment
  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology
  • Treatment models

Bachelor's Degrees in Human Services

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. Classes in some online human services programs are designed for completion within eight weeks, allowing courses to be offered multiple times throughout the year. 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. The topics that can prepare graduates for careers as case managers include the following:

  • Human services administration
  • Intervention methods
  • Ethics of human services
  • Research methodology
  • Social welfare

Graduate Certificate Programs

Online programs are primarily designed for physicians and registered nurses, while some on-campus programs are open to other professionals, such as social workers. The online certificate programs generally take no more than a year to complete. Some of these programs are designed for 100% online delivery, while others are designed as mostly online programs, with occasional requirements for attending in-person, 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 courses covering the following:

  • Clinical ethics
  • Case management in the field
  • Life care planning
  • Utilization review
  • Quality management

Master's Degrees Covering Case 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 in a 100% online format. However, due to the interpersonal nature of the field, participation in an in-person internship is often required. Applicants are generally not required to have completed their undergraduate degree in any specific major. 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. These programs prepare graduates for work in the field by providing classes in:

  • Rehabilitation technology
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Statistics
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Caring for diverse populations
  • Clinical systems

Professional Certification

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 go 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 5-year period.

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