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Employee Graduate Tuition Reimbursement

Program Overview

The Department of Children’s Services Employee Graduate Tuition Reimbursement Program provides financial support to DCS staff willing to make a commitment to complete a Master's-level graduate program in a human service major. The objective of this program is to strengthen the Department with public child welfare employees who are committed to gaining the knowledge, skills and abilities of a Master’s level professional. 

The program reimburses employees with tuition/approved fees and payments to assist with books for up to four academic years, which is defined as up to eight semesters. In return, the Student must work for the Agency 6-24 consecutive months (depending on the amount of aid received) after concluding the program.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to apply for admission to the DCS Employee Graduate Tuition Reimbursement Program and enter into this Program Agreement, the Student must:

  • not be on probation at the time of application
  • no current or pending disciplinary action
  • no history of disciplinary action within the past three years with any State agency. (Disciplinary actions include written warnings, suspensions, demotion or terminations.)
  • Be a full-time DCS employee in a direct services position actively providing child welfare or juvenile justice case management services in a DCS field office, YDC or at the Child Abuse Hotline
  • Be employed with the Department for at least two years as of the first day of classes on the academic year noted below, beginning summer or fall
  • Be in good-standing with the Department:
  • Received a Performance Evaluation within the past 12 months with a score of at least "valued."
  • Receive approval from supervisor and regional/facility leadership on Inital Approval of Participation Request, prior to August 1st.

The student must also be unconditionally accepted into an accredited graduate program (or program in candidacy) relevant to your current job duties in one of the following approved areas of study:

  • Social Work (pertains only to students not participating in the DCS MSW/MSSW Tuition Program)
  • Counseling
  •  Psychology 
  • Sociology

Program Guidelines

To remain in good standing, program participants must:

  • Remain in good standing in his or her program and university.
  • Complete the necessary academic requirements for the degree as defined by the Student ’s university and graduate within 10 semesters (excluding summer).
  • Maintain the minimum enrollment requirement each semester of financial assistance received.
  • Maintain a 3.0 in each course for which you are to be reimbursed.  Note: No reimbursement will be granted for any class which receives a B - or lower or is repeated due to an unsatisfactory grade.
  • Observe all important dates and deadlines (see below).

Application Dates

Please have Initial Approval of Participation Request submitted to Central Office prior to the following date:

  • August 1 (one year prior to your anticipated acceptance into the tuition program)

Please have remaining application materials submitted to Central Office after the August 1 deadline but prior to the following date:

  • June 1 (one year after you received approval to participate in the tuition assistance programs from your immediate supervisor and regional leadership)

Forms and Information

Participating Universities

  • Austin Peay State University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Tennessee State University
  • Union University
  • University of Memphis
  • University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Participants may select other universities if they are accredited, offer the required degree program and are approved by the Department. Check with the DCS tuition program for approval for universities not listed.

For Current Participants

Please read the Current Employee Graduate Tuition Reimbursement page for more information.