The Rutgers DSW Program transforms social work clinicians into scholars by challenging students to contextualize their practice using theories and research drawn from multiple disciplines. Because multidisciplinary knowledge and social justice intertwine at the heart of social work scholarship, we challenge students to grow beyond loyalties to one modality or perspective. The DSW builds on seasoned clinicians’ practice experience by cultivating their ability to present, publish, and create multimedia projects (MMPs) to disseminate their practice-relevant scholarship. The successful student tolerates ambiguity, engages with scholarly critique, thinks critically and creatively about clinical practice, and shares their insights in a professional manner.
Weekend Residencies for Working Practitioners
Each semester consists of four on-site residencies and one online residency. The four on-site residency sessions will include lectures, seminars, writing workshops, case presentations, meetings with faculty and advisors, and participation in research interest groups. Each day of a residency consists of two three-hour modules–one morning and one afternoon. Our modular approach provides the flexibility to calibrate instruction to the subject matter and objects of study, and, in this way, students learn from a multitude of faculty with a broad array of expertise. This system allows our faculty (drawn from across the disciplines) to focus instruction on what they do and know best. Our instructors are deep thinkers from a variety of fields who have attained considerable influence in their areas, and thus serve as aspirational role models for experienced practitioner doctoral education.
Coursework is grounded in three integrated sequences: foundation (training in theory development and research skills), clinical practice (use and critique of clinical theories), and engaged scholarship (writing, clinical, and research proseminars). Graduation requires successful completion of 54 credits and is completed in three years. The program builds on students’ initial case studies which are completed in the first year. Formulating the case study helps students to develop critical thinking skills needed to draw on the scholarly literature and to understand case material in a new way. This becomes the foundation for developing qualitative inquiry skills and enhancing writing skills in the second year of the program. The final year culminates in a multi-media project that allows students to disseminate their work while also engaging with the greater scholarly community. These three projects make up a portfolio that is required for graduation in lieu of a traditional dissertation. Through the curriculum and assignments, the DSW doctoral degree prepares graduates to address complex practice issues using critical perspectives and nuance, and enables them to become more sophisticated practitioners, teachers, and consumers and creators of scholarly work.
A Focus on Writing
We have designed an innovative writing-intensive curriculum that synthesizes all three content areas and offers our students the unique opportunity to engage in guided writing and revision with experienced writing professors. Students will learn various models and strategies for writing publishable material as they matriculate in the program, and professionalize and distinguish themselves through their writing. Additionally, students will create and maintain their own professional WordPress Site, to be interlinked with the DSW Website, as both a digital ‘home’ for continued scholarship and a venue for conversation among peers, as well as practice in establishing a web presence, while learning critical digital literacy skills.