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DSW Curriculum & Syllabi

Rutgers School of Social Work's Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program provides hands-on training from regional and national practitioners.

DSW Curricula

Rutgers DSW students will receive hands-on teacher training from Rutgers School of Social Work faculty along with regional and national practitioners. The Rutgers DSW curriculum is designed to help students: 

  • Recognize the links among theory, research, practice, and policy 
  • Engage in critical thinking and analysis 
  • Develop and disseminate scholarly knowledge in academic journals, conference presentations, and innovative websites
  • Tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity and view these elements as part of the process of knowledge development  
  • Develop clinical expertise with a particular population or in an substantive area 

*Please note the following is an example only. Courses are subject to change. 

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DSW Curriculum Features

The DSW Portfolio

Case Study

The first year writing practicum is a unique opportunity to engage in intensive writing and revision practices. 

The first half of the first year writing program helps set the foundation for writing the DSW portfolio products: one case study, one qualitative paper, and a multimedia project. 

In order to achieve these goals, students will be introduced to the ways of scholarly research. Students will learn the scholarly writing process, from conceptualization and literature exploration to the writing and publication. Students will begin by preparing an in-depth literature review in the fall semester.  This review will then be used in the second semester to frame the students’ case study, which is due at the end of their first year. In addition to proseminar feedback, “one-on-one” conferences with DSW faculty are an opportunity for feedback about writing and development of the case study. Final case study papers should be of publishable quality and no more than 25 pages including abstract, title page, and references. We strongly encourage students to submit their final papers to peer-reviewed journals for publication consideration. 


Qualitative Inquiry

During year two, students learn the skills of qualitative inquiry, including research question formulation, study design, data collection and analysis, writing results, and preparing a scholarly manuscript based on the results. Students also learn how to assemble application materials to get research protocols evaluated and approved for review by the Rutgers University Institutional Review Board (IRB). 

In the fall semester of the second year, students refine and draw upon their literature reviews from the first year to set the stage for their qualitative project.  Based on their newly developed expertise in their areas of interest, students will identify the knowledge gaps that justify their qualitative inquiry. Throughout the year, one-on-one conferences with DSW faculty are an opportunity to receive mentoring and guidance in completing the research process and written report. 

By November, the student will start the IRB process and begin data collection once they receive IRB approval. Students will execute a small-scale qualitative study (5-7 participants) and submit the manuscript as a component of their portfolio. Papers should be of publishable quality and no more than 25 pages including abstract, title page, and references. We strongly encourage students to submit their final papers to peer-reviewed journals for publication consideration.

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Multimedia Projects (MMP)

In year 3, students will pursue the work of re-contextualizing their acquired knowledge from their literature reviews, case and qualitative studies into the world of resources the web makes available. Third-year students produce a dynamic, interactive multimedia project (MMP) that synthesizes their scholarship and makes their work accessible and useful to a global audience. Our graduates learn to use video, audio, data visualizations and other digital tools to advance human understanding, and to connect with and serve their chosen communities.  

From the onset, the multimedia project is designed for the screen and for a readership that assumes that any important contemporary document is born digital. Successful graduates will be literate in the culture’s most powerful means of communication and conversant with the challenges that digital technology poses for young and old alike. 

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