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DSW Curriculum

The DSW curriculum is designed to help students:

  • Recognize the links among theory, research, practice, and policy
  • Engage in critical thinking and analysis
  • Directly apply scholarly knowledge to various clinical practice contexts
  • Tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity and view these elements as part of the process of knowledge development
  • Be socialized to scholarly processes and practices
  • Develop clinical expertise with a particular population or in an substantive area

Program Structure

Innovative Course Modules

The typical 15-week semester course is organized under the umbrella of a single subject and taught by one instructor, which has worked well for undergraduate education and for some graduate programs where students matriculate directly from undergraduate programs. However, this approach is often related to efficiencies and administrative functions. In the Rutgers DSW Program, the subject matter determines the time allocated for instruction, and is delivered in sequenced and adaptable content Clusters and Modules.

Moreover, in traditional doctoral education, students are often limited to a handful of faculty who regularly teach the same classes. Our modular approach not only provides the flexibility to calibrate instruction to the subject matter and objects of study, but also allow students to learn from a wide variety of expert faculty.  And, in turn, modules provide faculty the ability to focus instruction on what they know and do best.

Coursework during weekend residencies, online, and over the course of three years, is grounded in three linked and integrated content areas: foundation, clinical practice, and the writing program’s engaged scholarship component.  Graduation requires successful completion of 54 credits: 18 required courses, each 3 credits; 10 foundation and clinical courses; and 8 engaged scholarship courses.  These traditional courses translate into 121 foundation and clinical practice modules, and 95 engaged scholarship modules.  Students enroll in 9 credit hours per semester (the 9 credits for the Spring semester includes the June residency).

Our modular format means that curriculum content is based on the depth and breadth of a particular topic. Three-hour, sequential cluster modules deliver content, and may include one, two, or fifteen modules, distributed over the course of three years.  The modular format allows us to evolve and adapt in integrate ways, by adding and subtracting topics as we learn what students need and want, as we observe social and political shifts in practice environments, and as we critically and thoughtfully analyze ever-changing clinical knowledge and paradigm shifts.

Students will receive hands-on teacher training from Rutgers SSW faculty and regional and national practitioners including:​

Jim Baumohl, PhD – Bryn Mawr College
Martin Manalansan – The University of Illinois
Elijah Nealy, PhD – The University of Saint Joseph
Florence Schmitt, PhD – Turku University (Finland)
Jane Selinski, PhD – The C.G. Jung Foundation
Jonathan Singer, PhD – Loyola University
Jerome Wakefield, PhD – New York University
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