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How does the Ph.D. differ from the DSW?

For many years, the Rutgers School of Social Work has offered a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (Ph.D.) for those interested in research careers, careers as tenure-track faculty in research universities, and other non-clinical settings. Since 2011, the Rutgers School of Social Work has offered a practice-focused, post-MSW doctorate in clinical social work (DSW) for practitioner-scholars interested in building and disseminating practice knowledge and developing into leaders in the field of clinical social work.

Ph.D. programs in general, require approximately 15-20 courses (and a dissertation) and most are organized around quantitative research methods, research techniques, and statistics. Clinical theory and training is not the focus. The Ph.D. is especially appropriate for students wishing to learn quantitative research methods. If your career goal is to conduct social work research, you should consider the Ph.D.

The Rutgers DSW does not privilege practice over research. The program values the integration of clinical wisdom, research findings and theory with post-positivist methods of knowledge-building such as case studies and qualitative research. At best, this model will potentially enrich research, as DSW students and graduates bring to Ph.D. researchers insight into the everyday, real-world practice problems that need practice solutions based on quantitative findings.

What does the DSW prepare you for?

The Rutgers DSW degree prepares you for clinical leadership.  This could mean roles as a supervisor, administrator, or teacher. Though a full-time academic career is not a goal for many of our students, some have attained full-time faculty positions at colleges and universities such as Seton Hall University, Monmouth University, Saint Elizabeth College, University of Maryland at Baltimore, and Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.  Others come to us already employed at institutions of higher education, seeking to increase their standing and positions within these settings. Many others attain part-time lecturer positions in MSW and BSW programs. Graduates know how to develop their ideas to produce meaningful contributions to the field such as articles, blogposts, and presentations at national and international conferences, which enhances their employability and value in a variety of social work settings.

Is the Rutgers DSW an online program?

No. Students enrolled in the Rutgers DSW Program are required to be on-site at the Rutgers New Brunswick campus for nine weekend residencies throughout the academic year. Weekend residencies are held once a month on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM and consist of two three-hour modules. Click here to view the residency calendar. 

Where are classes held?

Classes and DSW faculty and staff offices are located at the Rutgers New Brunswick Campus at 390 George St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901. Our convenient location is just a two block walk from the New Brunswick train station. Restaurants and hotels are also close by to maximize efficiency for students during each weekend residency.

How long does it take to complete the coursework?

The program is tightly structured so that all coursework and assignments logically and progressively lead to graduation in three years. It is expected that students will complete all work in that time frame. In short, no interminable doctoral work! And we offer careful and thoughtful academic support to promote steady and successful progress throughout the three years.

How much does the program cost?

Program costs vary from year to year. For more information visit our tuition and fees page.

Is the program considered part-time or full-time?

DSW students are considered full-time students, however classes only meet one weekend residency per month, which makes the program accessible for working professionals. In between residencies, students work on their assignments under the consultation and supervision of faculty.

What are the admission requirements?

In order to apply for the Rutgers DSW Program, students must meet the following:

  • MSW from a CSWE accredited program (domestic students)
  • MSW (or equivalent) from a comparable accredited program (international students only)
  • Minimum 2 years post-MSW experience
  • LSW, unless your field does not require licensure
  • LCSW is preferred

Ideal candidates will have an undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or above and a graduate GPA of 3.6 or above. In additional the the admission requirements, applicants must submit a completed application including three letters of reference, a personal statement, and writing sample. Click here for more information about our admission and application process.

Can I transfer doctoral course credits from other institutions or institutes?

No. Our modular program along with our content and philosophy of teaching makes it difficult to compare and substitute courses with those of other programs. Further, the program is designed for everyone to move through as cohorts, thus it does not have the flexibility to transfer credits.

How large are the classes?

Cohorts of up to 16-20 students are accepted every fall. 

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