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Frequently Asked Questions

The Intensive Weekend program is designed for students who work full time in human service related areas and wish to continue their full time employment while pursuing a graduate degree in social work.  For many students, the IW program has made it possible   obtain their MSW.  It is a challenging program, but as many students and alumni have said, it is MANAGEABLE.  We hope that the FAQ's below provide some answers to the questions you may have. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions!

How long must I have worked in the social or human services to be considered for this program?

You should have been employed in a social services or a broadly defined human services-related capacity for at least a year, preferably on a full-time basis.

How do I apply to the Intensive Weekend MSW Program?

The application process consists of applying via graduate admissions.  You must select School of Social Work and then the Intensive Weekend program or Advanced Standing Intensive Weekend program. 

 You should have at least one year of human service related experience by fall start and ask your direct supervisor for a letter of recommendation.   Otherwise, the same academic standards apply to all School of Social Work programs, so we recommend that you apply to the program that best meets your needs.   Admissions decisions are made according to a wholistic review of applications and supporting documentation


I have taken several graduate level courses. Will they "count" toward my degree?

Up to 21 credits from an accredited school of social work or non-matriculated (PCC) courses with a grade of B or better can be applied to your degree. Other graduate courses may be considered for transfer if deemed relevant to the MSW degree: up to 9 elective credits and other related generalist courses (Research, Human Behavior), if taken within the past 6 years with a B or better can be considered for transfer.   You must complete a form requesting transfer of credits from institutions other than Rutgers following admission amd prior to November 1 of your first year of matriculation, if you wish courses to be considered for transfer. Requests for transfer submitted after November 1 may not be considered.

If you begin the program with 9 or more credits, you may be able to accelerate your field slightly and complete your studies up to a semester early.  Please consult your advisor.

What will the program cost me?

Tuition and fees are the same as on campus rates for in-state and out-of-state students.  Program costs also comprise an initial fee of $1,000 for the Writing for Social Worker's course. 

Can I take social work courses on one of the Rutgers campuses?

No.The Intensive Weekend program is designed for students to complete all their requirements within the Intensive Weekend program. Students may take courses at other Intensive Weekend locations with the approval of their advisor, but are encouraged to remain with their cohort for most courses.

Can I do a certificate program? An Area of Emphasis?

Certificate programs are not available in the Intensive Weekend program because their specific requirements can not be met.  Some certificate programs permit post graduate work and some of their courses are offered in the IW program.  Students may declare and Area of Emphasis in their  last year, or create and Area of Emphasis Portfolio.  The AE is student-determined and recognizes field and course work specialization on your transcript. 

What about study abroad?

Intensive Weekend students are permitted to participate in study abroad opportunities, provided they do not conflict with class. Sometimes, a schedule adjustment is possible to permit study abroad. Study abroad credits are applied to elective credits in the program.

What supports are there in the program?

The Director of the program serves as your academic advisor.  You will also be assigned a Field Adviser, who will visit you and schedule office hours on class weekends of classes, and a field liaison, who will visit you and your field instructor at your placement. The Assistant Director has overall responsibity for matters pertaining to field and is also a source of support.  And, of course, your cohort.

What are cohorts and why are they central to the IW experience

Intensive Weekend students generally move through the program and take courses with their Cohort, although they may occasionally take a course with another cohort to meet specific requirements.  The Cohort consists of students who were admitted at the same time and who take classes at one of our four locations.  Cohorts develop strong, supportive relationships that help students succeed in academic studies; they also provide a bridge to professional relationships and networks beyond the classroom.  Cohort members learn from each other and help each other balance full time work in a challenging career with graduate school.   Their cohort has become a "second family" for many students.

What is it like to take courses in an Intensive Weekend format?

Intensive.  Students should be prepared to study on their own, averaging at least 6-10 hours per week in preparation for class prior to those once a month weekends.   Some of the time will be spent reading, participating in threaded discussions online, writing papers and completing assignments, and an online class.  Taking one course at a time helps, as it allows you to keep your attention to that one subject matter.  Weekend classes are intense.  Instructors tend to use a variety of media, from lecture, to discussion, to work groups, to audio-visual materials, sometimes speakers.  Bringing in and critically examining your experience in the field is also important.  It is absolutely essential that students are prepared for class, as it really shows when you are not - and that is how you will get the most out of your education.   Taking courses with a cohort of students builds support, friendships, and professional relationships that can assist you throughout your career.

What does it mean that field and practice courses are co-requisite?

All students must be in field when they are taking practice courses.  Field is the place students practice skills learned in practice courses and have the opportunity to examine the theoretical foundations of practice.   If a student misses a practice class, they will not receive credit for the associated Field Practicum; similarly, if the student does not successfully complete a Field Practicum, they will not receive credit for the associated practice course.  Practice courses are scheduled to coincide with associated Field Practica, though there might not be a perfect fit, as the latter are continuous.  The student is expected to keep on top of both field and practice courses, which are linked as follows:   

Field Practicum I - Social Work Practice I
Field Practicum II - Social Work Practice II (except Advanced Standing)
Field Practicum III - Clinical Social Work I
Field Practicum IV - Clinical Social Work II
Clinical Social Work distribution requirement

What do I need to know about Field Education?

Your field experience provides you with the opportunity to test what you are learning in class, and to reflect on and build your practice skills.  You should consider opportunities for your field placement carefully and discuss them with your employer.  Field education should be an opportunity for you to grow professionally, to learn new skills, and to think critically about your practice. Consider opportunities at your place of employment that will enable you to challenge yourself as you enhance your skills, and that might also contribute positively to your agency. Special projects lend themselves well to this type of field experience. Quality supervision in field is essential to your professional growth and should be both supportive and challenging; your openness to supervision is also an important aspect of the supervisory relationship.   Examine the field sections in the Student Handbook and the School's Field Manual on the website to learn more about the objectives of the field program and the requirements. Although the structure of field in the Intensive Weekend program may differ somewhat, both objectives and requirements are the same.  

In brief,

  • Your field placement must involve an assignment that differs from your customary work assignment, and
  • You must be supervised by someone other than your work supervisor, who is an MSW with 3 years post grad experience, with certification in SIFI, or willing to take the Seminar in Field Instruction course, which is available online
  • Your field instructor should be someone who is ready to provide weekly or at least bimonthly supervision, who will review your process recordings, mentor, and support/challenge your growth, as well as give you directed instruction and model the skills you will need to acquire.

When will I begin my Field Placement?

Your field placement will begin in September, after admission and once your placement has been approved.   This will give you time to settle into your placement prior to the start of class in November.   Field Workshops will provide you with guidance and orientation to field expectations and you will be expected to participate in an online field discussion group with a faculty member as you begin the placement.   Note, some agency's require clearance or health exams prior to beginning the placement.  Costs and timely scheduling of these requirements are the responsibility of the student.

How many field placements will I have?

Generally, one field assignment will fulfill the requirements of field in the Intensive Weekend Program, if opportunities to practice at both generalist and advanced clinical levels are possible. If one placement cannot fulfill the requirements for a progressively challenging clinical practice experience, a second placement may be required, within the total time frame of field (1125 hours).  If adjustments aren't possible to ensure that the student has the full range of practice opportunities, a change in placement may be made, generally after the completion of generalist field, or Field Practicum 2.  

What will I learn in Field Orientation?

Field Orientation, scheduled in tandem with the Writing for Social Workers course, will introduce students to the principal requirements of field education and provide hands-on skill building in use of the tools intended to help students get the most out of their field placement.  As students are just beginning their Field Placements, Field Orientation also provides an opportunity to share, receive support, and guidance in how to get started.

What is Writing for Social Workers?

Writing for Social Workers is a course that was developed specifically for students transitioning from professional work to graduate school. The course was developed in recognition of the fact that MSWs increasing need to be proficient in written as well as verbal communication. This course is intended to put students on the path toward developing the writing skills they will need as professional social workers as they advance in their careers - and that they will continue to work on during their MSW studies. 

We expect that writing skill levels may vary widely among students and that students may have different needs and abilities with respect to their abilities to write in clear, concise, and compelling prose.  Very often, students who have been in the workforce for some time have not had much opportunity to write much more than template-driven case notes.  The writing  program in the Intensive Weekend program is designed to meet students at their particular levels of ability and experience in order to help set a course for future work.  Classes are small (15 or less) and hands on. They have the following goals: 

  1. Help students identify strengths and challenges in their writing across multiple dimensions of writing, as well as resources that can help enhance or improve their writing skills.
  2. Provide instruction on APA and review academic integrity.
  3. Identify the components of good writing and teach strategies to plan, organize, and write graduate level papers.  

The course, along with Field Orientation, is also a good introduction to intensive, hybrid study. The two together provide an introduction to and practice in using eCollege, the learning management system used by the program, and engage students in working collaboratively with members of their cohort.

When do classes start?

Usually in October, online and in November, in class. 

What if I have an important family or other event on the date of one of the classes?

Full attendance to all classes is required.  No exceptions are made, apart from a documented medical emergency or death in the immediate family, and that only for one class meeting.  Missing one class is the equivalent of missing ¼ or of class sessions and is just not tenable in this program.  Students who miss more than one class (for emergencies as delineated only), or who have an unexcused absence, will not receive credit for the class.  It is important to calendar the dates of all your classes right at the beginning and let friends and family members know that you are attending school.   Talk to your adviser prior to registration to see if an adjustment to your schedule can be made, for pre-planned events and commitments.  While there are no guarantees, students are sometimes able to take a course with another cohort.

What if I lose or change my job during the time that I am attending the program?

We expect that students in the program will maintain their employment in good standing throughout the duration of the program.  However, if you lose your employment through no fault of your own, or find you need to change jobs, we will work with you to explore the best possible options so that you can complete your degree.

When can I expect to complete my MSW in the Intensive Weekend program?

You should complete the program in three years, two years if you are admitted with advanced standing.  You will graduate in May or August,  of your third (second for advanced standing) depending on the date of your last class, which may vary from year to year.  In either case, you will be able to participate in the School of Social Work's May Commencement and the Intensive Weekend program's reception for graduating students.

How can I best prepare myself to apply for the Intensive Weekend MSW program?

The best preparation is to spend some time thinking about your goals and expectations and to consider how graduate education can fit into your present life. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want a career in the social services?
  • Am I ready for graduate school?
  • How will I balance my work, personal life and graduate study?
  • Do family members and other important people in my life support my plans?
  • Do I have the support of my workplace?
  • Do I have an opportunity or the flexibility to do a field placement at least 8 hours/week?

Once you have answered these questions for yourself, we look forward to your application!

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