Intensive Weekend MSW Program
Designed for employed students with an experiential background in the human services or related work, the Intensive Weekend (IW) program combines an emphasis on in-person teaching and learning with the convenience of hybrid activities. In person classes meet one weekend a month and are supported by asynchronous activities in the interim weeks. Classes with a cohort of similarly employed students creates a supportive educational environment, with opportunities to examine, process, and apply new knowledge, as well as learn from the experience of others.
September is the start date for this year-round, three-term program. All students, including students admitted with Advanced Standing who have an undergraduate degree in social work, begin their studies in the fall semester.
MSW Education conceived for the working professional.
MSW Education conceived for the working professional.
Classes meet one weekend a month, supported in the interim weeks by asynchronous activities and assignments.
- In-person classes provide dynamic opportunities to process theory and its application to practice, critical for experienced practitioners.
- Asynchronous online components permit students to prepare material in accordance with their schedules and facilitates communication among students and their instructor.
- A course load of two courses per semester make course work more manageable.
Cohorts provide a supportive educational environment, opportunities to learn from similarly employed students across a variety of fields and build a network of professional relationships that extends into their future careers.
Curriculum and Program Structure
All Intensive Weekend courses follow the School of Social Work's generalist curriculum followed by a choice of specializations, the Clinical or the Management and Policy specialization. All curricula are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The curriculum fulfills the requirements for future licensing, which students are encouraged to pursue. Faculty and adjunct instructors with a range of practice experience teach in the rigorous program.
Students may elect to develop a Area of Emphasis Portfolio to showcase expertise they have developed in child and adolescent mental health, adult behavioral health, addictions, aging or other areas of practice - as a further tool for career development.
Strong writing skills are an important gateway to academic success and leadership in the field. Since its inception, the Intensive Weekend Program has focused strategies on helping students develop their writing skills. Students who join the Intensive Weekend program are enrolled in a Writing for Social Workers Self-Study beginning in the summer prior to matriculation. If you have been out of school for a while, or simply need to brush up on some writing skills, the Self-Study helps you prepare for graduate level writing in the social work discipline at your own pace.
Students attend class one weekend each month and participate in asynchronous online activities to prepare for their face-to-face classes. Because of the intensive nature of the coursework, full attendance in all classes and full participation are required for credit. To help plan, students receive a calendar of class dates through to graduation.
Students attend two classes per semester, one weekend a month. Classes are face to face from 9am to 5pm, one on Saturday, and one on Sunday.
Learn more about our curriculum
- IW Curriculum at a Glance
- IW Curriculum at a Glance for Advanced Standing Students
Practicum education is an essential pedagogical component of MSW education. In the Intensive Weekend program, the practicum placement begins in September of the first year for both three-year and advanced standing students, and continues through to the completion of the program.
Approval and confirmation of the placement must occur by August 1.
Practicum Education in the Intensive Weekend Program
- 3-year students: 8-11 hours per week, 1,125 total hours
- Advanced standing: 8-9.5 hours per week, 675 total hours
- Practicum education is co-requisite with generalist and clinical practice classes
- One practicum placement, provided it meets pedagogical objectives and is progressively challenging
- Workplace-based practicum placements must differ from customary employment duties in task, time and supervisor; alternative placements are possible if placement at the workplace is not available
- Practicum Instructors must have 2 years post MSW experience
Strong clinical supervision and opportunities to practice what is learned in the classroom are an essential part of the student's practicum experience, as are process recordings that encourage reflection and development of the professional self. Year-round practicum in a single setting facilitates in-depth learning and the ability to follow client progress, or to see a project through from start to finish. Students are encouraged to examine appropriate practicum opportunities and explore possible arrangements for field with their employer, even as they apply for admission.
The support of the applicant's employer is indispensable to ensure that students are able to meet the requirements for practicum learning in addition to meeting their responsibilities as employees.
Practicum Plan and Conference
Once admitted, incoming students are invited to initiate a Practicum Plan, in consultation with their employer. They submit the plan online, including information about 1) a proposed workplace-based placement or, if not feasible, 2) a request for an alternative placement, as well as their 3) availability, interests and experiential background.
Students submit a Confirmation form, co-signed by the Practicum Instructor, once the Practicum Plan is finalized and approved.
How to Plan for Practicum Placement
- Speak with your supervisor about your intention to apply to or begin the Intensive Weekend Program
- Explore the possibility of a practicum placement within your agency with your employer
- If a workplace-based practicum placement is not feasible, explore the possibility of flexibility in your work schedule and/or the use of personal time or educational leave, or any recommendations your employer might have
- Discuss possibilities to flex your hours, educational leave or partial reassignment of duties. Plan how you will structure your time to manage school and your job
- If you are unable to locate a potential placement on your own, you will be referred to the IWP Placement Specialist for assistance
NOTE: Fully after-hours placements are usually not available unless offered by the employer, so it is important to have at least some daytime hours available for field on at least one or two days during the week.
For additional guidance, see Tips for a Successful Practicum Placement
Support in Practicum
Maintaining a practicum placement while working is often the most challenging part of MSW education. Manageable practicum hours and the possibility of a workplace-based placement helps. Coordinated practicum support in the Intensive Weekend Program assists students in meeting the learning objectives and maintaining their practicum trajectory:
- A Practicum Advisor assigned to each cohort meets with students during monthly, usually during lunch-time sessions on class weekends. They bring the campus to the student, share critical information and provide guidance and support
- Practicum Liaisons provide consultation to students and Practicum Instructors in trimester visits. They follow individual student progress in practicum and provide valuable mentorship.
Advantages for Students and Employers
MSW study offers robust staff development opportunities for human services agencies. Weekend in-person classes provide a dynamic learning environment in a retreat-like atmosphere for students that facilitates knowledge transfer and application to the workplace.
As students take classes with a cohort of similarly employed individuals from diverse human service backgrounds, they examine and often challenge their practice, learn from the experiences of others and discover ways to apply newly acquired knowledge and skills, enhancing their effectiveness even while they study.
The hybrid design of the Intensive Weekend Program and manageable practicum hours means minimal disruption of the workplace.
Benefits for employing agencies
- Student involvement in year-round practicum education projects ensures continuity. Projects can be developed that address a gap in services or area which the agency may wish to further develop
- MSW education contributes to staff development and retention. Because students remain in the employ of the agency while in school, they continue to contribute to the work of the agency
- MSW education for employees can help agencies build a cadre of skilled clinicians and managers from within, among their most promising and committed employees who know the agency, its work and its clients
- Agency, employees and clients benefit from increased professionalization and the continuity of skilled social service staff who stay on the job as they further their education and advance in their careers
Benefits for students
- Students complete requirements for the MSW while remaining employed full time without losing the salary and benefits of full time employment.
- Weekly field hours, often prohibitive in traditional MSW study for full time employees, are manageable and easily integrated within the student’s work week.
- The rhythm of classes is conducive to managing academics and professional life.
- The course schedule and active learning format encourages students to apply what they have learned in field and on the job.
- Studying with a cohort of similarly employed students is a source of support and enriches classroom learning.
The Importance of Supervisor and Agency Support
Supervisor and agency support is critical for study in the IW Program. Students are encouraged to consult with their employer as they make plans for MSW education and particularly practicum learning. Signatures on students’ Practicum Plans are an acknowledgment that these discussions have occurred.
Employing agencies can support their employee in the pursuit of their MSW by:
- Providing an opportunity for a workplace-based practicum placement at the agency.
- Establishing a flexible or adjusted schedule for practicum hours at the agency or at another agency; providing educational release time or partial reassignment of duties.
Some agencies may be able to provide tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance in support their employees' educational goals, possibly in return for post-completion commitments. Such agreements and any other personnel matters as they may relate to the employee’s participation in the program are at the discretion of the employer, pursuant to the policies of individual agencies.
We welcome employed students and their employing agencies to our growing family of Intensive Weekend stakeholders who are committed to workforce development and professionalization across the human services!
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, by the time classes start.
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. The same admissions standards apply to all MSW programs, so we recommend that you apply to the program that best meets your needs. Admissions decisions are made based on a holistic review of applications and supporting documentation.
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 practicum and course work specialization on your transcript.
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. Be sure that the study abroad opportunity is specific to the School of Social Work.
The Director of the Intensive Weekend program serves as your academic advisor. You will also be assigned a Practicum Adviser, who will visit you and schedule office hours on class weekends of classes, and a practicum liaison, who will visit you and your practicum instructor at your placement. The Assistant Director has overall responsibility for matters pertaining to practicum and is also a source of support. And, of course, your cohort.
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. 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.
Your practicum 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 placement carefully and discuss them with your employer. Practicum 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 practicum experience. Quality supervision in practicum 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 practicum sections in the Student Handbook and the School's Field Manual on the website to learn more about the objectives of the practicum program and the requirements. Although the structure of practicum learning in the Intensive Weekend program may differ somewhat, both objectives and requirements are the same.
- Your practicum 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 practicum 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.
Your 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. Practicum workshops will provide you with guidance and orientation to expectations and you will be expected to participate in an online practicum 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.
Generally, one practicum assignment will fulfill the requirements of practicum learning 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.
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.
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.
For more information about application and admission requirements, prospective students may contact the Office of Admissions at Admissions@ssw.rutgers.edu or 848-932-4363. For additional program information, contact the Intensive Weekend program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Lewis, DSW, MSW
Director, Intensive Weekend Program
Amy Strickler, MSW, LSW
Assistant Director, Intensive Weekend Program
Program Coordinator, Intensive Weekend Program
The Intensive Weekend Program
School of Social Work
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
120 Albany Street, Tower One- Suite 200
New Brunswick, NJ 08901