October 20, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers social work graduate program ranks 22nd in nation

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The graduate program’s ranking was based off student reviews accounting for the quality of instruction, degree satisfaction and networking opportunities

SR Education Group 2017 Top Degree ranked the Rutgers University Master of Social Work program 22nd in the nation, above schools like Boston University and New York University.

According to the graduate program's website, Rutgers ranked 22 out of the top 39 schools that offer master’s degree in social work and was given a student score of 79. The rankings were based on student feedback.

The student score is calculated using student review data across a variety of factors including quality of instruction, degree satisfaction and networking opportunities, according to the website.

“We are one of the most highly ranked schools of social work in the nation and we are very proud of that. That is really due to both the work of our faculty as well as our student body,” said Laura Curran, associate professor and director in the Department of Social Work. 

Expert clinicians with experience working in the community, the program's robust educational programming and rich curriculum contributed to the ranking, she said.

The two main strengths of the social work program are the research that the faculty produces and the education that they offer students, she said.

“We have been here since the 1950s. It has always been a highly regarded program but we have expanded tremendously over the last few years. We have hired many new faculty,” Curran said.

The school offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) as the undergraduate degree, Master of Social Work (MSW) as its master’s degree and a Ph.D. in research and Doctorate in Social Work (DSW). 

It offers its programs on all three Rutgers campuses, she said.

Social work as a profession has become more relevant over the years addressing many social problems like income inequality, poverty, addiction and violence. More and more students are interested in social work now, she said.

“We know that our employment outlook looks very good. It is something that the students are increasingly attracted to across the nation,” she said.

The master’s program has two tracks — clinical social work, which is for individuals interested in direct practice with individuals and families, and the management and policy track for students interested in leading non-profits and public agencies, she said.

“Another reason why our degree is so popular is because it is really diverse. What people can do with masters in social work is really amazing,” Curran said.

Students pursuing social work can work in a host of service agencies, public agencies, work for the state or work in the private sector. They can work in the diverse field including child welfare, mental health and substance abuse treatment. Some people go into private practice and do psychotherapy, she said.

Laura DiMarcantonio, director of admissions for the School of Social Work, said the school has a number of highly regarded programs. One such program is the Center on Violence Against Women and Children, which works with the White House on a number of initiatives over the last five years.

The School of Social Work also launched a 100-percent online program four years ago. The reach is getting wider and is no more limited to our region, she said.

“Students spend around 1125 hours doing an internship as part of the MSW. We work with over 700 agencies throughout the state region,” she said.

The students are getting a lot of great experience in the field of social work and many different fields like management and policy, social justice issues and education because of the connections that the faculty and the school has, she said.

“We have a really robust international study abroad program. Our MSW students go to programs in countries including Israel, China, Romania, Mexico (and) India,” DiMarcantonio said.

This gives them the opportunities to not just study social justice issues in the United States, but to go and look at how social organizations function in other countries, she said.

“It means that our graduates are doing very well. Plenty of them are walking out with great experience, field internships and job offers. In New Jersey, the field of social work is expected to grow by 12 percent through 2024,” she said.

The application process for students entails requirement of transcripts, letters of recommendations and personal statements, she said.

They look for academic strengths, a background that shows that the student can keep up with the rigor of the curriculum and professional references to make sure the student is a good fit for the program. Personal statements reflect the social justice issues that are important to the student and the importance of Rutgers MSW for them once they graduate, she said.

The program has summer and fall as their main semesters and a small spring semester which is strictly online, she said. About 750 students enroll annually.

The rankings speak about the reputation of the school. Our school builds this reputation by doing cutting-edge research and having faculty who are passionate about their profession, she said.

“In social work, students are working with all types of population. The type of person they are, that they can describe themselves to be is very important to us,” she said.

Anushtha Mittal is a first-year student in the Rutgers Business School. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

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