Part-Time MSW Student Spotlight: Stephanie Ricketts

The Part-Time MSW Program allows students who are not able to pursue full-time study to work towards a master’s degree on a structured, time-extended basis with classes delivered in a hybrid manner. Some courses are designed as blended courses with a mix of online learning and in-person sessions, while others are taught as online courses. In-person sessions take place every other Saturday on our Madison campus.

Headshot of Stephanie Ricketts
Stephanie Ricketts

Year in the program:

Focus area:

Health & Aging

Why did you choose the Part-Time Program?
For years I had been looking for a way to translate my skills, interests, and values into a meaningful career. Social work seemed like a great fit. I decided to apply to the Part-Time program, instead of the Full-Time program, because I could not imagine stepping away from working for two whole years. My income is a needed part of our household budget, and my work is important to me. The Part-Time program enabled me to do both.

Though this wasn’t on my mind when I enrolled, I have appreciated having more time to spend with my studies, to metabolize the curriculum. I have changed a lot over the last 2.5 years, especially during the huge life shifts caused by the pandemic. Being in the program over that time has shifted the ways I think, as well as my aspirations for the future. If I had gone all-in on the 2-year full time program, I don’t think I would be pursuing the same path in social work that I am today. I’m really excited about the path I’m on now, and glad to have had the time to find it!

How would you describe your experience in the Part-Time MSW Program?
The Part-Time MSW Program is what you make of it, in a lot of ways. It is a lot of work, and a significant time commitment. For me, this has meant consistently prioritizing school, sometimes over work, leisure, etc. However, it has absolutely been worth it. I have taken some truly life changing classes, the kind that change the way I see things in my day-to-day life, that give me that nerdy rush of insatiable curiosity. I have met amazing people in my cohort, who are not only smart and insightful but also hilarious, caring, and kind.  I’ve also pushed myself (and sometimes the administration :P) to take classes outside of the curriculum, to continue to deepen my learning during this rare, privileged time of being a student. It’s been hard, exciting, exhausting, very interesting, and a host of other things. 

What has been your favorite course so far in the program and why?
This question is too hard! No joke, I loved Research Methods — it sparked an interest in research that I didn’t know I had. I also cannot recommend SW 821, Social Work Practice in Aging and Mental Health enough. The readings, conversations, and meaningful assignments I’ve had during this class have been excellent. 

How do you think the Part-Time MSW Program has prepared you for entering the field of social work?
This program has given me a strong knowledge base, which is particularly important for me as I enter the field of social work fresh after graduation. It’s given me a chance to build a strong network of peers, both in my cohort and in my instructors. I have also found that the program requires a fair amount of self-advocacy, which will come in handy in the years to come. Finally, balancing school with work has sharpened my time-management and prioritization skills, which will also be very useful in social work.

What would you say to someone who is considering the program?
This program is a big commitment of time, energy, and money. Be clear on your priorities going into the program and stick to them. Also, check out the Health & Aging Focus Areas! There are so many different paths for social workers going into these fields!