Project PIRR

Preparing Interdisciplinary, Responsive, and Reflective EI/ECSE Professionals and Social Workers

Project PIRR, a joint venture between VCU's School of Social Work and the School of Education, provides interdisciplinary training and funding for master's level students to prepare them as early intervention social workers and early childhood special education personnel. The project will prepare students to use evidence-based practices to improve mental health for children from high-need communities, including children with disabilities and high-intensity needs and their families.

The program is available to M.S.W. students in both the on-campus and online format and the part-time or full-time tracks, regardless of concentration or term start. Students must be enrolled in or accepted to the M.S.W. Program, and also must apply separately for Project PIRR. See admissions details below.


The overarching goal of Project PIRR is to build and strengthen the path between high-quality early intervention personnel and optimal outcomes of young children with significant disabilities and their families.

Program skill development

The project will engage students in cross-disciplinary seminars to enhance competencies for serving children with significant disabilities or emotional difficulties and their families. Students will also participate in coordinated clinical experiences through their internship placements.

Certificate credentials

In addition to completing either the master’s degree in social work or the master’s degree in special education-early childhood, Project PIRR scholars will receive a Certificate of Intensive Intervention Training from the School of Education upon completing four shared courses related to intensive and individualized interventions for young children with significant disabilities or emotional difficulties.

Stipend and financial aid impact

Students selected to participate in Project PIRR will receive a $10,000 stipend that will go toward their tuition each year they participate in the project. Students will have a service payback requirement, where they must agree to work in the field for one year for each year they receive the stipend. Social work students may receive the stipend and participate in the program for one or two years.

Students should check with their financial aid counselor, and most will have at least one overload class they will need to take. Overload classes may not be covered by financial aid.

Program of study and requirements

In order to meet the requirements of the M.S.W. degree and the Project PIRR program, students complete a total of 63 graduate credits, 6 of which apply to both programs. Four Project PIRR courses are required for the joint M.S.W. degree and Project PIRR program/certificate:

Core courses (ECSE 542 and SEDP 651) are offered entirely online or hybrid format.

Admissions and application

Interested students must meet the admission requirements for both the M.S.W. Program in the School of Social Work and the Project PIRR program. Admission into one program does not guarantee admission into the other. Accepted students must be able to meet payback requirements of funding and have adequate academic progress each semester as required by the M.S.W. Program.

M.S.W. students may participate whether they are in the on-campus or online program formats (clinical or macro concentrations), advanced standing, regular standing full-time or regular standing part-time tracks.

On-campus M.S.W. students are admitted only for fall semester, and online M.S.W. students are admitted fall, spring and summer semesters.

Once accepted into the VCU M.S.W. Program, you must pay your deposit and confirm your start date. You will also need to work closely with your student success advisor and field team to make sure that you are meeting all requirements of both programs.

Apply to the M.S.W. Program

Apply to Project PIRR

Have questions?

If you're a prospective student interested in the M..S.W. Program and Project PIRR, contact If you're a current M.S.W. student who needs more information, contact Qasarah Bey Spencer, Ed.D., social work assistant professor in teaching, at