The Best MSW Dual Degree Programs
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- There are more than 300 CSWE-accredited MSW dual degree programs in the U.S.
- Dual degree programs allow you to pursue two degrees simultaneously.
- Having a dual MSW degree can help you address multifaceted social issues.
Why explore a master of social work (MSW) dual degree program? These programs offer several advantages, especially if you want to make a difference in complex issues, such as public health or law, or want to start an independent social work practice.
Alexandria Theordor, MSW, points out some benefits. "A dual degree is an excellent way to get the best of both worlds without compromising much time, since you can work on both degrees concurrently. The flexibility of holding two degrees also offers a world of opportunities should you opt to use one or both."
Explores different MSW dual degree programs and why they can be a complementary choice. Learn more today about strengthening your ability to make a difference through a dual degree.
What is an MSW Dual Degree Program?
An MSW dual degree program allows you to complete your MSW and another related degree simultaneously. The schedule is faster than pursuing the two degrees consecutively.
Theordor notes that this can be helpful for private practitioners. "An MSW/JD (law degree) or MSW/MBA can be invaluable for the legal and business aspects of running a private practice. An MBA can provide the necessary formal education in running a business, or a JD can help you understand the legal jargon in contracts, BAA's, and terms of service."
Mary Elizabeth Wilkes Chand, LCSW-BACS, points out the strengths of combining two fields to address complex problems. "An MSW dual degree program would help you to challenge laws that disproportionately affect communities of color. The law degree teaches you about the laws that could be harmful, and the social work degree teaches you how to work for change."
Featured Online MSW Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Types of MSW Dual Degree Programs
The most common MSW dual degree programs include law and public health. The Council on Social Work Education (CWSE) has accredited over 60 MSW/Juris Doctor (JD) programs and MSW/Master of public health (MPH) programs. There are more than 30 accredited MSW/MBA, MSW/theology, and MSW/Masters in criminal justice programs.
MSW/JD Dual Degree
Chand describes some of the benefits of an MSW/JD dual degree program. "A joint MSW/JD would be an excellent career path for individuals who want to focus their law practice on defending or creating human rights laws. A social work degree would also help a lawyer working within the juvenile justice system or as a public defender."
In addition, social workers with a solid grounding in law may be more effective advocates and help clients to understand their legal rights in more detail.
Careers with an MSW/JD
- Human rights attorney: These lawyers specialize in protecting people's rights in court.
Median salary for lawyers: $122,252
- Public defender: Public defenders act as attorneys for people accused of crimes who cannot afford their own attorneys.
Average salary for public defenders: $61,000
MSW/MPH Dual Degree
An MSW/MPH dual degree program combines social work and public health.
Chand points out a recent example of how the two complement one another. "The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that there are communities of people that are more vulnerable to catching and dying from diseases. A public health degree teaches how diseases spread and how to combat them, and a social work degree teaches you about the most vulnerable populations and how to access and communicate with them."
Careers with an MSW/MPH
- Public health social worker: A public health social worker designs interventions at the macro level to improve health for different populations.
Median salary for healthcare social workers: $60,280
- Policy analyst: A policy analyst studies the effectiveness of existing policies and advises on new policies or changing policies.
Average salary for policy analysts: $63,600
- Health education specialist: Health education specialists deliver health education to the community or to specific groups in the community.
Median salary for health education specialists: $59,990
MSW/MBA Dual Degree
An MSW/MBA degree may be ideal if you want to own an independent or group practice, lead a department or organization, or oversee job or economic development programs.
Theordor notes that she set up her private practice without business education, "Over the years, I had to teach myself the legal and business aspects of running a private practice. A dual MSW/MBA or MSW/JD could have helped."
MBA provides a background in business management, macroeconomics, and personnel management. An MSW helps prepare you for leadership and direct-practice positions.
Careers with an MSW/MBA
- Social and community service manager: Social and community service managers may lead departments, teams, or organizations or design and administer programs.
Median salary for social and community service manager: $74,240
- Private practice social worker: A private practice social worker manages their own practice, individually or as a group.
Median salary for social workers: $55,350
MSW/M.Div Dual Degree
Many religious clergy provide support to vulnerable populations or individuals through spiritual counseling. They may also oversee programs such as food banks, housing support, and job hunting services in their communities.
A master's in divinity (M.Div)./ MSW dual degree program can provide the theological and practical education needed to effectively address the needs of the vulnerable. Depending on the community, having an M.Div and a grounding in a faith tradition can also help to build trust with members of that faith tradition.
Careers with an MSW/MBA
- Clergy: Members of the clergy conduct religious services, manage houses of worship, and provide spiritual guidance and support.
Median salary for clergy members: $60,180
MSW/MPA Dual Degree
An MPA/MSW dual degree program can prepare you to lead a human services or other government team. The master's of public administration teaches you how to lead organizations, while the MSW provides knowledge of community and individual needs.
For example, an MSW helps to identify and understand the roots of different community needs, and the MPA helps to develop and administer macro-level interventions or to lead an organization.
Careers with an MSW/MPA
- Social and community service manager: A social and community service manager helps lead programs, teams, or agencies.
Median salary for social and community service managers: $74,240
- Public administrator: Public administrators manage government agencies and programs.
Average salary for public administrators: $78,295
MSW/MEd Dual Degree
A master's in education (MEd)/MSW dual degree program can prepare you to work in a school, either as an administrator with a deeper knowledge of social needs or a social worker with a deeper knowledge of education. You may want to consider specializations such as adult education, literacy, education management special education, or teaching English as a second language (ESL).
Careers with an MSW/MEd
- Adult education and ESL teacher: Adult education teachers provide education for adult learners, with a special focus on developing literacy in English.
Median salary for adult education and ESL teachers: $58,590
- School principal: School principals oversee the functioning of a school, including operations, educational outcomes, and community and family relations.
Median salary for school principals: $101,320
Why Choose an MSW Dual Degree Program?
An MSW dual degree program can give you a deeper and richer understanding of two related fields.
Theordor summarizes some of the benefits, "I firmly believe that there is no such thing as too much education and that having different perspectives can only enhance our experiences both in our personal and professional career. A dual degree is an excellent way to get the best of both worlds."
She also notes that an MSW dual degree program opens up more career opportunities, "The flexibility of holding two degrees also offers a world of opportunities should you opt to use one or both."
While the work can be demanding, an MSW dual degree program takes less time than pursuing degrees consecutively, which can save time and money.
The dual degrees can also make you more attractive to employers since the dual degrees give you an even broader understanding of your field and how to solve challenges.
Earning an MSW dual degree can also help you pursue higher salaries, even for the higher-paying MSW roles.
How Long Does an MSW Dual Degree Program Take?
An MSW dual degree program typically takes 2-4 years to complete. But, the length can vary based on the degrees you are pursuing, whether any of the courses overlap for dual credit, and whether you are studying full-time or part-time.
How Much Does an MSW Dual Degree Program Cost?
An MSW dual degree program cost depends on the length of the program and number of required credits, tuition and fees, and any additional expenses.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports the average annual graduate tuition costs $12,394 at public schools and $26,621 at private schools. However, financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and loans, can help reduce your total cost of education.
Frequently Asked Questions About MSW Dual Degree Programs
What is the best dual degree for social work?
The best dual social work degree depends on your career goals. For example, If you want to work as a school social worker, dual degrees in social work and education may be the best choice. If you want to work as a healthcare social worker, you may want to pursue a dual degree in social work and public health.
Can you complete a dual degree social work program online?
Yes, you can complete coursework online for many dual-degree programs. However, you will need to attend any fieldwork requirements in person.
What degrees are offered in a social work dual degree program?
You can obtain many degrees, along with a social work degree, including law, public health, and education.
Are social work dual degree programs worth it?
Whether a social work dual degree program is worth it depends on your personal and financial goals and resources. Dual-degree programs are more demanding than single-degree programs. However, it may be worth it if the dual degree leads to your ideal job.
With Advice From:
Mary Elizabeth Wilkes Chand, LCSW-BACS
Mary Elizabeth Wilkes Chand is a licensed clinical social worker and full-time therapist based in New Orleans, LA. She specializes in treating teens and adults who are experiencing anxiety, depression or healing from trauma. She operates her own private therapy practice and works part-time in a local high school. She holds a Master in Social Work degree from Tulane University and a bachelor of science in sociology from Washington College.
Alexandria Theordor, MSW
Alexandria is a therapist turned business coach who assists mental health professionals in creating their own private practices that prioritize personal health, wealth, and building meaningful relationships. After spending years working at various mental health agencies, Alexandria made the switch to entrepreneurship as a way to tackle burnout and build a life she loved. In modeling social work values, Alexandria's work stresses the significance of holistic wellness, not only for clinical clients but also for professionals in the field. To learn more about how to work directly with Alexandria, please email email@example.com or visit www.stresslesstherapist.com.