Best MSW/MPH Dual Degree Programs For 2021
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Does the idea of working with individuals and communities to improve health and wellness interest you? If you could conduct research and use it to promote the well-being of individuals and local or global communities, would you do it? If this sounds like you, a dual MPH/MSW program is the perfect route to accomplish those goals. MSW/MPH dual degree programs combine public health and social work to prepare students for involvement with interprofessional leadership and collaboration in healthcare facilities and the public, to understand and address issues affecting the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations. As you continue reading, you will find the 25 best MSW/MPH dual degree programs for 2021 and learn how to earn these dual degrees.
What Exactly Is the Goal of a Dual MSW/MPH Program?
Social welfare and public health disciplines are essential in clinical practice and on societal levels. MSW/MPH dual degree programs integrate education and skills development vital to promoting human and social well-being. These dual graduate programs aim to provide students with the knowledge and clinical skills needed to prevent disease, promote health, and enhance the delivery of social and healthcare services in communities.
The MSW component of the dual degree option is designed to promote social work knowledge, skills, ethics, and values in all aspects of professional activities. In this part of the program, students understand theoretical frameworks and scientific orientation used to inform, assess, and guide practice interventions with individuals and communities across the lifespan.
In the MPH portion of accredited MPH/MSW dual degree programs, students learn to integrate and apply public health knowledge necessary to perform core functions through effective delivery of essential services. Students are engaged in research and evidence-based activities that advance community practice and public health knowledge.
7 Big Advantages of Dual MSW/MPH Programs
If you are considering one of the accredited MSW/MPH dual degree programs to further your academic and professional endeavors, you may wonder if there are advantages to the programs. Of course, there are! Here is a list of 7 significant advantages of these dual degree programs.
1. Accomplish your academic goals in less time.
Prospective students interested in pursuing Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees can study for the degrees concurrently and save time earning their degrees. For example, students enrolled in the dual MSW/MPH program at Fordham University are expected to graduate in three years. Those who study for the degrees independently may spend two to three years on each degree. Completing your degrees in less time means you can start reaping the benefits of your hard work sooner.
2. Prepare to be a part of a rapidly growing field of practice.
Careers in Public Health/Social Work are experiencing significant growth and a promising long-term job outlook. As a dual Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health graduate, you can become established in a career with promise.
3. You will develop an extensive skill set to help you succeed in Public Health Social Work.
Graduates of dual MSW/MPH programs work in various settings requiring a broad range of skills. As a student in one of these programs, you will be trained to understand and address social issues affecting the health of individuals, communities, and specific populations.
4. You will learn from faculty with vast experience in public health and social work.
Accredited dual MPH/MSW programs employ top-notch faculty to educate students. The schools benefit because they produce graduates prepared for impactful careers in public health and social work, increasing their popularity. You will benefit because you learn from the best in the industry!
5. Earning two degrees will give you the ability to be flexible with job options.
While public health and social work complement one another and can be used for one job, having two degrees means you can be flexible with job choices. You may live in an area where a position in public health is not available, but one in social work is or vice versa. Graduating from MSW/MPH dual degree programs allows you to work in one field or the other if a dual role is not available.
6. Benefit from professional and leadership development.
Master of Public Health/Master of Social Work dual degree programs help students develop professional and leadership skills, preparing graduates to fill fast-track leadership positions in diverse healthcare organizations.
7. Finally... Prepare yourself for increased income!
After graduating from a dual MSW/MPH program, you can earn an average annual income of just over $122,000. Of course, some factors may increase earning potential and offer the opportunity for higher wages. I will share some of this information later in the article.
3 Big Disadvantages of Dual MSW/MPH Programs
There are pros and cons to any important decision. Now that we have discussed some of the advantages of dual MSW/MPH programs let's look at a few disadvantages. Keep in mind, though, even with the disadvantages that may come with earning a dual degree, the long-term benefits seem to outweigh any temporary inconveniences.
1. Competition for admission is fierce.
One of the disadvantages of MSW/MPH dual degree programs is that prospective students usually must apply and be accepted to both the School of Public Health and School of Social Work. Admission to one program does not always guarantee admission to the other. Although schools have minimum admission standards, applicants should set higher goals. If possible, take advanced classes or honors courses relevant to social work or public health.
2. The academic workload can feel overwhelming.
Some MPH/MSW dual programs require students to earn ninety or more credits to be eligible for graduation. The amount of content that students must learn can seem daunting. Although this is a disadvantage, don’t let it be a deal-breaker for you. With proper planning and time management, you can accomplish even the heaviest course loads.
3. The programs are very time-consuming.
The intense course load of dual MPH/MSW programs leaves little time for other things. If you work, you may find that a schedule change or time off is necessary.
How Long Are MSW/MPH Dual Degree Programs?
The amount of time it takes to graduate from a Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health dual degree program varies from one person or program to the next. On average, students graduate in three to four years, depending on whether they attend school part-time or full-time.
Here are a few examples of some featured programs and how long each takes to complete.
• New York University
is home to one of our featured accredited dual MSW/MPH programs. The three-year interdisciplinary program combines social work with a global focus on public health. Graduates earn both a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degree, positioning them for advanced career opportunities in either field.
Applicants interested in the MSW/MPH dual degree program at Missouri University
must be admitted to both the Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health programs. The program consists of seventy-nine graduate-level credit hours. Full-time students can typically complete the program in three years.
At the University of North Carolina
, students in the Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health dual degree program earn seventy-seven credit hours. Forty-four hours are gained from the social work component and thirty-three from the public health component. The program is designed to be completed in three years. Students take all social work courses in the first year of enrollment and then complete public health courses in the second and third years.
• Virginia Commonwealth University’s
dual Master of Public Health/Master of Social Work program can be completed in four years. The program is designed to prepare graduates to work with individuals, families, and communities, advocating for social and economic justice in a multicultural society while promoting mental and physical health and wellness across the lifespan. Students complete forty-eight credits from the Master of Social Work curriculum and thirty-seven from the Master of Public Health curriculum.
• Temple University’s
dual MSW/MPH program offers part-time and full-time
options. Part-time students can graduate in four years, while full-time students typically complete the program in three years.
• Berkeley University
offers a concurrent Master of Public Health/Master of Social Work option with a rigorous course of study formatted as a three-year program. Students enter both programs simultaneously with flexibility fulfilling the requirements for each degree.
How Much Do MSW/MPH Dual Degree Programs Cost?
As you plan to pursue dual degrees in public health and social work, financial obligations are an important factor to consider. Dual MPH/MSW degree programs, like those featured in this article, can cost from $25,000 to over $150,000. In this section, I'll share the cost of some of our featured programs and then provide you with some information on ways to offset some of your educational expenses possibly.
Here are some examples of the costs of some of the featured programs from this article.
Graduate tuition at the University of Washington
is charged at the higher rate of the two programs in the dual Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health program. To reduce costs, some students choose to apply for both programs but defer enrolling in the MPH component of the dual degree program until their second year, paying the lower MSW tuition rate for the first year. The dual degree program includes a 115- 125 credits curriculum, depending on the student's needs. With a per-credit rate of $992.50, tuition for the program costs between $114,137.50 and $124,062.50
As one of only a few research universities in the U.S. offering accredited graduate degrees in public health and social work, the University of Oklahoma
is home to one of the best dual MPH/MSW programs. Tuition and mandatory hourly fees are assessed on a per-credit-hour basis. Oklahoma residents pay $356.70 per credit hour, and non-residents pay $984.30. Students must complete a total of eighty-two credit hours, paying tuition from $29,249.40 to $84,712.60
, depending on residency.
• Temple University
calculates tuition totals for students based on their state residence. Pennsylvania residents pay $942 per credit hour for the online MPH/MSW dual degree program, while out-of-state residents pay $1,297 per credit.
At the University of South Carolina
, students are assessed a per-credit tuition rate determined by their state residency status. In-state, South Carolina residents pay $572.25 per credit hour. Out-of-state students spend $1,240 per credit hour. The MSW/MPH dual degree program requires the student to earn ninety-three credits resulting in tuition costs that range from $53,219.25 to $115,320
• Maryland University’s
in-state tuition rate is $749 per credit and $1,319 per credit for non-state residents. The dual Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health program includes seventy-four credits of coursework. Maryland residents, therefore, pay approximately $55,426 and out-of-state students pay $97,606.
If you are looking at the numbers alone, it can feel intimidating. This is especially true if you have financial obligations aside from school or the provider for your family or loved ones. The good news is you are not alone! Realistically, few people simply write a check or pay cash for a graduate degree.
Before you decide against enrolling in school and earning those dual degrees, look at this list of options that could help with expenses.
1. Federally funded Grants or Loans:
The federal government offers different programs for would-be college students. Grants are an excellent option for those who qualify, as they never have to be repaid. Federal student loans do have to be paid back, but repayment can be deferred until you complete your degree and get to work.
2. Employer-Sponsored Education Programs:
Some employers offer education stipends or scholarships for employees to earn their degrees. In exchange, the employee usually signs a contract agreeing to continue working for the employer for a set amount of time after graduation.
Many people do not realize that scholarships are not only available to recent high school graduates, but individuals pursuing professional degrees are also eligible. Talk to academic advisors at schools that interest you, human resource directors at your job, and local public health or social services offices to find information about scholarships specific to MSW/MPH degrees.
What Is the Curriculum Like for Dual MPH/MSW Programs?
Students enrolled in dual MSW/MPH degree programs participate in a curriculum designed to prepare them for roles that require excellent communication, interprofessional collaboration, and the ability to collect and analyze data. As you research different programs, you will find that course names and required credits may vary. However, the program content is usually consistent from one program to the next. Coursework typically includes content focused on the following.
◦ Interprofessional relationships and communication
◦ Data Management and Analysis
◦ Qualitative Methods
◦ Community-Based Research
◦ Care Coordination
◦ Environmental Justice
The following are some examples of curriculum for some of our featured MSW/MPH dual degree programs.
The Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health dual degree program at the University of Pennsylvania
is a twenty-four-credit program. Students work with assigned academic advisors from the MPH and MSW programs to develop a study plan tailored to their individual needs.
◦ History and Philosophy of Social Work and Social Welfare
◦ Human Behavior in the Social Environment
◦ Public Health Policy and Administration
◦ American Racism and Social Work Practice
◦ Environmental/Occupational Health
At Boston University
, students pursuing the accredited MSW/MPH dual degree program can go to school part-time or full-time. The program is a minimum of three years and includes one hundred credit hours, forty of which are spent in residence at the Boston University School of Public Health.
◦ Leadership and Management in Public Health
◦ Individual, Community, and Population Health
◦ Quantitative Methods in Public Health
◦ Health Systems, Law, and Policy
◦ Family Violence in Society
Students who pursue Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health separately at New Mexico State University
typically complete one hundred eight credit hours. However, the MSW/MPH dual degree program can be completed with only ninety-six credit hours.
◦ Epidemiological Approaches to Disease Control and Prevention
◦ Techniques of Healthy Communication/Education
◦ Biostatistical Applications in Public Health
◦ Health Services System: Administration and Organization
◦ Health Program Planning
At the University of Illinois at Chicago
, students who choose to pursue the dual MSW/MPH program will complete at least forty-two semester hours at the School of Public Health and sixty-two semester hours for the MSW component of the program.
◦ Human Behavior and the Social Environment
• New York University
◦ Social Welfare Policy and Services
◦ Critical Social Work in a Multicultural Society
◦ Environmental and Occupational Health
guides students as they learn the skills to pursue careers in both social work and public health. Students are prepared by dedicated and experienced faculty for leadership and educational roles in government agencies, community healthcare settings, and non-profit organizations nationally and internationally. The ninety-three-credit-hour dual MSW/MPH program can be completed in three years.
◦ Data-Driven Decision Making in Public Health
◦ Biostatistics for Public Health
◦ Social Work Practice I, II, and III
◦ Global Issues in Social and Behavioral Health
The MSW/MPH dual degree program at Tulane University
requires students to earn ninety credit hours, seventy-five in coursework, and fifteen in field education. Students also participate in a combined social work and public health practicum, earning 948 contact hours of field experience.
◦ Community Organizing and Policy Advocacy: Theories and Practice
◦ Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Groups
◦ Psychopathology and DSM
◦ Social and Behavioral Aspects of Global Health
◦ Biostatistics for Public Health OR Epidemiology for Public Health
After being accepted to the School of Social Work MSW Program and the Public Health MPH program at Indiana University
, students meet with academic advisors from each program to develop a personalized study plan. The program curriculum includes a minimum of eighty-one credit hours.
◦ Health Economics for Public Health Professionals
◦ Methods of Health Services and Policy Research
◦ Executive Leadership Practice
◦ Assessments in Mental Health and Addictions
◦ Community and Global Theory and Practice
What Are the Most Difficult Courses in a Dual MPH/MSW Program?
If you choose from the best MSW/MPH dual degree programs, there is still a good chance that you will have a few courses that are more difficult than others. The important thing to remember is, if you take the time to recognize the things that are more challenging to you, you can then develop and implement a plan to help ensure your success. Although opinions vary, here are a few classes students in MPH/MSW dual programs consider difficult.
Principles and Practices of Epidemiology:
This course can be pretty intense. Students learn general principles, methods, and applications associated with the study of epidemiology, including measures of disease frequency, standardization of disease rates, outbreak investigation, causal inference, and hypothesis testing.
Power, Privilege, and Oppression:
This class is a foundation course that is often part of the MSW curriculum. It is sometimes considered one of the difficult courses in dual MPH/MSW programs because students are challenged to gain the self-awareness necessary to identify the influence of personal values and biases that impact practice within diverse groups. The course examines the phenomena of power, privilege, and oppression and their effects on individuals, families, and communities. There is particular emphasis on creating awareness of the intersectionality of many oppressions, focusing on gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity.
Colleges and universities reserve the right to determine the admission criteria for their programs. As you research different schools and programs, you may find some differences in the admission requirements. General admission criteria, however, is quite similar. Most MSW/MPH dual degree programs require applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and to submit official transcripts, resumes, curriculum vitae, and letters of recommendation.
The following are admission criteria at some of our featured dual MPH/MSW programs.
The University of California:
The Berkeley Social Welfare and the Berkeley School of Public Health at the University of California
combines a bio-psychosocial approach from social work and a public health epidemiological approach to offer an accredited MSW/MPH dual degree program. Students earn the degrees concurrently and, upon completion, are awarded Master of Social Welfare (MSW) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees.
Candidates seeking admission to the Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health dual degree program may submit a single online application through the UC Berkeley Graduate and Professional Application for Admission
. The following documents must be submitted for an application to be considered complete.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Transcripts reflecting all college-level coursework
• The University of South Carolina
◦ Three Letters of Recommendation (Two professional and one academic)
◦ Statement of Purpose (3-5 pages)
◦ Current professional resume/curriculum vitae
◦ Personal History Statement
Applicants who wish to enroll in the dual Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health program at the University of South Carolina offered by the Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health
and the College of Social Work
must apply through the USC Graduate School.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
• Loyola University
◦ Submit official transcripts that reflect a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
◦ Two letters of professional recommendation
◦ Current curriculum vitae or resume that demonstrates work experience and/or evidence of service relevant to MSW/MPH values, knowledge, and skills.
The dual MSW/MPH program at Loyola University provides students with a multidisciplinary education experience that covers population-based and client-centered health perspectives. The program prepares students to become social work and public health leaders who understand and respond to health and societal issues and effectively promote the well-being of populations locally and globally.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Submit a Statement of Purpose in the form of a comprehensive essay. The Statement should address the applicant's understanding of public health, and social work professions, career goals and interests, and what personal or professional issues lead to the pursuit of an MSW/MPH.
• The University of Texas
◦ Provide a current professional resume or curriculum vitae
◦ Provide contact information for two professional references. These references can be volunteer, academic, or professional contacts.
Applicants to the dual Master of Social Work/Master of Public Health program at the University of Texas
must apply separately to each program. An offer of admission to one program does not guarantee admission to the other. The program is designed as a three-year course of study, combining knowledge of health and social problems with the skills necessary to assess, prevent, and reduce their occurrence in individuals and populations using social work and public health skills.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
◦ Letter/Statement of Intent- The letter should describe why you are an excellent candidate for admission, why you want to pursue a dual MSW/MPH degree, highlight your qualifications and experience relevant to the program and professional goals.
◦ Three letters of recommendation: At least one letter should be from an academic source, such as a college professor.
The University of Denver
prepares students for exciting careers in settings where they apply public health and social work skills. The accredited MSW/MPH dual degree program expands the student's range of potential career opportunities to include population health, public health, health promotion policy agencies, and city, county, or state health departments.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Prepare a Career Goals Statement: The Statement should be approximately five pages and should not exceed 1,500 words. Subjects that should be addressed in the Statement include factors that influenced the decision to pursue the MSW/MPH dual degree, the applicant's understanding of public health and social work, personal and professional attributes, employment, and volunteer history.
◦ Letters of recommendation from people who can speak about the applicants personal and professional background, passion for pursuing the dual degree, and anticipation for success in the program
◦ Possess a bachelor's degree from a college or university with regional accreditation
◦ Have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
What It Takes to Get Accepted at a Top MPH/MSW Dual Degree Program?
Anyone can fill out a college application. What you need to know is how to get accepted to one of the best MPH/MSW dual degree programs. To be a successful applicant, you need to know what admissions faculty are looking for in a candidate and be sure to present those things in your application and interview process. Here are some key traits the top programs look for in a candidate.
1. Don’t just say you are interested. Demonstrate your interest.
If you come across as indecisive or lukewarm about earning this dual degree, the admissions faculty will probably have little interest in extending an invitation to the program. Your application should reflect genuine enthusiasm for the MPH/MSW field. The admissions faculty should read your Statement of Intent, resume, or other required documentation and deduce that you are passionate about public health social work.
2. Letters of recommendation:
Most MPH/MSW dual programs require applicants to submit letters of recommendation as part of the application process. You should choose people who know you and who can write a compelling letter of recommendation that makes admission faculty want you. They should speak to your strengths and potential for success in a dual graduate program.
3. Apply early and make sure your application is complete.
One thing that is a big turn-off for admissions teams is receiving applications that are incomplete and feeling like they must search for documents to piece together a complete application packet. Your application should be neat, in order, professionally written, and submitted early.
4. Test Scores:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges or universities have waived the requirement for standardized test scores. You should verify with any school to which you apply to be sure about their current conditions. Schools that have waived these test scores will not reject scores if you have and submit them. If you have taken any standardized test such as the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT and scored well, submitting your scores could help your application stand out.
5. Don’t be “Generic.”
You should want your application to be one that admission faculty wish to go back to again, even after reviewing several others. To do this, avoid using general statements like, "I want to get an MSW/MPH dual degree so I can help people." Instead, you can imply the same message in a more specific way. For example, you could say, "I believe by earning dual degrees as an MSW and MPH, I will achieve the skills necessary to impact individuals and diverse populations and help advocate for change related to public health social work, improving the lives and health of everyone I care for."
6. Submitting Writing Samples:
Many graduate programs, like the accredited dual MSW/MPH programs in this article, require students to submit a writing sample. If the school requests a writing sample, you will find they have guidelines about appropriate formats, topics, and length of the sample. Whatever you do, follow directions! If the guidelines require a 1,500-to-2,000-word essay, do not write 1,499 or 1,501 words. Stay within the guidelines tells admission faculty that you are willing to learn and follow directions.
FOLLOWING ARE THE 25 BEST MSW/MPH DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS (ONLINE & CAMPUS) IN THE NATION FOR 2021
(These MSW/MPH Dual Degree Programs are ideal for individuals who wish to earn skills, knowledge, and expertise in both Social Work and Public Health.)
View Ranking Methodology
The public health perspective is crucial to many professional fields that require population-based theory and research. Graduating from dual MPH/MSW programs can enhance one’s ability to advance in their chosen field.
The following are examples of possible jobs for graduates of accredited MSW/MPH dual degree programs may find.
Public and Social Health Research:
In this position, you will gather information used to define the depth and scope of community health problems. The ability to design a comprehensive, action-focused research program relevant to diverse populations and perform research functions including data analysis make this job well-suited for dually prepared public health social workers.
Disaster Response Leader:
Social and health problems within communities change because of several factors, including times of war or economic issues. Disaster response teams manage long-term impacts of issues, including disease outbreaks, like the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues need leaders capable of creating and implementing long-term strategies, like graduates of dual MSW/MPH degree programs.
A policy analyst is a higher-level research and data analyst who are influential in legislative efforts necessary to implement new plans or change existing programs related to social and public health and wellness. Public health social workers understand and address social issues, especially those related to public health. Policy analysts play a critical role in creating and/or changing policies that affect the public. They identify and assist special populations of people, including refugees, minorities, and age-based groups.
Public Health Social Worker:
Focuses on the prevention of illnesses and diseases, identifies individuals, families, and communities with needs, provides intervention services to help families and communities discover ways of meeting their social and health needs in the hopes of preventing future personal and public health issues.
Average MSW/MPH Salary
Graduates of accredited dual MPH/MSW programs online make about $59 per hour, which is a little over $10,000 monthly or $122,550 annually. As you continue to work and gain experience, it will become easier to negotiate higher wages and benefits. A few factors that may also influence the salary you are offered include the cost of living where the job is located, the job title and responsibilities, and how much previous relevant work experience you have.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an estimated twelve percent growth for social work, including public health social workers, from 2019 to 2029. With increased recognition of health disparities, demand for individuals and communities to have access to health resources, and the Affordable Care Act’s
emphasis on preventive medicine, the need for qualified public health social workers is ever increasing. These factors suggest the job outlook for graduates of MSW/MPH dual degree programs is favorable.
The Bottom Line
In this article, you have learned what it takes to earn dual degrees like a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health. The best MSW/MPH dual degree programs for 2021 offer excellent learning opportunities to help students gain the knowledge and develop the skills necessary to perform in the challenging but fulfilling roles of public health social work. With anticipated growth in this field and resources such as the programs featured here, this could be the perfect time to earn a dual MPH/MSW degree.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.