FIND MSW PROGRAMS
FIND MSW PROGRAMS
14 Best MSW/PhD Dual Degree Programs – 2023
Written By: Brooke Schmidt, RN, BSN
Are you a bachelor’s prepared social worker considering earning a graduate degree? You may have a bachelor's degree in a field other than social work but want to pursue a career as a social worker. Does the idea of having more than one graduate degree interest you? If so, MSW/PhD dual degree programs are something worth considering.
Maybe you thought of earning a PhD and Master of Social Work but are unsure where to begin. You may wonder, “What are the best MSW/PhD dual degree programs?” In this article, I will share information with you about the 14 best MSW/PhD dual degree programs for 2023. As you continue reading, you will find information about the cost, curriculum, and admission criteria and get answers to frequently asked questions to help you decide if earning dual MSW/PhD degrees is the right choice for you.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE MSW PROGRAMS
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOAL OF AN MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAM?
The goal of MSW/PhD dual degree programs is to prepare students for advanced careers focused on social work and social welfare. The programs aim to impart the knowledge and experience necessary to produce highly qualified social workers with dual master's and doctoral degrees who can make positive changes and impact the outcomes for the people they serve. This can include learning essential skills such as designing, implementing and interpreting research data, understanding the needs of individuals, communities, and other societal groups, writing grants and securing funding, and publishing scholarly work.
IS AN MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAM HARD TO COMPLETE?
A Ph.D. is considered a terminal degree and the highest level of education you can receive in a given field. Dual MSW/PhD programs combine two degrees, and as such, they can be hard to complete. Despite the rigorous curriculum and time demands, you can succeed in these programs if you manage your time wisely and remain dedicated to studies.
5 MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS AND ABILITIES YOU WILL GAIN IN AN MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAM
There are key skills and abilities students gain in dual MSW/PhD degree programs, which are necessary to perform well and have a successful career. The following are some of the most important skills and abilities you will gain in the best MSW/PhD dual degree programs.
1. The ability to conduct research:
One of the most important skills you will learn in dual MSW/PhD programs is how to conduct research. This skill makes you an excellent candidate to work with think tanks dedicated to researching societal issues and advocating for change, such as changes in the criminal justice system.
2. The ability to understand and address complex social issues:
In MSW/PhD dual degree programs, you will learn to use different modalities, such as social work risk assessments, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychosocial assessments, to break down complex social issues and better understand how the issues impact individuals and populations. You can then use your insight to drive change and positively impact affected people. Additionally, you will learn effective ways to convey your thoughts and ideas to communicate with others and become an agent for change.
3. The ability to conduct social work education and curriculum development:
MSW/PhD dual degree programs prepare you with the ability to understand the philosophies of adult education, conflict resolution, and diversity in content. You will learn skills such as curriculum design and how to prepare assignments, tests, lectures, and student evaluations.
4. Grant Writing:
Doctoral degree programs, like MSW/PhD dual degree programs, involve an in-depth research component. Research requires funding, which means the need to write grant proposals. In MSW/PhD dual degree programs, you will learn the process of grant writing, including methodology, budgeting, and potential impact assessments to help you write grant proposals.
5. Analysis and Interpretation:
In MSW/PhD dual degree programs, you will learn to analyze and interpret data generated through research. You can then utilize the information to direct evidence-based practice and provide factual data that can drive positive societal and social changes.
3 MAIN ADVANTAGES OF MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS
As you consider whether to pursue your degree through MSW/PhD dual degree programs, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. The following are three of the top advantages of these programs.
1. You will have increased job security:
With an MSW/PhD dual degree, your higher-level skills and knowledge of social work make you a valuable asset to employers. In turn, this can lead to opportunities for jobs that offer long-term employment and job security.
2. You can earn two degrees in less time:
With MSW/PhD dual degree programs, you can earn two graduate degrees in less time than it takes to earn them separately. The sooner you earn your degrees, the sooner you can begin your career or advance in your career path.
3. You can choose from several career paths:
Another excellent advantage of the best dual MSW/PhD programs is that you will become qualified for careers in several specialties. You may choose to work in social work research, forensic social work, or academia, to name a few.
WHEN DO DUAL MSW/PHD PROGRAMS START?
Due to the specialized nature of dual MSW/PhD programs, many offer only one start date each year. There are a few exceptions where advanced students on an accelerated track may start at a different date. Here is when a few of the top programs start each year.
HOW MANY CREDITS ARE THERE IN DUAL MSW/PHD PROGRAMS?
MSW/PhD dual degree programs require anywhere from 60 to 110 credits. The credits you need are determined by whether you have a social work bachelor’s degree or a bachelor's in an unrelated field and how many transferrable credits you have. Here are a few examples of the credits required at some of the top schools.
The University of Houston
MSW/PhD dual degree program requires 110 semester credit hours to graduate.
• University at Albany’s
M.S.W./Ph.D. dual degree program consists of 87 credit hours.
At the University of Missouri
, regular-standing students in the MSW/PhD dual degree program complete 96 credits. Advanced-standing students complete 75 credits.
The University of Southern California
requires 42 MSW program credits and 48 Ph.D. in social work program credits for a total of 90 credits.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
offers two options to complete the MSW/PhD dual degree program. Students without a bachelor’s in social work degree must earn 79 credits. Students with a previous bachelor’s in social work degree earn 63 credits to complete the program.
HOW LONG ARE MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS?
Most of the best MSW/PhD dual degree programs can be completed in three to five years. The time it takes to graduate depends on whether your previous bachelor’s degree was in social work, the number of transferrable credits you have, and if you enroll part-time or full-time. The following are a few examples of how long it may take you to earn your dual degree:
You can earn your dual degree in four years through the University of Southern California
Through the University of Houston
, your dual degree program can take four or more years depending on which electives, pre-dissertation research, and research-dissertation credits you take.
At the University of Buffalo
, you can complete your degree in five years as a traditional student entering with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. If you have a bachelor’s degree in social work, you can complete your degree in four years through the advanced standing program. Students who enroll part-time take longer to earn the dual degree.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
has two completion tracks. Students entering with a non-social work bachelor’s degree typically take three years to graduate. Students with a Bachelor of Social Work degree can complete the program in just over two years.
• Rutgers University’s
dual degree MSW/Ph.D. program is designed to be completed in four years.
HOW MUCH DO MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS COST?
MSW/PhD dual degree programs sometimes charge the total cost of both degrees, a flat semester or annual fee or they may charge per credit. The range in cost for earning a dual degree can be from $30,000 to $120,000. These are a few examples to give you an idea of the cost breakdown:
• University of Missouri
tuition costs $435.30 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,191.90 for out-of-state students. The dual MSW/PhD program requires between 75 and 96 credits, depending on whether you enroll as advanced standing or regular standing. Therefore, the cost of the program is $41,788.80 for regular-standing in-state students and $114,422.40 for regular-standing out-of-state students. Advanced-standing in-state students pay $32,647.50, and out-of-state students pay $89,392.50.
• University at Buffalo
costs $8,079 per semester for New York residents and $12,664 per semester for non-residents. That makes the total cost $56,553 for traditional in-state students and $88,648 for non-residents.
• Rutger’s University
charges by semester for full-time students. Each semester you will pay $9,120 for in-state tuition or $15,504 for out-of-state tuition. After completing eight semesters, this will make your estimated cost $72,960 or $124,032.
, your cost will be $5,850 per semester regardless of if you are a resident or not. Your total cost can be estimated once you gain admission as the number of semesters and courses needed to complete your degree varies between students.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
charges a per-credit fee of $981.65 for state residents and $1,936.99 for out-of-state residents. The exception is Minnesota residents pay $1,295.22 per credit. There is also an additional $140.97 in segregated fees for all students. Since the number of credits varies for each student, your total cost will be estimated once you gain admission.
WHAT KIND OF FINANCIAL AID, SCHOLARSHIPS, AND TUITION WAIVERS ARE OFFERED BY DUAL MSW/PHD PROGRAMS?
The cost of a graduate-level degree can be intimidating, and some dual MSW/PhD programs charge tuition for both separate degrees. Luckily, most schools offer some form of financial aid through, scholarships, grants, and graduate assistant and research positions. Check out the aid packages offered at these top schools to give you a better idea of what tuition cost reduction options will be available to you.
• Ohio State University
has a funding package for eligible MSW-PhD students. By applying for the Graduate Research Associate (GRA) program you will earn a stipend and tuition assistance in exchange for hours worked. You will receive money to pay for 25% of your tuition during your MSW degree and then half of your Ph.D. degree equaling up to three years of 50% tuition. Additionally, you can apply for graduate school fellowships and be eligible for federal loans.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
offers financial aid through scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, and scholar programs. Scholarships include MSW-specific ones such as the Adah Hopkins Aime scholarship and the Sue Keller Memorial scholarship. There are also Ph.D.-level scholarships to apply for such as Ernie Gullerud Dissertation Scholarship and the Cynthia J. Bell, PhD Memorial scholarship. You can also apply for pre-professional assistantships and graduate hourly positions to help offset tuition costs. Fellowships are also available to reduce your overall cost, but you cannot hold both an assistantship/ hourly position and fellowship.
The University of Houston
provides financial aid via a few different options. Any student receiving more than $1,000 in scholarship funding will also be allowed to pay the in-state rate. By filling out one standardized scholarship application you can easily apply for over 20 MSW-specific awards. There are additional stipend and scholarship awards listed but they do require additional applications. Assistantships are available and vary depending on what part of your dual degree you are completing (MSW vs. Ph.D.).
• Boston College
awards scholarships to qualified applicants without the need to fill out separate forms. The college offers merit-based scholarships, fellowships, stipends, and assistantships to MSW students. The Boston College School of Social Work proudly states they offer some form of scholarship to 100% of accepted students.
At Widener University
you may apply for social work assistantships, fellowships, and work-study programs to further reduce your tuition payments. The school also offers special financing opportunities for military students and their families.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM GPA REQUIRED TO GET INTO MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS?
MSW/PhD dual degree programs can be competitive, so while they list a minimum GPA requirement, keep in mind that anything higher will only help improve your chances of getting in. Here are the minimum GPA requirements at five of the top schools:
The University of Southern California
requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission to its MSW/PhD dual degree program.
At The University of Iowa
, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be eligible for admission to the dual degree MSW/PhD program. International applicants need an equivalent GPA based on their grading system.
• Boston College
recommends a minimum GPA of 3.0 to apply but accepts MAT or GRE scores to help strengthen your chances of being admitted.
The University of Houston
prefers a minimum GPA of 3.0 but reviews applicants with a lower GPA for conditional admission.
• Rutgers University
has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0. However, applicants with a lower GPA who have other qualifications may be considered.
WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS?
Since these dual programs are quite specialized, most programs do not have specific admission requirements but rather rely on applicants meeting both the MSW and Ph.D. requirements. Here is an overview of all the admission requirements at some of the top schools:
• University of California Berkley’s
admission requirements include holding a bachelor’s degree, a minimum GPA of 3.0, previous coursework focused on behavioral and social sciences, a college-level statistics course, and one year of experience in social welfare or human services. While the GRE is not required, applicants who tested and earned good scores are encouraged to submit scores to help strengthen their application.
The admission requirements at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
dual MSW/PhD degree program include a GRE test score, an English proficiency test for anyone who is not a native English speaker, and three letters of recommendation. Applicants must submit official college transcripts reflecting a minimum GPA of 3.0, completion of an undergraduate statistics course, 30 credit hours of social sciences classes, and provide a statement of reason, a writing sample, and a resume.
• University at Buffalo
requires traditional MSW/Ph.D. students to have completed 24 credit hours in liberal arts (six in social or behavioral sciences, six in arts or humanities, and 12 additional credits in the previous categories, natural sciences or math) and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. You must submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of research interests and professional objectives, a writing sample, a GRE test score and complete an interview if necessary. Advanced standing applicants need a bachelor's in social work earned during the previous six years and a B- or better grade in all undergraduate social work classes.
The admission requirements at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
include holding a baccalaureate degree, a GPA of 3.0 or above, experience in social work or a human services field, and 20 hours of coursework completed in social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and biological sciences. You will also need to provide three reference letters, a personal statement, a resume, and proof of your personal attributes that show you will be well suited for the social work profession. Additional Ph.D. requirements will include writing samples and a GRE test score.
The University of Houston
requires you to hold a bachelor’s degree that includes courses completed in humanities, arts, and social and biological sciences. You will also need to have a GPA of 3.0 or above, recommendation letters, and a personal statement. Ph.D. requirements include submission of writing samples and a possible admissions interview.
WHAT KIND OF COURSES WILL YOU TAKE IN MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS?
In these dual MSW/PhD programs you will take courses from the master’s and PhD programs, in many cases, you will take all the courses from both programs. Here are some of the course titles you will see if you choose one of the top programs:
The curriculum at the University of California Berkley
consists of master’s level courses such as Psychosocial Problems and Psychopathology Aging Processes and Health Policy- A Social Welfare Perspective. Ph.D. courses include titles such as Seminar in the History and Philosophy of Social Welfare, Research Resources and Processes, Research Methods, and Techniques in Social Welfare, and Writing and Publication Seminar.
Courses at The Ohio State University
include Research and Professional Development Seminar: Writing for Publication, Theories of Change for Social Problem Intervention, Statistics I and II for Social Work Research, Social Work Education: Pedagogy, Skills, Opportunities and Challenges, Methods for Social Work Research, Qualitative Methods in Social Work Research, and Implementation Science in Health and Human Service Organizations and Systems.
• University at Albany
core courses for their M.S.W./Ph.D. degree include Social Welfare Policy and Services, Human Behavior & Social Environment, Social Welfare Practice Theory, Social Welfare Research, Applications of Advanced Methods in Social Welfare Research, and Statistics & Data Analysis.
The dual degree courses offered through Widener University
include Methods of Inquiry and Analysis, Deconstructing Clinical Theories and Their Application, Social Welfare Policy, Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Social Work Practice, The Art and Science of Social Work Practice, Facilitating and Evaluating Change Processes, Social Theory, and Using Qualitative Methods I and II.
• University of Wisconsin-Madison’s
dual degree curriculum has courses such as The Field of Social Work, Human Behavior and the Environment, Faculty Research Seminar, Diversity, Oppression and Social Justice in Social Work, Psychopathology in generalist Social Work Practice, and Social Science Theory.
WHAT KIND OF PRACTICAL TRAINING WILL YOU UNDERGO IN DUAL MSW/PHD PROGRAMS?
MSW/Ph.D. dual degree programs require practical training in the form of field internships, clinicals, or practicums. While the name and description for these experiences may be different, they all aim to provide you with the hands-on experiences and practical training you will need in your future career. Below you will find more information about the training you will receive at some of the top schools.
Practical training for the MSW/PhD dual degree program at The University of Southern California
includes 1,200 hours of field training. Through partnerships with local social-service providers, you will have access to diverse and high-quality training experiences. During your field training, you will spend 16-20 hours per week to accumulate enough hours before graduating. You will be matched with different organizations depending on your degree and career goals.
• Boston College
has over 1,000 partner agencies to provide you with placements to fulfill practical training or field education experiences. Clinical faculty match you with locations that enhance your education and build the skills necessary for your future career. The college offer advisors and field supervisors to ensure you have the support you need while completing at least 1,200 hours of training. Students typically spend two days per week during their first year and three days weekly during their second year.
At the University of Houston
, you will complete practicum hours that align with your coursework. The goal is to provide you with experiences that allow you to apply your knowledge to real-life situations and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a social worker. The University of Houston works with over 200 social service partners, so there is a multitude of different settings for you to complete your practicum hours. You will complete a 200-clock hour social work practicum while enrolled in the MSW/PhD dual degree program.
Fieldwork and internships are an important part of your education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
. You will complete all your required hours at one time as part of the block placement model. The dedicated team of faculty will help with placement and support you throughout the process. Students complete between 500 and 900 hours, depending on whether they hold a bachelor's in social work or a different undergraduate degree.
• University at Buffalo
provides practical training through field placements that allow you to integrate with community organizations. If you are a traditional student, you will have two placements totaling 900 hours. If you are an advanced standing student, you will have one field placement totaling 480 hours. Field placements occur in settings such as veterans groups, medical care facilities, addiction treatment centers, and more.
WHAT ARE THE BEST MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS IN THE NATION?
(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 14 Best Online and Campus-Based Dual MSW/PhD Programs in the nation for the year 2023.)
VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY
WHERE DO GRADUATES OF DUAL MSW/PHD PROGRAMS MOSTLY WORK?
MSW/Ph.D. dual degree programs qualify you to work in many settings, depending on your preference. Some of the most common places graduates of these programs work include the following.
As an MSW/Ph.D. dual degree holder, you will be highly qualified to work at a university or college as a faculty member, lecturer, or as an academic researcher.
2. Research institutes:
To work in social work or social welfare research, most research institutes require a Ph.D. Research institutes are a popular choice for graduates of dual MSW/PhD programs to work.
3. Public/Government Agencies:
Since many social services agencies are run and funded by the government, they require PhD-level social workers to provide policy oversight, research, and leadership to these critical programs, making this a common place for MSW/PhD dual degree program graduates to find employment.
3 BEST JOBS FOR GRADUATES OF MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS
As a graduate of one of these dual MSW/PhD programs, you will have opportunities to work in diverse settings. Three of the best jobs for graduates of these programs include the following.
Ph.D. degree holders are well-suited for research positions where they can apply their knowledge and experience to provide high-quality information that drives best-practice and guides social service policies.
2. University Professor:
If you like the idea of teaching others about social work and how to influence societal change, a job as a college or university faculty could be a great option.
3. Administrative Director for Social Services Agencies:
If you are interested in a leadership role where you can impact change, an administrative director or a leadership role at a social services agency could be an excellent choice. In this role, you can use your degree to provide oversight and input that guides clinical social work practice.
WHAT STARTING SALARY CAN NEW GRADUATES OF THIS PROGRAM EXPECT?
Graduates of MSW/PhD dual degree programs earn a starting salary of $34.06 per hour, $1,362 per week, $5,900 per month, and $70,840 per year.
WHAT AVERAGE SALARY CAN GRADUATES OF MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS EXPECT?
MSW/PhD dual degree program graduates earn an average of $56.39 per hour, $2,256 per week, $9,780 per month, and $117,300 per year.
10-YEAR JOB OUTLOOK FOR GRADUATES OF MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMS
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 11.09% increase in jobs for graduates of MSW/PhD dual degree programs between 2021 and 2031. This positive increase is due to the growing need for qualified faculty members, the growing research field driving clinical practice and patient outcomes, and the need for highly-qualified professionals to lead and direct social service agencies in the private and public sectors.
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
IS THE COST OF AN MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAM WORTH THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)?
MSW/PhD dual degree programs can cost anywhere from $30,000 to more than $120,000. The average annual income of graduates of these programs is $117,300. Even if you choose a program with higher tuition rates, you could make your investment back within a few years of earning the degree, which makes the cost of the program worth the return on your investment.
BONUS! 3 EXPERT TIPS TO MAKE YOUR MSW/PHD DUAL DEGREE PROGRAM APPLICATION STAND OUT
Dual MSW/PhD programs are highly competitive as there is a limited number of spots for applicants each year. You can use the following three expert tips to make your application stand out.
1. Highlight Work and Volunteer Experience.
One of the best ways to make your application stand out when applying to MSW/PhD dual degree programs is by having an outstanding volunteer and/or work history. By showing you are committed to the field of social work, social welfare, and human services the admissions team will not have to question your motives for applying.
2. Take your written statement seriously.
Your written statement is the one place where you get to write a narrative explaining your educational and career goals. Fully explain why you want to pursue an MSW/PhD dual degree and how you will use it to make a positive impact within the social work field and the communities you serve.
3. Find professional references that can speak to your academic and professional abilities.
Take the time to find the right people who are willing to write your reference letters. You should choose people who can positively portray you as an academic professional capable of excelling in MSW/PhD dual degree programs. If possible, choose people with a master’s or doctorate in social work or a related field with whom you have worked or volunteered.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Now that you know the 14 best MSW/PhD dual degree programs for 2023 and have read about the different admission requirements, program details, and potential careers you can have, you should have a better understanding of what this degree can do for you. If you are passionate about educating others or participating in scholarly research, this dual degree program is a great way to achieve your goals. If you are still considering your options and asking yourself if MSW/PhD dual degree programs are right for you. Then read below to find the answers to some frequently asked questions.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
1. What Is The Best MSW/PhD Dual Degree Program In The Nation?
The best MSW/Ph.D. dual degree program in the nation is offered at the University of California, Berkeley.
|University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley, CA|
2. What Is The Minimum GPA To Get Into MSW/PhD Dual Degree Programs?
Most MSW/PhD dual degree programs require a minimum 3.0-grade point average for all college coursework.
3. What Is The Typical Cost-Per-Credit For Dual MSW/PhD Programs?
The cost per credit for dual degree MSW/PhD programs ranges anywhere from $400 to more than $1,500.
4. What Are The Most Difficult Classes In Dual MSW/PhD Programs?
It is a matter of opinion which classes are most difficult in MSW/PhD dual degree programs. Some of the most challenging classes appear to be Theories of Organizational Behavior & Development and Scientific Methods in Social Work.
5. Can I Work Part-Time And Complete This Program?
Some students choose to continue part-time work while enrolled in MSW/PhD dual degree programs. Your work schedule and courseload at school should be considered carefully when deciding whether to continue working while pursuing the degree.
6. Can I Work Full-Time And Complete This Program?
Most dual degree MSW/PhD programs require a heavy courseload. Therefore, you may find it difficult to work full-time while enrolled. If you choose to work full-time while pursuing this program, I recommend talking with your employer and academic advisor to determine the best way to make both schedules work.
7. How Much Do New Graduates Of This Program Make?
New graduates of MSW/PhD dual degree programs make around $70,840 per year.
8. On An Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Make Per Hour?
The average hourly rate for MSW/PhD dual degree program graduates is $56.39.
9. On An Average, How Much Can Graduates Of This Program Per Month?
Graduates of dual MSW/PhD degree programs can expect to make around $9,780 per month.
10. On An Average, How Much Can Graduates Of Dual MSW/PhD Programs Make Per Year?
The average annual salary for dual MSW/PhD degree holders is $117,300.
Brooke Schmidt, RN, BSN
Brooke Schmidt is a registered nurse with 10 years of clinical experience. She is currently living in Oregon and enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her family. Brooke graduated from The University of Portland with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. During her time in school, Brooke developed a passion for geriatrics and chose a specialized practicum to gain further experience with this population.