3 master’s dual degree options to consider. As with most graduate degrees, a master’s in social work (MSW) can help you excel in the field and gain specialized and flexible skills that can also be applied to a career in another field, as well. Social work was the ninth most popular major among college students in the 2020-2021 academic year, according to College Factual. And jobs in social work are projected to grow 9% by 2031, so the number of students interested in social work programs may continue to rise.
While many MSW programs offer different tracks to help students find the best fit for their lifestyle and schedule, some programs also allow students to take advantage of a two-for-one deal—or earning two advanced degrees concurrently. Dual-degree MSW programs are available at schools like West Virginia University, Baylor University, Rutgers University, Colorado State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Social work degrees pair well with many other programs, says Mandy Weirich, a clinical instructor and the MSW online program coordinator at West Virginia University. “You can do anything with a social work degree,” Weirich says. “A lot of the skills are transferable to different lines of work. So we have so many [students] that get law degrees in addition to their masters in social work.”
When deciding whether a dual degree program is right for you, the most important factor to consider is your career goals, Sarah Swords, a clinical associate professor and assistant dean for master’s programs at the University of Texas at Austin, tells Fortune.
“We have six different dual degrees in our program, so people who have interests that span a couple of fields can come and do both if they have that desire,” she says. “It isn’t so much about what was your undergrad degree as long as you really understand what the field is about and you have very clear goals about how you want to get there.”
3 master’s dual degree options to consider
How dual degree programs work
It typically takes students two to three years to complete a standard MSW program, though it is possible to complete some programs in as little as 12 to 15 months if you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work. Some programs can take as long as four years to complete. Students considering a dual degree program should typically budget a longer timeframe for completing their schoolwork.
Dual-degree programs offer students the opportunity to work on two degrees simultaneously, maximizing their time and efforts in furthering their education, and potentially opening doors to even more job opportunities. These programs might take students a bit longer than a traditional MSW path, but the total time to complete a dual program can vary on what the dual program pairing is and when, where, and how students chose to take classes, pace their program, and complete any degree-specific requirements, such as fieldwork. At WVU, students pursuing a dual MSW and master’s of public health degree plan can be completed in three years for a student with no prior social work experience.
Here are three common dual-degrees MSW programs that can help you maximize your time and skill set.
1. MSW/JD dual degree
A master’s in social work and juris doctor (JD) dual-degree track is a common pairing within the social work field since public policy and legislative work are popular career paths for many social work graduates.
“We have folks who are doing policy work at state-level legislatures, we have graduates who work in Washington and very high-level positions in large agencies,” Swords tells Fortune. “Social workers are very good at learning how systems work and helping people navigate systems efficiently and effectively. They’re good communicators, they’re good team players, so they can take on management leadership and management roles that in almost any setting, and can really help people work well together.”
At WVU, the MSW/JD dual-degree program can be completed in four or five years depending on whether a student qualifies for advanced- or regular-standing in the social work program. Students interested in pursuing the dual-degree program must apply to and be accepted by each program separately.
Likewise, students must apply to both programs at Rutgers University, where the dual-degree program is expected to take students about four or five years as well.
2. MSW/MPH dual degree
Another frequent dual-degree pairing is a master’s in social work and a master’s in public health (MPH). At the University of Alabama, students complete their MSW degree through the main campus in Tuscaloosa, and their MPH through the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
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At Colorado State University, the MSW/MPH dual degree program is currently only available to full-time, on-campus students, and applicants only submit one application to be considered by the graduate school for both programs.
The MSW/MPH offers “an integrated approach to preventing, addressing, and solving global health and behavioral health problems, which includes individuals’ physical health conditions and the behavioral and social ecological determinants of health,” according to the CSU website. CSU also offers a global health and health disparities concentration as part of this dual degree program.
3. MSW/MBA dual degree
At schools like the University of Pennslyvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and UT Austin, a dual master’s in business and a master’s in social work is an available option. This dual program can help students acquire the skills necessary to create and oversee “effective and client-responsive human service delivery systems” in government, non-profit, for-profit, and corporate sectors, according to the UT Austin website.
Source: FORTUNE EDUCATION