MSW MPA Dual Degree

Both these degrees are traditionally two year programs, but they are much easier to meld than say, a business degree and a social work degree. Public administration has much to do with public policy, and the curriculum for the MSW covers some of the same ground. Completing both these degrees provides the management skills necessary to function as an administrator in a public social services agency or a nonprofit that offers community support of some type.


The universities offering dual degrees generally require that you obtain admission to the graduate program at each school that is participating in a dual degree program. For the MPA program at some schools you may be required to submit a GRE score. Some schools treat the exam as an option; at Northeastern, MPA applicants are expected to have a 3.0 undergraduate average. Students that fall short of that mark can submit a GRE score as an option to bolster their application, but the test is not mandatory at Northeastern. At the University of Illinois in Chicago, the GRE is required of all MPA applicants seeking program administered financial assistance. Other students are encouraged to submit a GRE score but it is not mandatory.

Both the MSW programs and the MPA draw undergraduate candidates with degrees in the social sciences, which is a convenient match for any undergraduate prerequisites. While the MSW in many schools may require a certain number of undergraduate units, the MPA may want to see some preliminary math skills. Many MSW programs want their students to enter the program with a statistics course completed at the undergraduate level.

Program Focus

The crossover for the MSW and MPA is evident. Most social work programs are either publicly funded or operated by a nonprofit, which receives public funding. Public administration courses provide training in the public budgeting process, which is nothing like a business annual budget development. An MPA graduate will understand program planning and public policy development.

A MSW graduate will grasp the need for program advocacy within the public budget process and will be able to develop the program analyses that justify social service budget expenditures. MSW graduates who have completed the LMSW credential will be much stronger in their planning and administrative roles having completed the MPA curriculum.

Course Management

Many schools make the completion of this set of dual degrees possible in less than three years of full time study. That may require a summer session or two, but completing both degrees in less than 36 months can be within reach. At the University of West Virginia students may choose required classes from one degree as electives for the other. In addition the total credit hour requirement for each degree is reduced, provided the mix of courses covers the need curricula from both programs.

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