MSW MPH Dual Degree Social Work
Public health can be a big part of the service function for many social service agencies. Public health education is a critical role for MSW graduates who have specialized in epidemiology, for example. Community education is an important part of community organizing and health issues often play a role in both. The Master of Public Health degree is a highly concentrated two year graduate program; for that reason these two degrees are rarely collapsed into a dual program that is less than three years' duration.
An applicant for a MSW/MPH dual degree program will have to be accepted to the School of Public Health and the School of Social Work at most universities that offer this combination. While many schools are relatively casual about requiring a graduate level exam for a MSW application, that is not the case with the MPH. At the University of Oregon students applying to the Master of Public Health program must submit either a GRE score or a MCAT score - the exam for medical school entrance.
However there is not necessarily any specific undergraduate degree required for entry into either program. The MSW admissions department will want to see a liberal arts degree with a certain number of credit hours devoted to the social sciences. Both programs may want to see an undergraduate course in statistics, and students who are interested in epidemiology for both degrees may want some additional quantitative classes as well.
A major part of public health work revolves around prevention. That means health education is paramount in the concerns of public health professionals, in the policies developed for public health services, and in the outreach conducted through social service agencies. Public health education is a primary role also for MSW workers in community service facilities, schools, and family assistance centers.
The planning role that so many MPH graduates find themselves in can be augmented greatly by the perspective provided by a MSW degree and the field work that is part of that curriculum. Planning and devising budgets for social services can be much more productive if it is more than a game of numbers, and that broader approach is guaranteed if one of the planners has worked in social service delivery systems.
This dual degree option is going to be a three year program. At the University of Washington students are encouraged to complete the first year of the MSW before enrolling in the MPH program. That will overlap the initial public health courses with the second year of the MSW, much of which is devoted to field work. Credit requirements for the two programs may be reduced by acceptance of some courses as meeting curriculum requirements for both degrees.