2021 Best Online MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs

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If you’re interested in social work or public health, you may want to consider MSW / MPH dual degree programs.

MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs

Whether you want to enhance your overall professional credentials or pursue jobs at the intersection of these two career pathways, completing an interdisciplinary program can be a beneficial career move.

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Read on to learn about M.S.W. and M.P.H. dual degree programs, also referred to as combined programs or concurrent degree programs. We’ll discuss some of the benefits and how they might align with your own professional interests.

Online MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs

Online MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs

Masters degrees in social work and public health can both equip professionals for administrative and advocacy roles, but they may promote different kinds of expertise.

A professional with an MSW might have a better understanding of methods and practices related to providing and coordinating a range of social services. A professional with an MPH is likely to have more expertise related to health sciences and public health policy.

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By opting to pursue a dual MSW/MPH degree program, you can have the opportunity to develop selected areas of expertise in these complementary fields.

Online Master of Social Work

Online Master of Social Work

A Master of Social Work equips professionals to assess mental health care needs or to work in a range of preventative health education and coordination roles.

Social workers may coordinate or deliver direct support services related to family counseling, educational support, nutrition, homelessness, or job training. They may also administer agencies or networks that provide or advocate for social services.

With a Master of Social Work and appropriate licensure, social workers may qualify to provide direct clinical services like:

  • Marriage and family counseling
  • School and career counseling
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Alcohol or drug abuse counseling

Licensure requirements vary by state, but licensing steps typically include passing a licensing examination and completing specified hours of supervised fieldwork or clinical practice.

In helping to promote community health or administer social and community service programs or networks, the work of social workers can often dovetail with ­­­­­­the work of public health professionals.

Online Master of Public Health

Online Master of Public Health

A Master of Public Health degree can lead to a range of general advocacy or administrative roles. In an MPH program, you may also specialize in epidemiology, biostatistics, or environmental health science.

An MPH can help qualify professionals for jobs in health services administration in a range of work settings, including:

  • Local and state health departments
  • Federal health agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Community-based health organizations
  • Advocacy agencies

Professionals interested in providing direct services tend to earn an MSW. Public health is a good major for professionals interested in a specialization in epidemiology or health science and they tend to earn an MPH.

In addition to combined MSW / MHP programs, there are universities that offer dual MBA / MPH programs for students interested in both business and public health degrees.

Social Work and Public Health Careers & Salaries

Social Work and Public Health Careers & Salaries

Both an MSW and an MPH can open doors to roles in research, policy development, administration, and direct services related to community health or public health agencies. With a dual degree, you can develop greater expertise and qualifications for management or administration roles in larger healthcare or social services agencies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service occupations are projected to have 12% job growth through 2029.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,280
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $98,890
Epidemiologists $74,560
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
School and Career Counselors $58,120
Health Education Specialists $56,500
Social Workers $51,760
Marriage and Family Therapists $51,340
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $47,660
Community Health Workers $42,000

The social work and public health sectors can open doors to many opportunities. A number of careers in this field can require specialized courses, fieldwork, internships, or licensing.

Combined Masters Curriculum

Combined Masters Curriculum

The actual courses you’re required to take will vary by school, program, and the concentration you pursue. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of courses you may encounter in online MSW MPH programs:

  • Introduction to Health Services: This course is a systematic overview of health services policy and agencies, explaining how health service agencies are structured and funded and exploring advocacy issues.
  • Epidemiology: This cornerstone MPH course covers fundamental concepts and methods used in statistical assessments and modeling of societal health factors, including monitoring infectious diseases and managing crisis interventions.
  • Health Services Administration: This course provides MPH students an introduction to sound methods and practices for managing health services agencies, with an emphasis on financial management.
  • Health Policy: This course provides a thorough introduction to policy issues and key historical milestones related to the development of health policy.
  • Social Work Policy: You’ll examine the critical connection between social work funding and services along with larger social policy issues and priorities. This course provides insights into advocacy and public relations concepts and strategies.
  • Social Work Services: You’ll learn about methods and structures for effective, cost-efficient deployment of high-quality social services in both community settings and regional and state social service networks.
  • Environmental Health: This course provides an overview of environmental health issues and threats, examining how public health agencies identify, monitor, and respond to environmental health concerns.
  • Social Work Practicum: In this clinical SW services course, you’ll learn about tested counseling and therapeutic interventions for individual, couples, family, and group counseling.
  • Community Outreach and Health Education: This course focuses on methods for the development of health education policy and for managing effective health education campaigns.
  • Research and Leadership: This course helps you further hone your understanding of research methods and your policy analysis skills while exploring evidence-based leadership and advocacy practices.

A balanced MSW/MPH dual degree spans topics in health science, direct social services, and related administration skills.

Admissions Requirements

MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs Admissions

Some schools and programs have more admissions requirements than others, and requirements can vary. Common requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree. Some programs prefer a bachelors with a health or life sciences major.
  • GRE or GMAT scores. A growing number of schools no longer require standardized test scores, but some programs may still request it.
  • Work experience. Some programs may require one or more years of relevant professional experience.
  • Prerequisite coursework. Some programs require prerequisite coursework in life sciences, statistics, or other advanced math.

Many schools offering MPH-MSW dual degree programs also require that you submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation.

Accreditation

MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs Accreditation

It can be strategic to only consider regionally accredited schools and programs. Some state licensing boards require specific kinds of accreditation, and accreditation can also be a precondition for some forms of financial aid.

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In order to receive a regional accreditation status, schools participate in an independent review process and must meet fundamental standards of academic quality. Organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) provide more information about accreditation and have a database of accredited schools.  

Financial Aid and Scholarships

MSW & MPH Dual Degree Programs Financial aid

If you think you’ll need financial assistance to cover tuition and other expenses while you’re pursuing a dual MSW/MPH, you can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Common forms of financial aid include federal and state aid as well as need-based and merit-based scholarships. If you’re already working in the field, you may also be eligible for employer-based tuition assistance.

Student loans are another common form of aid. Terms for loans and other offers can vary, so it’s beneficial to review all financial aid offers carefully.

What Can You Do with an MSW MPH Degree?

MSW MPH Degree

Obtaining MSW and MPH training and any required licensing can help you qualify for a rewarding career in the social services and public health sectors. What you can do with an MSW MPH dual degree can depend on your own career interests and areas of concentration.  

Some professionals in these sectors provide direct family or community services. These services can come in the form of counseling, therapy, or other interventions related to education, physical health, or behavioral and mental health.

MPH qualifications also allow professionals in the field to find jobs in local, state, or federal health agencies. They may administer health education programs or do work related to environmental health, disease control and prevention, or research in epidemiology.

With the right training and work experience, you can also prepare for administration and management roles in hospitals, healthcare networks, public health agencies, or social services agencies or nonprofits.

Should I Get an MPH MSW Dual Degree?

MPH MSW Dual Degree

A dual MPH and MSW degree can involve well-rounded training, allowing you to develop expertise in both disciplines.

The MPH can help you learn health policy, health science, and health administration. An MSW can offer direct knowledge of the skills and challenges related to the immediate delivery of direct services.

This kind of interdisciplinary training can help equip you with more versatile skills and prepare you to work in more complex policy, leadership, management, and advocacy roles.

With evolving scientific research, changing policy and regulatory frameworks, and complex ethical and financial management challenges, there is a demand for qualified public health experts.

What Jobs Can I Get with a Dual Degree in MPH and MSW?

Dual Degree in MPH and MSW jobs

Your future job prospects can depend on your educational credentials along with many other factors, such as your work experience, professional licensing, and geographic location.

Common careers in the social work and public health sectors include social worker, social and community service manager, and substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor.

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Many jobs in these career sectors are expected to grow much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. MSW/MPH professionals with the right qualifications may also work as medical and health services managers.

Employment for medical and health services managers is slated for a 32% growth over the next ten years, and jobs for social workers are expected to grow at a rate of 13% (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

How Long Does It Take to Get an MPH MSW Dual Degree Online?

MPH MSW Dual Degree Online

Many online MPH-MSW dual degree programs are designed to help you save time and money. Some dual programs let you earn these two degrees in about 3 years with full-time studies. This may include some summer programming as well.

If time is of the essence, you can look for accelerated MSW programs with an MPH that may let you finish even quicker.  If you have already completed some relevant coursework, you can also look for programs that may grant you transfer credits.

What’s the Difference Between Public Health vs. Social Work?

Public health professionals are most concerned with the intersection of public health science and public health policy and education.

Social work professionals, on the other hand, train to provide direct community social services. These often include health-related services, behavioral and mental health counseling, and other kinds of counseling services or social support services.

Public Health Professionals Social Work Professionals
  • Study epidemiology, biostatistics, and environmental health science
  • Develop science-based and research-based public health policy
  • Specialize in public health science, public health policy, or public health administration
  • Provide and coordinate direct social services in local communities
  • May pursue licensing in specific health services, such as counseling
  • Can coordinate and manage social and community services programs

While there are some distinct differences in professional orientation and specialization between public health and social work, training in both fields can be complementary.

Is an MSW/MPH Dual Degree Worth It?

MSW/MPH Dual Degree

Yes, an MSW/MPH dual degree is worth it for many students. An MSW/MPH combined degree program allows you to benefit from interdisciplinary training and earn two separate degrees in less time and with less expense.

This kind of interdisciplinary training can be useful for navigating more complex administrative, management, and advocacy roles. Professionals in the field are almost always seeking to better align service networks and develop more comprehensive, cost-effective, and research-driven management practices.

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Many management roles related to medical and health services also require dealing with complex financial, scientific, and financial management concepts. In this kind of complex management sector, interdisciplinary training can be helpful.

Universities Offering Online MSW-MPH Dual Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Boston University

Boston University campus

Boston University offers a dual degree program for a Master’s in Social Work and a Master of Public Health. The program can typically be completed in as little as 3 years and may be taken full-time or part-time. A 14 hour internship must be completed to graduate. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0, 3 references, and transcripts.

Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Colorado State University offers a dual degree program for a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health.

Students can also receive a concentration in Global Health and Health Disparities. The program requires 87 credits and can usually be completed in 3 years. Applicants must have obtained a bachelor’s degree in the field within the last 7 years with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Colorado State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Loyola University – Chicago

Loyola University Chicago campus

Loyola University—Chicago offers a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health dual degree program. The program can typically be completed in 3 years. The Master of Public Health courses can be taken online. Applicants must submit official transcripts, 2 professional references, and a statement of purpose.

Loyola University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Portland State University

Portland State University campus

Portland State University offers a Master of Social Work specialization that allows students to obtain a Master of Public Health at the same time. Students in this program choose one of two tracks: Health Management and Policy or Health Promotion. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher, official transcripts, and 3 letters of recommendation.

Portland State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University campus

Rutgers University offers a dual degree program for those interested in receiving a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health at the same time. The program can usually be completed in 3 years. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher from an undergraduate degree.

Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

St Ambrose University

St Ambrose University campus

St. Ambrose University offers an online dual degree program for students interested in a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work.

The program can typically be completed in 3 years. Those interested in the program should first apply for the Master of Social Work program before applying for the Master of Public Health in their first year.

St. Ambrose University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Temple University

Temple University campus

Temple University offers a number of dual degree programs, including a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health. Students may also take one of two concentrations for their Master of Public Health degree: Social Behavioral Science or Health Policy and Management. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Alabama – Birmingham

University of Alabama Birmingham campus

The University of Alabama—Birmingham offers a dual degree program for students interested in obtaining both a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work. To graduate, students must complete 90 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants only need to have a bachelor’s degree.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Nebraska – Omaha

University of Nebraska Omaha campus

The University of Nebraska—Omaha offers a dual degree option for students in the Master of Social Work program who are also interested in receiving a Master of Public Health. The program requires students to complete 81 credit hours. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and need to submit 3 letters of reference, a resume, and transcripts.

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Florida

University of South Florida campus

The University of South Florida offers a concurrent degree program for those interested in receiving a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Health.

To graduate, students must complete 77 credit hours. Those interested in the program must apply to either the Master of Social Work program or the Master of Public Health program before submitting a concurrent degree application.

The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your MSW-MPH Dual Degree Online

MSW-MPH Dual Degree Online

You may want to consider an MSW MPH combined program if you’re interested in both social work and public health. A dual degree program can help you develop expertise in these complementary fields and enhance your qualifications in the workforce.

Many online dual MSW-MPH degree programs offer a range of study options, course concentrations, and tuition rates.  If this kind of cross training aligns with your career interests, you can start exploring online social work dual degree programs from accredited universities today.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.