2021 Best MSW / MPA Dual Degree Programs

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MSW MPA dual degree programs can help you advance your knowledge and skills related to social policy, social work advocacy, and public-nonprofit organizational development and leadership.

MSW / MPA Dual Degree Programs

A dual MSW MPA degree program offers social work training and also helps you develop pragmatic administrative skills.

This degree path can be a strategic choice if this kind of complementary training aligns with your future career goals.

Online MSW & MPA Dual Degree Programs

MSW & MPA Dual Degree Programs

MPA MSW dual degree programs combine courses from both degree tracks to equip social work professionals and organizational leaders with complementary skills to navigate a range of roles.

If you’re contemplating a career in social service work or public administration, you might want to consider the possible advantages that MSW/MPA dual degree programs can offer. M.S.W. studies offer training in direct social services work. This kind of training is very different from the practical management skills you can learn in an M.P.A. program.

The most effective administrators often have managerial training as well as the knowledge needed to really understand the challenges faced by team members in a particular field. Dual degree programs are offered in both online and in-person formats, and course designs vary by school.

A dual-degree program is designed to help you acquire two complementary graduate degrees in less time than it would take to earn both degrees separately.

Master of Social Work

MSW degree program

An MSW degree program provides advanced training in the field of social work. Professionals with this degree may work in specialized clinical services or community social services.

For instance, social workers can work for or with schools to support students and families with student support services. They can also be employed in federal, state, or local service agencies or nonprofit organizations to work with services related to joblessness, drug and alcohol abuse, and more.

Master of Public Administration

MPA degree programs

MPA degree programs can help you master practical administrative, managerial, and organizational leadership roles.

These programs focus on organizational management, financial management, HR management, and decision-making challenges related to leading government and nonprofit agencies. You can also learn about public funding models and explore topics in public policy analysis and public-sector organizational leadership.

Public Administration & Social Work Careers & Salaries

Public Administration & Social Work Careers & Salaries

With a degree in social work and the right licensing, professionals in this field can work in direct clinical services or case management. They can also work in practices related to behavioral or mental health counseling.

Social workers can also specialize in community services related to employment development, health education and outreach, youth services, senior services, or family support services. An MPA can help equip social workers with the knowledge and training to administer and coordinate social service programs, networks, and organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job roles in the social services sector can vary significantly, depending on specializations, training, and licensing.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $185,950
Political Scientists $125,350
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Training and Development Managers $115,640
General and Operations Managers $103,650
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $98,890
Emergency Management Directors $76,250
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Social Workers $51,760

With a dual MSW MPA degree program, you can train in both social work and public administration, enhancing your skills where the two fields intersect. Public administration courses provide skills in social policy and advocacy work, and they can teach you what it means to be an effective organizational leader.

An MSW MPA graduate may also pursue work in human resources management or in specialized HR roles related to personnel supervision or personnel training and development.

Joint MSW/MPA Curriculum

Joint MSW/MPA Curriculum

Joint MSW/MPA programs combine complementary courses and electives from MSW and MPA tracks to help students acquire talent across a range of professional skills and concepts.

  • Fundamentals of Public Administration: This course is a systematic introduction to practical and essential laws, regulations, and management methods in the field of public administration.
  • Social Work Policy: You’ll examine the links between policy, policy analysis, and social work funding, services, and advocacy.
  • Social Work Services: You’ll learn about methods and structures for delivering and evaluating effective, high-quality social services in both community settings and larger regional and state social service networks.
  • Social Work Practicum: 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, for effective minority health outreach, and for managing effective health education campaigns.
  • Public Administration Finance and Budgeting: You’ll learn about critical regulations, concepts, and methods for efficient, compliant, and effective financial planning in public-sector organizations, such as government agencies and nonprofits.
  • Research and Leadership: You’ll learn about research methods and resources for informed policymaking, advocacy, and leadership.
  • Strategic and Ethical Leadership: You’ll learn about organizational behaviors, decision-making dynamics, and how to align leadership best practices with other core organizational goals and objectives.
  • Public Administration Policy Analysis: This course introduces public policy development and analysis skills you can apply in public administration.
  • Informational Technology for Managers: This course is an overview of key software tools useful in accounting, project management, and other administrative tasks.

Courses and course specializations and combinations will vary by school and program, but a dual degree MSW/MPA program gives you exposure to a broad range of advanced social work and leadership skills.

Dual Masters Admissions Requirements

MSW MPA Dual Masters Admissions

Admissions requirements will vary by school and program, but common requirements include:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Satisfactory GPA
  • Letters of recommendation

Other admissions requirements for graduate programs that you might encounter include specified course prerequisites or relevant professional experiences.


MSW / MPA Dual Degree Programs Accreditation

You can better protect your educational investment by only attending schools with full regional accreditation.

Attending a regionally accredited school means your degree and professional preparation are more likely to be honored by other schools and prospective employers. Licensing boards may also stipulate that your degree be from a regionally accredited institution. Accreditation can be a precondition for some forms of financial aid as well.

Organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) have more information about accreditation and finding accredited schools.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

MSW / MPA Dual Degree Programs financial aid

Joint degree programs often cost less than earning two graduate degrees separately, but they do still cost. If you need assistance covering upfront costs so you can move ahead with your career goals, financial aid is an option for students who qualify.

Common forms of aid include federal aid and state aid, employer-based programs, need-based and merit-based scholarships, and student loans. Terms can vary, so it’s beneficial to look over all financial aid offers carefully before proceeding.

Are you anticipating applying for need-based aid? If so, you can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Is an MSW MPA Dual Degree?

MSW MPA dual degree program

An MSW MPA dual degree program allows students to earn both a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Administration at the same time.

An advantage to this kind of program is that you can typically earn two advanced degrees and develop versatile skill sets in about 3 years. In most cases, a dual degree program takes less time to complete than earning both degrees separately.

In a joint MSW MPA program, you can combine your social work training with administrative and managerial training. Your MPA coursework may help equip you to work in managerial, policy, and advocacy roles for services and causes you care about.

Can I Get a Dual Master’s Degree?

MSW MPA Dual Master's Degree

There are many accredited schools that offer dual masters degree programs. The qualifications you need to get into a single-track MSW or single-track MPA program will most likely qualify you for a dual master’s degree option as well.

If you find a dual degree program option that fits your career goals and interests, you could earn both master’s degrees at the same time. In most cases, you can complete a dual degree program in less time than it takes to earn two degrees separately.

Is Public Administration Related to Social Work?

degree in public administration

Many organizations that coordinate social policy and community social services are government agencies or nonprofit organizations. So, public administration skills can support the success and growth of effective social work programs.

Pursuing a degree in public administration can help you develop management skills that are especially applicable in government and nonprofit agencies and organizations.

Some organizations and agencies in these sectors specialize in social work. Those with training in specific fields of social work may be better equipped to supervise and train similar personnel.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Joint MPA/MSW Online?

Joint MPA/MSW Online

Joint MSW/MPA programs typically take 2 to 4 years to complete, depending on the university and your chosen specialty. Study options can vary from school to school. For instance, some programs have options for full-time, year-round study online, which may help you finish faster.

Since you need to fulfill course requirements in two different disciplines, even the most accelerated joint programs typically take at least 2 years to complete. The majority of dual degree programs tend to offer full-time study options with 3 year timelines.

Is an MSW / MPA Dual-Degree Worth It?

MSW / MPA Dual-Degree

Yes, an MSW / MPA dual-degree is worth it for many students. Taking courses simultaneously in both public administration and social services can equip you with expertise in these complementary fields. You may combine and enhance your service-oriented skill set with organizational administration, development, and leadership skills.

Professionals with an MSW and MPA can also have specialized qualifications for supervising, supporting, and leading other social workers in administration roles. Social workers and various administration and management positions are also projected to have faster-than-average job growth.

For example, jobs for social workers are forecast to grow 13%, and social and community service managers are expected to experience 17% job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Universities Offering MSW/MPA 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, on-campus, or in a hybrid format.

Columbia University

Columbia University

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

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University is accredited by NWCCU.

New York University

New York University

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

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Nebraska – Omaha

University of Nebraska Omaha

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Senior College and University Commission.

University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana

The University of Southern Indiana is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

University of Utah

University of Utah

The University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of Washington

University of Washington

The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your MSW/MPA Dual Degree Online

MSW/MPA Dual Degree Online

If you’re interested in the rewarding field of social services and have an aptitude for administrative work, then you might want to consider enrolling in a MSW/MPA dual degree program.

This joint graduate program allows you to earn two masters degrees at the same time. You can receive training in the field of social work while you develop complementary public administration skills. Some schools even offer online learning options to cater to your schedule.

If a combined MSW/MPA dual degree aligns with your career goals, you may want to start exploring the various joint program options offered by accredited schools.

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