Maybe the legal field interests you, and you hope to become a legal advocate in the child welfare system. Or you want to combine your training in social work with theological studies. Perhaps you want to pursue a leadership role in education to transform our nation’s schools.
One way to do this is to — and have that greater impact — is to pursue a Masters in Social Work (MSW) and a master’s degree from another profession. This is known as a dual MSW degree program. The unique pairing of an MSW with another graduate degree allows students to pursue higher level positions in a variety of settings and fields. And because of the interdisciplinary nature of the practice of social work, the MSW naturally syncs up with many other degrees.
There are many personal and professional benefits to earning a dual MSW degree. Cross-disciplinary study not only broadens one’s thinking and expertise, it often leads to greater opportunities and higher earnings. A dual MSW degree will differentiate you from your social work peers, position you for major leadership roles, and offer you greater career options.
Whatever your aspirations, the decision to pursue a dual MSW degree is an aspirational one. That’s because there are unique challenges in pursuing a cross-disciplinary degree. It requires a significant commitment, and an investment of time and finances. To begin with, you’ll likely have to apply and be admitted to each graduate school independently. You’ll also find that while there may be coursework savings and overlap between the two schools, you’ll still be taking on a lot of work.
Furthermore, you may find yourself bouncing back-and-forth between your two programs. This might challenge your budding professional identity, or feel unsettling. Program specifics vary by school, but you may find yourself alternating semesters or years in one school, and then returning back to the other.
Finally, the logistics of completing the dual degree could add stress. You may find yourself navigating tight coursework restrictions and requirements. Although the specifics of any MSW dual degree program will vary by school, here are some basic advantages and disadvantages.
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? If so, then you may be ready to take on the demands of pursuing two advanced degrees at the same time. A joint MSW degree may be just right for you.
The decision to pursue a dual MSW degree is a personal and financial one. Importantly, it should reflect your career goals and ambitions. Although you will have to consider the extra tuition costs involved in obtaining a dual degree, overall there are significant cost savings in completing both degrees in a condensed time period.
MSW Dual degree programs offer exciting opportunities for study. But one size does not fit all. Some programs admit large cohorts of students. Others programs are quite small, and admit just a few students per year. Additionally, depending on the program, some students pursue an individualized course of study, and work closely with academic advisors in each program to create their appropriate paths.
As you can see, dual degree MSW programs come in many different flavors and sizes. You will need to do your homework to find the dual degree program that best suits your needs and career goals.