Social Work

Why Get an MSW and an MEd?

Why Get an MSW and an MEd?
Dual degree programs still represent a significant commitment, but those who rise to the challenge reap numerous benefits. Image from https://unsplash.com
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Marc Beschler January 4, 2023

The hallmarks of any great educator and capable social worker are strikingly similar. Both possess the patience, empathy, and desire to make a difference. So, what kind of degree options are best for those with an interest in advocacy? A dual degree program with an MSW and MEd could be the perfect choice.

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Educators and social workers address both socioeconomic and psychological issues daily. Engaging these complex challenges requires deep knowledge, training, and sensitivity, all attributes one can develop and enhance by pursuing a graduate degree. That’s why prospective students in this field should consider a dual Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Education (MEd) degree to instill the expert competencies necessary to lead in education and social service.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of people within the labor force holding an advanced degree has steadily risen since the 1990s. Given this trend, it’s not surprising that more students are pursuing more than one master’s degree.

Obtaining a dual degree means earning two degrees simultaneously while pursuing overlapping requirements. Students can easily pair various degrees with a Master of Social Work (MSW), including a Juris Doctor (JD), a Master of Public Health (MPH), a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Master of Public Administration (MPA), a Master of Public Policy (MPP), and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.). But a Master of Education (MEd) might be the most natural pairing a student can pursue.

So, why get an MSW and an MEd? This article explores some of the most popular and compelling answers to that question.

Why get an MSW and MEd?

MSW and MEd programs confer many unique and valuable career skills. A dual degree program differs from obtaining two degrees separately in that its overlapping requirements can reduce the time it takes to achieve your goal. Dual degree programs still represent a significant commitment, but those who rise to the challenge reap numerous benefits.

Less expenditure of time and money

While a dual degree takes longer to obtain than an individual degree, schools usually coordinate subjects to allow students to acquire both simultaneously. Overlapping coursework leads to shorter time and lower tuition outlays. Moreover, upon graduation, students boast similar advanced standing as granted by separate MEd and MSW degrees.

Larger professional network

Pursuing a dual MSW and MEd degree enables students to meet and network with different sets of people, leading to more extensive professional ties. These connections to students and faculty often translate to richer future employment opportunities.

Expanded professional opportunity

Dual-degree students with a master’s degree in social work and education qualify for positions in either discipline, in both the public and private sectors. A dual degree simultaneously bolsters your credentials, provides you with unique competencies and attracts potential employers. Dual degree holders qualify for positions as school counselors, school social workers, teachers (particularly those in specializations like special education or sex education), policymakers, administrators, and other educational leadership roles. This degree program can also prepare you for a career as an educational studies scholar and researcher.

Built-in professional cachet

One of the reasons to pursue a master’s degree, certificate program, or licensure is that these credentials typically impress potential employers. In addition, these top-level qualifications provide a simple path toward promotions, career advancements, and salary increases.

Greater opportunity to make a difference

Social work centers on public service. Social work students who obtain a dual degree are highly qualified to make the most of this skill set to do more public good. These future social workers make an impact in schools, hospitals, and military bases by treating issues concerning mental health, social justice, social welfare, and general well-being in public environments.

Schools in communities suffering from high levels of poverty face many familiar challenges. Issues that impede education include (insufficient funding, rampant unemployment, community violence and personal issues like drug abuse, domestic violence, learning disabilities, and mental health issues.

A skilled social worker can address problems on the micro, meso, and macro levels. They often use conflict resolution and ideas taken from restorative justice to resolve situations among students and work to prevent instances of violence within the greater school community.

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There are a couple of significant practical considerations:

- A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work
- A license to practice or required social work certification

Credentials vary among careers, states, and territories. Licenses include:

- Certified Social Worker (CSW)
- Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
- Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW)
- Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
- Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
- Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP)
- Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Most of these licenses require a Master’s or Doctorate, along with additional coursework or clinical internships. (source)

A survey of 2017 social work graduates by the National Social Work Workforce Study found that social workers with Master’s degrees and Doctorates made substantially more than those with no advanced degree. (source)

- People with MSW degrees made $13,000-plus more than those with only BSW degrees
- MSWs make more in large cities or urban clusters
- People with doctorates earned $20,000 to $25,000 more than people with only MSW degrees

University and Program Name Learn More

What schools offer a dual degree MSW/MEd?

Schools that offer dual MSW/MEd degrees include:

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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