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University of Pittsburgh    
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Dec 05, 2023
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Social Work, MPH/PhD

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The joint MPH/PhD program, is designed for social workers seeking administrative, policy, and/or academic positions.


The program’s overall educational objective is to train social workers for leadership positions in public health systems and prepare them for research and teaching posts.

This involves:

  • a primary focus on populations at risk rather than individuals
  • use of an interdisciplinary approach
  • a focus on primary prevention of social and health problems
  • reliance on systematic data collection and analysis for administrative decision making

The learning objectives include:

  • Understanding incidence, prevalence, prevention, treatment, and epidemiological trends of the health and social needs of vulnerable populations
  • Becoming aware of the health and social work systems available for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation
  • Understanding the interrelationship of the identified population-at-risk with other populations
  • Understanding the impact of socioeconomic, racial, cultural, geographical, and financial factors on health service delivery and use
  • Understanding the technical and legal issues related to service delivery to the population-at-risk
  • Understanding the implications of legislation and policy on program funding, planning and development, and patterns of service delivery

It is expected that graduates also will be prepared through the educational experience to:

  • Coordinate population specific health services within primary, secondary, and tertiary sites
  • Develop social work consultation and training skills and apply them to interdisciplinary settings
  • Use epidemiological data and statistics, and conduct community needs assessments to support program and policy development
  • Prepare technical reports, proposals, and publications

Academic Curriculum

The MPH/PhD curriculum comprises core courses in public health and social work, with a heavy emphasis on research methods and statistics. The following list of courses is provided as an example, as the exact course requirements may vary by student.

GSPH Core & BCHS Core Courses (minimum 33 credits)

BIOST 2011 Principles of Statistical Reasoning (3 credits)
EOH 2013 Environmental & Occupational Health (2 credits) 
EPID 2110 Principles of Epidemiology (3 credits) 
HPM 2001 Health Policy & Management in Public Health (3 credits) 
PUBHLT 2033 Foundations in Public Health (1 credit)
PUBHLT 2015 Public Health Biology (2 credits)

PUBHLT 2034 Public Health Communications (2 credits)

PUBHLT 2035 Applications in Public Health (2 credits)
BCHS 2520 Theories of Health Behavior and Health Education (1 credit)

BCHS 2992 Systems Theories and Approaches (1 credit)

BCHS 2990 Social Dynamics (1 credit) 
BCHS 2525 Applied Research Methods (3 credits) 

BCHS 2554 Intro to Community Health (3 credits)
BCHS 2521 Master’s Essay/Thesis (1-3 credits)
BCHS 2503 Practicum (3 credits) 

SSW Courses (50 credits)

SWRES 3029 Inferential Statistics (3 credits) 
SWRES 3021 Multivariate Methods (4 credits) 
SWRES 3020 Research Methods I (3 credits) 
SWRES 3022 Capstone I (1 credit) 
SWRES 3023 Capstone II (3 credits) 
SWGEN 3053 Social Science Theory I (3 credits)
SWGEN 3044 Social Science Theory II (3 credits) 
SWWEL 3030 Evaluation of American Social Welfare History and Policy (3 credits)
SWWEL 3037 Social Policy Analysis (3 credits)
SWGEN Seminar in Social Work Education (3 credits)
One additional policy course (2-3 credits)

One additional statistics course

One additional methods course

General electives (12 credits)

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to complete the program?

It takes two to three years for the PhD/MPH course work, and approximately two additional years to complete doctoral research.

What are the research areas of the faculty?

Read about the School of Social Work faculty or visit the Graduate School of Public Health web site for information about faculty research interests.

Tuition and fees

Read about the School of Social Work PhD funding or Financial Aid. Visit the Graduate School of Public Health Web site for information about their tuition and fees.


Those students seeking the MPH/PhD are admitted to both the Graduate School of Public Health and the School of Social Work as joint students. Therefore, applicants must also meet the admission requirements of the doctoral program of the School of Social Work, and formal applications must be submitted to both programs.

Those seeking further information regarding the requirements and processes for this joint degree program are encouraged to contact:

Valire Carr Copeland
School of Social Work
University of Pittsburgh 
2117 Cathedral of Learning 
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Email address:


Steven M. Albert
Professor and Chair
Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
6126 Public Health
Pittsburgh, PA 15261


This joint degree requires the completion of a minimum of 81 credits, a comprehensive examination and successful defense of a dissertation. Graduate Students in the joint MPH/PhD program generally apply 12 credits from the MPH curriculum toward their elective course work for the PhD.

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