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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 16, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Social Work, MPH/MSW

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MSW/Master of Public Health Program

What is the MSW/MPH joint degree program?       

The joint degree program is collaboration between the School of Social Work and the School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. Students graduate with both a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees and are prepared to pursue a wide range of social work and public health careers to improve the health of a target population and/or community. Students participate in class work, field placements, and leadership seminars to acquire the knowledge and skills to address health problems.

White Paper Stemming from the National Public Health Social Work Summit

What principles guide this program?

The program has a strong commitment to social justice, the elimination of health disparities, and a holistic definition of community and population health, including individuals’ physical health conditions and the behavioral and social ecological determinants of health.  Moreover, both social work and public health share a commitment to involving consumers/community members in the development of policies and in the planning, delivery and evaluation of health promotion interventions, health behavior change, and health education.

What are the advantages of the program?

  • Students develop knowledge, values and skills for both professional social work practice and (e.g. direct practice or community organization/social administration) and community public health practice (e.g. primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention).  

  • Advising and mentoring focuses on supporting students to achieve their professional goals (e.g., selection of field placements, papers written as part of course-work, leadership training activities, focus of final thesis/essay in the MPH program).

  • Students increase their career marketability as a result of being able to work from a cross disciplinary perspective. Students have gone on to jobs, for example, in various social service organizations, health departments, other government agencies, academic institutions, think tanks, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What competencies will individuals gain as a result of the program?

  • Application of theoretical principles to primary, secondary, and tertiary health interventions targeting the promotion of health behavior change, enhancement of the environment, and the elimination of risk factors in neighborhoods and communities that contribute to disease and poor health status outcomes

  • Application of principles of community-based participatory research and practice to community health assessment

  • Application of quantitative and qualitative skills to program planning and evaluation research

  • Processes involved in community health planning, program implementation, and  program evaluation

  • Written communication to inform the public, policymakers, and other key-stakeholders

  • Develop skills in micro practice with individuals, families, and groups or macro practice

What are the requirements of the program? 

 Typically a three-year curriculum plan for Direct Practice or COSA (2.5 years for advanced standing students)

  • MSW/ MPH DP Course Requirements
  • MSW/MPH COSA Course Requirements
  • 33 Social Work credits (plus 18 field placement credits) NOTE: Beginning 2019-20 academic year, the required BCHS 2525 Applied Research Methods course(3crs.) fulfills the SWRES 2021 Foundation of Social Work Research course (3crs.) In addition, MSW/MPH students who are pursuing the IHC certification are not permitted to take SWBEH 2066HB as a second-level HBSE course. The content of SWBEH 2066HB significantly overlaps with the course content of BCHS2520. Students are required to choose another second-level HBSE course.
  • 36 Public Health credits

Some highlights of the program are:

  • 18 field placement credits representing two separate field placement experiences, foundation and concentration, coordinated by the School of Social Work, Office of Field Education. 
  • Several certification programs are offered at each School
  • Public Health final essay or thesis

Note: Students register for two years (two fall and spring semesters) through the School of Social Work and one year (one fall and spring semester) through the School of Public Health. You are eligible for funding through the School of Social Work for a maximum of 2 years (these are the two years you register through that school).  You must be registered for at least 9 credits in the School of Social Work during the two years you register in that school to be eligible for funding from the School of Social Work. You must have both school advisors approve your course schedule each term. Your advisor in the School of Social Work will lift your “hold” to register each term.

What types of careers do graduates of the MSW/MPH joint degree program engage in?

  • Patient Services Managers

  • Research Scientist

  • Policy Advocates

  • Program Directors

  • Communication Directors

  • Adjunct and Part-time faculty in MSW and BSW degree programs

  • Bridging the gap between the public’s health and social work practice

  • Program Planners

Application Process

Students must apply separately to the School of Social Work and the School of Public Health’s Office of Admissions (GSPH).  The easiest way to apply to the Master’s Degree in Social Work Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work is to use our online application, and to apply to the Master’s Degree of Public Health in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health (GSPH) use online application.


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