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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  May 17, 2022
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, MPH/MSW

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What is the MPH/MSW joint degree program?                                        

The joint degree program is collaboration between the School of Social Work and the Graduate 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.

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.
  • Juanita C. Evans Fellowship Program:  All MPH/MSW students who have completed their foundation field placements, pursuing a Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups (Direct Practice) or a Community, Organization, and Social Action (COSA) concentration in the Graduate School of Social Work are eligible to participate in the Juanita C. Evans Fellowship Program.  This HRSA funded program is intended to produce leaders in public health social work. Students are expected to develop skills in administration and management, policy development and analysis, research and evaluation, and/or program planning. Students engage in a leadership training program. Field placements focus on developing leadership skills while working at sites that serve disadvantaged communities.  Students enrolled in the program receive the Evans Fellowship of $10,000 associated with the fellowship internship.

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 other leadership skills in micro practice with individuals, families, and groups or macro practice (See Evans Fellowship Program above).

What are the requirements of the program?

The BCHS MPH/MSW joint degree typically is completed with a three-year curriculum plan for Direct Practice or COSA (2.5 years for advanced standing students).  The BCHS MPH/MSW in Social Work requirements are listed below. Students should refer to the School of Social Work  for the most current program checklist. 

  •    38 Social Work credits (plus 12 field placement credits)
  •    36 Public Health credits

Some highlights of the program are:

  • 12 field placement credits representing two separate field placement experiences, foundation and concentration, coordinated by the School of Social Work, Office of Field Education.
  •  Leadership Seminars for students participating in the Juanita C. Evans Fellowship Program
  •  Final essay or thesis

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 Graduate 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 the online application, and to apply to the Master’s Degree of Public Health in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) use the online application through SOPHAS.

Juanita C. Evans Fellowship Program

As a joint degree student, pursuing your MSW in Direct Practice or COSA and your MPH in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, you are eligible to apply for the Juanita C. Evans Fellowship Program of $10,000.  After completing the above applications to the joint degree program, students can apply here to the fellowship program.


Mark S. Friedman, PhD
Director, Leadership in Public Health Social Work Education Program, Public Health / Social Work Joint Degree Programs Assistant Professor
Graduate School of Public Health


Valire Carr Copeland, Ph.D., MPH
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Associate Professor
Associate Director, Leadership in Public Health Social Work Education
School of Social Work

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