MSW & MBA Dual Degree Programs

Jul 21, 2018

This article covers the MSW/MBA dual degree offered by a number of universities. Items discussed include admission requirements, coursework examples and career possibilities.

A dual Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program gives students management-level training in the operation of both privately owned businesses and public assistance programs.

General Program Information

Students who are primarily interested in business can make use of this dual degree to specialize in areas such as sustainable operations or heading up charitable efforts. Those more interested in social work will be well-positioned to help the organizations they work for secure funding, and will also have management skills that transfer well to non-government organizations (NGOs).

A reasonable expectation for program completion time for a full-time student is three years. In most cases, this will save at least a year's time in pursing each of these degrees independently. Programs may have students focus only on one discipline for a year at a time, culminating in a final year in which they complete whatever core courses and electives remain in each program.


The curriculum of these programs covers the key material of both the MSW and MBA programs. Students can expect to learn the tools they need for organizational management (such as accounting and finance) along with the psychological elements and techniques needed to be an effective social worker.

Some examples of courses students may encounter in these programs include:

Human Behavior

Human behavior classes in an MSW setting focus on theories that are foundational in the field of social work. This can include cognitive, psychoanalytic and learning theories. Students learn about influences on human behavior throughout the lifespan to more effectively address the needs of a wide range of clients.


Diversity classes in an MSW program will address the wide range of backgrounds and cultures that people seeking social services come from. This includes things like ethnicity, gender, age and social class. These courses examine how these different groupings of people fit into and interact in society including concepts like oppression, marginalization and bias.

Accounting for Managers

These classes emphasize the accounting techniques that business managers are expected to be familiar with. Concepts covered include interpreting and preparing financial statements, business valuation and risk analysis.

Analytics for Managers

Students learn how to gather and use data to address different tasks and problems that are common at the management level of businesses. Concepts covered include data collection, organization and analysis. Students also learn how to express their findings visually for the purpose of reports.

Field Work

MSW programs very often have some sort of ongoing field work component in a social services setting. The student is usually placed with a local agency or organization that provides some sort of social services. Students may shadow a professional social worker or do an internship, depending on the terms of each program.

Admissions Requirements

Students generally have to apply and be accepted to both the MSW and MBA programs at a given school. Each program may have different prerequisite requirements.

There are some general conditions that students can be prepared for, however. For example, prospective applicants should expect these programs to ask that students hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. The subject it is in often does not matter, but some schools ask for a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergrad work. They may also ask that certain coursework (such as statistics) be completed before beginning the program.

Other common requirements include two or three letters of recommendation, a personal essay or statement of purpose, and recent completion of the GRE or GMAT. International students may be asked to demonstrate English proficiency by taking the TOEFL.

Students can expect to graduate from a dual degree MSW/MBA program ready to move immediately into the management ranks at a social services organization, NGO or private business that interacts with underprivileged and disadvantaged populations. Administrative positions in government are also a possibility with this combination of degrees.

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