Interested in a dual degree with public health?

Hi all,

With the new year upon us, it’s time to think about our goals, aspirations, and dreams for 2015. If you just submitted your MSW application for 2015, are thinking about applying, or are a current MSW student with BIG DREAMS, keep reading this post!!!

I am a dual degree student in the MSW-MPH program (in my 2nd year of the MSW program and 1st year of the MPH program), and I LOVE both programs! One thing many incoming MSW students are not aware of is the fact that the UNC School of Social Work offers many dual degree opportunities MSW students can enroll in. The UNC School of Social Work has dual degree programs with:

If you are interested in the dual degree with public health, you have the option of getting your MSW along with your MPH or your MSPH, and can complete both degrees in 2 to 3 years. I am an MSW/MPH student, and I will be completing both degrees in just 2.5 years (pretty awesome deal!!!). Here’s the layout of my dual degree schedule:

  • Year 1: MSW student only. I was enrolled as a full time MSW student, and it was a fantastic year! I took 4 classes per semester plus a field seminar, and had my field placement at two elementary schools in Siler City, North Carolina, working as a school social work intern. During December of my MSW year, I applied to the public health program, and got accepted in March! (If you are interested in the dual degree, you can apply during the first semester of your first MSW year, OR you can apply to both the MSW and MPH programs at once when you are applying to UNC).
  • Year 2: Both Public Health and Social Work: This year I am in BOTH programs, which means I am taking courses at both schools! All dual degree students set their schedules up a little differently, but I set mine up so that I had 4 MPH classes and 1 MSW class in my first semester, and will have 3 MPH classes and 2 MSW classes in my second semester. I’ve still had courses with my friends and colleagues at the school of social work, but have also expanded my social and academic network by taking courses with other MPH students. The one thing that makes this year a LOT different than year 1 is the fact that I don’t have a field placement this year – instead I am only in classes, and will be doing my 2nd field placement in the summer!
  • Summer (after year 2): Field Placement!!! This summer I will be completing my second field placement. My field placement will incorporate both public health and social work skills, and will last the entire summer. I am hoping to work at a youth-focused organization in Raleigh or Durham. I haven’t applied to field placements yet, but I plan to do so in the next couple weeks! I’ll keep you all posted!
  • Year 3 (first semester only):  I will be taking a few final MPH and MSW courses, and will be finishing my degree!!!

So you may be wondering, why did I choose to do a dual degree? I LOVE social work. I love its focus on social justice, positively impacting communities and individuals, finding strengths in all people, and building future leaders. The UNC School of Social Work has introduced me to a community of passionate, inspirational students, professors and alumni, and I have really enjoyed all of my classes and my field placement experience. HOWEVER, I have ALSO always been very passionate about the field of public health, and the dual degree has allowed me to pursue both tracks. Here’s why I love the dual degree:

  • I’m getting TWO masters instead of one, which will make me more marketable in the workforce.
  • By combining both programs, I am truly getting an interdisciplinary education. Combining both programs allows me to interact with students and professors from a wide-array of backgrounds and fields, and to expand my way of thinking beyond just one lens.
  • Gaining more skills – In addition to social work skills, I am also gaining a lot of skills from the public health program that will make me more effective in the workplace after I graduate!
  • Summer field placement- Since the second field placement is in the summer, rather than during the academic school year, you can do your 2nd field placement ANYWHERE! I am choosing to stay in North Carolina, but if I wanted I could complete my field placement in California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Ghana, or wherever I want (international placements take a bit more planning though).

A few things to know if you want to do the dual degree:

  • You have to be a CMPP (Community, Management, and Policy Practice) Social Work major (that means if you are hoping to be a direct practice major and become a clinical therapist, this might not be the right track for you).
  • You have to enroll in the MPH in Maternal and Child Health. This concentration focuses on the health and well-being of children, mothers, and families.

Hope this helps! I could go on and on about the benefits of the dual degree, so please contact me if you have questions about the MSW program or the dual degree with public health!


About melaniesadurunc

Welcome to the UNC School of Social Work Ambassador blog! I am a 2nd year Full Time MSW student, also doing the MSW/MPH dual degree. I am from Chicago, and have been living in North Carolina for two years. My social work interests include low-income communities, at-risk youth and educational attainment, social determinants of health, Immigrant populations, and families & children. I am a strong social justice advocate and outdoor enthusiast, which makes NC a great place for me to live! I love to run, hike, and see friends in my free time.
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