MSW/PhD in Social Work

CHANGES TO COME: In the next handful of weeks, we will be announcing a newly-redesigned MSW curriculum and launching a newly-redesigned website! Some areas of our current website may not yet reflect the most current information for prospective students, but please bear with us as we work through all of the necessary updates.

If you are a prospective student with questions, please contact If you are a current student with questions, please reach out to your advisor. Thank you for your patience!

What's the difference between a Master of Social Work (MSW) and a PhD?

The MSW is considered the terminal degree for students interested in a practice career. The PhD in social work is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students to teach and to conduct research, and is not to be confused with a practice degree. Most graduates of the PhD program obtain positions at universities, at research institutions or in government. (To learn more about the PhD program, go to our Main PhD Page.)

What is the advantage of applying to the combined program versus the MSW program only?

The combined program allows students to complete the MSW degree while earning credit toward the PhD degree. Instead of taking six years to complete the MSW and PhD programs separately, students in the combined program can complete the MSW and PhD degree in five years. Applicants admitted to the combined program work with the director of the PhD program to develop an individualized program of study.

Am I eligible for the combined program?

If you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, (or an equivalent degree from another country as determined by the Office of Graduate Admissions), with a distribution of courses reflecting a liberal arts perspective, including courses in the humanities, and in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences, you can apply to the Combined MSW/PhD program.

How do I apply?

The MSW Admissions Panel reviews applications to the MSW Program, and the PhD Admissions Panel reviews applications to the PhD program. Therefore, you will need to complete the entire application process and forms for BOTH the MSW and the PhD program. For information about the admissions policies and procedures for each program, go to our main Admissions page.