MSW/PhD Joint Degree

A limited number of applicants are accepted into a program of study that leads to both a Masters of Social Work and a PhD in Social Work. This program is designed for on-campus applicants whose long-range goals and past experiences are consistent with the aims of both programs and who wish to accelerate their education. The joint degree program allows students to substitute MSW courses for some doctoral-level courses and vice versa.


You must be admitted to both the MSW and PhD programs before you are accepted as a joint-degree student. You will apply to both programs at the same time using the application process, below. The deadline to apply to the MSW/PhD Joint Program is November 15th. Once accepted to both programs, you must complete an Intent to Complete MSW/PhD Dual Degree (PDF).

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Credit Requirements and Curriculum


Here is how your courses are broken down:

Regular Standing Students 96 total credits

  • 81 program-specific credits
    • 36 PhD (assuming 12 dissertation hours)
    • 45 MSW
  • 15 shared credits between both programs

Advanced Standing Students 75 total credits

  • 60 program-specific credits
    • 36 PhD (assuming 12 dissertation hours)
    • 24 MSW
  • 15 shared credits between both programs

The joint degree takes eleven or twelve semesters to complete, including summer semesters. Explore our sample plans of study.

Credit requirements, shared hours and curriculum focus conform to the requirements of the MU Graduate School, and the national accrediting body for graduate education in social work (CSWE).

MSW/PhD Joint Program Admission Requirements

To be eligible for the MSW/PhD Joint Program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Graduate School minimum requirements
  • 3.0 or better GPA in the last 60 hours of baccalaureate coursework and a 3.0 (3.5 recommended) GPA in all graduate level coursework.
  • A grade of B or higher in all research methods and statistics courses taken within the last 5 years.
  • Statistics Prerequisite:
    • You must complete an approved college level statistics course with a grade of B or higher.
    • MU courses: SW 4310 is the recommended course for MU students, but Statistics 1200, Statistics 1300 and ECP 4170 are also approved courses.
    • Non-MU courses: If you completed a statistics courses at another institution, it may be approved, pending submission of your transcript and approval by the MSW Program Director.
    • We recommend you complete your statistics course before applying. If you are enrolled in a statistics course when you are accepted to the MSW program, your acceptance will be “pending successful completion of the approved statistics class.”
  • A Master’s degree or a minimum of two years of work experience in the social work field.
  • International Students Only: Internet-based TOEFL or IELTS scores that meet the minimum sub-scores in the table, below. We do not offer conditional admission and we do not waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement for any reason, including having completed a degree at an English speaking university.

TOEFL or IELTS Scores for international applicants. Submission of internet-based TOEFL or an IELTS scores is required. Minimum sub-scores are:

Skill Internet-based TOEFL IELTS
READING 21 6.5

Apply to the MSW/PhD Joint Program

To apply, you will submit one application through the Office of Graduate Studies. That application will serve as your application for both the MSW and PhD programs, and the Office of Graduate Studies.

First, create an account on the Office of Graduate Studies application system. There, you will select either “Doctorate-On Campus” or “Master’s On-campus” from the drop-down menu under Degree/Delivery. Either of these options will allow you to select “Social Work/Joint MSW-PhD Program” from the drop down menu under Academic Program.

Application Materials

Once you create an application through the application system, upload the following materials:

  • Resume/CV
  • Transcripts
    • Upload unofficial transcripts to your application. If you can’t obtain an unofficial transcript, a scanned copy of your official transcripts is also acceptable.
  • Three letters of reference:
    • Your references should be professionals (professors, employers, supervisors, etc.) who can speak to your intellectual ability/critical thinking, interpersonal skills, potential for social work research/scholarship, potential for graduate education and potential for professional social work practice.
    • Two of the three references should be from former or current professors.
    • References may not be friends or relatives.
  • MSW Program Personal Statement (uploaded to Essay)
    • Answer all areas listed on the Personal Statement. Upload your answers in one document. Do not submit a different document for each question.
  • PhD Program Personal Statement (uploaded to Statement of Purpose)
    • Answer all areas listed on the PhD Statement of Purpose form. Upload your answers in one document. Do not submit a different document for each question.
  • Writing Sample
    • Examples of a writing sample could include a previous publication, book chapter, master’s thesis, unpublished research paper, etc.
  • Field Practicum Information – ADVANCED STANDING STUDENTS ONLY:
    • Upload a copy of your final field evaluation to “Supplemental Materials.” If you do not have access to your final field evaluation, we will accept a recommendation from your field instructor (as one of your three required references) in lieu of the evaluation.
    • o Sub-scores must meet the minimum requirements as listed above.