Clinical Social Work and Behavioral Medicine Certificate Program

In 2003 the Boston University School of Social Work and the Boston University School of Medicine’s program in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine began offering a specialty program: Clinical Social Work & Behavioral Medicine. Behavioral medicine is an interdisciplinary field concerned with the development, integration, and application of behavioral and biomedical scientific knowledge and techniques for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of various complex illnesses and disorders. This certificate program expands the knowledge base for clinical social work practice by including specialized courses on behavioral neuroscience, psychopharmacology, and behavioral medicine/applied health sciences. This program is especially useful to clinicians who wish to practice effectively in interdisciplinary teams focused on emerging and chronic health issues such as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, obesity and its complications, cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and substance abuse. Upon completion of the program, students will be able to work effectively across disciplines using this new synthesis of knowledge and skills.


This program is designed primarily for clinical majors and requires a total of either 68 or 71 credits, which is more than the 65 credits required for the MSW degree alone. During their MSW program, students take three courses at the School of Medicine in the following content areas: behavioral medicine/applied health psychology, psychopharmacology, and behavioral neuroscience. A fourth course is an elective, which can be taken at either school and which relates to a student’s particular interests. The program is open to both full- and part-time students. Full-time students are required to take either one or two summer session courses between first and second year and will graduate with their class in the following May. The field placement process remains the same, but students are encouraged to choose placements in health or mental health care settings in which a behavioral medicine component may be integrated.


Please note that there are two admission points into this program, depending on when students want to begin their studies (first-year admission or second-year admission). Full-time students wishing to begin their studies during their first year must apply by late October of their first semester and, if accepted, will begin their course of studies in January of their first year. Full-time students may delay entry and begin their coursework at the School of Medicine in their second year, applying for admission to the program in February of their first year. In both cases, full-time students must take either 3 or 6 summer credits between first and second year if they wish to graduate with their entering class. Part-time students may apply any time, and an individual program will be created for them.

Interested students should complete the process described below:

  • Attend one of the Program Information Sessions or meet individually with the program director
  • Submit a program application, résumé, and two letters of reference to the program director. Applications may be obtained outside SSW Room 221 on the CSWBM bulletin board.
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Be able to document the ability to do graduate-level work in science-related content (undergraduate coursework in some sciences or physiological psychology)
  • Be a full-time first-year student, able and willing to take one or two summer courses, or be a part-time student able to attend classes at the School of Medicine in the coming year

Participation in the Program

While in the program, students will be provided with academic advising from a SSW-based adviser, as well as program advising with the program director several times a year. Please be advised that the Boston University School of Medicine is located on the Medical Campus about three miles away from the SSW. The BU Shuttle travels back and forth several times an hour and is free to BU students. Many students carpool or travel back and forth together.


Graduates of the certificate program are issued professional certificates signed by the dean of the School of Social Work, the program director for the Clinical Social Work and Behavioral Medicine Certificate Program, and the program director on the Medical Campus.

Tuition and Financial Aid

There are additional costs associated with this program because students are required to take either one or two SSW summer courses between the first and second years.

For students who take two summer session courses at the School of Social Work: the cost of 6 credits at the Charles River Campus would be $903 per credit, for a total of $5,418, plus s $40 per session registration fee. Generally, students may borrow a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan to cover the costs, since six credits is considered “half time.”

For students who take one summer session course at the School of Social Work, the cost is again $903 per credit, for a total of $2,709.  One option in the summer for students taking less than six credits would be a non-Federal, credit-based loan. Another option would be available if a student has not borrowed the full $20,500 Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan for the academic year. If a student still has borrowing eligibility, they can borrow enough funds (in the spring semester) to cover the summer. Since most full-time students do borrow the maximum amount for fall and spring semesters, this is often not a viable plan. Please contact Ina Frye, Senior Manager of Financial Aid at BUSSW, for additional information.

    Contact Information

    Janice Furlong, MSW, Clinical Associate Professor, Program Director
    Steve Brady, PhD, Director, Master’s Program in Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine at the Graduate School of Medical Sciences

    Please see the bulletin board outside Room 221 for program announcements and general information. Please plan on attending one of the Program Information Sessions in the first and early second semester of each academic year. Contact Clinical Associate Professor Janice Furlong with any additional questions.