Dual Degree Program in Social Work and Education

The dual degree program in Social Work and Special Education was established at Boston University in 1988 in recognition of the fact that social workers and educators are deeply involved in working with children and families who are at risk. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for students to develop skills in both professional arenas and to take leadership in designing and administering creative direct service and programmatic responses to the changing needs of schools, families, and communities.

The program is a multifaceted course of study leading to two master’s degrees—Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Education (EdM), with options to focus either in Special Education or Educational Leadership. Teacher certification in Special Education may also be obtained with additional coursework beyond that which is required for the MSW/EdM. An additional dual degree, the MSW, and a doctorate in Special Education (EdD) are also offered to qualified students.

The MSW/EdM program usually takes two and a half to three years of full-time study, though more time may be required if the student wishes to pursue teacher licensure in Special Education. The MSW/EdD program is contingent on completion of comprehensive examinations and dissertation research. Coursework takes about three years.

Programs and Goals

  • Both social workers and educators are deeply involved in working with children and families at risk. The dual degree programs are designed to give students skills that crosscut these disciplines that will be applicable in a variety of social work and education settings and in a variety of professional roles.
  • Interested students concentrate in either Clinical or Macro Social Work at the School of Social Work. At the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, they concentrate in Special Education or Educational Leadership and may obtain teacher certification with additional coursework.
  • Program graduates are currently working in a wide variety of positions from early intervention programs to AIDS education, school administration and school social work to YMCA program planning. Some describe themselves as primarily social workers, others as primarily teachers/administrators, and still others as both.

Degree Requirements

  • Students are expected to meet the core requirements of both schools. Course savings come from the capacity to use electives in one program to take courses in the other school, and from a limited number of pre-approved courses that count for credit in both schools.
  • Students may graduate with both master’s degrees with a total of 83 credits as opposed to 101 credits if the degrees were taken separately. Many students opt to take the maximum number of courses covered by their tuition.
  • Students starting at the School of Social Work will find their first-year coursework similar to that of other social work students. In the second year, coursework is commonly done at both schools. Students who start in the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development may count some of their education courses toward fulfilling the social work elective requirements.
  • With approval of the student’s advisor, almost all education courses are open to dual degree students in fulfillment of their education degree.

Field Education

The Wheelock College of Education & Human Development requires a field placement only for students who are seeking Special Education Teaching licensure. However, it is recommended for all students. The School of Social Work requires two social work internships for all students.

Admission & Financial Assistance

Applicants may apply to both programs simultaneously or they can apply to the School of Social Work or the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development through the normal channels and, at the end of the first semester of matriculation, apply to the second school. Candidates are encouraged to apply at the end of the first semester of graduate study by filling out the application for the second school, interviewing with the program director of their primary school, and getting recommendations from current professors or supervisors.

A grade point average of 3.0 or its equivalent in previous undergraduate or graduate coursework is required. The most recent grades (i.e., the last two years of undergraduate study) or recent graduate study will be given priority. The application fee is waived for the second school and previous test scores and transcripts will be forwarded by the primary school at the student’s request. Students applying to the doctorate (MSW/EdD) degree program must have at least three years of experience in education or a related field. Tuition and financial aid are based on the school in which the student is taking the majority of credits (the current primary school of residence).

While there are no specific scholarships exclusively for dual degree students, every effort is made to help students manage the financial obligations.