Dual Degrees, Specializations and the Macro Minor

BUSSW student ambassador Kendall B. / BU School of Social Work

Hi! My name is Kendall and I am a current BU MSW student majoring in Macro Social Work and specializing in Trauma and Violence.

BUSSW offers a variety of ways for students to customize their education to fit their professional interests. With dual degree programs, specializations, and a Macro minor, there are many options for BUSSW students to make their education their own.

Dual Degrees

The School’s three different dual degree options are social work and public health, social work and education, and social work and theology. These dual degrees present a unique opportunity to earn two master’s degrees at once and prepare yourself to work in an interdisciplinary settings. Dual degree students are able to immerse themselves in overlapping concepts, classes, and internship positions. They also present students with a wide range of career opportunities in the field.

I considered the social work and public health dual degree program, but chose not to go that route because I wanted to focus exclusively on social work. I do know several classmates who are in various dual degree programs and I know they have found the integration of social work and other fields of study useful to their learning and future career.

Macro Minor

Another way to customize your education is through the Macro minor. Clinical students who have an interest in macro work can choose to add the minor to their studies to expand their curriculum. This is a great way for clinical students to gain experience on macro topics such as community organizing and program management. Students who elect to complete the Macro minor gain valuable knowledge and skills that can enhance their clinical work in the field. These students take two electives in Macro practice courses and must complete some macro work at their advanced field placement. The Macro minor is very popular among Clinical students and is a unique aspect of the BUSSW program.


For me, choosing the Trauma and Violence specialization offered another  way to customize my education. While many students pursue a specialization, it is not required. When you declare a specialization, you focus your electives and your advanced field placement on a particular area of interest. For example, I am currently completing my advanced field placement at a domestic violence agency in the Greater Boston area, which fits well with my interest in trauma response and violence prevention.

Besides the Trauma and Violence specialization, BUSSW also offers specializations in Aging (the Lowy Specialization in Aging Practice, Policy, and Social Justice); Children, Youth and Families; and Behavioral Health. All specializations are completed by taking three elective classes related to the area of focus. For my Trauma and Violence specialization, I completed a foundation-level course called “Foundations in Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice, Programs, & Policy” as well as two additional electives that were on a list approved by the specialization team. Each specialization has different course requirements, but all of them follow the same general format. You can learn about each of the specializations here. Once you are a student in the program, the Registrar, the Student Services team, and the specialization coordinators will guide you on which classes you need to complete the specialization.

I am an Advanced Standing student (I entered the program with a Bachelor of Social Work), so I am on an accelerated one-year program track at BUSSW. This means I need to make sure I am always moving in the right direction with my specialization classes because, unlike other students, Advanced Standing students begin their specializations in the first semester of the program.

When I expressed interest in the Trauma and Violence specialization before classes began, the BUSSW staff were very encouraging and quickly got me the information I needed on which classes to sign up for and what the specialization requirements were. I had some serious scheduling issues in the fall semester and was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish my specialization on time because I didn’t have enough room in my schedule. The Registrar was very understanding and worked hard to help me move some of my classes around so I could create space for electives and finish my specialization.

I chose to pursue my specialization because I wanted to supplement my education with classes that are of particular interest to me. BUSSW offers students many options to mold their degree into what they want; some students who have multiple interests will even choose to complete a dual degree, specialization, and macro minor. It is really up to you! Personally, I feel great knowing that when I graduate in September 2021, I will have supplemented my social work education in ways that will have a meaningful, long-term impact on my career.