The Dual Move
This dual degree in social work and business turns students into a rare double threat
By Eric Butterman
Social work is all about helping others—but you can only do it if the organization you work for or lead has the business sense to stay afloat. In the reverse, a businessperson who has social work knowledge can help turn their expertise into an opportunity to make a world of difference. The Master of Business Administration/Master of Social Work (MBA/MSW) dual degree offered through the Hankamer School of Business and the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work offers a rare chance to have knowledge in both areas.
“Many social workers have the right intentions but often not the right business skills,” Laurie Wilson, the director of Graduate Business Degree Programs, said. “This equips them so they have a leg up in accounting, operations and many different facets which go into a successful nonprofit or business. For business students, it can give them a leg up in advancing further in the nonprofit world, companies with a social impact component and other areas as well.”
Sarah Dorrell Ritter, lecturer and MSW program director, believes the dual degree program is a great complement in an ever-competitive world. The partnership offers social work undergraduates an opportunity at a two-year master’s program as opposed to the traditional one-year MSW length.
“One reason some students have chosen it is because they want to better understand how to succeed in administration and planning in a nonprofit,” Ritter said. “For business students, it can completely change how a company looks at them. For example, IBM is hiring social workers to improve their interdepartmental relations and improve their staff.”
Courses in the dual degree on the social work side include Professional Practice with Groups, Social Policy for Social Work Practice and clinical practice classes such as Advanced Clinical Theories and Models. There are also community practice courses such as Frameworks and Perspectives for Community Practice. On the MBA side, students experience multiple classes in corporate finance, operations management and quantitative methods, just to name a few areas.
“Usually you will start on the business side or the social work side,”Ritter said. “For students that have completed their social work degree at the bachelor’s level, for example, they would come to us and complete courses, first doing specialized clinical or a community track. You would probably finish those and then go to the MBA program. Several of the electives for this program can be drawn on from their MSW degree. For example, a research class and a policy class could count towards their MBA degree, allowing them to get the degree more quickly.”
But regardless of which side you start on, this dual degree will open up many more doors.
“The nonprofit and for-profit worlds are changing,” Ritter said. “This is a great way to change with them.”