I’m now officially a dual degree student in the School of Public Health (SPH) and the School of Social Work (SSW). I’m studying Health Behavior and Health Education in SPH and Community Organizing and Community & Social Systems in SSW. I started in SPH and applied to join the SSW after my first year because I wanted to learn more about community-level work. There are a few really great classes in SPH about community-level work, but I wanted more. The dual degree programs are great, because you can get both master degrees in a shorter amount of time. Some classes cancel out requirements from the other program, so it saves money and time in the long run. Since U-M has so many great graduate programs, it’s a great addition to your professional training. There are a number of dual degree programs you can do with public health.
Social work is often divided into two major fields – micro practice and macro practice. At U-M, the SSW micro field is called Interpersonal Practice and the macro field is broken up into three separate tracks: Community Organizing, Management of Human Services, and Policy & Evaluation. To do the dual MPH/MSW, you have to be in the HBHE department in SPH. Some students do the dual MPH/MSW because they feel that public health is very broad and macro-level, so they want to learn more how to work one-on-one with individuals and families. Some feel that HBHE focuses on individual behavior change and not enough on community-level change. After talking to the other nearly twenty dual degree students, we realized it is really up to your interpretation. I’m very happy I added the MSW, but I’m still very excited about my future public health courses that I have left (especially my course HBHE 640: Community Organization for Health Education!).