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MSW/MA (Pastoral Ministry)

In 1989 the Dual Degree in Social Work (MSW) and Pastoral Ministry (MA) Program was developed by the Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW) and Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, now part of the School of Theology and Ministry (STM), for students who are interested in serving both the pastoral and social needs of individuals, families, groups, and communities.


The MSW/MA in Pastoral Ministry Dual Degree program reflects the University's mission to educate individuals who are committed to the pursuit of social justice. A specific goal is to develop the skills and credentials necessary to plan, administer and/or provide social services within a local church or church-related agency. Students admitted to the program may expect to receive both the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (summer) or Theology and Ministry (academic year) (MA) and the Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees in approximately three years of full-time study (less if taking STM summer courses; more if approved for part-time study by the BCSSW).


  1. To educate practitioners in social work and pastoral ministry who can effectively integrate their theological understanding with the theories and practice of social work.
  2. To provide the core curriculum of each discipline while enabling students to concentrate in the specific area of knowledge and practice that corresponds to their professional goals.
  3. To provide applied learning experiences with professional supervision through two field internships. In the second year the student is under LICSW supervision. The opportunity for pastoral supervision is also provided.
  4. To prepare practitioners who have a commitment to work with the church in bringing about a human condition that is free from violence, oppression, and discrimination, and one that protects and promotes the development of all peoples.

Program Requirements

  1. Students must be accepted independently to the STM and to the BCSSW.
  2. Students may begin their studies in either the STM or BCSSW or by taking courses in both programs simultaneously (see notes on Options A, B, and C below). BCSSW requirements are sequenced but STM requirements need not be. The student is responsible for contacting the University's Office of Student Services to change school status during the course of study.
  3. The program is designed for completion in three years with extension to four years for those starting on a part-time basis. Requests for extensions must be approved by the BCSSW Academic Standards Review Committee and the Dean of the BCSSW.
  4. The integrity of both the MA and the MSW degrees is to be maintained as follows:
    1. BCSSW requires 65 credits for the MSW degree, 9 of which are taken in STM courses.
    2. STM requires 35 credits for the Summer Program (Option A) MA degree, 8 credits of which are taken in BCSSW courses.
    3. STM requires 48 credits for the Integrated Program (Option B) and School-Specific Program (Option C), 10 credits of which are taken in BCSSW courses.
    4. Dual degree students in the STM Summer Program (Option A) complete the requirements for both degrees with a total of 83 credits rather than 100 credits if taken independently; and students in the Integrated Program (Option B) and the School-Specific Program (Option C) complete the degrees with 96 credits rather than 113 credits if taken independently.
  5. Students are to develop an appropriate course of study working with the designated advisors at the respective schools.
  6. Students pursuing the STM Summer Program (Option A) normally receive both degrees on August 30th; and students pursuing the Academic Year Program (Option B) are expected to receive both degrees at May commencement.
  7. The two required field internships are through the BCSSW. The first internship is during the student's MSW first full-time year; the second is during the final academic year.

Student Advisement

The BCSSW and the STM assign each student advisors in their respective schools when a student begins his or her program of study for the dual degree. Students are encouraged to meet with advisors in each school to plan their individual programs.

The BCSSW and the STM each have a liaison for the MSW/MA Dual Degree Program. They can help answer your questions regarding the program in general and will serve as your primary contact in each of the schools throughout the course of your studies. The liaisons are:

STM: Sean Porter, Assistant Dean, 9 Lake St 224A, 617-552-6535,
Jennifer Bader, Associate Dean, 617-552-4478,
BCSSW: Teresa Schirmer, Associate Dean, Academic & Student Services, McGuinn 136, 617-552-4762,

For information concerning adding or dropping a course, course scheduling and availability, etc., please contact:

STM: Donna DeRosa, Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Academic Services, 9 Lake St 224B, 617-552-8441,
BCSSW: Teresa Schirmer, Associate Dean, Academic & Student Services, McGuinn 136, 617-552-4762,

Field Education

The dual degree requires two field placements during the two years of social work study. Both are under the auspices of the School of Social Work. The first-year social work placement is designed to be a broadening experience, and can be done in a religious setting or a placement setting that honors the spiritual dimension of the person. The second year of field education affords the student the option of being placed within an agency that is consistent with the student's pastoral goals. These include hospital-based placements, mental health centers, hospice programs, various programs with Catholic Charities, women's shelters, etc. There are opportunities for working with children, families, the aging, teens, etc., in clinical, community organizing and administration settings.

In planning for your second placement, students should meet with the Field Faculty at the BCSSW before finalizing the placement application.

Field Placements: Joe McLaughlin, Field Education Specialist, 617-552-0831,

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition is paid to the school in which the dual degree student is currently enrolled. If a full-time student is taking some courses in each of the two schools, they should pay tuition to the school they are enrolled in more than part-time. For Option A, students pay tuition to the STM in Summers I, II, and III, and to the BCSSW in Academic Years I and II; and for Options B & C, tuition is paid to the STM in Academic Year I and in the Summer Session prior to Academic Year III and to the BCSSW in Academic Years II and III. Financial aid packages are provided by each school independently. Students must apply for financial aid in each school. For example, students who begin their studies in Social Work in the fall should complete applications for financial aid to the STM in the following spring to be applied the following academic year when they will be studying Pastoral Ministry.

MSW/MA Student Forum

The dual degree students lead a Student Forum which has proven to be an effective link between the two schools. The forum has contributed to the academic, social, and professional life of the students and to the development of the dual degree program. Student Forum programs may include a panel of social workers/ministers sharing their experiences of integrating their professional identities, a discussion of career opportunities open to dual degree graduates, potluck dinners, and a retreat for dual degree students.

Look for posting of the first meeting of the Student Forum during the academic year. This meeting will provide an opportunity for both continuing and new students to get to know one another and make suggestions for Student Forum events.

Course Work

Students should meet with their advisor to discuss course options prior to registration. Worksheets for Options A (3 summers/2 academic years), Option B (integrated, 3 academic years) and C (school specific, 3 academic years) of the MSW/MA Dual Degree Program are available.

MSW/MA Information and Curriculum Plans 2014-2015 (PDF)