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Boston College School of Social Work
MSW/PhD Student Dedicates Her Life's Work to Racial Healing

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In this Q&A, she places into context many of her life experiences and how they have brought her to Boston College; she talks about her project to develop a model for racial trauma healing for African Americans; and she explains why social work is so critically important to eradicating racism. More about Melissa and her work in this Q&A Blog»

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MSW/MA (Theology and Ministry)


In 1989 the Dual Degree in Social Work (MSW) and Theology and Ministry (MA) Program was developed by the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM), now part of the School of Theology and Ministry (STM), and the School of Social Work (SSW) for students who are interested in serving both the pastoral and social needs of individuals, families, groups and communities. The 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 Theology and Ministry (MA) and the Master of Social Work (MSW) degrees in approximately 3 years of full-time study (less if taking STM summer courses; more if approved for part-time study by the SSW).


  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.


  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 48 credits for the MA in Theology in Ministry, 8 credits of which are taken in BCSSW courses.
    3. Dual degree students complete the degrees with a total of 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. All MA/MSW students enroll in Spiritual Formation for the Practice of Ministry (1 credit) in the fall and continue through the spring semester of their first full academic year, regardless of whether they are enrolled in STM or SSW.    
  7. Students pursuing the MA in Theology and Ministry/MSW Integrated Program (Option A) and the School-Specific Program (Option B) are expected to receive both degrees at May commencement; students pursuing the STM MA in Theology and Ministry, primarily in the summers (Option C) normally receive both degrees on August 30th.
  8. 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.
  9. Students must participate in the Professional Ethics in Ministry Workshop.  Part I is traditionally offered in the fall and Part II in the spring, both during the first year of study at the STM.


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: Jennifer Bader, Associate Dean, 617-552-4478, and Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Associate Professor of Theology and Latino/Latina Ministry, 617-552-2285 or
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,


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 is paid to the school in which the dual degree student is currently enrolled. For Options A & B, tuition is paid to the STM in Academic Year I and for any or all summers and to the SSW in Academic Years II and III; for Option C, students pay tuition to the STM in Summers I, II and III and the the SSW in Academic Years I and II 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.


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.


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

MSW/MA Information and Curriculum Plans 2017-2018 (PDF)