Program accreditation
Council on Education for Public Health (M.P.H.)
Council on Social Work Education (M.S.W.)

To qualify as a dual degree student in any of the training paradigms which appear in the Bulletin, a student must have evidence of having been simultaneously enrolled in one or more courses of both of the programs constituting the “dual degree” for at least one semester.

Through a collaborative program between the VCU School of Social Work and the Division of Epidemiology in the School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, students complete a three-year full-time program of study, including summer course work, to obtain the Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees. The purpose of this dual degree program is to prepare graduates to work with individuals, families, groups, communities and/or organizations; advocate for social, health care and economic justice in a diverse and multicultural society; and promote physical and mental health across the life course.

Prospective students are required to apply separately to both programs through the appropriate application portal indicated in the admission requirements section of this Bulletin and must meet both sets of admission requirements. Once admitted to both programs, the student is assigned an adviser from each to develop a plan of study, typically starting with the M.S.W. course work. It is preferable that students apply to both programs at the same time so that the structured dual degree curriculum can be optimally planned. Students in one program may also apply to the second program during the first year of study.

Students are required to complete a minimum of 45 M.S.W. credit hours and a minimum of 36 M.P.H. credit hours, for a total of 81 semester credit hours. In the M.P.H. program, this includes 27 credit hours of core and required courses, a minimum six credit hours of elective courses and a minimum of three credit hours of a capstone project that examines a relevant public health topic. Note that some elective courses may not be available in certain years or may require instructor permission for registration. During the third and last year of study, dual degree students are placed in internships through the School of Social Work that focus on public health; the internship placement is approved by both the M.P.H. program director and the director of the M.S.W. field instruction. With adviser approval, the student may develop a capstone project based on work in this public health/social work placement.

For the M.P.H., apply online at and submit a supplemental VCU application following instructions available at; for the M.S.W., apply online at

Please review the admission requirements for each stand-alone degree (Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work) in the VCU Graduate Bulletin to learn the specific application requirements for each program.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
Program core
BIOS 543Graduate Research Methods I3
BIOS 544Graduate Research Methods II3
EPID 547Applied Data Analysis Lab I1.5
EPID 548Applied Data Analysis Lab II1.5
EPID 571Principles of Epidemiology3
EPID 580Public Health Ethics1
EPID 593Foundations of the Public Health Profession2
EPID 594MPH Practicum2
EPID 604Principles of Environmental Health3
EPID 694MPH Capstone Project3
HCPR 601Introduction to Health Policy3
IPEC 501Foundations of Interprofessional Practice1
SBHD 605Introduction to Social and Behavioral Health3
SLWK 601Human Behavior in the Social Environment I3
SLWK 602Policy, Community and Organizational Practice I3
SLWK 603Social Work and Social Justice3
SLWK 604Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups I3
SLWK 605Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups II3
SLWK 606Policy, Community and Organizational Practice II3
SLWK 609Foundations of Research in Social Work Practice3
SLWK 610Human Behavior in the Social Environment II3
SLWK 693Generalist Field Instruction I3
SLWK 694Generalist Field Instruction II3
Concentration courses
Select one of the following concentrations:9
M.S.W. clinical concentration:
Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Clinical Social Work Practice I
Clinical Social Work Practice II
M.S.W. SWAPPP concentration:
Strategies for Social Work Planning and Administrative Practice
Social Work Planning and Administrative Practice I
Social Work Planning and Administrative Practice II
SLWK 793Concentration Field Instruction I3
SLWK 794Concentration Field Instruction II3
Additional program courses
Select a minimum of six graduate elective credits from the following:6
Spatial Data Analysis
Clinical Trials
Design Implications in Clinical Trials
Adaptive Clinical Trials
Introduction to Public Health
Contemporary Issues and Controversies in Public Health
Public Health Policy and Politics
Epidemiologic Methods
Maternal and Child Health
Chronic Disease Epidemiology
Public Health Genomics
Epidemiology of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders
Independent Study
Introduction to Grant Writing
Physiological Aging
Social Gerontology
Problems, Issues and Trends in Gerontology
Contemporary Issues in Health
Exercise, Nutrition and Weight Management
Nutrition for Health and Physical Activity
Psychology of Physical Activity
Psychosocial Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity
Introduction to Human Genetics
Advanced Human Genetics
Principles of Human Behavioral Genetics
Emergency Management: Response Planning and Incident Command
Risk Assessment
Public Health Preparedness
Health Psychology
Research Methods in Social and Behavioral Health
Theoretical Foundations of Social and Behavioral Health
Health Disparities and Social Justice
Community-based Participatory Research
Program Evaluation
Applications in Qualitative Research Methods
Domestic and Sexual Violence in Social Context
Aging and the Minority Community
Seminar in Population Studies
Seminar in Racial and Ethnic Relations in America
Studies in the Community
Seminar in Criminology
Community and Community Services for the Elderly
Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence: Medical Practice and Policy
Application of the Policy Process to Issues of Violence
Social Contexts of Childhood and Violence
Theorizing Gender Violence
The Sociology of Health and Illness
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Community Socioeconomic Analysis Using GIS
Spatial Database Management and GIS Modeling
Noncurricular requirements
In addition to course work, students must attend 12 public health seminars and complete 20 hours of community-based service-learning.

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for the combined M.P.H./M.S.W. is 81.

Typical plan of study

Many students often end up taking more than the minimum number of hours required for a degree program. The total number of hours may vary depending upon the program, nature of research being conducted by a study, or in the enrollment or funding status of the student. Students should refer to their program websites and talk with their graduate program directors or advisers for information about typical plans of study and registration requirements.

Graduate program directors
Juan Lu, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.D.
Associate professor, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health
(804) 828-9786

Sarah K. Price, Ph.D.
M.S.W./M.P.H. combined program coordinator
(804) 828-0579

Additional contact
Lisa S. Anderson, M.P.H.
Director of educational programs, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health
(804) 628-2512

Program websites: and