MBA-MSW joint-degree proposal may offer faster, better preparation

By Anna Flagg

The Baylor Graduate Council approved a new joint-degree program last week that will offer students the opportunity to earn both a Master of Social Work and a Master of Business Administration simultaneously.

The new program must be approved by the Baylor Board of Regents before it becomes available. A decision is expected later this year.

Dr. Robin Rogers, graduate program director for the School of Social Work, and Jenna Kinkeade, assistant director of Graduate Student Services for the Hankamer School of Business, presented the joint program during a meeting of program directors.

Social work is a rapidly growing field, said Rogers, and potential employees might find themselves unprepared for administrative positions if they lack an appropriate background, so this program could greatly benefit students seeking a job in social work.

“In our curriculum in the School of Social Work, as well as the vast majority of schools, you find that we prepare students for clinical practice and for community practice,” Rogers said. “What’s missing is the preparation for administrative practice.”

Rogers said the joint-degree program is an attempt to blend a deep understanding of social work and the necessary administrative skill set to operate an organization.

He also noted that eight other institutions, including Boston College and the University of Pennsylvania, have already developed joint programs to meet the industry’s need.

The joint-degree program would take three years to complete, saving students’ time by taking advantage of overlapping courses, Kinkeade said.

A standard student could enter the program without a prior degree in either field, whereas the advanced student would enter with a bachelor’s degree in either social work or business.

“With a joint degree, a standard student is still required to take 51 hours,” Kinkeade said. “Some of the hours reduced are electives, and three core hours are reduced by an administrative course that social work feels that they will get as part of the MBA.”

Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of the graduate school, said he sees the wisdom in implementing this new program.

“More and more we are moving toward learning outcomes,” Lyon said. “You can have 100 hours and not know what you need to know to be what you plan to be. Ultimately the faculty of both schools will determine if students are prepared. For me, that’s really the bottom line.”

Lyon said the rapid growth in graduate studies is largely an outcome of the Baylor 2012 initiative, which began in 2002.

“Under 2012, Baylor greatly increased the resources devoted to graduate education,” Lyon said. “While those additional resources were necessary for our progress, we would not have succeeded without the faculty and staff who employed those resources to build significantly stronger graduate programs,” he added.