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Macro/policy centered MSW vs. MPP/MPA w/social policy

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I have been considering applying for an MSW at a school with a macro/policy focus instead of getting my MPP. Hell, maybe even applying to both. Any advice?

Is there any meaningful difference between getting your MSW at a school that has a policy concentration/macro focus and getting your MPP and specializing in social policy? I understand the difference to be that MPP/MPA will largely be more quant focused, but I was wondering if there are any others? Any disadvantage to the MSW that the MPP/MPA can resolve? Any career impact, etc? 

Thank, yall.

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My ex-girlfriend is going to a well-reputed MSW program this fall, hoping to do macro work. So I'll write about what I know. The biggest difference is that even when you go to a macro-focused MSW program, the assumption is that you want to do client-based work, what we would imagine as "generic" social worker type jobs. Most of the curriculum in the MSW revolves around this professional paradigm. So if you only want to do policy-related work, it's going to be a waste of your time or you won't be as interested in half (arbitrary number) of the stuff they teach you. With the MPP/MPA, the assumption is that your primary interest is policy and public service. So if you're not that interested in traditional social worker like stuff, skip the MSW and vice versa for policy.

An additional advantage of many MPP/MPA programs is the networking you'll get. MSW is all about training and field placements during school, but you'll rarely find that they dedicate real time to networking since it's just not as required in the field of social work. Along this line of thinking, MPP/MPA can often carry better name recognition, though the utility of this varies widely based on career path.

IMO a macro-focused MSW is no replacement for an MPP/MPA. There is a reason quant features so heavily in these programs – the making of public policy at its core requires quantitative analysis, especially with microeconomic principles. You will get an awfully scant amount of that at most MSWs. But like all grad school decisions, you should reach out to the people you know in the field and ask them where you should go based on what you're aiming for.

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I currently work in a national-level social policy advocacy organization, where policy directors and analysts have earned either an MPP/MPA or an MSW. After interviewing my colleagues over time, I chose to purpose the MPP/MSW dual degree option. As much as I like to engage in policy analysis, I also felt that I need to ground the top-down approach to this work with direct service-learning and clinical knowledge about the populations I wish to advocate for, and how they actually interact with safety net programs. I look forward to the opportunities to work directly with individuals, children and families in poverty to understand how interventions may help or hinder their well-being. 

You can end up doing policy analysis and advocacy work with an MSW, but the social work path does come with certain career paths that wouldn't be as readily obtainable with just an MPP. I agree with the main points MD guy discussed, and second his advice about talking to people in the field(s) which you'd like to work in. I'd be happy to share more information if that would be helpful!

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