Master of Social Work with Certificate of Advanced Study in Teaching Secondary Education Program

The Master of Social Work with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Teaching in Secondary Education (MSW/CAST) combined program is designed to cultivate school-based practitioners that will have a wide range of skills for supporting vulnerable adolescents and families in urban school contexts. The MSW/CAST curriculum design incorporates the person-in-context approach of social work with culturally relevant secondary teaching methods. As such, graduates will be trained to identify, design, and facilitate programmatic responses to the unique needs of children in schools in urban communities, and also to enhance classroom teaching and student learning through their specialized evidence-based expertise.  

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: 2 years over five semesters 
  • Time Commitment: Full time
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall
  • Application Deadline: Rolling; Priority given to applications received by January 15
  • Course Requirements: 73-79 credits (22-25 in Pitt Education, 51-54 in Pitt Social Work)
  • Admissions Requirements: No GRE exam required

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Program Details

The program is efficiently designed to be completed in two calendar years (5 semesters) and has two distinct components. First, the teaching certification portion is a two-semester fall-spring full-time program preparing students to be secondary education teachers (grades 7-12) in one of 5 core disciplines: English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, or Foreign Language. Then starting in the summer of year two, the 3-semester MSW degree experience prepares students for leadership roles in urban education in high need communities. By combining courses of study in the School of Education and School of Social Work, graduates will: 

  1. Understand the learning environment of students in the urban settings 
  2. Understand schools as organizations in context 
  3. Utilize culturally relevant classroom instruction to promote academic growth of adolescents 
  4. Facilitate intervention programs and student support services that focus on the social and emotional needs of students 

Upon successful completion of this combined program graduates will be awarded a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) from our direct practice concentration, and certifications in secondary school teacher (grades 7-12) and school social work (pending praxis and licensure exams for relevant certifications). 

Degree Requirements

Coursework: In this uniquely rigorous and efficient program, students will meet an adapted set of the core requirements of both schools, whereby a number of pre-approved courses electives in one program count dually toward course requirements in the other. The total number of credits taken will be 22-25 in education and 51-54 in social work. These credits include required field experiences for both programs.

Fieldwork: The Certificate of Advanced Study in Teaching in Secondary Education’s field experiences will consist first of ten hours a week during the fall semester observing and teaching in a grade 7-12 classroom alongside an experienced mentor teacher. In the spring semester, the students will complete a full-time student teaching experience in the same classroom. Then in the summer semester following the first year, students will complete their foundation field placement for the School of Social Work. Finally, the concentration field practicum for social work will occur in the fall and spring semesters of the second year. This field practicum will be in a primary social work role within a school setting.


MSW/CAST prerequisite requirements vary depending on the candidate’s intended area of specialization. Please visit the "Prerequisites" section of the following Master of Arts in teaching pages for more detail on the prerequisites in the subject matter areas:

Additionally, applicants to the program are expected to provide documentation of 30 hours of experience working with K–12 children. These hours can be fulfilled by obtaining experiences with children through: summer camp, community involvement, tutoring, and other volunteer or paid work with children

Applicants should also refer to the School of Social Work website for MSW prerequisites.


MSW/CAST satisfies the requirements for a Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate Grades 7–12 in the specific content area pending:

  • Completing the Pennsylvania Statewide Evaluation Form for Student Professional Knowledge and Practice (PDE 430)
  • Demonstrating satisfactory performance in courses and the student teaching
  • Earning a passing score on the national PRAXIS II Exam;
  • Additionally, candidates must obtain all federal and Pennsylvania state clearances before entering schools.

Application Requirements

Interested candidates should apply to the School of Social Work MSW program and the School of Education program separately, indicating their interest in the MSW/CAST program where asked in the respective application materials.

Applicant qualifications for each school will be reflective of the general standards of each individual program. Candidates who are accepted to both programs will be accepted to the combined program, and will be notified and welcomed to the upcoming cohort.

Career Pathways

MSW/CAST students will be well equipped to work as either a teacher or School Social Worker at both the middle schools or high school level. 

To the teaching profession, graduates bring therapeutic, person-in-context, and family-relations perspectives that will uniquely equip them to build positive relations and supports for students in particularly challenging contexts.

Conversely, a school social worker with teacher training will have enhanced skills to support teachers in identifying effective interventions to address psychosocial issues in the classroom.