The MSW Pivots to the Business World

“Is the MSW the new MBA?”

Christine Bader, author of The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil, poses this question in her recent post for Fast Company magazine. In it, Bader makes a case for the master’s in social work degree by outlining the value it can bring in business settings, as well as the rising demand for more corporate social work.

The MBA is now the most popular master’s degree in the United States, and it accounts for one quarter of all such degrees conferred, according to Bader. An MBA program graduate herself, Bader proposes that the world might benefit if more business leaders came out of MSW programs.

“Recent corporate failures demonstrate the need for the very skills that social workers bring,” she says.

Bader highlights the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work as a school that now offers an MSW program that caters to socially minded business students. These students are interested in meeting the growing demand for leaders who understand human behavior and seek to build positive relationships — within their companies, for their communities and beyond.

MSW@USC supports this need for nontraditional social workers with the Social Work and Business in a Global Society concentration designed with a new breed of social worker in mind. The curriculum in this concentration prepares students who plan to venture beyond the nonprofit sector and make a positive impact in today’s business environments — whether it’s working with employees to create healthy and inclusive work environments or partnering with communities to promote responsible and sustainable solutions.

“In this rapidly changing world, social workers are becoming more valued than ever in innovative businesses, serving at the intersection of work and life, or even at the intersection of for-profits and nonprofits,” says MSW@USC Clinical Associate Professor Beverly Younger. “Social Work and Business in a Global Society draws innovative future leaders who think systemically, globally and big.”

In her post, Bader praises the effort of USC to develop leaders who think about the big picture with an emphasis on empathy in a global society.

“All companies — and society at large — could benefit from that mindset,” she says.

On a personal level, the Social Work and Business in a Global Society concentration prepares students to help companies define best practices for their employees. Students learn to resolve conflicts in work groups, help employees manage work-life balance and understand labor policies — including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Affordable Care Act.