Western Theological Seminary

Dual Track Master of Divinity-Master of Social Work

Are you passionate about making a difference in this world? Do you feel called to ministry but don’t think you would fit well into the traditional role of pastor? Do you want to help lead the Church in doing justice and loving mercy?

The M.Div.-MSW Dual track degree program can prepare you for professional ministry where Christian theology and faith meet the pain and struggle of human life. You will learn to integrate the theory, knowledge, and skills required of pastors and social workers as they seek to be instruments of grace and peace.

What makes Western Distinctive?

Program Design


The program is flexible enough to complete in one of four ways.

  • Students can spend their first two years of the 4-year dual track program in-residence at Western Theological Seminary taking Master of Divinity coursework. Years 3-4 are then spent in a Master of Social Work program at another accredited institution of the student's preference.
  • Students can also choose our 5-year part time Distance Learning option to complete their M.Div. coursework through WTS. When finished, they can pursue a Master of Social Work program at another accredited institution of the student's preference.
  • Another option is to start with the M.S.W. degree elsewhere followed by the M.Div. at WTS. This path is convenient for undergrad students who have the option of earning the M.S.W. at the same institution. They can stay in a familiar context in the transition into graduate school. After completing the M.S.W. degree, the student moves to WTS for two years of M.Div. course work.
  • Students can also do Distance Learning starting with the M.S.W. degree followed by the M.Div.  Students who are just completing the M.S.W. degree (or who have completed it within the last 7 years) begin M.Div. work at WTS in the distance learning format and schedule part-time over 5 years.

Typically 69 out of the 96 hours required for an M.Div. are completed through WTS. The remaining 27 hours are transferred from the M.S.W program back to the seminary as electives. This allows the student to complete both masters degrees in four years instead of five if they choose.

For students who have a BSW degree, the M.S.W. portion of the dual track program is typically shortened due to receiving advanced standing. These students can earn both masters degrees in three years.

Cohort Learning groups – All four years students meet in peer groups with a ministry professional who facilitates the integration of the two professional areas. The cohort group you start the program with meets weekly for the duration of the program. The purpose of this weekly class is to support dual track students and help them integrate these two professional fields (ministry and social work) into their respective ministry callings.

Contact the director for more information.

Distance Learning Option

The Master of Divinity portion of the dual track program can be completed in the distance learning format. For more information on this 5-year track, contact the registrar or Glenn Swier, Director of the Dual Track M.Div.-M.S.W. program.

Ministry Directions


  • Counseling hurting people
  • Coordinating urban youth programs
  • Chaplaincy in a hospital, hospice, or treatment program setting
  • Restorative justice work in the criminal justice system
  • Community development here or abroad
  • Children and family support and education
  • Outreach pastor
  • Social justice research and advocacy
  • Starting a nonprofit environmental ministry


Kirk Vander Molen

Christ’s example and His call to seek out, care for and minister to people in need is clear.

The combination of an M.Div. and M.S.W. has given me a strong foundation to better understand and answer this call. My theological education and pastoral training at Western Seminary provided me the resources to explore my faith, learn from God’s Word, and gain skills in leadership. My M.S.W. provided me a framework to better understand the needs of people and gave me tools and techniques to help them.

After serving as an associate pastor for 4 years, currently I am serving as a director of a ministry called Love INC (In the Name of Christ). Love INC works to mobilize, help and support churches to care for and serve individuals and families in need.

Although I attended Western prior to the start of the M.Div. - M.S.W. program, I would highly recommend the dual track degree for those considering any ministry focus, including being a pastor, counselor or working in outreach.


Miriam De Jong

Since my junior year of high school I have known that God was calling me to full time urban youth ministry.

Although I had gained a great deal of knowledge and training through various conferences and personal experience in urban youth ministry, I wanted more formal training and education.

As I explored a variety of programs, Western’s dual track program stood out above the rest. Not only would it provide me with a strong biblical and theological foundation for ministry, but the social work component would equip me with strong counseling and community development skills that are so desperately needed in our nation’s inner cities.

I was blessed to put these skills into practice through my internship at Camp Tall Turf, a Christian camp serving mostly urban youth. The camp focuses on reconciliation to God, each other, and God’s world. There I directed high school programs seeking to develop Christlike, indigenous servant leaders.

My hope and prayer is that the education and experience of the dual track program will enable me to better serve the community and ministry to which God is calling me.

Courses and Degree Requirements

  • 96 credit hours, minimum of four years (27 credits are transferred as electives from the MSW)
  • Formation for Ministry courses, including a spiritual formation retreat. See formation for ministry.
  • Intercultural Immersion trip

Application Deadlines:

Fall Semester: April 1 for full scholarship consideration; applications submitted by May 30 will be considered for limited scholarships;  all applications due July 15

Spring Semester: November 1 for full scholarship consideration; applications submitted by Nov 30 will be considered for limited scholarships; all applications due November 30

Sequence of Courses (In-Residence format)

Field Legend: BL - Biblical Field; MN - Christian Ministry Field; FR - Formation for Ministry; TH - Theological Field

Year 1

Fall Semester

  • BL100 NT Greek I (3)
  • BL103 OT Foundations (3)
  • TH100 Church History I (3)
  • TH113 Systematic Theology I (3)
  • Elective (1.5)
  • MN331 Yearlong Cohort Group (1.5)
  • FR121 Entering Christian Ministry (1.5)

J Term

FR101 Retreat for Christian Formation (1.5)

Spring Semester

  • BL101A&B NT Greek Translation and Interpretation (3)
  • BL102 NT Foundations (3)
  • TH101 Church History II(3)
  • TH114 Systematic Theology II (3)
  • MN105 Pastor as Person (1.5)
  • FR122 Exploring Christian Ministry (1.5)
Year 2

Fall Semester

  • BL110 Biblical Hebrew (3)
  • TH112 Gospel, Culture, Church (3)
  • Elective (MN121 for RCA)(3) and Elective (1.5)
  • TH121 Ethics (3)
  • MN332 Yearlong Cohort Group (1.5)
  • FR123 Engaging Ministry (1.5)

J Term

FR111 Intercultural Immersion Experience (3)

Spring Semester

  • BL111 Hebrew Translation and Interpretation (3)
  • MN124 Worship & Preaching (3)
  • MN115 Practice of Counsel and Care (3)
  • MN120 Leadership (3)
  • FR124 Engaging Christian Ministry (1.5)
  • TH124 Credo (1.5)
Years 3 and 4

Online Seminars

  • MN333 Dual Track Cohort Group (1.5cr; online format, year 3)
  • MN334 Dual Track Cohort Group (1.5cr; online format, year 4)


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