Campus News

UGA, Emory to offer new dual degree in social work, divinity

The UGA School of Social Work and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University have partnered to offer a dual master’s degree in social work and divinity. It is the first dual degree to be offered between the two universities.

The innovative, cross-disciplinary program will develop professionals uniquely equipped to deal with issues related to aging, addiction and other stressors, according to Maurice Daniels, dean and professor in the UGA School of Social Work.

“Students will learn to balance pastoral skills such as spiritual counseling with social work practices such as family therapy and community assessment, strengthening their endeavors with individual clients as well as in the public policy arena,” he said.

The program, which requires coursework in grief and loss management, also will address a shortage of professionals in Georgia who can combine faith-based and clinical training to help survivors of various types of loss.

“This degree requires training in grief counseling and will help to address the debilitating impact of grief, which is both a faith issue and a health issue,” said Harold Briggs, associate dean of the School of Social Work.

The number of people experiencing stress related to loss has escalated in recent years, according to Briggs. But clergy and licensed clinical social workers, the professionals most often sought for help, often lack professional training to assist with emotional and practical strategies for coping.

The program, he believes, will help mitigate unhealthy grieving practices and reduce soaring health-related costs.

“The combined degree program will provide citizens of Georgia access to a cadre of professional experts who understand both the health impairment issues caused by grief and the faith-based needs of clients,” Briggs said.

Ian McFarland, Stokes Professor of Theology and associate dean of Candler School of Theology, agrees.

“The cross-training at UGA and Emory will create a new, more effective brand of caregiver, one trained to help people draw on both community- and congregationally-based resources in working through grief and other sources of stress,” he said.

The dual degree program takes four years to complete, one year less than if students pursued each degree separately.