A.B./M.S.S. at Bryn Mawr

In partnership with Bryn Mawr's Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR), the College offers a five-year A.B./M.S.S. degree program that allows undergraduate students to begin work towards their Master of Social Services (M.S.S.) during their undergraduate years. Students in this program earn the Bachelor of Arts degree at the end of their fourth year and the Master of Social Services at the end of their fifth year.

Students in this program complete the same requirements for each degree as do students who undertake the A.B. and then the M.S.S. sequentially, but are offered the unique opportunity to work towards both degrees concurrently. They may count up to three undergraduate courses towards the M.S.S. and may count up to seven graduate courses as elective transfer credits towards the A.B.

Throughout the first four years of study, a student remains an undergraduate with respect to tuition, financial aid, housing, organized student activities, and the honor code. The student then applies and matriculates into the GSSWSR for the fifth and final year and becomes subject to all its regulations and fees for that year.

Advanced Planning

By the end of the junior year, students who are interested in this program should have completed the following. Any exceptions would require the approval of the Special Cases Subcommittee of the Committee on Academic Standing, the GSSWSR, and the student’s major advisor.

  • All general graduation requirements (Emily Balch Seminar, Quantitative Methods, Foreign Language, the four Approaches, and the Physical Education Requirement). Students should not expect to have room for any of these requirements in the senior year.
  • Two to three courses that can double count towards the Master of Social Services.
  • All courses towards their major with the exception of one or two units which they will complete in the senior year.
  • At least 24 undergraduate units earned in residence during the academic year at Bryn Mawr. Keep in mind that the seven M.S.S. courses will count as transfer credits and not towards residency.

In practical terms, most successful candidates will have begun planning for this program no later than the fall of the sophomore year, and they will accept certain limitations to their undergraduate options:

  • To earn a minimum of 24 units in residence spread over six semesters before the start of the senior year, students will not normally be able to study abroad during the academic year. Transfer students are ineligible for the same reason.  
  • To complete three courses that double count towards the Master of Social Services, students will major or minor in either Psychology or Sociology.  
  • To complete so many degree requirements in a short period of time, it will not be realistic to attempt more than a single major or, at most, a major and a minor.

Application Procedures

In March of the junior year, interested students complete an A.B./M.S.S. application in consultation with the A.B./M.S.S. advisor, their major advisor and their dean. Once the student has obtained the approval from all three advisors—the A.B./M.S.S. advisor, the major advisor and the dean—the student submits it to the Dean of Studies who presents it to the Special Cases Subcommittee of the Committee on Academic Standing.  Eligible students must present an overall grade point average of at least 3.0 at the time of application. The Subcommittee may return the application for further revision, deny the application, or approve it. If the Subcommittee approves it, they will forward it to the GSSWSR for final review before the student will be granted provisional acceptance into the M.S.S. program.

During the Fourth Year

Students accepted to this program will enroll in seven graduate courses in the senior year along with their final one or two units of work towards the undergraduate major, no more than one each semester. The seven graduate courses will be treated as seven units of transfer elective credit. They will not count towards the Residency Requirement or towards the undergraduate grade point average. Students will be evaluated in these courses according to the same grading format as their graduate student colleagues.

At the end of the fourth year the GSSWSR will reassess sub-matriculated students and offer formal acceptance to graduated students who are eligible to continue in the program.