The Juris Doctoris/Master of Social Work (JD/MSW) dual degree offers students the opportunity to gain an exceptional knowledge base and skill set that will prepare them to assume positions of leadership in law and social policy, to advocate effectively for clients, to understand systems and institutions, and to actively pursue social justice. Students enrolled in Washington University's JD/MSW program frequently seek careers in the areas of traditional social work, public interest law, government administration, nonprofit management, social entrepreneurship, or public policy — among others.
The JD/MSW program generally takes four years, one less than if the two degrees were completed separately. Students may start their first year in either the School of Law or the Brown School, generally move to their counterpart school for the second year, and then pursue mixed course work in the final two years. Students who start in only one program are welcome to apply to the other and begin the dual degree in their second year. More details about the program may be found on our website.
In addition to the required 8 credits of social work practicum fieldwork, many JD/MSW students also participate in one or more of the law school's clinical programs, including the Children's Rights Clinic or the Criminal Justice Clinic. Students find meaningful and applicable course offerings in both schools, including in areas such as family law, labor and employment law, practice with children and youth, critical jurisprudence, social policy, health policy, intergroup dialogue, and practice with immigrant populations.
The Law & Social Work Society, a student group shared between the two schools, exists to facilitate the process of obtaining both degrees and to serve as a platform for interdisciplinary communication between the two schools. In addition, the society sponsors activities throughout the year, including community service projects, academic assistance meetings, alumni networking events, and social functions.
The Brown School
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Dual-degree JD/MSW students are required to complete 125 credits between both schools. The majority of the credits (77) must be law credits; the remaining credits (48) must be taken in social work. Overall, dual-degree students save themselves from having to complete 15 additional credits by doing the program. But this difference is even greater because students also get the benefit of credits transferring in to each degree requirement from the other school. For example, 9 social work credits count toward the JD; 12 law credits count toward the MSW. Please visit our website for JD requirements.
Total required for the JD/MSW degree: 125 credits
|Program||Credit hours required|
|Transferred from Social Work||9|
|Total JD Degree||86|
|Transferred from Law||12|
|Total MSW Degree||60|
Since students can start in either school, there is no set structure to the dual-degree program. The following chart can give you an idea of how a typical dual-degree JD/MSW student's program will be structured. Most of this sample structure can be modified, especially the layout of the summers.
It should be noted, however, that one of the most time-consuming requirements is completing the social work practicum hours. The Brown School requires students to complete 8 credit hours of practica (960 hours). Thus, many students find the need to spend the bulk of two of their three graduate school summers doing practica (in addition to completing some practicum hours during the year). Also, most students will take some summer courses during at least one summer.
|Year of Program||Starting in Law||Starting in Social Work|
|1st Year||1L year - all 1L law courses||All social work (mostly core) courses|
|1st Summer||Legal Internship||Social Work Practicum|
|2nd Year||Mostly (or all) social work courses||1L year - all 1L law courses|
|2nd Summer||Social work practicum; 1 or 2 summer courses||Legal internship and/or social work practicum|
|3rd Year||Assorted courses (mostly law)||Assorted courses (mostly law)|
|3rd Summer||Social work practicum||Social work practicum; 1 or 2 summer courses|
|4th Year||Assorted courses (mostly law)||Assorted courses (mostly law)|
Every student's plan of study is slightly different, and it really just depends on an individual's preferences. Some students prefer to load up their courses during the year so they can do an additional summer legal internship. Others might participate in several time-intensive activities like trial or moot court teams, the D.C. clinic, a journal, or a legal clinic (which might prevent them from taking heavy course loads) and thereby rely more heavily on their summers as a time to earn credit.
Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree in social work will have slightly different program requirements. Contact Brown School admissions and the Law and Social Work Society for more information.