Juris Doctor / Master of Science in Social Work

The dual JD/MSSW program recognizes the value of interdisciplinary study and encourages students having an interest in both social work and law to pursue these degrees simultaneously. Social workers and lawyers often seek to address identical or related societal concerns, albeit from different perspectives; understanding both disciplines enhances one’s effectiveness in both professional capacities. Law courses strengthen the social worker’s understanding of legal doctrine and structures that have impact on social institutions and human conditions; social work courses help lawyers to better understand human behavior, conflict resolution and social welfare institutions.

Students who participate in the dual program may reduce the aggregate credit hour requirement by 18 hours and earn MSSW and JD degrees in approximately four calendar years.

  • A student planning to pursue both degrees must submit separate applications and must be admitted to both the Kent School of Social Work and the Brandeis School of Law; the student must also be approved by each school for the dual degree program.
  • Students may begin the dual degree program in either Kent School or the School of Law. In the first year of study, the participating student will follow the full-time academic schedule of the program in which the student enrolls first. In the second year, the student will complete the first-year coursework in the alternative program. (For example, the student may begin in the Kent School and complete the standards first-year curriculum. In the second year, the student would complete the standard first-year curriculum at the School of Law.)
  • After completion of both first-year curricula, the student may combine law and social work courses during the third and fourth years. Careful curriculum planning is required, however. Some courses in each school are sequenced or have pre-requisites and must be taken in a specific order. In addition, both schools limit the number of credit hours a student may take in any one semester.
  • The following required Kent School Courses must be sequenced in either the third or fourth year; both fall and spring courses must be taken:


    *SW 641 Adv Social Work Practice I (3)
    *SW 640 Adv Social Work Practice II (3)
    *SW 672 Adv Practicum I (3)
    SW 668 Adv Research Practice I (3)

    *SW 641, SW 640 and SW 672 must be taken simultaneously in the Fall.


    **SW 677 Adv Social Work Practice III (3)
    **SW 673 Advanced Practicum II (3)
    SW 669 Adv Research Practice II (3)

    **SW 677 and SW 673 must be taken simultaneously in the Spring.

    These Kent School courses may be taken together or separately as shown. However, it is important to note that students who choose to take the research sequence without the field practicum will be expected to have access to a researchable topic related to their practice.

    The School of Law does not have sequenced pairs of courses after the first year. It should be noted, however, that some courses are traditionally taken in the second year. In addition, many upper division elective courses have pre-requisites. For example, Evidence is a pre-requisite to Trial Practice and several externships; Basic Income Tax and Business Organizations are pre-requisites to advanced courses in tax and business. Students should consult the law school catalogue for other prerequisites. In all cases, students should plan their schedules carefully and consult with advisors in both programs. Once enrolled in the School of Law, dual degree students must have their schedules approved by the Associate Dean for Student Life or his or her delegate.

  • The Kent School will apply nine (9) credit hours in law as electives toward the MSSW degree. The School of Law will allow students in the dual degree program to apply nine (9) credit hours in social work as electives toward the JD degree. Cross-disciplinary credits will be accepted by each school on a pass/fail basis.
  • Students will probably find it necessary to complete some of their coursework during the summer if they wish to finish both programs in four calendar years.
  • Students may be awarded the MSSW upon completion of the 60 credits of required coursework. Students will not be awarded the JD degree until completion of both programs.

The Kent School also permits a social work student who already has earned a J.D. degree from an ABA accredited law school within the preceding five years to petition for allowance of up to nine law credits toward the elective requirements of the MSSW degree.

For more information about this program ...

Please contact the UofL Law
Office of Admissions at lawadmissions@louisville.edu.