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Juris Doctor

The Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor (MSW/JD) is a joint program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) at the University of Pennsylvania. Students will have the opportunity to earn both degrees in four years. Students in this program will be prepared to assume positions of leadership in law and social policy, ready to actively pursue a more just society, and to carry out viable systems change due to their grounding in both professions.

Application Information

Students will apply independently to each department through each program’s specified admission process. The Law School and SP2 will make independent judgments about each candidate.

While the Law School and the School of Social Policy & Practice will make independent admissions decisions, each application will invite the student to indicate that they have applied, or been admitted, to the other program.

Applicants will have three options as to applying for the joint degree program:

  1. They may make contemporaneous applications to both programs prior to being accepted at either.
  2. They may apply to the MSW program in the first or second year of the Law program.
  3. They may apply to the Law program in the first year of the MSW program.

Program Sequencing

The joint degree is best earned in the either of the following sequences:

  1. Year 1 spent at SP2, completing the foundation courses, Year 2 spent at the Law School, completing the standard and required 1L curriculum, and Years 3 and 4 spent in residence at the Law School but taking courses in both SP2 and Law.
  2. Year 1 spent at the Law School, completing the standard and required 1L curriculum, Year 2 spent at the SP2, completing the standard first-year MSW curriculum, Years 3 and 4 spent in residence at the Law School but taking courses in both Law and in SP2.

Other sequences may be arranged on a case-by-case basis for exceptional candidates.

Degree Completion Requirements

Law students must complete a minimum of 86 credits, 54 hours of which must be advanced credit completed in the second and third years of Law study. Students in the joint program may apply twelve credits (four courses)from the MSW program toward that requirement, reducing their credit requirement to 42 credits. These four courses are the total number of non-Law courses that a Law student can take for Law credit in other departments of the University. Law students enrolled in the joint program are not eligible to participate in Study Abroad Programs. Students must also satisfy the requirements of the Public Interest Center’s Pro Bono Program. Students may be able to fulfill the Pro Bono requirement through their field placement obligations; students should consult with both the SP2 Office of Field Education and the Public Interest Center early in the planning process.

Students must complete 16 credits in the MSW program. Twelve of these classes must be completed at the School of Social Policy & Practice. The following courses are required for the MSW degree, and law school courses may not be substituted for them: SWRK 6010, SWRK 6020, SWRK 6030, SWRK 6040, SWRK 6140, SWRK 6150, SWRK 7040 or 7080, SWRK 7140 or 7180, SWRK 7130, a practice elective, and a research option. Students will consult their SP2 academic advisor to select four law courses that will count towards their MSW degree; these courses can be applied to electives and/or the policy option.

Students in the joint degree program may apply up to four courses from the law school for their policy option and/or non-practice electives. These courses must be approved in advance by the Administrative Director of the MSW Program.

Students in the MSW clinical concentration must take SWRK 7600 as their practice elective.

The MSW/JD dual degree program is open to students in both the clinical and macro concentrations. However, students choosing the clinical concentration should be aware that the dual degree course of study does not allow them to take a large number of clinical social work electives, which may present obstacles to obtaining clinical licensure in some states.

Scheduling Courses

Students register for courses in one program in that program’s registration period and according to that program’s registration rules and procedures. Students must be aware of the differences in these procedures and it is recommended that they meet with the Registrar in both schools:

  1. The registration periods for the Law School and SP2 may differ.
  2. Students register for Law courses through the Law School’s standard registration system.
  3. Students register for MSW courses through the SP2 registration system.
  4. Each student is expected to coordinate registration in both Schools and it is highly recommended that students reach out to their MSW advisor and the Manager of Cross-Disciplinary Programs at the Law School for guidance.
  5. The timing and location of course scheduling must also be considered so that students are best able to attend all classes.
  6. Dual degree students who are not completing SWRK 6040/6140 in the academic year immediately preceding the year in which they will take advanced practice class (SWRK 7040/7080 and SWRK 7140/7180) are responsible for reaching out to the SP2 Office of Field Education in December to begin planning for the upcoming year’s advanced field placement.

Issues Particular to the Program

Students in the joint degree program may have particular career interests and goals. They are encouraged to meet individually with Kathryn Deans-Schaub, Associate Director for Cross-Disciplinary Careers and Employer Outreach at the Law School and with their academic advisor at SP2 or the SP2 Career Advisor at the Office of Career Services.

Edited and reviewed by both schools: July 16, 2014

Contact Us

Mai Le, JD, MSW

Administrative Director, MSW Program

215 746 4031


Renee Post

Director of Admissions, Law School