Here is how to become a social work lawyer. We will be looking into MSW/JD dual degree programs.
A degree in social work is becoming highly sought after as social workers are in high demand in various countries across the United Kingdom.
MSW And JD Dual Degree Programs
The good news is that even if you studied a different course during your undergraduate program, you could take a master’s degree in Social Work.
You can jointly study for a Master’s in Social Work while running a doctorate program.
One such doctorate course you can study alongside Social Work is the law. This dual degree is awarded as a Master of Social Work/ The Juris Doctor (JD/MSW) or The Juris Doctor/ Master of Social Work (JD/MSW).
What to Consider Before Choosing an MSW/JD Program
An MSW/JD Program has its advantages.
It helps reduce the course and credit units of running the programs separately. However, it is a program that shouldn’t be gone without proper research.
Before choosing an MSW/JD Program, you should consider the following:
Identify your goals: Before going for the MSW/JD program, ensure that your goals and interests align with the program’s scope.
Check to be sure that obtaining the program will be helpful for your future career plans and that the choice universities that offer the program are on the same track as your career goals.
Also, consider the desired client population, job type, and involvement level.
Availability of funds: Getting an MSW/JD is a costly step to take. So, it would be best to consider the funds available while deciding to go for an MSW/JD.
You can also check the institution’s website for scholarships, grants, loans, and bursaries to ease the financial strain. As an international student, you should compare the cost of living in your chosen university with the funds available for your education.
This step is crucial to ensure that the dream of an MSW/JD certification is not cut short because of the unavailability of funds.
Accreditation: Many states needing social workers require certification from various accredited institutions. The primary requirements in these states are social work licensure and eligibility for the bar exam.
Therefore, you should ensure that the institution you choose for your MSW/JD program has the necessary accreditation from authorized bodies for both programs.
These bodies are the Council of Social Work (CSW) and the Bar Association.
Institution: Don’t make choices based on institution rankings.
A top-ranking university does not always mean a qualified one. So, when enquiring about choice institutions, avoid making decisions based on statistics and rankings.
Instead, try to talk to past and present institutions and get the necessary information that might not be on the internet.
Preparing For an MSW And Law Degree
To apply for an MSW/JD dual degree program, you should:
Choose a convenient institution: Because of the nature of the MSW/JD program, it requires constant physical supervision and authorization. This makes the program a mandatory full-time on-campus program.
Because of this, it is advised that you go through the various institutions that offer the program and choose one that best suits your calendar.
Apply separately for the programs: Ensure you apply separately to the School of Social Work and Law School of your chosen institution.
Only when both schools have granted admission can you pursue your degree.
MSW/JD Program Overview
The Master of Social Work/ The Juris Doctor (JD/MSW) is a dual degree program designed for candidates who actively pursue a career in legal and social intervention.
To do this, the program allows students to apply for and study towards obtaining a dual degree from the Law School and the School of Social Work.
This dual degree program reduces the number of credits it would generally take to complete the programs individually through shared elective courses between both programs.
The program is valuable to anyone wishing to pursue a career in both fields as it helps meet the requirements necessary to work.
For one to practice as a Social Worker, he must have either a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW), Masters of Social Work (MSW), or Doctorate in Social Work (Ph.D./ DSW).
Similarly, one must have scaled the bar exams to practice as an attorney or lawyer. In most states, possessing a Juris Doctor (JD) is a prerequisite to being registered as a member of the lawyer’s association.
Therefore, studying for and earning a Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor (JD/MSW) will immediately allow applicants to begin a social worker career upon graduation and become practicing attorneys after passing the bar exams.
Admission Requirements for MSW/JD Dual Degree Programs
Just like every other course studied in institutions of higher learning, specific requirements must be met for one to be considered eligible for admission.
The admission requirements are specific to the School of Law and Social Work, and candidates must apply separately and be accepted by both schools.
Although some of these requirements differ across various institutions, below are the general admission requirements for an MSW/JD dual degree program.
- The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are usually those written within the last 5-6 years.
- Qualifications for admission to the bar depend on the jurisdiction of choice.
- Official transcripts
- Two letters of reference.
Master of Social Work
- Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an institution accredited by the Council of Social Work (CSW). However, some institutions also accept the first degree in related fields of study like political science, sociology, psychology, and education, amongst others.
- A minimum undergraduate grade of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
- Official transcripts from previous institutions attended.
- A minimum of two professional references or recommendations. These references can be either volunteer, academic, or professional contacts.
- Language requirements for international students: This can be TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE, depending on the institution. For institutions that accept IELTS, a minimum score of 7.0 is obtained.
- Curriculum Vitae.
- Statement of purpose and research interests.
- Some institutions require verifiable years of post-graduate work experience.
MSW JD Dual Degree Program Duration
If pursued separately, a standard MSW program takes two years, while a traditional law program takes three years, making it a total of 5 years.
However, an MSW/JD dual program shaves off a year from the total, bringing the average duration for the completion of the program to four years.
The program can be online or on campus, depending on the institution of choice. Usually, upon completion of either of the programs, the dual degree is awarded even if the other program is yet to be completed.
MSW/JD Average tuition
The tuition for an MSW/JD program depends on the institution; however, the average tuition is $150,000.
Below is the average tuition for some selected institutions offering the program.
- University of Michigan $32,000 per semester
- Rutgers University $10,000 per semester
- University at Buffalo $10,000 per semester
MSW/JD Courses and Curriculum
The curriculum for the MSW/JD Program is as follows:
- Year 1: Completion of the first-year social work courses
- Year 2: Completion of first-year law courses
- Year 3: Commencement of specialized courses in MSW and JD.
- Year 4: Completion of advanced MSW and JD advanced courses and electives.
The courses offered for an MSW/JD dual degree award differ across various institutions. Still, they should provide the students with the skills and knowledge to tackle legal and social issues with their clients.
However, some of the general courses include:
- Theories of Human Behaviour and Development
- Social Work Practice
- Social Welfare and Policy
- Scientific and Research Methods in Social Work
- Interventions I
- Issues of Diversity and Oppression
- Interventions II
- Foundation Field Instruction
- Theories of Organizational Behaviour and Development
- Legal Profession
- Civil Procedure
- Legal Analysis and Research
- Legal Profession II
- Criminal Law
- Constitutional Law
- Professional Responsibility
- Legal Analysis and Research II
- Social Work and human rights
- Advanced Courses in Social Work
- Legal Ethics
- MSW/JD Colloquium
- Field Instruction
- Advanced Courses in Social Work
- Law and Social Work Clinic
- MSW/JD Colloquium
- Law Electives
- Law Seminar
- Law Electives
- Law Electives
MSW/JD Degree Requirements
A dual degree in MSW/JD typically requires a minimum of 90 credits.
Some institutions allow the exchange of courses between both programs; however, students must complete all field programs and internships in both School of Social Work and Law School.
While the average number of hours in MSW is 900, the hours to be completed for a JD internship depend on the institution of choice.
Career Prospects for Law And Social Work Degree Owners
What can I do with a JD/MSW?
Upon completion of the program, holders of an MSW/JD dual degree can choose from the following career prospects:
- Public policy official
- Juvenile Court representative
- Parenting Coordinator
- Family law attorney
- Corrections or Criminal Justice official
- Civil Mediator
- Public welfare administration
- Social service administration
- Guardian Ad Litem
Getting an MSW/JD certificate is an excellent decision as it increases your job prospects after admission. So, choose an institution that allows you to achieve your educational goals with as much convenience as possible.
Upon completion, you can get certified and earn an average annual salary between $51.760 and $120,000 as a certified social worker with a law degree, depending on the type of position you choose.