Program Structure

Students in the Criminal Justice Specialization complete a criminal justice focused field placement and take a total of two courses as part of the specialization. The required coursework focuses on policy, history, pathways to, and unique populations within the criminal justice field, with an emphasis on social work practice.

Students apply to the specialization in the Fall semester of the first year of the program (or, for Advanced Standing students, in the spring before beginning the program). During the first semester of study, students take the standard MSW foundation courses. In the spring semester after their acceptance to the specialization, students enroll in SWRK 785: Criminal Justice Policies: Implications for Social Work. In the advanced year of study, students complete a field placement in a criminal justice setting, if they have not completed one in the foundation year.* In addition, during the advanced year, students take an additional course for the specialization, chosen from a list of pre-approved electives within and outside of SP2.

The specialization is open to students in both the clinical and macro concentrations.

*Students complete a criminal justice field placement in either the foundation or advanced year of study and do not need to complete a second criminal justice placement in the advanced year if this was the focus of their foundation-year field placement.

Requirements

An application is required for the Criminal Justice Specialization. To earn the specialization, students complete the following requirements:

  1. Field Placement in a criminal justice-focused setting. The field placement requirement can be completed in either the Foundation or Advanced year.
  2. SWRK 785: Criminal Justice Policies: Implications for Social Work. This course fulfills the MSW Policy Option requirement. SWRK 785 is offered in the spring semester, and students who are accepted into the specialization are guaranteed enrollment in the course in their foundation year. Students who choose to postpone taking this course until their advanced year will be enrolled in the course if space permits, but will not be guaranteed a seat in the course. The course is required to complete the specialization.
  3. Completion of an approved elective. Students must choose a second course that is pre-approved, or approved with special permission by the Director of the Specialization.

Pre-approved Electives

  • SWRK 798: The Social Entrepreneurial Approach to Community Reintegration
  • SWRK 798: Taking Down the Prison Industrial Complex
  • EDUC 646: Examining the School to Prison Pipeline: Implication of History, Policy, & Race
  • GSWS 555/NURS 555: Women and Incarceration
  • LAW 696: Constitutional Criminal Procedure
  • LAW 998: Juvenile Justice Seminar
  • CRIM 601: Pro-Seminar in Criminal Justice

Note: although these courses are pre-approved by SP2 to count towards the Criminal Justice Specialization, students must receive permission from their academic advisor before enrolling in a course outside of SP2. In addition, courses outside of SP2 may require permission from the department offering the course before a student may enroll.

Courses not on the list above, either at SP2 or in other schools at the University, may be approved towards the specialization on an individual basis. Students should contact the specialization director for permission.

Part-time Students

Part-time students should be aware that Criminal Justice specialization courses can be scheduled at any time, and it is possible that none of the courses required for the specialization will be offered in the evening hours. Part-time students apply in the Fall semester of their first year in the MSW program. This ensures they will be able to enroll in SWRK 785: Criminal Justice Policies: Implications for Social Work in the Spring of their foundation year.

Advanced Standing Students

The Criminal Justice Specialization application deadline for Advanced Standing students is April 1st. Students will be notified of acceptance to the specialization prior to the Office of Admissions’ April 15th enrollment decision deadline.