MSW/Juris Doctor (JD)

  1. Overview
    1. The JD/Master of Social Work is a joint program sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
    2. Students will have the opportunity to earn both degrees in four years (more on the sequencing of these years follows, below).
    3. 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.
  2. Application Process
    1. Students will apply independently to each department through each program’s specified admission process. The Law School and the School of Social Policy & Practice will make independent judgments about each candidate.
      1. 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.
    2. 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.
  3. Degree Completion Requirements
    1. In order for a student to receive both degrees, he or she must complete the independent degree requirements of each program.
      1. For Law
        1. 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.
        2. 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.
      2. For the MSW program
        1. 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 601, SWRK 602, SWRK 603, SWRK 604, SWRK 614, SWRK 615, SWRK 704 or 708, SWRK 714 or 718, SWRK 713, 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.
        2. 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 Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in SP2.
        3. Students in the MSW clinical concentration must take SWRK 760 as their practice elective.
        4. 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.
  4. Program Sequencing
    1. The joint degree is best earned in the either of the following sequences:
      1. Year 1 spent at Social Policy & Practice, 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 Social Policy & Practice and Law.
      2. Year 1 spent at the Law School, completing the standard and required 1L curriculum, Year 2 spent at the School of Social Policy & Practice, 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 Social Policy & Practice.
    2. Other sequences may be arranged on a case-by-case basis for exceptional candidates.
  5. Tuition and Financial Aid
    1. A student pays Law School tuition when he/she takes only law courses and pays Social Policy & Practice tuition when he/she takes only MSW courses.
    2. In other years, while the student is in residence at the Law School, students pay Law School tuition. The Law School is then responsible for payment of tuition for up to four courses taken at Social Policy & Practice toward the completion of the joint degree.
      1. Penn Law students will be responsible for tuition for courses taken at SP2 over and above the four courses that are countable toward the JD degree.
      2. If summer courses are arranged, students will pay tuition directly to SP2 for those courses. The law school will not be responsible for any tuition or fees incurred for courses taken during summer months.
    3. Financial aid decisions are made independently by each school. They are typically made by the school in which the student is in residence for that year. 
      1. In the year when only law courses are taken, financial aid is awarded by the Law School. In the year when only social work courses are taken, financial aid is awarded by the School of Social Policy & Practice.
      2. During the years when students take classes in both the Law School and the School of Social Policy & Practice, students will receive financial aid from SP2 on a per-course basis for their four MSW classes taken at the School of Social Policy & Practice. Students are required to notify the SP2 Director of Financial Aid as soon as they enroll in the dual degree program, as this could affect the student’s financial aid award from SP2.
  6. Scheduling Courses
    1. Students register for courses in one program in that program’s registration period and according to that program’s registration rules and procedures.
    2. 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 Advisor at MSW and the Manager of Cross-Disciplinary Programs at the Law School for guidance.
    3. The timing and location of course scheduling must also be considered so that students are best able to attend all classes.
    4. Dual-degree students who are not completing SWRK 604/614 in the academic year immediately preceding the year in which they will take advanced practice class (SWRK 704/708 and SWRK 714/718) 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.
  7. Communication Issues
    1. Students with questions about the JD/MSW program can address them to the following persons:
      1. Prospective students with questions about the JD program:  Renee Post, Director of Admissions, rpost@law.upenn.edu
      2. Currently enrolled JD/MSW students with questions about course selection, scheduling, tuition concerns, etc.: Amanda S. Aronoff, Manager of Cross-Disciplinary Programs at Penn Law, aramanda@law.upenn.edu.
      3. Currently enrolled JD/MSW students with questions about law school financial aid:  Anthony Henry, Director of Financial Aid, henry2@law.upenn.edu
      4. Questions about the MSW program: Malitta Engstrom, Faculty Director of the MSW Program, malitta@sp2.upenn.edu
      5. Currently enrolled JD/MSW students with questions about SP2 financial aid: SP2 Financial Aid, finaid@sp2.upenn.edu
    2. Each year, this document will be reviewed and re-approved by representatives of both departments:
      1. For the Law School: Amanda S. Aronoff, Manager for Cross-Disciplinary Programs
      2. For the School of Social Policy & Practice: Malitta Engstrom, Faculty Director of the MSW Program
  8. Issues Particular to the Program
    1. 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

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