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JD/MSW (Social Work)

The JD/MSW program combines the two-year Master of Social Work (MSW) program offered by the School of Social Welfare and the three-year Juris Doctor (JD) program offered by the KU School of Law into a course of study designed to offer students a thorough academic grounding in both substantive areas. Students may be able to complete both degrees within a continuously enrolled four-year period, depending on the availability of required courses and the student’s academic performance in both programs. Diplomas are awarded concurrently by each school when all requirements for each degree are completed.

Current national debates involve complex social welfare issues, suggesting that an important relationship exists between social policy and social work advocacy activities, including areas involving the interface of clinical practice and law. Lawyers who advocate for those challenged by social conditions and social policies must appreciate the unique perspective that social work brings to these circumstances. Career opportunities for graduates of this combined degree are available in a variety of settings, including law firms, health services delivery organizations, managed care organizations, private and public regulatory agencies, and in various governmental capacities.

If you are a prospective law student, contact the KU Law Office of Admissions, 785-864-4378, admitlaw@ku.edu; or Professor Margaret Severson, social work, 785-864-8952, mseverson@ku.edu.

If you are a current KU student, contact Assistant Dean Leah Terranova, law school, 785-864-4357, leaht@ku.edu; or Professor Margaret Severson, social work, 785-864-8952, mseverson@ku.edu.

Admissions Requirements

To be admitted to the joint JD/MSW Program, an applicant must hold an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, meet the admission requirements and complete the admission processes required for both the School of Social Welfare’s MSW Program and the School of Law’s JD program, and be admitted by both the School of Social Welfare and the School of Law no later than the end of the first year of study in either program. Full-time study is required for the joint JD/MSW Program.

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is required for an applicant to the joint degree program. An applicant or student who is interested in entering the joint degree program should discuss his or her plans with the Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs in the School of Law and the Director of Admissions for the MSW Program in the School of Social Welfare. No student may enter the joint degree program after completing more than the equivalent of two semesters of full-time enrollment in either the MSW or JD curriculum.

The catalogs for each school should be consulted for their separate admission requirements and procedures.

Degree Requirements

To complete the JD/MSW program, a student must successfully complete a minimum of 124 credit hours. Of these, at least 76 credit hours are required by the School of Law and at least 48 credit hours are required in the MSW Program.

Students in the joint degree program should note that while the School of Law requires a 2.0 grade point average in JD course work to remain in good standing and for graduation, the MSW Program requires a 3.0 cumulative grade point average for the MSW course work.

In planning their enrollments, students should inform themselves of course prerequisites and plan their course schedules accordingly. Please refer to the School of Social Welfare website and the School of Law website for the most current information about admission and graduation requirements.

JD Requirements

All candidates for the JD must complete the following required courses:

I. Law courses required of all J.D. candidates:

First Year
Course Credit hours
Law 804 Civil Procedure 4
Law 806 Intro. to Constitutional Law 4
Law 809 Contracts 4
Law 814 Criminal Law 4
Law 820 Lawyering Skills I 2
Law 821 Lawyering Skills II 3
Law 826 Property 4
Law 831 Torts I 4
Upper Class
3 courses from among the following:
Law 865 Business Associations I 3
Law 892 Business Organizations 4
Law 881 Conflict of Laws 3
Law 878 Criminal Procedure 3
Law 909 Family Law 3
Law 845 Jurisdiction 3
Law 837 Contracts II/ UCC Sales 3
Law 873 Commercial Law: Secured Transactions 3
Law 996 Trusts and Estates 4
Law 908 Evidence 3
Law 972 Professional Responsibility 2

In addition to all JD/MSW program course requirements, students must satisfy the Upper-Level Writing-Intensive course requirements and the Experiential course requirements in the School of Law. Please refer to the current School of Law Catalog for details.

In addition to the 43 credit hours of required legal course work (described above), students in the joint JD/MSW program must complete at least 12 additional hours of crossover or interdisciplinary course work, and also at least one semester of legal clinical work chosen from the following course offerings, in order to satisfy the educational rationale of both the law and social welfare programs.

Two of the following courses (4-6 credits)  
LAW 925 Employment Law 
LAW 903 Employment Discrimination Law 
LAW 965 Nonprofit and Tax-exempt Organizations 
Skill: One or more of the following courses (3-4)  
LAW 950 Administrative Law 
LAW 860 Alternative Dispute Resolution 
LAW 866 Civil Rights Actions 
LAW 939 Labor Law 
LAW 954 Legislation and Statutory Interpretation 
Substantive: One or more of the following courses (2-3)  
LAW 850 Capital Punishment 
LAW 909 Family Law 
LAW 914 Federal Indian Law
LAW 919 Health Care Financing & Regulation
LAW 920 Health Law and Policy 
LAW 923 Immigration Law 
LAW 931 Introduction to Elder Law 
LAW 935 Juvenile Law 
LAW 967 Native American Natural Resources 
LAW 987 Sovereignty, Self-determination, and the Indigenous Nations 

At least one semester of Legal Clinic (3-6)  
Law 955 Legislative Clinic
Law 976 Public Policy Practicum
Law 998 Tribal Judicial Support Clinic
Alternative Legal Clinic (if approved by MSW advisor)  
Law 890 Criminal Prosecution Field Placement Program (only open to a third-year law student)
Law 901 Elder Law Externship
Law 894 Field Placement Program (must have approval of both Law and Social Welfare schools)
Law 952 Legal Aid Clinic (only open to a third-year law student)
Law 885 Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic
Law 895 Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies


MSW Requirements

Students admitted into the JD/MSW program will enter the full-time, two-year MSW program. Students admitted into the advanced standing MSW program are not eligible for the joint degree program.

Students who start their JD/MSW program by enrolling for their first year in the MSW program must earn a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in their first year in order to proceed in the joint degree program.

The following 32 credit hours of course work and field practicum hours are required of all students for completion of the first year of the MSW program:

Fall Semester  
SW 701 Foundation Practicum 
SW 710 Social Work Practice I 
SW 713 Community and Organizational Practice 
SW 720 Social Policy and Program Analysis 
Spring Semester  
SW 701 Foundation Practicum 
SW 711 Social Work Practice II 
SW 730 Human Behavior in the Social Environment 
SW 740 Social Work Research 

Social Work Administration and Advocacy Practice Concentration

Upon completion of the first year of both the MSW and JD programs, students enter the Social Work Administration and Advocacy Practice Concentration (SWAAP) and are required to take three of the five required courses in the concentration (listed below), for a total of 9 credit hours. In addition, SWAAP students must enroll in a Law School clinical experience for at least one semester and are required to take one semester of an advanced level practicum in the SWAAP for 7 credit hours. Thus, SWAAP students are required to complete 16 advanced level credit hours, bringing the total number of social welfare credit hours to 48.

Fall Semester  
SW 804 SWAAP Field Practicum – Taken concurrently with SWAAP classes and may be completed over two semesters
SW 840 Designing Social Work Programs 
SW 844 Advanced Policy and Programs 
SW 849 Financial Management 
Spring Semester  
SW 842 Assessing and Managing Outcomes 
SW 843 Personnel Management, Team Building, and Workplace Diversity 

Students will work with a faculty advisor to select the required three courses. The extent of prior experience in a social service agency, Law School classes proposed and completed, the Law School clinical experience, and their career plans will all be considered in making this decision.

The policies of the two schools (Social Work and Law) and the University of Kansas Graduate School govern waivers, substitutions and all other degree requirements. Students should consult the respective associate deans if they have questions about degree requirements.

Students must conclude their joint degree program enrolled in courses offered in the law school. In all cases, students must receive their joint degrees concurrently.

Academic Calendar
Contact KU Law Admissions

Steven Freedman, Assistant Dean
Bryanna Hanschu, Director of Recruiting

103 Green Hall