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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 24, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Law and Social Work, JD/MSW

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The School of Social Work (SSW) and the School of Law offer a cooperative educational program through which students may earn both the Master of Social Work (MSW), the primary professional degree in social work, and the Juris Doctor (JD) degree, the first professional degree in law. The MSW-JD program will enable students with interests in a wide range of areas where law and social work converge - such as child welfare, aging, health, mental health, juvenile and criminal justice, family issues, and housing - to engage in a highly integrative educational experience that will include academic courses, field placements, and research opportunities at the intersection of both professions. The joint degree program allows one to earn both degrees in four years rather than five.

Increasingly, social work professionals and attorneys are working together to promote the well-being of their clients. These areas of convergence exist in practice with individuals, families, and groups as well as with communities and organizations. The intersection of legal and social work concerns is also evident at the policy level, and research from both professional disciplines has been used to inform these activities. It is not uncommon for practitioners from both fields to work in concert to draft, implement, and/or advocate for legislation at the local, state, and federal levels.

The MSW-JD program is one among several programs that the Schools of Social Work and Law have jointly established throughout their long and rich history of collaboration. 

Faculty Advisors

University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Professor Kevin Deasy, MSW, JD
3900 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 648-5642

University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work
Professor Jeffrey Shook, MSW, JD, PhD
2117 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 648-9365


Students enrolled in the joint degree program will receive integrated training in social work and law over a four year period. The combined credit-hour requirements for the MSW and JD degrees obtained separately is 148 credits (60 for the MSW, usually completed in four full-time semesters, and 88 for the JD, usually completed in six full-time semesters). In the joint degree program, the two degrees are awarded for a combined total of 121 credits (46 in Social Work and 75 in Law). This reduction in credit-hour requirements is achieved through the acceptance of up to 14 credit hours of JD course work receiving a grade of C or higher toward the MSW degree and the acceptance of up to 13 credit hours of MSWwork receiving a grade of B or higher toward the JD degree. All didactic foundation SWcourses must be completed in a single academic year; likewise, all first-year JD courses must be completed in a single academic year. Neither degree may be granted prior to the fulfillment of all requirements for the joint degree program.

For Students Interested in Practicing in New York

Please be advised that students who wish to be admitted to practice in New York should not enroll in a joint degree program that entitles the student to more than 12 credits of advance standing at the Law School (i.e., the JD/MSW with the School of Social Work). See New York Rules of Court § 520(c)(5).

Integrative seminar

All students must complete an Integrative Seminar, to be jointly presented by the School of Social Work and Law School, during each Fall and Spring semester of their enrollment in the MSW-JD program. The integrative seminar will meet twice each Fall and Spring semester. The goal of the seminar will be to allow students the space to discuss issues related to integration and to listen to and have a dialogue with outside speakers who have integrated law and social work in their practice, research, and/or teaching.

Required electives in the Law School

Students must complete at least 2 courses from the Law School menu of MSW-JD “required electives.”


For detailed term-specific course descriptions, please go to the Schedule of Classes Course Lists on the Law School web site.

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