The College of Law and The College of Social Work offer a combined program of study in graduate level law and social work to students who seek to earn both a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and a Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) degree. This interdisciplinary program offers individuals interested in social work and law the opportunity to obtain graduate degrees in both programs in four academic years, rather than the five years needed if pursued separately.
The program consists of an integrated curriculum specifically designed for those who are interested in acquiring the knowledge and skills pertinent to both disciplines. The goal of the program is to prepare future professionals who are competent in both disciplines. The areas of work in which both fields play significant roles are often complex and require expertise in counseling, administration, and policy-making, beyond the underlying substantive knowledge. The program stresses an interdisciplinary approach, which values collaboration and communication skills.
The dual degree program is challenging but rewarding. A dual degree student in social work and law studies the skills and material of both disciplines and enters field placements, summer internships, and eventually the workplace with a unique skill set of valuable practice experiences. Alumni of the dual degree program in social work and law at The University of Tennessee will go on to work in a variety of settings in law and social work. Some alumni will choose to practice law, while others will find employment as social workers, program directors, and therapists.
Students must apply separately for admission to the two colleges and programs. Once admitted to both colleges, applicants will be selected for participation in the program by a special admissions committee consisting of representatives from both colleges.
- Applicants for the JD-MSSW program must make separate application to, and be competitively and independently accepted by, each of the following:
- the College of Law for the JD degree,
- the Office of Graduate Admissions and the College of Social Work for the MSSW degree, and
- the Dual Program Committee.
- Students who have been accepted by both colleges may apply for approval to pursue the dual program any time prior to or after matriculation in either or both colleges.
- Such approval will be granted, provided that dual program studies are started prior to entry into the last 28 credit hours of JD course work and prior to the third semester of the MSSW program.
- Students interested in entering the dual degree program should submit a letter of application to the Dual Degree Program Committee. Upon receipt of the application, the Dual Degree Program Committee will determine eligibility and assign students to advisors who will be responsible for course approval and supervision of the student’s progress through the dual program.
- Enrollment in the program will ordinarily be capped at 10 entering students per year.
- The College of Law will award up to nine credit hours for MSSW courses, as approved by the JD advisor, that materially contribute to the dual degree student’s study of law and career goals. Any such course cannot primarily address substantive law. The student must earn a B grade or higher in any such course.
- The College of Social Work will award up to nine graduate credit hours for JD courses that have been approved by the student’s advisors and in which the student has earned a 2.30 or C+ grade or higher.
- A dual program candidate must satisfy the graduation requirements of each college.
- Students withdrawing from the dual program before completion of both degrees will not receive credit toward graduation from either college for courses in the other college, except as such courses qualify for credit without regard to the dual program.
Credit Hours Required
- 131 credit hours
- 89 credit hours of the JD including nine credit hours from the MSSW, for 80 credit hours.
- 60 credit hours of the MSSW including nine credit hours from the JD, for 51 credit hours.
- Law: See the requirements for the Doctor of Jurisprudence.
- Social Work: See the requirements for the Master of Science in Social Work.
- For Social Work Major (concentration required)
- Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice (EBIP) — Course Only with Comprehensive Exams
- Organizational Leadership —Course Only with Comprehensive Exams
- Students may not enroll in MSSW coursework while completing the first year of the law curriculum and, except as indicated or approved, may not enroll in JD coursework while completing the first year of the social work curriculum.
- During the first year in the JD program, students register through the College of Law. During the first year in the MSSW program, students register as graduate students. After the first two years, any term in which students take law courses or a mixture of law and graduate courses, they are classified and registered as law students. If taking only graduate courses, they are classified and registered as graduate students.
- Year I: Students may begin their studies in either the JD or the MSSW program, but may not enroll in MSSW coursework while completing the first year of the law curriculum and may not enroll in JD coursework while completing the first year of the social work curriculum.
- Year II: For a student who begins coursework in the College of Law, Year II of the program is undertaken largely in the College of Social Work and consists largely of the traditional first year MSSW curriculum. For a student who begins coursework in the College of Social Work, Year II of the program is undertaken at the College of Law and consists of the traditional first year JD curriculum.
- Years III and IV: Years III and IV consist of courses taken at both colleges.
- Field Practicum - Social work practicums are required in Years II and III. The Year III practicum for students in this program allows students to study under professionals in both fields. The Year III practicum involves enrollment in (a) a six-credit hour course as part of the College of Law’s Legal Clinic (excluding the Business Law Clinic), (b) the College of Law’s six-credit hour Public Defender Externship, or (c) a six-credit hour field placement that is approved by the appropriate representatives at both colleges.