May 30, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Dual MLSD-MSSW Program, Legal Studies - Social Work

The College of Law and The College of Social Work offer a combined program of study in graduate level social work and legal studies to students who seek to earn both a Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) and a Master of Legal Studies (MLSD). This interdisciplinary program offers individuals interested in social work and law the opportunity to obtain graduate degrees in both programs in two academic years (including summers), rather than the three 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 MSSW program seeks to prepare its graduates to make demonstrable improvements in the quality of life of at-risk and vulnerable populations of individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, the state of Tennessee, the nation, and internationally. The MLSD program is designed for professionals whose fields intersect with the law and who would benefit from legal studies but do not wish to pursue the JD or practice law.

The program stresses an interdisciplinary approach, which values collaboration and communication skills. Alumni of the dual degree program in social work and legal studies at The University of Tennessee will go on to work in a variety of settings, including as social workers, program directors, and therapists.

Students must apply separately for admission to the two colleges. Once admitted to both colleges, applicants will be selected for participation in the program by a special admissions committee consisting of representatives from both institutions.

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Program Curriculum

  • Year I: Year I of the program is ordinarily undertaken completely at The University of Tennessee College of Social Work and consists of the traditional first-year curriculum.
  • Year I Summer: Students will complete MSSW and MLSD courses.
  • Year II: Year II of the program consists of courses taken at both colleges.
  • Year II Summer: Students will complete MSSW and MLSD courses.

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • Applicants for the MLSD-MSSW program must make separate application to, and be independently accepted by, each of the following:
  • Students who have been accepted by both colleges may apply for approval to pursue the dual program at 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 10 credit hours of College of Law coursework 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.

Academic Standards

  • The College of Law will award up to six credit hours for MSSW courses, as approved by the Master of Legal Studies advisor, that materially contribute to the student’s study of law and career goals. Any such course cannot primarily address substantive law. The student has earned a B grade or higher in any such course.
  • The College of Social Work will award up to nine credit hours for law courses that have been approved by the student’s advisors, provided 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

  • 75 credit hours
    • 30 credit hours for the MLSD, including six credit hours from the MSSW, for 24 credit hours.
    • 60 credit hours for the MSSW, including nine credit hours from the College of Law, for 51 credit hours.
  • For MSSW Advanced Standing candidates, 36 graduate credit hours, including nine credit hours from the College of Law, for 27 credit hours.

Required Courses

  • Law: See the requirements for the Master of Legal Studies.
  • Social Work: See the requirements for the Master of Science in Social Work.
    • Law courses may satisfy the Advanced Policy requirement for the MSSW, subject to approval by the student’s advisors.


For Social Work Major (concentration required)

  • Clinical Practice — Coursework Only With Capstone Option
  • Organizational Leadership — Coursework Only With Capstone Option

Non-Course Requirements

Students may not enroll in MLSD coursework while completing the first year of the social work curriculum.