The Catholic University of America

 DUAL DEGREE: LAW AND SOCIAL WORK

 The Columbus School of Law and the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America offer a dual-degree program in which qualified full-time students may obtain both a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Students are able to earn both degrees in approximately four years, rather than five years, because some credits are shared by both programs. Students are assigned faculty advisers within each school. Applicants for admission to the dual-degree program must meet the separate admissions requirements of each school and must be accepted by each school independently.

Degree Requirements

Students must meet the degree requirements in both programs to receive the dual degree. In addition to credit requirements, there are writing and professional skills requirements in both programs. Credit requirements for both programs include the following:

  • Law School. Independently, the law degree requires 84 credits of law coursework (the first-year required coursework constitutes 30 credits and the remaining 54 credits include courses focused on legal writing and professional skills courses, subjects tested on the bar exam, and courses in one's intended legal practice area). Dual Degree students are required to complete the entire first-year curriculum, but up to 12 advanced-year credits will be accepted from the MSW program (thereby reducing the minimum law coursework overall to 72 credits). Students should note that 12 credits is the maximum number of non-law courses that a student may apply for law credit from all other departments in the university. 
  • MSW Program. Independently, the MSW degree from NCSSS requires a minimum of 60 credits. Dual degree students will be required to complete the entirety of the first-year MSW program in their second year of the dual degree program (30 credits). However, 9 credits from the law school will be accepted to fulfill the advanced-year credit requirement, according to the plan outlined for the clinical and social change concentrations. Therefore, dual degree students should expect to complete a minimum of 51 credits at NCSSS. 

In total, the dual degree program requires a minimum of 123 credits to fulfill both schools requirements. Students should note that by receiving some credit for some advanced year coursework from both schools, that the number of electives in both programs is reduced and therefore, depending on a particular student's area of interest, students may elect to complete more than 123 credits in the program to further focus their studies. Advisors from both schools work with dual degree students to craft plans that ensure preparation for both professional exams and practice. 

Course Plan

Students begin the dual degree program at the Columbus School of Law and complete a full year of coursework at the law school. In the second year, students will be enrolled full-time at NCSSS and will complete their foundation year MSW coursework.  In their advanced years (years 3 and 4), students take courses in both the law school and NCSSS. It is imperative that students consult with their academic advisors in both schools to plan their coursework for years 3 and 4 in order to meet the academic requirements necessary to graduate with the dual degree.

For the MSW program, students must choose either the clinical or social change concentration in their advanced years. Dual degree students may not choose the combined concentration due to the lack of elective credits available in that concentration. Nine credits from the Law School will be accepted to fulfill requirements in the MSW program according to the following plan

  • Clinical Concentration. Credit will be accepted from law school courses and applied toward two electives (6 credits) and one individual theory and practice course (3 credits) for a total of 9 credits in the MSW program.
  • Social Change Concentration. Credit will be accepted from law school courses for two electives (6 credits) and one macro practice course (3 credits) for a total of 9 credits in the MSW program.

Students wanting to take an elective course at NCSSS are invited to over elect or audit, according to university policies, the additional course(s).

Scheduling Courses

Students register for courses in the two programs during each program’s registration period and according to each program’s procedures. Students should be aware that there may be differences in the registration procedures for both programs, such as registration dates. The times that courses are offered also needs to be considered so students are able to attend all classes. Students should work with their academic advisors in both programs in planning their course schedules. Any issues arising due to registration differences are usually resolved during the add/drop period.

Tuition and Tuition Assistance

Students enrolled in the dual degree program are billed standard law school tuition rates for the entirety of their joint degree program and are considered law school students for the purposes of student financial aid and student loans. For further information, visit the Columbus School of Law’s Office of Financial Aid website at http://www.law.edu/finaid/index.cfm or E-mail: fin-aid@law.edu.

For more information, contact:

National Catholic School of Social Service
Aileen Worrell, Director of Admissions & Financial Aid
Phone: 202-319-5496

Columbus School of Law
Georgia Niedzielko, Assistant Dean for Academic  Affairs
Phone: 202-319-6478

Relevant Links (links to the following documents will be provided)

For more information, contact:

National Catholic School of Social Service

  • Aileen Worrell, Director of Admissions & Financial Aid
    Phone: 202-319-5496

Columbus School of Law

  • Stuart Schept, Assistant Dean for Academic Services & Registrar
    Phone: 202-319-5003