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Boston College School of Social Work
Issues + Evidence

Ruth McRoy, Donahue/DiFelice Endowed Professor of Social Work

An Inclusive Perspective

Ruth McRoy, Donahue/DiFelice Endowed Professor of Social Work, is recognized for her groundbreaking and innovative research in the areas of child welfare, adoption, and diversity. More about An Inclusive Perspective »

Professor Margaret Lombe

From Research to Outreach

For renowned scholar and School of Social Work Professor Margaret Lombe, social work research is only as good as the lives it saves.  More about From Research to Outreach »

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The MSW/JD Program was inaugurated in 1988 with the Boston College Law School.


The MSW/JD Dual Degree Program is designed for students who are interested in serving the combined legal and social needs of individuals, families, groups, and communities. The program reflects the University's mission to educate individuals who are committed to working with the poor, the powerless, and the disadvantaged. It is intended for persons who wish to combine social work knowledge and intervention skills with legal knowledge and practice skills to better serve their clients or constituencies.

Students admitted to the program may expect to receive both the Master of Social Work (MSW) and the Juris Doctor (JD) degrees in four years rather than the normal five years. Graduating students will be eligible to take the bar and social work licensing exams.


  1. To educate practitioners in social work and law to be able to effectively utilize the problem-solving strategies and techniques of both disciplines.
  2. To provide the core curriculum of each profession while enabling students to focus on areas of knowledge and practice which correspond to their professional goals.
  3. To facilitate integration of the two disciplines through field experience. The second field placement will be supervised by an LICSW.
  4. To prepare practitioners who have a commitment to a human condition that is free from violence, oppression, and discrimination, and that protects and promotes the development of all people.

Specialized Practice

In the Boston College School of Social Work students must choose a specialized practice method: clinical practice or macro practice. Clinical students focus on practice directly with individuals, families, and groups in dealing with personal, interpersonal, and social problems. Macro students develop specific knowledge and skills to achieve change in organizational and community settings.

Field-of-Practice Concentration

Prior to entering the third year, students will choose a field-of-practice concentration from one of the following areas: Children, Youth & Families; Health & Mental Health; Older Adults & Families; or Individualized. Dual degree students are not eligible to take the Global Practice concentration because of the required full-time Spring field placement, but they are eligible to take Global Practice concentration courses as part of an Individualized Concentration.

Program Requirements

  1. Students must be accepted into each school independently.
  2. Students must be registered as full-time students throughout the program. First-year part-time social work students wishing to apply to the program may seek an exception to this requirement only in consultation with the program coordinators of each school.
  3. Students must complete the normal first year curriculum at each school within the first two years of study. In addition, they must complete all upper-level required courses during the final two years.
  4. It is preferable for students to begin the program at the School of Social Work (BCSSW). This provides a solid philosophical foundation for the program and ensures that the student will maintain continuity at the law school (BCLAW) by entering and graduating with the same class. First year law students applying to the program, as well as students with other special circumstances, may seek exceptions to this requirement.
  5. Students will develop an appropriate course of study working with the coordinators of the dual degree program and the designated faculty advisors at the two schools.
    Program Coordinators:
    BCSSW: Tom Walsh, Associate Dean, 617-552-3338,
    BCLAW: Maris Abbene, Associate Dean, Academic, Career & Student Services, 617-552-4348,
  6. The integrity of both the MSW and the JD degrees is maintained in the following manner:
    • BCSSW requires a total of 65 credit hours for the MSW degree. Of these, 56 credits are earned through social work courses, and the remaining 9 credits are upper-level law elective credits that are applied to the MSW degree.
    • BCLAW requires a total of 85 credit hours for the JD degree. Of these, 73 are earned by taking BCLAW courses, and the remaining 12 are applied from the required social work courses.
    • Since credits are transferred and applied to each school, a dual degree student will fulfill the requirements for both degrees with a total of 129 credits rather than the 150 credits that would be required if both degrees were completed independently.
  7. Two social work field placements are required, one in the social work foundation year and another in the third year. (See "Program Procedures" below for more information). The second field practicum will provide opportunities for practice integration and application of the composite of knowledge and skills derived from law and social work courses.
  8. Nine upper-level law elective credits are applied to the MSW degree. Students are expected to take two law electives with a social work focus in the fourth year.
  9. During the third and fourth years in the dual degree program, all of the students should meet periodically as a group with the dual degree coordinators from each school for discussions designed to enhance program integration.

Program Procedures

  1. The first social work field placement is completed during the foundation year in social work, which in most cases is the first year of the program. It is a two-day per week placement throughout the school year. The second field practicum is completed during the third year of the program, with an option to begin early with a one-month block placement during the preceding summer. The student then continues in the placement two days per week (or its equivalent) during both semesters of the third year. The student may also work out a different arrangement in coordination with the practicum site; for instance, a student may wish to work two days a week for a calendar year, starting the summer before the third year of the program, rather than doing a block placement in August to make up for the extra day. The student will work closely with the faculty advisor and/or coordinator from the BCSSW to discuss an appropriate placement that will best integrate the two disciplines.
    Field Contact Person:
    Joe McLaughlin, Field Education Specialist, 617-552-0831,
  2. Each school issues a transcript that will indicate that 9 credits are met for the MSW and 12 credits are met for the JD degrees. Credits that are taken in one school and accepted as credits in the other school are not factored into the Grade Point Average (GPA) of the school accepting the credits (e.g., the student's Law School GPA will not include the 12 credits taken at the BCSSW, and vice versa).
  3. During the foundation years, the student is registered as a full-time student in the school he or she is attending (e.g., as a social work student in the first year and a law student in the second year). The student will be registered as a social work student during the first semester of the third year (the fifth semester of the program) and as a law student for the remainder of the program. The student is responsible for contacting the University's Office of Student Services to change status. To change status, students should contact Kathleen McGuinness, Director of Academic & General Services, 617-552-4976 or, and should also notify Theresa Kachmar, Law School Record Specialist, 617-552-8695 or, or Academic Services, Stuart 308. The tuition breakdown is as follows: Social Work tuition is charged during the social work foundation year and during the first semester of the third year (the fifth semester). Law tuition is charged for the remainder of the program.
  4. Financial aid opportunities at both schools are available for eligible dual degree students. Students should contact the Director of Financial Aid at BCLAW and the Director of Admissions at BCSSW when they are leaving one program and entering the other. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid early (e.g., by the end of fall semester).

MSW/JD Information and Curriculum Plans 2017-2018 (PDF)