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 (J.D.) degree and a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) 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 admission 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 M.S.W. 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.
  • M.S.W. Program. Independently, the M.S.W. degree from NCSSS requires a minimum of 60 credits. Dual degree students will be required to complete the entirety of the first-year M.S.W. 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 M.S.W. 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 M.S.W. 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 M.S.W. 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 M.S.W. 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 M.S.W. 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).

Dual Degree

The National Catholic School of Social Service and the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America offer a dual-degree program in which qualified full-time students may obtain both a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) and a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.). Students are able to earn both degrees in approximately four years and a summer, rather than five years, because of credits shared by both programs. Students are assigned faculty advisers within each school. Applicants for admission to the dual-degree program must meet the separate admission requirements of each school and must be accepted by each school independently. Interested applicants may contact the Admission Office of the National Catholic School of Social Service and the Admission Office of the Columbus School of Law, both at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064.

Course Plan for J.D/M.S.W. Dual Degree Program

Students complete the dual degree program on a full-time basis. 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 complete their foundation year coursework.