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MSW/JD (combined degree program)

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by NYUCD2010, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. NYUCD2010

    NYUCD2010 Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    My girlfriend is interested in pursuing a MSW in the NY/NJ/Philly/Boston areas (roughly, the 'Northeast). She is also starting to look into dual-degree programs combining the MSW with JD.

    We did a bit of due diligence and discovered MSW/JD programs offered in said region at NYU, Columbia, Fordham, Rutgers, Stony Brook, Yeshiva, Penn, BC, and BU.

    Responses, insights, perspectives to any of the below questions will be appreciated:

    1) Is anyone currently enrolled in a MSW/JD program at any of the aformentioned programs, or does anyone know of others in such programs?

    2) What do graduates of MSW/JD programs pursue, and how different is it from having just an MSW (of course, no one needs another degree above and beyond a terminal degree like the MSW, but is there a concrete difference in potential post-grad opportunities)?

    I would imagine that there are definite overlaps between aspects of social work and the legal field, but concrete examples of real MSW/JD grads (read: real people, instead of so-called synergies advertised on school websites and brochures) would be more credible... thanks.
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  3. helpfuldoc2b

    helpfuldoc2b Banned Banned

    Dec 6, 2006
    I think dual degrees are a waste of time and money. Your going to end up with one career and one concentration and obviously she likes one field over the other. Personally I would just go for straight JD and work in the area of her interest.
  4. pingouin

    pingouin just chillin' Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I know of a few MSW/JDs, all of whom (I believe) were JDs first and went back for their MSWs. One of them no longer uses her JD and does a private therapy practice. The others do primarily family law, especially domestic violence and doing mediations (custody, property division, etc etc).

    Mediation seems to be a good way to combine both. In my state, the initial mediation must be done by a JD, however revisions to an existing agreement may be done by trained LCSW/LPC mediators.

    I would also think that a MSW/JD would make a great guardian ad litem, or perhaps family or juvenile court attorney.
  5. PizzaButt

    PizzaButt New Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2005
    I have a JD and now am looking to pursue either a doctorate in clinical psychology or a master's in marriage and family therapy. I don't know any JD/MSWs, or even any MSWs, but I can comment on law school. I'm really not sure what a JD/MSW would do for you. If you have any questions about law-related stuff, feel free to PM me. Personally, I hated law school and thought it was incredibly boring. I am a nurturing type of person--not an adversarial one, and so law did not suit me at all. After years of soul-searching I realized my true passion is counseling and talking to people in a nurturing environment. I personally did not enjoy legal issues or the law at all. I do not plan to do anything with my JD at all--I just want a purely clinical practice.
  6. NYUCD2010

    NYUCD2010 Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Thanks for the responses.

    So, I suppose the verdict is out when it comes to the "usefulness" and "synergies" offered by a JD/MSW dual degree.

    I wonder why so many schools offer it though...
  7. jcs307


    Mar 2, 2007
    One of my friends just finished an MSW/JD program. She is really interested in the intersection of the mental health system and the legal system. She did work with mentally ill offenders in prisons and currently works in a public defenders office, where she meets with any clients who are thought to have mental health problems that contributed to their crime.

    I think she uses knowledge from both degrees in her position, but it is more social work based. Her understanding of legal issues definitely comes in handy, however.
  8. missiospes


    Feb 27, 2008
    I plan to start my MSW/JD in a year or two and I want to be and adoption lawyer. it is the only good option. to do what I want to do, I will need both degrees. No school in my area offers both but I know many people in this field who have both degrees an have had to obtain them separately.
  9. zird00

    zird00 Calculator Salesman 2+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    I have a friend who had his JD and went back for a MSSW/MFT combo. He now does family therapy and forensic sw consultations on the side.
  10. twilson

    twilson 2+ Year Member

    Oct 3, 2008
    also she might be able to just look for certificates or a Masters of Legal studies program, which I would imagine is a good deal less rigorous than law school:)
  11. carriesq13


    Nov 2, 2008
    I am a lawyer about to enter school for an MSW. When I went to law school I was originally interested in the joint JD/MSW programs. After speaking with attorneys and social workers it was suggested that I just pick one and go with it. When I started law school I was not sure if I definitely wanted public sector law (where the MSW would be viewed as a plus)-- I was told that if I ever wanted to go into the corporate world an MSW could be a hindrance. I ended up going corporate...although in hindsight I wish I earned the dual degree so I wouldn't have to now go back to school after 5 years of practicing law!

    Your girlfriend should speak with the various schools she is interested in. They can put her in touch with alumni who completed the joint degree programs to talk about their experiences during school and employment after.
  12. biogirl215

    biogirl215 2+ Year Member

    May 1, 2007
    What made you decide to go back to school, carrie?
  13. carriesq13


    Nov 2, 2008
    I actually loved law school (no, I am not joking). I enjoyed everything I learned about. I have since practiced a couple of different types of law but never felt fulfilled. Don't get me wrong, the money is great but that's the only plus for me. I have been miserable and finally got to the point where I realized I really didn't care about the money-- just wanted a career I was passionate about. I thought about going into public sector law but when you look past the mission of the agency or the people you are fighting for, the daily tasks are still being a lawyer-- research, writing, arguing, etc. My family thinks I'm absolutely nuts for "giving up" my law degree-- although I'm primarily interested in clinical, I am not ruling out the possibility of eventually using my jd with the msw at some point down the road. Now its just a matter of picking a program. I can't wait to start in January!

    What about you?
  14. samisab786

    samisab786 5+ Year Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    I'm actually interested in knowing more about the juris doctor and a possible masters of social work combination. I've been considering health careers for so long. In fact, I'm in my school's pharmacy program but I've been considering the pre-medical route as well. I've realized I haven't really opened myself up to law so much. In fact, I kind of ruled law out after feeling that it requires one to argue and be agressive rather than helping somebody out on a one-on-one basis (like a physician or pharmacist can). I may be wrong, since this was only an assumption, but I recently read an article about a girl who has a JD/MSW and fights for certain rights of minority juviniles and people laborers affected by Hurricane Katrina. She also did some clinical therapy stuff for kids who came fresh out of a juvinile detention. That really pushed me to consider a JD/MSW because I've been a big defendent of minorities and like to help out people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, except, I don't really know if law is still for me. I'm not great when it comes to persuasion, but being a lawyer would require me to realy rely on persuasive and argumentative skills. Plus, if I become a lawyer, I'm going to have to give up my passion of the use of sciences in a career setting. If anybody can help me out, that would be great.

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