J.D./M.S.W. - Frequently Asked Questions


JD/MSW students from the class of 2015.
From left: Ashley Hartmann,
Ashley Cook, and Claire Botnick.

Can I begin my J.D./M.S.W. joint degree with either program?

Students can begin their joint degree either with their first year at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work or their first year at the Law School. Students who have already completed two years at the Law School will find it difficult to complete all the M.S.W. requirements in just two more years. However, they should contact an M.S.W. advisor to discuss their individual circumstances.

Do I have to complete the entire first-year curriculum in two consecutive semesters?

Yes, the J.D. “First-Year” must be completed in its entirety and non-law courses cannot be taken during that year. Law School tuition is paid to the Law School for both of these semesters (conversely, J.D./M.S.W. students will pay tuition to the Brown School in their first-year with that school). After the first year, tuition may be paid to either school each semester, as long as by the end, the Law School has been paid for 5 full-time semesters and the Brown School for 3 semesters. (The Brown School charges by unit, so those tuition charges will usually vary by semester. Please consult with the Brown School regarding their tuition policies for joint degree students.)

Can I graduate first from one program and then graduate later from the other program?

No, joint degree students must have both degrees granted in the same semester.

How many Law School units must I take and does the Law School have to approve the Social Work classes that I transfer?

The Law School will transfer 9 units at graduation, which means that joint degree students must complete 77 Law units (77 + 9 = 86 units needed for the J.D.). The Law School does not need to approve any courses taken at the Brown School.

Do my Social Work grades count into my Law GPA, and does the Law School require that I earn certain grades in the Social Work school in order to transfer the credits?

Although 9 units are transferred to the Law School, those grades are not factored into the Law GPA. There is no minimum grade requirement for the units taken at the Brown School; all that is required is that the student completes the M.S.W.

How do I pay my tuition? What is prime/joint coding?

J.D./M.S.W.students must pay a minimum of five semesters of full-time tuition to the Law School, and three semesters to the Brown School. Scholarships from the Law School may be used only toward those semesters in which a student is paying tuition to the Law School. In the semesters students are paying tuition to the Law School, they are coded “prime” to the Law School and “joint” to the Brown School (and vice versa).

Which school do I apply to for financial aid?

Joint degree students should complete only one FAFSA. Students will receive a financial aid award letter from the school to which the student is coded “prime” for the upcoming semester. If a student splits the academic year between the Law School and the Brown School, the student will receive a financial aid award letter from each school.

How does my prime/joint coding affect registration?

The student’s “prime” and “joint” coding in a particular semester also drives registration priorities at the Law School, including when the WebSTAC system allows students to get online and register.

Do I receive priority when registering for classes at the Law School to account for the greater challenges of coordinating schedules across two schools?

Yes, joint degree students are given registration priority at the Law School for Law School courses. Students will be allowed to register before other students. If a student is coded “prime” to law for the semester, the Registrar’s Office will change the priority date in WebSTAC so the student can register at an earlier time. If a student is coded “prime” to Social Work and the Brown School has a later registration date (and therefore, the student will be unable to register for Law courses at the proper time), students will be registered for Law School courses outside of the WebSTAC process by Registrar’s Office personnel over email. Joint degree students will receive an email from the Registrar’s Office each semester with instructions as to when the student can register and if the student must email their course selections to the Registrar’s Office instead of using WebSTAC. Joint degree students follow Brown School registration dates, rules, and procedures when registering for Social Work classes.

How does my J.D. residency requirement work?

J.D./M.S.W. students must complete 5 full-time semesters of Law School residency. Regardless of the number of law units taken in one semester, students cannot earn more than one full-time semester of residency per semester. The minimum number of units for full-time status is 12.

Are there restrictions in terms of how many Law versus Social Work units I can take in the post-first-year semesters?

After the foundational first-year curricula of each school, students may take both Law and Social Work classes in the same semesters. Coding as “prime” or “joint” does not determine the number of units that may be taken at either school. For example, students who are coded “prime” to the Law School in a particular semester may take more Social Work units than Law units, and vice versa.

Can I take any other non-law courses on top of the 9 units being transferred from Social Work?

Yes, joint degree students may take other Washington University graduate-level approved non-law courses. Up to 6 units of transfer credit can be applied toward the 77 law units required for the JD under the same rules regarding non-law courses that apply to non-joint degree students. However, the 9 units transferred toward the JD will count toward the maximum number of non-law and non-classroom course units allowable. For more information about that requirement, applicable to all Law students, click here.  Accordingly, joint degree students are not advised to take additional non-law units unless they have not taken the maximum of 19 total non-law or non-classroom units, which includes the 9 that will be transferred from their joint degree. (The maximum of 19 units applies to students who are graduating with the exact number of units required to graduate: 77 + 9 = 86.)

Who do I ask if I have more questions?

  • For questions related to tuition and financial aid,
    please contact Carrie Burns, Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Student Services, at cjburns@wustl.edu or 314-935-4605.
  • For questions related to registration and residency or other course requirements,
    please contact Sarah Hellin, Registrar, at sarah.hellin@wustl.edu or 314-935-7458.
  • For questions about academic advising,
    please contact Elizabeth Walsh, Associate Dean of Student Services, at ewalsh@wulaw.wustl.edu or 314-935-5861.