Social Work — M.S.W. with Criminal Justice — M.S.

Program directors
Kimberly Freeman

Loma Linda University's motto, "To make man whole," provides a powerful and much-needed context in integrated practice.  Both social work and criminal justice, within a behavioral health framework, address the models of recovery, healing, and restoration. The combined degrees program includes a single concentration in forensic mental health.

A multidisciplinary approach considers the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being of victims, offenders, and communities; and provides a deeper understanding of crime and the struggle of the modern criminal justice system in a behavioral health context.  The combined degrees program offers a unique opportunity for individuals interested in working in mental health court, detention centers, forensic inpatient programs, and forensic outpatient mental health systems.


The mission, program goals, and objective build on elements from the M.S.W and M.S. degrees in criminal justice.  Please refer to each of these programs for this content.

General overview

The combined degrees  M.S.W./M.S. curriculum in criminal justice is a  7-quarter, full-time program that begins with the social work core course work required for all students. Course work during the first year of study includes: generalist foundation social work practice, social welfare policy, religion, and social research methods. During their second year, students complete a specialization in forensic mental health. An integrated practicum and specialized seminar class in criminal justice typically begin in the Summer Quarter of the second year.

Specialization description

Forensic mental health—Forensic mental health is a specialized branch of professional practice in which the clinical and criminal justice worlds overlap. Students choosing this area focus on the needs of individuals in the criminal or juvenile justice systems who have serious emotional disorders and/or severe mental illness, and may also present with co-occurring substance abuse. Students gain knowledge and skills in treatment programming within a forensic mental health framework. In addition, this context prepares students to assess and provide expert testimony regarding continued institutionalization versus readiness for outpatient psychosocial rehabilitation, including the development and implementation of assertive community treatment plans.

The specialization emphasizes a thoughtful reflection about integrated issues in both social work and criminal justice that will provide students with a deeper understanding of the logic influencing policy, administration, and practice issues affecting the field.

Liberal arts preparation

The M.S.W. and criminal justice curricula are built on a liberal arts perspective. Individual applicants whose undergraduate degree does not reflect this perspective may be asked to enroll in additional courses, which must be completed before advancement to candidacy (prior to beginning the advanced curriculum).

Unit values represent the quarter system of measurement. Content from multiple courses may be used to meet most requirements. 

Program options

Alternate program options have been designed to address the varying needs of students. As such, the program offers a full-time, two-year option; a three-year, part-time option; and a four-year, part-time option. 

Admission requirements

Students wishing to take the dual degree must be admitted to both the M.S.W. and the M.S. in Criminal Justice programs separately.  Applicants should refer to the admissions criteria for each program.

The 93 -unit curriculum for the M.S. degree in criminal justice provides a mix of academic, experiential, and research activities essential for practice as a M.S.W./ M.S. degree student.

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (a letter grade of B) on a 4.0 scale; and meet the knowledge, skill, and professional performance competencies outlined by the program.

Students must also maintain a B- (2.7) or better in all courses. Courses with grades falling below the standards set for required and selective courses must be repeated. According to University policy, a student cannot repeat more than two courses during his/her graduate program. Students are financially responsible for the cost of repeating courses when grades do not meet these minimum standards.

Required cognates
RELE 522Bioethical Issues in Social Work3
or RELE 524 Bioethics and Society
Professional foundation courses
SOWK 513Human Behavior and Cross-Cultural Environment5
SOWK 514Social Welfare Policies and Services5
SOWK 517Practice I: Individuals3
SOWK 518Practice II: Groups3
SOWK 519Practice III: Organizations and Communities3
SOWK 520Practice IV: Families 13
SOWK 521Global Practice3
SOWK 548Research Methods5
SOWK 682Legal and Ethical Aspects in Health and Mental Health Services3
SOWK 578Field Orientation 10
Conjoining curriculum and processes
SOWK 610Diversity Theory in Practice and Research3
SOWK 613Psychopathology, Psychopharmacology, and Diagnosis of Behavioral Health Conditions4
SOWK 671Social Work Administration3
Required curriculum nucleus
CRMJ 515Crime and Society3
CRMJ 517Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence3
CRMJ 519Expert Testimony: Procedure and Practice2
CRMJ 520Restorative Justice3
CRMJ 574Criminological Theory4
SOWK 681Behavioral Health Policies and Systems2
Forensic Mental Health Specialization
CRMJ 620Forensic Mental Health3
CRMJ 630Criminal Justice Planning and Administration3
SOWK 648Co-occurring Processes and Interventions3
SOWK 661Psychodynamic Therapies3
SOWK 661LPsychodynamic Practice Lab1
SOWK 662Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies4
SOWK 662LBehavioral and Cognitive Therapies Practice1
SOWK 663Crisis and Trauma Interventions3
Culminating curriculum and processes
SOWK 675Supervision3
Degree completion options6
Non-thesis option:
Advanced Research Methods
Advanced Research Methods
Advanced Research Methods
Thesis option: 3
Applied Research
Practicum and seminar 5
Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar
Professional Foundation Practicum and Seminar 3
Professional Foundation Practicum and Seminar 3
Professional Foundation Practicum and Seminar 3
Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar 4
Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar 4
Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar 4
Total Units93

Not eligible for waiver.


Thesis option is available for students meeting program criteria.


Hours: 160 + 20; Not eligible for waiver


Hours: 200 + 20


700-numbered courses are not calculated into the total didactic units required for the degree.

Normal time to complete the program

7 academic quarters (includes didactic courses and practicums) — based on full-time enrollment; part time permitted