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—emphasize recovery, healing, and restoration.

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 settings such as mental health court, detention centers, forensic inpatient programs, and forensic outpatient behavioral health systems.


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

General overview

The combined M.S.W./M.S. in criminal justice program is a seven-quarter, full-time curriculum that begins with the social work core course work required for all students. Course work during the first year of study includes the generalist practice curriculum, which is grounded in the liberal arts and the person-in-environment framework. Within this framework, students learn to promote social well-being and build on the strength and resiliency of all human beings through a range of prevention and intervention practice methods when working with diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. During their second year, students complete a clinical practice specialization along with specialized courses and practicum in forensic behavioral health. Students choosing this area will focus on the needs of individuals in the criminal or juvenile justice systems who experience severe mental illness and who may also present with co-occurring substance use. Students will gain knowledge and skills in treatment programming.  In addition, students will be prepared to assess and provide expert testimony regarding continued institutionalization versus readiness for community treatment.

Students gain knowledge and skills in treatment programming within a forensic mental health framework. 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 recovery and resiliency informed treatment plans. An integrated practicum and seminar class in criminal justice typically begins in the Summer Quarter of the second year.

The combined degrees emphasize a thoughtful reflection about integrated issues in both social work and criminal justice that provides students with a deeper understanding of practice issues affecting the field.

Liberal arts preparation

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 are stated as quarter units. 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, namely: 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 90 -unit curriculum for the M.S.W. and M.S. degrees in Criminal Justice provides a mix of academic, experiential, and research activities essential for practice.

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or a letter grade of B) in order to progress successfully though the program and complete the degree. In addition, students must meet the knowledge, skills, and professional performance competencies outlined by the program.

A grade of B or better indicates that a student has mastered the knowledge, skill, and professional practice performance competencies outlined by the program. In order to progress successfully and complete the degree, students must meet both course and cumulative G.P.A. standards. The University allows students to repeat two courses per degree.  Course repeat expectations set by the School of Behavioral Health may be found in the general regulations section of this CATALOG.

Generalist curriculum
SOWK 510Diversity Theory in Practice and Research3
SOWK 513Human Behavior in a Culturally Diverse Environment5
SOWK 514Social Welfare History and Policy5
SOWK 517Practice I: Individuals3
SOWK 518Practice II: Groups3
SOWK 519Practice III: Organizations and Communities3
SOWK 520Practice IV: Families 13
SOWK 548Research Methods5
SOWK 574Practice V: Social Work Administration3
SOWK 578Field Orientation 10
SOWK 585Legal and Ethical Aspects in Health and Behavioral Health Services3
Required cognates
RELR 540Wholeness and Health3
Core criminal justice courses
CRMJ 515Crime and Society3
CRMJ 517Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence3
CRMJ 519Expert Testimony: Procedure and Practice2
CRMJ 574Theories of Crime and Restitution3
Clinical specialization and forensic behavioral health
CRMJ 620Forensic Mental Health3
SOWK 613DSM: Diagnosis Within the Context of Diversity and Difference4
SOWK 617Global Practice3
SOWK 647Integrated Behavioral Health2
SOWK 648Co-occurring Processes and Interventions3
SOWK 659Recovery in Behavioral Health2
SOWK 661Psychodynamic Therapies3
SOWK 661LPsychodynamic Practice Lab1
SOWK 662Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies4
SOWK 662LBehavioral and Cognitive Therapies Practice1
SOWK 663Crisis and Trauma Interventions3
SOWK 675Supervision3
SOWK 681Behavioral Health Policies and Systems2
Degree completion options6
Non-thesis option: 6
Advanced Research Methods
Advanced Research Methods
Advanced Research Methods
Thesis option: 2
Applied Research
Practicum and seminar 5
Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar
Generalist Practicum and Seminar 3
Generalist Practicum and Seminar 3
Generalist Practicum and Seminar 3
Advanced Clinical Case Consultation 4
Advanced Clinical Case Consultation 4
Advanced Clinical Case Consultation 4
Total Units90

Normal time to complete the program

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