A joint degree program allows a student to complete two graduate degrees concurrently in less time than it takes to finish each program individually. As a specified number of credit hours apply toward both degrees, students also pay less in overall tuition by combining programs.
Before beginning a joint degree program, both full-time and part-time law students must complete the required first-year curriculum and achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.00 in those courses. Full-time students earn 29 credits the first year, while part-time students must earn at least 29 credits within the first three semesters of the law program.
Traditional JD students must complete 86 credit hours to graduate from the College of Law. However, under a joint degree program, a student earns the JD degree after completing a minimum of 76 credit hours. The College of Law applies up to 10 credits toward the JD degree for work completed in the other graduate degree program. Traditional public service management students must complete 52 hours to receive the MS degree. However, under the joint degree program, students are required to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours. The Public Service Management program will accept up to 16 hours of credit for work completed in the College of Law. Credit hours are eligible to be applied only after completion of the required first year JD curriculum described above. A joint degree student may not receive credit for courses that create a redundancy in coursework.
Students seeking a joint degree with a college outside of the College of Law must independently apply and be admitted to the other graduate degree program. Full-time law students typically apply to the other graduate program in the summer prior to their second year of law school. Part-time law students typically apply to the other graduate degree program in the spring semester of their second year.
After admission to the other graduate program, joint degree applicants should submit a copy of the acceptance letter and law school transcript to the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the College of Law. The transcript and acceptance letter should be accompanied by a cover letter from the student requesting that the student's program be changed from Juris Doctor to the appropriate joint degree program. The letter should include the student's full name, student identification number, mailing address, email address and phone number. The joint degree candidate should also schedule a meeting with the appropriate adviser in the other college to which the student has been admitted to discuss the curriculum.
Combined Credits and Expenses
Full-time joint degree students generally complete the program in four years. Part-time applicants generally complete the joint degree program in five years. A student may accelerate the program by taking classes in the summer or by taking more courses during the academic year. By doing so, a student may complete both programs one-half year earlier.
Once enrolled in a joint degree program, students no longer pay the College of Law package tuition; instead, students pay by the credit hour for law classes and classes taken in the other program.
Joint degree students must meet the grading standards of the College of Law and the respective graduate degree program in order to remain in good standing. Grades are recorded on the transcript under the college in which the courses are taken, and the combined degree is recorded after graduation. Students who are dismissed from either program may be able to continue studies in the other program. Students must satisfy the normal program requirements of the other school to receive the degree; no double counting of credits is permitted after a dismissal from one college.
Leaves of Absence/Withdrawal
Students must receive permission from both colleges to take a leave of absence from the joint degree program or to withdraw from the joint degree program. A leave of absence is granted for a maximum of one year. If a student does not enroll in classes after one year, he or she will be permanently withdrawn from both programs and only may re-enroll by applying to the admission offices of both colleges as a new student.
To receive the joint degree, a student must graduate from both schools on the same date, in the same semester/quarter and in the same year. Double counting of credits occurs only after concurrently completion of both programs.
For a December graduation, all requirements must be completed at the end of the fall semester and fall quarter. For a spring graduation, all non-law requirements must be completed at the end of the spring quarter and all law requirements at the end of the spring semester. A student will not be eligible to graduate, cannot be certified for admission to the Bar, and cannot sit for bar examinations until all degree requirements are met and degrees conferred.