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Joint and Dual Degree Programs

Modern law practice increasingly intersects with and draws from other disciplines. University of Minnesota students may gain valuable interdisciplinary training by simultaneously pursuing a law degree and another University graduate or professional degree. These innovative "dual"; and "joint" degree programs enable students to tailor their education to suit future career goals. By permitting students to apply a limited number of credits towards degree requirements in both schools, combined programs save time and tuition expense, compared to seeking separate degrees.

Two types of degree combinations are available: "Dual degrees" and "joint degrees."

A wide range of "dual degree" options are offered in partnership with the Graduate School, the Carlson School of Management, the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and other University programs.

David F. Fisher, Executive Director for the Corporate Institute, is the contact for the JD/MBA dual degree. The Dean of Students Office provides advising and program information for all other dual degree programs.

"Joint degree" options, administered by the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology, allow students to pursue interdisciplinary study in cutting-edge health and life science fields such as Public Health, Medicine, Pharmacology, and Health Care Administration, among others. All joint degree students participate in an interdisciplinary seminar each Fall, facilitating a continuing exchange of ideas on emerging topics. Advising for joint degree students is available through the professional staff in the joint degree program office, located in N150. Please contact Erin Sikkink for more details at jointdgr@umn.edu.

With some variation depending on the type of program, combined degrees operate under the common principles detailed below.

Application Process

In order to pursue two degrees, students must apply separately to the Law School and to the other degree program. Each school makes independent admission decisions using its own standards. While students are encouraged to apply for such programs before entering Law School, application after entry is also possible. Law students seeking to apply to a partner degree program should carefully research the relevant application requirements, deadlines, and procedures. They should also plan to sit for required entrance exams, such as the GMAT or GRE, since most partner programs do not accept the LSAT as a substitute measure of student qualification.

Degree Requirements

The Law School and partner programs each administer their program requirements separately, and students must conform to the requirements of each school.

The minimum graduation requirements for a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the Law School are a total of 88 credits taken in six semesters of residency (see Academic Rule 2). The total credits may include up to 12 earned through the partner program. Residency is defined as 12 credits of law school work per semester (see Academic Rule 4), with some modification made for joint-degree candidates (see Academic Rule 8.3). Students must also complete required courses, such as Professional Responsibility, and three years of legal writing programs.

Requirements for the other degree program are governed by the partner school, and may include a number of Law credits as determined by the program or governing agreement. Students are encouraged to confer regularly with an advisor in the partner program to ensure they are on track to complete requirements for that program.

Advising and Program Planning

Once admitted to the Law School and the other degree program, students are urged to meet with their advisors in both the Law School and partner program to review the proposed course of dual or joint degree study, keeping in mind the timelines and requirements for each program. On the Law School side, students pursuing a degree combination under the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology should confer with Erin Sikkink, program assistant in the Joint Degree office. Students pursuing a JD/MBA should meet with David F. Fisher, Executive Director for the Corporate Institute. Students in all other dual degree programs should contact the Law School's Dean of Students Office.

Advising practices vary in partner programs, but in most cases, students are assigned a faculty or staff advisor in the other program shortly after their admission. While not necessary, it may be helpful to arrange a joint meeting of advisors so that the student and both schools have a clear understanding of the degree plan, and any required adjustments.

Cross-Counting Credits

Once a student has commenced a joint or dual degree program, a limited number of credits may apply towards requirements in both programs. From the Law School's perspective, up to 12 credits of coursework from the partner program may count towards Juris Doctor requirements. Of these, six credits may be on any subject so long as the course in the partner program is listed at the 5000-level or above. An additional six credits from the partner program may count towards the JD if they are approved by the Assistant Dean of Students (or the governing Memorandum of Agreement in the case of a joint degree), as being "substantially law-related." When 12 eligible credits have been completed in the partner program, a dual or joint degree student should submit a Credit Transfer Request form to the Law School's Assistant Dean of Students for review and approval. On approval of the credits, the Law School Registrar's Office will prepare a special transcript that accurately reflects all coursework that has been applied to the JD degree.

The number of transferable or cross-counting law credits varies by partner program and any Memorandum of Agreement, in the case of joint degree programs. Students should confer with their advisor in the partner program to determine how many Law credits will be accepted, and what procedure the partner program follows to apply transferable credits.

Rank and Quartile Determinations for Joint and Dual Degree Students

Joint and dual degree student class rank calculations are adjusted depending on the number of law credits completed. In the 1L year, joint degree students are ranked with their 1L class if the student has completed or has in progress 33 or fewer law credits at the time of ranking. Joint and dual degree students will be ranked with the current 2L class if they have commenced their graduate or professional coursework and have completed or have in progress between 34 and 55 credits towards their J.D. degree at the time of ranking, including applicable non-law course credits from the other degree program. Joint and dual degree students are ranked with the current 3L class if they have completed or have in progress 56 or more credits towards their J.D. degree at the time of ranking, including applicable non-law coursework from the other degree program. If a joint or dual degree student takes fewer than 4 graded law credits in an academic year, from Summer to Spring, the previous year's rank stands, and the student will not be included in the current year's calculation.

Registration

During the first year of law school, students cannot take any other graduate or professional courses. Similarly, some partner degree programs require that one year of study be completed without concurrent registration at the Law School. Thereafter, selection of courses from both schools may be possible simultaneously, subject to compatible scheduling and program requirements.

Students who anticipate taking courses in both programs in a given semester should plan carefully for registration. In most cases, in order to enroll in high-demand Law School courses, students should first participate in the Law School's lottery registration process, before enrolling in other graduate or professional school courses. The Law School Registrar, Mike Galegher, works with students and staff from partner programs to ensure registration is successfully completed.

The number of credits a student takes in a given semester in each school usually determines the "Career" of registration. "Career" refers to the student's "home" for that semester, and determines the rate and flow of tuition, which scholarships a student may use, and impacts financial aid calculations. In most cases, the Career is the school in which the student takes the largest number of credits. For instance, in a semester in which a student is taking 10 Law credits and 5 Graduate credits, the Career would be in Law. The Career should be confirmed as soon as possible after a student is enrolled in coursework for the up-coming semester in order to allow time for the Registrar's Office to confer with the partner program to ensure the student's status is correctly updated in the University's enrollment system.

The other school's requirements may dictate some variation from the normal Career determination. For instance, some partner programs require that the student be enrolled in that school's Career even if taking more law credits. In such cases, students should inquire with their advisors in each program as far as possible in advance of the start of a given semester so that financial aid can be factored and packaged correctly.

Tuition, Scholarships, and Financial Aid

Each semester, a joint or dual degree student's Career of enrollment (either in the Law School or in the partner program) drives the rate and flow of tuition, determines which scholarship(s) a student may be eligible for, and impacts financial aid. For example, when enrolled for 12 or more credits through the Law Career, students are charged the Law School's plateau tuition and applicable fees, even if they are simultaneously enrolled in courses in their partner program. They are also eligible for Law School scholarships, and their financial aid will be determined on the cost of attendance for Law School. Generally, joint and dual degree students are enrolled in the Law Career for five semesters of study. Students in combined programs are required to enroll in the Law Career for a minimum of four semesters, or the equivalent if summer sessions are included.

When enrolled in the Graduate Career, students are charged Graduate tuition rates, are eligible for Graduate School scholarships, and have their financial aid packages factored based on those tuition and scholarship amounts. Enrollment through the Graduate Career may also determine a student's eligibility for Teaching Assistant tuition reduction or other benefits. For specific questions about tuition and scholarships, students should confer with their advisors in both Law and the partner program. For financial aid questions, contact the Law School's Financial Aid Liaison in the Office of Student Finance, Jim Parker, at j-park1@umn.edu.