Dual Degree & Certificate Programs

The opportunities for graduate study beyond a law degree are particularly rich at the University of Wisconsin. The UW Law School offers dual degree opportunities in conjunction with master's and doctoral programs on the campus. The Law School has established programs with:

A strong tradition of research at the UW and an environment that encourages interdisciplinary work support the dual degree programs. In addition, the Law School offers certificate programs that provide an opportunity for concentrated study, but do not involve an additional degree. Certificates are available in four subject areas: Health Advocacy, Environmental Law, Russian Area Studies, and International Law and Business.

A dual degree is not a joint degree or a double degree. A dual degree is two separate degrees, one of which is granted by a graduate or professional department, school or program and one of which is granted by the Law School. In most instances, completing the requirements for a master's degree and a J.D. will add about a year of study to the three years that it usually takes to complete law school and saves approximately one year of study compared to attaining both degrees separately. A combination of a J.D. and a Ph.D. will take considerably longer. The mechanism for reducing the time for each degree is the permission to "double count" some courses taken for the J.D. degree toward the master's or Ph.D. degree and vice versa.

In addition, the Law School is committed to helping students create individual programs that combine law and related fields of study. Students wanting to combine a J.D. with a master's or doctoral degree not already approved in the Law School Rules (listed above) must receive permission for their programs from a faculty committee. Lastly, the Law School has adopted a general regulation to facilitate dual J.D./Ph.D. programs in fields where no established dual degree program currently exists. That rule allows the Law School to grant a semester of advanced standing to students in such programs if certain standards are met.

General requirements

Dual degree candidates must apply to and be admitted by each school or department separately. For all programs except for MPH, students apply to both the Graduate School and the particular department/program, and to the Law School. For the dual JD/MPH program, students only apply directly to the MPH program, and to the Law School. The Neuroscience and Public Policy program requires application to both departments by their deadline rather than the Law School's deadline.

Dual degree students must be enrolled in both programs concurrently at some point in their career. Generally, students need not apply and be admitted to both programs in the same year. However, some departments or schools may require that students be admitted to both for the same academic year; therefore, it is essential that applicants familiarize themselves with the admission and dual degree requirements of both the Law School and the proposed dual degree department when considering a dual degree program. Note that students earning dual degrees usually will not graduate with the law class with which they matriculated. Only those dual-degree students who completed at least a year in the non-law program before starting law school will graduate with their first-year classmates. To receive dual degrees, students must satisfy all of the requirements for each degree.

Tuition

For all programs except the MPH dual degree, once the student is admitted to both programs, the student should pay a "blended rate" of tuition and fees for every semester as a dual degree student. The rate is between the rate for Law School and the Graduate School department or other school (the other program). The students pay this rate for all semesters, regardless of whether they are taking all Law classes, all classes in the other program or a combination of both. For this reason, students admitted to a second department should notify Mike Hall, Director of Student Life, for assistance in getting the correct tuition and fees assessed. 

The JD/MPH dual degree program is a "step out" model.  Semester by semester, students must decide and declare which school they will enroll in for the majority of their courses, and will pay that school's tuition rate, accordingly.  Students are required to matriculate in the Law School for at least 5 semesters and the MPH program for at least 2 semesters.  For this reason, students admitted to this dual degree program should work with Mike Hall, Director of Student Life, and Faculty Advisor Sarah Davis to plan their program.

How Dual Degrees Affect Earning the J.D. Degree

Students earning dual degrees must satisfy the same subject area requirements as all other law students seeking the J.D. degree and Diploma Privilege (the ability to waive taking the Wisconsin State Bar Examination before practicing law in Wisconsin). Likewise, dual degree students must earn a total of 90 credits, including up to 30 elective law credits. However, dual degree students may count 15 credits from their other degree program as law electives. The Law School will accept any 15 graduate credits from the outside program in which the student earned a B or better. The outside program, however, usually specifies in advance which law courses count toward the master's or doctoral degree and will "double count" only those courses.  In the dual degree program with the Business School, students may need more than 75 Law School credits in order to meet the requirements for the J.D. degree with diploma privilege and satisfy Business School requirements.

The following diagram demonstrates how a dual degree student who begins as a Law student might complete a J.D. and a master's degree in four years. Note that this order is not required. From the Law School's perspective, students may begin course work in the "Other Program" before or after the first year in law school. Once dual degree students begin taking law courses, they must complete the first-year course sequence of 33 credits within two academic years, starting in a fall semester. Students are strongly advised to complete the first-year of Law School as full-time students in one academic year.  

YEARS
Semester 1
Semester 2
TOTAL CREDITS FOR J.D.
Year 1
17 credits of law
16 credits of law
33
Year 2
3 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program
3 credits of law while taking credits in Other  Program
39
Year 3
12 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program
12 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program
63
Year 4
12 credits of law
credits in Other Program
75*


  * The dual degree student in this example completes 75 law credits (including the specific and 60-hour subject requirements) and adds 15 credits from the other program to meet the requirement for 90 credits for the J.D. degree. These 15 credits from the other department substitute for 15 elective law credits that otherwise would have been required.

Dual degree students combining J.D. and master's degrees will receive the J.D. (and this transfer of credits) only when both programs are complete.  In dual J.D./Ph.D. programs, the transfer of outside credits may occur earlier than the completion of the doctoral degree.  A dual degree student who does not finish the other degree will only be able to count 6 outside graduate credits toward the J.D. degree.

For all programs except the JD/MPH program, once the student is admitted to both programs, the student should pay a "blended rate" of tuition and fees for every semester as a dual degree. The rate is between the rate for Law School and the Graduate School department or other school (the Other Program). The student pays this rate for all semesters, regardless of whether he/she is taking all Law classes, all classes in the Other Program, or a combination of both. For this reason, students admitted to a second department should notify Mike Hall, Director of Student Life, for assistance in getting the correct tuition and fees assessed. 

The JD/MPH dual degree program is a "step out" model.  Semester by semester, students must decide and declare which school they will enroll in for the majority of their courses, and will pay that school's tuition rate, accordingly.  Students are required to matriculate in the Law School for at least 5 semester and the MPH program for at least 2 semesters.  For this reason, students admitted to this dual degree program should work with Mike Hall, Director of Student Life, and Faculty Advisor Sarah Davis to plan their program.    

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