12.1  How Dual and Joint Degrees Affect Earning the J.D. Degree

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

In addition, the Law School sometimes allows students to create individual programs that combine law and related fields of study. Students wanting to combine a J.D. with a master’s degree not already approved in the Law School Rules (listed above) must receive permission for their programs from the faculty Petitions Committee. Students wanting to combine a J.D. with a doctoral degree not listed above can receive up to 15 credits toward completion of the J.D. if the student has been formally admitted to the doctoral program and if the student has already been admitted to the Law School. See Rule 3.16.

Students earning dual and joint degrees and wanting Diploma Privilege upon graduation must satisfy the requirements for specific subjects (Evidence, Torts I, etc.) and the 60-hour subject requirements in the same manner as all other J.D. candidates. Likewise, dual degree students must earn a total of 90 credits. However, dual degree students may count up to 15 credits from their other degree program toward the 90 credits for the J.D. degree (9 credits for the dual degree in Law and Library and Information Studies). The Law School will only accept any 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 only “double count” those courses.

Note that all Law students, including those pursuing a dual degree, must satisfy the ABA requirement of taking no fewer than approximately 64 credits in Law courses that have regularly scheduled class sessions. (See section 4.4.1).  This is especially relevant to dual degree students who might be planning on counting up to 15 non-Law credits toward the 90 required for the J.D. degree. In such an instance, for example, of the 75 Law credits, 64 credits must be in Law courses with regularly scheduled class sessions.

In most cases, completing the requirements for a master’s degree and a J.D. will add an additional year of study to the three years required to complete law school. However, students will save approximately one year of study compared to completing both programs separately, because some courses will count toward both degrees at the same time. A combination of a J.D. and Ph.D. will take considerably longer.

Due to differences between the grade reporting schedules of the Law School and other university departments, a student who completes credit requirements for both departments in the same semester may be sworn into practice in Wisconsin after the swearing-in of the rest of his/her class in some cases. Students who will complete both degrees in the same semester should contact the Law School Registrar (registrar@law.wisc.edu) for more information about the timing of admission to the Wisconsin Bar.

More information on the dual degree programs is available on the website for UWLS at Dual Degrees.

The Law School will authorize a student to receive JD credit for non-law graduate-level courses as part of a dual-degree program only if that non-law course is taken after the student has matriculated at the Law School.

Important Note for Law students pursuing a Dual Degree:  In certain instances, a Law student engaged in a dual degree course of study might be formally assigned a non-Law status for a particular semester by the University Registrar.  In such a case, the student needs to be aware of the following:

  1. All Law credits earned in that particular semester WILL count toward the 90 credits required for the JD degree; but
  2. Any letter-grades earned in Law courses during that particular semester as a "non-Law" student are NOT factored into the student’s Law GPA. (This is because the student will, in these courses, not be assigned 4.3-scale Law letter grades in that term, nor be subject to Law School grade curve rules.  Rather, the student is assigned 4.0-scale University letter grades and is not subject to a grade curve.)

Example of hypothetical dual degree program: Note that this order is not required. Students may begin the "Other [non-Law] Program" before or after the first year in law school.

Years Semester 1 Semester 2 Total Credits
1 15 credits of law 17 credits of law 32
2  3 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program 3 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program 38
3 12 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program 12 credits of law while taking credits in Other Program 62
4 13 credits of law credits in Other Program 75*

*= The dual degree student in the hypothetical case completes 75 law credits (including the specific subjects 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 Program substitute for 15 elective law credits that otherwise would have been required.

Dual degree students receive the J.D. (and this transfer of credits) only when both programs are complete. 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.

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 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 the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for assistance in getting the correct tuition and fees assessed.  Students will need to speak with the Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid regarding any implications on a student's Law School scholarship.

Prior to being approved to graduate, a dual degree student must complete and return the "Notification of Dual Degree" form, available online at the Current Student Forms page and can be returned to the Law School Registrar.

12.1.1 Dual Degree in Law and Business

The dual degree in law and business is a cooperative program between the University of Wisconsin Law School and the Wisconsin School of Business that enables students to receive both the J.D. and a master's degree in business.

The Wisconsin School of Business programs are designed to foster analytical, communication, leadership, problem-solving and decision-making skills. The programs combine a strong business foundation with exposure to a variety of advanced analytical methods, social and technological system perspectives, and classroom experiences. Teaching methods include interactive case analysis and discussion, lecture, seminar, group projects, business projects, market simulations, and hands-on practical experience.

Students admitted to both programs will pay a blended Law and Business tuition. Students admitted to the Business School should contact the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for assistance in getting the blended tuition assessed.

Both the Law School and Wisconsin Business School have strong commitments to tailoring individual programs to enable students to take full advantage of the full array of possibilities.

Prospective or current Law students wanting more information about the Law School requirements for this dual degree program should contact the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. Prospective Business students should contact the Business School MBA Admissions. Current Business Students in the dual degree program should contact the Career Specialization Director for their program with their questions.

12.2  Certificate Programs

The Law School offers formal “certificates of concentration” in two areas of study. (Note: these are different from the Curricular Concentrations.) Students may earn a Certificate in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies or a Certificate in Consumer Health Advocacy. In each certificate program students must complete between 15 and 20 credits from a specified menu of subject area courses and earn grades of a C or better in the law courses and B or better in the non-law courses. Students who maintain an average of B or better in all of the certificate courses will receive their certificates with honors. Students who begin a certificate program but do not complete all requirements will be able to apply only 6 non-law credits toward their J.D., absent compelling circumstances. For further information about the two certificate programs, see Rule 3.19 of the Rules of the Law School. [Note: as of October 2015, the Certificate of Special Training in Environmental Law and Policy and the Certificate in International Law and Business have been discontinued.]

12.3  Study Abroad

Students at the University of Wisconsin Law School may earn up to 30 credits toward a University of Wisconsin Law School J.D. through studying law abroad. They may participate in one of our international exchange programs; attend the programs of other ABA-approved law schools; or create their own independent foreign study programs. For details, visit UW Law Study Abroad.

Students must earn at least the equivalent of a “C” to receive credit for a course taken abroad. Credits earned abroad will be entered as "satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory" on the UW transcript; a grade will not be recorded.

The Law School participates in twelve exchange programs with foreign universities. In exchange programs, UW students pay the same tuition and fees to the UW that they would pay for a semester at the UW but attend foreign law schools. In exchange, the foreign schools send their students to the UW Law School. Some of the foreign programs are taught in English. Some, however, require fluency in another language. Currently, the UW Law School has exchange programs with the following schools:

School Location Language for Classes
JLU-Giessen Giessen, Germany German
University of Groningen Netherlands English
European University Institute Florence, Italy English
Diego Portales University Santiago, Chile Spanish
Catholic University Lima, Peru Spanish
University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, South Africa English
University of Sheffield Sheffield, United Kingdom English
University of Paris X, Nanterre Paris, France French (intermediate knowledge of French is necessary)
Pontifical Catholic University Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Portuguese
National Law School of India University Bangalore, India English
Sao Paulo Law School of Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV Law School) São Paulo, Brazil Portuguese; Some classes are available in English
Thammasat University Law School Bangkok, Thailand Thai; Some classes are available in English

In addition, the Law School offers a Study Abroad Summer Program at the University of Giessen, Germany where students may earn up to 4 credits. For details contact Professor Anuj Desai.  

For internships in South Asia coordinated by the Global Legal Studies Center, and study abroad opportunities in East Asia including internships coordinated by the East Asian Legal Studies Center, contact Sumudu Atapattu, Director, Research Centers.

Our students also may participate in law programs offered around the world by other American Bar Association-approved law schools. Students must be admitted by those programs and pay the tuition and fees charged by the programs. View Overview of ABA Approved Foreign Study Policies.

Law students can also earn credits toward the J.D. through independent study programs abroad. Students may create a program at one foreign law school or several. However, in all cases, the Law School must pre-approve the independent study plan; if the plan is not pre-approved, the student will not receive credit toward the UW J.D. degree on return. Information about the process for approving individual study abroad plans can be obtained from Sumudu Atapattu, Director, Research Centers, Room 6218.

All students considering studying abroad should arrange for the Law School Registrar (registrar@law.wisc.edu) to audit their academic transcripts. During the “audit,” the Registrar gives the student an up-to-date report on total credits and subject area requirements that the student has satisfied. This information is essential to choosing appropriate credit loads and courses at the law school abroad. In some cases, courses taken abroad will be allowed to satisfy subject area requirements for the J.D. degree and/or Diploma Privilege. To demonstrate that courses taken abroad meet UW Law School subject area requirements, students are required to submit course descriptions for the proposed courses. Please contact the Academic Advisor with regard to completing re-entry forms when necessary before students can register for another semester at UW Law School following their study abroad experience. In all cases, students are responsible for arranging for official transcripts to be sent to the Law School Registrar by the foreign institution.

There is a mandatory health insurance requirement that applies to all UW students studying abroad in a UW-sponsored program. The current provider of the mandatory insurance is Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). CISI’s plan extends beyond medical expenses to include other emergencies, including emergency medical transportation, return airfare, and technical and legal assistance. This insurance is mandatory, regardless of whether or not the student has other coverage through UW Student Health (SHIP), through parents, spouses or partners, or through the institution that they will visit. Because the mandatory health insurance does not cover the student before or after the period of study abroad, students might find that they still need student or family-provided health insurance for the periods before or after they are abroad.

Please contact Sumudu Atapattu to apply for health insurance at least three weeks prior to departure. She will give you an application form which you must complete and return to her with a check for the appropriate amount. If everything is in order, she will issue the insurance card. All relevant information as well as application forms and instructions can be found at the UW Internationl Coverage information page.

For answers to your general questions about study abroad opportunities, students may contact Sumudu Atapattu, Director, Research Centers. In most cases, students will need to discuss questions about financial aid with the Director of Scholarship Administration in the Admissions and Financial Aid Office.  

Finally, students who study abroad in their final semester should be aware of the following:

  1. It is your responsibility to ensure that the resulting transcript from the host institution is forwarded to the Law School Registrar. The Law School will NOT certify that you have met the JD degree requirements without this transcript.
  2. If the transcript is greatly delayed, your ability to take an upcoming bar exam may be adversely affected (most jurisdictions require that you have your JD degree before taking their bar exam).
  3. You should consult the Law School Registrar (registrar@law.wisc.edu) to determine if the delay will affect your graduation date.  If you have not yet submitted a Diploma Privilege application, the application deadline (thirty days following degree conferral) may have already passed. Early application with the Board of Bar Examiners avoids this problem.

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