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Archive for Thursday, January 17, 2013

New KU program allows students to complete bachelor’s, law degrees in six years

January 17, 2013

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A new program at Kansas University will make it possible for students to shave a year off the time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree and finish law school.

A collaboration between the KU School of Law and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the program also aims to encourage more top undergraduates to stay at KU for law school instead of heading elsewhere.

The "3+3" program will allow students to earn a Bachelor of Arts from the College and a law degree in a combined six years, one year less than the normal timeline.

"We anticipate that the students who complete the program are going to be really well-prepared, and they're going to be more likely to choose KU as their law school," said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school.

Students who take part in the program will spend three years completing undergraduate requirements, then three years in law school. Their first year of law courses will also count as elective credits toward their bachelor's degree.

But to do that, they'll have to apply for the program before they begin their freshman year. It will be open for the first time for students starting in fall 2013, by invitation, and they have until Feb. 15 to apply.

To be considered, they need a high-school grade-point average of at least 3.5 and an ACT score of at least 28. Admission will be competitive.

After they're accepted, students in the program must keep to a tight academic schedule during their three undergraduate years. They must major in a CLAS department that offers a Bachelor of Arts degree, and they must maintain a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average.

"It's a rigorous program," Mazza said.

For their trouble, students will save a year's worth of tuition and living expenses, and they'll enter the job market a year earlier. After their first three years, they're guaranteed admission to the law school as long as they have at least a 3.5 GPA and score a 157 or better on the LSAT exam.

"It also demonstrates to employers that these students are committed, they're motivated, and they're going to be really good employees," Mazza said.

The law school will also offer the students mentoring and other experiences designed to make their transition seamless, he said.

And the law school should benefit because the program aims to encourage top students to stay at KU for their law degree, Mazza said. The strength of each incoming class at the School of Law often has a lot to do with the quality of the KU undergraduates who apply.

Mazza said he believed such a program is not unheard-of at law schools, though it's more common for medical schools. The KU law school proposed such a program several years ago, he said, but he credited Provost Jeff Vitter for pushing the idea forward.

For more information, interested students can email clasdean@ku.edu.

Comments

oakfarm 1 year, 3 months ago

One year faster to reach unemployment?

0

eugunieum 1 year, 3 months ago

Bob, thanks for that. I really needed a good laugh.

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B0B 1 year, 3 months ago

Since it already took me 6 years to complete my Bachelors degree, can I just get a Law Degree sent in the mail?

3

irtnog2001 1 year, 3 months ago

A three year law school curriculum might be worthwhile if one year was actually devoted to a practical internship that teaches the nuts and bolts of how to practice law. Much less lecture time is needed to learn what you need to pass the bar. I also think some prerequsite courses should be required to get into law school such as business law and accounting.

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merickson 1 year, 3 months ago

Hi folks,

Thanks, all, for commenting. Here are two things I didn't fit into the story that speak to a couple of your comments/questions:

-Dean Mazza did say he believes a number of students decide they want to pursue a law career at an early age and come to college with law school in their sights. As evidence, he said that a lot of students write in their law-school application essays that they decided during high school or earlier that they wanted to pursue law.

-Students who are accepted into the program won't be forced to go to law school. They can opt out of the program; they just won't be able to finish undergrad work in 3 years. See this FAQ, which contains a lot of other information also:

http://admissions.ku.edu/apply/apps/3plus3faqs.shtml#opt-out

Thanks,

Matt Erickson

KU reporter

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NoisyCrickets 1 year, 3 months ago

So you want 17-18 year old high school seniors deciding before they go to KU... to stick to a 3 year undergraduate schedule... follow it up immediately with law school for 3 years? A 17 year old doesn't realize the implications of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. A 17 year old will have to adjust to being on their own as a college student.... life in Lawrence.... turning 21 and immediately be in the heavy drinking atmosphere of Lawrence and law school.

To quote Professor DeLaTorre, Dean Mazza is "justifying his fee" by coming up with "new" ideas.

1

KU_cynic 1 year, 3 months ago

This appears to be a good strategy for KU to capture a lot of Kansas undergrads who might otherwise study UG somewhere else and then perhaps go to Washburn or to an out-of-state law school. Given how dismal law school placements have been -- nationally and at KU -- anything that helps increase quality enrollments at KU and hold down student costs is a good idea.

However, really talented students -- the kind who can probably excel in a 6-year combined degree program -- need to have their eyes wide open about the opportunity costs in terms of their careers of choosing a mid-tier quality law school like KU over pursing a 4-year KU degree and then going to a more prestigious law school. Four years at KU, great grades in challenging courses, and good LSAT scores followed by a law degree from a top-20 law school would probaby lead to much greater career potential than six years at KU -- again for the really talented students.

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irtnog2001 1 year, 3 months ago

As a practical matter law schools could easily shorten their curriculum to two years across the board. It is a cash cow for most universities. Most lawyers I know had no idea they would end up in law school when they started.

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