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 firstname.lastname@example.org.