Dual Degree Programs

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Dual Degree Programs Offered | Tuition For Dual Degree Students | Dual Degree Application ProcessDual Degree Plan of StudyDual Degree AdvisorsFrequently Asked Questions

Dual Degree Programs for Valparaiso University Law Students

The Valparaiso University Law School in partnership with the Valparaiso University Graduate School offers its students a unique interdisciplinary educational opportunity through the dual degree program. In addition to learning the concepts and skills needed to succeed as a lawyer, dual degree students have the opportunity to obtain additional knowledge in a chosen field of study at the graduate level.

The dual degree program enables qualified students to earn a law degree (J.D.) and a Master’s degree (MBA, MS or MA) in as little as three years while saving over $10,000 compared to earning each degree individually. The savings of time and money is possible by allowing up to six credits to transfer from the J.D. to the master’s degree and up to six credits from the master’s degree to the J.D., effectively reducing the total number of credits required to earn both degrees by twelve. Also, students enrolled in a Premier Dual Degree Program will only pay Law School tuition during the fall and spring semesters for graduate courses while enrolled in law school.  Learn more about the Tuition For dual degree students.

In order to become a dual degree student, a student must individually apply to and be accepted by the Law School and the Graduate School. Applications may be submitted simultaneously or a student may apply to the Graduate School while attending Law School. Admission to one degree program does not guarantee admission to the second degree program; all admissions decisions are made independently. Candidates must familiarize themselves with admissions policies and follow all application procedures for each individual school or program.

Finally, credits earned in the graduate program may not be counted toward a student’s J.D. degree if they are earned prior to beginning law studies, as required by the ABA. Students that have completed their law degree will be reclassified as a graduate student and will no longer receive financial aid from the Law School.

Premier Dual Degree Programs Offered

Once admitted to both the Valparaiso University Law School and the Graduate school, students may enroll in one of the following Premier Dual Degree Programs that seek to integrate the study of law with a master’s degree in the following areas:

Students that enroll in a Premier Dual Degree Program and meet the requirements of the Law School and the Graduate School will receive tuition and transfer credit benefits while pursuing both degrees.

Individualized Dual Degree Programs Offered

Students interested in combining a law degree with a master’s degree in a field other than one of the Law School’s Premier Dual Degree Programs can complete the J.D. program concurrently with another graduate degree program by creating an individualized program. In the past, students have earned the following dual degrees:

  • J.D./MS in International Commerce and Policy
  • J.D./MA in Chinese Studies
  • J.D./MA in Liberal Studies, Theology

Students should work with their Dual Degree Advisors at the Law and Graduate Schools to develop an Individualized Dual Degree Program. The transfer courses within the Individualized Dual Degree Program must be approved by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Law School and the Dean of the Graduate School if not listed as a pre-approved transfer course within the Law School Bulletin and Graduate School Catalog prior to receiving transfer credit.

Students enrolled in an Individualized Dual Degree Program will pay tuition to the Graduate School for each graduate course, including those taken during the fall and spring semesters while attending Law School.

Tuition For Dual Degree Students in a Premier Dual Degree Program

In order for law students enrolled in a Premier Dual Degree Program to receive the financial benefits of that program, they must be enrolled as a full time law student throughout the J.D. program.  Full time enrollment is based on a minimum of 12 law credits per semester. Law credits earned during the summer do not count toward the semester minimum.  The following rules also apply:

  • Students enrolled in a Premier Dual Degree Program only pay Law School tuition during the fall and spring semesters for all law and graduate courses while enrolled as a full time law student.
  • Dual degree students may not take graduate courses during their 1L fall and spring semesters.
  • Dual degree students may take no more than 18 credits per semester without approval from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Law School.
  • Any graduate courses completed during the summer or after graduation from the law school are charged the per credit rate and paid to the Graduate School.
  • Students must achieve Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) as defined by each degree program to receive the financial and transfer credit benefits as a dual degree student. Individual program requirements may be found in the Law School Bulletin or Graduate School Catalog.
  • A dual degree student may not take more than 20% of the total required credits for graduation from the Graduate School during any semester while enrolled in Law School per ABA standard 304(e).
  • Law Students who are not enrolled in the dual degree program may take up to six credits from the Graduate School at no additional charge while enrolled at the Law School; however those credits may not be applied to the dual degree program if taken prior to being admitted into the Graduate School.
  • All law students registered for a course at the Graduate School, whether or not it is part of a dual degree program, must submit a Graduate Study Declaration Form to the Law School Registrar each semester. This ensures that law students are billed appropriately for any graduate coursework outside of the Law School.

For more information about tuition or financial aid, please visit the Law School Financial Aid website.

Dual Degree Application Process

Students must apply separately and be accepted to both the Valparaiso University Law School and the Valparaiso University Graduate School to become a dual degree student. Admission decisions are independent and a student could be admitted to one program and not the other. Once admitted to the Graduate School, a student must complete the Graduate Intention to Enroll form, indicating the anticipated start date of the master’s program. The start date may be deferred depending on the date of admission.

All law students registered for a course at the Graduate School, whether or not it is part of a dual degree program, must submit a Graduate Study Declaration Form to the Law School Registrar each semester. This ensures that law students are billed appropriately for any graduate coursework outside of the Law School.

Dual Degree Plan of Study

Per the ABA, credits earned in another graduate program may not be counted toward a student’s J.D. degree if they are earned prior to registering at the law school. Also, law students may not take any graduate courses during the fall or spring semester of their first year of law school. To develop a plan of study that meets these requirements in addition to the degree requirements for each program, it is important for dual degree students to meet with their advisors at both the Law School and the Graduate School prior to registering for classes.

It is possible to complete a dual law and master’s degree in three years depending on the number of required credits for the master’s program, but it does require careful planning and completing coursework during the summer sessions. Typically, dual degree students will complete both their law and master’s degree in 3-1/2 years.

Dual Degree Advisors

Dual degree students have two advisors; one at the Law School and one within the department of study for each master’s program. While the Graduate School is the initial point of contact for law students interested in pursuing a master’s degree through the dual degree program, students that are enrolled in the program should contact the appropriate advisor for questions regarding a specific course of study.

Dual Degree Program Advisor Department
All Programs Mark Adams, Professor of Law Law School
J.D./MBA Cindy Scanlan, Assistant Director of Graduate Programs in Management College of Business, MBA Office
J.D./MS in Sports Administration David Rolling, Director of Sport Management and Administrative Programs in Kinesiology Department of Kinesiology
J.D./MA in Psychology Amanda Zelechoski, Assistant Professor of Psychology Department of Psychology
Individualized Programs Daniel Hoyle, Director of Academic Services Graduate School

Dual Degree Frequently Asked Questions

Whom should I contact if I have just general questions about admissions?

For questions about admissions, please contact the appropriate admissions office at either the Law School or Graduate School.

How can I earn two degrees in a dual program in less time and at a lower cost than it would take to earn the degrees separately?

The savings of time and money is possible by allowing up to six credits to transfer from the J.D. to the master’s degree and up to six credits from the master’s degree to the J.D., effectively reducing the total number of credits required to earn both degrees by twelve. Also, students enrolled in a Premier Dual Degree Program will only pay Law School tuition during the fall and spring semesters for graduate courses while enrolled in law school.

Must I apply to both programs/schools at the same time?

No. Prospective students may apply at different times to the Law School and Graduate School. The admission requirements and Law School admission deadlines may be different than the Graduate School. Graduate School application deadlines may also vary by program.

Can I enroll in a dual degree program after completing requirements for one of the degrees?

No. The dual degree programs are not open to students who have already completed the requirements for one of the degrees.

Can I count credits from the Graduate School earned prior to starting at the Law school?

No. The American Bar Association, our accrediting organization, prohibits the granting of credit for work completed prior to enrollment in a J.D. program.

Must I complete the requirements for both degrees at the same time?

No, simultaneous completion of both degrees is not required, although it is possible.

Are there any special forms I must complete as a dual degree student prior to graduation from one or both of the units?

Once admitted to the Graduate School, the student must complete the Acceptance to the Graduate School Form. On this form, the student will indicate the graduate degree to be pursued and the anticipated start date, which may be deferred up to one year from admission.

All law students registered for a course at the Graduate School, whether or not it is part of a dual degree program, must submit a Graduate Study Declaration Form to the Law School Registrar each semester. This ensures that law students are tracked and billed appropriately for any graduate coursework outside of the Law School.

Dual degree students must apply for graduation separately at both the Law School and the Graduate School once course work has been completed for each degree.

May I take classes in the graduate unit during my first year of law school?

No. Only law courses may be taken during the first year of law school, which includes the fall and spring semesters.

How many credits will the Law School count from the graduate unit?

The Law School will count up to six credits from the Graduate School. In order for a course to be counted toward the J.D. requirements, it must be taken after the student begins law studies and the student must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress as defined by each School.

What if, after starting a dual degree program, I decide to “drop out” and only pursue the J.D.?

Any pre-approved transfer courses up to six credits taken at the Graduate School as part of the dual degree program would count towards the J.D. even if the student is no longer registered for a dual degree. If a student decides to drop out of the Graduate program, they must complete an Application for Formal Withdrawl from the Graduate School.

Are the six credits from the Graduate School calculated into my Law School GPA and class rank?

No. The six credits from the Graduate School are not calculated as part of the Law School GPA.

Is it possible to do an “ad hoc” dual degree program?

Yes. Students interested in combining a law degree with a master’s degree in a field other than one of the Law School’s Premier Dual Degree Programs can complete the J.D. program concurrently with another graduate degree program by creating an individualized program. Students should work with their Dual Degree Advisors at the Law and Graduate Schools to develop an Individualized Dual Degree Program. The individualized program, including identification of specific transfer courses, must be approved by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Law School and the Dean of the Graduate School before transfer credits will be accepted. Students enrolled in an Individualized Dual Degree Program will pay tuition to the Graduate School for each graduate course, including those taken during the fall and spring semesters while attending law school.