Stanford Law School Introduces Innovative Joint Degree Programs
Multidisciplinary education is the cornerstone of a new, model legal curriculum being developed by Stanford Law School and today the school announced that it has created innovative joint degree programs with eleven Stanford graduate departments and schools. Stanford leads the nation’s law schools in the number and quality of joint degree programs.
Now involving a total of 13 other Stanford departments and schools, the law school’s formal joint degree programs sharply reduce the time and cost of pursuing a Stanford JD in tandem with a master’s or PhD — making it much easier for Stanford law students to take advantage of the unparalleled number of internationally top-rated graduate programs at Stanford University and to prepare for new demands within a rapidly changing legal profession. These formal programs are even more generous than the law school’s existing “generic” joint degree program that allows students to pursue a joint degree with virtually any graduate department or school at Stanford or elsewhere.
Stanford Law School began making comprehensive changes to its JD curriculum last year to produce a different kind of law graduate who is versed in both legal theory and in a specialty practice area. These shifts were in response to the changing needs of the legal profession: Lawyers now work in cross-disciplinary/cross-professional teams, in increasingly specialized industries and fields such as engineering, medicine, biotechnology, and the environment, and they must also practice law in a global context, so they need to be educated more broadly with courses beyond the traditional law school curriculum.
“Our students should take courses outside the law school in order to develop the broad intellectual capital they need to practice law in the world today,” said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer. “What we teach in law school is how to think like a lawyer and that’s a highly transferable skill. But as everyone knows, it takes less than three years to teach that skill. With our joint degrees and ability to offer students courses in other parts of the university, we can graduate students who think like lawyers and who also have additionally valuable skills and analytical abilities that are applicable to modern legal practice and public service, and transferable to other serendipitous opportunities.”
“What’s more,” Kramer said, “Stanford is unique among universities in the breadth and depth of its programs, with top-rated schools in business, engineering, medicine, earth science, education, and more. By making strategic use of the rest of the university, we can afford our students unparalleled educational opportunities. The new joint degrees will be one manifestation of this, but we will afford similar opportunities to all of our students who are not seeking another degree but who do want exposure to the basics in the fields related to their legal interests.”
The formal JD/Master’s or JD/PhD programs offer an advantage to students because they allow qualifying courses to be applied toward both degrees. Students will typically save at least one year. In some cases, such as with the JD/PhD programs, students will dramatically save on tuition (and reduce debt) by eliminating up to two years of law school tuition and getting the remainder of their tuition funded in part by a doctoral fellowship.
Stanford Law School’s model curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in legal theory while also making it possible for them to cultivate expertise in any legal specialty — from economics and business, to science and technology, to international law and public service. Students can pursue an established joint degree, customize a degree, or explore the law’s intersection with other disciplines through team-taught courses and academic concentrations.
“The formal joint degree programs, the generic joint degree program, and the wide latitude given students who are pursing only the JD to receive credit for courses outside the law school all are designed to give our students a great deal of flexibility,” said Jeff Strnad, Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law, who holds a courtesy appointment as Professor of Economics with the Stanford University Department of Economics and who oversees the law school’s joint degree programs. “For our students, the task is simple: figure out what you want to do — based on your academic or career goals — and we’ll help you make it happen.”
New joint degree and dual degree options:
The following is a summary of Stanford Law School’s joint degree programs.
Formal joint degree programs: These degrees are offered by the law school and certain graduate departments at Stanford University. Formal programs reduce time and tuition by allowing cross credits i.e., some JD units count toward the other degree and some of the other degree units count toward the JD, up to 21 semester units, typically saving one year.
“Generic” joint degree program: Aside from the formal joint degree programs, the law school has a generic joint degree program. Students may propose a joint degree in conjunction with any graduate department at Stanford University or at any other university. The generic joint degree program reduces the requirements for the JD by up to 21 semester units ― about 7/9 of one year.
Stanford Law School now offers this roster of formal joint degree programs, which will result in a reduction of time and tuition because certain courses are applied toward both degrees:
Formal joint degrees (in conjunction with Stanford graduate programs):
— Bioengineering (MS or PhD) — Business (MBA) — Economics (MA or PhD) — Education (MA in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies) — History (MA or PhD) — Health Research & Policy (MS or PhD) — International, Comparative and Area Studies (MA): — Center for African Studies — Center for East Asian Studies — International Policy Studies — Center for Latin American Studies — Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies — Interdisciplinary Graduate Program on Environment and Resources (MS or PhD) — Management, Science & Engineering (MS or PhD) — Philosophy (PhD) — Political Science (PhD) — Psychology (PhD) — Sociology (MA or PhD)
The law school will add more formal joint degree programs in the near future.
For both types of joint degree programs, the student must be admitted separately to the law school and the other program. Guidelines for admission will be available at: www.law.stanford.edu/admissions.
About Stanford Law School
Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, and write books and articles for academic audiences, as well as the popular press. Along with offering traditional law school classes, the school has embraced new subjects and new ways of teaching. The school’s home page is located at www.law.stanford.edu.