Academic Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Dual-Degree Programs

What is a dual-degree program? Should I consider doing one?

For a list of the Law School's dual-degree programs, click here.

The dual-degree programs allow students to earn two degrees in less time than it would take if they pursued each degree separately. The School of Law accepts toward the J.D. degree up to 12 credits of non-law, graduate-level work at B.U., and the other school or department accepts some Law credits toward their master's degree.

**Please note: that when determining how many credits the Law School can grant toward the J.D. degree for an outside course, we must follow ABA requirements which mandate 700 minutes of in-class time per credit. To calculate credits, we multiply the number of hours per week that an outside course meets times the number of weeks of instruction (NOT counting reading period, exam period, or holidays) and then divide by 700. If that calculation results in, e.g., 3.2, we only give 3 credits for the course toward the J.D. (We do NOT round up).**

Law is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, and knowledge of other disciplines such as business or public health can be very useful in preparing you for job opportunities. However, you should not do a dual degree just to add something to your resume if you are not interested in the other area of study. Employers will assume you have an interest in that area, which may limit your career options in ways that you did not intend.

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Will doing a dual degree enhance my job prospects?

It can, depending on your short- and long-term career goals. However, the bottom line is that, like the decision to concentrate, the decision to do a dual-degree program should be based primarily on your interest in law and the other graduate program area. If you decide to do a dual program, you need to be able to clearly explain (and, in some cases, justify) to potential employers the value-added to them by your having both degrees. Please be sure to consult with a CDO counselor to determine if a dual degree meets your career plans.

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What types of jobs might I get if I do a dual-degree program?

How you could use both degrees you earn in your future career depends on the degrees and your interests. It is impossible to list all types of jobs that dual degree students might have, but the following examples may give you a sense of how you might use both degrees:

  • J.D./M.B.A.: lawyer in a law firm with a corporate practice/department; lawyer or manager for a bank or other lending institution; lawyer for an accounting firm; down the road (after obtaining legal experience) in the legal department of a corporation or non-profit organization, or as a member of the corporate team of a corporation or non-profit organization; advising start-up companies.
  • J.D./M.B.A. in Health Care Management: lawyer in the legal department of a hospital, clinic, HMO, health services organization; lawyer in a law firm with a health law practice.
  • J.D./M.A. in International Relations: lawyer in a law firm with an international practice or that services international clients; foreign service position; employment in governmental agencies such as the State Department, INS, etc.; employment in non-profit organizations or agencies that deal with international issues such as immigration issues, international human rights, etc.
  • J.D./M.A. in Historic Preservation: lawyer in a law firm that handles issues related to land use and development, preservation, zoning, real estate; lawyer or other position in a governmental agency or non-profit organization that deals with preservation or general housing and development issues.
  • J.D./M.P.H.: lawyer or other position in a hospital, clinic, HMO, or other health care provider; lawyer or managerial position in a state or federal health and services agency, or a non-profit health organization.
  • J.D./M.A. in Philosophy: lawyer in a law firm; teacher (depending on the educational level); corporate ethicist
  • J.D./M.S. in Mass Communication: lawyer in a law firm that handles issues related to intellectual property (depending on the issues; a technical degree might be required), media, libel law, media technologies; lawyer or other position in a state or federal agency that handles regulatory issues or other communications issues; legal reporter for a radio or television station.
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If I don't finish the master's degree by the time I finish law school, how does that affect my summer employment during law school and permanent employment after law school?

Most students in our dual-degree programs must go an extra semester or year to finish the master's degree, though sometimes it might be possible to finish both degrees in three years depending on the program. Some dual-degree students obtain employment with one firm or organization during the summer after second year of law school, and with another firm or organization during the summer after graduation from law school. Some work at the same firm or organization during both of those summers. Please talk to a CDO counselor about the best way to structure your job search for both summers.

After graduation from law school, some students begin full-time employment with the employer they worked for during one or both of those summers after they finish the master's degree. Others search for employment with a different employer. If your master's program allows you to finish part time, and if that school has night classes (and you are staying in Boston), then it may be possible to begin working for your permanent employer right after law graduation while you finish the master's at night part time.

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If I won't finish my master's degree until after I graduate from law school, when should I take the bar exam?

To maximize your permanent job prospects, you should plan to take the bar exam during the summer after graduation from law school. That way, assuming you passed the bar exam, you can tell your employer that you will have the bar exam out of the way when you begin work full time.

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Can I design my own dual-degree program?

No. The University does not have a mechanism for students to design their own J.D. and master's degree program. However, if you are interested in a substantive area outside of our existing dual programs, consider taking some graduate-level courses at BU in that area even if it won't lead to two degrees.

Our Academic Regulations allow students, after the first year of law school, to apply to the J.D. degree up to 12 credits of graduate-level work at BU, which could mean one course per semester during second and third years. You would need the permission of the other BU school to register as a guest student for an outside course. Your tuition covers up to 18 credits each semester, so as long as you don't exceed 18 credits with the outside course, you would not be charged extra tuition for taking that course. (Note that for all course work that you are applying for J.D. credit, our Academic Regulations allow students to take a maximum of 17 credits per semester and a maximum of 34 credits per year after first year of course work applied to the J.D. degree).

If you take an outside course and wish to count that for J.D. credit, please check with the Law Registrar's Office as to how many credits the Law School may grant for that course consistent with ABA requirements, since the number may be different from what the other graduate department offers.

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