Academic Programs


J.D./M.A. in Law and Philosophy

This program, offered jointly by the School of Law and the Philosophy Department, allows students to combine course work in law and philosophy. As described below, courses applicable to the MA degree also will apply toward the JD. Accordingly, students may earn both the JD and the MA in the three years ordinarily required for law study, not the four years that would be required if the degrees were pursued separately.


Program Requirements


The J.D./M.A. Dual-Degree Program in Law and Philosophy is administered by a Joint Advisory Board, consisting of at least two members affiliated with the School of Law and two members affiliated with the Philosophy Department. A member of the Board will be appointed each year as the student's advisor.

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Admissions and Timing of Degree Awards

Candidates for the dual-degree program must apply and be admitted separately to the J.D. and the M.A. programs. Ordinarily, the two degrees will be awarded simultaneously. See below for more information on admission to the program.

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Academic Requirements

Candidates for the dual degree must meet the requirements for the M.A. and the J.D. as established for those programs.

I. M.A. in Philosophy requirements

The M.A. in Philosophy requires:

  1. At least 32 GRS (Graduate School) credits. (See more information on this requirement below).
  2. A Master's thesis. The thesis requriement can be satisfied by either of the following options:
    1. A joint paper satisfying both the Law School's Upperclass Writing Requirement and the MA thesis requirement (with approval from a member of the Advisory Board). Such a paper must be supervised by a faculty member appointed by the Board and must include a balance of philosophical and legal material. Ordinarily, the length for the paper is 35 pages;
    2. An independent MA thesis that meets the Philosophy Department's ordinary MA thesis standards, including the requirement of an oral defense.
    3. Through either examination or coursework, students must demonstrate competence in logic. Information on this requirement is available from the Philosophy Department.
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II. J.D. Requirements

The J.D. requires students to spend six semesters in residence as full time students, with:

  1. 30 credits during the first year, including Torts, Property, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Legislation, and Research and Writing.
  2. A minimum of 12 credits in any upper-level semester and at least 26 credits in any upper-level year.
  3. A course in professional responsibility in the second or third year.
  4. At least one upperclass course that satisfies the Professional Skills requirement.
  5. A research paper, written in the second or third year, that satisfies the School of Law's upper-class writing requirement.
  6. A total of 84 credits, including no more than 12 credits from graduate-level courses for which the student has registered outside the School of Law.
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III. Dual Degree Requirements

For the dual degree, there are the following special provisions:

  1. The student must take at least four graduate-level courses in the Philosophy Department. Registration for these courses must be in the Graduate School rather than the School of Law.
  2. The student also must take a jurisprudence or legal-theory course that is cross-listed between the School of Law and the Philosophy Department. The student may register for this course in either BU Law or GRS.
  3. In addition to the courses required by sections one and two above, the student may apply toward the M.A. degree any combination of (1) law courses approved by the Advisory Board as MA-relevant (list of qualifying courses is updated each year and is available in the Law Registrar's Office)), and (2) additonal graduate-level courses in the Philosophy Department..
  4. Students iin the dual program pay a single tuition.
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Advice on How to Satisfy the M.A. Credit Requirement for the J.D./M.A. in Philosophy

Under Graduate School (GRS) rules, each graduate-level course offered in the Philosophy Department earns 4 GRS credits toward the 32 credits required for the M.A. degree. That means that the ordinary M.A. student can reach the 32 credits by taking 8 GRS courses. However, for J.D./M.A. students, this is more complicated.

First, the Law School is subject to ABA-accreditation requirements on how to calcuate credits, which GRS is not bound by. Thus, the Law School can grant only three Law credits toward the J.D. degree for GRS courses that would otherwise earn four credits in GRS. Also, almost all of the Law courses approved for M.A. credit are three credit courses in the Law School. This means that the J.D./M.A. student will need more than eight applicable courses to reach the 32 credit requirement because he/she will apply a mix of GRS and Law courses toward the M.A.

Second, law students may apply no more than 12 GRS credits to the J.D. degree. The J.D./M.A. student will reach that number with four GRS courses in Philosophy. A fifth GRS course would count toward the M.A. but not toward the J.D.

If the student wants all M.A.-applicable courses to count toward the J.D., then he/she should take just four GRS philosophy courses and register for the required cross-listed jurisprudence/legal theory course on the Law side. If he/she does that, there are some strategies for reaching the 32 credit requirement for the M.A.:

  1. If one of the student's M.A.-applicable Law courses is four Law credits, then the student can reach the 32 credit requirement with just four additional Law courses (in addition to the jurisprudence/legal-theory course)
  2. If each of the student's M.A.-applicable Law courses yields three credits, then the student must select one of these two choices:
    1. Take five approved Law courses (in addition to the jurisprudence/legal theory course)
    2. With approval, the student could earn a fourth credit in the required jurisprudence/legal-theory course by doing extra work--generally a longer paper, with higher expectations for depth and quality of research.

While students might satisfy the 32 M.A. credit requirement in other ways, most students will likely follow one of the paths suggested above. Please feel free to contact Law Professor Hugh Baxter for clarification or advice.

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Admissions Requirements

Students ordinarily apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences before or during the first year of law school, to begin the MA program in the second year of law school. Students may use their School of Law application materials, including their Law School application, recommendations, and personal statement, to apply to the Graduate School. In addition, the Graduate School will accept the LSAT in lieu of the GRE. (With your written authorization, the Law School Admissions Office will forward these materials to the Graduate School on your behalf.)

Note: Applicants must also submit a writing sample, which should be their best college term paper (preferably in a philosophy course).

Applicants should have a substantial background in philosophy--ordinarily the equivalent of an undergraduate major, and typically with an average of B or higher.

For additional information about admission to the Philosophy Department, contact: Professor Hugh Baxter, School of Law, 617/353-4011.