Dual JD/MA in History

Boston University offers qualified students the opportunity to combine the study of law with coursework in history. The dual degree program facilitates inquiry at the two fields’ intersection in legal history. Successful candidates receive both the Juris Doctor (JD) degree and a Master of Arts (MA) degree.

The dual degree program ordinarily can be completed in six semesters, rather than the eight semesters required to obtain each degree independently because some courses can be credited toward both degrees.

Learning Outcomes


Students will:

  • Possess knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law;
  • Possess the ability to perform:
    • Legal analysis and reasoning
    • Legal research
    • Problem-solving
    • Written communication in the legal context
    • Oral communication in the legal context;
  • Understand the exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system; and
  • Demonstrate the professional skills of collaboration, counseling, and negotiation needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession. All students will also demonstrate a basic understanding of business fundamentals and be able to read and understand basic financial documents.

MA in History

Students will:

  • Demonstrate mastery of chosen subfield of history and related fields;
  • Produce an original research paper based on archival and field research, with goal of publishing it as a scholarly article;
  • Conduct all research and publication in an ethical manner; and
  • Be prepared in regard to extent of knowledge to teach history at the advanced secondary level.

Academic Requirements

To earn the MA, students must complete eight graduate courses (normally 32 credits) in history. To earn the JD, students must earn at least 85 School of Law (LAW) credits, and must comply with additional school requirements. The dual degree program allows students to receive joint credit for some courses taken at BU Law and in the Department of History, subject to the limitations described below.

The Department of History requires that dual degree students complete at least four graduate-level courses in history, the same four courses that are required for every MA candidate: 1) GRS HI 800 European Historiography; 2) GRS HI 850 American Historiography; 3) GRS HI 870 African Historiography; and 4) GRS HI 801 The Historian’s Craft.

The above four history courses also may be applied to the JD, up to a maximum of 12 credits total. Students apply these history courses to the JD during their second and third years of law school (typically one course per semester).

Students must also take two additional courses chosen with their advisor’s approval from graduate courses in history, LAW courses in legal history, or other graduate courses approved by the student’s advisor.

To complete the eight courses required for the MA in History, students must take two additional courses chosen with the advisor’s approval from graduate courses in history, LAW courses in legal history (drawn from the approved course list), or other graduate courses approved by the student’s advisor. If the two additional courses are approved LAW courses, the student receives credit for those courses both at the Graduate School or Arts & Sciences (GRS) and at the School of Law.

Major Research Paper Requirement

The core requirement of the joint JD/MA in History program is the major research paper. Students must write a research paper that is a work of original scholarship and research and that substantially engages both legal and historical subjects, methods, texts, and/or analysis. This paper must: 1) satisfy the School of Law’s Upperclass Writing Requirement; 2) be jointly supervised by a faculty member in the School of Law and one in the Department of History; and 3) be approved, in its final form, by a faculty member in the School of Law and one in the Department of History. (The research paper supervisor may also approve the paper on behalf of their school or department.)

The research paper project begins with a detailed proposal for study, submitted to a member of the Joint Advisory Board. Students are strongly encouraged to submit proposals before the final year of law study, or, at the latest, by the beginning of that year. No proposal may be submitted after the end of the second week of the student’s final semester. Ordinarily, the joint major research paper will be a minimum of 30 pages (excluding notes).

A student who writes the research paper in the context of a course or directed study in the Department of History may not also receive law school course credit for the paper. Similarly, a student who submits the paper in partial or full satisfaction of a law school course or independent study may not also receive GRS course credit for the paper.


Students must apply and be admitted separately to the School of Law and to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. For School of Law application procedures, please consult the BU Law Admissions website. For GRS application procedures, please consult the GRS Department of History website.


The JD/MA program is administered by a Joint Advisory Board. The Board includes one faculty member from the School of Law and one from the Department of History. A member of the Board is appointed as the student’s advisor.