Partner Department: Philosophy

Program Length: 6 semesters

Public life in constitutional democracies depends on a theoretical understanding of the nature and application of law—the focus of the dual degree in Law & Philosophy offered by BU Law and BU’s Department of 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

In addition to law school requirements:

Required Philosophy Department Courses (32 Credits)

  1. At least 32 GRS credits.

Additional Requirements

A Master’s thesis. The thesis requirement can be satisfied by either of the following options:

  1. A joint paper satisfying both the Law School’s Upper-class 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.

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 MA 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) additional graduate-level courses in the Philosophy Department.
  4. Students in the dual program pay a single tuition.

Admissions Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted separately to the School of Law and to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS).  For School of Law application procedures, please consult the School of Law web site.   For the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, please consult the Department of Philosophy web site for information on applying to GRS.

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

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.

For MA admissions provide the following:

  • Graduate School application for the JD/MA in Philosophy
  • Scholarly writing sample, which should be their best college term paper (preferably in a philosophy course)
  • Three letters of recommendation (the student may use copies of law school recommendations and should contact the Graduate School to have their recommendations forwarded from the School of Law)
  • Personal statement (from the student’s law application)
  • Unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended

Contact Information

Jim Fleming
Professor, School of Law

Rachell Powell
Professor of Philosophy; Director, Center for Philosophy & History of Science
Department of Philosophy, STH 506